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RailCon '97 Review

It was an amazing thing that anyone showed up for RailCon this year--after a change of venue, a move to time three weeks later than the past years, I was surprised that anyone could find the convention much less attend! But attend they did and RailCon proceeded with its usual high degree of competition.

The TactiCon/RailCon `97 marriage was a happy one, to say the least. RailCon attendees were given a ballroom to themselves where we happily played train games for four days. When we tired or wanted a bit of a change of scenery, we could browse through the Exhibitors Area or attend one of the auctions. We could eat on site or walk to one of the nearby eateries. We had eight hundred other gamers to mingle with and several of our gamers played traitors more than once when they actually went and played in a non-train game event. Because TactiCon allowed 24 gaming in its main areas, I was finally allowed to close down the RailCon `97 room at the reasonable hour of 12:30 in the morning. This made for a kinder, gentler Heather in the morning as many RailCon attendees can attest.

The schedule, once again from suggestions of last year's attendees, was tweaked somewhat. While we continued to keep the featured events as in last year, we also added two open or potpourri time slots to allow competitors to "catch" up on categories they missed or attained low scores in. In all probability, we will also add two floating events to the schedule next year. We will take two of the shorter games such as Express or Streetcar and make them the designated "pick-up" games of the convention. What that will mean for gamers will be when they finish the scheduled event for that time slot, they may play these games as a way to pass the time between scheduled events and to improve their scores in these categories.

That is not to say that the TGA is reversing its policy on "pick-up" games at RailCon. We still feel that the best test of a player's ability is that one time game against players of like ability, not the continuous play of the same game until the desired score is attained.

Team play went somewhat differently this year. I took the top-ranked TGA players (by points attained through the last twelve months) and made them team captain. I then assigned an additional Masters level player to each team and then two Open players to round out teams of four. We will modify this format for RailCon `98 but keep the same basic premise since it seemed to be a popular format. One suggestion for a change seems attractive to me: Take the top two scores for each team so as to prevent the team with the top Iron Man competitor from running away with the event.

RailCon `97 is always more than a glorified Puffing Billy® Tournament for me. In past years, Kris and I have joined the Rail Tour and there has been a party atmosphere to the proceedings both before and after the convention. This year we didn't sponsor a tour but we did invite many of the train gamers that we know personally to come a few days early or to stay a few days late so that we might socialize with them. This year, we attended not one, but two, Rockies games, took friends to eat Sushi and enjoyed the TGA Banquet Saturday night. It is these things more than anything else that make RailCon `97 an event for train gamers rather than just another convention. Next year, why don't you plan on joining us on our week long enjoyment of train games and gamers alike.

I would like to thank everyone who attended and especially those people who in whatever form added their effort and support to the proceedings. I would especially like to thank Dave Lionett whose unflagging support and input have reminded me that my efforts do make a difference. For Jeff and Ken, big hugs--their warm fuzzies keep me laughing. For Mike and John, your sane company and criticism helps me to keep RailCon on track (no pun intended or was it?). And a big, heartfelt thanks to Donna Balkan who was the only person not attending who was still there in spirit. She took the time to put together our new awards certificate which I feel added greatly to the winners' enjoyment of the convention. Next year, I hope to have a participation certificate for every gamer who attends RailCon `98 (hint, hint). I want to thank my sister, Stephanie, and my dear friend, Dyan, who if nothing else beautified the surroundings. A change especially appreciated by RailCon attendees (no seriously, their competency and unflagging help were invaluable.

It is not too early to be thinking about making plans to attend RailCon `98. Our convention, yours and mine, continues to grow and refine itself so that it is truly the premier event for any serious train gamer to attend.

Until we meet again over the gaming table--take care and keep in touch!


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The contents of this Web Site are copyright © 1998 by The Train Gamers Association, Inc. All rights reserved. Designed by Scott Lininger. Last modified Tuesday, 16-Jun-1998 12:38:47 CDT .