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"I would definitely recommend it if you like history, time travel and the manipulation of said event by said means. The cards are worth the $20 just to read them." -- Bo, owner, The Gamer's Den, commenting on Chrononauts on the Game Industry Forum

Thursday, April 5, 2001
by the Wunderland Toast Society

What's New?

What's Going On? ToasterCon was Totally Schaufenster

Here at Wunderland.Earth, we get together to play games at least once a week, but we often feel like that's just not enough. So once a year we invite our close friends to spend an entire weekend playing games with us, an event we call ToasterCon, and that's what we just got finished doing. In fact, we haven't even finished cleaning up yet.

This year was only the second time we've done this, but as before it was a huge success, so it's already become an annual tradition for us. Almost two dozen of our friends came over to play games with us during at least part of the weekend (with seven out of towners spending at least one night on our furniture or floor), and we played games day and night for 3 days straight, with some of the most dedicated gamers (myself, Kory, and Dale) pushing through with a full night of gaming on the final evening of the event.

We played games of every sort, including old favorites and new prototypes, current releases by major competitors and obscure titles by undersung independents, and even games we were busily inventing in real-time. Gnostica (the new Zarcana-style Icehouse game) really is seeming to be done; Jake had freshly written rulesheets on hand and took full advantage of the opportunity for playtesting with fresh blood. Many of us got to playtest Zarf's new Chrononauts-variation, Becca's Winding Sprawls Estates game is moving forward nicely, as is something new Kristin's working on, and Kory finally started showing around the first printed copy of the first draft of his big, thick Zendo book. But for me, one game stuck out from the others as the new game I got into this weekend: Schaufenster.

Of course, that's not what it's really called... the real name is Klunker, but we call it Schaufenster because this word is a lot of what made this game so much fun. This German import, published by Rio Grande, includes rules translated into English, but the cards haven't been changed at all, since they feature so few words as not to require it. The game turns us all into jewelry shop owners, and most of the cards just depict items you can buy and sell: necklaces, earrings, jewel-encrusted shoes, etc. And there's this one special card, used to denote your shop window, where you place the jewelry you are offering for sale, and it's labeled "SCHAUFENSTER", which of course means "show window" in German.

We started playing Schaufenster around 5 in the morning, after a rousing tournament of Battling Tops (yes, the blue plastic arena for spinning top battles published by Ideal in 1969) and as it got later and later and we got sleepier and punchier, the word "Schaufenster" became funnier and funnier, and it became a contest to see who could squeeze the word "Schaufenster" into a sentence the most times. By morning, it was like the scene in "Being John Malkovich" where everyone just says "Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich" but instead we were saying "Schaufenster Schaufenster Schaufenster" in silly German accents, giggling all the while like 5 year olds. Eventually our hilarity woke up our houseguests, and as soon as we tried to explain what was so funny, we knew it was one of those "you just had to be there" moments. But I think it's a fun game even if you don't obsess over the word "Schaufenster."

As has become part of the tradition, ToasterCon also coincided with Alison's birthday, and among other things we rented a cotton candy machine for her for the weekend. She loves cotton candy and never feels she can really get her fill at the amusement park where it costs so much; besides, she'd always wanted to be able to have the experience of actually spinning the stuff up for herself. So, Kristin found a place that rents these things out, and we set it up so she could make pink fluffy sweet stuff for people all throughout the weekend. And it was a big hit, too.

Anyway, the weekend was a smash all the way around, and we had a great time doing it. I definitely recommend hosting a gaming convention in your house if you can handle it.Andy

Have a great week!

the story so far

Thought Residue
We are one of the 100,000 households who lost their DSL connection when Northpoint Communications went out of business, so our email has been seriously disrupted this week. Alison hasn't been able to read hers at all, and when I finally got mine turned on again, I had 500 messages to wade through. My email is now so out of control that I'm thinking about setting up my own auto-responder...

The Information Systems Department is still working on getting my new Flower Power iMac configured and setup, so I haven't had very much time to mess around with it yet, but I'm really digging my new computer. After some deliberation, we've decided to keep using System 9 for now... OS X is just too weird.

"This [customer service via e-mail and telephone] was an unheard-of innovation in the gaming industry, where rules questions were usually answered by whatever bearded company grognard opened the fan mail on a given day, and only then if you included a SASE and made an intelligent reference to Robert Heinlein." -- John Tynes, in an article at entitled "Death to the Minotaur"

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