BGG.Con 2009: My first but certainly not last visit to the Oak Room
"L'état, c'est moi."
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Vancouver
BC
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For as long as there's been such a thing as BGG.Con, I've always thought it would be really cool to go. This despite not having ever been to a con before, not even one of the local ones. So BGG.Com 2009 has the honour of being my first gaming con ever!

My friend Jonathan (jonocop) was easily persuaded to join me, and so we both bought early bird tickets, shared a room to split the costs, used points to book our flights, and we were all set.

I had a GREAT TIME.

The con was well organized, the hotel was nice, and the gaming spaces were great.

I had booked a bunch of wargame sessions with some of my fellow geeks, and managed to get in some games I had never played before and wanted to.

It was awesome, and I'm already making plans for BGG.Con 2010. Assuming I survive the 2010 Winter Olympic Games here in Vancouver.

I made a bunch of appointments for games during the con, and this was my tentative schedule:

Wednesday:
- arrive DFW in the afternoon, should be checked in by dinner.
- 7PM Friedrich game scheduled with jonocop, ESPNY, and Scharri7. jonocop is bringing his copy. We'll be in the Oak Ballroom.

Thursday:
- 10AM - 2PM: Probably watching kuhrusty play To The Last Man!
- 3PM - 7PM: Napoleon's Triumph team game with everyone!

Friday:
- 9AM - Here I Stand Oak Ballroom
[kuhrusty has offered to play The Hell of Stalingrad some time on Friday]
- 5PM - Conquest of Paradise Oak Ball Room with Jonathan Kinney (jonocop), Nevin Ball (Nevin), Andy Linman (Varus)
- 7PM - 1AM: EastFront II game or team game with SabreRedleg, dr glaze et al, bluedionysius, DaMilli, et al.

Saturday:
- 11am Republic of Rome
- 3pm Pax Baltica with Varus, moderated by sdiberar
- 7pm+ (after PB and dinner) Unhappy King Charles with sdiberar

Sunday:
- 8AM - microgames with mistermarino
- 10AM (tentative) Maria with bulwyf and jonocop

Not scheduled yet:
- Hellenes: The Peloponnesian War
- Richard III: The Wars of the Roses
- To The Last Man!
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1. Board Game: Friedrich [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:257]
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We came down on the Wednesday, and wanted to get gaming right away. Jonathan brought his copy of the game along, and we had booked a session beforehand on the great geeklist set up by Chris Montgomery.

I played this with

Jonathan Kinney
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Surrey
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as Russia

Sean Harris
United States
Texas
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as Prussia

NICK WATKINS
United States
New York
New York
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as France

and I had the Austrians.

Sean and Jonathan went at it pretty hard in the NE corner as the Russians really wanted to seize East Prussia before moving west, but Sean fended him off nicely. Then, the very first event card saw Russia bow out of the game!

I had managed to keep things on the QT with the Holy Roman Empire, even while making gains with Austria, and then had a chance to seize the last three fortresses to possibly seal the deal. With Russia out, it was possible that Sweden could bow out and I could actually be handing the HRE and victory to Jonathan, but it was a chance I was willing to take.

As the cards of fate had it, I managed to take the win.

We did of course peek - the very next card in the deck was Sweden leaves the game!
I managed to win on turn 8 with the HRE!
 
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2. Board Game: WeyKick [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:1722]
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There was a Weykick table set up in the main BGG check in areaarea. Someone else happened by while I was fiddling with it, and ta-dah, a spontaneous game happened. A very nifty dexterity game.

We only played to 5 and the random stranger won.
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3. Board Game: Campaign Manager 2008 [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:785]
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Zev from Z-Man Games was in the Sunnyside room with this and graciously let us borrow this (on the promise of making sure we brought it back to his vendor booth for demos on Thursday).

Jonathan Kinney
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and I played, I had the Democrats. History repeated itself with an Obama win, but it was a lot closer than the actual election.

I think this game is far more accessible, both as a game and as a theme, than [i]1960: The Making of the President[/b]
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4. Board Game: Opera [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1435]
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I went to the library first thing on Thursday after checking in and sought this one out. I am a big opera fan, and so on theme alone I wanted to check this out.

I had no trouble finding opponents.

Played this with

Glen Oberhauser
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Golden
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Gil Hova
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Jersey City
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and
Scott Minkoff
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Mansfield
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I came in last, but had a great time playing this.

The rules are a little too literally translated from the original Dutch, and the play aid summary neglects the very important step of advancing the most popular composer, which unfortunately we failed to do every single round save the first.

The game has a lot of nice things going for it. I like the bidding for budget each round (separate but not unrelated to the amount of money you have on hand to buy things with), I liked the various roles, and the theme was a winner.

I think this game may suffer from having a designer with a lot of good ideas trying to cram them all into one game, which is an impulse I can understand. That said, I think the game is a good one and I would gladly play it again.
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5. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:181]
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Thursday afternoon team game with everyone!

Well, not everyone, but there were 14 people and three boards.

I played in a 6-person team game with

Rusty Blablabinger
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Ken Waterman
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Andy Linman
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Allen
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Sean Brown
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Andrew Schoonmaker
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.

I was on the allied side against the French. We three were mostly newbies, against the mighty Rusty and Co. Napoleon won, but it was a close and tense affair in the end.

NT is a beautiful game, and is simply gorgeous on the table. I bought a copy earlier this year and now that I've had a chance to play it need to find some more local opponents.

It works amazingly well as a team game by the way.
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6. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:1]
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Jonathan and I played this during the GMT-a-thon in the Trinity ballroom. We didn't win any of the draw prizes, but I did get to meet Jason Matthews.



I won in turn 8 thanks to the Wargames card, which was very timely as I had a horrid hand and Jonathan had an awesome one that would likely have tipped the control/domination balance on the board.
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7. Board Game: Richard III: The Wars of the Roses [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:741]
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Thursday:

I then introduced Jonathan to this very fine game. He beat me in the final round, 12 nobles to 11.

Unfortunately, it was 2am when we were finished... Fortunately, I was still able to stagger out of bed to make it in time for my 9am session on Friday.
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8. Board Game: Here I Stand [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:74]
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Friday - played an epic length (about 11 hours, including about an hour of break time for snacks/meals) game of this today with

Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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The Coat of Arms of Clan Montgomery - Scotland. Yes, that's a woman with the head of a savage in her hand, and an anchor. No clue what it means, but it's cool.
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,
Dennis Burke
United States
California
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Andy Linman
United States
Allen
Texas
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Steven Canning
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Seattle
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and
Martin
United States
San Diego area
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We ended the game after 11 epic hours where the four "secular powers" were tied at 23 points with another 2 potential turns to go. This is really a fantastic game, with a fabulous bunch of other players.

I'm up for a rematch in 2010, although I think there's a lot of merit to Andy's suggestion of splitting this into two separate 9am sessions on the Friday and Saturday.
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9. Board Game: Die Macher [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:86]
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I'd met David earlier in the con and we made vague plans to play something together. He suggest Die Macher while Jonathan and I saw him at the flea market, and we both said yes.

When we showed up at the appointed time, he said he already had three others and only needed a fifth. Jonathan said I should just go ahead so I did.

We played the Moskito edition, which is much prettier than the Valley Games edition.

Aside from me, the players were:

Michael M.
United States
Hudson
Ohio
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melissa matthews
United States
Texas
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Brett Porter
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Lawrenceville
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and someone named Kath Laffron.

Kath abandoned the game after the third election to go have lunch with a friend. She wasn't enjoying the game, so no big loss I suppose.

Final results - damilli won with 435 points, I came in second with 330, Melissa rode in at 316 and Brett took the back bench of the house with 266.
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10. Board Game: Pax Baltica [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:2410]
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I was late, but fortunately, the guys were patient and I had the chance to try out a short 12 turn scenario of Pax Baltica.

We were taught by
Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
United States
Astoria
New York
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, who is the developer on this game.

I played against
Andy Linman
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Allen
Texas
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, and we had a lot of fun trying out various things. The system is very reminiscent of many of the recent Columbia Games designs, with some interesting variations that worked really well.

This is one of the fastest playing wargames I've had the pleasure of trying, and I really enjoyed this session.

I liked it enough that it'll be hitting my P500 list.
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11. Board Game: Unhappy King Charles! [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:744]
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After dinner, I had a booked game of UKC against
Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
United States
Astoria
New York
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I had King Charles and after only a few turns I managed to completely hose my southern front and isolate all my influence there. It looked like it would be a short game, but I managed to claw back from the brink and it came down to the very last turn. Cromwell's decisive success in Bristol was the difference.

It only helped reconfirm to me what a brilliant game this is.
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12. Board Game: Maria [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:164]
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This was the other must-play game for me at BGG.Con (the other being Opera) and it was worth the wait.

Beautiful map. Elegant rules. Deep. Challenging. If you like Friedrich, you'll love this.

Played this with
Andrew Schoonmaker
United States
Long Beach
California
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Jonathan Kinney
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Surrey
British Columbia
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We started late and played even later and then Dan Raspler joined us for a chat and we were up until almost 5am just chatting. I hadn't been up that late for a very long time indeed.

We did play a few rules incorrectly as it turned out. We also overlooked some rules (such as 19.2 which allows France to withdraw from Austria and only return half thier VP tokens to their pool).
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13. Board Game: Conquest of Paradise [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1215]
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Sunday morning - well, a little after noon - I played this with
Dan Raspler
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New York
New York
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Mathew Schemenaur
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Keller
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I taught it to Dan and Matthew, and I was trailing for a while, but once Dan and Matt got into a tussle over Samoa, I was able to sneak out the win.
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14. Board Game: Pandemic: On the Brink [Average Rating:8.13 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.13 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.13 Unranked]
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To round out the con, after CoP, I got roped into a game of this with
Jonathan Kinney
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Surrey
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Eran Eldar
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Highlands Ranch
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, Troy Addington, and Dustin Roelse.

We got close to winning, but ran out of the draw deck and so another planetary collapse.
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15. Board Game: Robber Knights [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:2088]
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This was my free game from Queen games, who gave something to every attendee.
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16. Board Game: Pocket Battles: Celts vs. Romans [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1494] [Average Rating:6.54 Unranked]
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I bought this after watching several people playing this and highly recommending it.
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17. Board Game: Aton [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:540]
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Bought this at the BGG.Con flea market. It was the seller's free game, and he already had it. As a bonus, I got a free Crown Royal drawstring bag with it.
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18. Board Game: History of the Roman Empire [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:3775]
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I lucked out on the random ticket draw when I arrived and got a ticket to pick a free game from the prize room. This is what I took from the games still left.
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19. Board Game: Titan [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:508]
"L'état, c'est moi."
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I pre-arranged to buy this from someone going to the con - $12 for the original Avalon Hill edition, which I actually like better than the VG edition.
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20. Board Game: Triumvirate [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1321]
"L'état, c'est moi."
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Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
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Caution: May contain wargame like substance
mb
Pre-ordered the BGG edition. Very happy to have this.
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