Local News

Carnage comes to Killington

By Stephen Seitz

KILLINGTON – No, there isn’t blood on the snow. Carnagecon, now in its second year at Killington Mountain Resort, brings game enthusiasts together for a weekend of gaming, socializing, and general fun, Nov. 7-9.

The annual convention began in 1998 at the Radisson Inn in West Lebanon, N.H., and has grown steadily ever since, outgrowing both Mount Ascutney and Lake Morey Resort.  Organizers estimated between 600 and 700 gamers attended this year.

“The hotel is full already,” said Tom Dorman, one of the  organizers.

Hartland resident Chuck Davis, another organizer, said Killington provided the ideal venue for the event.

“We do this in early November because after the leaf peepers go home, there are plenty of hotel rooms available,” Davis said. “It’s also before ski season. We looked at the number of available rooms, and a venue that’s easily accessible. It’s easy to get to Killington. People have been coming here for years.”

If there is a game for it, it can probably be found at Carnagecon. This year featured a war games room, a kids-only room, games based on science fiction, Westerns (the main theme this year), and epic fantasy. Between role-playing games and board games, there appeared to be something for just about everybody.

Davis said there was no particularly hot game this year, although “Dungeons and Dragons” has a new version that’s proving popular.

“There are all sorts of board games,” he said. “Some people have painted miniature soldiers down to exquisite detail.”

Sports were well represented, too. Leo Gallant, of Gardner, Mass., is a devoted Red Sox fan, and he replicated Fenway Park on a small scale in board game form. The game uses regular playing cards and dice to advance the game.

“The baseball part of this can be as competitive as any board game there is,” said Gallant. “I’ve built trajectory into the game, which is how we know where the ball goes. It’s been a pleasure, and I’ve enjoyed sharing it. One player told me, ‘I’ve got to build Yankee Stadium now,’” Gallant said, adding, he got the idea from playing with a fellow gamer who wondered why there didn’t seem to be any good baseball board games.

“He said, ‘We can move troops and shoot cannons, so why can’t we make a decent baseball game?’, so I decided to do it,” Gallant explained.

Player Susan Zwick came to the event from Northfield, while Ryan Billado came from Swanton.

“Some friends in St. Albans dragged me into it,” Billado said, “and I decided to come back this year. It’s a long haul, but worth it.”

“I’ve been coming for at least four years,” Zwick said. “It’s just so much fun.”

Zwick said she enjoyed the card game of “Munchkins.” Despite the benign name, the game is actually about slaying monsters as messily as possible and outwitting opponents and, sometimes, your allies.

Billado said he enjoyed “Dungeons and Dragons.”

Contrary to the popular stereotype of gamers as obsessed teenage nerds who seldom leave their parents’ basement, most of those attending were adults, and a number of them women. Attorney Kristen Wood came from Barre. She said she sees the games as a learning experience.

“They work your mind,” she said. “I like thinking about solving problems. They’re also fun, and very social. I met my fiancée by playing games.”

Events like Carnagecon also provide an opportunity to seek out and try new games. Griggling Games came in from Woodstock, N.Y. They publish a popular World War II board game titled “Quartermaster General,” and will soon have a game called “Santa’s Bag,” for children. In it, players are elves making toys for Santa.

“We’re a game design company,” said Karen Weston-Brody, “and we go to a lot of conventions.”

Weston-Brody said her husband is the chief game designer; she met him while playing the World War II game, “Axis and Allies.”

“I wasn’t much of a gamer before we met,” she said, “but I am now.”

For more information, visit www.carnagecon.com.

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