BGG.con 2012 - It's 1,737 miles to Dallas. We've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.
Dan Cristelli
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Milton
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HIT IT.

I've always wanted to attend BGG.con. Ever since I first heard about it, I thought it would be amazing. To be surrounded by people that I shared a common interest with? There's nothing better than that.

Well, it never came to be until this year. My friend Aaron

Aaron Hartman
United States
Albion
Rhode Island
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and I got tickets, booked our hotel and flights, and got ourselves out to Texas for a few days of gaming that I will never forget!

Along with the games listed below, here are a few of our highlights of the trip:

1 Upon arriving in Rhode Island, I found that I had forgotten my glasses at home. As I didn't want to risk making it that many days without a backup plan, I had my girlfriend overnight them to the hotel. Going a couple days without them was less than ideal!

2 Aaron's friend and her husband picked us up on Thursday night and took us to Hard Eight. Wow. Total meatgasm. That was some good food right there. I probably consumed more meat in that one sitting than I should have, but oh well!

3 After Hard Eight, we toured around a little bit and saw Cowboys Stadium and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Jerry Jones built quite a site to behold there, but I can imagine that the lack of ANY public transportation in the area makes it a nightmare around game time.

4 I LOVED the exhibitor bingo. It got me into the exhibitor hall and having conversations where I was able to try out games I'd never heard of before. What a great idea!
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1. Board Game: Zombicide [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:345] [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked]
Dan Cristelli
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I pulled into Cumberland, RI around 6:30 and hopped into Aaron's car to head to Battlegrounds for his game night.

The game of the night was Zombicide. I had seen the Kickstarter come up when it was seeking funding, and found it interesting. I didn't pledge at the time because I would have wanted to fund at a level high enough to get all the goodies and the wallet wasn't hearing anything of it.

Four of us battled a good way through the map, keeping our kills spread out so as not to level up too quickly. Once we hit yellow things started to get...interesting. Once Aaron died things went QUICKLY down hill. We wound up dying in short order after that, but MAN was this game fun!
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2. Board Game: Bears! [Average Rating:5.85 Overall Rank:5738]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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We arrived in Dallas at 10:30 on Wednesday morning. We waited through the line to register, got our door prizes, and came back to check out the exhibitor hall.

Aaron and I saw this little filler set up and I showed him how to play. We wound up going back there a second time to get Aaron's sticker, and playing a second game.

This is a cute little game that makes for a fun 15 or 20 minutes. And you get to yell "Bears!"...what could be better?
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3. Board Game: Julius Caesar [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:741]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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I've been interested in checking out wargames for years. My main problem is that I know of no one in my group that would want to play them with me.

As you can imagine, I was more than delighted to sit down and run through a year of Julius Caesar at the Columbia Games booth. I was very enamored with the combat system, especially the fog-of-war that the blocks provide. I'm hoping that I can convince someone to become a wargamer with me, at least once in a while!

I played as Pompey and actually achieved a victory at the end of year one. As Grant was just showing me the ins and outs of the game system, I'm sure this result would have been MUCH different if he'd been playing to win!
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4. Board Game: Nox [Average Rating:5.78 Overall Rank:7770]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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My game group runs the gamut between heavier euros and strategy games down to simple fillers and party games. So when I had the chance to try this out at the Passport booth, I knew I had to get it.

I simple card game which can be explained in a minute, this game offers some screwage which makes the game that much more fun. We played a couple rounds at the booth and both agreed that it was a fun filler to have in my collection.
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5. Board Game: Gauntlet of Fools [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:3798]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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After grabbing a quick dinner at the Cash-n-Carry, we decided to go see what was in the library. Wow. I was like a kid in a candy store!

We settled on a couple of games for that first night. The first was Gauntlet of Fools, which we saw being demoed in the exhibitor hall earlier that day.

As we sat down to play, two other gents (and I can't for the life of me remember their names) asked if they could join us. We said sure and took off on a fun ride through killing monsters.....while drunk and with one hand tied behind the back. It was a lot of fun and I plan on picking this up at some point in the future. After a couple of games of this, the other guys moved on and Aaron and I played...
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6. Board Game: K2 [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:461]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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K2. A game I've been wanting to try for a long time. The gameplay always looked interesting and as we started out we had that "ah-ha!" moment where we both saw the opportunity to trap your opponent off the summit...as long as you could survive.

It was getting late at this point, so I don't remember the final score, but I'm pretty sure we tied when both of our climbers that made it to the summit croaked.

I enjoyed this game with two and can imagine that the chaos would be greater with more, so this is still on my wishlist!
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7. Board Game: NOIR: Deductive Mystery Game [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:2010]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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Thursday morning was spent wandering around the exhibitor area, looking at new games and contemplating some possible purchases. The beauty of the exhibitor room was that you would stumble upon games that you'd never heard of. When Aaron was at the Level 99 Games he tried out this little card game...and then he bought it. At his recommendation, I sat down to try it out. It's a nice two-player game that reminds me of Mr. Jack but with a bit more versatility.

Needless to say, this is now in my collection.
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8. Board Game: The Manhattan Project [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:219]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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On Wednesday we had seen The Manhattan Project in play and were kinda curious about it. So Thursday rolled around and we decided to take it for a spin. We sat down at the Minion Games booth and James found three other people for us to play with, one of whom we would see again the next couple of days.

I LOVED this game. It seemed to combine euro elements that I really liked into a well polished game. Even though we played it wrong at first, we all seemed to enjoy it immensely. I will be picking this up once it is back in stock and I don't have to worry about space in my bag.
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9. Board Game: Nightfall [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1344] [Average Rating:6.52 Unranked]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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After stuffing ourselves full of Hard Eight BBQ, we decided to hit the library and see what we could find for games we've wanted to learn. As Aaron and I are both into deck-building games, we picked up Nightfall. I've always wondered about this one, but never had the chance to try it out.

And speaking of trying things out, we grabbed a "Teacher Wanted" flag and sat down to teach ourselves the game. We read through most of the rules and then Mark

Mark Montgomery
United States
Watauga
Texas
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came to our aid. He saw us setting the game up and offered to show us the ropes. We invited him to join us after his explanation and we had a three player game.

I liked this one a lot, but I think it might be a little too much for most of the people in my group to handle. I thought the chain mechanic was novel and made for very interesting turns. Aaron pulled out a victory by the skin of his teeth on what turned out to be the final turn!

A big thanks to Mark for getting us going with this and joining us for a game!
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10. Board Game: Alien Frontiers [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:166]
Dan Cristelli
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Milton
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As the last game of our evening, we decided to take Alien Frontiers for a spin. We got the game set up, started running through the rules and heard "OHH!!! Space Yahtzee!!" from someone to my left. Anna came over and told us that it was one of her favorites and we invited her to join us.

She sat down, taught us the game, and beat us. I enjoyed the artwork of the game immensely and I think I would like to pick this up for my group. There were options available and there's a constant give and take between scoring points for yourself and taking them away from your opponents.
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11. Board Game: Smash Up [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:651] [Average Rating:6.83 Unranked]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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The next morning Aaron and I saw Michael

Michael Christie
Australia
Eastwood
NSW
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having a bite to eat. As we had a good time playing The Manhattan Project with him, we asked to join him and chat for a little bit. After that, the three of us moved downstairs to check out some more games.

We picked Smash Up off the rack and decided to give it a spin. Chaotic fun is the best way to describe this game. I was the zombie robots, which I thought was going to be great...until I saw Michael's ninja dinosaurs. The highlight of the game for me was his massive t-rex come out to crush everyone else at one of the bases.

Another game added to my list!
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12. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:242] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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When I first found BGG and these "new" style of games, I loved the thought of a game that had expansions to it to make the game better or add different flavor to it. One of the games I was drawn to was Arkham Horror. The theme was cool, there were a couple expansions for it, and it would accommodate more than four.

Then I bought the game.

Holy rules, Batman! This game had the largest rulebook I had seen to date. And I knew my gaming group wouldn't get into it like I wanted to. So there it sat. Lonely on my shelf. Gathering dust. I had tried to play it by myself, but didn't get into it.

Fast forward to BGG.con 2012. Michael happens to mention that he plays Arkham Horror regularly and I perk up. "Would you be willing to teach us??" and he was!

We wound up drawing Yig as our GOO and actually won by sealing six gates. I really really like this game. And now that I've had some experience with it I think I might be able to teach others without making the rulebook seem intimidating.

Definitely one of the highlights of the con for me!
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13. Board Game: Battle Beyond Space [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:4476]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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We were trying to take turns with our choices from the library, and Michael had a couple he wanted to try out. The first was Battle Beyond Space.

I really liked this game, and found it to be a lot quicker than you would think! The start of the game made think that I was going to be dog meat, but I wound up getting the drop on Michael's capital ships and making a good run of it. In the end I squeaked out a close victory by lampooning Aaron's capital ship and taking over two victory point spots on the board with my last turn!
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14. Board Game: Empires of the Void [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:2321]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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Another space-themed game, Empires of the Void was our next pick for gaming. None of us had played it before and we took a few minutes to read the rules and get going.

The game seemed to start a bit slow, but once it got cranking up, there was a lot of conflict to resolve. I wound up staying on the outskirts while Michael and Aaron beat each other up and it paid off with a narrow victory!

I hadn't heard a thing about this game, but I enjoyed the epic feel that it had to it. The space games we played all did a good job of conveying the theme to the player, at least I thought they did!
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15. Board Game: Core Worlds [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:545]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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On our next trip to the library, we picked up Core Worlds. I had seen this when it was in the preorder stage and thought about getting it, but never pulled the trigger.

I liked the deck building aspect of the game along with the set cards for the rounds. I felt like my engine wasn't getting going as I was a little short on energy each round, but wound up coming in second to Aaron.

This one is a game that I wouldn't mind adding to my collection. There's a familiarity that will allow most of my group to grasp it easy enough and yet enough new things to make it more than just another deck-builder.

After this one, we called it a night agreeing to meet up in front of the library the next morning.
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16. Board Game: Chaos in the Old World [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:93]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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Along with Core Worlds, we had grabbed Chaos in the Old World, but decided it was a little too late to start that so we put it off until the next day.

The next morning, I met up with Michael while Aaron was demoing...um...something. We went into the Enterprise Ballroom to wait and while we were chatting, Mark

Mark Innerebner
United States
Littleton
Colorado
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came up to us and asked us if we were going to play Chaos in the Old World. I said that we were once our friend rejoined us and asked him if he had played before. He had, in fact, already played twice at the con, so I ran to grab Aaron so we could get started.

I played as Tzeentch and didn't fare too well. I think I would like to try this again as a different god and see if the game is a little more forgiving to me. I just felt like my options were a little stunted and I couldn't get anything going.

All in all, not a bad game. A big thank you to Mark for teaching us!
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17. Board Game: Fury of Dracula (second edition) [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:414]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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Next up was a game I've been dying to play for YEARS. I love games where there is a hidden element and this one was right up my alley.

I played as Dracula and Aaron and Michael were the hunters. We had the Teacher Wanted flag up for a while and we got some help from someone who's name I can't remember! (sorry!!)

After a slowish start to the game, things got into full effect quickly. Aaron's second or third turn revealed where I was and I was on the run from then on. I was eventually cornered in Great Britain, and all four hunters descended on me. It was a brutal fight, but I wound up biting Mina and ending the game.

I loved this game. It was exactly what I wanted it to be, even with the rules stumbles. Aaron was a little less than enamored with the combat system, but I think it was well put together.

And, of course, one thing sums up this game for me...the sound of my Dracula imitation. "Bleh"
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18. Board Game: We Didn't Playtest This At All [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:12890] [Average Rating:5.58 Unranked]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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Upon returning from the library, I found Aaron and Michael at the table with a newcomer to our little group, Bill. We played a few rounds of this while listening to the four of us NOT winning any prizes. This, of course, happened because we were on the wrong side of the room!

Seriously though, a crazy little filler that made us all laugh at least once.
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19. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:62]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
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After dinner we decided to play one of my all-time favorites, Battlestar Galactica. I walked the room with the box lid and the players wanted flag...and almost got sucked into a game of Cosmic Encounter, one of my other favorites.

I chatted with a few people that were interested, telling them where we were located and that we would start once we hit five. I returned to the table to find that Michael and Aaron were rejoined by Bill. We were now at four. As I set up the game, someone came up and asked to join in. It was there that we found our fifth, Hector.

Hector Flores
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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We started the game. And, as usual, it didn't disappoint. Our lineup was as follows:

Bill - Zarek
Hector - Bill Adama
Aaron - Boomer
Michael - Tigh
Dan - Tyrol

Everything seemed to be going well at first, then Aaron got a little chippy about the skill checks. He had been using Boomer's OPT ability to look at the next crisis card and said, more than once, "I think we can handle it". This got me a little on edge about him, but he was new, so I cut him some slack. Then, out of nowhere, he fails a crisis card and slams me into the brig. I knew I was human (so far) and he said that I was the only other one with engineering, so I must be the one tanking our skill checks.

At this point, I think he must be a cylon. I rail against this for a couple turns and then he winds up in the brig with me once we hit the sleeper agent phase. I finally escape the brig only to have Hector reveal as a cylon right after taking all the used skill cards. Now I figure we're all set, except that I'm the only one who believes Aaron is a cylon.

Long story short, he was. He played a masterful first game and sunk us at the end. What a game. Easily the highlight of my trip.
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20. Board Game: Guildhall [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:727] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Dan Cristelli
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Milton
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The next morning Aaron and I checked out and then worked our way downstairs before our flight. He picked up Guildhall and we played a couple games of that.

I really like this game, and I'm definitely going to add it to my collection!
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21. Board Game: Sum-Up [Average Rating:4.86 Unranked]
Dan Cristelli
United States
Milton
Vermont
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To sum up, this was an amazing experience. I played a bunch of games I'd been curious about, met some great new people, and got to experience some good Texas BBQ.

I can't wait for next year!!!
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