Once again I attended my personal favorite gaming convention, Total Confusion. Mostly, I love it because it is purist gaming at its best. I always make it a point to try some new things and play some other things that I just plain enjoy. However, this time was special for me.
I planned to attend Friday and Saturday (it ran from Thursday to Sunday). I had an early morning engagement on Sunday so I was planning on hanging around until about 8pm on Sat. Unfortunately, I saw on the schedule that my favorite RPG of all time, Cyberpunk 2020, was being held at 7 and would last for four hours. I figured that I would just peek in for about an hour before leaving. Then I noticed who was GM’ing… none other than Mike Pondsmith, the creator of Cyberpunk 2020.
I started playing Cyberpunk 2020 in the early to mid 90’s. Hell, me and my friends ran a single campaign that took 3 years so yeah, it’s awesome. Mike Pondsmith is the equivalent to D&D’s Gary Gygax to me. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only hang with the master but to see how he, himself, envisions his world and to even be a part of it. I couldn’t leave.
Now, in these gaming conventions there is usually a mix of old-school gamers and people trying out something different. As such, game masters generally take it a little easy on the players so everyone can survive to the end (or near end) and have a good time. Mike wasn’t like that. He immersed you in his brutal post-apocalyptic future world. No quarter was given. None was asked. And it was brutal… in all it’s glory.
Usually, pre-fabricated characters are handed out to players to save time. Mike had us spend a good amount of time making our characters from scratch (in a quick and dirty way). I made a techie named Snooker. We had five other players as well, a fixer (dealer), a solo (assassin), a med-techie (doctor), a cop, and a nomad (Mad-Max-like wanderer). The adventure started out in a Night City club. I immediately fumbled a perception role and Snooker accidentally strolled into a gang’s personal space. That’s when things went to 11. A fire-fight broke out. While my character was trying to avoid being pulled into the spinning chest saws of an angry Stephen Hawkins with hook arms, the cop got blasted point-blank in the pects by the bar tender. He survived due to thick armor but a shot like that laid him out. The med-techie worked on reviving him as the carnage continued. Somehow we all survived. The daughter of a wealthy billionaire enjoyed the show so much she insisted that we bring her bar-hopping so she could see “the real Night City”. So we piled into her hover limo (except our nomad who had his own AV) and were treated to some fine sushi. Well, not too fine as the cop realized after eating some bad fugu, poisonous puffer fish. Again, as the med-techie tried to rescue him from anaphylactic shock, assassins of our young host, following in an AV behind us, shot a missile up our tailpipe. Our nomad finished off the bad-guys as we crashed into the middle of the Night City Park lake, filled with real alligators. We escaped the armor-plated submerged coffin and made a swim for it to the nearest island… inhabited by a local gang named the Gilligans who want nothing more than to get off the island. There is not much more terrifying than being hunted by a giant black man in a nightgown named Ginger and a blood thirsty Ms. Howell.
Yep. Brutal. And it was worth it. Cyberpunk 2020 died out in popularity a bit but over the past couple of years it has been returning with exciting new developments. First off, check out my review of the card game, Android: Netrunner, based on this world HERE. Next, and even more exciting, is the work-in-progress for the amazing adapted video game, Cyberpunk 2077. You need to watch this.
I’m so excited.
Besides my highlight for the con (and month), I also got to try out some other really interesting games. Next at the top of the list is a really creative and adorable board and strategy game named “Shear Panic!” by Mayfair Games where players try to arrange a flock of sheep in advantageous positions. I know. It sounds lame. I’m getting this game. It’s super fun and I highly recommend it.
I also tried a board game called Kanban: Automotive Revolution by Stronghold Games, a game where everyone tries to impress their boss (or avoid an angry boss) by being the very best manager there is on an assembly line including research departments, production, testing, board meetings, etc. This game is insanely complex! Perhaps not as insane as Arkham Horror but still crazy. It was fun and if you are the type to enjoy long involved games, check it out.
I also tried a few games currently on Kickstarter. The first was called “Find It & Bind It” by Cray Cray Games, a strategy game where each player needs to maneuver their two witches to the Book of Shadows first. It’s a quick 30 minute game max.
The other Kickstarter game was “Rampaging Jotunn” by Nighthawk Games. Here you play against an opponent building the game board, placing your villages and viking armies, and then trying to wipe out the opposing side. Also, each player tries to control the giant to their advantage. It’s again a very quick game. In my personal opinion, the setup needed some slight tweaking to reduce advantages to one player over another. The game pieces were very nice and it was enjoyable to play.
Some friends and I also got a few quick rounds of another card game in, Boss Monster by Brotherwise Games. This is a dungeon building game that will definitely appeal to old-school video gamers as it is based on 8-bit graphics. I love the concept of playing a “boss monster” but we all felt the rules could be improved slightly and easily to make it even more enjoyable. I promise to do a more in-depth review soon.
As usual, I got in a few games of Call of Cthulhu. One game was a light-hearted adventure where we either all died or went mad at the end. The other was more of a serious ghost story that we actually won. Somehow, I always feel cheated when I win at Call of Cthulhu. Oh wait, that was the first time.
Check out my review of the 2013 Total Con and enjoy these additional pics from 2015 below.