Friday, and Sunday, I attended ReCon, thrown by the League of Geeks. On the two days, I participated in two very different events: an open-smash session, and a board game session.
On Friday, a friend and I visited the Smash 4v4 tournament in Armstrong Pavilion. We arrived, and saw many TV’s and monitors set up to various consoles throughout the large room. On one side of the room were several different fighting games. The other side and middle of the room was filled with Wii U’s running Smash 4 and some game cubes running Melee.
We quickly gravitated over to an active 4v4 match underway, observing the hectic mess of heavy attacks and seeing what hit. Seeing some of the participants, my friend and I felt emboldened to ask a friend and organizer if we could join the tournament. They told us no, so we hung around, and eventually sat down to play a friendly game of Melee, since only Game Cubes were open. We asked if there were any extra controllers, and plugged in for a match. A friendly stranger joined us as we played a few round.
After a little bit, we got up, tired of Melee. We soon found a Smash 4 station was open, and sat down to play again. The stranger followed us to the new space, and we played another few rounds before my friend and I had to leave. I personally have some weird baggage with Smash 4, so even though I wanted to play, I left in a weird mood. We left ReCon for the night after that second session.
On Sunday, I received a text from friends that they were intending to go play board games at ReCon, so I got ready and joined them. I asked an officer and friend in Armstrong where my friends playing board games might be, and was told to look for board games in the East Wing. My friends were already in the middle of a game of Carcassonne when I arrived (one of my favorite games), so it was very nice to see them have fun with a game I enjoy.
While they were finishing a game, I looked over the pile of games on the nearby table and found one that I’d like to play: Terraforming Mars. I dove into the rulebook, and was very excited by what I saw. When they wrapped their game of Carcassonne, I began to set up for Terraforming Mars. As I was doing so, JS came up to us and said he’d teach us how to play, and that the rulebook was not very good at doing this, so that was very lucky. It was around 2:30, and he told us it would take 2.5 hours for us to finish.
We played for about an hour before an officer came around to tell us to wrap up playing, since they intended to give the game away. After light protests (what if we win? What if they aren’t here?) we had to stop playing and clean up. That was very frustrating, as we had all been enjoying the game. When they finally named the winners, someone else who wasn’t present won the game.
With a little less wind in our sails, three of us selected another game to play, with a fourth joining us: Codenames. I had previously played the game before with a large group, but wanted to try the game with a smaller one. We played a few rounds, with the final one ending rather climatically. I was a spymaster, and my partner had 4 cards to go, compared to our opponents 1. Knowing they would win the next turn, I knew I had to give a clue about 3 different cards (my partner was likely to guess the fourth from a previous round). The 3 cards were dwarf, degree, and pistol. After much thought, I gave the clue “fires 3,” and my partner, remarkably, was able to get all of them, securing an unexpected victory.
Looking back, I enjoyed being a spectator to the hype and excitement of Friday’s Smash 4v4s, vs spending quality time with friends on Sunday. Smash (and most esports) aren’t quite for me, but I do enjoy the community building power they hold. On the other hand, I do enjoy participating in certain board games, particularly those that employ map-building, asymmetric strategy, and gamestate economies. While dismayed that our play session was cut off early (and further dismayed none of us won the game), I met a game that I liked and want to play again.