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at GeoCon West 2

Reported by Neal Sofge

Geocon West 2 was held on January 28, 1998, at the Embassy Suites hotel near Los Angeles International Airport. It was mostly an RPGA convention, although there were a lot of miniatures and boardgaming events on the program. Because it was so close to home, I only showed up for the events that interested to me, so this report may be a little uneven.

There was of course lots of RPGA stuff going on, although I didn't participate in any of it. The high point seemed to be the auction, where the organizers auctioned game equipment (like ships and weapons) for real money and gave the proceeds to charity. An unprecedented amount was earned, another bit of evidence that gamers are a fine lot and not the vicious Satan-worshipping misfits they're often portrayed to be.

The first event on Saturday was, believe it or not, a Weapons and Warriors battle, me against Robert Posada of EhGO Games. Robert's got a lot of stuff for this game, and it looks really cool, but the system is so sketchy that we ended up having to design our own game as we went along. This soon drew a crowd, and it was a lot of fun.

In the late evening was the Insecta tournament, with the now-customary big board and huge rubber bugs. Players were:

  • Robert Posada, as a spiny jumping earwig
  • Andy Ashcraft, playing a classic armored bola spider
  • First-time player Tim Fisher, who designed a nasutus-armed venomous scorpionfly with nasutus
  • Grizzled Insecta veteran Phil Adler, running a spiny jumping propaganda bug with setae to boot.

Hivemaster duties were handled by yours truly.

The game took just 2 hours, and started off with a plummet into the ant-lion larva's pit. In short order our heroes battled their way past that, thanks to Robert's grappling skills. Next they ran into the milkweed grasshopper, which fell prey to its own stupidity and Phil's propaganda pheromone.

On to the Root Cellar, where the dragonfly, jerusalem cricket, and ambush bug dealt our heroes a mighty beating before succumbing to a combined-arms mutant assault. After eating everything in sight and regenerating lost body parts, our intrepid band headed up to Level II and promptly dispatched the lurking black widow before heading into the Root Cellar.

There, a combination of suboptimal teamwork (the mutants had never worked together before) and plain old bad luck did them in. A Hive defense force composed almost exclusively of beetles hunted down and ate every one of the mutant band, thus ending the tournament.

The winner was judged to be Andy Ashcraft, proving that in the hands of a pro, old-fashioned designs can really shine.

Sunday afternoon was time for Virtual, an event run by game designer Spider Weir himself. Neal, Games of Westwood's Steve Cook, and RPGA member Josh "The Man" joined Spider's friend Kevin in the depths of cyberspace.

The first few turns were slow, as everyone jockeyed for the all-important center positions and wrote programs to generate power. Steve started the combat portion of the game by deleting one of my programs, and severe tactical mismanagement on my part resulted in this being repeated two turns later.

Just as Steve was closing in for the kill, Kevin came over with a tac laser and everyone scattered. I decided to take on Josh instead, since his programs were blocking my only possible 4-in-a-row scheme.

But a surprise attack with a disruptor bomb by Kevin-the-voice-of-chaos removed me from this mortal coil in one fell swoop. Then Josh, late for an RPGA event, took off and was replaced by Spider.

Spider and Kevin began fighting for the edge of the board. Steve valiantly tried to block Kevin, but for his trouble was blasted into nothingness by a hidden energy surge. Kevin then started deleting Ivan's programs, but Ivan was able to take advantage of a minor lapse of attention to slip past and plunk down his fourth program, winning the game.

The final event of the show was a rousing game of GOOTMU, which Robert handily won. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this fine product, GOOTMU stands for Get-Out-Of-The-Maze-Unit, a device that's personalized to each player, broken into three pieces, and scattered by one's opponents through a tesseract maze. Since the edges of the maze connect to each other, the only way out is to find all the pieces and teleport away. Standing in the way are various hazards, odd geometry, forced-move spaces, rotating maze tiles, and a horrible monster. It's great fun, and was a perfect end to a good convention. I'll definitely go back to this one next year, and if you live in the Los Angeles area you should too.

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