I am back from the World Boardgaming Championships. It would be easy to summarize my trip in terms of measureable accomplishments, for example by saying that I got two 2nd place finishes, but I don't think that such a measurement does the experience justice. Doing well in challenging events is fun and I liked it, no doubt, but the really important thing I got from my experience there was the connections I made.
I met so many interesting people! It was tremendous fun to sit down with new folks who were really good at games and have discussions about how various games work, what strategies people favour, and how people thought about games. It was especially interesting because sometimes you can get stuck in a single mindset because of how your local group plays and talking to people from all over can let you see how strategies shift when the metagame shifts. There was a lot of "But that strategy is nuts because people always do X!" which was often met with "My group doesn't do X, they do Y!" and then you need to rethink everything you know.
Some of these people I may see regularly, but the great majority will just be Facebook friends that I get to see once a year when and if I go back to WBC. I want to go back, no question on that, but it is a tough thing to arrange. Wendy sometimes works crazy hours so handling Elli while I vacate the country for nine days can be a rough thing. My parents were great for taking Elli this year, but I can't just count on that being a thing that always works!
It was kind of neat how I would hang out with a person for awhile, decide that they were my kind of person, and then immediately latch onto whoever else was already in their circle. Many times these sorts of connections were made, and they almost always worked out really well, which was fun.
One thing I will have to do to prepare for next year is learn some more games. I did really well in a few events but had to skip the semifinals because they conflicted with something else important. There were also a lot of time slots that had nothing in them for me because I didn't know how to play any of the games. I need to spend some time learning another ten games or so that will feature at WBC next year so I can more easily sit down at something no matter what day and time it is. That was pretty much the strategy this year - I wanted to win a game called Puerto Rico, so everything else was below that in priority, but otherwise I just showed up to whatever seemed fun at the time. Amusingly I did poorly in Puerto Rico and got my plaques in games I either didn't know at all or considered myself quite weak at.
I really like the plan of just sitting down to play whatever seems good at the time. Sometimes there were great conversations I didn't want to end, or just random games going on in the Open Gaming hall. Being stuck on attending a particular game doesn't seem like the right call for me.
More than anything WBC reminded me of my days in the Comfy Lounge at university. Gamers everywhere, all kinds of games available at all times, and so many people that both got along with me and also could push me to be better. A truly happy place, and so good for me.