Nicole and I spent Friday to Monday at a new local convention, Conquest NW, which took place down by the airport. We’d been to other cons run by the same folks in LA and San Fran last year, we like what they are doing, and are trying to support their efforts. For once we were at a con near our home base, so there were no worries about over or under shipping product. When I realized Friday night we might need more of two particular titles, Nicole was able to bring some extras from the office Saturday morning.
There were a couple hundred attendees, which isn’t bad for an inaugural show. Having done several small shows in the past year, I am re-thinking our strategy a bit though. Most of the conventions we go to have an attendance ranging from 4,000 to 25,0000 people. At such events it is a no brainer to get a booth and sell direct. I’m not sure that’s the best thing to do at shows with less than 1,000 attendees though. I spent 20 hours over the weekend manning our booth and I don’t think that was the best use of my time. At the next one of these small shows, I think we might try teaming up with a local retailer to sell our books, and then concentrate on running games and doing seminars. I suspect that’d not only be more effective, but it’d also free up time so I could play some games for fun (hard to do that when you are at a booth for 8 hours).
Amusingly enough, the only after hours game I got to play was…poker. I had woken up Saturday at 6 am for no good reason and then worked the booth all day. After dinner I wanted to do something because I knew if I went back to the hotel room I’d fall asleep. I knew James Ernest was up for doing something, so I tracked him down. Somehow at a hobby game convention we ended up with a seven-player poker game. Now I’m a passable poker player, but James is an expert. In fact, he, Mike Selinker, and Phil Foglio recently authored a book called Dealer’s Choice: The Complete Handbook of Saturday Night Poker. A SeaTac hotel is not Las Vegas though and it was a friendly game with players of all skill levels. We mostly played Texas hold ’em and seven card stud, though there were a few oddball games thrown in to mix it up. Around midnight I started telling myself I’d cash out after the next hand. That went on until 2:30 in the morning. On the upside, it did keep me awake and I ended up doubling my money. Of course, I’d rather have played a minis game or tried out a new board game, but I’m funny that way.
I did come home with a new board game at least, GMT’s Command and Colors Ancients. This takes Richard Borg’s Command and Colors system, first introduced in Avalon Hill’s excellent Battle Cry civil war game and then made even better in Days of Wonder’s Memoir ’44 WWII game, and adapts it for hot Rome vs. Carthage action. GMT is more of a traditional wargame company than Days of Wonder, so it is perhaps not surprising that they’ve made their game rules more complex (presumably) to better simulate the ancient battlefield. One of the big things I liked about Battle Cry and Memoir ’44 was their ease of play though. You can play either game in less than an hour and the rules are quick to pick up. Command and Colors Ancients takes the basic system and expands it out (offering 7 types of infantry, for example, where the other games had 1). The result is more complicated than the previous games, but still markedly less so than a traditional wargame. Once I get a chance to try it out, I’ll be able to say if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Even with the extra rules though, it seems like you can fight battles like Cannae and Zama in under two hours and that’s still pretty attractive.