Sunday, May 13, 2012

Huzzah! Followup Part 3

Now that things have wound down a bit I find myself thinking about Huzzah! critically and about conventions in general. First and foremost I recognize that we all go to wargame conventions for different reasons. We may want to play a new game, or an old game, or play any game at all if we're isolated from other players. Some game masters want to turn on new players to a cool system, some want to have fun with their friends, and some want to show off their skills in painting and terrain.

As an aside, the last probably applies to every wargamer. I've never encountered a frenzy of admiration and ego stroking to rival a wargame convention. We probably spend 40% of our time praising other people's work and 40% waiting for praise of our own. The rest is spent shopping and a little gaming.

A Good Game Master
Given the multitude of reasons for people to attend conventions I still find myself wondering what makes the perfect con game. I have a few thoughts. I think you need rules that can be explained in less than 30 minutes. You need rules where the player spends very little time sitting and waiting. You need to avoid situations where action on one part of the board holds up all the other players. And finally you need rules that are either completely unambiguous or rules that don't penalize or reward fuzzy measurements.

If the above is accurate or close to accurate it is striking to see how many game masters ignore those criteria. It's striking how they can ignore the sight of players sitting and staring off into space, wandering off during the game, or just looking glum and bored. I imagine someone thinks "Flames of War is so awesome, what a great game for a convention," and doesn't stop to consider that in the end you're trying to entertain people.

For myself that's the key criteria I'll be using in the future. Does my game entertain people? Regardless of how I feel personally is it entertaining to strangers? We play at the club for a variety of reasons but I think the convention game is first and foremost there to entertain.

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