Matt's Board Game Back Room

Join me in my cozy little back room filled with games! Ooh and ah at some new releases. Learn about some more recent games. Or, look back at some older and classic games. From Euros to Ameritrash, kids games to grown-up games, easy to intense - nothing much is ignored in Matt's Board Game Back Room! (Updates will be cross-posted from my blogspot blog - click my Blogger microbadge to go there now)

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CONVENTIONS - GAMESTORM 13 Gaming Report (SUNDAY, Mar 27th)

-matt s.
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This is Part 4 of 4 of my gaming report of Gamestorm 13. If you made it this far - thanks for reading! I enjoy writing these convention reports up, but they sure do take a lot of time to write them. Hopefully they are helpful and perhaps a wee bit interesting to you as you read through them.

SUNDAY

Sunday morning I woke up and my roommate, Peter, reminded me that we had to check out today! Ugh! Somehow I forgot about that! He noted checkout was 12pm - ok, not too bad (it was about 8:30am then). He headed out and I got up and got ready, then spent a bunch of time re-organizing my games and Wes's games (I was his proxy for the Gamestorm Math Trade) among the 5 totes we had. I decided his totes were too big to fit both in the cab of my pickup, but I had brought an extra 3rd one that I knew would fit (I had tested 3 of my totes before I left and they fit with apparent room for a 4th).

I have a small Ford Ranger without a King Cab or canopy. I had brought tarps, plastic, tape and bungies in case I had to load some into the bed of the truck (to prevent them from getting wet or falling out) but I only wanted to do that as a last resort. So, I was hoping to get it down to 4 large totes along with my two smaller totes and the rest of my junk so I could maybe cram it all inside.

So, I managed to get it all packed into 4 totes with even a bit of room to spare. Inventory: 4 large totes, 2 small totes, 2 cloth shopping bags, one with my computer, sweat shirt, large can of peanuts, and a few misc items, the other with a couple of games, my jacket, water cup and snacks. Plus my small bag for clothes. (It's funny when you travel and have more non-clothes/personal stuff than other stuff because usually it's the other way around. Gamers --- we're such geeks when we go to conventions )

Once I was settled on my packing solution I stacked everything and took down some of my personal gear to the pickup but left the games in the room for now. Then I headed back to the main gaming room to see where everyone was and what kind of gaming was happening. I couldn't find Chris anywhere (I guess we were up a bit late and he's not a morning person ). But, I DID find Tom and he was ready for a game. Doug was ready as well and he suggested Navegador. I hadn't played and was looking forward to learning some new stuff for my last day. I'm in! Mike joined us to round it out to 4.

(Later, I got a text during while playing Navegador that Chris had been working on getting out of the room and packing his van and they found out the van was DEAD! Luckily he found someone with jumpers that got the van going again. Which in turn let him drive around a bit to recharge the battery and get HIMSELF going again with a large Starbuck's coffee)

1. Navegador - This was one of my favorite new-to-me games of the convention (and not just because I happened to win!). You must focus on some sort of strategy to earn points in this game be it shipyards and discovering new land, building factories, establishing colonies, building churches, or perhaps a bit of each. I loved the market mechanism which not only allows you to compete against others by forcing it up or down away from what others want, but also sometimes forces you to work it against yourself if you need money and aren't careful. You must pay attention to what everyone else is doing and try to find your own niche (or maybe mess with the niche of others). Yes, this game has a rondel, but I happen to love rondels. Excellent game that is going on my to-buy list!

After finishing I realized it was noon. NOON! 12pm! I had to be out of the room!

I cruised over to Peter to let him know we needed to clear out of the room. I went up and hauled down 2 large totes and 1 small and stashed them in the corner of one of the game rooms. Going back up I checked with the front desk and they said we had to be out by 12:30pm at the latest or be charged another $25. It was 12:17. I rushed back up and got the other two totes and Peter was there grabbing his stuff. We headed back down then I checked out just before 12:30. Whew!

Ok, what next! I got a quick bite to eat then....

(click to read more...)
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Mon Apr 4, 2011 3:40 pm
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CONVENTIONS - GAMESTORM 13 Gaming Report (SATURDAY, Mar 26th)

-matt s.
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This is Part 3 of 4 of my gaming report of Gamestorm 13. Each part will be posted over the next few days.

SATURDAY

Saturday was the day of the math trade. For some reason I woke up early so I got up, showered and dressed, then headed down for breakfast. I went to check out the trade room but it was closed although a couple of people were already lined up. So, I went and got Wes's stuff and got in line with them. Soon after security came by to open the door and I went in and got all the games out and waited for everyone else to show up. I got 95% of the trades done in a reasonable amount of time. There was one individual whom we were supposed to meet up with the day before (but didn't notice the note until too late on Friday) so I took those back with me as well. Eventually we met up late Saturday evening and exchanged.

Anyhow, Chris was still waking up by the time I was done and he had a nice filler ready to go...


1. Mosaix (x2) - I love puzzly games and this fits the bill superbly. I had read about it and Chris pulled it out when we finally got together after the madness of the math trade. He explained the rules quickly and off we went. There are 4 dice that have 3 symbols on them - X, O and (triangle). On your turn you roll the dice then arrange them together in any configuration you want. Then, both players add the pattern to a small whiteboard with a grid on it using a wipeoff pen. The pattern can go any direction on the board and can even go off the board (you just don't draw those symbols). You are trying to maximize distinct groups of 5 (or more) of each symbol. You keep going until one person fills up their board to the point they can't add anything more. Then, you count up the number of groups of each and multiply by the total number of symbols in those groups. Groups of less than 5 don't count towards either total. Add up your totals for each of the 3 shapes and compare scores to see who wins!

This game is akin to FITS or Take it To the Limit where you are all doing the same thing but in a slightly different way to try to maximize your score. My first game I thought I did good but lost by about 20 points (60-80 or thereabouts). We played again and I won by about 40 points once I learned the trick to a high score (80 to 120 or so). Loved it and will get it when I have an opportunity.

2. Circus Maximus - Chris stumbled upon Circus Maximus while I had gone off to check on the dealer room for some deals. When I returned and saw he was hanging out there I knew what we were playing next. He's been jonesing to play since forever and this was his chance. An exuberant guy named Seth was running it and he had drawn the map on a large canvas sheet that was draped over a long table. He had some cool hand-painted chariots (done by his wife) that looked spectacular. He mentioned he had forgotten his camera so I offered to snap some pics and send them to him (this was the only time I brought out my camera). Here are a couple of them:

Read more about games played on Saturday @ Gamestorm....
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Sun Apr 3, 2011 12:37 am
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CONVENTIONS - GAMESTORM 13 Gaming Report (FRIDAY, MAR 25th)

-matt s.
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This is Part 2 of 4 of my gaming report of Gamestorm 13. Each part will be posted over the next few days.

FRIDAY

Biblios - Again. Chris was teaching to Jon when I got back from breakfast and jumped in to play as well.

Die Sieben Siegel - Another card game. This was actually "Wizards Extreme" - a 'nasty' trick-taking game with an interesting twist - you must guess exactly how many tricks AND what colors you will win by selecting chips of those colors in the numbers specified then putting them back when you win an appropriate trick. Left over chips are negative points. Only one card suit is wild. Not sure who won the first game, but the 2nd game I won by trying out the evil wizard dude (where you try to screw everyone else by giving them negative chips).

Haggis - I taught Rog and Chris. My review says it all about gameplay. I will say this was my first time playing 3 player and it's tougher in some respects because either player can have really good cards and it's harder to tell how strong your hand is. Rog did extremely well for his first time and my cards sucked (or I just bet and played them wrong). Chris has already purchased his own copy.

Habitat - Rog taught me this game. It's fairly light but has some interesting decisions and is fun as well. The cards are nice with various animals depicted. Basically, you are trying to build up an eco-system by getting cards on the table with number values 1 thru 8 - getting multiples/duplicates doesn't help. You have to start with base prey cards then build up from there. There are also special events that affect the game in different ways and you can also steal columns of cards when playing predators in a certain manner. It's tougher than it sounds, but the rules are not all that complicated. Note that a copy of this was at the flea market but Chris bought it before I had a chance. I think my kids will like this game and will probably get a copy.

Showmanager - Chris and I had about 1 hr before our next game that we had signed up for. We had 6 so were looking for something that could take that many but was also relatively short. I suggest Showmanager. Some were skeptical due to the 1 to 1-1/2 hr timing but I said I could teach it quickly and if there was no AP we could do it. And, somehow, we managed to get it taught AND played by 6 players in under an hour! This was only my 2nd time playing (and was my first time teaching - the rules are pretty easy though). The main idea is to collect cards (actors) and, when the right set is accumulated, put on a show! Your total value is your score. You must put on a total of 4 shows. Any show you complete is available to borrow money against to be able to hire good actors for the remaining shows. Points are determined by how much money each show garnered compared to all the other shows. There is LOTS of moaning and groaning in this game because with 6, by the time it comes around to you the cards you wanted are often flushed out and you are left with crap. I found this game to be just as fun compared to the first time I played. It is OOP and hard to get and the reprint artwork is not very good so I'm glad I got a copy last year before it came out.

Read more about the games played on Friday @ Gamestorm...
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Fri Apr 1, 2011 3:56 pm
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CONVENTIONS - GAMESTORM 13 Gaming Report (THURSDAY, Mar 24th)

-matt s.
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This is Part 1 of 4 of my gaming report of Gamestorm 13. Each part will be posted over the next few days.

Wow, it's been 8 9 days since my last post! Probably 9 10 by the time I post this! I've been trying to be consistently posting at least every 2-4 days since I started on Jan 1st. Alas, I have failed this one time - BUT, I have an excuse: GAMESTORM in Vancouver, WA, last week from Thursday to Sunday and I had a terrific time!

Well, here's the general scoop: I was lazy and didn't bother taking any pictures (except on Saturday when we played Circus Maximus). And, I didn't do much else other than play games even though I stated previously that I would try to branch out more. I DID make an effort to go into the dealer's area and I spent some time asking a few questions, looked for Thunderstone promos for my friend Bob, and tried to spot any good deals. Also, I had a few dollars burning in my pocket and thought I'd spend it, but ultimately I ended up not buying anything there.

I DID attend the flea market (which took place after the Gamestorm Math Trade exchange where I handed out and collected games for my friend Wes). At the flea market there were some interesting games and some decent prices on some. I inquired about several and finally settled on a mostly complete copy of Dungeon for $10 and a practically new copy of Day & Night for half price as well.

I used to have Dungeon when I was growing up but apparently it found it's way into a garage sale or thrift store while I was in college and my parents changed houses, so I was excited to find myself another copy that I can play with my kids. There are a few missing cards and it's likely playable as-is, but the complete-ist in me says I have to seek out the rest of the missing pieces. I'll be hitting the BGG Parts Resource list as soon as I do a proper inventory.

First, my overall impression of Gamestorm: It was fun!

Next, my slightly more detailed impression of Gamestorm: Registration was a breeze (I got there Thursday afternoon before the onslaught of gamers hit). Room check-in was easy and game unloading wasn't a problem as I parked in the garage and took the elevator up. My room was right near the elevator so carting games back and forth wasn't a big problem. The rooms are fairly standard, clean, comfortable and in good condition.

Gaming overall was busy and boisterous. Lisa Steenson of Gut Bustin' Games was there as guest of honor and there were several tables of her games being played: Trailer Park Wars and Oh Gnome You Don't mostly. To promote Gnome (which is just being released) there were several people with large Gnome hats running around. I also saw a couple of large stuffed Gnomes and there was a lot of chanting of Gnome! or Brawl! (or something similar - I couldn't tell exactly) on at least a couple of occasions. (I never did get in a play of any of those games ). There were also several LARPers running around adding color to the environment with various costumes on (cloaked vampires, eye patched pirates, people with swords and fighting gear, people with various animal ears and tails protruding, etc).

Read more about the games I played on day 1...
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Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:38 pm
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Signed up for Gamestorm! Signed up for a couple games! Ready to go NOW!

-matt s.
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Well, I procrastinated too much this year. I finally got myself signed up for Gamestorm last week and booked my hotel room TODAY (the last day for the guaranteed convention daily rate). I could probably have booked a room in a local hotel for cheaper rather than directly in the Hilton where the convention is happening, but being in the same hotel is so much more convenient.

Ah well, it's only money, right?

UGH - I can't help thinking: "Gee, I could have bought X number of games for the price of the hotel!"

I seem to do that a lot - convert the cost of something I bought into 'game' value.

"Gee, instead of getting new shoes I could have bought a new game or two!" or "Gee, for the cost of those groceries, I could have bought 3 new games!", or "Gee, I just filled up my tank with gas - I could have bought at least 7 or 8 games at that price!"

Of course, sometimes you can't get around buying groceries or filling up the gas tank, so I guess I just have to decide NOT to get games instead. *sigh*

Anyhow, I digress. Gamestorm. Is it worth it to pay X dollars to attend? Well, first I must qualify that. For me, I have to travel from Eugene to Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area and get a hotel room. So, the cost to enter the convention is very reasonable ($35 if you sign up by TODAY, or $45 after today). But, I also have to play for a hotel room for 3 days.

Hmmmm, let me see. I get to play games all day long for 4 straight days (March 24-27th this year). I get to play games with some of my good friends that I don't get to play games with much. I get to play games that I can't/don't/won't buy, or try out games checked out from the game library, or even see and/or play games I simply didn't know about. I get to participate in a no-ship math trade (there's some cost savings there - if I actually have something worth trading at least). I get to watch LARPers (not my thing to participate in, but interesting to watch, to a point). I get to eat for free in the hospitality room (well, a small donation is recommended)!

Yah, it's definitely worth it, if only to be able to play games non-stop for 4 days with no (or very little) life interruptions.

Ok, so what is my focus when I go this year?


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Sun Mar 6, 2011 10:34 pm
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EGG (Eugene Games Gala) 2011 - My EGGxperience (Part 5)

-matt s.
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This is my final installment for EGG 2011. I had a great time even though I missed out on part of Saturday. I hope Lorna continues to run EGG for years to come. I think it's really starting to come into it's own and beginning to attract some good attention.

Between some of my turns I made sure to get up and take some pictures of other games going on around the convention. Here are some shots of what I saw...

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Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:06 am
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EGG (Eugene Games Gala) 2011 - My EGGxperience (Part 4)

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I forgot to mention yesterday that on Saturday I missed out on the game giveaways! Lorna contributes some games of her own for the drawing and FunAgain also provides some games. Early Saturday tickets are distributed and then throughout the day they were drawn from a cannister. If yours is drawn you get to go pick any game you like! My friend Bob got a copy of Onirim which he was very excited about. Three years ago I won a copy of Hoity Toity. Unfortunately I still haven't played it yet

Speaking of three years ago (2008) apparently that was the first year of EGG as a full 3-day convention! I had thought EGG had been running for longer than that, but apparently it had only been 1 or 2-day sessions up to then. SO, I can proudly say I was an inaugural member of EGG!

Sunday, Feb 6th - 8:00am
Despite getting home late and going to bed even later, I managed to pull myself out of bed at 8am. EGG started back up @ 9am and with it being the last day and having missed out on most of Saturday, I wanted to make sure I got started early.

One small issue this morning - I woke up with a headache, probably from not enough sleep and possibly not enough hydration. I took some Advil but never quite was able to shake it the whole day. I hate gaming with a headache, but nothing was going to stop me today.

Because I hadn't really played any of the games at the top of my 'to play' list I had resolved to only playing new games as much as possible.

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Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:07 pm
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EGG (Eugene Games Gala) 2011 - My EGGxperience (Part 3)

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Day 2 - Saturday, Feb 5th - 7:00am
One the 2nd day of EGG I got up pretty early after staying at EGG until midnight, then driving home, doing a bit of preparations for the morning, winding down a bit, and finally heading to bed. Pretty much a normal day for me actually (except the EGG part)!

Anyhow, our Scout Pack back in November rescheduled the snow day trip to HooDoo near Sisters, OR, to Feb 5th, 2011. At the time I didn't have my calendar with me as the online service we track our family calendar on no longer worked with my older phone, and so I didn't (couldn't) object. Little did I realize until later that this fell smack dab in the middle of EGG! Well, by the time I realized it was really too late to veto that weekend. Grrrrrr. Ah well, I will know better for next year.

And, because we had such a great time last year I knew I couldn't suggest backing out. Being a Den leader doesn't help in this regard either. There is this really nice snow park just before you get to HooDoo ski resort with this decent sized hill that drops about 50 feet at maybe a 35-40 degree angle, then has a gentler slope at the bottom and a berm at the end to help slow you down.

There is no cost other than the snow pass for parking. Last year the weather was bright and sunny with a nice fresh layer of snow - perfect for sledding!

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Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:09 am
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EGG (Eugene Games Gala) 2011 - My EGGxperience (Part 2)

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Ok, that was a bit too long of a break. Sorry, it's been a busy week. Gaming and all - no time for writing. Oh, and a little travelling.

Day 1 - still....
Anyhow, about part of the way through Terra Prime I was hungry for lunch. My usual lunch time is in the 11am-12pm range and we started in the middle of that range already so I was definitely hungry.

Now, here's something important that I've learned about myself and conventions. I know that if I don't eat regularly, it really starts to affect me and I cannot think properly or function well. Some people can go all day without eating. Not me.

Therefore, I have learned to make sure I have food available and not to rely on anyone else. I had made 2 PB&J sandwiches and also brought some crackers and a banana when I left from home. I kept this in an insulated lunch bag with ice packs in it. I find 2 does just swell - keeps everything nice and cool. Those ice packs you can get from the grocery store for 99 cents are REALLY GREAT! Not those cheap pillowy looking ones but the ones that look like little rectangular water canteens like you see on the back of a jeep. They keep things cold all day long! Perfect for all-day gaming!

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Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:59 am
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EGG (Eugene Games Gala) 2011 - My EGGxperience (Part 1)

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Hello! Glad you could come over today to the Board Game Back Room. I was worried I'd be a bit tired today but I seem to have recovered well from gaming all weekend (and going on a scout snow trip to the mountains). Yesterday was the last day of the 3-day EGG convention here in beautiful Eugene, Oregon and when I got home I was pretty tired, plus I had one of those wake-up-with-a-headache-due-to-too-little-sleep days - the kind of headache that sticks with you all day despite taking Advil every 2-4 hours. But nothing was going to stop me from attending of course! But, that was Day 3. I should start with Day 1.

So, let me tell you about the convention! In fact, let me take you along!

DAY 1 - Friday, Feb 4, 2011 - 11:40am
Arrival at the Red Lion Inn! In through the lobby and down the stairs to the underground convention room. Just outside the door is the traditional EGG sign.

Yes, you have arrived.

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Tue Feb 8, 2011 10:28 am
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