The Museumsquartier is a large area of museums, cafés and cultural institutions in the center of Vienna. Three years ago, the group ZAMspielen together with the art communication agency esel.at started to host a semi-regular board and video gaming event there. ‘Zamspielen’ is Austrian dialect and means ‘playing together’, so the idea behind the event is to host a low-threshold opportunity for people to drop by and play games.
Last week, I finally had the opportunity to visit and join the fun.
The available board games were mainly family games, some older titles and some new ones. I started with Suleika, a rather nicely made tile placement game – I especially liked the small carpets made from real fibre.
We then had a go at Ice Cool, which recently won the Children’s Game of the Year award. I’m not normally a fan of dexterity games, but this one is quite fun – you have to snip the penguins with your finger, one player taking on the role of the hunter trying to catch the others. It’s quick and simple and I can understand why kids like it.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Anita Landgraf of White Castle, a Viennese company that examines and brokers game ideas – so if you invent a game, you can come to them, they check it and then try to sell it to a publisher. I had the opportunity to test the prototype of a strategy game with an interesting movement mechanics. We also played a round of Elk Fest, another dexterity game that is being re-published by White Castle.
There were also a couple of video games from Viennese publishers on display, one of them a very nice looking adventure game called Old Man’s Journey.
The event was small, but had a very welcoming and friendly atmosphere. It was a bit too much geared towards family games for my taste, but I guess this is easily remedied as everyone can bring what he or she wants to play. Let’s see, perhaps next time, I’ll bring one of my favorites.
Last Saturday, we hosted another gaming salon at the ADA gallery in Vienna. Under the headline ‘Hunting Humans’, the evening was dedicated to monsters. We had two games for the visitors to play. The first was a pen-and-paper RPG ran by Alex. He used D&D and had prepared a couple of characters to choose from. The twist was that this time, the players were the bad guys: As a small band of Orcs, they had to help their tribe to raid a human settlement.
Unfortunately, we made a scheduling mistake, as we completely missed that there were two other events on that day which drew off potential visitors. We only had a handful of attendants, but at least we got in a couple of games ourselves. And those people who came were quite enthusiastic to play. Zombicide was a smash. We played three missions, each one with different players, but only succeeded in winning one of them.
The RPG also sounded like a lot of fun. K. joined in and told me she had enjoyed herself playing a tough female Orc, the leader of the raiding party consisting of another Orc, a goblin and an Ogre called Einstein (armed with a stone in a sack).
Even though it was quieter than last time, it was a fun and inspiring evening. Hopefully, we’ll have another one soon!
Introducing new people to gaming is something I really enjoy. Last Sunday, I had the chance to help organising an event at a Viennese art gallery called ADA. A friend and member of our roleplaying group, writer Barbi Markovic, had the idea to host a gaming salon there. Another of our roleplayers joined in and we decided to stage two games: One roleplaying game and a miniatures game.
The roleplaying game was organised and prepared by our pal Alex. He used Dungeonslayers, as this is a quick and accessible system. It’s easy to explain and learn and it’s available for free, so if someone wants to try this at home, they don’t have to shell out the money for rule books.
Although I enjoy RPGs, I wanted to make the case for miniature games and decided to run a game of X-Wing. X-Wing is a perfect gateway drug: It’s easy to learn, combines fast action with clever mechanics and most people can relate to the back story (although I met someone who hasn’t seen a Star Wars movie!).
I’m happy to say that the event was a success: We had a number of enthusiatic people who wanted to try out the games. As Alex had to leave earlier, I took over the RPG and K. ran the X-Wing table.
When we first had the idea, I was a bit uncertain if this format would work. I was afraid that people would only watch, too shy to get involved. I also feared that the whole gaming thing might be way too nerdy for the audience. However, when talking to people, I was surprised about how many had played RPGs or even Warhammer in their youth and were happy to give it another go. Others were new to the games but got into the mood quickly. Especially the X-Wing table was buzzing with excitment!
A huge thanks to the gallery people who were friendly and helpful from the start! A huge thanks also to the visitors, whose enthusiasm and willingness to get involved made the evening a pleasure. People kept asking if this was going to be a regular things, so let’s see – maybe this was just the start of a series of ongoing Gaming Salons.
Our trip to CRISIS started with a minor crisis, as the airline lost our suitcase and we had to make a quick shopping trip through Antwerp on Friday. Fortunately, Antwerp is a lovely city! This was the first time we actually had the opportunity to see something of the town and we like it very much.
On Saturday morning, we headed to CRISIS, where we not only got our bag of goodies but also met an old friend of mine who lives in Brussels. It was great to catch up with him and visit the show together!
The show itself was marvellous as always. There were a couple of participation games I wanted to play in, such as the wonderful Galleys, Guns & Glory game hosted by the South East Scotland Wargames Club. This is a new set of rules played with MDF galleys that look rather good. Unfortunately, we were not quite ready to play in the morning and when we came back, there were other people having a go. Equally busy was the Frostgrave table, which featured lovely terrain. (Unfortunately, my camera walked out on me and produced mostly crappy pictures, so sorry for their quality)
However, we did get to play Hammerin’ Iron by Peter Pig. Now I’m a long time Peter Pig fan and was very interested in their take on ACW riverine warfare. When I planned my own project, I browsed their ships but the few photos I found on the website back then didn’t look very good and they were a tad too big for my table anyway. However, when I now saw them in the flesh, I was astonished by how nice they look – in fact, they look much better than on the website! They are definitely lovely ships and I had a hard time resisting buying one or two…
Martin from Peter Pig hosted a great little game for K. and me. We both got a boat and started right in the middle of the action. The rules really are clever and great fun, and we had a blast steaming around and shelling each other. For a change, I even managed to win and sink K.’s ship!
There were a lot of other excellent games around. Being a fan of amphibious operations, I was captivated by Barry Hilton’s Great Northern War table, which featured a spectacular floating battery.
One of the show’s centrepieces was the huge Plancenoit table by the THS – Team for Historical Simulations. It featured not only an impressive array of 28mm figures, but also a plethora of small scenes and vignettes, like a dressing station for wounded or the quirky cook selling frog’s legs. Have a look at Stefan Kö’s wonderful blog for more images!
Another German club, Hamburg Tactica, presented a 30 Years War table with an impressive castle.
Another table that caught my eye was the Yppenburg 1940 table by Murphy’s Heroes. They played Chain of Command and won the price for Best Participation Game, so congratulations! I find the idea of a raid on an airfield very inspirational – this could be something for our Western Desert CoC games…
There were some very nice small skirmish tables. Pirates still seem to go strong, as I saw two tables, one of them a cool looking cluster of cliffs and half-sunken ships. I also spotted a nice Western gunfight table. The Crush the Kaiser Mexico game also looked a treat, with its dramatic range of craggy hills and the railroad running through.
This is just a small selection – there were lots of other excellent games around, and as always we were a bit overwhelmed by the sights.
I was also very happy to catch up with Annie The Dice Bag Lady and finally have a decent chat with her. She brought some new figures, which look lovely, and it was good to see her stand constantly busy.
As always, time ran by fast and we left the show pretty late, exhausted but happy. My bag was quite heavy at the end, how could that happen?
Well, one part of my shopping consisted of preorders, most of them from Peter Pig: some odds and ends for the ACW project, including a small train set, as well as a couple of packs of British 8th army figures for my new Chain of Command project. I also got some small stuff from Magister Militium, the most noteworthy being a pack of 10mm Dwarves riding on rams – my new chum Virago is pestering me to participate in a 10mm fantasy campaign using Mighty Empires, and who am I to resists such a temptation?
When I browsed the bookstands, K. noticed an Osprey on The American Civil War in the Indian Territory. Now K. is quite interested in American Indians and convinced me that we could perhaps add one or two units of Indian troops to the ACW project, so the book was bought and we headed over to the Worean stand, where I got a pack of Blue Moon Indians. I also bought Paddy Griffith’s Rally Once Again and a couple of (old and new) magazines. Finally, some bases from Products for Wargamers and a nice looking field also made it into the loot.
CRISIS 2015 was a great show and K. and me both enjoyed it very much. It was also great to meet my old friend and to walk around Antwerp, which showed itself from its best side. Especially the area around the harbour, where our hotel was located, is very nice, and the MAS Museum aan de Stroom is well worth a visit. Also, our suitcase did turn up soon enough – I wouldn’t have wanted to carry all the lead back in my small rucksack!