Looney Labs Rabbits Mailing list Archive

[Rabbits] [Event] Born to Be Bunny by Nimrod Jones

  • FromSuperFRED <superfred@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateSun, 12 Feb 2006 18:15:01 -0500
This is an auto-generated report from SuperFRED regarding an event that Nimrod Jones has submitted.

Title: Born to Be Bunny
Location: Conception '06, UK
Date: 1st - 5th February '06

?Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.? - Alexander Graham Bell

?Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.? - Charles Caleb Colton

?Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.? - Gail Godwin

 ?One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.? - Dan Quayle

Life is full of little quirks. For instance, I was born in the year of the Rabbit and, lo, I find myself a Mad Lab Rabbit. There are some things in life you simply can?t prepare for, and there are some things that you can. This is a story about being prepared. In this case, preparing to get lost, preparing to lose lots, and preparing to run games one hadn?t intended to. Only one of these did not happen.

The above quotes can be applied to demoing. Go on, paraphrase them in your mind and as a demo rabbit you?ll know it to be true. Now, despite my best preparations, anyone who has read my previous event reports will know that I appear to have this terrible time getting to places (and even getting home sometimes). Invariably I manage to get lost. I?ve been going to Conception for enough years that I?ve caught the train and driven. First time I ever went down to Conception I had an Odyssey that ended with the four hour journey taking seven and a half hours. Second time I went down I couldn?t find a taxi and ended up walking the two miles or so to the convention site ? amazingly hitting upon the correct direction (albeit after making a few false starts). First time I drove down, I approached the convention centre from the wrong direction utterly confusing myself, the second time I drove I still managed to go wrong, but used my innate sense of (mis)direction to steer me to my fina!
 l destination. Despite having used the plan before, and still taking a wrong turn, I decided I would try again with what still seemed like an immensely ingenious idea. The main cause for my misadventures in motoring is that I drive alone, therefore have no navigator. As I try to read the printed directions I customarily take a wrong turn or pass my turning before I realise it and then have problems backtracking. However, I had a cunning plan that could not fail. I have a digital Dictaphone into which I recorded each step of the journey. With an earpiece plugged in I could easily play back each stage of the voyage into my ear over and over without the distraction of trying to read and drive at the same time. I was my own navigator. However, knowing that it had let me down before I was prepared to get lost again; it was traditional. So, when everything went smoothly and I arrived without any adventures to relate I knew something was wrong. I was prepared for the worst.

Speaking of preparation, I don?t think I know anyone who is more prepared for demoing than Jenny. This always amazes me. For me there is a fine difference between being prepared and having done preparation. I can be prepared for something without having done any preparation and I can have all the preparation I need and still not be prepared. Feeling like a veteran I think it goes without say that we were all prepared for demoing, but Jenny is without a doubt the one who does the most preparation. She has all the promo cards, the laminated rules printouts, enough copies of the games that although we all bring our own copies we practically never need to use them. She has giant Cosmic Coasters with Fimo pieces (now with added sparkles!) and a giant Q-turn set with shiny smooth mineral rocks for the pieces. On top of this she daily baked cookies or brownies ? always a favourite for everyone, and, I think, certainly a big attraction for the table! Conception is a convention run f!
 or charity and in the spirit of co-operation and since the cookies are undoubtedly so popular, Jenny ran them as part of a ?Cookies for Charity? sale: for every cookie/brownie (depending on the bake of choice for the day) you made a donation of your choice. The ?bake sale? made over £50. Meanwhile, the rest of us (me, Alex, Beka and Snap) only had to be prepared to run the games.

First time we played Family Fluxx at the con, none of the family specific rules really related to anyone. We managed to get the ?youngest? and ?oldest? bonuses into play, but otherwise, the Grandparent Bonus was just there to look pretty on the table. It was with some surprise in a later game that the Grandparent Bonus was played and someone around the table who I wouldn?t have credited as being old enough (he was older than he looked) to have a child old enough to make him a grandfather turned bright red as our collective faces dropped in disbelief ? well, apart from Beka who had played it because she already knew. Just goes to show that some things you can never prepare yourself for!

Treehouse was a popular quickie. In my opinion, it?s probably the best Icehouse game for kids I?ve seen ? and us big kids enjoy it, too. It?s simple pattern-matching and it?s straight-forward enough to learn without fuss. It also features strongly in our story of preparedness. For, as I said, I was prepared for something bad this weekend. My uneventful journey could only be taken as an omen of something to come. Well, I?m used to losing games. I seem to have a wonderful knack of losing ? even games of chance. It?s not that I?m bad at the games (sometimes I have winning streaks), it?s just I seem to have a particular flare for failure. (So much sweeter my delight when I win, you may say. I say ?Pfeh!?) Perhaps the same instinct that results in my inevitable (and usually early) lynching in a game of Are You A Werewolf? also drives me to lose more than I win. However, during a game of Treehouse we may have identified that the table we were at, itself, was conspiring against me.!
  Yes, fellow rabbits, the universe and the very table we sat at were in cahoots! How do we know this? Quite scientifically, no less. At one point everyone else on the main table was playing another game. I actually forget what it was other than I hadn?t had enough sleep or wasn?t awake enough to join in. Beka was clearly of like mind so we sat off on another table and played a two-player game of Treehouse. Delighted, I repeatedly won game after game. Surely it was the table! This was then proven to be the case when, on the Sunday night I played another game (repeatedly) with Beka on that treacherous table we daily sat around and it refused to let me win (against all statistical probability) even once! (In fact, it was not until I got home that I finally found victory in my newly purchased game.)

Dodging such expectations for the inevitable karmic conspiracy, I ran a rather interesting game of Are You A Werewolf? in which everyone was just mildly disappointed that I?d evaded a lynching in such sideways a manner, so much so that people still seemed a little confused at the idea that they couldn?t lynch me and still attempted to do so after the first night when no one had died. Yes, quite remarkably no one died. In our game we had some extended characters that some may already know, but for those who might not be familiar with them I shall briefly detail: the Alchemist (who can protect someone from the Werewolves each night) and the Lovers (who know who each other are, and the survivor after a Werewolf attack gets to know the identity of one Werewolf when the other dies). On the very first night every single person capable of doing so pointed to one of the Lovers. That?s the Werewolves, the Seer and, of course, the Alchemist. So no one died. This didn?t stop the werewo!
 lves, who on at least two more instances tried devouring the same lover who was being protected repeatedly throughout the game. In the end they gave up and ate the other half. Both Alchemist and surviving Lover were the only women in the game and before the end I saw a marvellous development. Having the women in the game proclaim that ?you can?t lynch me, I?m the last chance this village has at procreation? or some-such I?ve seen enough times (even from crafty incognito werewolves) but what seemed to be the birth of a genuine matriarchy, where they were the ones calling the shots deciding who would get lynched because no one else would, was something truly interesting to behold. There was palatable drama in the air, not least because I hadn?t told them how many Werewolves were in the village in the second game in which this all happened. I?m not sure if this changed the way the game was played. There seemed to be a lot less mindless violence since the players didn?t have a !
 definite number to go on. Not that the good old mob mentality !
 was gone
, but there seemed to be far more hesitancy towards hasty hangings. Even when they?d lynched the last one I made the survivors close their eyes to sleep, nervous since they knew that if there was, indeed, a Werewolf their negligible numbers would spell the doom of the village. To a grinning audience I even went through the motions of asking the non-existent Werewolf to open their eyes and choose their victim. Knowing that the Alchemist was gone (the last act of the last Werewolf) when the villagers awoke to find no one dead, they knew their tiny village was clean and there was much, albeit Spartan, celebrations!

We ran several games of just about everything, including a Mega-Fluxx Tournament to end the con in which all versions (except Stoner Fluxx) had been carefully crafted together. Note I say carefully crafted, not mindlessly mixed. They hadn?t merely been thoughtlessly thrown together, no, the cards had been selected from Fluxx versions 2.0 to 3.2, Family and Eco while others had been removed, all in an effort to maximise the fun to be had. Of course with addition of the ?Convention House Rule? of singing for your keepers (each time you play or steal a keeper you must sing a song relating to it ? tenuous links are expectable), this made for an epic game and something far more resembling ?Fluxx: the Musical? or ?Karaoke Fluxx? and once more proved that games hate me as I sat through most of a game without having a turn thanks to strategic and malicious deployment of ?Reverse Order? and ?Rules Reset?. Don?t feel too bad, dear Rabbits. It?s familiar territory for me. It?s okay. Th!
 at?s what makes me a good Rabbit ? it means the non-Rabbits tend to win more. Yep, that?s what helps me sleep at night. Yeah, you hear that universe? Hah! I turn it round in your face! I mock your attempts to undermine me! (Don?t hurt me...)

In a game of Zendo, after Snap, as master, put his two koans in the shape of a tree and a house having just played that game, I then followed suit with my next two games as master. Snap and me killed a bit of time with the Dharma-Duel (sans ?mondo?) two-player variant for Zendo in which both of our koans were identically tree and house, but oppositely marked. From these games I coined Bonsai Zendo (if it is the tree that has the Buddha Nature) and Feng Shui Zendo (if it is the house that has the Buddha Nature). It became a bit of a contest to see how many rules we could devise along those two basic models, especially ones in which we could have both sitting on the table and only one follow the rule (and yes, we even made them out of single coloured pieces). It?s incredible when you make a tree (especially after having played Treehouse) how reluctant people are to break the basic tree pattern when building koans. People aren?t prepared enough to break a pattern that appears t!
 o work.

In a non-Looney Labs related aspect of the convention, I?d for several cons not written a scenario to run and had many people pestering me each time for a game (the next instalment of one of several different story set-ups). I?d started and failed to finish a last minute scenario but had come prepared that someone would inevitably try roping me into running something. Sure enough it happened. The Belgiums! Yes, an unspeakably rude word according to ?The Hitchhiker?s Guide to the Galaxy?, but in this case unspeakably sneaky people able to twist my arm and guilt-trip me into running a late-night game. Snap also played and Beka came along for the ride, but such late night meanderings through dark imaginations meant that Sunday morning was greeted with bleary-eyes and only about four hours sleep (if we were lucky). Having been up late a lot anyway playing games or chatting into the early hours it was starting to strain a little. Here was when it became very clear that next time !
 we had roughly enough rabbits as we did now (we were five in all) we would need to work out some kind of rota system to allow anyone who needed it to catch up on sleep or just take a break longer than lunch.

Another thing that began to dawn on us is the limitations of the Little Experiment. A marvellous idea to be sure and one that works astoundingly well; the only problem is that while people enjoyed playing games not part of the Experiment like Just Desserts there would be others single-mindedly out to get their stickers rather than just play the games. For the most part this isn?t a bad thing, but one area where this tends to suffer, we noticed, is for the Icehouse games. There are so many cool Icehouse games that we simply never get to play or show people because they?re simply out to get their stickers. So many people I know associate Icehouse with only one game: Zendo ? despite having played the occasional other game. Now, on one hand this isn?t a bad thing since I love Zendo, but I also like some of the other games and surely the point is to show that these little plastic pyramids are versatile playing pieces, not just the means of playing a single game. All too frequent !
 I?d say ?hey, what about a game with the pyramids? sadly soliciting the response of ?I don?t fancy a game of Zendo right now? (yes, sometimes it happens). Sure, there are three games on the Little Experiment card, but there are so many others. Personally, I really like Martian Chess, and although I only played it once I liked RamBots, I like the idea of Homeworlds and have still to play it. I?ve played Icehouse maybe a couple of times and I, personally, find it to be a more interesting game than Icetowers which, I?ve found, is sometimes far more confusing for people. Additionally, in UK conventions we only ever really have enough people to run Are You A Werewolf? in the late-night slots, but usually after the other games have finished and we have enough people. So we?re talking around 10 ? 11pm, which is after the bedtime of, this year, some of our younger gamers.

Although much kudos to Beka for managing to get perhaps the most sedate game of Are You A Werewolf? going round a table in the middle of a day, so sedate in fact that we barely noticed it was even happening. This was mostly for the benefit of the two young girls who became regulars at our table playing games. The youngest (still in single figures, I?m sure) of the two, Poppy, I might add is without a doubt one of the most devious little munchkin I?ve been around for a while, who had so finely honed the skill of looking daggers at someone that she could stop a samurai warrior dead in his tracks, katana quivering in his hesitant hands, momentarily doubtful and with quite possibly more than just a little fear (according to her father, a trait gained from her mother). A look that while initially she?d chosen to use freely on Snap had clearly decided later, and for no real apparent reason, to dispense quite gleefully in my direction at every opportunity she could ? even when just!
  drawing a card. I fear for every unsuspecting hormonal boy when she finally hits her teens.

The upshot here, digression aside, is that there is an inclination for us to adapt the Little Experiment to fit the UK conventions. We?ve got a core of Are You A Werewolf? players without the need to wave the temptation of promo cards from Experiments at them. It?s a popular end-of-night game, ideally suited for those still in need of some rowdy gaming. Icetowers simply never gets enough of a look in, either because no one is around who can remember how to run it, or we just don?t have the ideal table space for it. We?re far more of a mind to make this a generic ?any Icehouse game? wildcard allowing us to promote more of the fun games in the ?Playing with Pyramids? book ? and Treehouse. Zendo and Volcano are ?musts? really since they are undoubtedly fine games and are so vastly different as to with those two games alone show that there is a lot you can do with those little bits of plastic, but demoing the same games for five days can get very tiring no matter how much we lov!
 e the games and itching to try something new is always in our minds.

In all, however, I think that Conception 2006 was great fun and definitely a good round of demoing. The table was generally busy and despite no rota system we had enough rabbits that we could generally get someone to cover while we took a step back to finish waking up from our zombie-like somnambulations around the convention hall. Thank goodness for the guarana-laced coffee, Rocket Fuel, we?d found in the supermarket. Vicious as it was, I suspect I have a lot to thank it for.

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