OrcCon 2001: Los Angeles, CA

Reported by Neal Sofge, Super Genius, Fat Messiah Games


At noon on Saturday the 17th, six brave adventurers descended into the briny depths, determined to evolve and survive until the present day.

Trilobite Game Setup

This is the beginning of their first encounter in the Cambrian era. If you look closely, you can barely make out their opponents along the bottom of the table edge. From left to right, they're dealing with the amphioxus (precursor to all vertebrate life), habella (a heavily-armored trilobite relative) and sea anemone (an ancient lifeform essentially unchanged for 500 million years.)

Pictured, from left to right, are Solomon, Tim, Robert, Bill, and Chris. Sorry I didn't get everyone's heads in the shot, there's only so much you can do with these newfangled digital cameras. Hivemaster Eric Gerber is not shown, but much appreciated for taking the load off, leaving me free to take notes and photos.

Trilobite Again

As experienced Trilobite players will have already noticed, we weren't playing on the standard game set. The map, twice as big as the one provided with the Insecta game, was created for us by longtime FMG fan and MCUP awardee Chris Carlson. The extensive array of rubber fish were collected over an equally extensive period of time by the Super Genius, mostly at museum shops and drugstore toy racks.

Pictured, from left to right, are Solomon, Keith (in the white shirt, who later took over for Tim), Earl, Tim (pointing to where his armored mutant is about to die), and the back of Bill's head (I think). The game lasted four hours, and our intrepid team had made it to the paleozoic when we were forced to call time.

The winner was judged to be Chris Carlson, who managed to kill the ammonite (an armored tentacled horror) after spending most of the game bravely drawing fire and getting killed for his efforts. Runner-up was Robert Herzog, whose spiny zap machine (5 batteries!) dispatched the terrifying sea scorpion.

American Megafauna

Megafauna Veterans

On Sunday morning the Sierra Madre Games crew set up an unscheduled game of American Megafauna, which proved so popular that we had to start a second board. AMF veterans Jim Gutt, Robert Posada, Eric Gerber, and Neal Sofge (behind the camera) went off by themselves in what was, thematically, a continuation of the previous days' Trilobite game. As the world changed, Jim's ability to eat nuts and pinecones proved the deciding factor. Neal's omnivorous rats hid away eating bugs, while Eric's dinosaur-sized weiner dogs struggled on to the present day in a single Central American biome, preyed on by Robert's allosaurs.

The new prototype map


Shown here is the original AMF game, using the prototype of SMG's new color map, which is due out this summer in a revised edition of the game. Bill Banks, Tim Fischer, and Aaron Cappochi dueled it out with game designer Phil Eklund (the growling one).

I'd tell you about the game, but I was busy getting my butt kicked by Jim Gutt. Hopefully Phil or one of the others will read this page and send in a report of their own I can post.

Hard Vacuum

Hard Vacuum Long View

The first official convention game of FMG's long-awaited Hard Vacuum started as soon as American Megafauna was cleared away. Tim, Phil, Aaron, Eric, Bill and Neal (not shown) played an introductory dogfight, modified from the first Hard Vacuum scenario, to learn the rules.

After blowing each other up real good, we decided to play the 1944 minefield scenario from the Hard Vacuum book. By now Jim Foster had closed the dealer room and joined us, so we modified the scenario to be three Ernmordens defending against two Arrows and two Trailblazers. Jim, Tim, and Neal flew the Nazi fighters.

The battle turned out to be somewhat one-sided. Tim managed to miss Bill at medium range while getting his own ship blasted down to one hull point. Jim lived long enough to watch the Americans clear the minefield, then got into a high-deflection shooting contest with Aaron at range 1. Jim's machineguns missed, while Aaron scored a lucky hit that atomized the Ernmorden.

Hard Vacuum Close Up

The aftermath of all of this is shown here. Blue are Americans, while the lone silver ship is Tim's damaged Bf-363b. Neal launched the mine shown next to Tim's ship and then flew right into a pincer trap laid by Phil and Eric, which is why he's not here.

Tim escaped the next turn to concoct a story for the Raummacht High Command, and Eric succumbed to the cockpit puncture inflicted by Neal on his way out. The final result, of course, was a total American victory.

The miniatures shown here are rubber spaceships procured by Phil from the same source as Insecta's fine rubber bugs. We're considering stocking these as an official item, $1 for six well-detailed but unpaintable generic spaceships. If you're interested, please contact the Super Genius so we can measure the demand.

Update 2007-09-28: These were out of production by the time The Messiah was ready to place an order. However, SMG moved faster and ended up selling a surprisingly large collection of Hard Ships directly off their web site until the supply dried up a year or so later.

Uneventful Last Day


Monday, unfortunately, was fairly deserted. I guess everyone was in the auction or asleep. We finally ended up packing up at 5 PM or so. Here's Robert getting ready to bug out of the dealer room and get some dinner.

All in all, a very good show. I can't wait for the next one. We'll be at Games University in March, hope to see you all there!