Sunday, May 1, 2016

St Michael's Con 2016

 I really like gaming conventions but being an obnoxious "Type A" personality, I always wonder how hard could it be to put one on a gaming weekend for a group of like minded souls?  Rather than post on TMP with uninformed thoughts, I decided to find out and hosted a gaming weekend for 11 of my gaming buddies over a long weekend.  While my little event will not rival Salute or Historicon, it was a nice experiment and a whole lot of fun.

Set up started on Wed night when Steve came over and we were able to baptize his new gaming table with it's inaugural game of X-Wing!

Thursday am was devoted to prep work, which mainly involved laying in food supplies.  11 adult male gamers will consume "mass quantities" of food and have been known to turn violent if not fed properly.  Don't worry there was also an ample supply of beer.

One thing I did decide early in the planning was to go with low set up / take down games (X-Wing / Armada and other board games.

Later thursday, Steve's table got a real work out with the start of another "Heroes of the Aturi Cluster" X-Wing campaign.   This picture is actually from Friday as I forgot to take pictures on thursday.  The first six initial arrivals on thursday were treated to a dinner in town and then there was gaming to 3:30am

 On Friday morning we had an uninvited guest - a 5 foot long queen snake.  You can also see we get a little bit of pollen out on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

 All of the guests arrived sometime friday and the serious gaming began - here is a pair of strategic thinkers playing the new star wars rebellion game.  I made breakfast for the crew on Friday - eggs and bacon.  We went through a lot of bacon that weekend.

 The dining room table was protected by a painting tarp.  It proved to be a wise decision.  One side note - our dining room table is 8ft x 4' so it must have been designed for gaming!

 Yet more X-wing - I think I played in 14 X-wing games during the event!  As the gaming stretched into Friday night we ordered Pizza and played yet again until 3:00am
Happy geeks

Satruday dawned to a pancake breakfast cooked by your's truly and yet more bacon.
 Dano on the left is usually very shy and reserved but somehow we were able to coax him out of his shell.  The group is playing the Zombiecide "Black Plague" game which was a real blast.
I got to play a lot of new games but the one that stuck out the most for me was "Lords of Waterdeep" - what a fantastic game.
 Dinner Saturday night was a group cooking event.  I really need to get better kitchen staff.  We had a wide array of grilled meats, some star wars mac-n-cheese and steamed crabs.  There were also some lettuce for the burgers so we could say we ate a vegetable.

Gaming Saturday night stretched again to 3:30am with very raucous games of "Bang" and "Panic on Wall Street".  Three nights in a row staying up to 3:30am is an impressive streak for me.

As Sunday morning dawned it was time to close out the con and I bid a fond farewell to my guests.

So what did I learn?

Hosting a gaming event like this is the most fun I've had gaming and I will definitely do it again next year and increase the size to 20 or so.

Things that went well

(1) Food
Everyone seemed to be well fed and there was enough options to keep everyone happy regardless of dietary restrictions - The group BBQ on Saturday night went really well and was a lot of fun.

(2) House Wear and Tear
My house sustained no damage - while we may all play rather silly war-games, this group of friends are class acts and knew what fate awaited me from my wife if they broke something in the house.  My lovely, yet fierce, wife was both impressed and surprised at the lack of damage

(3) The Participants
All 11 of my guests were a joy to host and I'm grateful they decided to give this whole experiment a go.  Most of them are associated with the WWPD "gang" or put on convention games with me.  I kept the initial guest list pretty restricted as I didn't know how many would show up and if they'd have fun

I'll post a group picture of the participants as soon as I track one down.  I'm pretty sure Chippendales has nothing to fear from us.

(4) The Location
I think people really liked St Michaels.  It's a bit off the beaten path but is a nice vacation spot and offers a lot to do if people one day bring their wives and/or kids to next years event.

(5) Fun
Perhaps the most important indicator of success is that everyone appeared to have fun.  No one was left out of any gaming opportunities and there was a lot of laughing and high-jinks.  I didn't keep a formal tally but my best guess is that there were at least 60 games played across 6 or so game types.

Things that could have gone better

(1) Game planning
I really didn't do any and it worked out fine but next year I'd like to have more historical games and maybe a tournament of some sort.  That requires more advanced planning and, more importantly, enlisting volunteers to run different types of games.  I don't think we'll have a detailed PEL on online registration system but I do think a little more effort here on my part will pay real dividends

(2) Accommodations
We have a relatively nice place in St Michaels and the pool was open.  but it was straining at the seems to sleep 11 adults.  If I moved the event back a few weekends we could setup canopy tents for some outside gaming and even get the heartier souls to camp on the property.  It will also still be off season so I can also negotiate a cut rate hotel cost for those with more discerning tastes.

(3) Healthier food options
Next year I need to make sure there are wider array of healthier food options (fruit maybe even a vegetable of two).  While eating charred meat is fun and all, three days of a carnivorous buffet can take it's toll on ones waistline.

I had a blast doing this and will definitely put on another one next year with a larger size and a good bit more advanced planning

Ok here's the real reason I put this show on - left behind gaming stuff - I got two tokens from X-Wing, an empty plastic dice box and the timer from "Panic on Wall Street".  I'm sure I'll have full games after only a few years of hosting these events - Muuuhawwhawwahaawww.....


Steven MacLauchlan said...

This was an awesome time- thank you again for hosting! Very much looking forward to St Michaels Con 2017!

Ivor Evans said...

Great stuff Miles! You certainly have 13 very lucky friends!

Ivor Evans said...

Great stuff Miles! You certainly have 13 very lucky friends!

peter said...

Looks like you all had a wonderfull time!


Dirty Jon said...

This was fantastic! Thanks for your hospitality!

Luke said...

Great time miles
Thanks you again

Peter Douglas said...

Looks like a great weekend Miles! Jo's did you get permission from the planning authorities? Did she run away for the weekend? I must sat there seems to be an imbalance in the house. She brings in clever and attractive young ladies and you bring in wargames!

Am jealous of your set up.

jmilesr said...

Peter - I'm afraid Mary Beth elected to be elsewhere during the weekend. Shocking isn't it. I even offered her the role of announcing a games turn like they do in vegas for a boxing match or the more elegant professional wrestling events..

Women - go figure, huh?

Judson said...

Thanks Miles!

Dan has been using that timer in gaming since RoboRally - maybe before. He's crying somewhere.

Judson said...

Thanks Miles!

Dan has been using that timer in gaming since RoboRally - maybe before. He's crying somewhere.

jmilesr said...

Now I'm sad - I'll send it back to him - a sad dan is a terrible thing to see

Versch said...

20+ years of gaming that egg timer has been around...with the same battery!

Paul O'G said...

What a brilliant looking time. 14 games of X-Wing - impressive! Well done on coaxing Dano out of his shell, an obviously difficult task at the best of times. Sounds like you had a house filled with Masterchefs too!

BTW Looks like I'll be back around early Sep-early Oct if you want to start planning the next one :-)

Michael Peterson said...

The troops were well fed, kept busy and entertained, and you all learned something. Top marks for this EX.
I was doing fine with this post until you got to the Chippendales part, and then my mind went in horrific directions. :)