Gen Con 2018

Gen Con, the best four days in gaming, was held in Indianapolis Indiana on August 2-5, 2018. I attended all four days and Wendy joined me for the weekend.

I worked for CMON in their play-through area on Thursday and Friday, demoing RISING SUN to happy con-goers. I enjoyed working back there in the play-through area — it was slightly quieter and cooler than on the main show floor.

The crowd was large, smelly, and somewhat rude (as usual). I don’t understand the crowd mentality of stopping in the middle of the path to hold their discussions while impeding traffic. MOVE OFF TO THE SIDE, people! I also had to push foam-sword points away from my eyes FOUR TIMES since people carrying them don’t seem to understand the concept of POINT DOWN and were carrying them on their shoulder. Seven times people ran directly into me because they were staring at their phone screens.\

We participated in a play-through session of TOO MANY BONES, which accelerated our learning and comprehension of the game. Dave, our facilitator, did a great job.

Gen Con was good this year, but not great. Wendy’s comment was, “All the games look the same”. I didn’t notice too many stand-out games this time, though I did bring home a nice haul…

Shall we play a game? The obscured title is DUNGEON ALLIANCE.

We stayed at the Baymont Inn, which was acceptable (barely). Not sure I’ll stay there again.

Now, to find the time to learn and play all these games!

Joshua Bennett Vogel, October 27, 1964-December 20, 2017

This is, without a doubt, the hardest news I have had to share.

VOGEL, Joshua Bennett

With great sadness, the family of Josh Vogel announces his passing on December 20, 2017 following a very brief illness. He is survived and remembered with love by his parents, Richard and Patricia Vogel, and his brother Andrew Vogel (Wendy). Josh was 53 years old.

Josh loved music. Josh loved baseball. He loved animals, Budweiser, and pizza, but most of all Josh loved his family and friends. At the age of 18 he left Cincinnati for the west coast, and spent the remainder of his days in the California sun. A Policy Enforcement Specialist at Weebly, Josh will be remembered there for his love of laughter and jokes, once filling a coworker’s desk with dry cat food in response to a prank played on him.

His former wife Allison loved Josh’s Peter Pan sense of humor. His beloved Anna adored his sweet, gentle nature. If you knew Josh Vogel, you knew a kind man. You knew a man who loved a silly joke. You knew a man who, after years of searching, had finally found peace & contentment within his own life.

If you knew Josh Vogel, you knew joy.

A glass will be raised to Josh’s memory at Eli’s Mile High Club, 3629 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland, CA 94609, at 1 PM PST on Saturday, January 6, 2018.

Donations may be made to The Miracle League, helping children with disabilities experience the thrill of baseball.

Rest in peace, Josh. I love you.

That’s right, Josh.

Board Game Compression Experiment

Reading about folks “compressing” their games in preparation for travel, I was inspired.

We just returned from a weekend trip to Indianapolis (about 90 minutes from our home on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio) with a bag full of games (in their boxes) in tow. I thought this would be a good opportunity to experiment to see what could be gained by “compressing” these games for easier transport.

These were the games we took to Indianapolis with us.

These 11 games in their boxes pretty much filled my ‘game garage’, which is an insulated food transportation bag from Gordon Food Service, roughly 21″x12″x12″ (available in-store for $3.50). It’s got ‘good enough’ handles, though with that many games the handles dug into my hands a bit. Still, for the price, it’s a great solution. And if it breaks, who cares? It was $3.50!

I weighed the bag with the games in their boxes and it was 31.5 pounds. Here’s a picture:



  • To gain as much space as feasible by leaving behind the box, inserts, and any other non-gameplay-related pieces.
  • To take the entire game — boards, minis, pieces, parts, manuals, etc. Leave nothing behind but the box (and etc. as detailed above).

I removed all the games (except those marked with an “(*)” above which weren’t “compressed” because they’re already small enough {though I probably could have saved a little space in the Deep Space D-6 box and possibly the Tiny Epic Galaxies box}) from their boxes and put the components into a large Ziplock bag, one game per Ziplock. In the case of real travel, I would label each bags with a Sharpie. Components in most of my games are in small Ziplock bags within their boxes, so this was fairly easy. For card-intensive games like Mystic Vale, Ashes, Dresden, and Aeon’s End I rubber-banded the cards together in their groups as in the box (for example, all Book cards from Dresden were rubber-banded together). Manuals, boards, minis, and etc. were placed together into a stack nearby.

After “compressing” all the games, I put the manuals, boards, minis, etc. into the bottom of the bag. I put the Ziplock-bagged games in next. My ‘game garage’ was less than half full, and the weight was reduced to 23 pounds — a weight savings of 8.5 pounds!

Rubber bands are bad. If I were doing this ‘for real’, I would use something more forgiving than rubber bands to collect my cards together, especially cards with dividers like those in Aeon’s End and Dresden.

It bothered me very little to remove the games from their boxes and put them into easier-to-transport Ziplocks. If I had a proper solution to use instead of rubber bands for card-sets (maybe smaller Ziplocks for a bag-within-a-bag approach), I would not mind transporting games this way.

Every game’s components (except for boards, minis, and manuals) fit inside a standard gallon-sized Ziplock bag — even Delve with its loads of tiles and dice. Even games that feel “bigger” fit into a gallon Ziplock.

Mystic Vale is really heavy for its size.

Mystic Vale’s Advancement cards slice right through rubber bands. Like a hot knife through butter.

Flimsy boards and manuals need support. They can be a little floppy (especially the manuals) and I worry about them getting bent. Consider taking a printout of the manual on 8.5×11 paper — using FinePrint to save paper & space — for travel and store the boards carefully (maybe on top). Or use a piece of cardboard or a binder to provide some ridgity to the boards and manuals.

Consider not including minis to further compress. Or, perhaps more realistically, don’t take mini games (like Scythe) at all because the hotel may not be set up for them. The added bulk of minis and sometimes-difficult play conditions at a hotel make mini games (to me) less-appropriate candidates for travel.

One drawback I noticed was that the ‘game garage’ was less structured without the boxes inside, and it wouldn’t stand up on its own. This was expected, but still noteworthy.

If you’re traveling, don’t be afraid to take your games out of their boxes and put them into labeled Ziplock bags. Consider the boards and manuals as you pack to prevent them from getting wrinkled or buckled.


The manuals and boards.

Board Game Night, 2017-06-25

For many months now, Wendy & I have been quietly hosting Board Game Nights at our house. We try to get folks together for “gaming unplugged” about once a week, though sometimes schedules get in the way and make it less often than we’d prefer.

But once we get folks together, phones are put away (except for the occasional rules clarification and recording of the game on BoardGameGeek.COM), and people begin to interact in meaningful ways, all facilitated by cardboard chits. Laughter happens, drama happens, game-based tensions rise and are resolved, and common experiences are experienced, real-time and together, around a table.

Last night, we had friends over for the first time to play games, and they brought their bright 7-year old daughter with them. Among other games, we played MYSTERIUM, which allows you to vote for or against the selections made by other players. The little girl was very anxious about voting against anyone because “they’re [my] friends!”, she said.

We talked about it with her at the table, helping her to understand that it’s just part of the game and “nothing personal”. While she was still a bit apprehensive about voting against her friends, she embraced the spirit (pun intended) of the game and fully participated.

I hope, if nothing else, that she enjoyed the game. But more so, I hope that she learned that games can be a ‘safe space’ that is non-damaging (and in fact healthy) to relationships. Even if you have to vote against a friend!

[UPDATED] Cincinnati Bell — STILL not complete!

The Cincinnati Bell installation from February 28, 2017 still is not complete as of this writing (May 2, 2017). They have not buried the fiber in my yard.

I’ve spent dozens of hours on the phone with Cincinnati Bell, trying to determine when this will be completed. Appointments are made. Appointments are missed.

I am promised returned calls which never come.

[UPDATE: 2017-05-03]

After much (!) effort on my part, today, this saga has seemingly come to an end. At 7:45am this morning (2017-05-03), Cincinnati Bell was here to bury the cable. It went smoothly and looks good. About time — it only took 64 days for this to be resolved, not to mention dozens (literally) of phone calls. Yikes.

Well, that was an ordeal!

I’ve been fighting with Cincinnati Bell for over a week and half now.

We ordered installation of FiOptics service (with a Static IP) to our home to get rid of Time Warner Cable and their dreadful Internet service. I’ve had Cincinnati Bell 5 installers in the house (including one confused tech that arrived {unannounced} this morning), countless hours on the phone with tech support in various countries, and loads of emails since the installation because the service simply. didn’t. work.

That all changed today, when I received a call from R (who asked me not to use his name, so just an initial will have to suffice) from Cincinnati Bell. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and was able to visualize my setup accurately to diagnose the problem. We spent 40 minutes diagnosing and fixing the problem (mostly fixed — I STILL cannot watch FiOptics TV on my Android or iPhone), and it’s working. I wish I could have had access to him, oh, 10 days ago!