Barcelona Fri March 30

Woke up and had a terrible breakfast in a jam-packed room. I wanted to wash my clothes but the washing machine for guests was broken. The dry cleaner worked though, so I brought my clothes

Woke up and had a terrible breakfast in a jam-packed room. I wanted to wash my clothes but the washing machine for guests was broken. The dry cleaner worked though, so I brought my clothes into the shower. I really wanted to be clean and tidy for tonight´s game presentation; the clothes I had right now were all stinking to the limit.

As I stood in the shower for the best part of an hour washing the clothes, a lady came in to clean and I got a bit embarrassed since I felt one wasn´t supposed to do what I was doing. After washing I squeeezed the water out of the clothes as hard as I could. Those 2€ dry cleaners never really do their job and I hate travelling with the clothes in a damp mess in the backpack since it makes life so creased and smelly. So I wringed, wriiing wriiing wriiin… OUCH! I had wringed off the skin of my right thumb. Injured by the laundry; I am a professional when it comes to hurting myself. Don´t battle me; I´ll drop my head before you can cut off your finger.

I put all the clothes in the dry cleaner and wore nothing but my towel, which I wrapped around my waist. It was check-out time and since I didn´t want to pay for another night (especially since they had no beds for the next night) I gave them my key and asked for my passport. “We won´t let you out on the street like that” they said, looking at me and my towel like I was insane. “The police would take you.”

After drying my clothes I spent the day walking around looking for the game bar “Queimada”, which was situated in the crossroad of Carrer de la Independencia and Carrer de Provenca. On the way I saw lots of lots of cool architecture.

More pictures. After localizing the bar I skimmed the area for a really cheap hotel and then sat on a terrace waiting for the evening, working on “Nice Weather”. Nice Weather is not the railroad game to end all railroad games. The railroad game to end all railroad games must involve the physical building of railroad tracks; the laying of growing snakes of tiles that crawl out over the plains, connecting desolated cities and bringing them into the blood circulation of the economy. Nice Weather would become too complicated if also featuring this kind of track building. Or would it?

At 7 pm I entered Queimada, took a table and set up my game. I was soon joined by game designer Fran Garea and his friends and we played the Basic version 5 people.

After a while we were interrupted; a game designer was buying champagne to everyone to celebrate the release of his new game; Proxima Obertura. Oops, do I also need to buy people champagne? We were toasting and cheering and looking at the components. The designer was proud.

But for some reason the game wasn´t played. Someone whispered in my ear that this wasn´t Oriol Comas´ best game.

Some of my Seigo players liked the game and started pulling money out of their pockets. I didn´t have any copies yet, but gave them flyers and wished that they´d go to and push the button. Fran Garea took pictures of the game and later entered it into the database Boardgamegeek, the by far most comprehensive database of board games (and also the site I’ve used to find most of the people I´ve met). My game is the second board game ever about the Japanese language, the other being “Kanji Battle”. Seigo has got a significantly higher user rating than Kanji Battle, why I think it is safe to conclude that Seigo is the world´s best strategy game about the Japanese language. A big fish in a rather small aquarium.

After our long sweet Seigo session, they asked how the Advanced and Full versions work and I explained it to them. Then they showed me a historical game about the Reformation, called Here I Stand. Historical games are different since reality has been allowed to heavily influence the design of the game. The players typically play different agents, each with different winning conditions. It is a very special challenge to design a historical game; one has to do careful historic research, face plenty of delicate trade-offs, and the rules tend to become rather heavy and full of tables of the kind that I usually dislike but that´s needed if history is to be somewhat properly illustrated. I don´t think I´ll ever design a historical game but I respect those who do (and those who take the trouble playing them). But I would like someone to design a game on the Great Northern War; I have some ideas that I´d be happy to share with anyone interested.

At the end of this very nice evening I went to settle my bill. We had a little misunderstanding; as a Swede with a phobia about bills I had payed my orders before getting them, but now they wanted me to be Spanish and pay everything afterwards. The bartender got a bilingual person to translate and we sorted it out. Then this English-speaker started talking to me and introduced me to another game designer in the house; Ulric Roth.”Uli” never publishes game for money, but publish them on his website as pdf-files for everyone to download, print out and glue on stiff paper. I explained my Seigo game for him and his friends and they said it was original, that they had never seen a linguistic strategy game before. A young guy came up to our table, had a look at the games and presented himself. “I can´t believe it” he said when Uli told his name. “Is it really you? Wow.” They were all playing his “Fauna” game; children and adults alike. I played it too. I was skeptical at first of course; but I came to like it.

I admired it for being a game that suited small children but yet was challenging and interesting for hardcore adult gamers. The game gave the same kind of playing satisfaction as a good game of Chess, Shogi or XiangQi, but with a well-balanced element of randomness.

I almost got jealous at him for all the people happily playing his game and really enjoying it. After each completed game they gave Uli the results and he wrote it down to later adjust his World Ranking (on which he is number one). If you download Fauna and play it with your friends, send the results by e-mail to Uli and he will put you on the ranking and your way to fame has begun. Among the happy players I met a Dutch girl who had hitchhiked to Barcelona from Amsterdam and would go back by bicycle. We decided to meet up and play board games once I move there.

At 2 am I said goodbye to everyone and took the Metro back to La Rambla. On the way from the metro a Yugoslavian guy started talking to me. He was looking for a hostel where no one answered the phone and recommended me to go with him. Someone had cut a hole in his backpack and taken something out of it and he asked me: “Are you going to stay out tonight in La Rambla? Hahaha, maybe it´s ok now, but at 4-5 am there is only the Urban Scarysomething and if you´re lucky they´ll be satisfied by just taking your stuff. It´s a better deal for you to come with me to this hostel, I don´t want to search for it alone.”

Maybe I would have followed him if he wouldn´t have laughed and given an insane impression in general. But at least he managed to scare me, thanksalot.

At La Rambla I asked around for a pub that would be open all night where I could wait for sunrise. There were clubs open all night, but I wanted a pub where I could sit with my luggage without being a total freak. I got directions to such a pub and went there and ordered a beer and didn´t get any change. I sat there drinking as slowly as possible, staring at the world´s laziest clocks as it dragged the minutes forward. 2:35. 2:36. 2:37

At 3 am they closed, I had been misinformed. I got directions to another place that was supposed to be open; but I wasn´t the only one on the rainy streets; hordes of Spanish and foreign party-animals were hunting for shelter and the doormen didn´t give priority to apparently homeless tight-ass bums. I had been standing for a while under a roof when a drunk man about 24 years old came up with a 10 € bill and asked for change so that he could call his sister, his own cell phone being out of battery.

I had no change and asked him if he knew a pub that was open all night. He took me to the small square where I had spent a miserable 10 minutes the night before. We walked close to the walls to escape some of the rain and every 50 meters he turned around and looked into my eyes to see if I was still there. The square was full of people sitting under roofs drinking beer. But all the establishments there were night clubs with queues of dressed-up people. I asked people on the street if we could borrow their cell phones so that he could call his sister but they said no. Then it struck him that he could put his Spanish sim-card in my Swedish phone and it worked. “They are in a club” he said after talking to her, “I am going there. It´s open till late, you can stay there all night.” We went off to the club. Some gangster-looking people started talking with him and he followed them into a dead-end street and I got a bit anxious, but then he came to his senses and shook his head and smiled and we were out of there. They had tried to sell him something too heavy for his taste. We walked and walked and walked and every now and then he called his sister to ask for directions again and each time he said: “aha, now I know where it is”. I had a feeling that we´d never find the place but I was fine with that; at least I had company. He was working for Citibank and they had had a little party in which he got too drunk and somehow he had lost everyone and spent the rest of the night alone. Now and then he turned his head, looked into my eyes and said “you saved my life”.

We came to some big park that was lined with small artificial canals. We walked down one of them and after a short while someone was shouting and waving at us. It was one of his friends who told us to jump over the canal to his side. My friend tried to make me jump as well; but with my backpack and all I felt it was a 100 % stupid idea. My friend´s friend on the other side made the idea even less appealing by pulling out his little friend and empty all his digested beers and mojitos and pinacoladas in the water. So we walked down along the canal till there was a bridge. Then we were joined by the police who confiscated my friend´s friend´s ID card for emptying his little friend in the canal. There was a heated discussion between my friends and their friends (who were all Portuguese btw) and the police. I hoped that they would just swallow any pride and sincerely apologize, which I would have done, but their persistence payed off – the police handed back the ID card which meant my friend´s friend wouldn´t get any ugly papers in his mailbox the next week.

The club was already closed and we stood waiting for a taxi for a good half an hour till we gave up and started walking. It was my friend, what looked like his girlfriend, his sister and her boyfriend that were walking with me. They wanted to walk me to the Central Station since they could never understand that I was going to hitchhike to Switzerland, and I had to repeatedly assure them that any commuter train station would be perfect for me. Finally we made it to “Arc de Triomf” station and there we took pictures of ourselves, I said “Obrigado”, bought some kind of ticket and went on the platform.

It was an hour to the next train, yet it was full of people. Everyone was freezing like me. When the train arrived I got on and continued freezing. I woke up at Montcada, my station, but it was still completely dark and it looked so cold outside that I fell asleep again. Someone woke up me up at the endstation and I found the train back and fell asleep again.

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