Sunday 9:30am – 2:00pm – Carcassonne UK Championship
This year the Carcassonne tournament was back to a normal format – no changes in winning conditions – although the scoring system was simplified. I played inconsistently in the qualifying rounds (2nd, 4th, 2nd) to end up way down the list. I was slightly mollified when I realised that the winners of those three games went on to contest the top table for overall champion. I also had further consolation by winning the 4th (pride-only) round game due mainly to a large city all 4 players built and fought over. Surprised that the other players allowed the city to reach completion and double points. Good way to end, anyway. Overall, the tournament could benefit from tighter planning and time-keeping.
The Bring and Buy stall was in a spacious room this year but didn’t have much of what I wanted, mainly because I was travelling by train so didn’t want to carry much home. In the end I opted for an £8 purchase of the Carcassonne “Inns and Cathedrals” expansion. On reflection, I would have been better off going to eBay as this set didn’t contain the six 50/100 scoring tiles. On further reflection, I would probably have never bothered going to eBay for this item so it’s good I bought it when I did.
There were a nice couple of Cthulhu-oriented trade stands in the Palace suite:
Not Cthulhu’s grandfather but the mortal representatives of the celebrated website, YSDC. I’m an occasional listener to their podcast and it was a nice surprise when I realised that the person behind the table had been one of the voices in my head. Didn’t get a chance to chat or take a picture as he was either busy or eating when I was around.
Lamentations of the Fire Princess
The sign on the table indicated that the books on display could be bought for what every people wanted to pay. Even £1. He explained that the more he sold, the less had to be carried back to Finland. I assume, from the website, that I was talking to James Raggi, the game designer. Feeling charitable (and not going to pass up on an honest bargain), for £4 I picked up “The Monolith from Beyond Space and Time” and “The God That Crawls”. I may not end up using them but I’m sure they’ll make a reasonable read.
Cubicle 7, not far away, also has a strong Cthulhu flavour but had four times the space as YSDC or LotFP so felt more like a shop than a stand. I quickly paid up to receive “God_Game_Black”, yet another supplement in the Laundry RPG series (based on Charles Stross’ espionage/horror books). I politely made my feelings known about the company’s inability to provide complementary PDFs after the sale and he indicated that he’d make sure that didn’t happen this time.
Sunday 2pm-3pm – Who Nicked My Spaceship?
Dr Who’s version of Never Mind the Buzzcocks meets QI meets Shooting Stars in a sci-fi way. Richard Ashton and rest of Who’s Company are joined by John Levene (Sgt. Benton of UNIT) and Simon Fisher-Becker (Dorim Maldavar) in a quiz show with a difference.
This was a good laugh despite being a complete shambles. The Dr Who team were reasonably on time but the Star Wars team seemed oblivious to the fact that they had somewhere to be at 2pm. and had to rely on a member of the audience to make up numbers (which actually went well for them as he turned out to be an SF mastermind). The projector screen couldn’t be set up as, by the time it arrived, the room was too full of people and chairs to give it any space. There were no team buzzers so they made do with the dalek and a light sabre. And finally, the woman sitting next to me in the front row had to keep score on her iPad. It was almost as if the whole thing was a last minute event rather than something scheduled in the Expo guide.
With much less time and no visuals, the quiz was mostly SF questions (general and team-specific) with a NMtBuzzcocks-style play-the-theme-tune section. I was slightly embarrassed to have the audience docked a point for suggesting that Yoda the Green was the miniature Jedi’s full name.
Sunday 3pm-7pm – Destroying Paradise, Hawai’ian Style
The U.S. Territory of Hawai’i, 1957: blue skies, loud shirts, surfing and a king of rock-n-roll making a movie; what could spoil this idyllic setting? Well, when the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos combine with the horror of nuclear weapons, what do you think?
This was a scenario from the “Atomic Age Cthulhu” supplement, run by Robert Yates. The GM had read the module but not really become familiar with it which lead to some confusion for the players and no little stress for him. The storyline was interesting enough. The problem was that the characters were flown to Hawaii in the first place. Why would some unknown agency, seemingly the military, send a bunch of strangers out with such little guidance on what to do? I was playing a nuclear scientist whose background would be useful in a few scenes. Basically he was there to identify radiation sickness and mutations. That didn’t really help to engage you in playing the game. It felt like the characters were chosen for their usefulness as tools in explaining and resolving the story instead of them being part of the story. Amusingly, two of the players had been to Hawaii, one of them for 10 years. There’s nothing a GM needs less than players who are more familiar with the locale then they are.
Sunday 7:14pm – waiting for the train home, after walking pass a horde of Rush fans going to a gig at the NEC.