DEXCON 20

Welcome to Cthulhu Mom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gaming family.

DEXCON 20 wrap up time!

As always I am going to try to focus on how Yog was integrated and impacted the convention experience. However, this convention was AMAZING! Seriously guys, I love this convention series and have had some great experiences in the past, but this one makes the top ten list easily.

Our original plan was to get to the hotel about an hour before check in. That got derailed quickly. We had planned on packing on the Monday before since we were spending Tuesday with friends for the July 4th holiday. Then we got a request for a house showing Tuesday morning. So instead of packing on Monday, we prepped the house, which meant that ALL the packing had to be done on Wednesday. Yog chose to make this one of the rare mornings she let us sleep until 9 am, which was awesome, but got us a late start. Then we had a leisurely breakfast, because vacation. Then the process began. I needed to make sure to have costumes for the three larps I was playing, all black clothes for the larp I was NPCing for, AND all the props and costumes for the larp I was running. Oh. And all the board games I had listed in my event description for The Family Game Table. And that was just the event specific stuff. I still needed to consider other clothes and needs. I managed to pare down on my packing by deciding that living in pieces of larp costumes was a good idea. It turned out to be a very good idea, since I didn’t have much time to change or not be in costume anyway. All in all it took us two hours to pack, with Yog’s assistance. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but SIX IS AWESOME! I was able to give her directions and I didn’t have to pack for her. She got all of her essentials together, which then my husband went through to make sure she had everything covered. He was also my clothing wingman as I gathered costumes together and decided what pieces could be re-used. Just having his presence helped keep me focused as I was definitely feeling overwhelmed. I had created a check list of things I needed to run the children’s larp, which I was really happy for as it was one less thing to think about that morning.

Then we needed to get everything in the car. We asked Yog to hang out in the living room and not make a huge mess while coordinated and she obliged. My husband lugged bags out to me and I figured out how to get everything into our car, as I’m a better Tetris player than he is. It was a tight fit, but we made it. The large orange ball I was bringing for the Escaping Steam was precariously perched, but that would only serve to entertain us during the drive as it rolled on top of Yog while she slept. She didn’t admit to sleeping and couldn’t figure out how the ball landed in her lap!

Check in went smoothly, a fact we (my awesome friends roomed with us) were all thankful for, and we got our connecting rooms. Dinner was had and then we lined up to get our badges. Which is when we noticed that some of the event spaces had been re-arranged. The one that had the biggest impact on us was the Con Suite, which was in an open area instead of a room. It felt more accessible and like it was a part of the activity instead of being a space to step away from the activity. I can see where that would be a negative for some people looking for a quiet space, but when Yog wanted to hang out there we didn’t feel as removed from the action.

Yog got her badge and had it laminated with the rest of us, then we shuffled her off to bed as it was already past bed time. This was a rough night for us. She fought a bit about getting into bed. Then kept insisting that she “just couldn’t fall asleep”. My husband was staying in, but I was heading off to the Larp Bazaar at 10 pm. I wasn’t sure if I had been assigned a space to represent Escaping Steam and wanted to be there to fill the space had one been provided. Also, it’s a great place to say hi to a lot of my friends. I had to put my foot down on the talking to get her to finally fall asleep. She slept through the night and I managed to not watch the sun rise. This is a real struggle with me and conventions.

I was grateful that the convention organizers had asked to move The Family Game Table

Between Events
Yog helped out by pulling our suitcase of games to and from The Family Game Table.

to the 11 am to 1 pm slot (I had been requesting the 9 am to 11 am slot). I was able to sleep in a bit and feel more relaxed going into Thursday. Yog opted to not wear her Wonder Woman costume, as she had worn it a week before and had to ask me to get her out of it, she just wore the headband and belt. I’m not sure if it was because of the later time slot or not, but we had one group join us on Thursday. We played Flash Point Fire Recue. Well, the other group of three and myself played. Yog played with bubbles and Jenga blocks. My husband also joined us as he had the slot open. He didn’t play initially, but as always he was helpful in explaining rules. And he was a total champ, jumping in to fill in for the little girl, when halfway through the game she decided that blowing bubbles with Yog looked like more fun. We also found out that the little girl would be joining us for Escaping Steam.

After that event we did a quick run up to the room to drop off our board game stash, eat a quick lunch and grab our props for

Escaping Steam
The poster we created for the event.

Escaping Steam, the children’s larp we were running. We had two children (with their adults) and one adult player. I had spoken with the adult player before to prepare her for the game, as I knew she was an avid larper and I was afraid she would be bored. Despite the axiom of “no plot survives contact with the players”, this event went very smoothly for me. I had plenty of wonderful help setting up and NPCing, so I could focus on making the game go smoothly, coaching, and playing Steam at the end (as per Yog’s request). Yog was really into helping out, which I was really grateful for. There was lots of adorable during the game. The kids loved making their super hero vests, seemed to get the simple rules quickly and dove right in. I didn’t have them do full character creation, instead allowed them to play themselves as super heroes with super powers. At times they were so involved with the puzzle they were solving they would forget where they put their bubbles down. I had worried about that prior to the game and considered making a way to attach the bubbles to them, but figured that might lead to kids covered in bubble soap and ditched the idea in favor of having the bad guy NPC hold back as needed. I had set each room up with supplies enough for ten kids. One puzzle involved putting stickers on a grid. If they had gotten one grid between all of the kids that would have been enough to consider the room unlocked. However, the industrious pair, along with Yog, loved the grid puzzle so much they did all ten grids before moving on! This caused a slow down for the adults, but since the kids were having fun and we had plenty of time, I let them go. They were completely prepared for the final showdown with Steam and even improvised their own ways of showing her that they wanted to be friends and not steal her treasure. When the game was over I gave each of the kids a paper lunch bag and let them take home some of the props. Clean up turned out to be an easy process since the kids had emptied some of the spaces claiming their treasure. I have several title ideas for other potential games in this vein, so we shall see if I’m able to do this again. A lot of it will depend on Yog wanting to be a part of the process. It definitely won’t happen until next Dexcon, for many reasons.

We packed all the Escaping Steam props into the car to give us more room in the hotel room, then headed back to the room to grab dinner. Since I was running my larp character seminar in the 6 – 8 dinner block and it was such a crazy day, we chose to move our typical pizza night to Thursday.  I got dressed for my 8 pm game, ate, then dashed off to run my seminar, followed by said 8 pm game, leaving Yog in the hands of our friends.

Friday was much quieter. Yog let us sleep in a bit again. We grabbed breakfast then headed off to our event space for the last event we would be running for the weekend, another run of The Family Game Table. We were joined by the other child who played Escaping Steam and his mother. He and Yog played with the cards from Memory and the Jenga blocks. I introduced them to Ice Cool, which ended with the kids practicing flicking the penguins around. Then his mom and I played The Magic Labyrinth, followed by a game of Feed The Kitty with her and her son. We also spent a lot of time just chatting about games and kids.  We wrapped up and the kids parted as kids almost always do – with the resolve that play time couldn’t be over yet.

My Friday afternoon time with Yog was when I planned to go to the Dealer’s Room. Of course she declared shopping “Boring” (her new word for whatever she doesn’t feel like doing) and refused to go. Of course I didn’t give in. We struck a deal that she could sit in the hall outside the Dealer’s Room blowing bubbles while I shopped, with the understanding that I would be spending more time in the room because I had to check on her than if she would just come in with me. We found her a spot behind a table positioned next to the security guard outside of the Dealer’s Room. I would spend a minute or two perusing a table, then go check on her. The security guard was really sweet, he kept telling me she was fine, but I still wasn’t going to just leave her there. I bumped into some friends and chatted for a while, then checked again. I was in the middle of deciding which pair of horns I was going to purchase when little hands wrapped around my legs. Luckily those hands belonged to Yog. She decided to come check on me this time. Then she decided that she too needed a new set of horns. I told her that she would have to use her birthday money. She tried to talk me into buying them for her, but I held fast and she came out with a new pair of horns on her head.

We tried a new to us restaurant Friday night and decided that next time if we go there we’d order for delivery as the shop was tiny and with our whole group it was a bit crowded and there was not enough seating. We wound up taking our food back to the hotel and eating in their outdoor dining area. I had dressed for my 7 pm larp prior to dinner, and had to run off before everyone else was done. Their games didn’t start until 8. So I have no idea how things went with Yog after dinner, she was asleep when I got back to the room way late in the night.

Saturday morning’s schedule was a negotiation between my husband and I. Everyone had a game they really wanted to play. When that happens either he or I give up our game. Since the game he wanted to play was one he has played online with the person running the game at the convention since Dreamation, he let me go to yet another larp. Unfortunately this ran almost back to back with the event I was NPCing and helping to set up. So after the larp I ran up to the room to change out of my costume and devour some food. Larping always makes me hungry. That event ran late enough that I sent the group to dinner ahead of me and I met them at the diner. By now the long weekend was beginning to show on Yog and dinner was a bit of a trial. Once again I was running behind schedule, so once we got back to the hotel one of my amazing friends took care of getting Yog ready for bed while my husband and I ran off to our 8 pm games.

All of our friends had to leave earlier than we had, so Sunday morning was really quiet. We packed up the car, checked out of the hotel, got our prize points, perused the table and headed out. The drive home wasn’t bad, nor was our usual lunch at the diner, despite how tired Yog was. Despite my best efforts at making sure I got enough sleep I was still exhausted. But I was ecstatic. Honestly this convention was one of the best experiences I’ve had at a convention ever. Hence the crazy long post. And this is with me not going into details about how awesome all of the events I attended were. Or how awesome just the environment is. Or the awesome friends I’ve made there. If you want to hear about that, just ask. I could fill another convention talking about this one.

Yeah.

It was that good.

May your gaming table be even a fraction of that.

 

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Holidays 2016

Welcome to CthulhuMom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gamer family.

The holidays came, they celebrated, they ate, they played and they moved on. Or so it felt. Adult life kept getting in the way this year making the holidays feel a bit disjointed, but we still made time for fun. Which of course for us means game time!

We had several parties between Thanksgiving and New Year. All went well with many games played, and for us more than we have in parties past. Here’s why:

Age Five is Awesome!!!

So is having other kids Yog’s age at the party. The first party of the season was weekend of Thanksgiving. The other children had arrived at the gathering before us and were anxiously waiting our arrival. When we got there they greeted our entire family and then they disappeared with Yog. The only time we heard from any of them was when food or drink was desired. So my husband and I got to play two different games at the same time. Not that I dislike playing games with my husband, obviously, but we do have some differences in taste at times. Parties are where I get to scratch my itch for the lighter, party style games he hates and he finds the one or two other people to play the really complicated games I won’t touch.

As always we brought along some of Yog’s games in hopes that having other people her age to play with would encourage her to do so. Unfortunately she isn’t as excited about Ice Cool as she was when we first got it. We love playing it, but once we told her she had to play it as a game and not just as another toy house, she lost interest. I think the first time she played because it was unique and new. The second time was because we had let her practice free form with the penguin after the first game and she figured if she played the game she could “free play” afterwards. Which we did allow and would continue to allow. With a skill based game you need to practice to get good at it, however if you don’t ever follow the rules, it’s never a game. The third time we offered to play with her she said she would flick the penguin around, but not play the game. So I told her we weren’t going to play at all and to pick another activity. Lucky for me the other children that were at our holiday party love Ice Cool. It’s so much fun to watch their excitement over successfully getting their penguin to land where they planned. They did so well I taught them how to make the penguins jump walls when we were done playing.

This year for Christmas we didn’t buy Yog a game. Technically. Ok, we bought us a game and her a play set. Playmobil makes an awesome hockey rink toy that’s a playable game! I still haven’t read the rules or played it yet, but we plan to. At least my husband and I plan to. Yog plans on “playing hockey” on her own terms. Which is what we anticipated happening and therefore are fine with happening. We got her the rink, which came with two goalies and two players, a Referee and Linesman set that came with a Stanley Cup, and a ZAMBONI! Because ZAMBONI! That came with another figure, because we don’t have Google self-driving Zamboni machines yet. She loves playing hockey and I look forward to beating my husband on the ice.

playmobil-hockey
Playing hockey

Christmas wound up being a later night than originally planned. We started by playing Resistance, during which my husband learned where I inherited my devious streak as my mom completely fooled him into believing she was innocent. Unfortunately that same devious streak kept him from being able to tell if my sister or I were the other traitor…allowing my sister’s traitor husband to escape! This was followed up with my husband and family played Black Orchestra. I didn’t play as they had reached the maximum number of players. I figure that we own the game, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play. Besides, I hadn’t had a chance to watch A Christmas Story yet and tradition is tradition. Luckily we had packed clothes and pajamas. So at the appointed time Yog was off to bed and we spent the night.

New Year’s Eve was similar to the Thanksgiving party in success. The big difference was that Yog had a little more time alone. We figured that would mean going back to tag team game play, but Yog had other plans. She found ways to entertain herself, sometimes telling me to “Go play a game”. She’s always been really good at self-entertaining (I’m never sure if this is because she’s an only child and had to learn this skill or it’s just part of who she is. Most likely it’s a bit of both.) As always I invited her to play with me, rolling dice or playing cards, but she turned me down. She’s still “not the kind of kid who plays games.”

New Years Day was traditional. For us. Pork pie, Mummers and Arkham Horror. At least Yog enjoyed the pork pie. She has lost interest in even helping to set up Arkham Horror, which is a shame because I got my husband some organizational tools that made the game take up a bit less space. She didn’t even watch the Mummers! If it’s not animated it’s not worth watching apparently. Instead there was a school-house and toy cars to use for story-telling. Just wait until I tell her she was a role player as a child! Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

Ok.

I know.

All children a role players.

Just let me pretend that she’s a little bit of a gamer, all right?

Did you get any new games for the kids this holiday season? Share your favorite discoveries in the comments.

Until next time – Happy Gaming!

Play with Me – Ice Cool

Welcome to Cthulhumom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gaming family.

We recently had one of our rare family trips to the game store. They’re rare because our “local” game store isn’t very local – it’s about a 45 minute drive from home. As a result my husband will often go by himself. He goes more often because while I love playing games, he loves reading about and buying them. So he researches and purchases, I play. It works for us. Anyway, we found ourselves in town as a family and took advantage of that to visit the store. As always, Yog was plied with the promise of a new die if she behaved well. This led to her contemplatively wandering the store, picking up boxes and deciding whether or not the game in hand was “good enough for Daddy”. Occasionally she would point to a box and say “We have that!”, which was fun.

Of course we couldn’t leave the store with just Yog’s bribery die. After a lot of consideration we decided to make a purchase that we hoped would work for the entire family, not just me and my husband. That purchase was an adorable game called Ice Cool.

And, yes, Yog earned her die. She chose a purple D8 this time around. Now if only we could convince her of the need for a dice bag so I don’t step on this one. Hmmmm…dice – the “Legos” of a gaming family!

In Ice Cool you are playing penguins trying to sneak extra fish before lunch time. Each player has a different colored penguin with a “weeblesque” bottom. The game is played in several rounds with each player taking a turn being the “Hall Monitor/Catcher” and the others being the “Runners”. The goal is to get your penguin through the three doorways on the board to collect fish cards before the Hall Monitor catches you by bumping your penguin with hers. Players use their fingers to flick the penguins causing them to slide around the board. You can even make them jump the walls on the three dimensional board. Oh yeah, the “board” is actually several boxes that you arrange together using provided clips. Don’t worry about storage, they stack inside each other and the game takes up as much space as an average sized game. Yog can assemble the board herself as there are colored dots to help you match the doors.

The fish hunt begins!
This was shortly after we started playing for the first time.

The box says this game is good for ages 6+ and the Boardgame Geek community agrees with that assessment. I however think that this game is great for any kid once they get over the “stick everything in my mouth” phase. Sure younger kids are probably going to struggle more with the manual dexterity, but that will grow with time and this is a fun way to practice fine motor skills. My suggestion is to not allow wall jumping until your little one can consistently get the penguin to slide. We (my husband and I and well, so far all of our friends we’ve introduced the game to) are still trying to master making the penguin curve the way we want it to. I, however, am quite skilled at jumping walls. Sometimes I’ll even show off and jump multiple walls. And sometimes I’ll show off and retrieve my penguin from the floor outside of the box. That is all to say that yes, a younger child will struggle more, but you can choose how aggressive to chase each other down until your little one gets the hang of moving the penguin.

This game has been a real hit, despite the fact that it is a competitive game. Yog doesn’t seem to mind if she has the lowest score, she enjoys the game just for the sake of playing. Though I will say she wants to be the chaser all the time. I think the biggest reason she loves this game is because it is active. Once play starts the chairs get pushed aside (or moved into a better spot to help Yog reach the board) and everyone is on their feet. What I love about this is that it’s not a huge game. Most games I have seen that involve moving around need more space than I have available. I know there are a few games out there that are mobile and don’t take up a lot of space, but they’re not that common.

Another plus – even when the Hall Monitor catches you, you’re not out. The caught player continues to play and could even be the first player to go through the three doors. The round ends when either the Hall Monitor has caught all the other penguins or one of the Runners has gotten through all three doors.

Scoring is randomized. Having the most number of cards doesn’t guarantee the highest score. When you pass through a door you collect a random scoring card with a value of 1, 2, or 3. To even things out, if you reveal that you have two “ones” in your hand you can take a second turn. I wonder if making the scoring a little more random takes some of the pressure of getting a high score off of Yog, making it more palatable. Then again, she really doesn’t seem to care what her score was, even though she will count it up herself.

This has become the new “go-to” game if we know there will be children at a gathering. The only downside is that it can only take four players. So far that hasn’t been an issue for us, but I could see there being a line of waiting players.

I guess you could call this my first game review as this “Play With Me” didn’t involve modifying a game. This is a great family game right out of the box, or in this case, in the box!

Check it out here, give it a try and share your thoughts.

Until next time, Happy Gaming!