BGG.Con 2010: Got Trololo? This Gamer Does!
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Ahh, BGG.Con 2010. I'm sorry it's over.
I had an amazingly fun time.

Thanks to Chris Montgomery and his pre-con planning list, I was able to get a number of games booked before even arriving, and I also managed to get some nice plays of other games in as well.

I hope to be back in 2011 to avenge my losses or defend my crown...

Herewith some selected highlight of my BGG.Con 2010 experience.

Got Trololo?

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1. Board Game: Friedrich [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:277]
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On the evening before the con last year we had a game of this set up and this year marks the second year in a row of what appears to now be a tradition.

This year I took Prussia and managed to survive about 2-3 cards into the deck of fate before Austria managed to seize the win with the claiming of 4 fortresses due to Prussia going with the military conquest option. It seemed like such a good idea at the time too - what was I thinking?

Thanks to following for keeping me guessing until the end.
Jonathan Kinney
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Kent W T
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2. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:24]
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After playing Friedrich, Jonathan and I were still looking to play something so we borrowed a copy of Dominant Species and played a 2 player game using the basic rules. It was a lot of fun to get another play of this in, but I think one really needs to play the advanced game with only 2 or 3.

However, it was a lot quicker than a standard game with more players, which was good given that we needed to be up early for registration.
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3. Board Game: The BoardGameGeek Game [Average Rating:6.12 Overall Rank:2829]
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Registration on Wednesday was smooth and quick. I really liked the name badges this year because not only was your avatar and user name clearly readable in the top left corner, your name was prominently and clearly displayed too.

Lots of free games to be had this year. I got a copy of Homesteaders, Inka, and because I drew a green ticket got to get something from the prize room. I just missed getting Tide of Iron. There was a used copy of Friedrich there, but I have a copy and there was someone there who thought it might be good for his group and I sold him on it. You're welcome Mr. Sivel.

Of the prize games left, I picked Mesopotamia. So, three games and I haven't spent a dime. Life is good! Woohoo!

A brief interlude here to show just how wonderful the local geeks in Dallas are.

Last year at the con, Jonathan and I played a couple games with Troy, the Aussie Texan. We bumped into him a little after registration and told him we were about to hop the restaurant bus (thanks Jay!) to go get some food for the week.

What does he do? He says "Here, borrow my car." Not only that, he takes us to his car and programs the GPS for us. How freakin' cool is that?

My hat's off to you Troy, and you also get a lot of thanks for your kindness and generosity.
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4. Board Game: Hearts and Minds: Vietnam 1965-1975 [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:1432]
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I had many a pleasant chat with Dan Raspler last year at the con and when I bumped into him on Wednesday afternoon after getting all signed up he offered to teach me this game.

I'll sum up - this game is subtle and interesting and deviously fiendishly good. I like the clever twist on the classic "ops or event" which here is "ops and you can spend some to make the event happen too!"

And banking ops for a future campaign? Brilliant.

And... also my first official game of BGG.Con 2010.

Lots of flexibility to start and stop at any point - only have time to play one year? Ok. Want to play the whole war? Ok. Want to play 3 years somewhere in the middle? You can do that!

I'm glad I had the chance to play this because it's a keeper in my collection.

Dan Raspler
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5. Board Game: Unhappy King Charles! [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:788]
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Right after Hearts and Minds I had a game of this scheduled with Nick from NY. Nick is another very fine gentleman who I had the pleasure of gaming with last year and I'd agreed to teach him this game this year. He took the Royalists.

A good time was had by all, except King Charles, who remains unhappy.
NICK WATKINS
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6. Board Game: Here I Stand [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:83]
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Ah, Here I Stand. A beautiful game. Subtle, dangerous, clever. A rematch of last year with four returning players and two new ones.

Based on 2009's killer one day session, we decided to split it over two consecutive mornings and that worked out brilliantly. We cranked out three turns on Thursday and came back hungry to run for the finish on Friday.

I had France, and I decided that I'd try to beat the Hapsburgs to the new world, and completely improbably, it worked. I managed to get a colony and circumnavigation in the first turn and ended turn three with a large target painted on my back thanks to being in the lead by a fair margin. However, turn four was my demise as England declared war on me along with the Hapsburgs. However, I took Calais from the English while having to sue for peace with the Hapsburgs. I believe I was effectively out of the running at that point, but managed to fight my way up to fourth by the end of the game, which was won by England.

Thanks to these fine gentlemen for making Here I Stand one of the highlights of the con for me. See you all for a rematch next year?

Martin
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Jonathan Kinney
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Chris Montgomery
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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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7. Board Game: 51st State [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:611] [Average Rating:6.98 Unranked]
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Played on Thursday after dinner. I didn't like it very much. Note well - this is not me saying it's not a good game, this is me saying it's not my kind of game.

It's a tableau building game and probably the best way I could describe it is that it's RftG meets Neuroshima Hex (which is ostensibly the setting for 51st State).

At the start of your turn you draft cards. Cards have three aspects - a blue aspect which is a bar along one end of the card, a red one along the other, and a building in the centre. Each card has a point value assigned to it, say 3.

Each player has three sets of cards that contribute to the three colours - red are conquests, blue are cooperatives, and the buildings are incorporations. The number is meant to be a range, but what the units of range are is never clearly defined.

If you get a card by conquest, you tuck it under your home card with the red stripe showing. This will have something on it, say three stars which are victory points. You can cash this in at the start of the production round to take three VP and then you throw the card away.

If you take a card by cooperation, you tuck the card under your home card with the blue stripe showing. Whatever's on the stripe is something that you get every prodution turn, say a unit of fuel.

The incorporations do a variety of things, usually related to producing units of goods you'll need to activate your cards for conquest, cooperation, or incorporation. I played the mutants and conquest required 1 weapon to get 3 conquest points, my home card produced one weapon every turn, so that's easy. My incorporation required two resources (not important what they were), and so I had to figure out ways to get them.

You can use other people's incorporations to get resources by using one of the three people you get every production turn, and the nifty thing here is you are paying the other player that person token to use their widget factory and then they get to use that person themselves.

Some incorporation cards can only be used by you and the icon on the card will show that. Another interesting twist is that some cards generate VP if you feed them the right resources, but they can only produce three times before they're depleted at which point you'll need to upgrade them to something else.

Whatever resources you produce on any given turn must be used on that turn. Anything leftover gets tossed.

I'm not covering all the cards and interplays here. There are also leader cards that confer certain benefits.

The iconography takes some getting used to, but for whatever reason it clicked with me pretty quickly, unlike RftG.

My quick verdict based on one late evening play at BGG.Con is that it's well designed, it's thematic, and it's not my kind of game.

Thanks to my Vancouver friends and new friend Bacchus for introducing this one to me

Jonathan Kinney
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Kris Moulton
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Kevin O'Hare
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8. Board Game: Spot it! [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:612]
 
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Finished Thursday with some light games to close. Played this after 51st state with some folks Jonathan and I'd met last year and their friends. This game is a lot of fun, and it's hard to find those damned matching icons!
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9. Board Game: Loopin' Louie [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:430]
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I was off to the library to find something to play late Thursday when I saw three players laughing up a storm with this and a "Players Needed" flag, so 20 minutes and 9 plays later I was back en route to the library.
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10. Board Game: Dixit [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:119] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
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I saw some folks in the library looking at this one and wondering if it was any good. I told them yes it was and offered to teach. I think there were 5 new converts at the table.
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11. Board Game: Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:730]
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Friday morning saw the conclusion of the Here I Stand game and I had made a pre-con appointment to play in the team game of Napoleon's Triumph with kuhrusty and co, but I had been hoping to play Fighting Formations and Richard Pardoe was free, willing, and able to teach me the game.

So I bowed out of NT, and then played this absolutely amazing game. I LOVED Fighting Formations.

Before I continue, this game is NOT Combat Commander. It's a classic hex and counter wargame, but it has some very slick innovations. There's a set of order boxes numbered 1-10 on a track that are available for selection, and when you pick an order, you move the initiative that many points towards the opponent on a push-pull track. Initiative still on you side? Continue. On your opponents? They go. On 0? The player holding the fate card goes.

The more complex/involved orders have to be selected from on high, whereas simple things like playing an asset card, moving, and firing tends to be in the 1-3 range. The track differs depending on which side you're playing. After the first turn is complete, the order track gets refilled with 10 order markers, but they're assigned by die rolls, not a simple 1-10 ordering, so some order levels may not be available the next turn (I'll note for completeness that selecting a "5" order means you can execute the 5 order for your side, or any LOWER value order. If all that's available is a 5 order and you want to do a move, which is a 2 or 3 depending on which side you are, you can still do it, but it costs you 5 initiative)

The other thing I liked was the use of different dice types to resolve attacks. You typically roll 2d10 for shooting at another unit (say), but if you're in an adjacent hex, you roll 2d12. If you're too far away, you roll 2d8 or possibly 2d6. A nice way of making a KISS fire resolution system.

And lest anyone think that these mechanisms are a little too "gamey", let me reassure you that once the action got underway, everything save the fact I was trying desperately to advance my units along the road to capture objectives and the electric tension at the table as the melees unfolded in hexes completely eclipsed the mechanics of the game. In fact, the simple elegance of the system really made it transparent to the playing experience - I was focusing on what was happening on the board and not pausing to step out of my suspension of disbelief to figure out a CRT column shift.

Highly anticipated before the con, even more so now.

My thanks to Richard for teaching me this one.
Richard Pardoe
United States
San Ramon
California
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12. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:1]
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I love playing new opponents because I am and continue to be amazed by the different strategies that people use and the new ways I find to make a mess of my board position.

She totally schooled me on the Middle East and by the time we got to the late war, while I held dominance in Europe, everywhere else on the board was contested. Asia was even, Middle East was hers, Africa was up in the air, South America was hers, Central America mine.

But turn 9 was the game. I pulled an amazing hand. Chernobyl. Tear Down This Wall. Three 4-op cards. Nothing bad for me in the others.

Chernobyl in the headline locked out Europe from Soviet intervention. Ames Remixed pulled Tear Down This Wall from my hand in the first round, but I was able to seize control.

Turn 10 was the end. She had drawn Europe Scoring and couldn't break into any European battleground countries.

My favorite quote from our session "I've never seen anyone play card combinations like that before." Thanks for the game, and the compliment.
Mel
United States
Unspecified
Minnesota
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13. Board Game: Grand Cru [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1067]
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After TS I went for a visit to the hot games room and Grand Cru was available. Bacchus was there waiting for some players, so I sat down and signed up to play. Jonathan wandered by and I persuaded him to come join us too.

Richard Pardoe was just finishing up a game and dropped by as he saw we were fumbling with the rules and he explained the game to us. After that things went on track.

Except... it went off the rails. I was strongly predisposed to liking this game, and it just utterly failed for me. cry
Kevin O'Hare
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San Carlos
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14. Board Game: Maria [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:157]
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Friday evening was the night I was scheduled to play a game to help MWChapel expand his circle of friends, and after having had not enough opportunities to play games with kuhrusty last year, he wanted in, so we went for it.

This was the most entertaining game of Maria I'd ever seen. Rusty had the Austrians. I had the French. Austria went up against Saxony and lost a general. Rusty asked me "Tell me honestly, is the worst opening for Austria you've ever seen?" and because I'm the kind of person who would never ever kick someone when they're down said "Let me instead say this is the best I've ever seen France open".

Another turn or two and it was over. France had overrun Austria and MWChapel went on to his next game to expand his circle of friends.

Thanks guys!
Chapel
United States
Round Rock
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15. Board Game: Glen More [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:192]
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I still had a sour taste in my mouth from Grand Cru, so what better than a game that's about making whisky in the highlands?

This game is the latest from the Alea small box series. There are no new mechanics in this game, and separately all the different mecahnics have a nicely comfortable feeling to them. Jonathan had pulled it from the library and even though it was very late (or very early, depending on one's point of view), three guys from a local (we assume from their accent) gaming group joined us and taught us to play.

However, in the assembly of the different game parts, it makes a nice little game engine that is very engaging and a lot of fun.
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16. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:194]
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I'd felt bad about leaving kuhrusty in the lurch at the team game, especially after learning his side had lost - I just know that my generalship would have been decisive in the battle *koff*koff*

However, after Glen More, there he was and said "Hey! Let's play team NT!" so we did just that. I was on his team, and we played with Chris whose partner decided at the last minute that it was too late for him and bailed, but we had what for me was the best game of NT I've experienced.

Napoleon's Triumph is both a beautiful and elegant game, and a really hard game to wrap one's head around. Mein Gott! I think there's still smoke coming out of my ears.

But it's beautiful. And it was a great experience. Again in 2011?
Rusty McFisticuffs
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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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17. Board Game: Maria [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:157]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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Marty had asked me to be the guest geek on his next podcast of The War Academy to talk about Maria, so we had pre-arranged to play this game on Saturday morning. Fortunately, despite having gone to bed so late the night before I was still able to make the 9am start time.

Now, the wargamers at BGG.Con, or so I'd been given to understand from attending in 2009, usually played in the Oak room, but this year, that was reserved for the library and hot games room so we had our own room, the Magnolia room.

But... Saturday morning was the BGG.Con flea market and... they had poached all the tables from Magnolia! NOT COOL PEOPLE!

Fortunately, the very very übercool people from Geekchiq took us in and let us play Maria on one of their very nice tables they'd brought to the con. So, settled in comfortable surroundings, we had Nick join us and I taught them both how to play Maria.

The gorgeous Maria map looked amazing on the Geekchiq table and I'm pretty sure someone bought a table based on that. I'm taking credit for talking up the features of the table.

I managed to win as the Prussians, but it was one of the best and most interesting games of Maria I'd ever played simply because of the intense discussions to dissect each political card play, strategy, tactics, planning, board development. This game is a real gem.

Look for the Maria edition of the War Academy podcast coming some time next month.
Martin
United States
San Diego area
California
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NICK WATKINS
United States
New York
New York
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After Maria, Nick taught Jonathan and I and a two others how to play Innovation. It's a fun game. Jonathan picked it up so it's in my gaming circle's collection.
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18. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:48]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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After the battling tops tournament, which I dove into as a substitute since a bunch of registrants had not turned up, I went to the hot games room and gave this one a shot.

I like this game a lot. It's a dice-as-resource allocation game, but there's a whole lot going on. There are some great reviews out there already and Z-Man games will be releasing this some time next year, maybe early spring.

Might be getting this one for my collection - helps that I won my first play.
Железный комиссар
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Kurt R
United States
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
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It was my life, like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was to let it be.
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Sean Tompkins
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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You know what would be funny...
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19. Board Game: Rattus [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:545]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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You'd think I'd have learned from the night before that staying up all night was not smart, but damn it, this was the last night of the con! So I got Glen More from the library and went to hang out to watch the Friedrich game in progress. Rusty channeled his inner Austrian and exacted revenge on poor Prussia.

So the Friedrich game broke up and Rattus was brought out. It's a cute little game that's apparently improved by the expansion.

I then played another 5-player game of Glen More with Rusty and three other fellow wargamers and we were all promptly schooled by the mathematician at the table. It only solidifies my thinking that this game is really solid.
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20. Board Game: Wiz-War [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:865]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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It was now the silly hour of 4 am. Beer had been consumed. Brains had been turned to mush by days and days of gaming. It was obviously time to get a good night's sleep play yet MORE games. Especially a silly game like Wiz War.

I'm still waiting for the session report because Toggy took lots of good notes on the quotes and quips from this playing of the game, but I suspect it'll be even funnier than this one.

I looked on eBay and this game is going for stupidly large amounts of money. I hear there are vague rumours of a reprint...
Rusty McFisticuffs
United States
Arcata
California
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Empress
Japan
Nogata, Nakano-ku
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United States
Hawaii
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After we played Wiz War... someone broke out Kackel Dackel. It's funny. At what do you mean there's two 4 o'clocks in the same day AM, it's hysterically funny. Incriminating video was taken by jonocop. Perhaps a YouTube entry will be made. Or perhaps the tapes will be destroyed. We'll watch for the men in black...
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21. Board Game: Vinhos [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:196]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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Despite having had almost no sleep, I did still possess Glen More, and it's not only a library game, it's an Essen game with a 4 hour time limit, so I was back at the con early and returned it.

And there, after being inaccessible most of the con, was Vinhos, one of the other games I was very keen to try.

Vinhos was an amazingly good gaming experience and I'm looking forward to its North American release. The game simply has a great bouquet of theme to satisfy any palate.

Jack taught Jonathan, Justin and I how to play. Despite the booming voice of Derk on the PA saying "it's almost 1 o'clock, I want my games back", we were too engaged and finished our game. It was in the hot games room after all, how far would we get with it?

After playing Vinhos, I vindictively lowered my rating on Grand Cru. It's irrational I know, but since when are people rational?
United States
Verona
Wisconsin
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Железный комиссар
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Jonathan Kinney
Canada
Surrey
British Columbia
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22. Board Game: World Without End [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:312]
"L'état, c'est moi."
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Vancouver
BC
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Nick wanted to play his copy of World Without End that he'd got in the BGG.Con math trade, so Jonathan and I joined him along with Doug from Portland and our friend Donald from Vancouver. Doug had to leave early so Donald filled in.

I liked this game well enough and it has some nice mechanisms in it. I don't feel compelled to buy a copy, but I'd play it again.
donald fast
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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NICK WATKINS
United States
New York
New York
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Jonathan Kinney
Canada
Surrey
British Columbia
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Doug Richardson
United States
Gresham
Oregon
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23. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:207]
"L'état, c'est moi."
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After Don went to catch his plane, Jonathan and I bumped into Rusty and Mistermarino and we got in one last game of Innovation before they too had planes to catch.
Social interaction will cease!
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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What the Hell else am I supposed to do with GeekGold?
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Rusty McFisticuffs
United States
Arcata
California
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Surrey
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Then Jonathan and I chit chatted with some local gamers and after a two player game of Innovation and finally admitted that it was time to go pack to come home.

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24. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:111] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
"L'état, c'est moi."
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A con comment...

The Magnolia room was a nice place to have a white board for the wargamers who were meeting up, but the room itself was too small sadly. Perhaps next year we could get a larger space?

And one where the tables won't be stolen for the flea market?
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