Gaming Until We Drop at LanceCon I

Just about every week, my gaming group gets together to play our ongoing Greyhawk-based Dungeons & Dragons campaign. It’s nearly seven years old (its anniversary arrives in September) and its a source of continual fun, camaraderie and unrelenting chaos.

It’s not all about D&D, although it dominates our agenda. We also play a huge number of other games, typically card and board games, some current, many out of print. Unfortunately, we only get to play them haphazardly, usually when we don’t have enough players for the D&D session or when a few of us get together between sessions.

Last weekend, we decided to do something a little more organized. We arranged a massive game fest, spanning Friday night and consuming almost all of Saturday. The mission was simple: play as many non-RPGs as possible, and play them until we reached the point of exhaustion.

We called this weekend of unending gaming “LanceCon”, after Lance Miller, one of our most ardent board gamers and the one who inspired the weekend. And it was a definite success.

There were three of us Friday night — Bob, Jon and myself — and we started things off by playing Settlers of Catan (Amazon) a board game I’d purchased months earlier after it was the subject of several comic strips in in Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine. We’d been talking about playing it ever since I bought the game, and after finally playing it, we’re kicking ourselves for not having started sooner.

Settlers is a 3-4 person resource management game in which players compete to economically dominate the island of Catan. The island is randomly generated each game using a combination of hex-based land tiles, each of which produces one of four kinds of resources: sheep, lumber, ore and bricks. The game also randomly generates the scarcity of these resources, which are needed to build various improvements in the game, including roads, settlements and cities. Settlements and cities are worth one and two points respectively, and the goal of the game is to build enough (coupled with special “victory” point cards) to reach 10 points; the first person who does so wins. The game does an excellent job of combining strategy with trading, and it’s not nearly as vicious and backstabbing as many of the other games we play, so it makes for a nice break from the routine. We played until around 2:30 in the morning, getting in three games before deciding to call it a night. Jon won the first game, followed by two victories by Bob.

Or at least, they did. I stayed up later, playing WarCraft III on my Mac until around 3:30 a.m.

Saturday morning saw Bob, Jon and I kicking off Day 2 with a 9 a.m. 1000 pt. HeroClix slugfest, which lasted until around 11 a.m. when the fourth of our number, Dave, arrived. Jon won the Clix smackdown, narrowly beating out Bob.

At that point we broke for an early lunch at Olive Garden to gather strength for our impending gaming marathon.

Once we returned to the gaming room, we broke out Risk 2210 (Amazon) and spent the afternoon battling each other for control of Earth and her various sea and lunar colonies. Bob won again (once again proving the old adage that BOB IS ALWAYS the enemy).

After Risk 2210, LanceCon’s namesake, the aforementioned Lance, arrived and we switched gears back to Settlers of Catan. With five players on hand, we decided it was worth an hour-long run to the Wizards of the Coast at the Bridgewater Mall in Bridgewater, N.J. to buy the expansion Jon won that first game, after which we immediately launched a five-player game.

It was a great game, though I didn’t have as much fun playing it as the three earlier ones. It was entirely my fault — I placed my two initial settlements in locations I thought would be productive enough to be competitive. But while my colonies had all the brick, ore and even lumber they needed, they didn’t have the sheep or wheat that are so essential to expansion early in the game, and that cost me dearly.

Dave bowed out after that game, and we rounded out the evening with a four-player game of Munchkin, during which we combined cards from the orginal game and its two sequels, Munchkin 2: Unnatural Acts and Star Munchkin. And we learned an important lesson: combining more than two editions of the game together results in having way too many cards, and starts having negative impacts on game play.

The home run hit of LanceCon was definitely Settlers of Catan, a game that we should’ve been playing for the last six years or so (and will now have to re-double our efforts at playing, just to make up for lost time). It’s a fun game, and one with enough expandability (there are two expansions for the game that add new goals and tactics to the game) to keep us happily playing for years.

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