London Calling

Last weekend I was bestowed the honor of being invited to BenCon. BenCon has annals going back over a decade, though for some reason it had flown under my radar until about a week earlier, when I got a message from Ben Twitchen of The Brothers of Fire.

BenCon is quite simply a small gathering of friends at Ben's place in the countryside of northern London. The plan was to gather for Magic and board games, and wash it down with home made cider and local ale. So when Ben sent me a message on Facebook describing the event and wondering if I had the opportunity to join before parenthood would kick in, I was quick to order plane tickets. The crew this year would then consist of myself, Brother Ben, Brother Jonas, Brother Oli, and Brother Stebbo. Three people I've met before at n00bcon, as well as a new face.
This is an amazing thing I can't help underscore yet again. Before BenCon these were guys that I'd - at most - met twice during Magic tournaments, and yet I had an intense sense of friendship with them. A pair of actual brothers, one of their childhood friends, and one of their old roommates. And me. And it didn't feel remotely weird or like I wasn't part of the gang. Play the game, meet the world.

I will not delve too deep into my journal this time, but rather let pictures speak more than my words.
Brother's Highlander with the Brothers Twitchen. Watch out for that Torsten von Ursus. Also watch out for that bottle of beer.
Friday dinner with Oli and the lady of the house. Traditional English Asian food.
So much synergy going on around here. Oli almost got the best of Adventure Island despite my broken opener, but the Black Knights are looking bleak now.
The house guests for BenCon '18: Mg, Oli, Jonas and Stebbo.
Brother Stebbo joins in for a five-player pentagon match.
With a long week behind me I manage to sleep past noon on Saturday. I was still treated to proper English break fast once I emerged. 
Overslept the Scythe game. Looks intricate.
Compensate a lack of Scythe with some bonding with Gatsby the dog. Lively fellow.
The sun and reasonable weather haven't left the UK yet. A rare sight in October for us from Oslo.
Walking to the local pub.
Blatantly British and brilliant ambience. I have no idea why we haven't adopted this kind of open pub culture in Scandinavia.
No Magic in the pub though. We don't want to get nerd-bashed.
Next game up is Colonel Twitchen's Jam Kitchen. Was surprised to learn it was made by Jonas. Fantastic game.
Jonas, Stebbo, Oli and Mg. Making jams. After a super tight game where a stuck thermostat prevented both Oli and myself from taking home the £11 needed to secure victory, Ben managed to emerge with the win.
Next challenge was Seven Wonders. Never tried that one before either. Jonas demolished the field by focusing on drafting culture.
A photogenic gang.
Back at the Twitchen Manor for some more Brother's Highlander. Jonas keeps his streak going from Seven Wonders, and the Pentagram style victory is split between the two of us.
 I got to summon a Force of Nature with Spirit Link. That was gas. 
As night approaches, brother Stebbo digs out some awesome surprises.
Sealed booster box and starters of first edition Jyhad! Jyhad (later renamed Vampire: The Eternal Struggle) was designed in 1994 by Richard Garfield and initially published by Wizards of the Coast. It was the second Deckmaster release, and the third CCG ever created. Old school gaming if I ever saw it. After about twenty minutes trying to read up on the rules, we however had to submit that it was a little too complicated to get into while slightly drunk and with zero experience between us. So the box was left intact, and hopefully we'll have another go at it in the future when we have studied the intricacies of the game a little more.
So we cracked a box of Unstable for drafting instead. Managed to 4-0 the table with a four-color durdle deck that won with the instantly classic Zombified/Ordinary Horse/Clocknapper combo.
The final game of Brother's Highlander into the night. Witch Hunter is gas. Also, beware of the drinks ;)
I am highly uncertain of how (or if) the final score was calculated, but apparently the back of my Unstable win had me receiving this gem. A glorious prize, which I will cherish dearly.
Thanks for a wonderful weekend Ben! And to Jonas, Oli and Stebbo of course. Proper Magic this gathering.