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Gaming with The Bearded & Friends: game plays and discussions. Comments welcomed and appreciated.
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27 to 29 May 2016 - BGG.CON Spring 2016

Serious? Lee
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Coppell
Texas
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BGG.CON Spring 2016
A more relaxed CON experience.

Good gaming buddies.


Yspahan
#1|#1 of CON (Fri 3:55-5:00pm)
W=^Lee 89
^Sten 79
*Brian 67

I arrived midday after putting in some hours at work, so I missed joining my buddies in the front of the line for this CON. They were already gaming when I got there, so I took the opportunity to walk around and see everything - which lasted all of about ten minutes. Spring CON is much smaller than fall CON. Upon returning to my friends, I spied Yspahan (with the Souks expansion) sitting on the table beside Brian so I eagerly joined him and Sten for a game while Mike taught Mark Sekigahara in what turned out to be an epic play of that great game.

Speaking of great games, Yspahan is a one I've always heard Chris at Dice Hate Me Games recommend; and I must say the adulation he lavishes on this game is warranted. It's a fun dice roller mixed with area control that plays quickly. Plus there's camels. So what's not to like? Yspahan was a perfect start to my CON.

Just a bit out of focus.

Failed to focus on the foreground.

Finally got the focus just right.


Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice
#2|#2 of CON (Fri 5:00-5:30pm)
W=^Brian
^Lee
(*Sten)

Sten found this crazy dice rolling wrestling game to play next called Luchador! He set it up and taught Brian and I to play. We had good fun battling it out against one another. I used my special serpent strike several times with some effect, but the loss of a die for rolling later took it's toll as Brian pummeled me hard to knock me down after several rounds. This game plays fast and the silly premise makes it all that more enjoyable. It's really funny when dice roll off the mat and become useless which happened a few times in our game. I'd gladly play this one again.

Serpent strike smackdown!


Onitama
#3-5|#3-5 of CON (Fri 6:00-6:50pm)
^L vs ^Paul
L vs ^Brian
Brian took over vs ^Victor Van Scoit (victorsentme)

When I found my Roll2Play friends who were sitting nearby had a copy of Onitama with them, I didn't hesitate to ask them if I could play it. Since they were leaving to grab some dinner, they lent us the game to play and provided a brief rules explanation. It's super simple to learn and quite puzzling to play. We were all instantly charmed by it.

I played two games against Paul and Brian, and then invited a new friend who wandered by to join us. I played half a game with Victor before Brian took over my spot to allow me to leave for the start of the poker tournament. This was one of two games I immediately ordered after the CON. It was that good.

A very good, thinky chess variant.


Poker
#6|#6 of CON (Fri 7:00-8:00pm)
Poker Tournament
Quote:
I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
By Pablo Neruda


I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.

I've never wanted to commit the time to play in the poker tournament in past CONs, but with the relaxed atmosphere at this Spring CON I thought it was finally time I check out this event. Sten, who's played in the tournament several times before, joined me but we didn't wind up at the same table.

I got first chair and almost lasted until the cards came back around to me. Aldie's father-in-law and I went out together, getting beat by pocket aces from across the table. It was just as well, since I was ready to return to board gaming. Maybe if I'd have had a livelier table it would have been worth sticking around longer.

...and then, we held hands.
#7-8|#7-8 of CON (Fri 8:20-8:50pm)
^Lx2 w/ *Sten

Sten lasted a while longer in the poker tournament than I did, but not my much. After we were both knocked out and collected our $1 chip, he taught me another game on my radar I've been wanting to play, the awkwardly named "... and then we held hands." game. This is a deceptively tough cooperative game to win; we tried twice, but to no avail.

Not being able to speak while playing and trying to anticipate your partner's plans is hard. There's also luck of the card draw to deal with which can prove brutal at times when the color you need doesn't come up quickly enough. We were so close to winning our second game. We were only able to dance around the center circle several times without being able to time it just right to arrive there in balance together. This is such a good game. It was the second game I immediately ordered after the CON.

I so wanted to hold his hand.


Karuba
#9-10|#9-10 of CON (Fri 9:00-9:25pm)
W=*Sten 25
^Lee 20

W=Sten 23
Lee 21

Sten and I headed over to the SdJ nominee games which were set up for play at the CON, and he taught me to play the bingo tile laying game Karuba. I was surprised with how well this adventure themed game played. The puzzle aspect of it provides nice choices of where and when to place tiles, and the production quality was really nice. We played two very quick, satisfying games which were close in points. I could see this giving Codenames a run for its money for the top prize this year.

7 Wonders Duel
#11|#11 of CON (Fri 9:45-10:25pm)
W=^Lee 74
^Sten 56

After a walk through the library, Sten and I found 7 Wonders Duel to play. We both missed playing this at the fall CON, so we were eager to see how this two person version of 7 Wonders played. It's not as bad as what SU&SD portrayed with their review. I quite liked it. There's a nice tension to revealing unknown cards for your opponent to discover. It's so similar to its parent game, that learning to play it was rather easy. I imagine I'll eventually pick it up to add to my collection.

Hmm... what's that icon mean?


Between Two Cities
#12|#12 of CON (Fri 10:45-11:11pm)
W=*Sten (tie break w/ Sergio)
^Sergio
^Lee
Mark
^Mike
^Paul
^Stephen

After our friends' other games finished we gathered a large group together to play Between Two Cities. We found a large round table near the library and got set up as Sten taught us to play. I partnered with Sergio on my left and Mark on my right. Sergio and I built a checkerboard of red and blue tiles while Mark and I built four yellow in a row along with some greens thrown in for good measure. In the end it was between Sergio and Sten for the win, and Sten won the tie breaker. The game plays well with a large group, and I'd play it again if someone suggests it. However, I don't feel the need to own it or suggest to play it myself.

The rules explanation may have lasted longer than game play.


Yspahan
#13|#13 of CON (Fri 11:50pm-Sat 1:00am)
W=^Mike 79
*Lee 54
^Pau 51
^Stephen 48

Before playing our next game, we took some time to walk through the library and look at all the games there. It's always amazing to see so many games in one place, and it's fun just to see what all is available. A few of our friends headed home, so I decided to teach those who were left to play Yspahan. I had such a fun time playing it earlier that I relished the chance to play it again.

I started off strong, but quickly faded in this second game which saw a lot less disruption of people's sets. Mike learned to keep spare camels on hand near the game's end to prevent being denied points as happened to him at the start of the game (by me). He attained a sizable lead and held on for the win.

Worth playing again since it's that good.


Joraku
#14|#14 of CON (Sat 1:10-1:55am)
W=Lee 78
Mike 70
Stephen 69
Paul 64

In anticipation of not finding Joraku available in the library (which was available actually) I brought my copy to play. We played it next and for the first time included the variant cards in our play. Joraku was my most played game at the fall CON, and one of my top games from 2015. I always like seeing how play develops in this game. Mike took advantage of the scoring variant card to leave his Daimyo in region 6 to score lots of points every round. The final march to Kyoto at the end was filled with surprises, too, as we ganged up on Mike who held the lead up to that point. Thanks to him losing forces in key areas, I surpassed him for the win.

Always a fun time marching to Kyoto.


Neolithic
#15-16|#15-16 of CON (Sat 2:25-3:30am)
W=*^Lee 24
^Mike 23*

W=Lee 31*
Mike 27
(*won bonus)

With only two of us left at the end of the first evening of the CON, Mike and I settled in to play a couple games of my newly arrived Neolithic before calling it a night. I read through the rules while he grabbed a drink. Our first play through made sense, but things really clicked on our second go round. There's a lot to like with this Small Box Games title. John did a good job on the design. It plays really well with his signature multi-use cards and the system for accumulating cards is clever. I look forward to playing this one again soon. Even at such a late hour when we finished, Mike and I were not the last to leave the ballroom. One other table in corner remained when we left.

San Marco
#1|#17 of CON (Sat 11:30am-12:22pm)
W=*^Brian 113
^Lee 103
^Paul 103
(We later learned we scored incorrectly between rounds when we only should have scored at end.)

After a few games on the Wii with my daugher, I arrived at the convention on Saturday to join Brian and Paul for a game of San Marco. I always appreciate the chance to play older, well-respected titles in the hobby which I missed playing for one reason or another. This is one of those, and I was surprised to learn it was an Alan Moon design. It uses a mechanic I really like of splitting resources for distribution ala Coloretto. We stumbled over the intention of the rules at one point, and then later discovered we scored areas incorrectly. With that in mind, I'd really like to try this game again before finalizing my thoughts on it. Luckily, Brian picked up a copy in the VFM.

Good morning fellows!

That's one colorful board.


Shadows of Brimstone: Swamps of Death
#2|#18 of CON (Sat 2:00-3:45pm)
W=*Sten, ^Mark, ^Brian & ^Lee (unconscious/insane)

With a full belly from eating a late lunch at Hard Eight, I returned to the convention (and changed my smoky shirt) to play Shadows of Brimstone. Sten has talked up this game which he's been playing lately with his gaming group, so it was good to get to see the game in action. The Cthulhu and Western theme seem a bit weird at first, but it works. With a bit of help from Shawn with rules, Sten lead us into the atmosphere of this game as we fought terrible monsters and undead souls. The big winged boss reduced my insanity near the end to knock me unconscious, and it looked rather grim for our heroes. Luckily, the rest of the guys were able to defeat the monster to win the scenario. All in a day's work.

Crazy good fun!

I don't know how we survived that fight.


Samurai
#3|#19 of CON (Sat 4:35-5:12pm)
W=^Sten on tiebreaker (6 non-majority pieces)
Lee (5 non-majority pieces)
*Brian
Mark

Before sitting down to play our next game, we took a break to find our sellers in the Virtual Flea Market exchange. I only picked up four games, so I was in and out quickly. After that was concluded, Brian and I introduced Samurai to Sten and Mark. Sten enhanced our experience by pulling up Koto music on his phone to set the mood - a very nice touch. He also wound up winning on a tiebreaker. This has become one of my favorite Knizia games. Once I decide upon which version to get I'll definitely be adding it to my collection.

Now I'll always want Koto accompaniment music.


Amun-Re
#4|#20 of CON (Sat 5:20-7:15pm)
W=^Lee 40 on tiebreaker (9 pyramids)
^Mark 40 (8 pyramids)
*Brian 37
^Sten 27

There were a few choices of which game to play next; and we decided upon Amun-Re, another Knizia design oddly enough. Brian taught us to play this Egyptian auction and area control game. I think Mark and Sten enjoyed it more than I did. It wasn't bad. I just prefer other Knizia games to this one. We wound up with a tight race at the end. Pyramids were constructed at a dizzying rate which helped me in winning the tiebreaker.

Loopin' Louie
#5|#21 of CON (Sat 7:45-8:00pm)
^Brian, ^Lee, Mark & Sten

Upon returning games to the library, we found Loopin' Louie sitting on the family games table. Neither Brian nor I had ever played it, so Sten and Mark humored us and helped us to knock Louie senseless around the table. The copy we played was missing a chip so we played a mini tournament with one less chip for the winner each round to put him at a disadvantage. I came from behind to knock out Mark three in a row at one point. After everyone won one game we went down to only two chips plus a single one for the winner. Last man standing in the end to win it all. I think Brian won. For such a short dexterity type game, this one kept up laughing at ourselves quite a bit.

Meteor
#6|#22 of CON (Sat 8:15-8:45pm)
Lx3 & W1 w/ *Sten, ^Mark, ^Brian & ^Lee

Sten introduced us to another game he'd been talking up with us, the game Meteor. It's a cooperative game which plays super fast. It also plays in silence which is one reason it's so hard to win. We felt lost the first game, so Sten reset and gave us a bit more explanation to get us going. Games last only five minutes, and after playing four or five games we only won once. So either there's room for improvement for us or you aren't meant to succeed too often in this game.

Sheep & Thief
#7|#23 of CON (Sat 8:50-9:15pm)
W=^*Lee 30
^Brian 19
^Mark 19
^Sten 14

I picked the cute looking Sheep & Thief to play next. This game got my attention after Eric W. Martin featured it in a past news post. The cartoony art and craft store puff balls compliment the game play nicely. It's a tile laying game (using cards), so I was immediately hooked. While everyone is playing their own game on their paper board, the chance to steal other's sheep by maneuvering the thieves keeps everyone aware of how their opponents are laying out their tiles. The drafting mechanic helped me to gain needed tiles several times, but I heard from others it was of little help. Still, for what it is this is a fun little game. I wouldn't mind picking it up if I could find a copy.

Sheep rustling in a small package.


Loopin' Chewie
#8|#24 of CON (Sat 9:20-9:30pm)
W=Lee
Sten
Brian

Upon returning Loopin' Louie to the library I saw a copy of Loopin' Chewie was available. So I grabbed it to play, too. While Mark was away for bit I played with Sten and Brian. I'm still curious why they remade this version for only three players. Again we laughed and had a fun time trying to land the millennium falcon just right. There was a lot more movement to this version of the game, but that was probably because it was much newer.

Ultimate Warriorz
#9|#25 of CON (Sat 9:45/10:00-10:30pm)
W=*^Sten as Agaric 13
^Mark as Cadus
^Brian as Bonzai
^Lee as Sorgho 9
^Shawn as Burdock

Sten found another fighting game for us to play when he introduced us to Ultimate Warriorz. Like Luchador! which we played yesterday, this game has attractive standees positioned in a ring duking it out. Unlike Luchador! this game is intended for a larger group of players to engage in melee. It's a card driven game that matches played cards against opponents defenses and timing is crucial. For example, Sten totally lucked out when all of us moved to the same quadrant to rumble, allowing him to throw a gunpowder barrel into our midst and collect 2 points of health from each of us for 8 total in one fell swoop. That most likely helped him to win the game. It's a fun diversion to play with five or more.

Word of advice: do not bunch up too closely.


Diamonds
#10|#26 of CON (Sat 11:00pm-Sun 12:05am)
W=^Lee 44 on tiebreaker (most in vault)
*Shawn 44
Diana 40
Sten 36
Mark 34

Shawn's wife happened by our table, and we encouraged her to join us for a game of her choosing which turned out to be Diamonds. This gave me the chance to finally play this newer trick taking game for the first time. It adds a resource gathering component to the trick taking formula and awards actions when playing out of suit for moving that resource, the diamonds, ultimately to safety behind one's screen. It took a while for us to truly get started, but then Sten had us laughing with his commentary during play. It was a nice light-hearted card game. I tied with Shawn but then won a tiebreaker by having accumulated more diamonds in my vault than him.

Cockroach Poker
#11|#27 of CON (Sun 12:05-12:35am)
^Lee
*Scott
Tyler
Adrienne
L=*Paul
Mike

I joined the Roll2Play crew next for a game of Cockroach Poker. I liked the colorful art of this bluffing card game. We enjoyed many laughs as people attempted to slough off cards on others. Paul's failed attempts were particularly fun to watch. As it happened he wound up losing in the end after he collected his fourth matching card. This is a fun game for a larger group. I'll be seeking this out to play again.

Good Cop Bad Cop
#12|#28 of CON (Sun 12:40-1:10am)
Scott
*Michelle (mmazala)
*Tyler
Paul
Mike as Kingpin
Lee

Tyler taught us to play another card game next, the hidden role game of Good Cop, Bad Cop. Michelle saw us setting up to play as she wandered by our table and enthusiastically joined in to play and help teach even. While most of us were just getting our bearings, Tyler, Scott and Michelle got involved in an early shootout until I used my item to drop all weapons. Then as more cards were discovered insinuations were flung at those at the other end of the table. Eventually, Mike became a marked man, and Paul (a good guy) killed Mike (the kingpin) to win the game for the good guys. This game didn't do it for me. I think I'll stick with Coup.

Council of 4
#13|#29 of CON (Sun 1:30-3:10am)
W=*Sergio 80
^MIke 62
^Lee 56
^Paul 53

For our last game of the night, Sergio generously stayed up to teach us Council of Four. This was a game on my short list to check out at the fall CON which escaped me, so I was very glad to get to play it now. It was more involved than I expected. There's a lot of moving parts to get a handle on to play well. I got off to a fast start using assistants to gain extra turns, but then I sputtered when I switched to building emporiums on the other side of the map. Mike and Sergio did a much better job of linking their cities together to take advantage of linked effects. I misplayed two of my turns which also hurt me, misreading the lettering script and confusing an I for J at one point. Mike ran away with the scoring until Sergio picked up big bonus points near the end to surge past him on the scoring track for the win. I liked the game, but it didn't wow me like I thought it might.

An unintentional Aldie photobomb.

Why did I build at opposite sides of the board?


Fury of Dracula
Fury of Dracula (Third/Fourth Edition)
#1|#30 of CON (Mon 12:35-3:10am)
W=Mike as Dracula
Sergio as Dr. Abraham Van Helsing
Evan as Dr. John Seward
Lee as Lord Arthur Godalming
collectively played Mina Harker

I returned to the CON after being away all day for one last game late at night with Mike and Sergio. I arrived after midnight to find them setting up to play Fury of Dracula and joined in their adventure. By this time, most everyone else in our extended gaming group had left except for a few playing the SdJ games. I've played this once before, and I like the thematic elements of this cat and mouse type chase.

Dracula remained hidden for quite a while as we spread out and canvassed the map. Mina's drawn card ability to locate his region proved extremely beneficial in narrowing down his location. After some confusion on Mike's part (and the addition of a wolf card), Mike indicated where we might find Dracula and we correctly guessed he was by the Black Sea. Mike then sent Dracula on a boat ride around Europe that landed him in the UK. When we caught up to Dracula in London our first fighting of the game ensued. Sergio's son Evan performed admirably against Mike, especially thanks to his garlic protection. To our advantage, Dracula only needed a few more hits for us to win. Evan had a chance but missed it as Dracula got away.

With Dracula cornered on the British Isle, we thought we had him surrounded; but to our surprise Mike's clever play helped Dracula to elude our dragnet long enough to escape to the mainland. Sergio got one last chance to fight him on the shore, but he was unsuccessful in his attempt. Dracula flew away into the darkness two cities away from our reach and with only one point of health remaining, practically giving Mike the victory. Since it was late, I bowed out and left them to finish in vain at stopping Mike. It was a long game, but a memorable one. And thus ended my Spring CON experience: it was the same but different.

He's got to be on this island somewhere.



PS: Here's how I spent part of my time Sunday waiting to get back to the CON. Airships was one of the freebies I picked up during registration, but I really dislike wasted space in board game packaging so...

Toss the insert and cut judiciously.
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