Last weekend, I drove to VA to pick up Jessica so that we could make the trip to Park Slope neighbourhood of Brooklyn for FeldCon, a day of gaming dedicated to the master of the point salad himself.
It sounds crazy; it IS crazy. I drove from NC to NY Friday to play Saturday, and then drove back Sunday. But you know what? It was absolutely, utterly worth it! I got to play some of my favourite games with friends old & new.
Not only did I play those awesome games, but…
I got to share accommodations with Jessica & the ever-delightful Bullocks…
In a beautifully maintained historic townhouse…
Situated on one of many gorgeous tree-lined streets…
On which walked oh so many cute dogs…
Through air so hot & humid it was like walking through soup
… Well, that last part wasn’t nearly so pleasant, but at least the actual FeldCon venue had working AC once we got there.
So Friday was mainly driving, LOTS of driving. But we got into Park Slope around 7:30pm, found parking, and made our way to what had been dubbed The Feldhouse. Daniel was there along with the Bullocks, Jason Lees, Chris, and most importantly, actual NY pizza. After grabbing some food, and our luggage from the car, we settled into some pre-FeldCon (ie non-Feld) gaming.
Jessica pulled out some Gen Con hotness for herself, Daniel, Jordan & myself in the form of Covert & Kreo, while the others pulled out (I think) Protect the Barrier, Qwixx Deluxe & The Game (the Beth Sobel version – ie. the ONLY version worth playing).
I really enjoyed Covert (and not just because I won). It was a little tough to identify map locations/areas due to too-similar colours & playing pieces covering important information, but I was able to look past those issues and get into the gameplay itself. Playing with the timing of passing was fun & I was able to take advantage of my character ability to pass early without feeling like I’d squandered the opportunity to do something. After the first few rounds, I didn’t actually do much with the decoder just because of how my combinations shook out, but it was a really interesting mechanism and one I’d probably spend a bit more time on, if I got the chance to play again.
Kreo was beautiful and intriguing. I’d like another go at it to fully form an opinion on the game, but the presentation is gorgeous & I think I do like the gameplay. I’d definitely like to throw in the advanced rules to see how it all shakes out, but maybe that makes me a masochist (I do love In the Year of the Dragon after all).
After Kreo, it was time to sleep and rest up for Saturday’s day of gaming … which of course meant that after everyone else left, Jessica & I sat up talking with Kimberly & Jordan for way too long!
Finally it was FeldCon day, or as Jordan put it, FELDMAS!
Jessica and walked the streets of Brooklyn early in order to find coffee, before returning to The Feldhouse to finish preparations for the event. After a breakfast of champions (a latte & malteasers, don’t you judge me), it was time to lure able-bodied humans to us in order to carry all the heavy stuff. Luckily Kimberly knows the kind-hearted (and possibly too gullible) Dicebreaker boys and so MJ & Ben answered the call & lugged our games to the Brooklyn Game Lab, saving me from having to do it.
Once there, we started unloading the mountain of Feld games brought by attendees. This photo from Gil Hova doesn’t do it justice and I’m kicking myself for not thinking to take one as the table groaned under the weight of all that cardboard.
In addition to Felds, a number of other designers’ games had apparently snuck into people bags; these were relegated to the floor, amongst them being this aptly labeled gem courtesy of the Dicebreakers:
But why come to FeldCon if not to play Felds? So we got our badges & settled in for the first round. My first game was actually one of only 2 games in the library that I hadn’t played before, the somewhat-divisive Rialto. I actually really enjoyed the game, despite the nay-sayers on Twitter. It was tense as we added up the end-game scoring, and, in the end, I beat MJ by a single point to take the win.
To follow up that nail-biting finish (& help Jessica recover from Rialto which hadn’t treated her as nicely), we moved on to Bora Bora with Jason & I tag-teaming teaching the game to Jessica & Daniel. This one didn’t go nearly so well for me, mainly due to the fact that I couldn’t roll well to save my life. To be honest, that tends to be my standard with Bora Bora: I really enjoy it but I don’t tend to perform all that well. Jessica neatly destroyed us after dominating the priest track to rack up god tiles all game.
At this point we were getting hungry so, after a brief discussion, we headed next door to Indian Spice for what turned out to be the best Indian food I’ve had since I came to the US. A very welcome surprise, and a chance to relax with Jason, Kimberly, 7, 11 & Jessica before heading back into the fray.
First up after lunch was an old favourite, The Castles of Burgundy, with Jason, Jessica, & Ann. I hadn’t played in a while but man it felt so comfortable & easy to slide back into. I focused a little more on immediate benefit granting knowledge tiles than I usually have, and while I was nervous having little to no end-game scoring tiles, in the end it worked out. For the first time ever, I had to look up the tie-breaker for this game and luckily I narrowly beat Jason on the first one, as he would have won the second-level tie-breaker!
Then it was time to break everybody’s spirits as I pulled out In the Year of the Dragon & got ready to teach. I LOVE this game with a passion but I only expect a 50-50 shot of having a new player like or loathe the game. I beat the odds this time: Jason was declaring it his new grail game during teaching & declaring his love by round 2, while Ann was also expressing her love for the game. Jessica however didn’t take to it the same way, but that’s what I like about Feld games; they’re not as alike as people expect, and there’s designs of his for each of us to adore. I won this game also, but it was close as Jason was in the lead most of the game, and I only barely overtook him during the final scoring thanks to a 2-Buddha monk.
For the final game of the con, Jason and I sat down with David to play Trajan. This was only my second play of the game, and I didn’t perform quite as well in this one, but I still really like it. I went shipping early to grab some points and sets, but kind of floundered in the middle of the game doing a bit of everything which made it hard to recover. It was still a close scoring game, with me 4 points behind Jason, so I can’t be too annoyed at my performance. And it was as fun as I remembered, which is of course, way more important.
After that, our time at the Brooklyn Game Lab was nearing an end, so I took the opportunity to meet and chat with people I hadn’t managed to interact with already. Everyone was either finishing up games, determining the meta-game results (Daniel), chatting, or podcasting (Eric & Jessica), and so it was a nice point to relax and chill.
So the meta-game was an amazing idea of Daniel’s. Meeple Realty had kindly donated a Towers of Burgundy insert to the con, and so he came up with a point-salad scorecard designed to encourage attendees to make the con a success through teaching games, learning new ones, and playing with new people. All it took was one player in each game to fill out a scorecard with the necessary information & deliver it to Daniel for entry into his master spreadsheet. Unobtrusive, easy, and yet it created an overall framework for the event, along with the opportunity for a small amount of trash talking.
And surprisingly, I won! Which I guess means I am the Feld-master or something… Daniel wasn’t actually clear on my new title & its associated privileges, but I’m sure he just over-looked that small detail. Best of all, is that he presented me with my prize by banging a large gong, unaware that poor Eric & Jessica were recording right next to it! The rest of us collapsed laughing at the huge levels spike on their screen, a fitting & hilarious end to the day.
Of course, we couldn’t end there – so MJ and Ben joined us at The Feldhouse for some post-Con gaming. We played three games of Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, including the shortest game ever, when the murderer’s clues were identified 30 seconds in, before Ben had even given more than a couple of clues. After that, we played A Fake Artist Goes to New York, which I have to admit I detested. I can see why others love the game but it is so not for me.
Sunday was a day of goodbyes and more driving. We packed up the car, said farewell to the Bullocks who were headed into the city for Broadway & more gaming, and thanked Daniel again for putting on an amazing event (and arranging a place to stay). Then Jessica and I hit the road, and headed back to the real world
Final Thoughts (sorry Rahdo)
FeldCon was a last minute, odd trip – one that I probably wouldn’t have done, if I’d spent more than a few minutes thinking about it. I spent the next day at work exhausted and cursing the drive, I was still tired days later. But then again, over the weekend, I played a lot of games I really enjoyed and only one that I didn’t. I got to spend more time with distant friends like Daniel, the Bullocks, Gil, and of course Jessica. I got to meet a lot of new people, including Jason (who I clicked with & ended up gaming all day with on Saturday), Ben, MJ, totally-a-real-person-&-not-an-actor Steve, Ann, Gabe, Chris K, & Chris M.
And so, I would do it all again. And if Daniel could just schedule the next one at a cooler time, then I’ll take some time off work and stay in Park Slope longer to explore the area. Small local cons are such a different experience from the bustle of Origins; the only problem is there are so many out there once you start looking, and I only have so much time off available!