Back From WBC

I'm not generally good with faces. But when I went to WBC, I saw many, many people I recognized from my last trip 3 years ago. Even remembered a few names! It seems that when you bump shoulders at a gaming table you get an impression of people that will stick with you. And after a week, the 1500 or so attendees have crossed your path so many times that even people you haven't met and played with seem comfortably familiar.

It's nice, too, being part of a recognized group. My group, The Greenville Mafia, is always prominent because we issue a group shirt yearly and a specific rotation is arranged. For long-time attendees, the shirts cover the whole rainbow. For us relative newcomers, we match the assigned daily color as nearly as possible with a polo shirt from our closets. When Mafiaites group together, the colors identify us nearly as well as the pocket logo.

This year, our dons decided to break the mold on solid colors. We went in for a Hawaiian shirt, modeled here by yours truly.

When we counted up how many of the Mafia planned to go to Lancaster, we discovered we had more than enough to field our traditional four teams - which we style as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (I'm a member of Pestilence, by the way!) So we commissioned a fifth team this year. It didn't take long to name the new one - what with Hawaiian shirts, it HAD to become the Parrotheads of the Apocalypse! To get us in the mood, we even had a Jimmy Buffett-themed party before leaving for the Con!

Well, WBC's over and we're all home. Time for tall-tale tellin' at our weekly gaming meetings!

Pushing My Games Ahead

In December I made plans to attend this year's World Boardgame Championships (WBC) in Lancaster, PA. It's been 3 years since I last went. Since then I've hopefully gotten somewhat better at the games I play. Also, I decided it made sense to take my tower game on a test run to see how the public reacted to it.

With travel in mind, I again enlisted my talented neighbor Alex Olyarchuk's assistance in producing a new prototype, this time built of sections that could be easily broken down and stored. I had a plan of how to construct this, but Alex rapidly demolished it by pointing out the improvements he could think of. (Those kept coming during and after the construction!)

What resulted was a big improvement from the prior version. It has only two towers, giving better access to the playing surface, and the stages are locked in place. Best of all, I could incorporate play-tester Ken Richard's suggestion to support the stages on the edges of the hexagons instead of the vertices. This allowed wind placement that was much clearer and more understandable to new players, because each vertex has a straight line of hexes through the center of the stage (trust me!).

During WBC, when I was not in a tournament or seminar, I took my game - now re-christened BLOWN AWAY! on advice of my wife - to the Open Gaming Hall, about 12,000 square feet of space where people could engage in non-tournament games. I got adept at flagging people down for a demo or a game and teaching them how to play in the 2 minutes I claimed.

There were very few 3-dimensional games in evidence, and, at about 3 feet tall, BLOWN AWAY! was clearly the most visible! After a while I realized I didn't need to use one of the precious 60 or so game tables in the hall, and I set up the game on a chair near the entrance so that even the people who didn't stop by still got a view of it.

On one afternoon, I noticed a table with a bunch of microphones manned by four people. They turned out to be a podcasting group, The Party Game Cast, and their show "The Party Gamecast."  They came to WBC intending to produce a mini podcast each day of the convention. As I characterize BLOWN AWAY! as a party game, I told them they needed to talk to me! So they did. The interview came out late this week and can be found at

I also put up a Facebook page for the game; it's at
If you're interested, Like it and keep informed!