Published: Monday 2005-08-08.
Last year I thought was a highlight in the history of NärCon, third time simply was the charm, but this year I was disappointed. As the description above hints there is a lot going on. While this makes a lot of people come to the event, over 300 this year, it also makes each activity see less people. This year the convention was held in new premises at Karolinska skolan, but it didn’t seem like they had quite given as much thought as they should as to how to use them, the activities were very spread out and sometimes hard to find. For instance it wasn’t until Saturday morning that I found out where the board games I was interested in took place, they were sitting on the second floor in the far end of the school, while they also had board games in the ground floor in the cafeteria, two buildings away! This led to the people interested in board games getting divided into two smaller groups, which wasn’t a very good thing.
Another disappointment was the shops. Or rather, the lack of them, the shops that actually were there were nice. When I go to a gaming convention it is partly to play games I know, but also to try out new games and, if I like them, buy them. Earlier years they have had several shops selling board and card games, but this year there was only one, The Card Cabinet, and they mostly sold collector card games like Magic, and I don’t really like those very much.
But enough with the complaints, I have had a nice convention, even if I didn’t get to play in any tournaments this year. First I missed out on where and when the Settlers tournament should take place, and I’m not sure whether there actually was any, and then the tournaments in Kill Dr. Lucky and Carcassonne never actually took place, probably because the players simply didn’t find the way.
I spent most of the Saturday with The Card Cabinet/SARZ, playing. The guy behind TCC, Anders Fager, have designed several games, among others the Junta-inspired card game Swärje (a deliberate mis-spelling of Sweden). I bought a Swärje deck last year but hadn’t got around to play it myself yet. Now I finally got to test it, and it is quite fun. In Swärje you play the (slightly corrupt) Swädish government, and the object is to transfer as much of the government’s money out of the country to your foreign numbered account as possible. I won in my first try, mostly because I got good cards at the start of the game and could “steal” quite a lot of money from the other players.
Another game that Anders has conjured up is The Hell Game, where the objective is to be the ruler of hell. I only got to play one game at NärCon, a game that ended after the second round, but the game seems very well-made and nice. Also, that you get complete biographies of all the demons that are included in the game is a very nice touch. Of course I bought a copy, and I got the rule book signed by Anders himself.
In the area of party games, The Card Cabinet have designed the game LoveSoap, which builds on all the reality series that are shown on TV nowadays. As the reality show hater that I am I of course found the game to be extremely funny, like a parody on the whole concept. The game plays best when you either are tired, or, I guess, drunk.
Anders also was designing a fourth game, a game which goes under the name of PeaceGame. It isn’t finished yet, so I got to play test a prototype. Play testing is an interesting experience, since you can come with comments about what works and what does not work, and try to fine-tune the rules of the games while playing it. I think the game has a potential of being nice, especially since the concept is a bit different from other board games, it will be interesting to see what the end result is. Perhaps it is done by the next NärCon?
The most politically incorrect game ever has to be Pimp – The Backhanding, which I didn’t get around to try out at NärCon, but still bought after having seen other play it. Morally objectionable? It’s just a game, for crying out loud!
On the Friday evening, before I managed to locate the boardgamers, I did some role playing, something I don’t do very often. I got to be a marine in the USCM and was killed during a rescue mission on a Russian mining moon. Role playing can be quite fun, but I think you have to be able to live the part a bit more than what I manage to. But it is interesting nevertheless.
I also played some computer and video games in that department, there were quite a lot old computers and consoles from the eighties and nineties. There also was a competition in Out Run on the Commodore 64 that I took part in. I ended second, even though I only managed to get to stage two in the competition play. I probably would have fared better if I had practised a bit first, but I didn’t really plan to play computer games, I had counted on ending up in the board gaming room for the entire convention, just like last year.
To summarise I have had a nice weekend. It wasn’t quite as well arranged as last year, but there is potential. Perhaps it would be better to try to narrow it a bit and remove some of the areas the convention tries to cover. While there were quite a lot of people around, they were very scattered.