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Circle Con D.C. 2023 - A Short Summary

I love meeting people and talking with them. I also like to see what people are playing and it was for this reason I didn't commit to much during my trip to Washington D.C. for Circle Con D.C.

First off, this was an amazingly intimate and design forward event put on by Kevin from Fort Circle. Kudos to Kevin for putting together something so special. I know he was terribly tired by the end of Saturday night, but I really appreciate everything he did to make this the event it ended up being!

People playing the forthcoming Sadr City, a follow up to Zurmat by my business partner Tim Densham, from Catastrophe Games

The absolute highlight of the trip for me was getting to play Votes for Women by Tory Brown. I didn't get to play on Friday and was starting to get worried it might not happen, so when I saw Jason Perez sit down and starting opening the game, I asked him if I could observe. He asked me if I wanted to join him and his companion as they played. His companion happened to be Elizabeth Hargrave (Wingspan/Mariposas/Tussie Mussie). I am kind of clueless sometimes and didn't realize who she was at first until she introduced herself.

I am sitting next to Jason with my hat on while Tory talks about her game and Elizabeth plays a card. Photo credit to Jason Matthews from his Twitter timeline (@JasonDCMatthews)

I played as the Opposition in Votes for Women and won. I was honestly stunned as was already feeling like the person who didn't belong in this room, let alone at the table. I really admire a lot of what Jason and Elizabeth do and didn't think I could keep up with them in a game. Also, who wants to win as the Opposition to the Suffrage Movement? Tory's game is great, I really want to play it again and both Jason and Elizabeth were gracious opponents throughout, even with my clumsy surprise. I can't wait to see the game they are working on.

Like I said before, I didn't commit to much during the trip but I was especially intrigued by the constant games Volko Ruhnke was running next to me throughout the weekend. The man has so much energy and enthusiasm for the hobby it's no wonder he puts out great games.

Volko leading a game of Wellington while wearing a limited edition Wilderness War shirt

I have been so busy of the last few months I also missed Alex Knight's Land and Freedom from Blue Panther Games. Full disclosure here - Steve from Blue Panther is someone I have a working relationship with because I work for Catastrophe Games and Valor Mountain Games; Steve is our printer. Land and Freedom is a semi-cooperative game about the Spanish Civil war in the 1930s against the fascists. Anarchists, Moderates, and Communists must work together to defeat the Fascists but only one faction can win. The bots looked elegantly simple but thought out in this 1-3 player historical game. I really wanted to play it, but we had a commitment to check out Zoin Saturday night.

Zoin is based in the Northwest of the U.S. and is designed by Evan Walter. I really liked some parts of it, including the fact that we almost finished in an hour with a teach. There are still some things I would like to see done with the game, and it is only 4 players at the moment, which is kind of a deal breaker for me. The cards are fun though and I know some people are going to love it when it gets done. It won't necessarily be most COIN (counter-insurgency) players, but there will be some cross over and others who will just like the theme and quick play time.

Sebastian Bae taught a master class in how to get people to love your game as he showed off Littoral Commander from the Dietz Foundation.

On the relative opposite end of things, Sebastian Bae's Littoral Commander impressed me far more than the initial images I had seen of it. The final version is stunning and Sebastian is a master of teaching games. He has so much energy and enthusiasm for gaming in general and he brought along a couple of his students. I can't wait to see what they craft as some of their ideas were fascinating! We got to hang out and eat dinner with Sebastian as a storm rolled in Saturday night and he was charming and shared with us about his passion for travel too.

On that note, we spent a good amount of time with Non-Breaking Space on Friday night both at dinner and chatting for a bit afterwards. I loved hearing his thoughts on a few different things and simply cannot wait to play Cross Bronx Expressway after seeing it set up and run. Worker Placement also looked intriguing, but I didn't get to catch quite enough of it to see how it all played out. Finally, Tim was enamored with parts of the messaging system put into place in 304: Tactics to Doctrine a WW1/Great War game focused on the front lines. I'm going to try to get out NB's Urban Sprawl variant soon as I also highly enjoy this Chad Jensen underrated gem of a game.

Dan Bullock and some other designers and attendees of the convention playing Crisis: 1914.

Maurice Suckling's WW1 game had some interesting things going on and I would like to play it at some point in the future. I believe it will be coming out from Worthington Games.

After Maurice's game I caught Dan Bullock for a few minutes and we chatted. I'm really hoping to see Dan's game Blood and Treasure about Washington D.C. defense contractors and the Afghanistan conflict get published soon. The topic is incredibly apropos and it hits hard in all the right ways. The balancing act between trying to get away with your treasure and the reality of its subject matter makes this game simply fantastic.

Blood and Treasure by Dan Bullock partially set up on a table with counters and pieces for different types of defense contracts.

There were also some just straight up fun things and even room for kids to get involved. I loved the number of women and BIPOC creators involved in the whole event as overall it points to a brighter future in historical and war games.

Kevin made sure there was a giant game of Diplomacy which made for an enjoyable time to watch parts for all in the room. He also provided the most bespoke copy of my favorite game, Star Wars: Rebellion, I have ever seen.

Giant Diplomacy was giant with boats bigger than my shoes.

I don't need to paint more, on the other hand I don't get to play Star Wars: Rebellion as often as I like, so maybe I should paint it.

The painted version of Star Wars: Rebellion includes every mini painted as well as 3-D planets of different sizes.

Who doesn't want a miniature Star Destroyer painted and orbiting an orange Sullust?

A planet and AT-ST painted for the game.

Fellow Ohioans Invicta Rex had their game Song for War set up in the central area, the game looked amazing and I hope the best for them as they re-tool to get ready to figure out a second attempt at crowd-funding.

On Sunday before we left I did get to play, and wreck a little, Night Witches by Liz Davidson and David Thompson. What great game. I really enjoy campaign games and this one will have some good stuff for that as well as the ability to set up any scenario and play them individually. I think a lot of people are going to like the combination of theme, co-op two player, or solo campaign (you can play two-player campaign too). I made bold, reckless choices and my plane got shot up. No surprises there.

Scenario - Disrupt the Convoy set up with two trucks remaining and a myriad of anti-aircraft, spotlights, and clouds set up on the board.

Liz is hoping for this game to be in a spiral book, and I have to agree.

The Pentagon tour provided some great jokes on Space Force and an appreciation for the building.

Things I wished I had done: sat down at Jason Matthew's next (unpublished) version of Twilight Struggle. I saw the map but forgot to snap a picture. Checked out Talia Rosen's game First Monday in October; I thought she would be around more than she was and missed out on that one.

Rocky Mountain Navy Gamer also had some super kind words to say about our game (Catastrophe Games) Campaign: Fall Blau. Super cool to see people to walk away with copies of that and Judean Hammer and look excited to play, that's always a good feeling.

I'm sure I forgot something because the whole thing was a whirlwind, but happy one. My apologies to those I forgot.

My favorite new to me game that I had heard nothing about before the weekend? A game about the 1905 Portsmouth Conference involving Russian and Japan. I'm still thinking about the resolution of tension (a mechanic) in that game.

Tim (Catastrope Games) and I saw the cherry blossoms before we drove back to Cincinnati. I really appreciate him as a business partner and friend.

Tim briefly reigning over Circle Con in the chair at the Naval Lodge Saturday morning.

Cherry Blossoms in bloom on the mall in Washington, D.C. with the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the background


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