Playtesting of A Distant Plain at BottosCon 2012

November 2-4 was BottosCon, named for Rob Bottos, the guy who works so hard to organize it, at the Compass Points Inn in splashy Surrey (honestly, seemed like it did nothing but rain all weekend). This is the fifth time Rob had run the convention there, it gets a bit bigger every year. All kinds of wargames are played, even some non-wargames, and maybe half of the people who come are avid Advanced Squad Leader players (a wargame that is not so much a game as a lifestyle, where competitive play requires toting around gym bags full of counters and binders of rules 3 inches thick. I am not kidding.)

Anyway, I spent most of my time conducting two and a half playtest games of A Distant Plain (the half-game was called for a meal break and we moved on afterwards), about three hours each time. Volko Ruhnke’s newly released game on Colombia, Andean Abyss, was present, with at least two copies being played. About half of the playtesters involved had also played this game, which uses much the same system. That helped a lot to get people into the game and enjoying the subtleties of play.

A crucial difference between the  two situation is that the Colombian game features one Counterinsurgent (the Government) versus three Insurgents (FARC, AUC and Cartels). the Afghanistan game has two Counterinsurgents (Coalition and Afghan Government) versus two Insurgents (Taliban and Warlords). Though they may be on the same side for game purposes, neither partner is meant to cooperate with the other very much – a point missed as the Government won or had the upper hand each time, through being able to siphon off large amounts of Graft and keep almost all of the Afghan Army and Police spread throughout the countryside, ensuring control of more population – due to generous donations by the Coalition and energetic Train operations. So there is certainly such a thing as being too much of a team player!

Other than that, I got a big stack of old wargaming magazines cheap and had a bit of  a chance to catch up with people I generally see only at this convention.

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About brtrain
This blog is mostly devoted to posts, work and resources on "serious" conflict simulation games.

4 Responses to Playtesting of A Distant Plain at BottosCon 2012

  1. John says:

    Any highlights from the mag grab?

    • brtrain says:

      Some early Grenadiers and Fire and Movements, also back issues of Strategy and Tactics that had my articles in them, so I had extra copies for my library. I got one Grenadier that had a Wargame Designer’s Census in it, featuring photographs of same from 1978! How time has changed (sideburns too).

  2. Rob Bottos says:

    Brian, thanks for the kind words about the convention. This was our 5th year at The Compass Points Inn, but the 6th year of BottosCon. When I started this up in 2007 we had 32 people at our inaugural event, and for our 2012 convention we had a grand total of 76 attendees. First time attendee Byron Salahor coined a new slogan for the convention, BottosCon: Getting Gamers and their games out of the closet and onto the table since 2007 🙂

    • brtrain says:

      Thanks Rob, I will correct the post. You will notice my discretion in not mentioning the Furries (who I guess have withdrawn to darkest Burnaby).

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