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at PolyCon XIV

As always, PolyCon was a lot of fun. The first thing that hit us was the intense heat of San Luis Obispo. Boy, that desert is hot! This is one of the few cons the FMG staff gets to attend as civilians, and we made the most of it.

Wizards and Weenies

Our first event was running the Shapeshifters demo game. But first, it was time for lunch, after the 3-hour drive up from L.A. A local expert directed us to Boomer's, purveyors of fine Middle Eastern cuisine. Baba ghanouj was the last thing we expected to find in San Luis Obispo. Then back to the con for Shapeshifters. We ran a standard beat 'em up scenario, with Victor Esposito, Brighton the Discount Mage, and Jason Oliver playing. (Mike Wasson joined in to fill out the ranks.) A good time was had by all.

With time to kill before the Insecta tournament, and no pre-registration in any events, we watched the Golem tournament for awhile. Golem is a new non-collectible cardgame from Rhino Games, where players race to create golems and send them out to terrorize the townspeople and destroy rival golems. Then we played a quick 2-player game of Legend of the Lost Dutchman (Simulations Workshop). Mike Wasson found a $500 strike, which the villainous Neal Sofge attempted to steal. Mike gunned him down in self-defense, so Neal restarted with another character, but then Mike was killed by claim jumpers and the game ended.

One of the coolest things about this PolyCon was the bring-your-own-meat barbecue cookout. We roasted weenies and hung out with con staff, game professionals, and convention goers. It lent a nice cozy atmosphere to the con.

The Insecta tournament was somewhat brief, because the mutants all died in the third chamber, after meeting the walking stick, the preying mantis, and the assassin bug. The pheromone mutant emptied its chamber trying to propagandize the walking stick, but the walking stick was not swayed over to the mutants' side. The bombardier mutant failed to get into position to let loose with its cannon, and then got glopped when his spiny compatriot tried to immobilize the assassin bug. Without pheromones or heavy artillery, it was all over for the mutants.

Final Insecta standings:

  • First place: John Schofield
  • Second place: Andrew Tuttle
  • Third place: Martin Scott

The usual FMG Insecta prizes were awarded.

Valkyrie Needs Food, Badly

Another cool thing about the con was the perpetually running Gauntlet machine. A stockpile of tokens was heaped on the machine for anyone to use, and someone had cranked Valkyrie up to godlike status. After the Insecta tournament, we played for awhile (badly) with Mike Lam and Eric Lane of Flying Buffalo. Then we hauled out our battered copy of Monster Derby (Gamesmiths, Inc.) for a quick 6-player pick-up game.

By now it was midnight, time for the official Nuclear War tournament. The game ended when the former Soviet Union, after turning on its former Eastern Bloc allies, lobbed a 100-megaton strike and destroyed the entire solar system.

On Sunday we dragged ourselves out of bed in time for Clay-o-rama. True Angelinos, Neal and Mike both weighed in with automobiles: "El Vato Loco" (built around a VW bug chassis with tank treads) and Hot Rod #7. Other contestants included a really beautiful elephant, the Germ Warrior, the Headless Horror, and Pteridactylus rodanicus. Victory went to the Evil Snake Thing, a travesty of play balance if ever there was one.

The traditional PolyCon auction was a little bizarre this year, with items ranging from a can of Jolt Cola ($4, but it was the last one) to GDW's Tet Offensive. Biggest laugh of the auction occurred right after a box of Jyhad -- ahem, Vampire the Eternal Struggle booster packs sold for $22. Auctioneer Eric Aldrich held up the next lot -- a bag of assorted lollypops -- and proclaimed, "Suckers!"

As the con was being packed up, we managed to squeeze in another Shapeshifters game for the convention staff. For some it was the only game they managed to play the entire con. John Schofield took home the creature of the day, a fierce wind-up tiger, which had gone unclaimed on Saturday.

As the Fat Messiahs said their goodbyes and got ready to make the long journey back to Los Angeles, they were left with one final, poignant image: A pair of gamers desperately cajoling the Flying Buffalo staff to unpack their booth for one last purchase -- a set of Pizza Dice.

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