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Surviving Abner Con

Well, that was fun.

Have you ever invited a lot of people over to your house? I don’t mean a gaggle of friends to watch a movie or play a game or formulate a book club. I mean a legion of gamers for an entire weekend of nonstop hijinks. At one point on Saturday there were 16 people in the house, 20 if you include kids. Our house is fairly spacious but that’s pushing the limits of sanity.

I have always wanted to try and do something like this — to organize a gaming weekend that didn’t involve a LAN. My wife, bless her, was on board and was instrumental in making this work.

The downside to having so many people over is that you can’t possibly spend enough time with everyone. We had guests show up for a few hours and others we had to kick out of the house Sunday evening. That Jon Shafer is such a freeloader. But I didn’t get to play games with everyone which is something I’d like to try to fix next time we attempt to do this.

As a result I missed out on much of the gaming that I wasn’t directly involved in which is a real bummer. Things started up on Friday as Todd arrived and then a few other local friends showed up and we hammered out two games of the wonderful card game Innovation (with its expansion). This was followed up by a game of Chaos in the Old World (a personal favorite). It had been years since Todd played that game and I think he enjoyed it — he actually got in another game of CitOW on Saturday.

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Saturday was the “Big Day” as everyone who said they were going to show up — did. I didn’t expect that. I prepared for it but was sure a few people would fail to show. Sure enough…an army of cars were parked in the driveway and three tables were packed with cards, dice, counters, and cardboard. I was fearful that it was simply going to be far too loud to hear yourself think with so much going on, but thankfully it wasn’t too bad.

In fact my table–the Cosmic Encounter table–was by far the most raucous.

At one point we had full games of Shogun, Chaos in the Old World, and Cosmic Encounter running at various tables. Saturday night one table was playing an epic 6-player game of Battlestar Galactica while we were playing a game of Imperial in the dining room. Quite the clash of genres.

It’s funny because when you think about having basically three full days to play games with your friends that it would equate to you playing tons of stuff. Thing is, in the world of boardgames it rarely works that way. From Friday afternoon through Sunday night I managed to play Innovation, CitOW, King of Tokyo, Quarriors, two games of Cosmic, Imperial, a play test for The New Science, and Lancaster. I had played all of those games aside from The New Science (which is still in testing and not available to the public) and Quarriors.

And I hope to never play Quarriors again. Anyone want to buy a used copy? I’m selling…with the expansion!

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I need to again extend a thanks to my amazingly patient wife for making a lot of awesome food and to Route 62 BBQ for catering its delicious Carolina style meats. It was a great time and something that I will absolutely try and do again next year.

The gallery has several images from throughout the weekend from Friday afternoon and into Sunday. I’m not in any of them, but this gives you a fair idea of the festivities.

Bill Abner

Bill has been writing about games for the past 16 years for such outlets as Computer Games Magazine, GameSpy, The Escapist, GameShark, and Crispy Gamer. He will continue to do so until his wife tells him to get a real job.

20 thoughts to “Surviving Abner Con”

  1. I could never do the board game thing. The concept is still alien to me. Although the “eco” appeal and “in-case of apocalypse” usefulness is great.

    Now the 10-20 peep LAN party, every weekend possible since Golden Eye. More Pylons must be built, and the ever always “last” prestige level obtained.

  2. Man, I miss LAN’s and get-togethers of the sort. The internet has made gaming together easier, but there really is nothing like having them sit directly across from you.

    Out of curiosity, is it possible to label who’s in the photos? Some I recognize, but it would be cool go have some faces to go with names.

  3. Sure.

    Top left image: That’s Todd in the middle, flanked by two of my oldest friends, Mace Rosen (who was in town from China) and Billy Baroo Turner. (Flipping me off as we play Innovation. I won this game basically with Agriculture)

    Top Middle: Another local friend Mike Villa in red, Jason McMaster far left and that is the back of Jon Shafer’s head. This was during Shogun rules explanation.

    Top Right: Kay (Jon’s girlfriend and creator of our No High Score High Score Award logo!) and another local friend Mike Burton. I hate the Steelers.

    BLeft: Route 62 BBQ FTW and my wife’s famous Better than Sex cake

    Next: Todd playing Chaos in the Old World with my even OLDER buddy Dave, Jason’s wife Sarah (right) and my wife Mary (in the black T..she will KILL me for posting this)

    Mid: Friends Kenny, Baroo, Mace and Derek playing Cosmic Encounter

    1. OK first things first.
      1) I don’t know him from Adam, but Mike Burton is The Man!(GO STEELERS)
      2) This looks like an awesomely good time. I’m not much of a boardgamer, though I know I would love it, but I remember back in the 80’s playing tabletop DnD with my buds and then again in the 90s playing Magic. The laughs and the camaraderie is something that no multiplayer video game could ever recapture.

      Good Stuff, Bill!

  4. Looks awesome and I’m jealous. I would love to invite everyone I know over to game for a weekend. We could play a lot of the games we skip for time reasons.

  5. As someone who is looking to purchase a first home and is currently keenly aware of living structures, I just wanted to say it looks like you got a pretty nice place there. Well done sir.

    1. And when I say living structures, I mean dwellings, not sentient mansions built on Indian burial grounds.

  6. Awesome! I am very jealous of all those that could attend. I bet it was loads of fun outside of the heat. I wish my house were bigger so I could host huge boardgaming parties. We max out at 5 people, though if we clean up the basement maybe we could host more.

    Great gaggle of friends. Would love to play a boardgame against Jon S. though I’m sure he’d kick my butt. He’s a great guy.

    So where did everyone sleep?

  7. just looking at those pics reminds me of the pain of jetlag and college levels of sleep…

    at least I got to destroy the remaining morale of the human race. or something. Watching Mary change up rules on Todd though was a thing of beauty.

    and for Jon, Derek, K and Todd I just wanted to say,

    Go Bucks

    1. You have to understand there is no length that is too far for Mary to go if it means beating me at something.

      Go Blue!

  8. The reason that Abner is not in any of these pictures is that he was cosplaying as the Grande from El Grande.

    Anyway, I’ve never been nor have I ever been invited to AbnerCon, but I have to say that I think it’s kind of gone downhill. The registration lines are too long, there’s far too much Twilight fandom, events never start on time, and it smells really bad the whole time.

    I also find it alarming that so much food and drink was near those precious board games. One spill from a clumsy Todd Brakke and it’s all over.

    Also, cole slaw and potato salad. Disgusting. Once my anti-mayonnaise satellite is operational, we won’t have to worry about those created-by-Satan atrocities ever again.

    1. That’s cole slaw and macaroni salad, you heathen.

      Both are not all that great, really.

      The Broccoli/Cranberry salad is awesome though.

      Still, meat glorious meat.

      1. I could live off that broccoli/cranberry stuff indefinitely, for reals.

        Thanks for the great times, cool games and incredible food, Abner family!

        (Mrs. McM)

  9. Kudo’s to you, Bill! I held a similar event over the July 4th weekend… and am planning to do another next year. I was surprised at how burnt out I was at the end of the weekend and imagine you had a similar experience. It’s difficult to play host, organizer, competitor and friend simultaneously.

    I’d like to hear about more of your preparations and plans for a future event. Things you’d add, change or remove all together. Perhaps a sort of Geek’s Guide to Your Own Home Con type of thing.

    As my friends and I are Game of Thrones fans (books) it became our theme and we did T-shirts (stencils and bleach) one day that said “Valar Marghulis” and “MalupoCon 2012”, then used stamping kits to create our own “Faceless Man” coins on another day. Next year, I’d like to expand to a small hotel/motel conference room for a weekend.

    Again, kudo’s to you and your wife for hosting this. As we gamers age… we’re changing. Wives, kids and demanding jobs have changed many of us. I no longer play video games, but board gaming gives me a night or two a month for some freedom and fun. Please keep up your board/card game reviews and I would definitely like to hear more about future plans for the next AbnerCon! Thank you!

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