November 8th, 2005


Board Game Geek Con Report

Board Game Geek Con technically started on Thursday, but I got there late Friday. Voting, an appointment, and helping do a little housework took up most of the day. I was expecting to do a lengthy search for the other Browncoats (Ryan had organized a group of us going to the con, so that's the only was I was going to find my room). As it turned out I saw them about two minutes after walking into the building. They formed teams for the big trivia game. sadie_burdock08 and I watched for a few minutes but couldn't get a decent view from the back so I bailed.

Registration was giving away free games with every membership. I got to pick from the yellow game table. Didn't see anything that truly appealed to me, so I picked Zombies. A hundred glow in the dark zombie figures will be useful in an RPG sooner or later . . .

Went over to the main game room where Todd, Dave, and Simon were looking for a fourth for their table. They were starting a game of Andromeda, an abstract trading game with a space-merchant theme. This was a classic German game, where you can tell the designer started with a game mechanic first and at the very end came up with a story to bolt onto it. (The American approach is typically to have a story/conflict and invent a mechanic that lets you play it out. That's more to my taste, as long as the mechanics aren't too unbearable) It was a fun game (winning always helps with that) but I don't think I'll be picking it up. To keep with the theme I introduced them to Empyrean and then Simon ran us through his prototype stock market game. We did a game of Keep Flying, but it didn't go over well (it is awfully low-strategy for that crowd). That took us to after midnight and I turned in.

Saturday I hooked up with Ryan again and we got a demo of Dungeon Twister. He's buying it so I'm sure we'll be playing it at some upcoming Shindig. I also got a demo of Hunting Party, of which more below. Ryan dug some games out of the con's Game Library. The oddest was Polarity, which arcbatand shadeau_jed played for a while. The publisher stopped by and helped with a rule question, then Ryan took over shadeau_jed's spot. The game consists of arranging poker-chip size magnets over the board. If you position one just right it will sit tilted up next to another magnet, like this: /_. Then you'd use a third magnet to separate them laying flat on the board. I couldn't get that move down at all.

In the afternoon I got in on a game of Euphrat and Tigris, which I'd played once at Ryan's place. That's a game I really like, the story drives the mechanics of it well (see, I'm not prejudiced against German game designers, just abstract games). I'm figuring out how to play it (finished 2nd of four). This made up a bit for missing out on an Advanced Civilization game. By the time I came in the room they had eight players on the table and the owner was explaining the trade rules (wrongly, as I later verified with my copy). Sigh. I'd thought of organizing a sign-up for it on the board before the con, but given celticdragonfly's condition there was too big a chance of me having to bail out to take care of her.

Back in the dealer's room Ryan got me, brigand13, and arcbat in on a demo game of the four-player version of Dungeon Twister. That was fun since it's a lot less predictable with opponents coming at you from any direction. We had to cut it short since the room was closing to set up for the poker tournament. Sigh. See, the magic items for each player are distributed through the dungeon waiting to be picked up. I'd managed to snag three of the four fireball wands, which are both the only ranged weapon and the only guaranteed kill weapon in the game. So my mage was wandering about with his wand, followed by the thief and cleric holding the other two. For some strange reason the other three players were all clustered together on the other side of the board. So I never got to do "Zap! You're dead! Oh, caddy, my number two wand, please." I don't know if that would have been a winning strategy but I knew I'd enjoy it.

We retired to the far gaming room and set up with some games from the library. arcbat ran away with Cave Troll, another dungeon crawl game. Not sure what I think of it--I like the basic concept but couldn't grasp it well enough to know how well I was doing. Next was Pueblo. See above complaint about German games. There was a bit of handwaving about Indians building a town and a chieftan, but it's simply an exercise in fitting together 3D shapes while hiding some of the in the middle. Given my engineering background, not a hard puzzle for me. Another game I won but wouldn't want.

Then I suggested going back to the dungeon theme by getting Hunting Party. The Seaborn Games folks had put a copy in the game library and we were first to check it out. The manual's nicely done. We didn't have any trouble figuring out the rules. Since we had four players and the game's optimized for three the rules said two players had to share a set of prophecy cards. Share? In this crowd? We created a house rule that with four players each would get two cards and the extra one would be public. Yes, we broke the shrinkwrap and created a house rule without reading the whole rulebook first. "Geek" is in the name of the con. Ben (one of the designers) wandered by, helped us with another rule problem, and said he thought the house rule would work pretty well. arcbat won decisively by using the Bounty Hunter's special power. Fun game, one I'd want to play again.

Then it was time to play Werewolf. It's a sick and twisted game. I was one of the first ones lynched, but I had a flamboyant death. It's fun. Holly arrived late in the game and joined in the next one, which hopefully bodes well for minimizing drama. The first game's moderator was Stephan, who'd given us the Dungeon Twister demos. His French accent was lovely for helping us get into the "medieval peasant village" mindset. Between games Holly mentioned to Ben that I'd done a Firefly game, and he wanted to see it. I got it from the room, but we decided to not do a demo until after Werewolf (ie, tomorrow). I was in two or three more games of Werewolf. You can see us in a game here. All of them had over twenty people, so even with a five minute time limit on each day's debate I was up past four in the morning. Clearly time to turn in. Past time. The rest of the Browncoats grabbed seats for the next game. I headed back to the hotel.

I woke up 9am-ish. Possibly by brigand13 and arcbat coming back in . . . they were totally zonked when I was done with my shower. I'd considered trying to get up an Advanced Civilization game, but that would kill any chance of showing Keep Flying to Ben, so I went over to the dealer room instead. Looked over some games, then played a game of Keep Flying with him and Renee. Short game, but they enjoyed it. It's a good game for fans of the show.

I got in a couple more games before the con closed. Elasund is in the Catan family. You compete to build up a city, trying to make the most impressive contribution. There's a couple of different winning strategies. I'd originally intended to grab some of the bonus-point locations in the city, but everyone had that idea and I wound up almost completely shut out. So I was left with nothing to do but build nifty stuff in random places. Which eventually added up because the other three players were so busy trashing each other no one blew up my buildings. One of the other players remarked afterwards "It's a well balanced game. We were all in the lead at different times." I replied, "I was only in the lead once." "Yeah--at the end." Not a bad strategy as it turned out. After that I played Cartagena with sadie_burdock08 and shadeau_jed. You can see us playing here. Very abstract, but quick enough to be good fun.

I saw a couple of guys stacking up the counters of Merchant of Venus and asked "Are you just starting?" Nope, just finishing. Shucks. That's one I lust for. I think I'd enjoy playing it and I'd want the map for RPG stuff.

Ran into Ben and the other Seaborn Games folks as they were packing up, and they gifted me with one of the defective copies of Hunting Party. Having unsanded share tokens doesn't interfere with the game by my standards, so I'm thrilled to have it.

The Browncoats got together for lunch before heading out. And of course we had to play one more game, so Ryan dug out Colossal Arena. That was fun once I figured out how to play. That took a few rounds though. Then I staggered off home.

I'm still not caught up on sleep and housework.