br1ck reminds me that in addition to the Albany Gamedays, the gamers of New York’s Capitol District also have the Schenectady Wargamers Association’s monthly gameathons to enjoy.

They include both role-playing and board games, so there’s something for every tabletop enthusiast. The SWA also hosts the annual Council of 5 Nations convention in October, which I do hope to check out some day, as it’s rather popular with the Carnage gang.


Albany Gameday XIV is on deck for Saturday, September 3rd. Hosted by friendly local game store Zombie Planet in Albany, New York, it’s a day long event that occurs biannually or so.

Watch the website to see what games hit the schedule, or shoot them an email to run something yourself.

[Green Mountain Game Days] Summer Game ‘n Grill 2011

Chuck (standing) checks in on the crew of the Burlington InSpectres franchise: Suri, Siobhan, Frank, Charlton, Joe and Andy (left to right).

Last Saturday at the Summer Game ‘n Grill, we got to play two, count ’em, two role-playing games. And I didn’t have a brain fart as embarrassing as at Lyndonville, so I’m counting the day as a complete win.

The early morning was spent setting up the grange — stocking the fridge and snack stand, shifting tables — and then waiting for a critical mass of role-players to arrive, namely the crew from central Vermont.

Once they rolled in, we got to business.
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Summer Game ‘n Grill 2011 Mere Days Away

The 2011 Game 'n Grill, going down at the Upper Valley Grange in Norwich, Vermont.

This Saturday is the second annual Summer Game ‘n Grill hosted by the Green Mountain Gamers — and it’s their first second annual anything. Yes, Green Mountain Gamers is more than a whole year old now. The quarterly game days have proven to be successful on every outing so far.

This time, the gang is headed to Norwich, Vermont, in the Upper Valley, through which runs the Connecticut River. That’s Carnage‘s traditional stomping grounds, so it’ll be a bit odd to see the valley in the glory of summer, rather than the dying days of autumn.

On the other hand, it’s going to be a rocking game day. Board games have been the big thing every time and that’s not likely to change. Role-playing games are slowly growing and that’s where my main interest lies. Friend to all role-players Charlton is bringing Apocalypse World, which I know nothing about, beyond that there’s a world and an apocalypse in it. And I’ve still got InSpectres from PAX East to try out, so I think that is the role-playing set’s day sorted.

June 18th’s gonna be a great day for tabletop games.

Melting Down Middlebury

Ilsley Library is rocking.

Ilsley Library is rocking.

I didn’t get to attend the game day this past weekend. But Chuck of the Green Mountain Gamers did. And he snapped pictures and blogged about it over on the Green Mountain Gamers website. So check that out instead of reading my typical natterings about these days. Let someone else tell you how much fun it was instead!

Let the Spring Meltdown Commence

March 19th in Middlebury, Vermont.

My corner of Vermont has been in thaw for the last week, which is a fine prelude to Spring Meltdown, the fourth of the Green Mountain Gamers’ seasonal game days.

Tomorrow morning, I and some of the Burlington crowd will truck down to Middlebury, where we hope to meet the fine game-playing denizens of Addison, southern Chittenden and northern Rutland counties.

In addition to officiating the Endeavor tournament, I will have a number of role-playing-like things in my bag: the Ghostbusters adventure Pumpkin Jack, Fiasco with my as yet playtested science fiction set and Inspectres, which I picked up at PAX East last weekend. So at least I’ll have some reading material if I find myself with downtime.

If you’re in the area, or even just slightly out of it and have an itch to do some traveling, I hope you’ll come out for a bit.

Carnage at the Castle

Saturday morning, I and some others from the Carnage crew and Upper Valley gaming community headed down to the Game Castle, Londonderry, New Hampshire’s local game store for Carnage at the Castle, to get the word out about Carnage to the New Hampshire population and get some board games played in the store.

In addition to plunging in to playing about a half dozen different board games, most of which I had never tried before, I got to meet a couple New Hampshire gaming personalities: Randy, who’s been involved with Econocon for a very long time, if not its inception, and Wayne, who heads up the Sages of RPG, a Seacoast-based gaming group. We got into a loop of passing cards around, Randy and Wayne for their projects and me for Green Mountain Gamers.

All in all, it was a fun time. I went into it feeling leery, because I’ve become picky of late about dealing with new board games, but overall I liked what I played. Ave Caesar with the “mean” variant was a hoot, though I can see it would require players with the right temperament. Burlington, Vermont to Londonderry, New Hampshire and back with ten hours of gaming in between is a hell of a haul, though. I can understand why no one ever wants to come up here for events.

Spring Meltdown Game Day in Middlebury, Vermont

March 19th in Middlebury, Vermont.

I can’t believe it’s already less than a month until Spring Meltdown, the Green Mountain Gamers’ spring game day. We only started talking about seasonal traveling game days about a year ago at Langdon Street Cafe. Since then, we’ve put on three successful game days, each larger than the last, in Burlington, Lyndonville and Barre, Vermont.

On March 19th, we’re coming to Middlebury to round out a year of tabletop games, good people and a lot of laughs. It’s bound to be a great time with the awesome folks who have been in attendance so far. Most of what happens at these days has been open board game play. We wind up with tables groaning under the weight of games everyone’s brought to share. People divvy themselves up, either because  there’s a game that’s caught their eye or they’d like to learn, or they brought some in particular they’re eager to have the opportunity to teach and play. I know the new Lovecraftian board game Mansions of Madness is going to be one of those; Carlo participated in the preview event this past weekend at his local game store in Quebec and is bringing it down to Spring Meltdown.

On the role-playing side, we’re working on growing that. We’ve got some old school first edition Dungeons & Dragons in both Middle-earth and a classic TSR published module. I’ll have the goods for GURPS Ghostbusters: Pumpkin Jack and something for Fiasco, either my still untested science fiction playset or one that caught my eye, like Toil and Trouble.

It’s gonna be a fun day! I hope to meet some new faces there.

What a Wearying Wonderful Winter Weirdness Whirlwind

Nicole and John (left and right) explore the irradiated splendor of Gamma World while Mariah (center) observes.

All the ramp-up and preparation came to a head on Saturday, as we hosted our first Winter Weirdness game day in a church undercroft in Barre. It was, by any metric, a smash hit. Forty-odd people came in out of the cold and snow to spend their day playing games and making new acquaintances — I love watching the activity stream over at Green Mountain Gamers and on Facebook as people who meet up at these game days connect there.

My day consisted of getting to Barre early enough to set the room up, stashing soda and supplies in the kitchen and greeting the first arrivals until there was critical mass to play something and realizing that the way into the church basement wasn’t as clearly marked as it might have been. In the rush, the big friendly meeples that usually adorn sidewalks and doors to signal the location of a game day didn’t make the trip down the interstate.

As the day got underway and more people rolled in, a couple people came to me wanting to play Gamma World, which was pretty cool. I’d had the opportunity to try out the adventure in the back of the book previously with a different group of people, so I had an idea of how it might go. However, I’d forgotten there’s a critter in the second encounter that can easily lay waste to the entire party. The first time, I fudged it to keep the adventure moving forward. This time, however, I played it straight, mostly because it was a game day and I don’t think anyone wanted to spend the rest of the day playing through even an abbreviated version; that first run through took five hours to get through four encounters with fudging, as I was very aware of how much time would be involved in playing all the way through to the end, even if I skipped portions of the scenario.

By then it was 2:00 in the afternoon, so a group of us trooped over to Ladder 1 Grill, which is maybe fifty feet from the back door of the church, where I had an awesome turkey and bacon melt sandwich. Unlike the last two venues for the Green Mountain Game Days, downtown Barre has ample opportunities for sit-down and take-out food; Montpelier has even more, fancier options if you’re willing to take the drive and lose time at the tables.

After lunch, I wound up in games of Betrayal at House on the Hill and Dominion. My rule of thumb has become play new stuff at game days and conventions or play old games with new people. Plus the copy of Betrayal at House on the Hill belonged to Joe and it needed breaking in. Really, it pined for its dice to be torn out of their packaging and rolled. So we obliged. Dominion I got to play with my friend Kaye, Rick from the Book Garden and two old time gamers who were encountering the game for the first time that day. That was a cool experience to watch them pick up the mechanics.

Later, I tried out Elasund: The First City with Sarah, Andrew and Rod. It’s very Eurogamey. That’s all I want to say on the topic.

Accusations fly hot and heavy in Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game.

Elsewhere, Carlo, Munk and Rachel played Battlestar Galactica for what must have been ten or eleven hours. Not all in one game, but two with other players. I am deeply impressed by their commitment to fostering uncertainty, mistrust and paranoia.

In short, it was a huge day of gaming with people playing their brains out. I don’t know if the lousy morning weather worked for us — making people stircrazy and antsy to play games or against us — by penning them in their homes — but overall Winter Weirdness was an absolute success. And I think we found a great venue in the Church of the Good Shepherd’s basement. It’s cozy, has an very well equipped kitchen, a secondary space upstairs that’s idea for quieter role-playing games and is in easy walking distance to plenty of places to eat. Plus Barre is marginally central to three population centers: Burlington, the capitol district and the Upper Valley; sadly, when it comes to the Northeast Kingdom and southwestern Vermont, there’s still no way to get ther from here. Regardless, I think Green Mountain Gamers has found a second home in Barre.

[Green Mountain Game Days] Winter Weirdness 2011

Visit the Green Mountain Gamers site for more information about Winter Weirdness and future game days in Vermont.

Winter Weirdness, the next of the Green Mountain Gamers‘ seasonal game days, is now a month away. January 8th, 2011 will be the third such outing and our first visit to the Granite City, also known as Barre, Vermont. Like Fall-loha and the Game ‘n Grill before it, Winter Weirdness is an open play event for all kinds of tabletop games.

So far, board game play has dominated Green Mountain Game Days — and why not? They take little prep, are easily transported and generally don’t rely on existing social ties to function well. The most recent game day in Lyndonville did include miniatures and role-playing, though, so the genres of games to play are slowly expanding.

A quick peek at Fall-loha in Lyndonville, Vermont, the most recent Green Mountain Game Day.

It’s my hope that the variety of games played at these events will continue to diversify and my personal goal to keep growing the role-playing opportunities in particular. In the fall, Charlton orchestrated games of Fiasco and The Shab-al-Hiri Roach. We’re only going up from there. I’ll bring my recent Ghostbusters adventure for sure, as well as use the intervening month to flesh out an idea I’ve got percolating for a Fiasco playset. Or maybe I’ll splurge on the Gamma World set. I dunno.

In the interest of self-disclosure, I’ll cop to being one of the folks who organize these game days. Our motivations are purely to provide more opportunities for groups of people to get together and play games and the glowing rush of knowing we did something that made those people happy.

If you’re in the Barre-Montpelier area on January 8th and have a few free hours, I hope you’ll stop by. It’s gonna be a fun day of gaming.