Tempe, Arizona is a University city. It hosts the Arizona State University campus with 90,000 students, making it one of the biggest – if not the biggest – in the USA. (The Dean, apparently, wants to increase the student numbers significantly.) But when I arrived for ConsimWorld Expo, the term was finished and the city was quiet; very quiet. For example, I visited a huge Target store in the middle of the day and there were not enough customers to form a football team. Spooky.
But while it was quiet, the overwhelming impression arising from the physical location, was the heat. It was 42-44 degrees – every day except the last one of my visit. Stepping outside for a second, was like being in an oven set to “high”. My body burned, and my eyes smarted. I did get used to it, but was daft enough to try walking to a specialist (camera) store six blocks away from the hotel. I was well and truly dehydrated by the time I got there. (It’s so hot and dry, that your sweat disappears before you can notice it, so you can dehydrate to dangerous levels without noticing.) I had to ask for some water so as to be able to make the return journey.
Thankfully, 99% of my time was in the air conditioned atmosphere of the hotel.
As for the convention, there were 2-300 gamers there, playing wargames. Half the space, roughly, was taking up by those playing monstergames. What is that? Well, the short answer is that it’s a big game that takes a long time to play. For example, one such game (the combined Devil’s Cauldron and Where Eagles Dare shown in the next picture) has nine maps and took a team of several players over about five days to play to a conclusion. The other half of the space was for open gaming, where people could arrange to play other games. Some of these were monster games, too, but never mind.
The day started with a briefing breakfast, and then gaming in the main hall. However, you could game 24 hours a day if you so chose. I tended to keep less demanding hours as I was thoroughly jet lagged. Each morning, far too early, I woke up up ready for action. I read a bit, went back to sleep, and then got up at the right time. But as each day went on, I felt the fatigue returning. I guess there are worse things in life, but travelling takes its toll on me.
During the day, the dealer rooms opened. This allowed us gaming addicts to feed our habit.
Most evenings there were seminars, but I skipped these as my fellow players wanted to play not to listen. (This may be the definition of a real gamer!) The first official evening had a short opening event, with a presentation by the main organizer John Kranz. I received an award – a game, of course – for being the first to register for the convention. And I also got a game for being an overseas participant. Cool. (Hint: no matter how many games a gamer has, there is nothing quite like the feeling of receiving a new game. Except, that is, the feeling of receiving a new game for free!)
On the Saturday night, there was an auction. The auctioneers – Alan Emrich and Hawkeye – were superb. Funny and sharp, they know gamers and their foibles, and entertained us while snappily conducting the business of the auction. This single event was almost worth the price of admission alone.
As for my gaming, you can see my earlier post about the main games I played. However, that post doesn’t truly highlight the gaming pleasure provided by those I gamed with. Take a bow, Rob Bottos, Richard Dupraw, John Leggatt, and Michael Roso. Because these games can be complex, it is not unusual for queries about rules or situations to arise. And sometimes we get things wrong. Playing with these gentlemen – a word that is appropriate in this case – meant that such matters were decided quickly, and in a friendly manner. No rules lawyering and no bad feelings. That was a major contribution to me having such a great week.
Yes, I had a great time. Undoubtedly one of the best gaming experiences of my life.