Sunday, May 01, 2016

International Tabletop Day 2016

Last year at this time I had my hands full with a newborn, so I missed out on Tabletop Day. In the past, we've hosted Tabletop Day in our own place, but with Ada, it's difficult for me to focus on a game, so, with Claire's permission, I headed out for a day of board games.

After spending the morning at Family Place with Ada, Claire picked us up from the park before dropping me over to Players Wanted Games on Victoria Drive, and then heading out for lunch with Ada and a friend. I had packed a few games I hoped to play, but nothing too crazy. I stuck to a few small, fast, fun card games, and box games chosen for their ease of teaching and speed of play, as well as repeated success for me in introducing them to new players in the past.

On arriving, I spent a short time browsing the shelves and bumped into a lovely couple who had just randomly wandered into the store while visiting the area. Although big board gamers themselves, George and Jenn hadn't known about the Tabletop Day event, and were just lucky enough to stop by. After bonding over a copy of Mysterium on the shelves, I offered to play a game or two before they had to leave, so, along with the Rubin, a local and regular, I started my Tabletop Day teaching Gravwell, the fantastic space race game of plotting, luck and hilarity.

After Gravwell, George and Jenn were short on time, but I managed to convince them to try one round of Rhino Hero. It was an easy sell, and turned out to be the most tense game of the day, filled with laugh-out-loud moments. Everyone played a stormer, and the apartment grew to an astonishing 14 floors! Rubin and Jenn were standing on chairs toward the end just to play their turn! I ended up playing Rhino Hero three times over the course of the day, with a bunch of different folks, and it was amazing every time, drawing plenty of attention from everyone in the room. Reaching 14 floors successfully might have been the day's highlight, but for sheer hilarity, I don't think I'll ever forget watching Rubin attempt to place a wall, dropping it twice and having to retrieve it before trying again, finally succeeding without knocking the tower! That man has steady hands!

After a quick break to stretch my legs, I was excited to finally get the chance to see and play Pandemic creator Matt Leacock's new game, Knit Wit. This is a fun game of word association, presented in an absolutely beautiful fashion. Everything from the components to the box itself is gorgeous, with tiny, loving details cropping up throughout. This was another game filed with laughter and more than a little head-scratching. We ended up playing two games of Knit Wit before packing it back into it's amazing box.

I'm delighted to have had the chance to teach a bunch of folks Council of Verona, one of my favourite little bluffing games around. It was a chaotic game that ended with just a single card scoring, and poor Romeo wasn't even in the game to have a chance of getting together with his Juliet.

A 6pm approached, I pulled out Quantum. Quantum is always an easy sell, with its beautiful bright dice, colourful planets and great player board, so it was a joy for me to be able to play not only a four-player game, but also a wonderful, fast two-player one right after. They both felt so different, the first full of deals and friendly advice to attack other players, the other a fast head-to-head of landing colonies and retaliation strikes.

Finally, sandwiched between those two games of Quantum were a few games of No Thanks, which got unusually competitive, but in an always friendly fashion.

And that was my International Tabletop Day at Players Wanted Games. Full of great games, lots of laughter and meeting new people. So how did I do? Well, anyone who reads my blog regularly might know that I have a terrible record of repeatedly loosing games I own and often winning games I'm playing for the first time. This started a bit differently, with, if I remember correctly, me winning Gravwell, before quickly returning to business as usual, as I lost Council of Verona and both games of Quantum, but won one of the games of Knit Wit with a maximum possible score.

Rubin won the second game of Rhino Hero by playing his last card, but I don't think we even checked who won the other two, as we were all having too much fun laughing at the tower falling. While Rhino Hero does have rules for deciding who wins when the tower falls, in my experience, people rarely bother to check. The game is fun enough that declaring a winner isn't always necessary.

Lastly, I just want to mention the venue. Players Wanted Games is one of the newer game stores in Vancouver. Before Ada arrived I dropped in a few times to game. The store has a small retail space, but is packed with a great selection of games in all shapes and sizes. They have a huge play space in the back, with plenty of room for a big number of people to game. Yesterday there was board gaming, HeroClix and Magic all going on, with video gaming joining in later in the day!

But what makes Players Wanted special is the staff and regulars. Like I said, I dropped in a few times before Ada arrived, but pretty much disappeared for the last year. Yet I turned up yesterday, was welcomed in like an old friend and I felt like one of the regulars right away, with everyone chatting and having fun. The atmosphere is bright and cheery, and people seems happy to strike up conversations about all sorts of games.

It's a great store, and I look forward to actually becoming one of the regulars over the next few months and beyond.

Related: Board Game Review Master List