Playtesting of A Distant Plain at BottosCon 2012
November 7, 2012 4 Comments
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.