How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Essen and Love CharCon
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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So I can't afford to go to Essen. Guess what? There is a gaming convention much closer to where I live and its probably closer to where you live too. Its a little smaller than Essen but I always have an awesome time.

CharCon ----> www.charcon.org/ is the local gaming convention in Charleston, West Virginia.
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1. Board Game: Geeks: The Convention [Average Rating:4.66 Overall Rank:17826]
Board Game: Geeks: The Convention
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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So for those of you who haven't been to a gaming convention, its basically a collection of people playing games in a giant hall, with vendors, open gaming tables, and scheduled gaming.

CharCon always has

thumbsup Vendors,
thumbsup RPGS,
thumbsup Board game library for open play,
thumbsup PREMIER board game tournament,
thumbsup miniatures,
thumbsup magic and other CCGs,
thumbsup video games including tournaments,
thumbsup LARPs,
thumbsup and probably other stuff I don't even know about.

I'm not going to talk about everything there, but hopefully you get a flavor for what our Con is like.
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2. Board Game: The Hunt for Red October [Average Rating:5.93 Overall Rank:8218]
Board Game: The Hunt for Red October
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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CharCon is always the third weekend in October, which is the same weekend as Essen. Although it might hurt our chances of drawing people from across the country, we are mostly a local con, and this weekend works out really well for us.

Here are some photos of the main hall:

External image


Another angle:

External image


So as you can see, our little convention doesn't rival Origins or anything, but we get a nice crowd. These pictures are only the main hall, we had role-playing in a different area and the LARP people in a third area.
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3. Board Game: Dragon Ball Z: Final Tournament Strategy Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Dragon Ball Z: Final Tournament Strategy Game
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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CharCon hosts the "Premier Boardgame Tournament" every year. What is so PREMIER about it, you may ask?

Well there are many answers to that question, but you'd have to ask Charlie who is in charge of the tournament.

Charles A. Davis
United States
Greeneville
TN
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If he doesn't know, maybe his Number Two Dave can answer.

Dave Gilligan
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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Dave and Charlie do a great job with this tournament every year. The game line up this year was fantastic.
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4. Board Game: Evo (Second Edition) [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1294]
Board Game: Evo (Second Edition)
Tom Hancock
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Charleston
West Virginia
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One of the four games that made up the tournament this year.

This game is a lot of fun, one match I watched in the tournament (I was working the board game library at the time) some guy got a massive thigh upgrade in the first turn and rode his thunder thigh strategy to victory. Everyone enjoyed this one.
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5. Board Game: Village [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:147]
Board Game: Village
Tom Hancock
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Charleston
West Virginia
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Another one of the four games that made up the tournament this year.

This hit Essen last year, but was the hit of Charcon this year. A lot of people played this for the first time in the tournament and loved it.
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6. Board Game: Santiago de Cuba [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:940]
Board Game: Santiago de Cuba
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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The third tournament game.

The folks from Eagle Games had a booth at Charcon, and they were selling a bunch of Eagle-Gryphon Games stuff, so they were happy to see this in the tournament.
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7. Board Game: Sunrise City [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:2556]
Board Game: Sunrise City
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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This was the last game in the tournament. People liked it but we had some oddball rules questions come up.

Can't remember the exact rule, but it is something like "if you have no legal spots to place a tile, and all players agree, you may place it illegally" - That rule would be much clearer if it read "If all players agree you have no legal spots to place a tile, you may place it illegally"

As it was, we had some people who ran out of spots to place a tile, but others would not give them permission to play illegally.... clearly not the intent of the rules, though I understood why they thought it said that! "all players agree" was meant to modify the preceding phrase, not the following phrase.

Still a fun game everyone enjoyed.
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8. Board Game: Tie One On [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:11962]
Board Game: Tie One On
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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So who won? We ended up with a three way tie between
Jason Coeyman
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Charleston
West Virginia
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Jeremy Green
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Mount Clare
West Virginia
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We've never had a three way tie before, and of course the slobbering masses wanted to see a sudden death match of Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization to end the tournament, but these three decided to split the games set aside for the winners instead.
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9. Board Game: WTF (Where's The Fun?) [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: WTF (Where's The Fun?)
Tom Hancock
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Charleston
West Virginia
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What the fun else was going on?

Well, like I said, TONS of RPGs were played. Tons of miniatures games were played, including a big Warhammer 40,000 (Fifth Edition) tournament, De Bellis Antiquitatis: Quick Play Wargame Rules with Army Lists for Ancient and Medieval Battles tournament, and probably a couple dozen others I didn't even notice.

One big event at Charcon every year is the costume contest.

External image


No, your eyes are not deceiving you, that is a gigantic star-wars themed dress-thing.... yes it looked like it belonged in a parade.

The funny part was, that only won one category. I didn't get pics of the rest of the costume contest but maybe someone else can add them.
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10. RPG Item: Low Life [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:515]
RPG Item: Low Life
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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CharCon also has a featured artist every year. This year it was Andy Hopp, which was awesome. If you aren't familiar with Andy, he is one of the world's most well-known and renowned artists of walking nuclear twinkies, mutated booger creatures, and axe-wielding tapeworm men.

He also authored low life, an RPG where you play a character in a post-apocalyptic earth inhabited by the descendants of cockroaches, worms, snack cakes, and stranded aliens. No, I'm not kidding.

Here is the cover he drew for CharCon's guide this year:

External image


I'm not sure what that thing is, but it is (1) awesome and (2) not the strangest creature I saw at the con. And yes, I'm no longer discussing art.
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11. Board Game: RAFFLES: The Sophisticated Game of Chance [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: RAFFLES: The Sophisticated Game of Chance
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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We do a big game raffle with a bunch of cool stuff in it. The items go out on a table and you put purchased tickets in a box which later gets drawn. This raises money for the con and also gives everyone a great way to win some items they might not be able to afford.

This year I won a copy of Battle Beyond Space. There was a bunch of other great stuff in the raffle like Dreadfleet, a complete set of every item in the Small World line, a ton of Flames of War: The World War II Miniatures Game miniatures, and a slew of other stuff I don't remember.

My favorite moment in the raffle was when they were calling out the winner for these two skimpy lady gaga costumes, designed to be worn by a petite female. One of the costume vendors must have donated them.

So they call out this man's name... and I see some people start laughing, and the guy standing near them is looking around like a deer in the headlights, and says "what did he say" - his name was called but he hadn't put any tickets in for those costumes. His buddies put his name in as a joke. He laughed when he realized what happened and gladly claimed his lady gaga outfits.

We told him he was a shoe-in for next year's costume contest. His friends are still laughing.
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12. RPG Item: Dark Heresy [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:154]
RPG Item: Dark Heresy
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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So one of the best additions to CharCon in the last few years is the After Dark party. This is held at a local club that does geek-centric drink specials. We also do the "adult" costume contest here. Its one part dragon con meets board game convention, as we get a good mix of folks from the con.

Lets just say you haven't listened to house music and drank glowing shots bought by a complete stranger until you've done it with Jason Matthews and Christian Leonhard. Those two didn't make it to Charcon this year, but have in the past, and are complete party animals at Charcon after dark. It becomes quite the "twilight struggle" with sobriety.
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13. Board Game: Stone Age: The Expansion [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked]
Board Game: Stone Age: The Expansion
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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So one of the more interesting things at the after dark party was various dance contests and whatnot. One of the contests was a "gangnam style" contest. For those who just got the internet, gangnam style is a youtube video of a korean guy dancing like a fool that is the subject of ubiquitous parodies.




For example.

Anyway, the CharCon gangnam style contest was won by
Douglas Damron
United States
Danville
West Virginia
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If you know Doug, you know he isn't the type to break out into spontaneous dancing without there being some alcohol involved. The next day, Doug won a North Star Games package in the raffle (mentioned above) and when his name was called, he was told he had to dance again to get his game. A copy of Say Anything may still be on the floor of the civic center, as I write this.
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14. Video Game: Just Dance 2 [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:3420]
Video Game: Just Dance 2
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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Some other random funny Charcon stories.

OK. So, back in 2010, CharCon was held in the Charleston Civic Center on the same night they were holding a ballet performance in the other side of the civic center. The way the building is set up, neither group disturbed each other, but we did share a large bathroom. You know the ones in big public venues, 20 urinals, a dozen thrones, and big trough style sinks. The funny thing about the civic center is that you won't realize the bathroom is shared unless you walk from one end to the other.

So, after a marathon board gaming session, I go take a whizz. As I walk towards the urinal I see two people at the sinks. One is an older man in an expensive suit, clearly there for the ballet. The other is a weird little feller in elf face-paint, with fake pointy ears, and a big rubber sword and shield. He is at CharCon, participating in a live action roleplaying game, and appears to be TOTALLY into his hobby.

I'm standing there doing what you do at a urinal, when the older guy from the ballet audience says "How long have you been a dancer?" Not missing a beat, LARPer guy says "All my life." I stifled a laugh and by the time I turned around they were both gone.

Imagine old dude's surprise when there weren't any elves with swords in the ballet.
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15. Board Game: Village [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:147]
Board Game: Village
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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Funny story from this year's CharCon Board Game Tournament.

The Premier Board Game Tournament is humming along. One of the participants,
Sheila Morton
United States
Dutch John
Utah
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is doing very well.

Eventually, Sheila makes it to the finals for Village and someone mentioned that she has played the game five times and never lost. On top of that, I noted that she had slept with the tournament organizer; and no, I'm not spreading vicious rumors, they are married with a baby.

So of course, Sheila proceeded to come in dead last in the village finals, once again proving that karma exists and showing that marrying the tournament organizer doesn't really help.
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16. Board Game: Charon Inc. [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:4568]
Board Game: Charon Inc.
Tom Hancock
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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SO, I'm reaching the end of my CharCon stories and I realize I haven't really talked much about the gaming I did. There is a ton of great gaming at CharCon, but what I always seem to remember is all the other stuff that happens. I hope that this list inspires some new people to come. We set another attendance record in 2012, with nearly 700 people, and we hope to break it again next year.
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17. Board Game: Belfort [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:492]
Board Game: Belfort
Christopher Ross
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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I didn't see this one on the list. This was part of the Premier Board Game tourney that I barely played in this year. I played Sheila and Doug at the end of the day on Saturday and I really enjoyed it. It is a worker placement engine and I guess that I got all of the parts moving right because I won by a good margin.
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18. Board Game: Pizza Theory [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:5635]
Board Game: Pizza Theory
Christopher Ross
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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This one was one of the bonus games that was part of the Premier Boardgame Tourney. I think this was the only one where I earned any points in the PBT this year.

I liked it but the best part was the pizza box that it came in. I guess that the best way to describe this game is area majority but it has this element where you replace other player's toppings with your own when you win an area (or slice). It reminded me of one of those iPhone games where you are trying to flip the colors or Othello. I got down to just two toppings at one point and managed to come back and win the game. Thus, it felt a little random to me. I'm looking forward to the pizza flicking game "Top This!" that hit KickStarter a little after this one did.
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19. Board Game: VivaJava: The Coffee Game [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1997]
Board Game: VivaJava: The Coffee Game
Christopher Ross
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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Microbadge: LGBTQ allyMicrobadge: Platinum Board Game CollectorMicrobadge: West Virginia UniversityMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level II - If I have seen further, it's only by standing on the apex of other's dice.Microbadge: Parent of Twin Boy and Girl
Doug Damron brought his new copy of this, fresh from KickStarter. We played it twice. There are a lot of rules to this game but once you get the hang of it I think it has some nice elements to it. There is a cooperative element to the rounds but it is every man for himself when it comes to point scoring.

The players earn points by researching coffee blends but mostly earn points by blending the most popular blends of coffee. The game had some nice bits and was a nice experience with plenty of player interaction. Each round you have to see what other players are occupying your region of the board and those players are your teammates for the round.

You have to decide to work together with your teammates to try to make the best coffee blend using your different colored coffee beans in a poker-style hand. There is a random element as you have to draw the beans out of your bag without looking and every team member has to contribute at least one bean. You could be on a team by yourself or you could have to work with up to 2 other players.
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20. Board Game: Level 7 [Escape] [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:5385]
Board Game: Level 7 [Escape]
Christopher Ross
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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Microbadge: LGBTQ allyMicrobadge: Platinum Board Game CollectorMicrobadge: West Virginia UniversityMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level II - If I have seen further, it's only by standing on the apex of other's dice.Microbadge: Parent of Twin Boy and Girl
Ted Cheatham brought this one. It is a highly thematic (Ameritrash) style game that reminds me of the Gears of War board game without all of the cool weapons.

I would say that our play experience would have been improved by a better understanding of the rules beforehand but I'm not sure that is true. There was no summary sheet for this game (nor one on BGG at the time) and every time we had to look up a rule we had to scour the manual to try to piece it all together (this happened multiple times per turn).

At first the game seemed too easy and then it seemed impossibly difficult. With the multiple rule look-ups, the impossibility of finishing the game with our poor resources, the 2+ hours we slogged through this, and the prospect of better games awaiting it felt like the only people who were trying to escape from Level 7 were the players themselves. We finally called the game and are now trying to live down the experience ... the horror ... the horror.
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21. Board Game: Dominant Species: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:4160]
Board Game: Dominant Species: The Card Game
Dave Gilligan
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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One of the few games I played at the convention was Dominant Species: The Card Game. I'm sure if I said, "This game is just Taj Mahal" one more time someone was going to hit me! I thought the game was fine and if I had never played Taj Mahal I would not have had a clue.

The biggest thing that gave me that feeling was that when you drop out of a round of card play early, you sit there saying things like, "Come on...you can't let him have it for just three cards...keep fighting", in the hope that other players expend their hand of cards leaving you in a more powerful position in the next round.
 
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