Since it's only 6 and a half hours or so to Cleveland, it wasn't necessary that I got an early start. In the end, I didn't end up leaving until around 11am or so and for the most part, the drive was pretty boring and uneventful. I've said this before but Pennsylvannia is a bit swath of boring nothing. There are places where if you put your radio on 'seek mode' you just get to see the numbers spin and spin and spin. You can't even find some evangelist biblebeater station, and that's just disturbing.
I was making pretty good time when actually moving. The problem was that there were pretty large stretches of road construction where everything would grind to a halt. I probaly spent around 45 minutes in standstill traffic on the trip here and there. In general, I was able to whistle a happy song about it.
That all changed when I had the misfortune to bump into this bitch. For some reason, she had this particular habit of leaving around half a football field's worth of space between her and the car in front. It was driving me crazy and no amount of tailgating and crazy gesticulating would get her to move up at first. Since traffic was almost at a standstill due to construction, it wasn't even like I could somehow get around her and people kept cutting into the lane because of the hugeass gap she was leaving. If anyone sees this license plate while driving through Pennsylvannia, I demand that you ram her.
The rest of the drive was uneventful and I rolled into town a bit after 6 as I recall.
Here's the Chateau de Chelle and Todd where they graciously put me up (or is that, put up with me?) for the length of the con plus a day.
Chelle and I spent some time chatting and invited a couple people over to play games as a warmup for the con the next day. We finally got to try a game of Shadows Over Camelot and actually won. Chelle had been interested in the game from way back and I had brought my copy with me to origins. Due to poor scheduling and a lack of time, we simply didn't get a chance to try it there. Chelle ended up being the traitor and wasn't quite able to bring about our doom, though it was a close thing. In the end, it was almost a random potluck who would win. In addition to shadows we also played a couple games of Coloretto, which seemed to go over well. It's another of those games that is great for its simplicity with just enough screwage to make it interesting.
After that it was pretty much time for bed. Or rather, it should have been time for bed. I ended up bringing a book (Glen Cook's Water Sleeps) with me for the trip and I ended up spending quite a few hours reading. I had been looking forward to finishing the Black Company series for quite a while now and just couldn't resist giving it a go. In the end, I think I got around halfway through before I collapsed from exhaustion.
The next day we headed to the National Guard Armory where the event was to be held around noonish. I've never actually been to an Armory before and the only point of reference I had was watching Full Metal Jacket. I will admit I was sorta disapointed there weren't hoards of recruits doing jumpingjacks in the rain or something of that sort when we arrived. It turned out that we were the first to arrive other than Charlie himself and it took some time to cart in all the games that Chelle and Todd and brought along.
As I was roaming around the inside of the facility I ran across something fantastic. An 'Amnesty Box' for ordinance. How cool is that? I just love the idea that you could reach into the box at the end of a week and find all sorts of bullets and grenades and god only knows what else in there. It'd be like the ultimate grabbag. When I went to take a picture, I found that there were rules against taking pictures other than in certain areas. Booo-urns. You'll just have to take my word that it exists.
Outside of each entrance there was also this whozit where you were supposed to unload your sidearm. Kinda spiffy too if you think about it. I guess if you do it wrong, it means you won't accidently shoot someone or yourself.
So here's the room where all the events were actually to be held in. I'm not sure if it's a mess hall of sorts or maybe just a meeting room but there were plenty of tables and chairs to accomidate all the games.
Here is our host, Charlie, with the indominatable Velvet. I just found it amazing that Charlie would take the effort to throw this sort of thing together each year. Though I'm sure it's gone through permutations, I think this was the 14th time Charliecon has run. In addition to running the event, Charlie also stays awake for the entire length of it, which is pretty remarkable.
As I was browsing the snack table and trying to work on a sugar high, I found more support for the idea that there is no lengths people won't go to to try to cross-market a product. Pirates of the Carribean M&M's. Amazing.
Toppo was the first game I tried at Charliecon and I thoroughly loathed it. It was like if Set and Jungle Speed got completely shitfaced and had a little lovechild. Pattern recognition mixed with reaction speed. As far as I'm concerned, the only way it could have gotten worse if you could mix Palabra into it somehow. Still, I know people who will probaly end up enjoying it since those heathens like set and jungle speed.
After that, it was time for a retread of Coloretto. We never did get around to trying Amazonas which is a little disapointing but everyone seemed to like it.
Alrighty. I'm going to go and get a bit more of this done to appease chelledg who I know is watching and probaly grinding her teeth. Besides, she did me a superfavor and the halloweenies arrived in the mail! For those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about....read on.
One of the nicest things about Charliecon is it gave me a chance to try quite a few new games that I normally wouldn't have gotten around to anytime soon. Some of them were games I already owned, and others were ones I was thinking of picking up. Here we are playing Thurm and Taxis, which is the postal game getting all the buzz from winning the German Game of the Year award. Normally this would be an auto-buy for me regardless of having no clue what it was really about nor if I liked it. I would just depend on the fact that if so many people are raving about it, they can't all be morons. Well lucky for me I got a chance to play it and while it might be a bit strong to say I loathed it, it will definitely not be making it on to my purchase list. Ding! That's around $25 saved.
Behind this barricade was the dreaded feline hellbeast. They had to block it off back there after it had clawed the eyes out of a couple of participants. I crept over and snuck a peek but retreated quickly when it hissed and then lunged for my head. Lucky, the hellbeast failed to escape its containment zone for the length of the con and all it took to appease it was to chuck a few children over the barrier once a day at feeding time.
Here's Velvet with her ducky stuffed animal. I really wanted to get a shot of her whipping it around in her mouth but despite many attempts, it was just too quick.
The best I ended up getting was a shot of her as she was going to pick it up. She looked like a perfect birddog with it flopping out both sides of her mouth. She also tore apart some other toy...a bunny?...and by the end of the con there were mounds of fluff and stuffing all over the place.
WooT! I'm definitely picking up the catalogue and ordering one of these. Who knows when the SSOTWWTLM might need a little extra firepower, eh? I was also informed that in addition to just looking cool, each of the tanks and other vehicles at a national guard depot is fully functional, though unarmed. According to Todd, they're all obligated to still be running because in case the base is ever taken by hostile forces, the last thing that someone defending the place is supposed to do is get in the tank, run down the flag pole, and torch the flag so that it isn't taken by the enemy. Spiffy.
After that, it was time for the lifesized game of Tsuro. This was pretty amazing and also required a lot of effort as people had to run around and tape up the various paths whenever someone played a card. Here we can see a picture of an unfortunate Tsuro-induced collision and death.
Woowoo! Look who won, eh? There were additional squares but the way people played, it just ended up that all of them were self-contained. Since I got to go last, I ended up surviving almost by default.
After that, it was on to a game of Descent: Journeys in the Dark. I had picked up a copy of this ages ago but never had a chance to play it. It's huge with all sorts of fiddily pieces to it and getting a chance to try it out at Charliecon is what finally made me dig it out of the closet and run it at Randy's party a few weeks ago. The game went pretty well and I'm looking forward to picking up the expansion when I was on the fence about it before. Hey, it's like it'll be free since I have that $25 I saved from not buying Thurm and Taxis.
Here you can see some of the dice used in the game and one exceptionally good role by our fighter in the game. We pretty much romped our way through the dungeon without any problems at all.
This was my personal favorite. At the beginning of the game, each character got to pick up skills that were randomly drawn from various piles. One of my was 'Devine Retribution' which basically meant that whenever I died, I would explode killing monsters within 3 squares of me. As we open the door to the final room we see that it's crowded with all sorts of gobbily gook monsters. My solution is to take off all of my armor, run into the middle of them on my turn, and then have our archer shoot me in the head. BOOM! You can see the aftermath of my suicide charge in the picture.
Alrighty, so that was day 1 of the con itself. I'll recap the rest whenever I grab a video game break again.