Spoke at TableFlip, October 4-5

City Lights Books and the Transamerica Building

City Lights Books and the Transamerica Building

What a great weekend!

I got into San Francisco in the morning, took the BART in from the airport and spent the midday and afternoon looking around – The city was having a heatr wave, it was 95 degrees on Friday and bright-sunny all weekend. Went to City Lights Books (always wanted to go there) through Chinatown (liked the erhu players on the sidewalk), then over to Amoeba Records (great music and video store) via Haight-Ashbury (ehhh), then back downtown for a meetup with the conference organizers, Tim Hwang and Patrick Ewing, and three of the the other speakers at the conference: Volko Ruhnke of course, David Malki, designer of Machine of Death: the Game of Creative Assassination (http://wondermark.com/mod-game-done/), and Max Temkin, designer of Cards Against Humanity (http://maxistentialism.com/).

Saturday morning David Malki presented on “theme” in games, and as a quick exploration in that topic the audience played the simple kid’s game War (as we all know, one of the longest and most tedious kids’ card games) then each table came up with twists and rethemes – we imagined a three-player, film-noir theme of the game where one player is an investigator, one a villain who has kidnapped the victim Or Something, and one player is Fate, who trips up one or both of the other two.

C3i banner by Rodger MacGowan

C3i banner by Rodger MacGowan

After lunch it was our turn. I will be the first to admit that though I am willing to speak in public (thanks to my time on the debate team in high school (my sole contribution to School Spirit), and teaching recruits when I was in the military) I am not a particularly good improv speaker, nor even a good lecturer – I am always way too tied to my script. But Volko and I tagged off each other in speaking about what went into the design of the two COIN games, and he’s a much more animated speaker, so I think it went well.

Tableflip Script (this is what I read-said)

Ruhnke-Train Wargaming COIN (these are the slides we showed)

It was great to be with people who were willing to try something that, for many, laid outside their usual gaming frame of reference. Tim and Patrick had prepared some attendees beforehand to learn the rules and be facilitators for the games of Fire in the Lake and A Distant Plain; this helped tremendously. After playing for about three hours, we called everyone back together and had a very good discussion about their experiences, and fielded more questions about why and how the games were designed as they were.


The following morning was Max Temkin’s presentation, a very intelligent excursion on philosophy and/of game design via Wittgenstein (helped by a great clip from the Ricky Gervais Show), Magritte, David Foster Wallace and many others. He spoke about the impact and interest, or rather why the impact and interest, of Humans vs. Zombies (the first game he designed, while a college student), Cards Against Humanity, and Johann Sebastian JOUST (this was a new one on me (http://www.jsjoust.com/). Afterwards people played a similar game, Spaghetti Showdown: people begin by standing in a circle, each hand holding one end of a piece of uncooked spaghetti. The last pair of people holding a piece of unbroken spaghetti wins! Immediately the circle breaks up and people very gingerly (or not) start to attack the Pasta of Others.

Spaghetti Joust

Spaghetti Showdown

The fourth speaker was Matt Leacock, designer of Pandemic and Forbidden Desert. I really wanted to stay for his talk, but had to leave to get to the airport in time for my flight back.

This was a fantastic event, very lively with great conversations and ideas flying everywhere – it will take me a while to unpack it mentally, I think.

Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/tableflipcon

Short piece in San Francisco Weekly, by Marshall Sandoval: http://www.sfweekly.com/exhibitionist/2014/10/07/tableflip-conference-lures-players-back-to-the-board-game

David Malki’s account of the fun, not only did he try A Distant Plain he played Guerrilla Checkers too: http://wondermark.com/game-reviews/

And a nice review of the event by attendee Richard Esguerra: https://medium.com/@qubitsu/the-tableflip-conference-reviewed-3a05bd141a54

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

2 Responses to Spoke at TableFlip, October 4-5

  1. Pingback: Brian Train @ Table Flip | Big Board Gaming

  2. Pingback: Medieval farming - A little bit of bread and no cheese - Military Muddling

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: