Meeting Dragons

I have been meaning to go to the Dragonmeet convention for many years.  It is a one-day annual event that has been held in London for decades, and has a great reputation for being fun and friendly.  The focus has traditionally been roleplaying, but these days it seems to be a general tabletop gaming event.  Finally, this weekend I managed to make the trip.
Once again I totally failed to take a usable photo, so here's this year's t-shirt design, totally yoinked from the Dragonmeet website. I hope they don't mind.
I can't tell you much about the con overall as I spent most of my time in the Playtest UK area, but I can say that there was a good trade hall, which included spaces for gaming of various types (including the "best of Essen" tables and the playtest zone), and roleplaying games, seminars and other stuff was taking place somewhere or other.  Oh, and the venue was comfortable, reasonably spacious, had good toilets, and was only about 5 minutes' walk from the nearest tube station.

Anyway, hanging around the playtest area allowed me to see a lot of great looking prototypes, and managed to play a few of them: a game about building skyscrapers, a game based on running game shows (with a modified Monty Hall mechanism), and a game about rolling dice to build gene sequences.

I had taken along "My Name Is...", which I am now usually describing as an ice-breaker game of memory and mental agility, which seems to both scare and intrigue people.  We had two plays of the game with different groups (I joined in on one of them) and had very different experiences with them.

The first group provided a constant flow of questions, suggestions, arguments and interruptions, identifying quite a lot of issues that need thinking about.  There was one player in particular, who was quite assertive in poking at the game and at me, but it was in good humour and he was genuinely being helpful (and, pleasingly, on the feedback form gave the game top marks for "fun").  This group had some roleplaying of opinions that turned up on cards, and some fairly tight policing of the rules about when turns finish and challenges are allowed.

The second group was a great contrast, just grokking the idea of the game immediately (with one or two questions after starting) and playing in a really relaxed way.  A few turns in and it looked like this group were old hands, and I could just sit back and watch as they played at their own pace, effectively house ruling an easy-going attitude to the challenges.  I have to say that while the feedback from this group was less informative in itself, it was the best feeling in the world to just watch a group chatting and laughing about the game and (to my eyes) thoroughly enjoying it.  This tells me that the game as it stands definitely has an audience, and that I am not heading up a blind alley.  Of course, I need to make the game work for more groups than this one (though it definitely worked for the other group too), but it's a good start.

Overall this was a really good experience and a helpful session, and I have a few notes for things to experiment with, including some possible alternate titles.

I should also mention that last week I started a thread on this game on Board Game Geek, asking for help for card subjects, and had a few people giving some very useful suggestions (some of which made it into the card set I was using here), plus a really interesting idea to try making the game into something other than the love/hate a subject that it is now... I will be thinking about this as it could be really cool if I can figure it out.

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