MACE 2012 Report (Part 2)

MACE 2012 Report

Part 2

SATURDAY

Saturday started out bright and early for me at 7:30 AM, arriving at the gaming registration desk around 8:30 AM.  Saturday for me was going to be very busy and I concentrated most of my volunteer shifts during this time. I had to fill in for two GMs sessions that day on top of a session I had already scheduled for myself.

The Saturday rush came early as well.  Those that did not sign up for games on Friday were signing up on Sat morning.  Plus we had the Sat only people coming in making things even more busy.  Busy was good though. This meant people were attending the con and playing the games on the schedule.  I want as many of my GMs as possible to get players.  I realize not all do each year but I hope at least that most did.

Talisman was my first game, filling in for Will Geddings, who cancelled for a very legitimate reason.  By the time he cancelled his plans to attend, his game already had 6 players signed up and I did not want to drop that game. By the time Saturday rolled around, I had 8 people signed up for it – a full table.  That’s a BIG Talisman game.  I set everyone up, got things rolling and occasionally dropped in as the game carried on.  I told them that Talisman is more about the journey than the end, hoping to lower the expectations of finishing the game, especially with 8 players.

On my occasional walk-through of the con, things continued to look busy in all rooms.  The board game/card game rooms (both main room and board game library) were extremely busy.  I was very concerned about those rooms going in to the weekend.  Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised.  Thanks to the help from Alderac Entertainment Group, Queen City Gaming Club, Steve Jackson Games MIBs and Spandex City, the main room was solidly busy all weekend.  Thanks to SCARAB for their work in the board game library, keeping it busy and full of happy gamers.  Also, there was considerable enthusiasm for almost all the tournaments we set up including Munchkin, Small World, L5R CCG and Smash Up!  We also had a Dominion tournament but I did not see how that went.  The Magic tournament was on Sunday as well.  More on that later.

There was a time that people called MACE an RPG-centric gaming con.  Many of the board gamer shunned us because we seemed to be less concentrated on board games/card games.  I like to think we proved them wrong.  Yes, I would say I am 65% an RPG fan and 35% board game fan, and Jeff is about the same or maybe a little more of a board game fan and in the beginning the con reflected that bias.  In the beginning, we focused on what we knew.  As we grew, expanded our system, our vision and our space, we made more space for open board games and board game libraries.  But it was never a conscious decision to be biased toward one thing or another. We just had to evolve to please as many gamers as we could.  I think we found a good balance and I hope other gamers see that too.

As expected, the Talisman did not end to a proper conclusion and had to be ended early.  Cleaning that up, things were still fairly busy at the gaming registration desk.  But my volunteers had it well in hand so I sent off to a very important appointment in the kids programming room – my son’s 5th birthday party.  MACE just so happened to land on the weekend of his birthday so we arranged a little something for him.  Jodi Black volunteered early in the year to plan the kids room for MACE and worked on it very diligently all year.  Keegan had a blast.  He was very happy to share his birthday with the kids of the kids program.

The Kids program probably needs a lot more focus in this report than I can give it but I will try.  To give a little history on this, many have asked over there years if we had something for the kids at the con.  It was never a matter of me not willing to have a kids’ track.  I have always wanted something for the kids.  In fact, my wife early on ran a kids track for MACE with mixed results.  Now, my kids are getting older, and many of our attending gamers wanted to bring their kids.  MACE has always pushed a family friendly environment so it was a perfect set up for it.  But I did not have time to really put the effort into it and do it right.  I dedicated tables to kids games but there was no real way to show that in our schedule.  On top of that, we needed someone willing to run it.  Jodi Black stepped up to do that and we all owe her a huge big thanks for running the best kids program we have ever had.  Part of it was that
there were a ton of kids this year.  We featured it on our web site and on Facebook more, so more knew about it. And we had some great volunteers helping out including Katie Kriska, Curt Frueh from Statagemics, Nick Poulimas, and Chris Caran.  Jodi did a fantastic schedule of games, as well as other events and activities to give our kids something to do.  I don’t think I know a single kid who did not enjoy their time in the kids room.  My kids came out raving about it.  This was a huge bonus to MACE this year.

That afternoon, I was set up to run Chad Bowser’s Call of Cthulhu 7e playtest.  I had spent the last two weeks prepping for that because it was such a significant change to the CoC system.  I had a nearly full table of very enthusiastic players.  I picked an adventure hoping I could fit it in 4 hours but as it turns out, it did not.  I knew I had to end on time because I had to help with the auction so I had to end a session without completing the adventure.  In the end, that was the only disappointing thing about it.  The system ran smoothly and it was a very enjoyable change to a system that has not changed in over 30 years.

Because I was in the hallway with all my games, I got to see how busy things stayed through out the afternoon.  There was a steady flow but my gaming table did not seem to obstruct things too much.  Admittedly, as we grow, a table in the hallway like that won’t work. But this year it was not too bad.  I just wanted to stay close to the gaming registration table if they needed me.  As it turns out, I had very competent volunteers.

I knew Jeff cursed us earlier on in the week when he said “We don’t have a lot for the auction…”  When it finally rolled around, we need a bigger stage.  I am not sure where much of it came from but I was glad to be a part of auctioning off some stuff from the estate of my friend, John Reavis.  In the end, the auction went way too long.  Much of the items went for a steal. We had way too much stuff but made a considerable amount of money for the charities.  Couple that with the sale of some of John’s stuff I had all weekend and the charity games Shane Hensley ran, I think our charities will be very pleased.

Highlight for me here was stopping everything to sing happy birthday to my son.  The whole crowd got into it and my son sat back and smiled the whole time.  I got a little choked up about it but what dad doesn’t when it comes to his kids.  I am very proud of all three of my kids and when it comes to them, I am a big softy.

Also a big highlight was giving our the MACE appreciation award to Scott “Scooter” Smith.  He was very disserving as he has been a regular GM for me for years. Congratulations Scooter!

In past years, I was exhausted after the auction, but this year I am not sure what it was but I had a considerable wind going into my Saturday night game of World War II Call of Cthulhu.  I had a full table of 8 players and they all seemed very enthusiastic as well.  The best thing was two of the players were former military which added a considerable authenticity to the role play.  And boy howdy, did they role play.  This game went on until 2 AM (which due to daylight savings time meant 1 AM) and we were all very wore our by the end.  This game I did get to finish because the players would not let me end it.  They wanted to get to the end.  It was a brutal ending, though.  I killed half the party, many in very dramatic and Lovecraftian fashion and it was by far one of the best games I have run at a con.  Thanks to those players who made it awesome!

SUNDAY

Sunday was fairly slow as it is every year but there was still people wanting to game.  Only a few sign-ups because by then most everyone had signed up.  The Magic tournament got stared pretty quickly and efficiently, thanks to Mike from Spandex City.  They had a good crowd of Magic players, more than we have ever had before.  Running Magic on Sunday would have NEVER worked in High Point.  In Charlotte, it was an amazing success, mostly because of the hard work of Mike.  Thanks for a great Magic tournament.

My last game, Fortress America, did not make due to lack of players.  Sunday morning games do not always make and I know that.  Most people are too tired to get up or too busy checking out to make the 9 AM slot. In fact, I was late to the session because I was checking my wife and kids out, suffering through the same elevator-hell that everyone else was.  I did get a chance to play Ticket to Ride with some folks afterwards which was my first time playing the game.  It was very enjoyable.

On Sunday, I got the report that a huge number of Warmachine games were played.  These guys played all weekend, some until 4 or 5 in the morning both Friday and Saturday night.  These guys are insane but I love their passion for the game.  This is one of those features I hope to have every year.  Thanks to Brian Cape, Lee Olson, and Stephanie Sturm for an amazing weekend of Warmachine.

I did not see how well the Smash Up! tournament went on Sunday but I did see a lot of people playing it on Saturday.  Thanks again to AEG for running these tournaments.

Cleaning up and packing took most of the rest of the day and I did not get home until 8 pm or so.  I was pretty tired but very satisfied.

CONCLUSION

Final highlight of the weekend is meeting Shane Hensley again and spending time with him.  He’s a great guest and I was glad to have him at MACE 2012.  Thanks to Jeff for inviting him.

It was a great weekend and many people expressed their pleasure to me.  I do appreciate the compliments and the encouragement although as my wife reminds me a lot, I do not take compliment well.  Thanks, though. I do it because it’s fun and I love seeing people play in fun and satisfying games.

Thanks to Jeff and Karen for their hard work in making this a viable business to run a convention from and allowing me be a small part of it.  I look forward to MACE West and mini-mace next year.  I know others will be looking forward to Club MACE and I hope it is a huge success so Steph and I can plan to go in 2014.

Thanks again to everyone.  This was a great weekend.

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