Roger's BGG.Con 2011 - Third Time's the Charm
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Two years ago I took the plunge to go to my first BGG.Con (and first con ever) and I had a great time. I spent that con playing as many different games as possible.

Last year, I went back without hesitation because I had such a great time the first year. That year it was all about playing games with the friends I made the first year.

This year was the best one yet. I played the fewest number of games I've played at either previous con. I made yet more new friends. I had great conversations over beers and dinner. I continued traditions some of us started the previous two years.

Thank you Derk and Aldie and the whole admin team for making the con run so damn well. I'm already planning my trip in 2012.


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1. Board Game: Airlines [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:2207]
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Tuesday

I booked my flight back in March, right after I bought con tickets, and this year everything was on track for me to be down early enough on Tuesday evening to play Friedrich with the same folks I'd played the first two years.

Sadly, United cancelled my 7am flight and rebooked me on one that didn't see me get in to Dallas and the hotel until about midnight. I did arrive in time to see Jonathan get finished off by the Austrians and say hi, but it was still disappointing.


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2. Board Game: Missing Match-Ups: Sesame Street [Average Rating:6.24 Unranked]
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Wednesday morning - in line to register

Wednesday morning I got into the line up for registration around 8:15 and my buddy Kris was right behind me. Jonathan was opposite us and Kris broke out his copy of The Castles of Burgundy. Conveniently we were right next to a credenza (how often does one get to use that word, really?) and we had a good game of it.

This wound up being the only Euro I would ("officially") play during the con. I hadn't exactly planned it that way, but that's how it worked out!


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3. Board Game: Manoeuvre [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:399]
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Wednesday, after registration

This was my first official game of the con, and it was the bookend to Tuesday night. I really like this game, and as Marty, my opponent in both games put it, it's light and easy but still a very competitive game.

Two plays of this.
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4. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:182]
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A few months before each BGG.Con, Chris Montgomery put up his annual Wargamers Meet Ups and Mules geeklist so that we grognards can schedule in some games that normally we don't have a chance to play. This was my first scheduled event.

Each year there's been a team game, and this time we had six people playing three on three.

For those who don't know, it covers the battle of Austerlitz.



I finally seem to have mentally digested the rules on this one, and I've upped my rating on this one to a 9. I'm only really interested in playing this as a team game though, as the tension created by not knowing what your sub-commanders are going to do is delicious.

The situation on the board made it look as though the French position was precarious, but we had to call it at the end with the French having only 5 morale while the Allies had plenty to spare.





This game is another one of the highlights of the con for me, and is now an annual tradition.
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5. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:135]
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In addition to being the winner of a couple of categories in the Golden Geeks, A Few Acres of Snow saw a lot of love at the con. The library copy was near unobtainium, but thanks to Phil (pmanoff) the folks in Magnolia were able to play this a lot. I played Marty twice over the course of the con, once on Wednesday and then on Thursday, splitting the games with him.

Both games were won by the British, but both were completely different in feel and strategy.

I'm still strongly leaning towards getting my own copy.
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6. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:51]
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Chris (cmontgo2) and I had a pick up game of CC:E and we picked scenario 4 from the base game (Closed for renovations). I had the Americans and once he set up his cross fire nests in the main building, off I raced.

Well, he managed to keep my main squad pinned down and even broke the sarge, but then the radio operator called down some smoke and I was able to proceed a little closer. Then a couple of blazes broke out, including one that spread and made a gorgeous exit lane on the east and the American boys streamed past in a wave of glory.


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7. Board Game: Here I Stand [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:74]
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Thursday

About six weeks before the con, one of the admins posted a little wiki page saying we could book the Maple conference room. A room with a big table, six big cozy chairs...

So I booked it!

Last year we split the HIS game into two sessions, and that worked so well that we did it again this year. In total we figured the game was about 7.5 hours, but that included about 90 minutes of setup/tear down and recording/setup, so really, about six hours for a total game.

Thank you Justin (houjix), Marty (itsmarty), Jono (jonocop), Scott (cscottk) and Chris (cmontgo2) for making Here I Stand one of the games I feel worth flying 1800 miles for.

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8. Board Game: Unhappy King Charles! [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:743]
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This was a teaching game for me, showing Marty how to play this gem that'll be the subject of a future War College podcast.

The game went the distance with Marty's royalists taking it to the final card play by the parliamentarians on the final turn before losing his head. An epic game all around.
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9. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:182]
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Friday

Rusty (kuhrusty) and Chris and I got together in the Geekchiq booth and played a "team" game of this (we tried to get a fourth, but nobody would commit).

This was an epic game that again went down to the wire, with both sides down to 0 morale on the last turn.

Yes, those are Allied blocks in that formation. The French side ran out of 2-infantry markers!

Chris making his move.

The Geekchiq tables are gorgeous, and the Geekchiq team enjoyed watching our game. Robert (not in the photo) said he'll be getting a copy to play the team game. If any tables are delayed as a result of his being sucked into the NT team game vortex, I apologize.


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10. Board Game: Maria [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:165]
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Ah Maria, you wonderful seductress you. On Geekchiq tables. Those things really do sell themselves and I wish I had a space I could put one into.

But on to the game! Chris wanted to learn it and Marty wanted a rematch, so off we went. Chris had France, Marty Austria, and I took on the split personalities of Friedrich and King George.



I managed to pull out the win on this one.
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11. Board Game: Conquest of Paradise [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1210]
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Saturday

My friend Nick wanted me to teach him how to play this so I did.

CoP is one one of my favorites. It's not an earth shattering game, but it has a very tight theme to gameplay integration that if you can into the spirit of makes for a very rewarding game play.
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12. Board Game: Rommel in the Desert [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:607]
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I last played Rommel in the Desert about 20 years ago against a very good friend of mine (best man at my wedding no less) and Rusty gave me the opportunity to relearn it. I took the British Expeditionary Force and was reminded about the brilliance of this game. I definitely need to get this to the table more often. It's one of the best Columbia block games out there, and also one of the most complex ones (I'd argue more complex than the rules set for EastFront).

Rusty has a box of beads to mark things. Silver beads to mark units that have completed movement in NT, orange beads to mark corps commands in NT, and little pink fish to mark units out of supply in Rommel.

Well, this image is all you need to know about how my game went! laugh

The entire BEF (save the two in the fortress) are out of supply and will soon be swimming with the fishes)

I don't (and won't) make excuses about poor card draws and bad dice, but as Rsuty's my witness, I couldn't roll a hit if my life depended on it. At one point I had 16 dice (at single fire) and didn't roll a single 6. Then, at the end of the turn where this above situation occurred, the German reinforcements arrived and I rolled nothing but fives and sixes to see if any of my reinforcements would arrive early. And who can blame them with such inept generals at the helm!

laughlaughlaugh
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13. Board Game: Maria [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:165]
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I then had a game of Maria with Rusty and Asher (adiamant). This game will become a session report, but the highlight comment came from Rusty, who said, and I quote for posterity

"I refuse to watch Roger win this again!"

I have never had a Maria game unfold the way this one did, where on turn 8 all three of the Austrians (me), French (Asher) and Prussians (Rusty) had one, yes ONE victory point token left in their pools (the Pragmatics had six).

At one point, I retreated the Prussians onto one of my fortresses to block the French from taking it, and then negotiated with the French to block Prussian access to attack me!



I'll keep you all in suspense about who won partly because it's funnier that way and partly as incentive to actually write up the session report!
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14. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.33 Overall Rank:1]
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Troy (troymk1) is a generous spirit who loaned me his car again this year to make a Kroger's run at the start of the con and has otherwise been a gentleman and a scholar and good friend to me at BGG.Con. We finally had a chance to play a game, and even though it was almost 1am (the Maria game was... long. Very long. We started at 5pm, and notwithstanding the pause for the awards and prize draw and ordering in a pizza to fend off imminent starvation... it was long) we pulled out TS and had a "let's play quickly" game.

We were both experienced players, we played 2nd ed straight up out of the box and Troy managed to finish me off in turn 6 with SE Asia scoring for the win.

Thanks Troy, it was awesome!
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15. Board Game: EastFront II [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:750]
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Sunday

Sunday morning Rusty and I sat down to one of my all time favorite games, EastFront. And, because I'd played before and knew the rules cold (take that how you like), I was able to give Rusty the Germans for Barbarossa.



It was pretty funny having the clean up crew from the hotel dismantling tables around us and stacking chairs as we worked on our game.

The Soviets accounted well for themselves, with many units earning posthumous Order of Lenin medals. The best moment came when, on a blitz move in the opening turn, one infantry block held off a massive German attack and survived the ensuing blitz allowing the northern front units to make an orderly scorched earth withdrawal.

"Yes I know, out the door, one order of Lenin each, line on the left."

Rusty was able to move up quickly and even managed to surround and starve out two HQ units in the Ukraine, but I was able to keep a consolidated front and outran his lead units, keeping his HQs low on fuel and unable to keep up.

Sadly we had to call the game half way through at the end of turn 3 because he had a flight to catch, but this was shaping up to be one for the ages.

End of turn 3, the Soviets are holding up ok, and winter is coming... Note that there's more map behind the Russians, it was just folded over to fit onto the table.

This was my final official game of the con.
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16. Board Game: Last Will [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:225]
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After Hours

I wasn't flying out until Monday, so after Sean whisked me off to Babe's for some fried chicken along with Matt (Octavian) and Morgan (sisteray), we went back to the hotel for some post-con gaming. Doug (richtoosoon) and Jonathan joined us for a rousing game of Last Will.

This game is the antithesis of Agricola, and of many Euros for that matter. Rather than having to scrape and scratch and start from nothing to try and build something up, here you're given a lot of money and need to find ways to spend it all!

This game is what would happen if you took this movie...



.. and made a game with it.

I don't buy a lot of Euros these days, but this one's on my shopping list.

Thank you Doug for sharing this with us on Sunday night after dinner.
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17. Board Game: Home Before the Leaves Fall: The Marne Campaign 1914 [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:5938]
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Heading Home on Monday

Heading home is always bittersweet. It felt like I'd only just arrived and there I was, packing my suitcase to go home.

Coming home with me from the con were:



The first two were free games from the con, the expansion I bought at Funagain, and the Go bowls and stones were from a set bought through the virtual flea market and came with a bonus book, Go and go-moku: the oriental board games by Edward Lasker.

I also bought the con t-shirt (eventually I'll just be able to wear a different con shirt every day I'm there) and the "Keep Calm and Game On" shirt.

Thank you to all the vendors for bringing stuff to the con.
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18. Board Game: Chicken Run: The Chicken Pot Pie Game [Average Rating:5.55 Unranked]
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Friends, Romans, Fellow Geeks

I've made some great friends at BGG.Con, and that is the absolute best part of attending. The games are the excuse to come, but the friends are the reason why I do.

Special thanks to Tony for introducing me to Babe's (and Gideon for driving) and Sean (he who posted the "where to eat at BGG.Con list) for taking me back there, where they have the best fried chicken ever.

Special thanks to Troy for saying "Here, take the keys to my Lexus" so I could make a grocery store run to stock up on snacks and light lunch stuff.

Thank you to Phil (pmanoff) for repeatedly loaning his copy of A Few Acres of Snow to his fellow grogs, and thanks to Scott (cscottk) for always being the guy running back up to their room to bring it down!

Thank you to Greg (gs in ks) for the great buttons (Why are not everyone at BGG.Con?, "No Whining", Soylent Green is Meeples!, and the best one for wargamers) and for sharing his home made beef jerky. Can I place an order for some for BGG.Con 2012? That stuff's dangerously good.

Thank you Chris for your annual Wargames, Meet Ups, and Mules geeklist so that I can overbook my schedule!

Thank you Matt, Chris, Rusty, and anyone else I have inadvertently forgotten for the beers. This is why there's an opener on my key chain!

Thanks to everyone I played games with for making the con such a great experience, and I'll

see you all next year!
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