Thanks to Covid-19, Lautapelaamaan was last organized in 2019. Now it returned unusually: it was held in February and in Tampere. Like in 2019, the event was held in a mall: the Ratina mall in Tampere had suitable empty space we could use. Thus the Lautapelaamaan was held for the first time outside Helsinki. As a Tampere local, I didn’t mind!
On Friday, I could only participate in the set-up: carrying tables and chairs, building shelving for the game library, putting games on the shelves, and shopping for groceries. It was fun to see empty spaces transform into a con location in just a couple of hours.
On Saturday, I could join the fun myself. I found my son playing On the Underground with my brother. They were heading to eat something after the game, so I had to come up with something else first. I bumped into Kristian from the Pöydällä collective, and I got to start the con with a game of Monikers with him and the rest of the Pöydällä crew. Always a pleasure.
After Monikers, we noticed the neighbouring table had a demo copy of Heat: Pedal to the Metal ready to play, and we hopped over there. We were joined by Joonas from Puutyöläinen and his daughter for a six-player race. I explained the rules – I’ve played the game once and haven’t read the rules properly, but hey, it’s a simple game – and off we went. The race was tight, but on the second lap, Joonas spun out and fell hopelessly behind. In the last round, I drove past Virpi to win the race.
At that point, I noticed Nooa had messaged me before to ask if I was free. Well, I was now and found them trying to figure out the rules for Paleo. This wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I joined in. I’m not sure if you’ve heard it before, but the Paleo rulebook is terrible. We managed to get the game up and running, and I don’t think we made huge mistakes, either.
We played the game twice, both attempts ending with our small palaeolithic tribe extinct. It’s a tough game! I like what it does: the mechanism of choosing cards based on the backs, having options to choose from, and the way some cards keep coming back and some are removed from play makes for an interesting game. If I was looking for a new co-op game to dive into, Paleo would be a fine choice.
After Paleo, we played Monikers with this crew as well. A lesson learnt: when setting up the Monikers deck, have each team add 20 cards to the deck and then add one random card from the box. The situation was tied after two rounds in the day’s first game, and this second game ended in a tie. The one extra card would prevent ties. But that’s not a big deal, and the opportunity to play Monikers twice was a rare treat.
After Monikers, my brother left with his wife. I took Blue Moon City from the game library, and we played that twice. I last played the game in 2007! It was well worth the replay, but I also see why I got rid of it. It’s a nice game. Nothing special, but it’s a solid race with clever hand-management challenges. I like this kind of game (Oregon comes to mind as the prime example).
For Sunday, we had agreed to play Fiasco with my friend Tuomo. I’ve had the new boxed set of Fiasco for a long time. Nooa was keen to play, too. While waiting for Tuomo, we gave Akropolis a spin. This is another nice, harmless game. The challenge of laying out your city is interesting, and the ability to stack things up in layers adds a nice extra twist. I wouldn’t say no, and now that I know the game, I’ll probably suggest this as a filler at Taverna.
Tuomo joined us but had a prototype game to check, so we couldn’t start Fiasco yet. I had brought So Clover! and we played a couple of rounds of that. Our first round was a perfect success; we solved all puzzles without errors. The second time we added an extra card to the mix and had harder combinations.
After a game of Cribbage, we could get going with Fiasco. We used the Poppleton Mall set. Tuomo played Bobby, Nooa played André, and I played Megan. Bobby and Megan were slackers working at the mall gym for André. Bobby owed his job to André, while Megan and André knew each other from a Satanic cult. Bobby and Megan wanted to get rid of their job by any means necessary, and the object to set things in motion was a case full of human growth hormone syringes (it wasn’t hard for me to choose the gym as the location!).
André was making money for the Satanic cult by dealing HGH. Megan noticed the case, and she and Bobby decided to use the HGH to finance their escape. At the same time, André coerced Bobby to work as his dealer. In the first act, things went pretty smoothly for Bobby and Megan, who set up their scam. At the same time, André was feeling pressure from the cult, who weren’t happy with the money he was making for them.
At the tilt point, new elements were introduced: paranoia stemming from double-crossing and tragedy involving a timely death. Well, Megan had the bright idea of using bleach to dilute the HGH (hey, the president said it’s a good idea to use bleach intravenously!), which led to trouble. The trouble included the local biker gang, who were using the HGH and possibly involved in the business. When the cult leader and a biker officer arrive at the gym to rough André up, Bobby tries to explain things to save André with little success. Megan arrives late, sees trouble, and decides to solve things by knocking the biker officer with a dumbbell. He dies.
Bobby is given the job of discarding the corpse. He loads it into the gym van, on the passenger seat, and sets off towards the nearby canyon. Megan is congratulated by the cult leader and gets an invite to an important ritual. Perhaps she’ll be promoted and will take over the gym from André! Then she wouldn’t need to get away (because all she wants is a gym of her own where she could be the boss).
This is Fiasco, so you can guess how well things roll out. Bobby drives outside the city limits and sees police lights in the rearview mirror and bikers ahead of him. He steps on the gas. The bikers leave him be and let the police chase him. A curve on the road makes the corpse of the biker leader fall, and Bobby loses control of the car and crashes. He never bothered with seat belts, so he flies through the windscreen and dies.
Megan is invited to a ritual. She’s pleased about that and nervous, too. She’s brought into a room and seated in a chair. The cultists tie her hands and feet to the chair, which sets off alarm bells in her mind. The doors open, and bikers march in. Let’s just say there won’t be an open casket at her funeral. Her remains don’t really need a coffin.
André decides to leave the town. He grabs some cash, runs away and actually makes it. Not perfect, though: he ends up in prison for some petty gas theft or something like that, but with his experience with bikers and Satanists, he does pretty well in prison and perhaps even learns something.
After Fiasco, we played some Fairy Tale and Next Station: London. Fairy Tale is a tough game to learn, and the Finnish edition we used wasn’t nearly as lovely as the one I had back in the day.
Then it was time to tear things down! Nooa and I took charge of the game library: putting games in bags and then dismantling the shelving.
All in all, Lautapelaamaan 2023 was a nice event. The mall venue was excellent; we had enough space, the rooms were well-lit, and the mall was much nicer than the one in Helsinki. It was fun to see it’s possible to run a good event outside Helsinki. We had Lautapelit.fi doing demo games: they had their huge Flamme Rouge set available, and games of giant Carcassonne were run in the mall event area. Puolenkuun Pelit built a mini store at the con and ran demo games for Asmodee.
Hopefully, this isn’t the last time we can have Lautapelaamaan at Tampere. The Ratina mall welcomes us back if they have space available. It would be nice to have Lautapelaamaan twice a year: once in Helsinki, once in Tampere. Of course, that requires that our main sponsors are willing to pay for two events and that we can find organizers for two events. One can dream, though!