Ken's Voyages Around the Sun

GenCon SoCal
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GenCon... the largest role-playing gaming convention in the world, usually held in Wisconsin every summer, but now branching out to regional offerings.

Sounded good, so we signed up for two days, but stuck to board and strategy games (plus Shelley attended an acting workshop run by a couple of the Babylon 5 actors whose handler she's getting to know).

Overall, I reckon I'd grade the con at B- because it could have been a lot better. The variety of games was okay, but many of them didn't run for lack of participants. If they did run, the larger ones didn't fill up. It was good to try it out, just a little disappointing, and perhaps not worth the entrance fee to play many of the same titles we play weekly.

It was good, however, to try some new games and to play some of the old ones with people we didn't know, to see different strategies in use. It's supposed to be held again over the next couple years and I suspect I'll attend again, but it depends on timing and whatever else may be going on at the same time.

The worst thing was the lack of prizes. Generally cons that require players to pay for each game they play award at least dealer dollars, but this one gave nothing. That was most disappointing!

Ended up playing:

Republic of Rome (didn't win)
Mare Nostrum (won)
Puerto Rico (lost badly)
Domaine (lost badly twice)

Attack (with expansion) (demo game)
Princes of Florence (didn't win)
Mystery of the Abbey (won)
Carcassonne (won)

The most memorable thing: while playing one game, I turned over my shoulder to see who was watching us at one point, and found a guy named Grant Moy, who used to play with us in the very early days of the Cornell gaming club. He just happened to be at the con for role-playing and wandered by between his games. We spent a while catching up -- it was great to see him!

Another memorable thiing: Saturday we went out to dinner with Larry to a nearby Thai place. The restaurant is run by a guy that used to play with Larry's group all the time, but is too busy for the last few years to do so. The Thai place is attached to the Orange County Badminton Club and sports the largest facility of the sort in the country.

Apparently this guy's father came over from Thailand (where he had been a world-class badminton player for the country) to start a printing business. His garage operation quickly turned into a $3 million business, so he built this huge badminton facility, and then added the Thai restaurant. So now he has all three combined on one location. Very unusual, but he hosts Olympic teams and serves as president of some large badminton organization and runs all three successfully!

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