Good times were had and thanks to my besties for joining me on another wonderful weekend.
I had two complaints about some of our previous mancation events:
1) There are two types of ManCations: a) Co-Op PvE sessions and b) massive MP LAN Parties. In the past we have done both but lately we seem to have found ourselves in an odd position. Co-Op games are best with 4 people while LAN Parties are best with > 10 (5v5 or larger matches). However, we seem to have settled on rough 6 which makes it difficult. The argument was 'we can just break into two groups' but I feel like that defeats the purpose of playing a 4 player Co-Op PvE. This year, we went back to the traditional 4 members and the weekend was exactly as I remember them. Insane amount of gaming and a fantastic times were had!
2) We have turned into Hens. ManCations have become more social and less gaming focused. While it's great to socialize with my closest (and oldest) of friends, ManCation is all about the freedom of being a man! No kids, no wives, just beer, margaritas, junk food, far and belch contests and very VERY immature jokes all while playing our brains out in video games! The essence of Man without the rules of life keeping us marriage worthy or employment material. This was also addressed this year and I do believe it was because we went back to 4 people. Schedules, meals, games, everything was MUCH easier to coordinate.
While this mancation was every amount of success that I remember the past events to be, I am sad that not everyone was able to attend. There was discussion of someone else hosting the next event, perhaps that is the opportunity to keep things at 4 people but allowing for some variance of attendees (or maybe a MP focused LAN Party event).
There were three primary games played this weekend: GloomHaven, Supreme Commander 2, and OVERKILL's The Walking Dead. All three were a lot of fun at various levels. Here's a quick review of what went on within each:
I had a small taste of this at Geekend and I wanted more. So I went out and got my own copy thinking I would play it with Markenin while he was living with me temporarily. Life happened and he move into a new place before we had a chance to get started. So I saved it for ManCation and crossed my fingers that everyone, mostly Cleaner, would enjoy it enough to play some. The game turned out to be a huge hit for us and we played 30+ hours of this game over the 3 days (maybe a slight exaggeration, but it sure felt like 30 hours). This is easily the best dungeon crawler board game I have played in a LONG time and it brought back OLD memories of Hero's Quest from my childhood days. I am VERY much looking forward to making more progress in the world of Goomhaven. Our progress is being tracked here.
Our parties map progress after the first weekend:MCF18 GloomMap.jpg
As epic of a time as always. We played MANY hours of this game like we do at every ManCation event. Our games almost always use the following match settings:
Here's the twich link which will only be up for a few days but I can post to youtube if there are requests. Highlight: Drac carries teammates in (3 vs 3 Cheating AI's)
This was an interesting game for us over the weekend. The team loaded up the game and threw ourselves at defeat for a few hours before giving up on the first mission. A while later, I tried it solo and had no issues completing the first mission. The second mission was very similar with a lot of defeat and an eventual success.
The game does not allow much room for mistakes and the normal difficulty requires a fair amount of 'should I do this now or later' type of scenarios that determine how fast the difficulty ramps up within the level. These choices are much easier when solo because you can recover and control the number of mistakes made. It gets more interesting with a party, however, because a few little mistakes quickly add up. There is an advantage in playing solo which allows for those mistake controls. But having multiple party members also means more group variety in which shortcuts can be taken (one person brings lock picks while another bring wire cutters, ect...). Having that variety in the party changes the path through each map and can have a direct impact on the number of zombies the party travels through, and thus the amount of potential noise the party makes.
In the end, the group enjoyed playing the game once we figured out how the game mechanics work. The tutorial was mostly worthless and it took a lot of trial and error before we figured out what you should, and should not, do within a given map. I, for one, really enjoyed the difficulty but this game will most likely become the friendship breaker if I continue playing with my group of 'run and gun' friends who don't seem to fully understand the concept of 'stealth mode.'
When is Drac actually going to stream this like promised every year?!
It is true, every year I plan to stream this. Every year I spend more money than I should and every year I don't. It's tough being a perfectionist and streaming is not kind to me because of it... I want it to be right and of high quality or it's not worth doing for me. Here's what I did this year and where I found myself falling short again:
First, the setup. As you can see in the GloomHaven picture (above) I made a LOT of room in my basement for a board game. That was the easy part. Next was audio and video.
My desktop is not near those tables which presented a slight challenge. Even if it was, the table spread is too far for much of my audio and video setup. I went to Amazon to solve the simple problem of distance.
For Audio, I picked up a Monoprice 103597 Audio Extender over Cat5e Cable. This actually worked great by allowing me to setup mic's on each end of the table; with the far end using the extender. I also picked up a Wireless Microphone System for those of us that can't sit still while gaming.
Audio Issue: The problem I ran into was the fact that I was using plastic portable tables. It just so happens that anytime you touched, move, or bounded your chair into the table; the audio system would pick it up and it caused a lot of 'bump' feedback. I tested this for a bit allowing the ambient noise through my speakers (using a noise canceler - Behringer Shark FBQ100 - to prevent feedback) but the determination was that the bumping was VERY annoying.
Audio Future Solution: Develop a microphone stand that forms around the table instead of being mounted to the table.
Video was another interesting challenge. I started with the same concept of using a USB Extender over CAT5e for two USB cameras that would get mounted to a wood beam over the game table. I was going to stitch the two cameras together so everyone could see the entire game board (but not the people).
Video Issue: The extender did not deliver as promised, however, and OBS had a very difficult time getting anything to work. Sometimes one camera would be live, sometime the other, but most of the time there was nothing. It was an odd issue since Skype had zero issues picking up either camera. I decided to try something different with some basic USB Extenders over Ethernet but by the time it was here we were already deep into gaming. I wasn't about to put ManCation on hold at this point.
Video Future Solution: I need to get my new extenders in place and test them out. I also want to get at least one more camera so everyone can see the people and not only the game board. Communication is only 6% vocal and there's too much lost when you can not see us acting like id10t's in the background (you know, acting out our characters actions). It would also be good to work this into the same solution as the Microphones.
This was more of a gripe of mine than a problem. I brought down a TV and threw my XBOX on it so we could see Chat during the game. But the xbox really isn't the right tool to pull up chat for Twitch streaming. It would be OK if we were on Mixer, but that's not where everyone is. I think the solution here is very simple. Dust off one of my Raspberry Pi's, connect it to the TV and throw up a chat pop out (or Chatty).
I'm working to get a deep sink installed in the basement. This will give me the availability to setup my chili pot in the basement where we can do another future cooking stream. Also, Jerky! (which needs the sink to drain all of the marinade).
As always, head over to the PAS Discord and hit me up in my channel if you have any comments: