Saturday, April 18, 2009


Student Nationals - Day 1

The Live Action Role Players (LARPers) definitely take their art/sport/hobby seriously...

The games for the Nationals start today so everybody turns up to the Student Union at 9am. Pretty quickly the smell starts to hit you - some male gamers tend not to recognise the need to wash regularly. Luckily there are only "hot spots" of odour and we are off to our events before the air quality deteriorates too far.

The wargamers (large-scale tabletop battles with figures) are off to the sports centre; roleplayers leave for the Geoffrey Manton building; LARPers have a secret destination far away; which leaves the boardgamers to go back to the bar (woot!) to play out our sessions. Having food and beer just yards away from the game tables wins Vague, the hosts, a gold star in my books.

We find that a few players have dropped out and the organisers pressgang other Vague people into filling their spaces. In the end we have 4 tables of 5 people and the gaming commences.

Steel Driver

This is a railway line building game but not very similar to "Railway Rivals" or "Ticket To Ride". There are two phases - the taking of routes by different railroad companies followed by the determining of the company share prices. Unless you've played this before, you won't realise how damned important the second phase is. After setting up an impressive railway network and profiting well as a result, I was pipped to the win by the player with shares in the most highly valued company.


Giants needs you to build Easter Island style statues and move them to the beaches of an island for erection. There's an interesting compromise between distance (statues moved further generate more points) and time (making sure you have four statues in place before the other players). Next time I will make sure I have lots of trees cut down for logs to roll statues over.


This was an interesting strategy/combat game which I won by encouraging the other players to concentrate on fighting each other. Thanks, guys. The concept of the game - moving pieces around and engaging in combat seemed OK but the designers threw in a set of cards to give an extra element of luck (in addition to that of the dice used in combat resolution). I didn't feel these cards sat well with the design - you could have a nice strategy coming along and then somebody plays a card which chucks a spanner in the works. I can imagine the game playing fine without them.

Mission Red Planet

Quite a busy game which I didn't quite get the hang of - another few plays through would be necessary. The idea is to get your troops onto Mars to occupy strategic locations for victory points. The troops get to the red planet via spaceships which are launched as a result of player whim. Or sometimes they don't as a ship gets sabotaged by a player, or they're shot by another. Tricky game.

After the day's sessions of games, Sue and I went back to the Atrium to drop off our bags - I didn't want to carry my rucksack around all evening for no reason. Unfortunately, we napped for a few hours instead and it wasn't until after "Casualty" that we ventured back.

There was a lot going on with the Crystal Vague problem-solving event which we had decided not to enter as there were only the two of us in our team. After a drink or two spent chatting and admiring people's costumes, we went downstairs to the Rock Kitchen. This wasn't part of the Nationals but we did get subsidised entry. Two rooms of the Student Union's first floor were given over to the public for a night of rock music; one large room with a heavy duty sound system and the other with music at a level you could enjoy and endure. Spent a good couple of hours listening to some classic rock before strolling home to get some sleep.

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