Sunday, June 19, 2016

Origins Gaming Convention 2016 - Day Five

Our first and only game of the day was Eldritch Horror: Cycle of Eternity by Fantasy Flight Games, and there were problems. 

For those of you who haven't played, Eldritch Horror is a fairly complex game which pits the players against the world; a sort of man versus nature plot.  It helps if you have played before and have some idea of the rules.  Usually the players lose, but that doesn't stop the game from being popular.  And that, perhaps, was a part of the problem.

The game was set up by Fantasy Flight (FF), and run by Annete Nepomuceno and John Atkinson.  They didn't design the scenario; they were tasked with implementing it, which turned out to be a mistake on their part.  Eldritch Horror is best played in a large space with 4 to 6 players; up to 8 can play if the players are experienced and know the rules cold.  Physically, the game takes up a lot of space.  A dining room table that can seat 6 large people comfortably will hold the game, but the larger the table, the better.

We had 14 players, most of whom did not know the rules, and a few of whom had never played before.  This tends to produce a lot of chaos and racket, as the players are impatient and loathe to pay attention to anyone but themselves and the players immediately adjacent to them.  Both Annete and John knew the game, but neither had organizational skills or the commanding presence that would bring order from chaos.

About 10 minutes into the game it became apparent that FF had never play tested the game with a large number of people, and Annete was clearly upset as she watched the train wreck develop.  This was supposed to run smoothly, and it wasn't.  Then another problem surfaced: Benjamin.

Benjamin is one of these guys that doesn't have an indoor voice.  He wouldn't cooperate with others, and he constantly wanted an audience.  Mike believed that Benjamin had a bad case of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  I believed he was a typical jerk who was behaving badly, and Dave wanted him shot out of a cannon and into the middle of Interstate 270.  He finally powdered off for a while, and we got some peace.

Game in Progress
In Eldritch Horror, each turn takes around 5 minutes in a 6 player game.  Our turns were taking 20 minutes, and about one-third of the players were very slow to coordinate with the group.  The game lasted five hours, start to finish.  About halfway through I realized that the wait time between actions was excessive, but couldn't be helped.  Fortunately, I brought along my Kindle, and so would spend about 2 minutes or less actually playing the game, and the rest of the time was spent reading.

Annete and John
As time wore on, things smoothed out considerably.  I don't think there was much Annete could have done to help the situation - she was handed a truly Herculean task and made the best of it.  She could have told Benjamin to sit down and shut up, but eventually the other players got the idea that if they ignored him, he'd remain somewhat quiescent.  The man needs a keeper and an electronic shock collar.

Game in Progress
Benjamin is the man second from the left, wearing glasses and a blue and black striped shirt.

Barley's Smokehouse
We finished the day at Barley's, where they have the very best barbecue beef brisket in the city of Columbus.  Excellent!

Tomorrow I head back to Toledo for some much needed rest and relaxation.

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