Posted on another forum (which shall remain nameless) and cross-posted with the permission of StrontyGirl the original author:
Just back from the first The Circle, the women's gaming days at Mongoose Publishing's offices in Swindon.
Swindon is an easy trip for me, and despite the best efforts of rail companies (train cancellation on the Saturday, train platform alteration bingo on the Sunday) I got there both days without much hassle. There's a local bus from the station to just across the road from Mongoose's offices. Or if you want to walk it is about 20 minutes. Wargamers regularly use one room in the offices, so there are lots of big tables permanently set up and plenty chairs. The wargaming terrain had been cleared from several of these (nicely spaced apart) for RPGs, or we could have grabbed the comfy sofas around a coffee table. Through on the other side of the building there were tables for boardgaming, a TV for videogaming and a games library. There is also a 'tuck shop' to buy sweets, cans of drink, etc and the Mongoose staff offered free tea and coffee throughout the weekend.
Saturday. Arrived a bit early, was given a brief guide to the layout then went into the RPG area and chatted to people until folks had gathered and the RPGs officially started. The Traveller game was full to bursting. The two other RPGs were me running Dr Who and a lady running Bluestockings (GMless and about the first women to go to Oxford University) has 3 players each. Not sure what was going on the boardgaming in the morning, as I never went thru there beyond saying hello to the lady in charge of that area.
Dr Who was as innovative and silly as it usually is. They discovered that the aliens were disguising themselves as TV personalities and had clothing which was really part of their flesh, so there was lots of 'accidentally' grabbing David Attenborough's sleeve, or tripping and bumping into Blue Peter presenters in nightclubs. Solutions to everything from murder to bureaucratic aliens was done by negotiation and striking deals. In the end they decided they liked one set of aliens so much, moved into the colony they'd built in a suburb of Leeds!
The Traveller game continued into the afternoon, but most of us from the two other RPGs went to the boardgame area to play Firefly. It was quite slow at first, until we realised that lots of cards from an expansion were in the deck and the reason we weren't finding jobs we could do was because those planets weren't on the map! I came within a hair's breadth of winning but got eaten by the Reavers. There was only one card in the deck which would enable the next player to win - and she drew it!
Sunday. Lots of folk from the Saturday had mentioned that they couldn't do the Sunday because it was Mother's Day and family stuff took precedence. So there were only really enough of us for one game. Options were discussed (e.g. we couldn't play the Traveller RPG on offer because someone had done the scenario the day before). We decided to do a boardgame called Epic Galaxies (or Tiny Epic Galaxies?). I'd thought that would be fast and we'd do some RPGing afterwards, but the box lied and it took over 2.5 hours, not the 30-45 minutes it claimed. The fact that only one person had played it before and they forgot to tell us one of the main rules may not have helped!
We decided to give up on the afternoon session because (a) one of the staff had fallen ill and was resolutely trying to stay and give us more gaming fun, but anyone with common sense was telling her "No, you need to go home"; and (b) someone had to leave early to catch a train/coach. Chatting with the Mongoose staffers, they were thinking that a one day event would probably be more sensible for next time. Hardly anyone there on Sunday was also the experience at Concord in Bristol a couple of weeks before. Perhaps we south-west gamers just have too much else going on on a Sunday?
There was another post which described the event as “small” but I don’t yet have permission to lift that one for cross posting.