Tuesday, August 5, 1997

CombsCon 1997

As detailed in the email, we convened at Mike's house at 9:00 am on 8/1/1997 for the inaugural CombsCon. Mike surprised us with T-shirts in honor of our first 'Con, with a 1997 CombsCon logo, shown in photo. (Note: I made the *ultimate* sacrifice to get this picture -- I pulled out the ironing board to make sure it wasn't wrinkled. Now *that* is commitment!)

Joshua showed up first, so after he and Mike finished their game of Twisted Metal 2 (for the original PlayStation), Joshua had the honor of choosing the first game of our first 'Con. Ironic indeed that he chose Mediterranee, because he refuses to play it any more. Something about Mike blockading him in his home port... but who really remembers these things?

The game has some cool pieces, but the initial setup and reading through the rules gave us a 10:00 start time. Allan made the first bad pun at 10:40 ("Always keep a sailor in your galley or you sink, which would be a 'Titanic' mistake."), and after three hours, Mike said, "You know, after every move, I realize I screwed *that* one up, too!" And in what would become a running theme with us, it took us almost five hours to play a game that takes most human beings two.

In the end, Allan skimmed out a win over Scott ($18,000 to $16,500), with Mike and Joshua totally checked out and playing Twisted Metal in the other room. Come to think of it, that's yet another running theme -- but more on that later.

At 3:45, Scott chose RoboRally, a very cool game that involves strategy, luck, and skill -- something we were sorely lacking. In the middle of the first move, at 3:52, Mike exclaimed "Oh shit," so I think it wasn't going well for him. Not much detail except that Scott got to the flag first, followed by Joshua. But Joshua won because his robot pushed Scott's off the board before the end of the turn. Strangely enough, that's yet *another* running theme :)

We moved right into Ransom (Allan's choice -- more bitter irony, if you ask me), a card game where you try to make money building some of the skyscrapers in New York. Emphasis on "try to." You start with $50 million, and often our winners have ended the game with less than that. Guess it's a good thing none of us went into real estate development. Anyhow, halfway through the game (at 5:25), Joshua said to Allan, "$40 million?! That's like *all* my profit." Allan's rejoinder: "That's Ransom!" Naturally, those two ended up third and fourth. Scott crushed the competition, winning by 44% over the next competitor with $95 million (Mike had $66 million, Joshua had $59 million, Allan $41 million).

At 6:00, we played another round of Ransom. This time we read the rules first and were impressed that we were only breaking two or three of them in the first game. However, the result was the same, Scott won with $110 million, and Mike ($96 million), Joshua ($72 million), and Allan (still stuck on $41 million) marveling at his real estate empire. Maybe the point is only *I* could be a real estate developer :P

At 7:20, we started a game of Settlers of Catan, which has too much die-rolling for Allan's taste. At 7:21, Mike regretted his first move :( At 7:55, Allan promised revenge against Joshua for setting the Robber on him. And the Robber obliged by coming three turns in a row -- ending up on Joshua, Joshua, and then Allan. By 8:30, Mike almost had it won, and was naturally shunned for it. He did pull out the win a few turns later, just eking by Allan 10 to 9. Joshua and Scott pitched a heated battle for last, with Scott ending up at 5 to Joshua's 6.

9:30 pm, and we made our first critical mistake. Never start a game of Eurorails that late at night, especially if you aren't playing the "fast game." By 11:00 the board was a bloody, multi-colored mess, and by midnight, Mike, Allan, and Joshua had fallen so far behind that they were playing tag-team Twisted Metal between turns. That was sort of annoying, though it did give Joshua a chance to say, "I love this, Allan. You're so much easier to kill than Mike!" The end was long, slow, and inevitable: Scott $280 million, Allan $124 million, Mike $108 million, and Joshua $102 million.

It was 2:00, and the sane among us (Joshua and Scott) headed off to sleepyland. But being the gluttons of the group, Mike and Allan played Air Baron until 3:30. Then they quit for the night, satisfied with 7 games in 17 hours.

Day Two (8/2/1997) began with a 10:00 game of Ransom, which Joshua won with $106 million (to Allan's $96 million, Scott's $95 million, and Mike's $86 million). It seemed we were getting the hang of that game, as all the scores were higher and closer together. So of course, we never played it again during the 'Con.

Then we tried Lords of the Sierra Madre, starting at 11:00. I don't know who called for the game, but we tried it multiple times over the years. It was expensive, and we kept hearing how great it was. But by 11:45, Mike was crying out for a mercy kill of the game, and Allan declared, "Lords wins again!" We just never got that game. Something about our competitiveness or maybe a misinterpretation of the rules. But it seemed that no matter what, no one was allowed to make any money except the Ruales and strikers. Whatever the case, if you want to pick up a copy cheap, make us an offer.

Allan won a one-hour game of Air Baron, and Mike said he didn't want to play that game again. As you can see, we were slowly whittling down the games we would play.

We then played a few games of Speed Circuit, a racing game that is much, *much* better when played without the Chance Table. But at this point, we still used that aberration, which puts a lot of luck into the game. Interestingly, with more luck involved, Allan won two games, with he and Joshua each winning on the Monza track and Allan taking the rubber match on the Monaco track. Note: Mike and Scott struggled to finish the races, with each failing to do so once. I'd blame that on luck, but it might sound like sour grapes. So congratulations to the winners -- here's hoping you injure yourselves in the post-race celebration ;)

Mike and Allan tied on the final game, a five-hour marathon of Mediternee, with $11,500 each; while Joshua and Scott tied for last with $8,000 apiece.

Allan was declared CombsCon 1997 Champion, and the final victory totals were as follows:

Allan 4.5
Joshua 3
Scott 3
Mike 2.5

And that was about it for CombsCon. If we'd gone to AvalonCon, it would have cost hundreds of dollars each and we would have gotten in five or six games. The totals for CombsCon 1997:

26 hours of gaming
13 games
no offensive smell from un-bathed geeks
hundreds of dollars saved
Countless bad puns

It was one hell of a good time for all involved, in fact, more fun than I could possibly convey here. For proof, consider this post-CombsCon 1997 email:

Mike, Anne, Joshua and Scott,

I just wanted to drop a quick E-mail to all of you to let you know how
much I enjoyed getting out for the weekend and gaming - what a blast! Great
company, food, games and T-shirts that will draw the envy of every GQ model
out there!

Sorry I faded towards the end - I can truely say we gamed until I dropped
this time!

See you all in the sand,

See you in the sand... man, we never played Dune!!

BTW, Check the Overall Victories tally now, and you'll see that Joshua's 4 victory lead is down to 3.5 victories. Trust me, that will dwindle more as we go along -- I believe Allan won the first three 'Cons we held!