RogerBW's Blog

Summer Stabcon 2018 17 July 2018

This long-running games convention had another instance at the start of July, on a very very hot weekend. With images; cc-by-sa on everything.


The trip out was long and hot (air conditioning is great, but radiant heat through the car windscreen still happens). I spent a fair bit of the evening chatting, then got into a game of Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks, a game that I've been curious about for a little while.

It ends up feeling a fair bit like Elder Sign: your basic objective is to overcome Dilemmas, which need between four and six symbols rolled on dice. You get some dice for being a particular regeneration of the Doctor, more for companions and equipment; other powers let you change a black (general-purpose) die into a coloured (specific area) die – broadly the fight/tech/negotiate split used in Firefly, though "Running" is one of the key symbols – and reroll dice. Some Dilemmas prevent the use of some of these powers, and as the Daleks advance they place markers that reduce the dice pool.

That's all quite fun, but in the end it feels more like an overly-sophisticated way to set up a game of Yahtzee than it does like anything to do with Doctor Who. (But I've paid for the second edition of D-Day Dice, which is also an overly-sophisticated way to set up a game of Yahtzee, so I may not be being entirely consistent here.) Sure, you can assemble an assortment of attractive young ladies and useful bits of equipment in your TARDIS, but they're basically a random pick from all eras of the new and old show, so there's not really much thematic content. Some cards are "linked" to other cards, meaning that if you have card A, when it's time to pick a new companion you can search through the deck for a specific card B rather than getting just a random draw, but this doesn't help much. What's the point of calling this card "Nyssa" when in game terms it just lets you turn two black dice blue, reroll one blue die, and set one blue die to the "science" side?

This isn't helped by a poorly-laid-out rulebook that doesn't do a great job of explaining what happens when and to whom.

Maybe I'm just too close to Doctor Who to enjoy this style of game; I'd rather role-play it. And I despise the name "Timey Wimey Cards" just as I despise the original line that gave rise to it.

I wandered around the hall for a bit then went to sleep.


Started this day with three-handed Xenon Profiteer, which I probably didn't do a great job of teaching, as I won fairly easily (50 to 41).

On to Onitama, which was for sale here and which I bought. One win, one loss. I really like this game and will wibble about it with very little provocation. Though I'd like to make my own pieces for it.

Next, The Networks, in its two-player mode - which works remarkably well, with a turn-based random system for removing cards as play goes on, encouraging players to get on with things.

Played one RPG, one of Dr Bob's Squaddies scenarios: we knew roughly what was going on, but had a good time going mad while trying to get to the core of it. ("I could blow it up, sir. Be no problem at all, sir.")

Last game of the evening was Startups, oddly lengthy in its three-player guise.

My room had just one very small window that could be opened (and a great view), so although it didn't catch a lot of sunlight it was still pretty hot.

I had a decent night's sleep on Friday, but not much of one on Saturday after a 30°C day, so rather than be grouchy at people I came home early on Sunday.

So there wasn't much actual game playing, but this is still my favourite convention for atmosphere and conversations with interesting people. Even when it's this hot. For any other convention I'd have stayed at home with this forecast, but Stabcon is worth it.

[Buy Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks at Amazon] [Buy Xenon Profiteer at Amazon] [Buy Onitama at Amazon] [Buy The Networks at Amazon] and help support the blog.

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