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Orccon 2013

Haven’t been since ’01.

Yeah, so Mohr and I, we went to Orccon 2013, on account of Mohr’s never been and I haven’t since 2001. Did I like it? Is the Pope Catholic? Did Mohr like it? I dunno, you might ask him, but I would guess yeah.

So Mohr, Lady Crab, and I, we drive down to LA from where we lives, which is none of yours, passing through the Central Valley (which is obviously where reincarnated tax evaders and people who talk during the movie are assigned to live), and down into LA metro area proper. The thing is being held at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, on President’s Day weekend. Lady Crab misremembered some dates, so she missed getting us a room at the Sheraton and we stayed down the street at the Radisson instead (no harm there, actually, ’twas cheaper). I could tell you all about the traffic on the way down, but then, I did say LA, didn’t I?

We get there on Friday early evening. We hit the room, prep ourselves, and enter the den to beard the beast.

First Night: Friday

This place is too fucking small, innit? I mean, last time I was at a Strategicon, which was back in the days of yore, I admit, the place had a room solely for open gaming, with separate rooms for the scheduled board games, and all of the roleplaying events I attended had their own room. Not so now. There’s one damn room for the board gaming, and that room is also for open gaming. It’s a big fucking room, no doubt; but noisy, hot and about as fresh smelling as a week-old kipper. It’s difficult to find the event you’re in without a native guide and a GPS. All three of us entered Dominion, and while I’m considered the benchmark of terror in our little home group I have the worst luck, so Mohr and Lady Crab move on while I got ravaged by bad luck and skilled players, losing at my first table. Technically, Mohr lost too, but he moved on because one of his vanquishers skipped the game. Both, tragically, lost in the semi-finals while I was busy losing Euphrat & Tigris to a first time player. In my defense, the other two players knew the rules, but they spent all of their time trying to manipulate the new guy and none of it actually trying to keep him from winning, so he won. He was a nice guy and pretty smart too, so I don’t feel too bad about the giant clusterfuck of bad luck on my part (and poor strategic decisions on the parts of my other opponents). Final score: Winner: 6, other guys: 5 each, me: 4. At midnight, I play Werewolf. I end up being the Seer, but I get eaten. Villagers win, and Mohr survives. A bit of fun is had by all. Lady Crab has retired for the evening already, so Mohr and I hoof it back to the Radisson to catch some rest.

Pro tip: Sleep Number beds are fucking awful. They’re basically very fancy, very expensive air beds, and I hates them. Very little restful sleep is to be had the whole weekend. Lady Crab and Mohr concur. Don’t buy one, and have a tulku exorcise your house if one gets in somehow. Never actually try to sleep on one, that’s when their stimulant powers are strongest.

Second Day/Night: Saturday

So today Mohr and I decide to do some RPG. We get into A’hole DMs and a PFS Burnt Offerings. Lady Crab goes off to do more board gaming, playing Carcassonne (out in first round), Eclipse (First Place), Agricola (out in first round), and another  Dominion tourney (with expansions, the first day was base game only), which she won. Lady Crab shamed Mohr and me that day.

A’hole DMs was a meat grinder. A stack of first level characters is distributed to the players, who simply take a new one after the old one inevitably expires. Pathfinder rules-lite, and pretty reasonably paced for something with 6 players (I think). I’m glad we did it, but I wouldn’t necessarily do it again. The guy sitting to my right almost made it through the whole thing with his original character, which is an achievement. We had fun, but as I said, probably not something I’ll try again, as it seemed a bit stale after the first couple of hours. No reflection on the DMs, just not my cuppa.

Burnt Offerings was pretty awesome. We dominated the dungeon almost completely, because I had the good sense to play a Wizard with Charm Person. One charmed goblin, a firework, and a brilliant plan (by yours truly) meant that we destroyed the goblins who had the nerve to bleed on our finery. On the next level, our luck turned sour. I mean, really, really sour, as in all single digit rolls for everybody for almost four rounds. We turned it around; I blinded Nualia with a Glitterdust cast from my bonded staff (I was playing the iconic 4th level Ezren), and our dice returned to something like average rolls which meant a triumph with no corpses to lug home. It was a PFS game, so that’s actually important. We had seven at the table plus the DM, so we did have an advantage, but our DM pulled no punches and was pretty brutal, so it was exciting. Kudos to the DM, Grant, for a great time. I clack my pincers to you in salute.

Mohr and I headed back to the Radisson after that, because it was late and we felt like trying to get some rest; we had foolishly forgotten the ‘beds’ awaiting their chance to kill us.

Third Day/Night: Sunday

Mohr ran off to play Mansions of Madness, he picked up MVP and was apparently acclaimed as awesome, or something; I didn’t see it. Lady Crab was in a Power Grid tourney, and she was winning, too. If you’ve ever played Power Grid, you know that until the game is done it can go in almost any direction; many strategies take time to set up and pay off in the last turn. So Lady Crab was understandably perturbed when the moderator watched them play out the first part of the last round before calling the game because it had run over the allotted time for the first round. By two minutes. While he watched them play for the prior ten minutes, saying nothing. He then awarded the round to the person who was slightly ahead in the previous round, despite the fact that Lady Crab had a good chance to win. She mighta lost, but mighta not (probably not) and if he had let the round end (total time required: 2 minutes) she might have moved on (with a finished game instead of a called one). Instead he calls it, gives the win to someone who publicly admitted he might not have won (and who also thought that the whole thing was a dick move), and refuses to back down. Lady Crab abhors violence, but she came really close to it that night. I think the moderators name was Sean (Shawn?), but maybe not. And now, a brief interlude to deliver a message:

If you were the moderator on Sun 17 Feb of the 9:00 am Power Grid Tournament, Fuck You you Fucking Fuck. You lousy, power-abusing, arbitrary piece of excrement who I wouldn’t piss on if you were on fire, I hope you catch a crotch spider infestation from a randy goat. Fuck you.

She also played Stone Age and Troyes, taking second in Troyes, which she had just learned to play. She came back to me gushing about it, so we got one one Wednesday. It is awesome. Look for my review.

I went off to play 18xx, which I haven’t done in years. I met some people I haven’t seen since the last century, and I garnered my first ribbon of the con by coming in second in 1832 (Deep Thought Games’ Dixon design, as I understand that another 1832 is to be published soon from Victory Point Games). We played 18India for fun (we called it because of a misunderstanding, but I was in the lead and the likely winner), and I almost learned how to play Saint Petersburg before I had to go and lose at Puerto Rico (Third place). I usually dominate Puerto Rico, so even though I lost I guess it’s a refreshing change of pace (I’ve lost one other time in 5 years or so). It was  great game with good players, and one of the most exciting games I played at the con. After that, it was off to midnight Saint Petersburg, which Lady Crab joined me for. She had never played, and I was half-trained, so we didn’t expect to get far. She hated the game, but managed to avoid coming in last in the first round (although she didn’t move on). Even though we played some rules wrong, I won my table more easily than anticipated and moved to the final round. The final round was long, and very, very close. I made two critical mistakes, one late, one early on, but I was still in the running until the last round, when I almost made a third mistake. I knew the guy to my left, we’ll call him Plumey, and knew of the guy across the table from me, who we’ll call Scotty, both of whom are ridiculously skilled players. Scotty pointed out that I had missed something on one of the cards, which pissed Plumey off to no end. Plumey got angry, but Scotty pointed out that Plumey had tried to manipulate me earlier in the same way, and Plumey shut up. Had Plumey got the card instead of me, he would have won by 8. Instead, I won by 2. So ended my only first place win in the con, and all I had to do was play through the exhaustion. I dragged my ass back to the Radisson.

Mohr had crapped out early on Saturday to go have phone sex with his girlfriend or something, and Lady Crab left at 1 am or so, so I got back to a dark room, and used my awesome powers of exhaustion to defeat the Sleep Number beds and actually get good sleep.

Final Day:Monday

We all got up, went and played in 7 Wonders, and lost. I did make it to the second round, owing to the fact that the top two players from each table went on. I tied for second at my table, with the guy who beat me at Euphrat & Tigris. But I won the tiebreaker, so sweet revenge was to be had. Then I lost the next game. Good times, good times. Then we went back to the Radisson, as we had a lunch reservation at Wool Growers in Bakersfiend (I mean Bakersfield, but seriously people, what a shithole. The town, I mean. The restaurant was awesome). Naturally, the bellhop, who I will call Young Wasim after the character in Best Exotic Marigold (although the actual Young Wasim is pretty cool), was nowhere to be found, despite having received instructions. So Mohr and I loaded the car in three trips, and off we went. So ended Orccon 2013.

The Good:

Almost every game we were in was moderated by good, organized, fun people. In general, the staff were courteous, friendly, and informative. The Sheraton didn’t give us a hard time, and their staff was also courteous and friendly. We had a great time.

The Bad:

Except for the first night’s Dominion game. That moderator was slow, unorganized, and totally unsuited to the task. People were trying to steal command of the thing before it got under way. Nothing personal, but maybe moderating big tournaments is not your forte, guy.

The space was too small, which the con staff is fully aware of. That’s why, starting next year, all Strategicons will be at the Hilton, which is supposed to be have bigger and better space for this sort of thing. We’ll see, I guess, but I have faith. The prizes have apparently gone down in value since the last time I has at this con, which means that adjusted for inflation they’ve really gone down. They do give Dealer Tokens for third place, which is nice, and the tokens are pretty cool. The dealer room seemed small, but that could just be my perception.

And lastly, Fuck You, Power Grid moderator. You drag all of the other moderators down with your stupidity, and you should be horsewhipped until the stupid leaves your body, which I’m guessing would leave you about 4 feet tall. I won’t hold this against the con, yet, but they really need to do something about you and those like you. Perhaps an exorcism, or some kind of poisonous bait trap.

The Games: