Andy's Report on Big Experiment #6

In previous years, it's been hard for me to really enjoy the events we put on at our Big Experiment, since I've had to spend many hours each day helping staff the sales counter in our official Looney Labs booth. This year, however, we didn't have a sales booth (see Kristin's article on Not Having A Booth) so I had time to play in lots of our own tournaments!

This page will feature a rambling and random list of observations, recollections, statistics, and of course, photos, of my experiences at this year's Big Experiment.

  • The tournaments I competed in were: Binary Homeworlds (which I won), IceTowers (which I also won), Zarcana (I came in 2nd), Proton (also 2nd place), Fluxx (I played in 2 of the 5 Prelims but only made it to the finals in one of them), Chrononauts (washed out early), Martian Hold'em (made it to the finals with the 2nd highest Bleem count but I made a bad call and washed out first), Q-Turn (lost in the first round to a kid I'd just taught), Martian Chess (held my own but lost), RAMbots (got rammed early and never recovered), and of course, the 16th International Icehouse Tournament (in which I got respectable scores but too few wins to get into the finals).
  • We debuted a new issue of Hypothermia! Issue #16 (now available through our online store) features the 4 games that won the 4 Ice Game Design Contests run this year (which we also held little tournaments for at Origins): Sprawl, Undercut, Hextris, and Torpedo. Hypo #16 also includes the rules to Armada, a clever little one-stash game which only got 4th place in the contest it was in, but which has a movement mechanic so clever I decided to name it Editor's Choice.
  • Just Desserts is Tasting Well. This was the first chance a lot of people had to see/try my new card game, and people seem to be liking it. (How were sales? We don't know yet! We didn't handle them directly!) I got lots of comments from people who liked it (or loved it) and some from people who seemed to think it still needs a little something. There were some issues with the rules, but those were matters of clarity not gameplay. I myself remain very pleased with the design as it plays. But the beta-testing continues... if you want to get in on it, buy a copy of the limited edition beta printing now!
  • We ran 3 sessions of Andy vs. Everybody, every afternoon (except Sunday) at 5 pm. Each was a huge success, always attracting at least 30 players and allowing me to play in around 10 games at once each time. In the first session, I won 6 of the 21 total games I played. (I don't have results from the other 2 sessions here.) Everyone seemed to get a big kick out of it, just as at Dragon*Con, and no one enjoyed it more than me.

  • Alison won the CrackeD Ice tournament, the first of its kind and the first medallion given out this year.
  • The new system for awarding AYAW? medallions worked great, though unfortunately the Mayor had already left by the time we'd counted the "ballots." We know her name is Natalie Kochte, but I'm not sure we have an address to mail it to. (Hey Mayor! Contact us!) She won 5 games as a human. Meanwhile, the honor of Alpha Werewolf went to Peter Charnley, who won a 7 games as a Werewolf. Results were drawn from a total of 108 games played throughout the event.
  • According to Eeyore's commemorative stashpads which he gave to this year's Icehouse players, this was the 10000th International Icehouse Tournament. (Of course, that's how you say 16 in binary...)
  • Jake won the Icehouse tournament again. Jesse got Cooler Than Ice due mostly I think to his "cool as a cucumber" reaction to being put in the Icehouse, not once but twice, the first time in a context in which most of the players had to have their scores go uncounted -- but his score was official.
  • Though Jesse was double-Icehoused, he did great in the Binary Homeworlds tournament. It was he whom I went up against in the finals, and unlike mine, his record going into that match was undefeated. The night before, he'd beaten me, and he told Russell later that he'd learned a lot of strategies from me during that game. He played well in the finals, but I guess I learned a few things about the way he plays the night before too, since I emerged victorious. I was really happy about it, too, since this was the medallion I most wanted to win. And I was even more pleased at how many people have been getting into Binary Homeworlds...
  • Chris Cieslik won the Martian Hold'em tournament and in so doing, he "defended the honor of the Bleem," as he enjoyed saying. He did this while playing a game of Binary Homeworlds with me on the side, a game I kept playing with him long after I washed out of Hold'em. We had to freeze and photograph that game though, since we didn't finish it before it was time for me to compete in the Homeworlds finals...
  • The Proton Tournament was a surprisingly big hit. We got 8 people, we ran a double elimination tournament, it was tense and exciting and the victory hard fought, and players left feeling like it was a really cool game they were surprised they hadn't heard of. One player was even talking about writing up some strategy tips he had learned/observed... I hope he does. Proton made for a fun, fast tourney. The Q-Turn one by comparison was half as well attended (even though at a better time -- Proton was at 9 am!) and a lot less exciting.
  • My favorite time during the whole of the weekend was Saturday afternoon, when I was sitting in on a session of Martian Hold'em on one side while playing 2 separate games of Binary Homeworlds at an adjoining side table on the other. I described this moment as "Andy Gaming Heaven." As embodied in the premise of Andy Versus Everybody, I love playing multiple games at once, and while I'll happily run around a room playing 10 games of my own design simultaneously, the games I'm personally the most interested in playing are Hold'em and Binary Homeworlds. Thus, for me, nothing could beat playing Hold'em and Double Binary Homeworlds in the center of the our wonderful tie-dyed gaming space filled with fans who, now and then, would gently request an autograph between turns in the games I was playing. It was grand!
  • My favorite "gaming with a fan" moment was a game of Fluxx I played (on the side of an extended Homeworlds match, of course) with a sweet little 10 year old girl named Olivia. When her mom got a call on the cellphone, Olivia squealed at the person on the other end that she was "playing Fluxx with Andy, the actual inventor of the game!!!" She got a signed card and described her plan for displaying it in a fancy case along with the Fluxx deck we'd played with together.
  • One of my fans told me he'd read The Empty City six times. Wow. Six times. I had been surprised recently to read on someone's rabbit bio that they'd read it online three times, so I was blown away to hear someone had read it twice that many times. I'm still blown away by that.
  • Emily used a new point-based system for the Aquarius tourney, which I think she'd said Liam came up with, that seemed both clever and successful. (This reminds me yet again that I'd really like to get all of our Tournament procedures officially written down...)

  • Lee won an amazing 5 medallions, winning the Nanofictionary finals with a hilarious story about the Snake with a Great Personality and his excellent work (as a fan belt) at the Dangerous Objects Factory. Five medals is the most anyone has won before, so Lee didn't break the record...
  • The Fluxx World Championship this year was won by a charming little 13- year old girl named Miranda. She is easily the youngest player ever to win this tournament. Way to go, Miranda!
  • Speaking of Fluxx, I ruled that the "you may" wording on the Hand Limit cards means you can choose to discard those cards during your turn if you wish.
  • There was much concern about our new, more remote upstairs location, but I thought it worked out just fine, particularly after Izolda got our banner well situated at the base of the escalators, with an arrow by Rich pointing the way up.
  • One afternoon I was interviewed by a freelance writer named Mur Lafferty. She asked if I thought game design qualified as artistic culture. (Of course I said yes.) I think she said the magazine she was working on the article for was Scrye...
  • On the final evening, during a late night werewolf game, some guy I didn't recognize had an seizure. They took him away in an ambulance. Does anyone know who he was? I hope he'll be OK...
  • Eco-Fluxx and Fluxx Jr both playtested very well. Here you see teacher-rabbit Amy playtesting Fluxx Jr with some kids. The Eco-Fluxx prototypes we were using featured the beautiful finished artwork Alison's been hammering out (the game goes to the printer in less than two weeks now).

  • Carol's crafty stuff was awesome too! Kids and adults alike were always in her space, building something new, from embroidery Tirades and Mad Lab Rabbits to wacky Volcano Boards to decorated drink holders and "vases" for Happy Flowers. My favorite was the Martian Hold'em visor Ryan made to wear when he dealt for us in the finals.
  • Every year, Petra makes a new Icehouse tiara. I think this one is her best yet!

  • Here's Luisa learning to play IceTowers. She's new with us at Looney Labs... check out her info on the new Who's Who? page.
  • Late on the last night we went up to the Big Bar On Two and met a guy named Wallace who was playing Volcano on a really cool little wooden lightbox he had built. It consisted of a wooden structure that held a standard deluxe Volcano board over top of one of those little round battery powered "tap" lights. It was really cool!

  • These two adorable people are Josh Matisoff and Teddi Banks. They just got engaged, in a tender moment that featured a Fluxx card! Josh used a blank Fluxx card to create the special goal, "Live Happily Ever After" with the message "Teddi, Will You Marry Me?" and played it during a game. (Josh has been a fan of our games since first buying a case from us at our very first Origins booth. He knew Teddi was the girl for him when he told her he liked games and she asked if he'd ever heard of Fluxx.)
  • After winning the Homeworlds finals and receiving the last of the medallions to be given out there, I spent the rest of the afternoon in a happy blur. Alison returned from RPGing and I gave her my last $100 to shop with in the soon-to-close Exhibit Hall. A couple of guys who'd watched the Homeworlds finals asked if I was up for one more game... and since I'm always up for a game of Binary Homeworlds, I got a final notch in my belt before we started taking down the tie-dyes and putting away the demo copies.
  • Then the big pile of pizzas (the negotiations for the ordering of which had been going on all weekend (Thanks Emily!)) arrived and the rabbits did eat. After that, we had the usual post-Origins rabbit debriefing, which was as usual wonderful and informative and full of good ideas I can't recall at this time. Hopefully Liam was taking good notes.
  • Meanwhile, back at home, Janet was house-sitting for us, and she discovered an ant-colony being built inside the remains of a tiny-sized Milky Way candy bar lodged in between the layers of the Iron Schefflera's pot. She didst battle the ants, and she won, but it was big time yucky. (Thanks for house-sitting, Janet!)

Thank you to all the Rabbits who worked so hard to make another Big Experiment another huge success! You-all rock!

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