Sunday, October 20, 2013

National Heroscape Day 2013

Well, it’s October, and you know what that means: another National Heroscape Day tournament.  If you need to refresh, Heroscape is one of my favorite games, and last year was the first year my middle child (a.k.a. the Smaller Animal, from when he was the younger of two) was old enough to attend.  He decided not to go this year, as he wasn’t feeling well, but my eldest (currently 15) decided to invite his current Band of Merry Men, so yesterday we took a road trip to Van Nuys for the annual get-together.

Last year we had our record low for attendance: only 8, 3 of which I brought with me.  This year was better—we were up to 10 total participants—but I provided 5 of them.  So I’m happy that attendance is on the rise, but I’d prefer it if more of it could come in from other quarters.

One bright note for this year: we’ve finally allowed Valhalla Customs units, which you may recall are the community-developed continuation of our beloved (but discontinued) Heroscape.  I think this is the future of the game, and, inasmuch as its the only future we’re likely to get, I’m glad to see my fellow ‘Scapers embracing it.  We should be happy there’s a future at all, really.

With so few attendants, we only needed 3 rounds to settle the standings.  Up to now, I had come in dead center of the pack 4 times, and next-to-last once.  This year I came in dead last, so I suppose I’m now at 4 and 2, in terms of acceptable performance.  I’ve never been super-competitive with the game: I’m in it for the fun.  So I’m happy enough with finishing up in the middle.  Being at the end is a bit of a bummer.  But I drew another newbie for the first round (he’d never played anyone other than his son before), so I spent a fair amount of time helping him out, and my last game was against one of my son’s friends, who was even newbie-er than that, so I wanted to help her do well as well.  So I don’t really mind those losses, both of which were close games (one of them down to 20 points, out of a possible 520).  The middle game was the big bummer though: I got the bad luck to go up against my son, and he’d been practicing against my exact army all week.  He ended up completely crushing me, handing me my only total defeat of the day.  Ah, well: he was happy enough, and beating me helped him finish up right in the middle of the pack (5th place, getting the very last of the prizes we had).  So I can’t really complain.

The newbie who I played against in the first round brought his 8-year-old son with him (which makes him, as you may recall, just a year older than the Smaller Animal).  He wasn’t going to enter the tourney itself, but we would have had only 9 without him, so he did.  And that went really well, despite the fact that he seemed to have the exact same focus issues that my son has (although I think he took losing much better than mine would have).  I hope to get these two boys together soon, either for Heroscape or just for hanging out; I think they’ll hit it off famously.

As we usually do, after the tournament we stuck around and played more games.  The four teenagers played a two-vs-two game of Heroscape, while the other father, his son, our host, and I played Fluxx.  Fluxx is one of those games that can either go fast or take forever, and this one went on for quite a while.  The teens finished up their Heroscape game and started up a massive round of Munchkin.  Father and son had to leave, so our host and I worked on tearing down the Heroscape maps while the kids finished up Munchkin.  Then we ordered some pizza and played two medium-length games of Fluxx with the 6 of us left.  This is the Monty Python version, and we went through the entire deck at least 3 times, so we got to play nearly every card at least once, including the Fake Accent card (which got played about 3 times) and the I Want to Sing! card, which unhappily was cancelled before it got around to me, or else I would have been pulling 2 extra cards every turn, potentially for the remainder of the game.  “I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay, I work all night and I sleep all day!”  Ah, well, I guess they didn’t appreciate my singing.  Not as much as they did the outrageous accents of our host, which ranged from something I can only describe as Scottish-brogue-with-throat-cancer to actually barking (which I promptly dubbed his “Labrador” accent).  As for the teens, they eventually decided that the most outrageous accent they could think of was Valley Girl, and spent at least 15 minutes trying to out-ohmahgod! each other.

So another excellent year was had, despite all of us ending up in the bottom 60%, and we hope to have just as much fun next year.

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