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Roger's BGG.Con 2012 - "Meeples need not apply"
"L'état, c'est moi."
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Wow, another BGG.Con has come and gone. It's funny how experience changes over time, because this year was my least structured and planned BGG.Con (and I know that some of you reading this are going to laugh at that!), and although I probably didn't get any more sleep than I have in years past, this year it was as important for me to spend time with the friends I've made over the years as to get gaming in. This is no doubt reflected in the play list being the shortest it's been in all the times I've been.



This year's geeklist title is taken from one of the buttons made every year and handed out for free by the very kind gracious and generous Greg Schmittgens.

Greg Schmittgens
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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The "Meeples need not apply" button was perfect, especially as it had three of my favourite games on it!

The con moved to a new venue this year, and all I can say is that the move was seamless. The con grew about 75% this year, and the main Enterprise ballroom was as big as the entire con space at the Westin. More on that later!

Here's what I played (in alphabetical order)

Combat Commander: Europe x1
Crown of Roses x2
EastFront II x1
Fleet x1
Friedrich x1
The Great Zimbabwe x1
Here I Stand x1
Imperial x1
Love Letter x1
Napoleon's Triumph x1
Pacific Typhoon x2
Redshirts x1
Steam x1
Ticket to Ride x1
Unhappy King Charles! x1
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1. Board Game: American Airlines Travel Game [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
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Tuesday - before the con

After last year's debacle with United, I booked with American Airlines this year. Although I could have flown on points with United, AA has a non-stop flight from Vancouver to DFW, and it conveniently arrives at terminal D. The new con venue is at terminal C. It seemed like a no brainer.

I gotta say, a 4 hour trip is way way way better than having two flights with a layover. I'll definitely be doing it again next year. AA FTW.
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2. Board Game: Fleet [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:469]
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Tuesday - before the con

I'd heard of this game in passing, and after the obligatory walk around the new hotel and checking out where everything was, Jonathan and I ran into our friend Kris who taught us this great little game.

The best description that came to mind for me was "Power Grid the card game" in terms of the sequence of play and how things work together.

This one went straight to the buy list.
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3. Board Game: Friedrich [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:274]
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Tuesday - before the con

Players: Sean (Friedrich), Jonathan (Austria), Kent (Russia), me (France)

This year the fearsome foursome were reunited, and we got 7 event cards into the game before Kent managed to secure the win.

My French took their shot but couldn't push Friedrich off the final fortress I needed, and that was with 75 points of hearts! Austria tried too but got crushed. Then Russia managed to eke out the final space.

This is a beautiful four player game, and it's just a shame I can't get it to the table between cons. This annual event is one of the highlights of the con for me.

Yes, there were two Friedrich games going on side by side.

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4. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:84]
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Wednesday - still just before the con

The lineup seemed to start later this year, but we managed to get relatively close to the front. Mind you, I was also there far earlier than I had been in years past.

Gerry had his iPad with him, so he and Jonathan and I had a pass-and-play game of TTR with the 1910/mega tickets option.

I have the TTR app on my iPhone and it's been my most used game app by far.
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5. Board Game: Free Choice [Average Rating:6.20 Unranked]
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Wednesday - right after registration

This year all attendees got FOUR free games. And there was quite a selection. I can't honestly even remember them all, but there were four groupings and so you got one from shelf A, one from shelf B and so on.

Here's what I picked:



Of the four, I passed the first two on as they were not going to fit in my suitcase home. Zombie State went thanks to a friend who had a table in the flea market, and New York I passed on to my friend Nikki for future considerations - lunch and a beer at BGG.Con 2013.
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6. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:476]
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Wednesday

Players: Jonathan, me, John and Santino. I forgot to write down the name of the very nice person who taught us the game in the hot games room, but thank you for teaching me. It made it a lot easier than having to do it cold from the rules.

This game was a heartbreaker for me.

I really liked the game, but I couldn't justify the $120 price tag. For starters, the components just weren't good enough, especially the cards (and I'm a wargamer who's quite used to hearing about components in wargames being "just a paper map and some cardboard counters").

The main reason is that it just was not going to see enough table time. I know my gaming groups well enough to know that it just was not going to happen for me. This is a game that needs dedication and reasonably frequent play.

I told the very fine folks at the Funagain store them I was fully prepared to take the copy they had on hold for me at the con, but they were extremely gracious and kind and let me cancel my pre-order.
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7. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:189]
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Wednesday

Players: me, Scott, Rusty, Chad, and Chris

I was on the French side with Chad and Scott, and Rusty and his confrere were the Allies. The game came down to the final turn of the scenario with the Allies inflicting a morale loss on the French. Well played Allies!

The team game of NT is one of the best games on the planet. Well and truly. There's simply nothing like handing off some corps and independent commands to your next in command and watching them do exactly not what you wanted them to do! laugh
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8. Board Game: Unhappy King Charles! [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:779]
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Wednesday

Players: Scott and I

Scott conceded the game about a turn into the middle war when it was clear that I was going to be able to finish the siege of Newcastle as well as seize the final industrial centres on the map which would in turn prevent him from recruiting any more troops. Unhappy King Charles indeed.
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9. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:50]
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Wednesday late

Players: Chris and I

Although it was already late and almost midnight, I texted Chris and he was all over playing a game of CC:E with me. We pulled out one of the Sea Lion scenarios I'd brought along, and we played the one called "Beneath a Steel Sky".

For most of the game the Germans could not get a break and had a hard time moving. Then a corridor opened on the right and hey managed to take objective 4 just before timne ended the game with the vp at 2 for the Germans. We finished our game at 2:30am, which was worth every minute!


I really need to upgrade my iPhone to the 4S so that I can take better pictures.
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10. Board Game: Here I Stand [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:83]
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Thursday - 8am

Yes, you read that right, 8am. robot To steal my friend and roomate Jono's line, on a scale of 0 to I stayed up way too late last night, it was a solid 7. laugh

Players: me (Hapsburgs), Jonathan (England), Scott (French), Marty (Protestants), Chris (Ottomans), Justin (Papacy).

This was our longest game yet in the four years we'd played, which is rather ironic given we'd decided after the past two years of splitting it over two mornings that we'd just do it in one sitting. The game went from 8am to 6pm. robot

Everyone played well, and we had minimal interruptions (we decided to break for lunch at the same time as the virtual flea market meetup happened). The game went deep into turn 7 and ended with the Papacy reigning supreme.

I think there's a strong case to split this again next year though - I think the pack up/set up time cost is worth it.
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11. Board Game: Maria [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:157]
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Thursday after dinner

Players: Aliza, Rusty, me

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum Hobby room. I was in the main ballroom, and walked by a table where three guys were setting up a game of Maria and had set up one of those "teachers wanted" flags.

I stopped for a moment to help them get organized, and by the time I was done getting them set up, I'd apparently missed Rusty looking for me, and poor Aliza hadn't been able to find either of us.

And it turns out that the guys who I'd helped get on their way had the library copy of the game.

So we didn't get to play this. Sorry guys! soblue

Next year I'll mule my copy.
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12. Board Game: Pacific Typhoon [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1570]
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Thursday evening

After some dinner, and my brain still fried from the long HIS game, I wandered back into the wargame area and had this little gem with me. There were a bunch who wanted to play who were just wrapping up some games, so I got two sessions in.

Players: me, Greg S, and Bob Lai for game 1.

Players: me, Greg S, Bob Lai, Jonathan, Rusty, Marty, Bob, and Gerry for game 2.

Pacific Typhoon is one of those little gem card games that when you get the right crowd into it, it's a grand time for everyone. This one might become a con tradition for me.
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13. Board Game: Key Market [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:900]
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Friday

I had not had a chance to really visit the vendor hall, and I spent a fair amount of time on Friday visiting the booths, talking to designers, and getting my bingo card filled up. Bingo card? Yes, there was a bingo card and if you had a visit with a vendor, or bought something, you could get a sticker and for every bingo you got 10gg and a full card, in addition to being worth 120gg got you entered into a draw for a prize pack. I didn't see what the actual prize was at the draw on Saturday night though, but I know it came in a box.

Some of the highlights...
This game is a clever little spoof of Star Trek (ensign Kesley Wusher, reporting for duty!) with the idea that you each have a bunch of redshirts and you're trying to get yours killed off as fast as you can before the others do. It's a take that kind of game in a similar vein to Munchkin in that most of the fun is in the humour of the cards, and just like Munchkin, there are different t-shirts you can buy that give the wearer special powers while playing the game.


This is a sweet little card game that plays over a number of rounds decided ahead of time, and you want to get your love letter to the princess. It's simple, quick, clear, and definitely a great filler.

I was lucky and got the last copy they had in stock for the $10 con price.


I had promised my daughter I'd buy her a game at the con, and when I actually played this at the booth, I knew this was the right one.

It's really simple, you're trying to match your dice with tents and bears at a campsite. Guns to fend off bears, sleepers and runners to sleep peacefully while the bears are fended off or runners who flee.

The nice demo people at the booth were taking the bingo card sticker thing to heart so I had to either play in the demo or buy something to get my sticker. The demo gal let me take over her spot in the three player game (all more or less tied), and to my pleasant surprise the other two were fine folks I'd had chats with online and hadn't met in person yet.

Three rounds later I'd zoomed past everyone for the win. The others were all surprised that I'd seized the victory so quickly and I just told them "that's how wargamers roll" laugh

I got it. The con price was only $15.


This game wasn't available in North America yet, but I got the elevator pitch from the very nice people at the booth and this game looks simply gorgeous and the game play sounds like it will be very good. This could well become another Glen More for me, i.e. a game that has a lot of "I've seen these mechanisms before" elements that gel together into a solid winner. It's now on my wish list.


The fine folks at Funagain had this and the promo pack from Essen at their booth, so I picked it up. $25 well spent.


I was happy to see Columbia at the con. I've met Grant and his dad at their house just across the border from me, and I should really make a better effort to go see them again. It's unfortunate that the main times I'm available to go there are also the busiest time for one of the busiest border crossings in the country.

I did get a copy of the rules for Borodino 1812, which will be shipping shortly if it hasn't started already. I've got a pre-order copy with the mounted map on the way.


I really wanted to just spend a ton of money at this booth, but I own many of the titles they had on display, and the things I really want aren't out yet (like the Gold Banner edition of Circus Train (First Edition) and Nemo's War. I also held off on a couple of items that might be coming my way from Santa Grogs.

The new components in the "Gold Banner" line are gorgeous. If anyone's ever been deterred by the "print and play" look of their earlier offerings, rest assured you can now order in confidence. Of course, the nicer bits are also more expensive.


I've long debated getting this solitaire game, whose system was used for the highly acclaimed D-Day at Omaha Beach, but there I was, there was the Decision Games booth and when I casually asked "Do you have Operation Jubilee" they went straight to the box and pulled ou the lone copy they had and $30 later I was on my way.


At the Valley Games booth I got a look at some of the prototype cards for the Up Front re-release.

It looks really good, I think the changes being made to the game (from the original designer I'll note) make a lot of sense.

Still, after all is said and done, I won't be joining the Kickstarter for this project.


I loved the look of this game over on the Geek Chiq tables. They had a game of this going every night after the vendor hall closed, and the ships are just really cool. The turrets even turn!



The bingo card was very effective as I saw and checked out a lot of games that I wouldn't have otherwise, including some of the ones I bought.
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14. Board Game: Imperial [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:80]
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Friday

Players: me, Tony, Marty, and Jono

It's been a long time since I've played Imperial, and I really enjoyed taxing and spending my way to control of various countries.

There was an inordinate amount of military activity in this game, with ships and armies flying on and off the board, but that's part of the game and it went well enough that I won on the tie breaker. Scores were 84/84/82/64.
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15. Board Game: Crown of Roses [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:3298]
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Friday night

Players: me, Jono, Marty, Gerry

It was 9pm and we were all doing the "I don't know, what do you want to play?" thing, standing near the entrance of the games library when Gerry said "Hey look, Crown of Roses!"

And that, as they say, was that!

So at 9:30pm we had secured a GeekChiq table and set the game up, and learned how to play.

There's a certain level of stupidity inherent in learning a wargame cold at 9:30 at night, especially one that has a 40 page rule book where the sequence of play isn't until page 19 (Page 19? Seriously? shake).

We played a learning game of only two turns of the opening scenario and called it a night about half past midnight, with a plan to reconvene on Saturday morning...

Saturday morning

... which we did.



Fresh off some sleep and breakfast and with our brains reset, we were able to do a LOT better in our second game. We did have our noses in the rulebook a lot, but a lot less than the night before. Gerry had to leave at noon for a game he'd booked into, so Tony took over his spot.

[IMG]1480317 medium[/IMG]

We did have to call the game early but we were all solidly impressed and said we'd have to put it on the menu for next year.
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16. Board Game: EastFront II [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:773]
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Saturday night

Rusty and I reprised our roles from our game last year with me taking the Soviets in Barbarossa. I had a strategy called "strategically withdrawing as fast as possible" while leaving the odd speed bump in the way of the German Wehrmacht, also known as the "posthumous Order of Lenin medals all around" brigades.

Rusty took Odessa in the opening turn by... well, you can see what he did...

Blitzing AG HQ in turn one, eliminating it!

Now, it needs to be said that we started this game a little late, about 9pm or so, after we'd been to Taco Cabana with Sean and Tony and had enjoyed the $1.50 margeritas, and by this point all of us were well sleep deprived.



To top it off, Marty and I had signed up for the game show at 11pm, which ended up delayed by an hour, so the game was interrupted by that, and then we resumed play and finished around 4 or 5am. Who can remember?

So it is in that vein that I put out that I can be forgiven for thinking the game was going one more turn than it actually was, because I had erroneously placed the December reinforcements on the turn track. This meant that instead of being "gamey" and just rebuilding every dead Soviet block to maximize my VP differential, I did a normal production turn.

Mistakes were clearly made. But, the outcome would not have changed significantly. Soviet Major Victory (19VP).

Next year Rusty. And we need to play earlier in the con and earlier in the day.
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17. Board Game: Family Feud [Average Rating:5.35 Overall Rank:9847]
"L'état, c'est moi."
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Somewhere in the twilight zone between Saturday and Sunday

The Team: Marty, me, Tony, and Tony's Brother

In all the years I've been to the con, I've never taken part in any of the game show events and Marty suggested it to me so I said yes. We were in the 11pm session, which was delayed to about midnight due to a technical glitch in the middle of the second session.

Our team name had to be seventeen letters of less, so we went with "17 letters or les". whistle

We had a ton of fun, and we came in the top 5!
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18. Board Game: Steam [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:52]
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Sunday

Ah Sunday, the bittersweet day. The con ends. People go home. There are some who stay another night, which I've done in the past, but there was a reasonable flight home at 6:45pm, so that was my plan for this year.

So, what to do on Sunday morning? Well, check out the vendor hall for last minute impulse shopping.

Oh, wait, there's Morgan at the Mayfair booth. Why yes, yes I would love to learn how to play Steam.

Players: Morgan, Jono, Gerry, me.

If there's a better experience than learning a great game from someone who loves the game and has designed many games and several Steam expansions, I can't think of it.



Morgan asked up front if he could give us advice/suggestions as we went along, and we all said "yes please" and we had an awesome awesome awesome learning experience. Morgan won of course.

Now this is on the wish list too. Fortunately Jono has a copy and now it's likely to hit the table since we both know how to play.
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19. Board Game: Hotel Life [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:3196]
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Overall, the hotel service was fantastic top to bottom. The only time I wasn't happy with the service was breakfast on Sunday morning, but it wasn't the regular service crew and maybe they weren't as well briefed as clearly the rest of the staff had been.

Here are a few snaps from my iPhone of the main ballroom.

The main room from the Geek Chiq corner.

The new games library location.

Remember how packed the main prize draw was? Well, this are a lot more people and it's still not as packed as last year.
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20. Board Game: The Game of Good Cooking [Average Rating:4.95 Unranked]
"L'état, c'est moi."
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If you're going to be gaming for too many hours, and not sleeping enough, then you really need to make sure you're properly fuelled.

The food at the con was quite good. Jono and I had signed up for the breakfast buffet as part of the room booking and the food there was just fine.

Jett's coffee bar on the main level was open 24/7 and I had nothing but good food from there. Their shrimp Cobb salad was delicious and healthy, the sushi was good, and the service was great. They saw me wearing one of Greg's buttons on Tuesday night and said "Oh, you're here for that gaming con tomorrow" and gave me the con discount. That was awesome.

I did eat at the cash and carry once, and the hot dogs were ok. I didn't eat there otherwise, but the prices seemed ok for what they had (except the soda, which you could get in a larger bottle from the hotel vending machines).

Being the sociable guy I am I've made friends over the years, including some of the locals who know some great places to go eat. I'd been introduced to the fabulous Babe's last year and got to eat there again on Wednesday night for dinner and brought the leftovers to my room - and yes, there will be leftovers. Especially if you planned ahead to save room for pie. Oh my, the pie...



On Friday Sean took me and some others to Hard Eight. That is some damn fine barbecue.



Another now perennial favorite is Taco Cabana. Personally, I blame Sean. And in a good way. And they have $1.50 margerita specials.



Despite the dining out for a week, I managed to not gain any weight. Thank you Weight Watchers. cool
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21. Board Game: Thanks a Million! [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
"L'état, c'est moi."
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I don't even know where to begin, so I'll just start with two simple words.

Thank You


Thank you to all the hard working staff and volunteers who make this my annual must go gaming event.

Thank you Matt for picking up some beer for me on your drive down from Saskatoon. Next year I'll make sure my fridge isn't set to "freeze most of the beer" temp. I hope to make it to BixCon some time.

Thank you Tony, Sean, and Gideon and the other local folks who take me out to eat.

Thank you Chris for setting up the annual Wargames Meetups and Mules list.

Thank you Marty for some of the best moments of the con. Treachery cards will be etched in my memory forever. And for giving Jonathan reason to taunt me as the only one between you, Gerry, him and I to not have Geek Chiq table.

Thank you Gideon for making Dungeon Petz the new term for "no take backs!"

Thank you Octavian for taking me out for lunch on Aldie's dime.

Thank you Morgan for teaching me Steam and just being one of the most genuine and warm people I know. You're a gentleman and a scholar.

Thank you Tom Vasel and Eric Summerer for letting me have breakfast with you and chatting about the state of gaming.

Thank you Troy for that well deserved voice mail. You know the one I mean! laugh Let's get that game of something on VASSAL going soon!

Thank you Greg for the fabulous buttons you bring the con every year. The added game specific ones were a particularly nice touch this year.

Thank you to all the fans of my reviews, GMT P500 lists, and other BGG contributions that you took the time to tell me about. Everyone likes to be appreciated and to hear it from you in person really means the world to me.

Thank you to all the people I played games with.

And a sincere thank you and apology to everyone who I may have inadvertently left off the list above.

See you all next year!

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