If you own a big collection of designer board games, or if you have a network of friends and family who you can enjoy playing games with, or if you have the free time to sit around a table to shoot the shit and chuck some dice, you are, relatively, a pretty lucky person. That was the thought of local (local being Regina, Saskatchewan) gamer Matt Robertson (BGG users might know him as Bixby, the dude with an avatar of a beer-chugging squirrel who posts pictures of his impressive Heroscape maps). He and a few others had the idea of holding a board gaming marathon -- much like a charity run -- in which participants would collect pledges, with the proceeds going towards assisting those who aren't fortunate enough to be in a position where they can think about which genre of games are underrepresented in their personal library.
The beneficiary of this event was Regina's Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, which provides services such as a soup kitchen, a men's shelter, a women and children's shelter, a day care, and several other programs. Poverty and addiction are substantial issues in Regina's inner city, so their services are crucial to that community. The event was held from 1pm October 5th to 1pm October 6th at Souls Harbour's recreation centre. The goal of the event was to raise $5,000 but, due to a lot of creative fundraising efforts, that goal was almost tripled with roughly $14,000 raised. Considering how many meals that much money could provide, the event was aptly named 24 Hours to Play With Your Food.
There were a total of 81 registrants for the event and I think there were just over 20 of us (me included) who were there for its entirety. Here's a recap of the games I played.
Letters From Whitechapel (2 plays)
These were my first plays of this. We didn't include any of the advanced rules, keeping it nice and streamlined. I wondered if it would just feel like an abstract version of Fury of Dracula, but I think it's every bit as thematic. Playing an investigator really did feel like one of those scenes in a movie where the cops are poring through papers with a pin-map up on the wall in front of them, trying to find the inevitable pattern that will hopefully lead to capture. Loved it and definitely want to play again so I can have a try at evading the Bobbies.
The Ares Project (1 play)
Also my first play with this. We tried a three-player game with full rules, which I realize isn't the ideal way to learn the game. As such, we were more intrigued than entertained, largely because we were bewildered when it came to strategy. There's really no comparable I can think of. Letters From Whitechapel was a breeze to learn because, really, it's just another iteration of Scotland Yard. Apart from the die rolls for combat, The Ares Project is completely unique. I played as Xenos (martian bugs) and my friends were the Kahoum (wizards) and the Collossus (giant robot). I played too aggressively and ended up with a wounded Queen after sending her into battle, making it much harder to produce eggs and rebuild my army. The Collossus won easily, eliminating my base and outscoring the Kahoum 5-0. The Kahoum player wants to get in some 2-player games in the near future because he didn't wrap his head around it until near the end of the game.
P.I. (1 play)
Yet another game played for the first time. My buddy forgot to put the English rules back in the box, but another guy at the event who was walking past had played it a month earlier and so he sat down and taught it from memory. It's an ok deduction game. I'd play it again but won't miss it if I don't.
Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition (1 play)
Wow, that's the actual title of this game?
This was my first time playing Werewolf. I think there were 28 players, plus 1 narrator. The narrator did an awesome job overall of laying out the scenes and moderating the game, but despite his best efforts the game started to run a bit long by the end. I think about half that number of people would be ideal.
I was a villager. I survived to the end but the werewolves won in the end.
Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery (1 play)
Hey, a game I've played before!
This was my first time with the expansion, but we kept it to 4 players and started at 4 influence to keep the game from running long. I played as Seppius and was constantly swimming in gold, in large part due to the stable of slaves I'd built up. I used all 15 of my gold one round to buy Theokoles from the market, far and away the best gladiator of any ludis, cementing my plan to Host the games every round and use Theokoles to slaughter any gladiator who goes against me. I lost an influence for spending so much because I had made myself destitute by making the purchasem, but no matter. This was the path to easy victory. Except the next card in the market was the gladiator Acerbitas (a promo card) who, with his speed of 5, managed to decapitate Theokoles a few minutes after I had spent my whole fortune on him. The round after, my last remaining gladiator was killed, further dropping my influence among the leaders of Rome. I ended the game in last place with 5 influence. Glaber, thanks in large part to his man Acerbitas, won the game.
I think I'll be leaving Acerbitas out of the game from now on. I'd read before that the promo cards are imbalanced, but that was ridiculous.
Ave Caesar (2 plays)
Sticking with the Roman theme, the winner of Spartacus broke out this light racing game. We played one game with 6 players and a second with 5. It's a lot of fun with that many because you can use that congestion to screw people over as you block the available lanes. To do 24 straight hours of gaming, you need to throw in these lighter, quicker games to keep your brain from shorting out.
Carcassonne (1 play)
A buddy and I played a quick game of this waiting for the third member of our "team" to finish up an epic game of Merchant of Venus he was participating in. I think the final score in our game was something like 115 to 95. I neglect these older German games too often. They're usually enjoyable but I always look past them in favour of newer and shinier.
King of Tokyo (1 play)
This was a 5 player game. Three of us (me included) were eliminated at one time when the Kraken rolled 5 claws while camped in Tokyo.
Room 25 (2 plays)
Both times we played the Suspicion (hidden traitor) mode with 4-players. With this many players, there may be either 0 or 1 guard who's secretly trying to prevent the players from escaping the trap-filled prison (usually by shoving them into a tile with said traps). Neither game had a guard, though, so they were pretty easy escapes, only made more difficult by my tired brain pre-programming my moves in the wrong order.
Doom: The Board Game (1 play)
This was the game that I played to end the event.
I bought this game back in 2006, soon after I dived into this hobby. It reminded me a lot of times playing HeroQuest at sleepovers when I was a kid. My friends and I hadn't played Doom in about 5 years so, the morning of the marathon, I had the idea to brush off the dust, quickly read through the rules and finally get this game back on the table. Blargh. I wish I left these dinosaur bones buried. There have been so many excellent Dudes in a Corridor games released in recent years -- Earth Reborn, Claustrophobia, and Mice & Mystics, to name a few -- that I can't imagine I'll ever bother with this plodding game again. I'd rather play HeroQuest, so I can't even say that it's dated. It's just bad.
It was between this and Merchants & Marauders to end the event. I made the wrong choice.
Afterwards, my wife came to pick up me and my several bags of games. After 24-hours in a basement with no windows, the sun hurt my eyes. We went out for a burger and beers with the friends I'd just gamed with. I was in the middle of my 7th wind, so I invited them back to my place to keep it going and play a game of Queen's Gambit. They declined, comparing me to a guy in the woods whose on the verge of death from hypothermia who then starts shedding his clothes, running through the trees, naked and turning blue. Good call on their part. I was asleep less than an hour later.
I listen to local news radio in the background during the day, and the news-on-the-half-hour all morning has made mention of this successful fundraising event. I'm tired today, but I'm also feeling proud at what this event was able to raise for a good cause, impressed that, in my mid-30s, I'm still able to play like a kid for a day straight, and fortunate that I'm able to enjoy such simple pleasures since I'm not affected by severe poverty or addiction. Even though the event is over, my team's donation page is being left live until about October 13th. I figured I'd end this entry with a link to it in case, after reading this, you're interested in supporting the event and the organization. (If you click on the link and it says "Timed Out," just close it and go the link again. I don't know why it does that.)