Veni, Vidi, Lusi: My BGG.CON 2012 Experience
Andrew Korson
United States
Kennewick
Washington
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Once again, I headed down to Dallas to take part in the great geek party known as BGG.CON.

This is my story...
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1. Board Game: The Family Game [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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I arrived early on Tuesday. I have a brother who lives in Heath, Texas, so I wanted to spend the evening with him and his family. I decided to rent a car for just two days; that would allow me to drive over to meet him on Tuesday, and also do some grocery shopping (in an attempt to keep the dining budget down to a minimum) as well as have a nice dinner outside the hotel on Wednesday evening.

So after getting settled in at the hotel, I headed out to Heath. It was a bit tricky getting there, because my brother warned me to not take 635, but instead to take I-190 around to the northeast before following GPS directions. Only problem was that there is no road called I-190 in the area. It turns out that the George Bush Turnpike is the same road, but nobody (including the Texas DOT) calls it that. However, I did make it out there eventually, and had a really nice visit. We ate dinner at one of their favorite pizza places.

It was around 10 or so when I got back, so I opted not to pursue any pre-CON gaming.
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2. Board Game: Krypto [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:9318]
Andrew Korson
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This year, we did not have two separate lines for registration, so it was easier for Tim and I to play our traditional game of Krypto Dice. We even managed to convince a couple of guys near us to play a couple rounds.

They were extremely relieved when the line started moving, and we put the dice away.
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3. Board Game: Yago Pool [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:10551]
Andrew Korson
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I was finally able to get my own Yago Pool a month ago. So I had a chance to get some practice in before BGG.CON. I figured I'd be able to reclaim the title of Yago Pool Champion from Tim. Things started off promising, as I won the first game we played on Wednesday. But then it all went in the crapper, as I ended up losing every game afterwards that we played throughout the con.
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4. Board Game: Mutant Meeples [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:2336]
Andrew Korson
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Tim and I headed to the Hot Games room. A TON of great games were set up in this room, and many were already in progress. A phenomenon that we observed for pretty much the entire con was that the games near the entrance to the room were almost always occupied, but those in the back were mostly empty. All of the most popular hot games were on the front few tables, which meant there was always a crowd around the entrance to the room. Maybe next year they could spread out the 'popular' games so that the room space is more evenly distributed.

We had to go about halfway through the room before we found Mutant Meeples setup and ready to play. It's based on Ricochet Robots, and supposedly 'fixes' the problem of it being more of a puzzle than a game. The different powers that each of the meeples had was an interesting twist, but honestly, I prefer the original. I think this was an attempt to fix something that didn't need fixing.
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5. Board Game: Ginkgopolis [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:320]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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After finishing Mutant Meeples, we moved a few tables down and decided to try Ginkgopolis. Neither of us knew anything about it, but it looked intriguing. We were joined by Sean and Amy.

This one turned out to be very good. The theme was a little wierd- something about building a city in the future where ginkgos are a symbol of a new world order. Or something like that.

The gameplay was a lot of fun. Tiles represent the city, and on your turn, you use cards to either build up existing areas of the city, or expand the city. You can gain points, new tiles, additional workers, or new permanent abilities along the way.

I liked this one enough that I decided to purchase it. The fact that it can handle up to five players means it should work well in our game group.
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6. Board Game: Crazy Creatures of Dr. Doom [Average Rating:5.62 Overall Rank:10643]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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Tim wanted to check out the hotel provided food options. I was trying a new approach, in that I made a supermarket run before the con started, and had a refrigerator added to my room. The idea was to eat a bit healthier and save some money, but in the end, I don't think it ended up being significantly less expensive or healthy. I'll probably not do that again.

Anyway, we had lunch in the dedicated room set up for eating. While we ate, we played one of the four games that I got as a door prize. Yes, that's right, we got FOUR different games as door prizes! You gotta love BGG.CON!

This game is a quick and light filler where you are trying to get rid of your hand of cards. It was reasonably interesting and fun. I'll try it again in our game group to see if it resonates with them.
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7. Board Game: Il Vecchio [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1243]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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After lunch, we headed back to the Hot Games Room. Not much was available, so we sat down to this one mostly because we could, not for any other reason. It's always risky to try to learn a new game without a proper 'splainer, or having pre-read the rules, but we decided it was early in the con, and was worth the risk.

The rules for this were really easy to follow, though. And it turned out to be a very good game. We played a two player game of it, and really enjoyed it. It's an interesting worker placement game that involves moving your workers around the city of Florence trying to gain various tokens that can be used to 'take over' outlying provinces and earn nobility titles or city council titles in the city of Florence.

Later in the con, I had a casual conversation in an elevator with another gamer (I don't remember his name), and told him about this game. He thought his buddies would enjoy it, and ended up tracking me down later to explain it to him. I was happy to oblige, and I'm sure it was good karma for me to do so.

I didn't see this one for sale at any of the vendors, or I would probably have bought it on the spot. Which is probably for the best; now Tim can buy it.
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8. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2245]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
Washington
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One of the best things about BGG.CON is meeting old friends. Tim and I met up with Debbie (Inkygirl) and Jeff (badkangaroo) for dinner. We went to a taco place that Aldie personally recommended to us. I don't know remember the name of it but it was very good.

I was able to get Debbie to autograph a copy of her book "I'm Bored". It's so cool that I know a famous celebrity now!

After dinner, I headed off on my own to attend a publisher/designer meet up. I had a chance to play a new design called "Massachusetts Bay" by two brothers, Toni and Chris. Seth Jafee and Stephen from Blue Panther games joined us. It was an interesting economic engine game that was set in colonial America. It was an OK game, and with a few minor tweaks, it wouldn't be a surprise to see it get published.
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9. Board Game: Chicken Feed Stampede! [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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After playing one of the other designers' prototype, I got a chance to have a few people play the most recent version of Chicken Feed Stampede!. Seth, Stephen, Toni and Chris played. They seemed to enjoy it mostly, but felt it was a bit long. I got some really good feedback from them that I'll definitely use to make more improvements.
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10. Board Game: Last Call: The Bartender Game [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:5186]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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I found Tim in the main ball room after doing the prototype thing. He was with Jeff and two of Jeff's gaming buddies, Alan and John. They were looking for something light to end the night. John went to the library to find something, but came back empty-handed; he couldn't find the thing he was looking for. So I volunteered to find us something, and chose Last Call. It seemed like the most logical choice!
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11. Board Game: Perilous Pyramids [Average Rating:4.86 Unranked]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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Tim needs lots of beauty sleep, and I tend to rise relatively early, even if I stay up late. So on Thursday, I wandered around the exhibitor hall a bit while waiting for Tim. I got a chance to try this new game at the publisher's booth.

It is a clever little card game that seems like it might scale well with multiple players. The game is not out yet, but is on Kickstarter. I might back it; still have to think about it though.
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12. Board Game: Last Will [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:334] [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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I can't remember how we came to play this, but I'm glad we did. Tim plays this alot at game nights, but I don't get to play because I'm running games on other tables (but not Table 1...)

We were joined by Sean and Kempe. In this game, you are trying to spend a small fortune the fastest in order to get the full inheritance from a rich uncle, a la "Brewster's Millions".

I ended up winning by a very slim margin, which was a surprise, as I usually don't do well at engine building games. I did manage to get a good farm engine going, and had the right amount of supporting cards that let me spend money pretty consistently every turn.
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13. Board Game: Mutant Meeples [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:2336]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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Tim and I headed back into the Hot Games Room and found a group trying to figure out the rules to Mutant Meeples. So we joined them. Most of them caught on right away, and it was a pretty close game among four of us; one of the players just couldn't get his brain wrapped around the concept, though. He was a very good sport about it even though he didn't get a single point.
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14. Board Game: Spinball [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:4537]
Andrew Korson
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In addition to a number of rounds of Yago Pool, Tim and I also played a few of the other dexterity games. I managed to beat Tim in our first Spinball game. It doesn't make up for getting clobbered in Yago Pool, though.
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15. Board Game: Revolver 2: Last Stand at Malpaso [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:2814]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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After dinner, Tim and I decided to try Revolver 2: Last Stand at Malpaso. We played its predecessor, Revolver last year.

This time around, Tim played the good guys, who were trying to hold on long enough for the Mexican army to arrive before my banditos killed him off and took over the town. The game has a lot of back-and-forth moments, with each side making seemingly big plays that end up being effectively countered moments later. The addition of a poker round to start the game was interesting, but didn't add much in my view.

Tim did manage to survive with just a couple of characters.
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16. Board Game: Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Original Series [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:2687] [Average Rating:6.70 Unranked]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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We had about an hour before our Library shift started, so we decided to try this game that I purchased in the Exhibitor hall. I was never a big fan of TNG, but TOS- oh yeah, that was an automatic purchase for me.

The mission concept reminded me a little of the dungeon aspect of Thunderstone. The rules seemed to be well done, with a very logical layout, from setting up the main play area to individual play areas, but lots of stuff was missing, such as explaining the basic ship that each player starts with, exactly how damage worked, etc. We eventually figured it out.

We chose the non-infection set of cards, which are supposed to be simpler. Tim got lucky early on and got the Captain Kirk card. I managed to fill his hand with a bunch of ensigns, which slowed him down for awhile, but he was finally able to use Kirk to single-handedly complete the final mission he needed for the win.

I liked that each player had a couple of hidden missions, as well as the publicly available ones. I didn't like that the cards were all unique, which meant every time a new card was turned up, we had to pause to read it and figure out where it would fit in our strategy. Maybe it'll be OK with more plays.

I'm not sure there's a great game in this box, but the nostalgia value alone means it'll get enough play time to give me a decent return on investment.
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17. Board Game: Library Adventure, The Fun Way to Learn [Average Rating:2.00 Unranked]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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As in previous years, Tim and I volunteered for Library duty. It's a fun way to give a little back to BGG for running such a great con. It's also a great way to meet some of the other attendees and see some of the interesting things that they're playing.
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18. Board Game: Valdora [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1248]
Andrew Korson
United States
Kennewick
Washington
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After Library duty, Tim and I sought out Jeff, John and Alan. Nobody could decide what to play, so I insisted we play Valdora.

It's a great pickup/delivery game that we've played a number of times in the CBBS. Neither Jeff, John nor Alan had heard of it before, so it's good that we had a chance to introduce them to a really good game that they can maybe play in their group.

This is one that seem to have a good grasp of, as I usually do well. I did end up winning, by making sure I had enough diversity in contracts to get biggest bonus, in addition to getting one specialization bonus. It was a really close game, with six points separating fist and fourth place.

We had a lot of fun with the theme in this one, as we joked about how the land had all these gems and coins just laying on the side of the road waiting to be picked up for free.
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19. Board Game: Black Friday [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1867]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
Washington
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Alan called it a night after that (around 11:30pm), but the rest of us wanted to play something else to end the night. I think it was Tim that suggested Black Friday. This is another game that we tend to play alot in the CBBS (well, Tim does, I'm usually banished to table 2 or sometimes even to the lounge).

The crazy market in this game makes each game played really unique and generally a lot of fun. I made a 'suboptimal' move early on, which Tim noted would likely come back to haunt me. It did. Tim and I ended up tied for silver at the end, but Tim won on the tie-breaker (cash). If I had not made that 'suboptimal' move early on, I might have been able to catch him. Lesson learned.
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20. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #5 – Epic Ancients II [Average Rating:8.39 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.39 Unranked]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
Washington
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I rose early again on Friday morning, because
Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
United States
Austin
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agreed to host a C&C epic game first thing.

If you haven't played an epic version of C&C with two full teams, you have no idea what you're missing. This game is just AWESOME!

I think the scenario we played was Hydaspes, where Alexander defeated the Indian general Porus. We were only able to muster four players, so Brent and I took the side of the Greeks, and Brady and Stephen played the Indians. Brent was our overall commander and took the left flank; I commanded the center and right flanks. The action began in my right flank early on where I had Alexander and his personal guard, as well as a large contingient of light cavalry.

I sent my light cavalry crashing into Brady's line of archers and foot soldiers. It was a big gamble, as he was able to roll more dice than me on most turns. It was critical that I silence the ranged attacks and attrite his tougher forces so my medium cavalry (Alexander's personal guard) could mop up. Fortunately, that's exactly what happened, and by the end, Brady's entire right flank was destroyed, and my weary but victorious troops were moving toward the center as we scored the final point for the win.

But it did come with a cost; just before I secured the right flank, Brady's troops managed to kill Alexander! Thankfully, that devastating loss of their beloved leader only inspired the greeks to fight all the harder, and they did avenge his death.

Did I mention how AWESOME this game is?
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21. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #5 – Epic Ancients II [Average Rating:8.39 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.39 Unranked]
Andrew Korson
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Kennewick
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As we were finishing up, Mark stopped by and inquired about our game; he's from Britain, and he said he and his buddy were slowly working their way through the base game scenarios, but was curious what the 'Epic' thing was all about. We invited him to join us for another battle after lunch. He managed to get his friend to join us (sorry, I don't remember his name). So we played a six player scenario. Brady, Stephen and I on one side, and Mark, Brent and Mark's friend on the other.

We chose a scenario that took place not long after the previous battle; it was actually one of the battles that took place between two of the generals who wanted to succeed Alexander on the throne (I didn't write down the name of the battle).

In this battle, both flanks saw plenty of early action. I again had the right flank, and took the battle to my opponent early. I managed to push him back and force his survivors toward the center, although it was definitely a close fight, with a lot of attrition on both sides.

Stephen was getting pummeled on the left flank, but he managed to earn a few victory points as he fell back and tried to consolidate his position. In the center, our two commanding generals, Brady and Brent, stood watching and waiting. Brent made the first move, by bringing his heavy foot troops up to engage the line. This began a truly EPIC clash in the center, and when the dust settled, our side managed to get the vitory! Huzzah!

It was totally AWESOME how the game transitioned from the flanks to the center. Everyone was totally engaged throughout the battle; even when we weren't issued orders for our sections.

And it was a lot of fun to play with Mark and his friend. By the time we finished, he was absolutely sold on EPIC, and was trying to figure out how to get his hands on a copy. So we did our job by growing two more CC:A EPIC fans.

Next year, I'm going to make sure to add this to the Wargames Meetup geeklist so we can make sure we get four on four, as that only makes the game more fun.

And THANK YOU to Brady for bringing his set to con so we could play!
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22. Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:422]
Andrew Korson
United States
Kennewick
Washington
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I would have gladly played CC&A:Epic all day and everyday, but thought it best to find Tim and make sure he had an easy-to-beat opponent for the rest of the con.

I found him in the Hot Games Room playing Escape: The Curse of the Temple with Noah, Dawn and another gamer. This is a really interesting coop game that is timed, rather than turn based. Each player has a set of dice that they roll, trying to get sets of symbols that allow them to move, explore and 'conquer' the various locations of a lost temple.

It plays in ten minutes, so they invited me to join them for the next game. I had a blast. So much so that I decided to buy it later in the exhibit hall.

Those of you in the CBBS will get a chance to play it at the next game night!
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23. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:216]
Andrew Korson
United States
Kennewick
Washington
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We had been hearing a lot of buzz about this game and were wondering what it was all about. While on Library duty, I caught a glimpse of it, and was surprised that the entire game was apparently a tiny deck of just 16 cards.

How could something that small generate so much interest?

Well, luckily, we found that it was available on a table right next to where we just finished Escape: The Curse of the Temple. So Dawn and Noah agreed to teach Tim and I how to play.

It's a really good game; such a simple set of components, and even simpler rules, yet tons of great gameplay. On your turn, you draw a card and play a card; your goal is to be the last player in the game or the highest valued character. There's plenty of risk and deduction in the game, and it plays so fast that you can't help but like it.

I've decided that Tim has to buy this as soon as he possibly can. Maybe even sooner.
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24. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:37]
Andrew Korson
United States
Kennewick
Washington
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On our way out of the Hot Games Room, we saw that one of the Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar games was open. Tim was dying to get in at least one play of this so we jumped at the chance.

We were a bit concerned that we would have to figure it out on our own, but luckily, a 'splainer came by (around the same time that two more players (Felix and Jan) joined us.

This game was getting TONS of buzz, and seemed to be on everyone's MUST PLAY list. It was on Tim's for sure. I was actually kind of scared of it; it looked exactly like the kind of game that requires careful planning, forethought, and perfect timing of your actions. All things that I suck at.

And that's exactly what it was. I really struggled trying to figure out what the 'correct' move was each turn; I was always one step behind in what I thought I needed to do. Tim of course did very well; I wish I could see the matrix in games the way that he does.

I ended up making a big blunder three quarters of the way through the game that cost me 12 points. I ended the game in last, about 20 points behing the leader. (Tim can verify the scores, but I hope he doesn't...)

I was pretty cranky throughout the game, because I saw the end coming as soon as I sat down. I hope I didn't ruin Jan and Felix's experience. (Tim I don't worry about- he's used to me).

In hindsight, I think I see a few things that I did not do well, so I would be interested in trying the game again, hopefully with a more positive outcome (in terms of enjoyment, not necessarily in terms of actual score). I'm sure Tim will buy a copy. When he does, I'll try it again.
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25. Board Game: Bears! [Average Rating:5.84 Overall Rank:5620]
Andrew Korson
United States
Kennewick
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I decided to wander around the exhibit hall to try and collect the stamps I needed to complete the Exhibitor Bingo. Exhibitor Bingo took the place of the puzzle/social game that BGG has run in the past. This was a bit of a disappointment for me, as I was looking forward to 'optimizing' this year's puzzle like I did last year.

Regardless, I entered the exhibit hall, knowing full well that being forced to speak to 24 different vendors would likely end up in one or several purchases. It's almost like they planned it that way!

I found Bears! at the Fireside Games booth, and played a quick game with the rep and a couple of other passersby. What a totally fun and quick dice game!

I bought one on the spot. I think I still had something like 20 stickers to go at that point. Things weren't looking good for my wallet...
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