BGG.CON games played and kid power.
John Lopez
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Tucson
Arizona
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BGG.CON was a total blast. I was one of the few who brought my entire family, so it was very encouraging that my son had a blast being there and my wife found quite a few new games she wanted to add to our collection. (I was also encouraged that my son did not do anything to embarrass the family name or sully the experience for others: of course he was on pain of banishment if he did. We took it seriously that he was representing *all* children with his behavior…)

We bought the games that we could fit in our luggage for the flight home, but there are a few more we will need to pick up at our FLGS. I really hope the vendors did well enough to encourage them to come back when/if the second convention occurs. I would like to thank all the people who put an immense amount of effort into creating the *best* *first* *convention* ever. Usually a first convention suffers from some serious teething, but not here! In fact, I think that this convention *exceeded* the experience you get at the larger conventions. The schedule was executed well, the people were incredible and the variety and number of games on the tables astounding.

Anyway, on to the individual games with some additional comments along the way.
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1. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:91] [Average Rating:7.58 Unranked]
John Lopez
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This was a nervous moment for me because this was the first time my son would play outside our normal gaming group. He played with almost no reminders to take his turn and even scored fairly well (and managed to block me off twice from needed paths). The game was enjoyable and the others at the table great players to be at the table with. First game finished, I was highly encouraged.
 
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2. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:125] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
John Lopez
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A few tables down, there was the original Ticket to Ride. My wife and son went off to check out some of the other things in the vendor area while I decided to settle (in my mind) the question of “which is better”. Another excellent group of players and we were off in a hurry. I found the decisions to be slightly less interesting here compared to the Europe set, but the lack of the odd tunnel rule made analysis a bit easier. In the end I got smoked on the scoring track because ticket values didn’t make up for the types of tracks that needed to be laid: it really felt like “long routs or bust” here, whereas going back and watching over the shoulders of some of the TTR:Europe players finishing up I saw some big ticket scores that made an impact. Verdict: Europe is more interesting to me, although that’s mitigated a bit by the extra random element of tunnels. Still, I will be picking up Europe instead of USA.
 
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3. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:97] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
John Lopez
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Walking to the end of the vendor area, what do I find but another railroad game? This looked quite a bit more “meaty” and not being released quite yet made it all the more appealing. My son and wife were still off playing other games so I took a seat. With a quick explanation (most of this game is simple to understand, but action cards *always* slow down the initial explanation as you need to know what *possibilities* there are…) we were off. The game took about three hours (with rules explanation) which takes it outside the length my group normally would play, and there is quite a bit of “tight” competition for routes, items to ship and so on. The individual mechanisms are all simple and work well.

I especially like the fact that you start with no money and can only get money by issuing shares in the beginning. $5,000 for each share issued with the downside being that the end of each turn they eat $1,000 of your income and can never be bought back. You *must* get your income up to speed quickly and efficiently in this game because of that drain on your income and the fact each share is a lost victory point at the end of the game. Route planning was also interesting and the delivery mechanic clean.

One downside to the initial print run is that the blue on the board and the blue of the pieces are not related. I had a heck of a time mapping the blue and purple resources to the cities they could be shipped to. Hopefully this one issue will be resolved as the game itself was excellent. I need one more play to see if the time can be brought down to something my group would handle.
 
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4. Board Game: BANG! Dodge City [Average Rating:6.88 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.88 Unranked]
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Ah, my son and wife have returned. My son can’t resist Bang and the table was using the (to my mind required) Dodge City expansion. I made the mistake of sitting next to my son and he proceeded to turn me to Swiss cheese. Later in the CON we played again and I drew the sheriff at a table with eight. I managed to turtle up (with a character who isn’t a good defensive card) and we came down sheriff, deputy and renegade and managed the win for the forces of law and order. Since this later game was the last Bang scheduled in the vendor area my son acquired the toy gun which trumped my sheriff’s badge for the win. Bang remains a favorite light and chancy card game for our group.
 
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5. Board Game: Cartagena [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:845]
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Having gotten the vendor room looked over we moved to the game library. I have a good library already, but this was *amazing* in scope. I decided that I was going to try as many games as I could that I *didn’t* own… and the first choice was Cartagena since my wife and son were still in for the next game. We sat down and started over the incredibly brief rules. Another couple came by and we invited them to the table. Our first game went poorly as greed outweighed defense in the open handed variant and so we decided to see how closed handed play would be and found the game very interesting with the balance between making “big” moves forward being tempered by “breaking” chains behind you to avoid giving your opponent an even bigger move chain. This is on our “to buy” list (the vendor didn’t have his copy anymore when we went back).
 
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6. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:319]
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Shadows over Camelot had caught my wife’s eye more than once, so we scheduled to play with the couple we played Cartagena with. Once it reappeared in the library we sat down and were bringing up everyone up to speed when on of the game explainers dropped in to help out. Given a “assured loyal” card, he proceeded to lead us through the game. I drew the traitor card and the game began. Ah, the sweet machinations of being a traitor… I had a blast subtly messing with the board. Failing quests be the skin of my teeth (“aw, who put that 9 down there”). Forcing the grail quest to prolong and prolong, eating up time that could be used elsewhere. Getting the armor so I could pick the “lesser (read greater) of two evils”. Finally I was exposed for the traitor dog I was, but the smile on my face didn’t fade as I watched the struggle to bring more light to the table. Two knights had to fall to keep the game from ending badly, and in the end they did manage to pull of the win. Now I understand why everyone says “you must play with the traitor for this to be interesting”. Without a traitor it would appear to be fairly easy to achieve the win… it requires an active traitor to really mess up the board. This we purchased along with the painted figures.
 
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7. Board Game: ChiZo RISING [Average Rating:5.73 Overall Rank:11537]
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I was skeptical of ChiZo Rising but got pulled into a demo game after my wife and son tried it out. It turned out the balance between completing rectangles of “compatible” creatures and creating more attack points than the opponent can summon to defend himself is actually an excellent push/pull upon your play. The starter decks seemed to be balanced enough (I was able to win again after trading decks) and there was a deal at the show where they would open the boxes to ensure you had one of every “race” in the game. We bit and took home four starters (which came with enough of the boosters to get some interesting decks built once we got back to the room). Quick and easy to learn, I originally bought if for the younger members in our group but found it to be interesting enough that I am more than willing to play as well.
 
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8. Board Game: Hunting Party [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:4577]
John Lopez
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Having had surprising fun at the vendor area, we decided to try out another of the vendor area games. My son and wife both had been eyeing Hunting Party. We sat down at and had the penny tour. That was enough that both my wife and son were hooked so we sat down and played a four handed game (the game is optimized for three players, but doesn’t “break” with 4 or 5). My son figured it out very quickly and won the game, while my wife was puzzled for most of the game. The mechanics are actually quite good, the cards have everything you need to know, but the interplay between the recruitment areas and hunting areas is potentially confusing for your first game. By the end my wife was on track as well and the fact it plays optimally with three was just a wonderful thing for us (as it is normally the three of us: we often have to recruit to fill out to the fourth that most games work best with). We purchased this at the convention.
 
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9. Board Game: Flowerpower [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:2426]
John Lopez
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By this point, my wife and son were ready to go back to the room. Having gone back to the room myself fairly early the first night (11:30) I was raring to keep going, so I went back to the floor looking for a game. I ran into a wonderful attendee at the library who was looking to try out Flower Power. Not being familiar with the game and looking to keep the night going, I went out to the floor and we struggled through the German only rules. (He read through the rules while I applied logic to what he couldn’t read clearly… we ended up correct I believe.) After filling 1/3 of the board we could see how the game went and decided to abandon that in favor of whatever some other people who came by came back from the library with.

I actually don’t know the name of the game we replaced Flower Power with, but it was a very light bluff/bid game where you collect sets of four animals and “fancy” other players matches to your existing cards which is resolved in a blind bind that is quite amusing. The table was a blast to be at, but I’m not sure that was the game (which surely encourages goofy behavior) as the great crowd *at* the table.
 
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10. Board Game: You're Bluffing! [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1249]
John Lopez
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This is the game I couldn't remember from the above item. If you have a rowdy group, this is a blast. Sleep deprivation helps too.
 
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11. Board Game: Polarity [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:2007]
John Lopez
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Supposedly available again in the states in a couple of weeks, this game is on my hot list. Less of a game of dexterity than I imagined (after a few quick games you can place pieces quickly and accurately) and more of a territory control game than I thought (blocking placement opportunities is critical to success) this is the kind of game that just draws people to the table to try it out. Not the deepest strategic game ever, but there is a lot of tactical decisions and the angst of placement is worth the price of admission. Creating "impossible captures" made it even more sweet.

Will purchase as soon as it’s available.
 
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12. Board Game: Werewolf [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1165]
John Lopez
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Having followed a few online games but never played, when people came buy and announced that a game of Werewolf was starting up, I decided to try it out. The first game was twenty players and I drew the sorceress. Quite quickly the nefarious nature of the game became clear and fairly early I found my prey (the seer). Now it was time to bide my time and subtlety help the werewolves in knocking of villagers. Finally I pushed my luck too far and I was on the chopping block. Looking around it look likely I was going down, so I blurted out “werewolves, eat *him*” and pointed at the seer. The looks around the circle were priceless, as was the “did he just tell the other werewolves to eat someone?” Needless to say, I went down in the vote, but the seer went down with me due to werewolf attack. Victory number one!

I was getting ready to leave (the mumbling was “the game isn’t as good with a smaller group”) I hung around and eventually 17 others assembled. OK, game on for round two. As a lowly villager I managed to hang on and even peg one of the wolves. It was a tight game that came down to equal votes between killing me and another player. Unable to resolve the deadlock, the die pointed to the other player: a werewolf. From there the wolves were on the run and the hunter finally took out the last wolf. Now, I was a certified addict to the game, but at 3:30 I had turned into a pumpkin and returned to my room with a 2:0 record. Perhaps I should retire with that record, I suspect it can only go downhill from there…
 
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13. Board Game: Around the World in 80 Days [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1313]
John Lopez
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Around the World in 80 days was played was my first disappointment at the convention. Although the mechanisms were all reasonably well executed, there was little excitement from the game. There is some tension caused by the need to hang back and aquire better cards and yet not being too far behind the group, but the cards themselves were very uncooperative a couple of times leaving players with no choice but to sit and discard. Not a horrible game, but not one I would likely choose again just because it was so emotionless.
 
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14. Board Game: Havoc: The Hundred Years War [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:2137]
John Lopez
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Havok was one of the few games in the vendor area we had not tried, so during some downtime between games we went and tried it out. An interesting six suited poker hand raking system resolves placement in each “battle” and the dogs of war add some interest to hands that you can’t win (as you get to pick up a card you want). By the end I felt like it had some merit and with its small size it almost got picked up, but we never got back to do so. Probably will pick up a set as the rules are simple enough to get those who only play card games to play something a little divergent from a “typical” card game. Update: this was in the bag... crafty wife
 
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15. Board Game: The World's Greatest Game Show [Average Rating:5.80 Unranked]
John Lopez
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The game attached to this is just a placeholder for playing the “Hot Streak” game. An interesting visual pun trivia game, we found this incredibly difficult when it was using popular culture (not know the names of most actors and such) but a lot of fun nonetheless. The crowd that attended was a lot of fun and the friendly ribbing between Aldie and Derk’s groups was amusing to behold. We placed middle of the pack, but placement wasn't critical to enjoyment.
 
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16. Board Game: Formula Dé [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:577]
John Lopez
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Formula De is a bit too random for some people, but our regular group had (in the past) already played a “season” with the game and found it to be quite a bit of fun. (In that case we played one track a week for months… the variation of tracks really helps keep the game interesting and the point system meant that finishing consistently was more important than always winning.) At the convention I simply played a short demonstration for some people where were interested but unsure. I believe they found the game to be interesting enough that they will be acquiring their own copy. I’m still fond of this game myself.
 
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17. Board Game: Dungeon Twister [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:760]
John Lopez
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This was another quick demo for people interested in the game, not a play personally. I really enjoy this game and at least one of the players found the game worth acquiring after the demo. The expansions were there (un-translated) and I’m looking forward to Paladins and Dragons. This game is excellent two player, so I’m unsure about adding the player interaction element that the 3-4 player expansion would cause.
 
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18. Board Game: Attika [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:565]
John Lopez
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Perhaps 11:30pm isn’t the *best* time to play Attika. The game itself is quite good with a lot of choices and a very smooth flow. It was just too much of a brain burner for so late an hour and there is almost no table talk which for me is *required* at the end of a long day. My normal group would probably find it too dry, but evaluating the game outside the context of when I played it, I actually think it is a quite good game. Must try again when my brain is in top form.
 
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19. Board Game: Poker [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:864]
John Lopez
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The poker tournament was a blast. There were ten tables of ten initially and I managed to make it to the penultimate tables. I managed to hang in a while and went out 14th overall, which was quite the achievement considering I have only played *very* casually and at the last table two tables quite a few of the players play in *real* tournaments. I also acquired my “poker nickname” at that table, thus the change to my name in these posts.
 
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20. Board Game: Master Thieves [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:2561]
John Lopez
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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It’s the last day and we were casting about for something to wind down with. Master Thieves was checked in so we grabbed it and tried it out. In the end the pretty box pulled eight people to the table. Overall I found it interesting but not interesting *enough* for the cost. This is a trophy game, one that you can "wow" people with, but I really don't see it coming out for *play* all that often. Very clever and pretty, but you just can't track more than two drawers over 7 other players turns (potentially more, potential less depending on card choice). That limits the appeal when the drawers might get emptied or turned upside down when it gets back, leaving you with a fairly random choice.
 
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21. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:75]
John Lopez
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Crokinole turned out to be excellent filler between games and was played repeatedly throughout the convention while waiting for other players to fill a game in or simply to relax after a longer game. Quite fun and simple enough that you are playing in 2 minutes, I may have to track down a board.
 
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22. Board Game: Liberté [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:699]
John Lopez
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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This wasn't a played game, but I picked it up because I haven't been able to get it at my FLGS. I believe 10 copies showed up and they were gone in hours. I'm looking forward to digging into this one...
 
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23. Board Game: Heroes of Might & Magic IV Collectible Card & Tile Game [Average Rating:5.14 Overall Rank:13724]
John Lopez
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Our blue table prize: my wife drew this ticket and I was under orders to get this if possible. Mine turned out to be the second ticket drawn and since the first winner didn’t show up I had to follow orders. She was thrilled that it included the CD-ROM version of it as she has played a *lot* of HoMM3 on her notebook. Will be interesting to see how this goes, but I’m already thinking about larger components…
 
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24. Board Game: Clans [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1138]
John Lopez
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Clans was our red table ticket draw. Have very little information about this game, so we will just see how it goes.
 
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25. Board Game: Guerilla [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:4180]
John Lopez
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Another table draw, this fills a hole in my Avalon Hill collection (which is spotty because of the "great game loss" of 1987).
 
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