Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

PrezCon 2013 - Sunday

The final day of PrezCon saw me sleeping in just a little too late to make the final heat of Settlers of Catan.  So this year was the first time missing the SoC tournament since I first came to PrezCon some six years ago. It was SoC that first attracted me to the Winter Nationals, with the prospect of winning the regional qualifier and going to the national championship.  But that's okay.  Because later that morning, another game that I like just as much as SoC started up.

(c) Repos Productions
Used by permission
7 Wonders
Sunday morning brought the last heats of the tournament for 7 Wonders (designer Antoine Bauza, artist Miguel Coimbra, publisher Repos Production).  I really like this card game for the multiple ways of winning as well as the drafting mechanic and the quick play.  I got into the fourth and final heat of 7W and drew the Lighthouse at Alexandria, with the option to play 'A' or 'B' side.  I elected to play the 'B' side, whose first stage gives a wild card natural resource (brick, wood, stone, or ore) and second stage a wild card refined resource (glass, textile, or papyrus).  I took a nice complementary combination of natural resources in the first epoch to set myself up to complete all my wonder stages, and my neighbors covered enough refined resources that I could complete anything I needed.  Neither neighbor built much military, so I ended up running the table on military victories as well as 20 points in blue civics building. My neighbors also bought a lot of resources from me, so I finished the game with 33 coins for another 11 points.  My final score was 64 points to win the heat.

The semifinal started immediately afterward, and I drew the Lighthouse at Alexandria again.  So I was very keen to try the same strategy and seek the same result.  But it didn't quite work out that way.  I got into an arms race with David Plotnik - a PrezCon regular, a terrific gamer, and a very nice guy.  But winning the military victories cost me a lot of opportunities to pick up civics and science buildings that I let pass by.  So my score was much less impressive by the end of the semifinal.

We had an odd irregularity occur during the third epoch.  A player across the table from me inadvertently played two cards in a single hand - one face up as a constructed building, the other face down as the second stage of his wonder.  Neither his neighbor Luke noticed that he was a card short on the next hand, nor did the next player to receive the short hand on the turn after that.  Not until the player to my right received the short hand three turns later and realized he was down a card did we go back and reconstruct what had happened.  With the GM's approval, we decided to take the extra face down card from the first player's second stage and put it back in the hand where it came from to set things right.  It meant two players never saw that card, but since they didn't notice they were short, they missed the opportunity to call it out.

As it happened, one of those skipped players won the game anyway.  I finished dead last at the table with 44 points.  David Plotnik finished third with 56, enough to qualify for the final round.  But for me, the PrezCon competition was over.

So, once again, I managed to get through an entire PrezCon without bringing home a single plaque.  My streak remains unbroken.  But to me these days, conventions are not quite so much about the competition as they are about meeting people, playing games, and learning the gaming business.  I got to see Ben Rossett's latest improvements to "Brewmasters," which Keith Ferguson agreed is better than Agricola in the pantheon of worker placement games.  I got to further explore the realm of social identity and negotiation games with numerous rounds of The Resistance as well as learning three others - Article 27, Coup, and Two Rooms and a Boom.  I made a point to thank Justin Thompson for making PrezCon even better this year, and he in turn thanked me for running Pillars of the Earth.

I was pleased with what I'd picked up at the auction store and auction on Thursday evening, and I added to those acquisitions with a visit to the Mayfair booth to pick up a copy of Pillars of the Earth: Builders Duel, a smaller two-player game on the same theme as the PotE game whose tournament I'd run.  Builders Duel was high on my wish list, and I am pleased to say at this writing that Kathy and I have already tried it out with a very good first impression.  Details to follow in a subsequent post.

I also had considerable success toward the eventual publication of "East India Company."  I got in a really good playtest Saturday night and gained confidence that "EIC" is that much closer to being ready for submission to a prospective publisher.  I had the opportunity to speak with representatives of a couple of companies at PrezCon.  In particular, without being specific, I had a very lengthy discussion with one publisher about the potential future of "EIC" and how it might fit into the company's plans for the year.  No formal commitments were made, but I am very encouraged by the understanding that we reached about where we are and where we think the game is headed.  I feel very confident that one way or another, I should be able to place "EIC" this year and get it into production.  I am very excited about the prospects for my game.

I made a point to give my regards to friends and acquaintances before I departed the DoubleTree Inn in Charlottesville.  I ran across Emily Pace and Clyde Wright in the lobby playing Pastiche, which I will add to my list of games to look into further.  (In fact, it got me talking with them about the old Parker Brothers game Masterpiece, which in turn got me thinking about another game idea that I'll explore further on this blog.)  Right to the very end, PrezCon 2013 was a satisfying, enriching experience.  Already, I can't wait until next year.

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