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My weekend at ORCCON 2010
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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This, my first GeekList, is dedicated to my wonderful wife, who so graciously consented to staying for the weekend in LA so I could attend multiple days of Orccon 2010 from Feb 13-14. The following is a recounting of the events of the weekend. Enjoy.
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1. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:185]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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My first event on Saturday at 9 AM was a demo of At the Gates of Loyang. I had read a lot about this game, and as a fan of Bohnanza and Agricola, I was anxious to learn this one. I had another event I was planning on attending at 10 AM, so I thought I could at least sit through the demo and play a few turns before having to leave.

Unfortunately, the person running the demo took 45 minutes explaining the game! While he was very thorough and explained it well, I wish he would have stuck to the basics and then got the game started. Since that took so long, I had to quit without even taking a turn.

It did look like an interesting game, and one I am anxious to actually play sometime. I'm looking forward to the Z-Man reprint.
 
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2. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:41]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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I had pre-registered to playtest a new expansion for Pandemic currently in development. Matt Leacock himself was there to demonstrate it. As Pandemic has become one of my favorite games, especially with the On The Brink expansion, I was quite excited to take a seat at the table for the first playtest.

I am sworn to secrecy on the details of the expansion. All I'll say is that it changes the way diseases are cured. It was still in the very raw stages of development. The components were plain white paper with hand drawn icons, and normal 3x5 index cards. But the 4 of us enjoyed it very much. It proved to be quite a challenge, and we lost on the Normal (5 epidemic) level. We lost due to the player card stock running out. On The Brink was not used. I'm curious to see how the development of this new expansion will progress.

Thanks to Matt Leacock for sharing this new expansion with us!
 
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3. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1712]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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As I was playing Pandemic, I looked up and was surprised to see none other than Wesley Crusher himself, Wil Wheaton, observing our game! surprise Being a long-time Trek fan, I had to take a quick break from the game (on someone else's turn, of course) to say hi. Apparently, Mr. Wheaton has been attending Strategicon for years and is really into games. In addition to acting, he is also a writer. He told me he writes narratives on being a geek and a dad. I'll definitely have to check out his books.

It's funny, now that I think about it, I've been seeing Wil Wheaton all over the place. He just had that great guest spot on The Big Bang Theory, I just saw a rerun of that Family Guy with the entire ST:TNG cast (my wife likes to pronounce Wil's name like Stewie does: "Hwil Hwheaton"); and I just started watching Season 3 of The Guild, and Wil is in that also!
 
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4. Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:390]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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We had to interrupt our Pandemic game because two of the players wanted to join the Roll Through the Ages tournament, also hosted by Matt Leacock. Since I wanted to come back and finish Pandemic, I decided to join the tournament as well. An added incentive was that Wil Wheaton also was playing, so if I advanced, there was a chance I could have a showdown with Wil (as did Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory ).

Unfortunately, the dice were just not rolling my way. My final score was a whopping 3! shake An all-time low. I just was not getting many workers early on, and was hampered by two pestilence rolls by the same player. Also, since I've played more solitaire games of RTtA than multi-player, I think I need to adjust my strategy. Solitaire games are quite different, since you can re-roll any skulls, and there are a set number of turns you can count on.

Alas, I was not meant to match wits with Wil Wheaton this time. I don't think he advanced either anyway. Oh well, at least that let me get back to Pandemic!
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5. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:48]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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After a quick bite to eat, I entered the Stone Age tournament. There was quite a turnout: 32 players! I figured I had a decent chance, seeing as I usually win when playing against my wife and friends.

Turns out there is some much tougher competition out there! In our game, everyone ended up pursuing a very specialized strategy. One player collected tools and ended up with the maximum number of 12; another developed farms, and I think maxed that out also; the third built huts. I tried collecting culture cards and building expensive huts with gold. My plan backfired, and I ended up in last place. I was leading for most of the game due to some early high-value huts. But I didn't pick up enough cards to keep up in the end game scoring.

I like Stone Age, but still feel that the card scoring is too powerful. Also, there is no balancing mechanic for the person sitting in the last seat (which was me) who is last at being chief. That can be hard to come back from.
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6. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:27]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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After Stone Age, I was wandering around trying to find my next game. I noticed two guys reading the rules to El Grande and starting to set up. Knowing that El Grande is not a good 2-player game, I asked if I could join them. I had only played one other time, and was anxious to play again. We recruited one more player so that we could have 4.

I enjoyed our game immensely. It was probably my favorite of the day. The rules are relatively simple, but there are so many interesting choices to make. Unfortunately, I came in last place again. That was three games in a row in last. yuk Oh well, I was still having fun.

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7. Board Game: Havana [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:635]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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Since there were no more scheduled events I was interested in, I perused the game library to see what I could find. I decided on Havana, mainly because it had the same art as Cuba, and I had been interested in learning that. However, I don't think the two games have much in common.

After reading the rules, I was anxious to recruit some players. It seemed like a relatively simple game involving collecting resources and constructing buildings to earn VPs. I liked the mechanic of selecting your actions, and how that also determined the turn order. But I didn't like how we spent many early turns just building up resources or money, and then buying a bunch of buildings all at once at the end. It was definitely slow getting the game moving. That may have been partly due to the way the buildings were dealt though. I enjoyed it and I would play it again, but I wouldn't buy it.

I was able to round up 3 other players. One of them was a 7 year old boy. I have to say, I was hesitant to include him. But he did better than the rest of us for most of the game! I ended up winning this one (finally, a win!), but I think he ended up in second or a close third. I think it was because he didn't overthink his actions. He just did what he wanted to do. So never underestimate younger gamers!
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8. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:72]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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As I was trying to decide on my last game for the evening, I noticed a group setting up Hansa Teutonica. I happily joined this as I had read a number of favorable reviews on it.

The rules were explained, and we got into it. The board appears quite busy and can seem a bit daunting at first, but you quickly get used to it once you understand the symbols. There wasn't much to the theme, I thought. You could easily paste a different theme on top of it.

I misunderstood one of the rules, and didn't realize until later in the game that there are 2 roads you can use to clear an action cube. I didn't start working on improving my actions until much later in the game. I ended up in last place (that was 4 last places for the day), but I expected it since I was the only newbie at the table.

It was an interesting game, definitely a gamer's game. But I don't see it having much lasting appeal for me after a few plays. The gameplay felt kind of scripted. Everyone just went for actions at first, and then took what they could after. I don't think I'd pick this up again.
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9. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:29]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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I started off Sunday at 10 AM with BSG. This was what I was anticipating the most for Sunday. My friend had recently bought BSG, and we played a 2 player game to learn the mechanics. but we had not yet recruited enough players to play the full game. So I was eager to try it out!

We had 6 players and used the Pegasus expansion, minus the New Caprica board. The players were:
Apollo (myself)
Caprica Six
Chief Tyrol
Admiral Adama
President Ellen Tigh
Starbuck

Very quickly into the game, the accusations started flying that President Ellen was a frakkin toaster after some suspicious moves. But she continued to assert her innocence, and never ended up in the brig or airlocked. It was pretty smooth sailing, until the sleeper stage. I discovered I was a sleeper Cylon, with the ability to put someone in sickbay. I continued to play along, biding my time. but i was never able to reveal, because my fellow Cylon won the game for us by revealing and taking away the last morale point.

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite games.
 
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10. Board Game: Carson City [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:232]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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I signed up for this demo because it looked like an intriguing mix of mechanics. Worker placement, role selection, and tile placement. Sounded like a good combo.

Unfortunately, I don't think it was implemented well. The biggest problem I had is that the rules were not very intuitive. The GM did a good job explaining, but some things just didn't make much sense. For instance, one of the buildings earns income based on the number of houses next to it, and there is a house icon in the corner to indicate this. Another building earns income based on houses and ranches, both also indicated by icons in the corner. Except the ranches don't have to be next to the building; any of your ranches earn you income for this building. And 4 turns is an awfully short amount of time for a game. I know a lot happens on a turn, but if you make one poor role selection, you've just blown 25% of your opportunities.

I feel like they just threw some of the most popular mechanics together and made it way more complicated than it needed to be. I would hate to explain this one to new players. Thankfully, we only played 2 turns of this and stopped, which meant I could get back to.....
 
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11. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:29]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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...another game of BSG! It's not often I have enough players for this game, so I wanted to get another round in. This time, it was a 4 player game with the base set only. We had one new player, so I explained the rules. The players were:
President Tom Zarek (myself)
Admiral Adama
Chief Tyrol
Apollo

Again, things started easily. We found out later that there were no Cylons in the first half. The second half was another story. I was the sympathizer, and was on the Cylon side. I spent the rest of my turns picking crisis cards and sabotaging the skill checks. devil The Cylons eventually won because the humans lost all morale. The sleeper Cylon never had to reveal.
 
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12. Board Game: Nuba [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:7214]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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The only purchases I made were 3 games for $20 at the flea market. The first one that caught my eye was Nuba. It was the German edition, but already had the English rules printed. The things that caught my eye were:
small size
Reiner Knizia
2 players

I haven't played it yet, but it sounds interesting.
 
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13. Board Game: Turbo Taxi [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:2712]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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The second game that I found was Turbo Taxi. Again, I like the small size and the short playing time. The theme sounded fun. I have only played one quick round so far, but I like it. It's a nice, light filler, and great for those that enjoy solving puzzles.
 
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14. Board Game: Alexandros [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:2339]
Daniel Grant
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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This was the third game I got. I mainly chose this because the seller gave me a deal, and because I had never heard of it. It was also a German edition. This one sounds like a real brain-burner, which I really enjoy!

I was glad that 2 or the 3 games I purchased were games I had not heard of before or seen in shops. The dealer room at the con just didn't interest me. I can buy those games anytime at my local store or online. I prefer to shop for lesser known treasures at game cons.

And that was the end of Orccon 2010! Now the countdown to the next con...
 
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