Justus Productions

mini-mace 2018: Joining forces with ReCon

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About ReCon

Join us on Saturday, February 17th for an entire day of FREE tabletop gaming (9:00 am until 9:00 pm) at Project: Re3 in Kernersville, NC.

Inspired by other successful tabletop gaming events held in Kernersville (mini-mace by JustUs Productions every January and the Piedmont Triad International Tabletop Day by the Winston-Salem Gamers Guild every April), ReCon will feature free open / pick-up gaming as well as on-site access to hot and fresh food throughout the day. Whether you’re a veteran player or a newcomer to the wonderful world of tabletop gaming, ReCon will be a great place for you, your friends and your family to play some games and have a great time.

Already have a small collection of tabletop games? Great – feel free to bring your favorite games and teach others how to play. Don’t’ own any games of your own or don’t feel comfortable teaching? No problem – there will be plenty of games going on throughout the day that you and your friends can hop into and learn how to play on the spot.

Project:Re3 is a church community built around the heart of serving others through missions. While the first annual ReCon should prove to be a “remarkable” tabletop gaming experience for everyone in attendance, it will also serve a much greater purpose; all of the proceeds from food, snack and beverage sales throughout the day will be used to sponsor several Belarussian children’s stay in the US this summer. For more informational about some of the mission work that took place in 2017, visit http://projectre3.org/

Keep an eye out for more info as we get closer to the event. We can’t wait to get together and play some games!

MACE 2017 Gaming Coordinator Report

I have a lot to process in my mind one day after the convention, and the best way I can do that is write them down.  There are usually two sides to my approach to MACE – as the gaming coordinator and as a gamer/GM/fan.  I like to post my report to the latter on my personal website.  Let’s just say that side of me had a great weekend.  The gaming coordinator side also had a great weekend but also has a lot to sort out for next year.

Early on, we knew that MACE 2017 was going to be a challenge when the hotel came to us asking for a favor.  We had gone through it before, so we thought it would be easy again.  However, expanding the dealers room was going to add new pressures for space and allocating to everything that was requesting game tables.  We tried our best to allocate that space accordingly, based on flow and demand in the past, but as we all know, with time comes change.  And that was evident as well this year.

Part of my job in general is to make sure each facet of gaming has the best location for what they want to do.  Some want a set of tables and never have to move.  Others want flexible tables for open and free-form gaming.  Others want a huge amount of tables space for their epic sized gaming.  Others want to be in the middle of traffic as best they can.  Coupling that with the bigger client coming in on Sunday, taking up more than half our space after 2 pm, and that really challenges us.

First to go was the dealers in the hallway, which in turn mean we had to expand the dealer space.  This of course meant less gaming in Lakeshore.  Lakeshore was where I used to put a bulk of the tabletop board/card games – open demos, schedule games and tournaments.  Well, losing half that space was costly and most of the games had to be moved elsewhere.   Open demos moved to the space the hotel called the Gallery.  That turned out to work really well.  Scheduled board games were moved to Lakeview, which worked reasonably well.  However it was not what I would prefer to do with them.  The two tournaments on Saturday I did have in Lakeshore – X-Wing and Mage Wars – did really well, but on Friday and Sunday that room was fairly slow.  I tried to funnel open gaming in that way on Fri and Sun, but there was not as much demand those days.

Every year, I try to leave room for open gaming tables but this year was difficult.  More and more gaming demos, Kickstarter pre-releases events, and playtests wanted space and slowly but surely, Saturday began to fill up.  Open gaming space, especially on Saturday, was the second sacrifice in the overall process.  I even posted that fact on the social media, which in turn did scare a few of our regulars away.  However, I did get many asking for open gaming space.  I gave them space where I could but I could tell that many took my advice to check the table signs and use the games when nothing was scheduled.  I am glad that part seemed to be working.   It takes a little extra effort but you usually can find an open table for what you need if you just look at the table sign.

Pre-registration was crazy.   OGRe is at a stable-enough level now that more and more people are able to use it.  And they did.  Many of the games filled before the convention.  Many who arrived at-the-door expecting open space at games, were sadly disappointed.  I can only do  so much.  I hope everything at least got to play in one game they wanted to.  This ended up making the posters hard to update but I did my best.  I working on other ideas to improve the process, but in the end, online is the best way to check the accuracy of the schedule.

As for each facet of gaming, I have to say I was pleased overall.  Tabletop board/card gamers adapted pretty well to the new layout, whether it was their 10th time at MACE or their first.  RPGs (non-organized play and Organized Play) did really well.  Non-organized play or one-shot RPGs had a several last minute cancellations, so some rooms were a little slow at times, but overall, they did well.  I’ll get into the miniature game room later, but needless to say that it was a disappointment.  Changes will be made.  I was very pleased with everything else, however.

Early estimates do indicate that we were down a little – about 10%.  We had about a 2% growth last year, so in many ways, this is not a surprise.  Neither Jeff or I are concerned in anyway.  All we care about is people having fun.  As long as everyone had fun, we are good.  Much of the drop can be accounted for in the miniature room.  We’ll make adjustments for next year and concentrate more on what works and less on what doesn’t.

The major disappointments are from the last minute drops, the no-shows, the underwhelming performance in some areas and the lack of space for open gaming.  Most of those affected the miniature game area.  The major reason why those tables were empty was because of the first three.  On paper, that room was full of games all weekend.  But with cancellations, and no shows, it was dead.  I do not want to take anything away from those that made a strong effort on their parts of the miniature game room, the overall performance of miniature

I’ll say it again.  Changes will be made.  I can’t leave rooms nearly empty like that.  That space will have to be allocated to other aspects.

I posted something on Facebook that speaks to a major disappointment this weekend and one I had a gut feeling was going to happen.

There are 3 types of GMs …

  1. Those that stay committed, show up on time, and run their games just fine. I like these GMs a lot.
  2. Those that cancel ahead of time. While those cause a little trouble especially if they cancel after I print the posters, I totally understand and appreciate the heads up on their situation.
  3. Those that do not show up, never let me know ahead of time they can not make it and leave a bunch of tables with players wondering what happened. I do not like these at all. I see this as very unprofessional and expect more from adults. This is the easiest way to get on my sh*t list.

There have been many occurrences of type 2. I hope to have a lot of type 1s, and no type 3s. I can only hope.

 We had a couple of #3s and I am highly disappointed in them.  One in particular was supposed to be running kids games.  That is the lowest of low as far as I am concerned.  They are off my list.  I won’t mention them by name as I will give them time to give us their excuse.  Hopefully, they will. In most cases, these cases are because of either poor planning or poor communication.  I am sure it is one or the other.

The crafting and DM Scotty aspect of MACE this year was awesome.  I love this new enhancement to my favorite hobby and loved meeting DM Scotty.  He had a great time and I do look forward to hanging out with Scotty again.  I did enjoy the terrain contest and winning it.  I was the only entry, which was disappointing and I am not entirely sure my creation was really award winning, but I am glad I won.

Lots of things did not return for the 21st annual MACE.  Artemis, the starship bridge simulator was one of them.  Cool Minis or Not did not return.  Both absences were noticed.  Unfortunately, life happens and things change.  There is nothing more consistent than change.  This is the cases for both features.  MACE has not really had a feature or special event last more than a few years.  It’s just the reality of it.  We are probably transitioning to new ones soon.  Perhaps an escape room, or a new crew to run Artemis, or something else.  Stay tuned.

 Barring another football team coming through (which is unlikely), there will be a lot of changes and adjustments next year.  I will probably reduce the miniature game room and expand the tabletop board gaming space.  The Gallery will remain for open demos and playtests but Lakeshore will return to its larger glory for other board games and card games, including tournaments.  I am thinking of allocating all of Lakeview for open gaming space, which will be about 15 to 16 tables.  Nothing scheduled will go in there.  The game library will go in there.  Organized Play will stay in Glenwaters and I will flip-flop University, putting RPGs in B through D, more tabletops including large games, war games, etc in E and miniatures in A.

The 20th anniversary was the largest crowd in MACE history so it is no surprise we had a slight dip.  Both Jeff and I believe that whether we have an up or down year, all that matters is that people have fun.  MACE will return in 2018, stronger than ever.  Star tuned to Facebook or Twitter or our website for updates.

MACE 2017 Featured Playtest: Anatolia

MACE 2017 will feature official playtest most on Saturday of a new independent unpublished board game called Anatolia

3-6 players/ 1-2 hours

Anatolia is a strategy game that combines warfare, economics, and most importantly, negotiation. The game is set in Turkey during the early years of the Ottoman Empire. You are an aspiring mining Baron who wants control of the resource-rich area of central Anatolia. To succeed you’ll need to navigate shifting alliances, Defeat your enemies on the battlefield, and diversify your economy, all with a bit of luck.

Please see our gaming schedule through OGRe.  You must be registered for the convention to register for games.

MACE 2017

November 10-12 2017
The Best & Most Organized Carolina Gaming Con
Hilton Charlotte University Place
Charlotte, NC

B-Movie Inspirations: The Drift (2016)

This is an award winning UK sci-fi space short film made Backyard Productions UK as part of the “Darkwave universe.”  Set in a world where rare crystals – called Starlight Crystals – make FTL flight possible, it shows that even with a low budget and actors working for free, you can still tell a damn good story.  I write about this because I really feel that this Darkwave setting REALLY needs to be written up as an RPG setting.  Someone really needs to approach these guys with the idea.

As explained the beginning of the film, something called the Darkwave is an event blamed for nearly all the Starlight Crystals not working.  ONly a small percentage of them still work.  This ends up leaving many ships in mid-flight stranded in the middle of space, decades if not centuries away from a colony using sublight engines.  Finally, a sci-fi movie that respects stellar distances.

Only a few fragments of working Starlight crystals exist, so only a few ships can travel limited FTL.  Apparently the distance and speed a crystal can travel is proportional to the size in some way.  Scavenger ships armed with these crystals travel from derelict to derelict – called Drifts – salvaging cargo, rescuing passengers where possible and salvaging crystal fragments.  Some have good intentions while others don’t.  The film introduces a Ministry ship named the Deliverance ( a ship that vaguely looks like the Firefly) and it’s salvage crew of eight scavengers.  The drop out of FTL asleep in hypersleep suits after a 5 month flight, near a couple of Drifts – a cargo ship and a passenger liner – that is apparently near the nebula where the Darkwave originated.

The characters are kind of cliched – hard-ass woman inspired by Ripley from Alien, the wise-cracking American pilot, the by-the-book perfectly British captain, the pair of rough and tumble blue-collar types that are underappreciated and do all the work, a wide-eyed kid who is bound to get in trouble, rookie corporate guy and so on.   Collectively, they come across as a cross between the crew of the Firefly and the crew of the Nostromo with some homages to the marines of the Sulaco.  They come across a starship graveyard of multiple wrecks and other debris.  Their systems apparently detected a crystal fragment and they are after it.

What follows is a series of events that are reminiscent of several claustrophobic space movies like Aliens, Pandorum, and the like.  There are survivors on the ship and they all have a dark story to tell.  It is a mad dash to recover a crystal on the ship that is apparently special.  A mole in the group wants the crystal for their own clandestined purposes while the rest just try to get out.  There are moments you can tell this is a shoe-string budget production while others are top-notch.   The hallways seem thrown together and poorly constructed at times, but the set of the Deliverance is very cool.  Overall, however, the story they tell is compelling and fantastically inspiring.

From an RPG point of view, this movie is more inspiring from a setting point of view than anything else. The story itself is tropey and cliched, but would serve as a great intro adventure into the settings.  This “Ministry” they work for needs to be fleshed out, as does the covert factions within that drove the mole character.  There would need to be an idea of what the universe was like before the Darkwave and what it is now.  Colonies are isolated now, with only a few fragments available to them, perhaps only able to reach out to other nearby systems.  Smaller stellar nations would form, space would factionalize and people would start blaming others for the Darkwave.  Perhaps a whole faith would rise out of the Darkwave, saying that humanity had reached too far.

Youtube is full of short sci-fi and fantasy films, some good and some not so good.  I found this one exceptionally imaginative and inspiring.  I hope I can find the time to flesh out a setting inspired by it.

5 Simple tips to make your MACE experience easier

(1) Print your own schedule and/or tickets. See the this link

(2) Check your email before you leave for the con for any cancellation notifications.

(3) Realize that the schedule posters, the table signs and the room signs are all a physical system and can’t change dynamically. We try to update the posters as often as possible. However, for example, if OGRe is showing a game full and we have not updated the posters, then that just means we have not had a chance to update the posters.

(4) If in doubt, check OGRe. It’s remains live all weekend, so people could be signing up anytime. If you have a means to check it – Tablet or Laptop work best- use it first before you use the physical system of writing stuff down on tickets and handing them to us. It just makes things easier for everyone. Caveat: Phone was left out of the above list because we do realize that OGRe is not 100% mobile friendly and totally own that. If all you have is a phone, it’s fine to come to gaming registration first.

(5) Understand that Data Entry Errors happen. We have to keep up with over 400 games, 150+ GMs and their preferences, needs and schedules, and present them as simple and fast as we can. There is just one person entering this data in and that person also has a real job, three kids, a very tolerant and patient wife and other things to deal with in life. So don’t be surprised, exasperated, or frustrated if an poster entry, table sign entry or room sign entry might seem wrong.

MACE 2017 Dealer List

13 anana Cream Dream Crafty Things
A Sticky Obsession Decals
Art Lo Designs Artwork
Ben Mirabelli Artwork
Charles Wolfe Artwork
Cryptic Hippie Jewelry
Cuddly Creations NC Yarn Creations
Davey Beauchamp Artwork
Dicey Venture Studios Terrain
Empire Games Card Games
Impudent Mortal Laser Cut Terrain
Kitty in the Box Lego
Maya Preisler Artwork
Mercenary Art Ninja Artwork
Modern Goldfish Wands
Mumswear Hand Made Clothing
Mythoard RPG Crate Monthly Box
New Realm Gaming Games
O Manda Panda Jewelry
Obsidians Caldera Crystals
Payt’s Parlor Fandom/Craft Items
Becca’s Bits Books
Play It Again Games Games
13 anana Cream Dre
TJ Morris Author
Treasures of the Coyote Moon Ceramics
UniPolar Games Game Mats
Walt’s Cards Games
War Bunny Swords
Kayla King Author
Winston Walker 3D Printed Items
Wintertree Software Software
Tabletop Envy Laser Cut Game Accessories

MACE 2017 Featured Playtest: Grim Tide

MACE 2017 will feature official playtest most on Sunday of a new independent unpublished board game called Grim Tide

Grim Tide is a dynamic board game of 19th century nautical horror for 2 to 4 players.

Sail the treacherous waters of the Dark Sea as captain of your ship. A deadly monster lurks in the waves, drawing closer with every shift of the tide. Only the most desperate or foolhardy captains venture far from shore. You, friend, are one of these.

In search of great renown within this cursed corner of the world, you will slay the beasts that haunt the black waves and display their trophies at the crowded port markets of Blackbrooke and Kingsfall. You’ll discover islands and salvage lost items or eerie artifacts washed up on their distant shores.  Every day brings new horrors, risks, and winds to fill your sails. You will sacrifice your own crew, wealth and sanity to ensure that it is your ship that rises with the grim tide.

At its heart, Grim Tide is a game about exploration. You’ll start with a board composed of random, face-down tiles with hidden dangers that you’ll discover as you explore them. You’ll have to balance the morale of your captain against the horrors of the sea as you outfit your ship with the best combination of  crew and items to suit your strategy. You could focus on faster movement and trade, arm yourself to hunt the foul monsters of the deep, or avoid combat and make your name as a master fisher. These routes all lead to Renown, which is the way to victory in Grim Tide. But don’t go to sea unprepared. A reckless captain will surely face madness, mutiny, or destruction under the slimy tentacles of the Kraken.

Please see our gaming schedule through OGRe.  You must be registered for the convention to register for games.

MACE 2017

November 10-12 2017
The Best & Most Organized Carolina Gaming Con
Hilton Charlotte University Place
Charlotte, NC

Sculpy MACE 2017 Gamer Questionnaire Survery

Hey guys and gals,

Gaming Crafters of all kinds. Please take a moment of your day and complete this survey and submit it to Sculpey.

If you have any questions, please let Jeff Smith know. JustUs Productions wants to support these guys as much as they have supported MACE. We will be using the Sculpey products at MACE this year with Charles Wolfe as he demos some sculpting techniques.

Everyone who enters will be entered into a drawing for an 8 Pound Box of Super Sculpey

Thank You!