"He had bought a large map representing the sea,"

Reported by Robert Posada, Illuminati Liaison.

"Without the least vestige of land:"

Neal and Jeff

Conventions are places where I get to see friends I don't see most of the year. Here's Neal Sofge (Fat Messiah Games) and Jeff Siadek (Gorilla Games). I had not seen Jeff since EhGO Games, publishers of this magazine, said good bye to California.

Large Game

I saw this game set up on Thursday a short distance outside the dealers' room. As I have said in the past, one of the great reasons to go to a game convention is to see a game in a larger than life setting. Unfortunately, my tight schedule prevented me from going back to find out what the game was. Obviously it's something with Icehouse pieces, but that's all I know.

If any reader, or better yet the game organizer, could tell me the name, I will report it here.

Tony Pang

In the dealers room I saw these odd flat metal items, about 3 by 5 inches. Tony Pang, shown here, represented the interesting game aid called "Tokkens"

Tokkens

Tokkens are collectible d20 system magic items made of tin and printed in color. This first set has 400 items, while the full collection will have 1600 items - so it looks like three more sets are coming.

Todd Boyce

Todd Boyce, seen here in his Ninja Magic shirt, was promoting his starship combat game With Hostile Intent. But it was the cool magnetic adapters for ship miniatures that caught my eye...

Magnetic adapters

...as detailed in this nifty tabletop sign.

Angled magnetic adapters

The concept is simple: the adapters allow you to position your spaceship miniature at most angles. This can be handy just visually, such as when showing a dive bombing exercise, but also in case you need to access or see info below the normal footprint of the figure.

Lifeboat

`I only hope the boat won't tipple over!'

Lifeboat game

After lunch we headed over to the Gorilla Games demo area. Jeff was running a game of Lifeboat. Only 500 numbered copies were produced of the original Fat Messiah set at left; it was deliberately designed as a handmade curio piece, with the usual FMG emphasis on affordability rather than componentry.

On the right is the new edition, all in color with Carta Mundi playing cards.

Lifeboat players

I got The Kid as my character. Early on I got washed overboard, the result of an unfortunate selection by the other passengers of a navigator who hated me. Normally you just climb back into the boat after suffering some exhaustion and exposure, but by that time I had already made the risky move of engaging in combat in what I thought would be a quick fight. To my surprise, all had jumped in and I ended up on the losing side. I suffered a wound I could not heal, as well as debilitating thirst. When the wave arrived it whisked my unconscious body away into the briny depths.

Lifeboat game in progress

Lifeboat is a fun game. It has great potential for "crossing over" to non-gamers, as the rules are relatively easy to learn. Play is fast, so you can liven up a party with non-gamers or have a quick pick up game between rounds of hard-core games. (Titan and Diplomacy come to mind here -- Neal once played a game of Shapeshifters while waiting for a turn in the former.)

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Deadlands RPG

Next we investigated a demo game of Deadlands: Reloaded, using the Savage Worlds game system. I have only played Pinnacle's Deadlands once, in the first edition. While I was rusty on the rules, the game got going soon after all the players got there. It really helped that I had a pre-generated PC. In convention settings, these are essential.

Deadlands RPG

The scenario was a raid on a town controlled by an evil group of mystical scientists. We were most concerned about the infernal machine sitting in the center of town. Lots of shooting ensued, in a confusing mess of exploding dice. We won, but I was very surprised by this.

"Leave him here to his fate--it is getting so late!"

James Ernest

After all that, we headed to a clandestine game industry insiders late night gathering, hosted by James Ernest of Cheapass Games fame. We played Cineplexity, from Out of the Box, a decent but not perfect movie trivia exercise that is clearly targeted at the party game audience. One player is moderator, while the remaining players try to name a movie that meets the criteria on two cards. The role of moderator then passes on to the next player. The winner is the one with most correct answers at the end of the deck. I can see this game's appeal to movie buffs but I'm not sure how well it will go with the more casual movie goer.

Gamers playing late at night

Even this late at night, even at the hotel across the way from the convention, there were still games going on. It was late, and I was tired, so I headed out. There would be some Battlestations to play the next day, and I did not want to be too tired...