Busy Bee (Mini-Guide to Getting More Game Time)

In case you hadn’t caught on, I’m a college student and this semester is crazy as hell. I’m taking one billion units and working two jobs. I mean it’s cool, I love being a student! I’m going to have awesome stories to tell when I’m older and stable, but it is not easy fitting gaming in. I’m seriously sitting in the library at the beginning of a loooong all-nighter (which won’t be nearly as cool as the gaming marathon that I just participated in). I’m halfway through a monster paper that’s due tomorrow (woohoo, planning!). BUT! I am still finding time to game in my crazy schedule. Here are a few basic tips to incorporating more game time, babies.

Bring a deck of cards.

You can bust out the oldies but goodies in between study sessions. If you’re with a buddy, play some easy ish like Speed or War. You really don’t have to think much and it’ll get your adrenaline going. Plus stuff like Slap Jack is an awesome way to flirt with your hot study partner. (Totes worked for me) Hello? You get to touch each other.

Apps!

Headsup is the best time-killer evs- especially when you’re waiting in lines.

Kickbacks

Most college kids hang out. Whatever, I’m super busy but I’m going to chill with my buds every now and then. Show yours some cool stuff when you’re kickin’ back! There are plenty of good games that are easy to learn and noob-friendly. I’ve written about a bunch on here. Shout out to Coup and Dubious Alliance- those are card based, so not as intimidating to noobs.

Alright, I have a monster assignment screaming my name. Good luck with your games!

On The Real, Though. (24 Hr Gaming Marathon Recap +KIDS!)

This past saturday was Extra Life‘s 24 hour gaming marathon to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. My team chose to support Children’s Hospital Oakland and raised $5,275! We also used the event to remember my late nephew, Lakas, his giving nature and his love of gaming. This weekend reminded me why I wanted to get into the gaming community and why I love it so much. I was an awkward kid and if I had found cons sooner, I probably would’ve been way happier as a (pre)teenager. I definitely had my fun later- I talk about being a party girl and whatever, but who knows how I could have flourished?

IMG_6616Gaming teaches kids how to be creative, how to tell stories, how to think strategically. It was so great to be surrounded by so many young minds getting into tabletop stuff. I’m lucky to have family members that game and that let kids do their thing. These youngsters IMG_6635are so bright and have such great ideas when they just get a little bit of encouragement. We played some pretty simple games like Cash and Guns, which the boys were into. That game has a healthy dose of competition and a little bit of cooperation. It was perfect to warm up the day. Later, those boys got down with some Marrying Mr. Darcy, too. That game is pretty femme, but these little boys were not at all bothered by gender. We laughed and yelled about stealin’ men from each other. One particular moment was cool when this little 8th grader proclaimed, “This game is fun!” I think he was a little skeptical at first, but soon he was calling dibs on Mr. Denny. He totally failed, by the way. I’m pretty sure he ended up a poor spinster. *cough* That’s what ya get for tryin’ my man.

I always feel so comfortable when surrounded by gamers or even just gaming. This event was bittersweet, though, as Lakas’ presence was definitely missing. He would have loved IMG_6639every moment and would have been a happy, willing participant in almost every game or minievent happening that day. Even at his young age, Lakas was able to make everyone feel included. He would’ve been running and playing harder than anyone. I was the only adult to participate in the foam weapon/nerf gun war. There had to be like 15 kids running through that house. It would’ve been so great to bond with him then. Kids are the best LARPers. They all ran from my “bubbles of death”- which were just soap bubbles. He would’ve been right there with us, laughing and battling. All those happy kids were a good reminder of his energy, though.

I don’t always use the drinking rules I set up because some of the best game sessions happen with youngsters. They have the weirdest ideas, but if you listen to them, they’re usually super brilliaIMG_6596nt or hilarious. Some of the best strategy tips I’ve received have been from 5th graders. Don’t hate the player or the game, mang.

I think my reign over Gravwell has ended. I lost twice this weekend and that brings me to 6-3. Oh, the sadness. I like to think I just added a select few to my winners circle. Yeah, let’s go with that. I mean the one-on-one game doesn’t count, right?

IMG_6628The food was a definite win. Seriously a cheese plate for gaming? Best idea ever. Turns out that it is easy bein’ cheesy. Plus some of the yummiest pizza ever.

IMG_6619Also a burrito bar that I forgot to take a picture of, but didn’t forget to eat. The mountain dew was a total necessity, too. I didn’t have any of that… but it was there. I saw it.

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I most definitely won the Game of Thrones Board Game. That lasted for a million years. Two dads kept battling each other and one was super pissed because I somehow got the Raven, the Valyrian Steel Sword and the Iron Throne all at once. He was losing for awhile, but came back. I still won, though… because games that require a lot ofIMG_6648

intelligence are usually my forte. You know, with my brilliance and all.

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Here are all the losers.

Smack talk is probably my favorite part of gaming. I just can’t help it! I’m so competitive… and witty… and smart. It just happens!

I mean, you can smack talk and still cherish the sense of community, right?

On the real, though, this past weekend was so amazing. Participating in that fundraiser, being with the coolest kids ever (shout out to B and even Ramen Noodles), winning, losing, and just gaming. If you can run your own gaming marathon, you should- ESPECIALLY for an awesome cause like Extra Life. It’s super easy to put your own team together. Do it! Immerse in the game! Teach your nephews and nieces and kids and little sibs to game. Be cool, too! Let those little guys grow and learn. Your own gaming experience will be so much better.

Sleepless in the Battle (A Guide to Staying Up)

There comes a time in every gamer’s life where they decide to throw sleep out the window and power through the wee hours of the morning playing and gaming for 24 hours or more. Maybe you decided to go to your buddy’s overnight gaming sesh or you’re heading to a con… or you signed up for Extra Life‘s 24-Hour Gaming Marathon to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. I personally have done the latter. You can check out my page and support an amazing cause. It’ll be on Saturday, October 25, 2014, and I’ll be live-tweeting and streaming all day. More details below!

Whatever the rhyme or reason, you need to stay awake. Plenty of OG gamers already know what’s up. I’m sure they have a huge stash of Bawls mints, soda and energy drinks. But to prep you nice and thoroughly, I’m taking some tips from my former party girl days.

Eatin’

Small snacks are awesome. At my shindigs, we always had finger foods that were easy to munch on randomly. Don’t over-stuff yourself because your bod will have to spend hella energy digesting it, then you get the itis! Munch on fruits and veggies. Apples are a great addition to the food table. They help keep you up when you’re chewing and hella people like them. You can even eat chocolate! Ration that ish, though- you don’t want to crash from a sugar high or caffeine rush- it totes has caffeine. Caffeine is a great go-to, but some beezies don’t consume caffeine. So click that apple link if you need more proof that it’s a good substitute.

Hydrate!

Drink that water, fool- the colder the better! The temp will pep you up a bit. Energy drinks are emergency tools for me. If I’m in slump mode, then I’ll bust open a Monster or something. When I partied a lot, I would drink Red Lines, but I wouldn’t suggest those. The last time I drank a bunch of Red Line, I eloped in Vegas. Bad deal, dude. I mean… I don’t want to be crazy, I just want to be awake! If you don’t mind being dorky, then drink some fresh tea. Tea is for dorks… but it works.

Move

Get up and walk around the room, run to the bathroom, stroll outside or just stand up and stretch. You should fit in any of those every hour or so. A good 15 minute break every 3 hours should be good, but maybe do a 5 minute every hour when you’re getting into the red zone- which is around 20 hours of being awake. So, around 4 am – 7 am, you could add more breaks in. Hey, you can even dance! Hello, impromptu dance party? Unlikely, but still a good way to get that blood rushing.

Play

A lot of these things can be bypassed if you’re playing enough games- or even a game that is intense enough. Stay away from slow-moving games when it’s getting super late. I’d also avoid story-telling games when you’re in nod-off mode. It’d be like tellin’ a friggin’ bedtime story. Story-telling games would be pretty good with a bunch of people riding a sugar high, though. Fit a game that requires little strategy but a lot of action in between games that require a lot of strategy or brain power. Games like Resistance or Bang! may keep the interest of non-gamers.

Communicate

Talk to your buds, man! Laughter is an awesome way to stay alert. Joke around, mess around, have fun! That should be obvi, but there may be some quiet moments- so start a convo before peeps start noddin’. My friends are pretty good about catching me fall asleep. They try to be slick and ask me hella questions about my life… or maybe they’re trying to get my secrets when my guard is down! *shock* Try it on your peeps if you’re mining for info.

Deets

Oh, you like to watch? Well, look out for my xsplit account. I’ll be doing some live streaming for the fundraiser on Saturday. You can also head over to twitter and follow me for some more live action. @forplayblog Easy peezy! See you on Saturday!

Dolla, Dolla, Bills, Y’all (Corporate America Review)

Corporate America

I suck at these money grubbin’ games. I never, ever win them. Am I not suited for capitalism?! I’m a little bitter, but just a little.

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Ballin’, but not winnin’.

Corporate America is a political satire game where you are a business owner. There are 4 stages: Wall Street, Main Street, Campaign Trail and Capitol Hill. Wall Street allows you to buy businesses. You can decide to buy the same types of business (like energy, luxury, transportation, etc.) or you can have a variety. It depends on the cards you draw but you still have choices. Having the same types of businesses gets you synergy bonuses which can hella bump up profits BUT only if your business type gets chosen. In the Main Street phase, consumers are buying. That’s represented by cards being chosen on your turn. You flip a consumer card, then people with those businesses get paid out according to the allotment on their business card. People can bribe the turn taker to keep the card or even threaten… The person taking the turn can choose to help folks out, screw people over- it’s up to them! But it costs to flip additional cards over. You can take a risk in order to have options but keep in mind that the wealthiest person wins in the end. Money talks, bro.

The first time I got to play Corporate America was at DunDraCon with the creator of the game, Teale Fristoe- which I feel like should give me some edge, but it doesn’t. Even with my lose streak, I’m supes down for Corporate America. There’s something about trying to beat the system, you keep trying even though you keep failing. Never give up! My nongamers buds are always trying to bust this one out, maybe because they’re moneygrubbin’ bastards.

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My attempt at putting my fingers in many pies.

My typical game usually consists of me getting one type of business, everyone ganging up on me by making legislations that go against said type of business, and then never getting elected president. I pretend to bet a bunch of money in hopes that other people will spend all of theirs. I know, I know, my strategy isn’t very good. One twelve-year-old (because I apparently know many) told me that you “have to have your fingers in many pies.” That just sounds like sticky fingers to me, but I’ve also never won the game…

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Lay out yo legislation, yo.

Honestly, I think my cruel besties like to play with me because I get pissed. They’re really good at strategizing throughout this whole shebang. I’m just sitting there like, “GIVE ME AN EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE CARD!” Which, of course, I never get. Those can be pretty legit and are the only real advantage to being pres. Secret powers? Yeeesssssssss.

Even though I plan poorly, one of the things that keeps me coming back is that it’s super pretty- not like cutesy, just super well-made. The pieces, graphics and material are all hella legit. All of the pieces are high-quality- the cards, the money, the board itself. There’s even this little monument tracker! I’m a little bummed that I didn’t know about the Kickstarter when it was running, because you got a cool hat out of most of the pledges. Look, superficiality counts when you’re playing with noobies.

Corporate America allows 3-6 players so it’s cool for a mini get-together. I wouldn’t say it’s a rager, but boozin’ it up is simple. You must take a drink for additional consumer cards pulled during your turn (the first is free, but others, ya gotta pay up!). President has to take a shot once elected, plus all agreements/alliances must be sealed with a shot between all parties involved. You’ll see when you play.

This is just one of those games that ups your coolness factor when busted out. It’s smart, fun, and easy to understand. There’s plenty of room for underhandedness but it doesn’t have to be blatant. Politics, yo. If you’re a hipster, then you should definitely have this in your cabinet. That’s you, craft-beer-sipping-hiker-with-a-proclivity-towards-all-small-batch-produced-items-and-foods. I say this with love, because I have so much respect for this game. If you want legit gamer cred, throw out your Monopoly and add Corporate America to your stash.

Minutes
- THE econ game for your library
- Hipster-friendly
- Sheisty
- Great for smarties
- Upper Crust quality

Pity the Ghoul (Monster Mansion)

I pity the ghoul who hasn’t gotten to play Monster Mansion! That may be many of you, but don’t worry, lovers- you won’t be unlucky for long. MM has a Kickstarter up right now!

Monster Mansion sets you in what was thought to be a simple carnival ride, but before you can even scream, you find yourself in monster mayhem. With a real time limit, you and your friends must do whatever possible to get out of this hellish mansion. Whether you’re aiding or swindling, be ready for some loud and crazy fun gameplay.

I fell in love with the game at Celesticon in Fremont and the designer, Payton Lee, was sweet enough to send me two prototypes! *insert squeals of excitement* I’m surprised at how sophisticated this thing is. It’s Payton’s first full game design and it’s smooth from start to finish. It combines elements from my favorite types of games like secret agendas, cooperation, combat, monsters- and it’s all done in real time. That part is super stressful but also exhilarating. Masochism… Seriously, though, it’s super fast-paced no matter the difficulty level. You can decide the time to be either 5, 7 or 10 minutes per player and then you have to all try to get out within that time. No matter what you decide, the excitement levels never really die down. Your turn should really only be 10 seconds long and the extra stuff like buying item cards can be done during other peeps’ turns. So, there’s always something happening.

Monster Mansion is supes perfect for groups. With everything going on at once, it’s easy to keep people engaged. Time goes by hella fast. My buds and I played 3 times in a row without skipping a beat. The concept is simple, but fun. The stress is never overwhelming even when you keep getting monsters stacked on you. As I’ve said over and over, I LOVE aggressive games and this one makes co-op cool. You just get in this natural groove that feels awesome. I cannot WAIT to post the playtest vids!

Mini Mansion and Reg Mansion prototypes

Mini Mansion and Reg Mansion prototypes

This game is already funded on Kickstarter. I mean the box concept alone is so legit. It’s going to be an actual little friggin’ house. Plus the graphics are sa-weet! It’s like kinda cute but not too cute. It’s just hella fun. I really like the HP tracker, too. You just place it behind your character card and slide it up and down accordingly.

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Binder clip stands? #brilliant

Gameplay breakdown:
Firsties, you get to pick a character- first come first serve. So, it’s pretty much a free-for-all grabfest, which perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the time. Hint: you should be judging everyone’s character at this point. Is A a selfish rake? Did B not really give a crab? So, maybe A isn’t evil, he just likes to go first and you shouldn’t trust B because who doesn’t like crab? Ignorants, that’s who… and ostraconophobics.

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Gem markers have been replaced with HP trackers

On your turn, you get an encounter card, which could be a monster or just the wind (which does nothing). You then get two actions which can be used to attack, heal or move. Keep in mind that monsters move with you, so you can’t just outrun them. Thought you were slick, huh?

 

You’re just trying to make it out of this damned place, but you also have hidden agendas. One is VIP and that just requires you to get out, otherwise, everyone loses… unless you’re an assassin. An assassin just wants to off the VIPs. What the h, hater? You only get an assassin with 4+ players, though. Most others are civilians. Secret agendas always spice up the game. You want to bluff up as much as you can to get through this madhouse.

 

Gameplay moves crazy fast. It’s easy to lag in the beginning, but once time starts running down, your turns go down to 4 seconds and everyone is just yelling and grabbing stuff. It really isn’t that hard for people to get in the flow- you work up a rhythm and make alliances. It’s kind of awesome when you get a slap in the face after working with a person you thought was on your team. Things are happening so fast and then all of a sudden, you’re getting left behind while someone runs out the door. It’s so dirty and wrong and right! I love it!

 

Be careful if you get out of the mansion early, because once you’re out, you can’t help your buds… which may not be a problem for you assassins.


 

Monster Mansion is for surely a new fave. I’m running another ForPlaytest this Sunday and a special Halloween game. Be jelly, but not too jelly because pretty soon, it’ll be available for the masses. /Kickstarterplug Also note, I played with nothin’ but noobs and before long, we were all crazy into it. It was kind of hard to keep up with the drinking rules, but check below for the ones that stuck.

TL;DR
#PartyGame
#TimeKiller
#NoobFriendly
#MonsterFetish
#ADDFriendly
#EasyDrinkingGame
-Drinking rules:
A shot whenever you must respawn
A drink whenever you kill a monster
A drink when you heal

Little Did She Know

I didn’t really choose to go to CelestiCon, it kind of chose me. Well… my sister and bro-in-law told me to come with, but either way, I ended up in Fremont for Labor Day weekend. Oh, Fremont, how sweet you are for hosting such an awesome, albeit small, con. The general atmosphere was surprisingly relaxed. I swear game designers come to CelestiCon to wind down from GenCon madness. Of course, they play test like crazy, I mean I was super impressed with Celestispiel- a room set up just for prototype testing; but the designers just seemed way more relaxed than I’ve seen them at other cons.

The chill attitudes don’t leave the con lacking, though. There’s a lot of open gaming going, but attendees are legit gamers that show up with equally legit games. The games running officially are sweet, too, but I didn’t really go for those. I followed suit and just rode the wave. My plan did not disappoint as this may have been the best con experience, yet.


 

Friday

9:00 PM
ARRIVE! My super cool bro-in-law picked up my badge.

10:00 PM
Meet and Greet! So, I’m chilling in my room- about to put my PJs on because i was being lame and tired. Then my sister and two of my bros-in-law are like, “Yo, let’s get a drink!” I’m like, “oh, snap!” I refresh in record time and head downstairs. For some reason, I thought we were just getting drinks, but apparently we were going to the Meet and Greet- this fact didn’t process until after we left, though. So, I neither met nor greeted anyone new. I swear I always have some complete oblivious moment at cons. smh

11:00 PM
FLEA MARKET! I bought the dumbest thing at Kubla’s flea market, but this tiny one was like super crazy legit. There weren’t many vendors but this one dude had some awesome things! Hella D&D books, hella comic books and then these sick board games that were still shrink wrapped! I got What The Food for $5!!!!! I saw that sitting there and my eyeballs popped out of my face. I thought I misread the tag- I almost bought it for $25 at Kubla, but I’m kind of cheap. Hello, college?! I love WTF and know my buds will, too. My bro-in-law swiped Volt: Robot Bottle Arena for $9! I’m really, really, really jelly. That game is so friggin’ good. I was so ecstatic with my buy that I just kind of ran out of there.

IMG_0055.JPGWhat The Food?!


Saturday

9:00 AM
Nourishment. Don’t forget this step, people. It’s most likely the only thing you’ll eat until dinner. That’s how it usually is for me, anyway.

10:00 AM
Jumped into Dead of Winter: A Crossroads. This game is sooooo badass! The graphics are great, the characters are funny, the mechanics are smooth. I was super into it. It was totally morbid and hilarious. There are cards that can be triggered by things you do on your turn. One instance, the infamous Ramen Noodles (one of my nephews) was having his janitor character clean up the compound. This then triggered an event where we discovered a baby in the dumpster. A teenager had hid her pregnancy, so, now our options were to A) keep the baby and the mother, attract 5 zombies and have two helpless survivors in our camp or B) keep the baby, throw the mother out, attract 5 zombies and have one helpless survivor. I’m sure our decision is obvi. We threw the trick out.

1:00 PM
Miniature painting! Some cool peeps had stations set up to paint miniatures for free! I had never done it, so of course, I leapt in. My chick looked a little basic, so I covered her in blood. Then the girl volunteering gave me a rock to use as her base- basically setting her badassery in stone. I dubbed her Ragatha then gave her to Ramen Noodles to hold, because he was super prepared with this box of miniatures. Then, of course, I forgot to get Ragatha from him. I will be reunited with you, little one.

3:00 PM
After browsing the Dealer’s Room, Ramen and I meet up with my bro-in-law and his dad for some Volt. That game is soooooo goooooooooood! You’re Just battling each other’s robots. You get points for killing each other and for ending rounds on certain squares. The first to 5 points wins. Gramps kept winning, man! Now I understand how people feel when they play Gravwell with me. I did get one W in, though.

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Winnah!IMG_0057.JPG

 

5:00 PMish
Finally got into the play test room, Celestispiel. That was just such a cool resource to have available. Seriously, if you’re a budding game designer, CelestiCon is the best place to powwow with some happening dudes. It’s small and relaxed, so there’s plenty of time to just chill. I got to test this game called Monster Mansion that was really cool. You’re pretty much going through a dungeon- I can already imagine the drunken rounds of this game. It’s timed and is supposed to be super fast. I don’t want to get too into it, because a post about it will be up soon. Just know that it makes for an awesome addition to drinking game night. Plus, Payton Lee, the dude that designed it, is hella rad. His Kickstarter will be up pretty soon, I hear.

6:00 PM
I straight booked it over to Ultimate Werewolf because THE Mayor Ted was running the game. Ramen and I were fangirling prettying hard, but I mean- how awesome is it to play a game of Ultimate Werewolf with the designer of Ultimate Werewolf?! Just FYI, it’s fuggin’ awesome.

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#fangirl

The rest of Saturday was just chillin’ and some random open gaming, I think. Lots of wandering.


 

Sunday

9:00 AM
Nourishment

10:30 AM
Artemis! Kind of provided a cool e-gaming break. I liked the co-op element. Dudes need to stop underestimating me, though. I asked which position was the coolest and the kid running it answered, “Weapons, but science is easier.” I’ll go for weapons, dude. I don’t know how well we did, but it was super fun.

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Cool > Easy

1:00 PM
DUNE! It took forever for the rules to be explained and the whole time I was like, “Crap, what am I getting myself into?” But I stayed… Mostly because I thought the dude running my table was cute. Once it got going, though, it was aaawwweessoommmeeee! There’s a reason why this game has lasted so long- it’s just so good! The mechanics are smooth and gameplay is pretty simple. I could have formed a power alliance with one dude but I decided to take the harder route. So, I formed an alliance with the cutie… and we totally lost. Not right away- the battle was soooo drawn out. The game lasted like 3 or 4 hours. Ultimately, though, we lost.

6 PM
KICKSTARTER Seminar. This was really cool. It ended up being pretty tiny, but it would have been such a cool resource for anyone that’s interested in game design. The three dudes on the panel are super rad! One was my buddy, Brandon Raasch- designer of Dubious Alliance, another was Jeff Cornelius- President of Cosmic Wombat Games and also runs League of Game Makers, and the last was Teale Fristoe- the designer of Corporate America. They had super valuable insight into game design and launching successful Kickstarters that could actually be translated over to other types of Kickstarters. The energy in that room was really inspiring. I just think these dudes are cool, though. They had ideas and worked their asses off to bring them to fruition. Respect.

9 PM
I finally played an RPG with strangers! Star Wars, to be exact. It was pretty simple- I ended up being the only one to make it to the boss at the end. Hue other dudes got stuck behind a wall of fire, so it was up to me to take down the boss dude. I don’t even know what was happening. All I know it that I was the most skilled shooter and pilot and that the GM kept getting bad rolls at the end. Then I got lots of high fives. So, I won… I think. I’m so ready for other RPGs.

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Winnah?

1:00 AM
Played another RPG but I was half asleep. Brandon was there and In the end, I think he threw an elixir to me and we all ran out of a dungeon… I don’t even know.


 

Monday
So sad to have left, but I snagged a shirt before I departed and quick game of Smash Up. They have a big raffle at the end. Celestispiel had one, too. I kept missing all of the damned raffles actually.

I really appreciated how chill this con was. At Kubla, I was running from tournament to tournament, but this one was not like that at all. I just hung out with some cool dudes and played games. Honestly, though, cons are gamer dude heaven, so I’m going to be excited regardless, know what I mean? ;) Truth: I’ve got some serious love for CelestiCon now and I can’t wait for 2015′s!

Reviews up soon, babies!

TL;DR
-Go to CelestiCon.

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This is me and my A Game

 

Disappearing Act

Fwoosh! Guess who’s back?

Wowzers, summer school kicked my butt then lethargy kicked my gut. I straight dipped out for a hot minute. Quite literally hot, there’s no A/C in my digs! But I’m coming back with a vengeance! My timing makes total sense… with fall semester starting in a week and all…

Anyway, Celesticon is this weekend and I will most definitely be there! I already know about the markers to signify open game sessions. I am prepared to jump in! I am also going to prep my mindbrain. I’m always burnt out after these things. I need to make a guide on how to decompress after a gaming weekend. Iddeeeaaass…

I was supposed to finally go to con in LA, but I apparently cannot resist the pull of the Bay! So, here I come, San Francisco.

On another note, I funded Poop the Game on Kickstarter! I’ll be reviewing it very soon!