This past Saturday I made the trek from here in Arlington up to the Dallas Games Marathon, a monthly weekend-long gaming extravaganza. This was my first chance to get up to Plano, about an hour drive from my home, to play some games. This was a good chance to take Basketball G.M. public, but unfortunately I didn’t get to stay long enough to play it with anyone. Instead, I played three games I hadn’t played before (none of which I won), met some fun gamers and passed along a handful of business cards. I was very impressed by the turnout (reportedly 135 people) and the facilities, a nice big storefront in a strip center with plenty of tables and chairs and an incredible selection of games. Note that I am terrible with names and I will probably have misremembered multiple names and some I simply don’t recall at all. If I played with you this weekend, please don’t be offended. Also keep in mind that I would consider myself a novice board gamer. Most of my gaming experience is with customizable card games like Star Wars CCG, Star Trek CCG, Lord of the Rings TCG, Magic: The Gathering, etc.
I’m sure you’re all wondering which games I played. Basically I just wandered the room and hopped into whatever game was looking for players, so I literally didn’t care what the game was. The first game I played was a card game called Chrononauts, which I played with two other players whose names I unfortunately don’t recall. If you’ve never tried it, it’s a time-travel game in which each player had a mission to fulfill to try to change events in human history. Each time a player changes an event, it has ramifications on future events which lead the player to succeeding in his or her mission. It was a fun, fairly quick game that was easy to pick up but definitely requires some familiarity with the cards for a player to be able to successfully disrupt his opponents’ actions.
The second game I played was a card game called Caylus Magna Carta, which I played with 3 other players named Shane, and a pair of Jeffs. This will probably show how much of a board gaming novice I am, but I had never heard of Caylus, which is evidently a quite popular Euro-style board game. Evidently Caylus Magna Carta is the card version of the board game. This one was definitely tougher to pick up quickly and this led me to make a few mistakes in the early game that basically killed me in the long run. This is a city-building, resource-collection game in which the players strategically place buildings along a city street and place workers to collect money and resources, hoping to eventually collect the most victory points. I managed a decent final score in this one, but was unable to overcome my poor start.
Finally I played an auction/bidding style game called Priests of Ra. If you haven’t played it, this is a reworked version of the Reiner Knizia game, Ra. This one I played with four other players, Joel, John, one of the Jeffs from the previous game, and the fourth player’s name I forget. Sorry. Anyway, the game lasts three rounds with each player getting three valued tokens to bid each round (at least this is how the five-player game worked) to win tiles. These tiles are either buildings, priests, workers, pyramids or plagues. Each of these tiles give victory points based on the quantities that you collect. This was probably the most entertaining of the games that I played, although it is also the most luck-oriented of them. Again, as I had just learned the rules I didn’t know which strategy would be best so I basically bid kind of high early and saw what happened. It worked fairly well but I didn’t get enough of the permanent structures early in the game, and it seems that’s the best direction to go. I believe I finished 2nd in this game.
Before I left, I had a chance to meet CW, the designer of a number of board games including a game called Dragon Valley, a game that was successfully funded through Kickstarter earlier this summer. It was very interesting to chat with another game designer that has gone through the same processes that we at Fanfare Games are going through right now, including a Kickstarter project. I hope to have more contact with CW and other independent designers in the future as we are always looking for advice and a chance to cross-promote (hint hint (: ). I watched CW and some local Arlington-area gamers play a prototype of a game called Hidden Empires, about building and running an ant colony (seriously!), and I ran out of energy about halfway through their game. Unfortunately I didn’t get in to the DGM until after 7 PM, and by the time I left at 2 AM I was totally wiped out. It was a lot of fun and I got to play some games I’d never played before and meet lots of fun people. I can’t wait for next month and I will be sure to let everyone there have a crack at Basketball G.M.!
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