Only one person showed up for Titans of Industry at 10am, so it didn't run. He's a friend of a friend, though, so he asked to play it next weekend at a game day that's been scheduled. So I'm happy to get another test in next week.
I jumped into another game of St. Petersburg. This time, there was one new player. He had played before, but we gave him a rules refresher. However, one of the experienced players then proceeded to micromanage every single one of the new(ish) player's turns for the rest of the game. I don't mind giving a little help in the first round or two, but this went on until literally the very last turn of the game. When it was the new(ish) player's turn, the experienced player talked through multiple options the new(ish) player, laid out the strategic implications of each choice, then told the new player outright which was best ("I would do this in your situation").
Again, I have no problem smoothing the learning curve for an inexperienced player. But this went on absolutely, fully, truly literally the entire game. He was still "helping" on the very last turn. The annoyance wasn't just that the Explainer was basically playing two positions in the game; it also dragged out St. Petersburg well over an hour. The fourth player actually left in the middle (asking someone to sit in her place) because she was annoyed at the pace of the game. I cannot blame her; I wanted to do the same. (I would never actually do that, but still.)
Municipality's second session was scheduled for two o'clock. Only one person showed up for that, so he went to another game instead. That's the third time this convention I've had a single person show up. Oh, well.
Paul Girardi of Z-Man was meandering about and we struck up a conversation. We discussed the recent Z-man acquisition, and how it relates to the economics of running a small-to-midsize publishing company. We also talked about the costs involved in the business of publishing and he gave advice on how to go about doing my small print run of Pioneer.
Chris Adams joined us and the topic moved to the business of appealing to females in designing games. We talked about the Bechdel test and what the equivalent be for games. I pointed out that many games are third-person omniscient, so the player doesn't have an avatar much less a gendered one. We talked about how to design a game to appeal to female gamers without resorting to cheap gender stereotypes. Decipher's Boy Crazy is the ne plus ultra of offensively stereotyping female gamers. How does a designer try to grow the hobby as a whole with a relatively unrepresented demographic while avoiding even more subtle forms of stereotyping? Is it even a designer's job to worry about doing this in the first place?
Paul taught us and we started a game of Alien Frontiers. The game is clever, but it is also something I will not enjoy, as I am deathly allergic to dice and this game could be named Agricola: The Dice Game. Still, I can respect the clever parts of it. People who don't share my aversion to pipped polyhedrons should check it out.
We decided to cut it short as I had previously signed up for Small World Underground. This was my first play of the new expansialone, and it will likely be my last. I feel the new rules just complicate the game without increasing the fun. Having those little tokens across the board are just one more thing to remember every turn, dragging the game out by at least 10 minutes. I understand the desire to add strategic concerns with the places and relics driving players together, but Small World isn't a game I turn to for deep strategy. It's supposed to be light fun. Underground got rid of the light and, as a result, got rid of the fun.
I then joined my friends in a game of one of my favorites, Le Havre. This is a game I am just terrible at, but love nonetheless. I really would like to play it enough to become decently skilled at it, but if I can get five people together for a long game, I'm likely to want it to be a playtest instead. I managed to ship for 60 francs in the final round. When we tallied the scored, I stood at 184, Anni around 150, Andy at 130-something, and Doug at 183. I was both happy to win a game of Le Havre, which I haven't done since my introductory play, and shocked, as I didn't think I stood a chance against Doug's wall of buildings.
Everyone else was shocked too, so we reviewed my scoring. When I shipped, I had gotten 12 francs for three Leather, 8 francs for a Steel, and 40 francs for four Coke. My friends pointed out that Coke isn't worth 10 francs, only 5. I had looked at the energy output of Coke (10) when shipping instead of its monetary value (5). My score dropped to 164 and instead of winning by one I lost by 19.
Note to self: next time you think you've won a game, make sure you haven't (accidentally) cheated before getting excited.