BALTICON 46 and Cosmic Encounters

Another Memorial Day, another BALTICON

We got our all day pass from Audrey and departed for a day trip to BALTICON 46 on Saturday, held at the Hunt Valley Inn near Towson, MD.  Balticon is the science fiction convention put on over the long Memorial Day weekend by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society.   This is a generalist convention, without a real theme, just a love of science fiction and fantasy literature.  As such, it attracts a ton of writers and hopeful writers and there are many events designed to assist or show off science fiction writers.  Signings and readings take up a huge part of every day.   The highlight of the convention (for many) are the masquerades– a Steampunk ball Friday night and a more conventional Masquerade Saturday.  The highlight for ME is the film festival on Sundays, but that wasn’t in the cards this year.

The usual silliness prevailed with costuming.  This is a pastime that doesn’t float my boat but it surely does for a majority of conventioneers.   I’m not an old fogey about costumes, they make people happy and add to the wacky appeal to SF conventions.   There were even some costumes I thought were outstanding, like Mr. Robot Monster (above).

I performed a decent raid on the dealer’s room and picked up about five books from various vendors.  More to follow on that.   I told Gar that I would purchase a reasonably priced book for him for attending with me and he got a book of Geekly aphorisms.  I also picked up OZ FLUXX from Looney Labs.

I got into one panel discussion, which was excellent in itself, about Podcasting:

I was reasonably outspoken at this one, having dabbled in the art myself from time to time and was kind of shocked to realize the paucity of information exchanged on this topic. Virtually nobody in the room had heard of Starship Sofa, for instance, or Penn’s Sunday School, or even SFF Audio, the Stitcher app and Hufferduffer. Go figure! So I babbled for a bit and got some good leads for new things to listen to. One of the authors on the panel posited that over reliance on a very narrow field of audio programming related to a hobby or such was dangerous, as it only shows us a narrow range of the world. I reacted that there are many people that get their news just from just FOX or CNN or something, and that’s hardly unique. I enjoyed this panel, and wished there was more time to participate in more of them.

Links to Podcast, Podcast Novels, and resources in this panel:

We nipped for dinner at the local Wegman’s Market. This is is a great choice for a meal, as we each could get a little bit of anything for dinner.

BALTICON TRADITION: The Big Cosmic Encounter Game..

The cover of the current edition of Cosmic Enc...
The cover of the current edition of Cosmic Encounter, from Fantasy Flight Games. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On our way back we broke out the best game in the known Universe, COSMIC ENCOUNTER.  Usually we have about 5 or 6 playing this game at Balticon, this year it was just Jerod (our guest), Garrett, and I.  We played two games of the short version (four planets) and then had to beat feet for home as 8 PM loomed.

We only played two games of the short variant with reduced planets back to back. This game proved to be very popular with Jerod, our guest. His comment was “Let’s play this game every week, okay?”

In our first game I was the Philanthropist, who depletes his deck by handing out dross from his hand to other players.  Gar was the Shadow, and frankly, we weren’t sure how to play this one.    (Drawing a blank on Jerod’s first alien).

In the second match:

Garrett’s Alien from the SECOND game, FIDO, wreaked havoc on the game and was difficult to overcome. Especially if he is teaming up against a third player and there is a 30 in the deck. Trouble!
Jerod’s character for the second game, REMORAH, also was difficult to overcome, as he tag-teamed with Gar. Essentially he was getting a new card every turn, though he rarely remembered to bust his ships out of the warp.
My first time as THE REINCARNATOR. A fascinating power. If you lose a challenge, you can come back as a different alien.
Reincarnation 1 was THE HACKER, which is a power I only used a couple times, as it didn’t have a lot of value stacked up against the REMORAH and ROVER.
Later in the game I reincarnated as THE PACIFIST. This is a fun alien power, that essentially allows you to play challenges with a NEGOTIATE card.  I used this one to great effect in the second game.

Making the final push:

Sometimes it does come down to a game this close…

The short version is I won both times, but not by a cakewalk. We had a great time, and had to depart afterward, as it was getting late.

Thank you to all the organizers of BALTICON, a thoroughgoing professional and literary Science Fiction convention.  Until next year!

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