woodnoggin's First BGG.Con
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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I've been wanting to go to BGG.Con for ages. This year I had enough air miles to make the trip more affordable (you can't complain at £2 a ticket for LGA-DFW-LHR) so Kate and I combined the convention with a trip around New York and New England beforehand. Hurricane Sandy almost stopped us from getting there, but luckily our flight out was one of the first not to be cancelled. The North East trip was great, but this list is about the con itself, so on we go.
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1. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:339]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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TUESDAY
We flew into Dallas/Fort Worth from New York on the Tuesday evening and were already very tired after a hectic 10 days of sightseeing. Checking into the hotel, we asked about wifi and were told that it was free in the lobby but you had to pay for it if you wanted it in your room. When we asked how much that would cost, the receptionist told us that actually the lobby wifi should work in our room anyway and gave us the password. I'm not sure if this was standard practice or whether she was charmed by our English accents, but it worked out well. I've read many people complaining about lack of internet access throughout the convention, but we had no problems at all.

The first thing we did was head down to the gaming halls to see what was going on. We saw the giant HeroScape board being set up along with many large dexterity games. The main hall wasn't open yet, but some of the smaller rooms already had games in full swing. I spotted
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Jesse Dean
United States
Chicago
IL
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and Will making an early start with The Great Zimbabwe. In the next room, a bizarre space combat game involving string was taking place. We didn't play any games, preferring to get some sleep in preparation for an early start the next day.
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2. Board Game: New York [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:2960]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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WEDNESDAY
Registration opened at 10am and it took us around two hours to get through the system. A large queue had formed to collect door prize games, but we were encouraged not to join it by a BGG.Con helper who was shouting that the games would be the same whatever time you collected them. Annoyingly, this turned out not to be the case. Kate went to collect her games later in the day and discovered that some of the options had already been cleared out. No Colonia or Aton left, for example. She picked up New York, Puzzle Strike, Train of Thought and Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom. I collected my door prize on Thursday and got New York, Roma, Martian Dice and 1955: The War of Espionage. I had to specifically ask for Roma, as it wasn't on display but there were some in the store room. We ended up with two copies of New York because the other option was Shogun: Tenno's Court, which we already owned. Just before I collected my games, I remembered that my friend Andrew would probably appreciate a copy of that expansion, so I intended to pick it up for him, but they'd all gone too. I was surprised, given that there were loads of them the day before - surely not everyone who picked it up already owned Shogun. It was funny seeing this expansion being given away for free after the furore caused by its original RRP.
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3. Board Game: Goblins, Inc. [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:2345]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Once registered, we stood around for a time, overwhelmed by indecision and not knowing anybody else there. We took a look in our programme but there were no clues as to how to proceed in there. We wandered into the Hot Games room to see what was going on there. Many tables were already occupied but I wanted to try out Goblins Inc. and it happened to be free. We couldn't find any explainers in the room - I don't know if that was because it was early on or whether they were teaching the more popular games near the entrance. Instead, Kate sat down and read the rules while I looked out for two passers-by, as it looked like it played best with four. Paul and Stephen joined us and we muddled through the rules. They're not too complicated, so it worked out OK.

The game reminded me of Galaxy Trucker, so much so that Kate and I kept using terms from that game, like referring to the robot you're building as your ship. Each round, you're paired up with another player and have to build a robot out of weapon, armour and engine tiles. The two robots face off, with one half of each pair controlling the movement and the other the weapons. What's interesting here is the rotating partnerships and having to predict what your partner will do. I wasn't hugely impressed overall, though. The robot fight felt slow and quite random. It could be that with further play you would notice the sorts of moves players tend to make and so be able to defend against them better, but you also need the dice to cooperate. Mediocre.

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Kate
Paul Maletic
United States
Rockwall
Texas
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greyfedora
United States
Texas
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4. Board Game: Tumblin-Dice [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:604]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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We couldn't see any game explainers in the Hot Games room at this point (although later in the week there were plenty) and we didn't fancy sitting down to read the rulebooks ourselves, so we left for the main hall in the hope of finding a game looing for players. On the way, Kate was taken by the look of Tumblin' Dice, so we gave it a quick go. A combination of dexterity and dice rolling, you just need to get your dice to land in the best multiplier areas so you can multiply the number on the dice by whichever area they’re in. It was trickier than it looked. Two player is probably not best for this one: it would be better to have more dice involved, blocking your path or presenting tempting targets to knock out of the way.

We had a look around the main hall, but couldn't find any 'Players Wanted' signs being displayed yet. It looked like people had come in groups or already found enough players for their games. We actually felt a bit out of place and wondered whether we'd made the right decision to come to the con at all. We decided to try a Players Wanted sign ourselves and headed to the library to check out a suitable game.

Played with:
Kate
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5. Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:256]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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I was keen to see if the famous BGG.Con library would live up to my expectations. My initial impression was that it was smaller than I'd thought it would be, but on further inspection, it turned out to be densely packed. There were an awful lot of games in that space, including crates full of card games (which made it hard to find a specific one and probably contributes to fewer small card games being checked out of the library).

As we were looking for games, our dilemma was whether to pick something we already knew or something new we’d like to try. We didn't know what our chances of success with a 'Teacher Wanted' sign would be and we didn't really want to take time to read an unfamiliar rulebook, especially if other players joined us. I know from bitter experience (I'm looking at you, Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game) that learning a game from a rulebook at a convention is almost never a good idea, unless the rules are very short. On the other hand, if we picked a game we already knew, we wouldn't really be making the most of this fantastic collection of games - we might as well have stayed at home and played it. So we went for the middle ground of Flash Point: Fire Rescue, a game Kate had played and liked but I hadn't tried yet.

We checked it out of the library and put up a Players Wanted sign. Almost immediately, Eric, Ryan and Julie walked past with their own copy of the game, so we joined forces and ran through the basic game. It was a standard co-op game, with the traditional "do good stuff, then do bad stuff" but we enjoyed coming up with stories around why the people we rescued kept appearing in odd places around the house. We won fairly easily, but perhaps the advanced game is more of a challenge.

Eric was later kind enough to give us one of the BGG.Con tracking coins from a few years ago to take back with us to Europe. We'll set it loose among the gamers there and track its progress!

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Kate
Eric Couch
United States
Texas
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Ryan
Julie
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6. Board Game: Vikings [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:314]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Next, we returned to the library to see what else we'd like to play. There we encountered Conrad, also looking for a game. The huge amount of titles on offer does little to aid the decision-making process but we eventually settled on Vikings, which Conrad hadn't played but wanted to try. As we were setting up, we were joined by Steven who had played more recently than us and won handily. Towards the end of the first game, Conrad asked if we'd like to play a second game now that he'd got to grips with the rules. For some reason, at home we rarely play games back-to-back unless they're shorter fillers, but it’s a good idea that everyone was keen on, so that's what we did.

Both games were played using the basic rules. I like the advanced tiles of the Progress variant, but the auction is a big faff and makes the game longer and more brain-burning. This is a great game with the speedier standard rules.

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Kate
CW Lumm
United States
Hampden
Maine
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Steven
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7. Board Game: The Palaces of Carrara [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:547]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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After Vikings we were hungry, but the lack of vegetarian options in the hotel led to us testing out the Rio Grande shuttle bus to find a restaurant and supermarket. As visitors, unfamiliar with the local shops and restaurants, we didn't know what to expect at each stop. The only list we saw was posted in the hotel foyer; there was no list in the bus itself, so once we were on it, we didn't know where we should get off. It would have been good if the list of options at each stop had been included in the convention programme. The bus drivers seemed to be saying that few people were using some of the stops - if the bus only called at one stop it would have speeded up the outing. As it was, we lost a three hour chunk out of our gaming day but we stocked up on food for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next few days.

We met a couple of friendly Massachusetts gamers on the bus and played Palaces of Carrara with them back at the con. I'd played before in Essen and taught the basic version, which is perhaps a bit simple for seasoned gamers but is useful for learning the patterns of the game. It was Kate's first game of it too but she still won. I don't feel the need to own this game, but I do like it as a quick Euro with easy rules and some nice tension around the timing your builds and racing to the endgame.

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Kate
Robert Schultz
United States
Asheville
North Carolina
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Tiffany
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8. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:12]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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By chance, we spotted Kerrin, a gamer we'd met in Melbourne last year and decided we'd play Agricola, which all three of us love. Unfortunately, the library copy was out, so we went for BurgenBurgenBurgenBurgenBurgen instead. We were joined by Anna, originally from the Phillipines, to make it a truly international game. I was hesitant to play a four player game of this, as it has been known to drag, but thankfully, she was just as familiar with the game as the rest of us, so we zipped through it. In fact, we were playing so quickly, that we didn't notice Anna had not built her first few buildings adjacent to her starting castle. She hadn't been taught that rule and promised to have stern words with the gamer who explained it to her! Rather than restarting, we left things as they were and she endeavoured to connect up the errant pieces as soon as possible. It was a really close game and lots of fun, although Kate sniped the four chickens I needed to catch up to the winner. Kerrin was marvelling at how such a group of international gamers could be brought together by BGG.Con. A great end to our first evening at the con.

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Kate
Kerrin Addis
Australia
Melbourne
VIC
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Anna
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9. Board Game: Myrmes [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:407]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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THURSDAY
I'd wanted to try this at Essen but was never able to find a free table, so it was high priority for BGG.Con. An early visit to the Hot Games room got us into a game, expertly taught by John.
John Mellby
United States
Plano
Texas
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By now there were plenty of explainers moving from game to game and the room really wouldn't work without them. We only had one rules issue - some confusion over whether the special tiles counted as pheromones for movement purposes (we decided they didn't, but the rules could have been clearer).

We played with Thomas and Nick and I think we all enjoyed it. Certainly, I saw Thomas playing it later in the con and Kate was keen to give it another try. I thought the first part of each round was a bit too solitaire, and that it was easy for someone to make a mistake if they weren't watched closely by other players, but doing so would make the game take longer. I agree with the Antiquity-like feeling of the board play - competing for diminishing resources in a shared space while trying to expand your territory. It was good but not great.

I made a misplay in the final round, placing a pheromone and then almost immediately spotting a play worth two more points. I let it go rather than slow the game down, but then lost out by those two points! Oh well, it was only a learning game.

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Kate
Thomas Hanselman
United States
Plano
Texas
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Nick McElveen
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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10. Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:172] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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clearclaw wrote:
Bankruptcy should not be considered an unsatisfying ending to a game of 1830, but rather as the expected and typical ending.


Next was my scheduled punishment introduction to 18XX. I'd only played Poseidon before this and many people don't even count that as a proper 18XX game. I'd also prepared by reading the 1830 rules and it's a good job I did because the rest of the table were all much more familiar with games in this series than I was. Conrad was to have been the other new player, but he couldn't make it so was replaced by a more experienced player, Andrew.

Alex taught, with John and Andrew offering useful suggestions as to how the game might play out. CW was new to 1830 but I think had played one or two other 18XX titles.

My approach to this game was that it would be a learning opportunity. I had no real idea what I was doing, or what to expect from my actions, so I would just make arbitrary choices and see what happened. The others made early suggestions as to what I might like to do, how much to bid for certain private corporations and so on. I heeded their advice to some extent, but I felt the game was rather more competitive than was ideal for a first try, so sometimes I just did something capricious to throw a spanner in the works.

For example, I'd recently been to New York, and that was enough to base my decision to start the NYC railroad on. It turned out to be a
profitable move as the railroad soon made good money for me. Early on I made what was considered by much of the table to be a strategic
blunder, not taking full ownership of the Pennsylvania railroad and letting Alex get two companies early. It was suggested that I should take back the move, but I let it stand as I wanted to see what would happen. I think it may have diverted attention away from me and onto Alex, who was now perceived to be a big threat.

Another unorthodox move during track placement later in the game swung things in my favour even more and it transpired that I was winning (I had no idea!). I was earning lots of cash from the New York railroad in my control and a good chunk from shares in the C&O. It got to the stage of the game where it was too late to dump rubbish companies on me to send me into bankruptcy, so it was in the others’ interests to let the game go on as long as they could so they could catch up on my monetary lead. Even if they caught up, my share portfolio was luckily pretty strong, so I would have some decent endgame cash too. Although there were a few concerns from one or other of the experienced players that they might actually go bankrupt, rather than one of the noobs, it appeared that wasn't going to happen to anyone. I understand that's a good result on its own for a game with new players in, so I was happy to be staying afloat.

But, wow, did the game go long... I'd planned on four to five hours, but had no definite arrangements made afterwards so could keep going and see where it went. After seven hours, CW had to hand over his seemingly automatic position to John's brother, Jeff, who joined us
for the last few rounds (there were actually a few more decisions to be made than CW expected). After eight hours, Andrew had had enough of the slow play and repetitive operating rounds and also left. I stuck it out to the bitter end. After a gruelling nine hours wow, we totted up the scores:

Andrew 4871
John 5053
CW/Jeff 5232
Alex 5880
Rich 7509



After expectations of bankruptcy, I somehow won!

I think my win was helped by a couple of factors: i) the experienced players went easy on me to start with; and ii) I paced myself better for the long game by not thinking too hard (or at all) in the early game. By the end, most players were flagging, but I'd only just begun to understand what was going on and getting interested, so my energy levels peaked at a different time to everyone else. I enjoyed parts of it, although it's way too long for me. I don't like that there are so many opportunities for arithmetic mistakes. I'm really glad I tried it, to see what all the fuss is about, but I'm not convinced to get involved in the series. Many thanks to Alex for teaching and to John for bringing his poker chips. I dread to think how much longer it would have taken with paper money.

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Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
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Calderwood Speer
United States
Fort Worth
Texas
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John Hathorn
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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andrew larcher
United States
kissimmee
Florida
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11. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:216]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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After possibly the longest single game I've ever played, I needed something quick and familiar. In the Hot Games room, I was invited to join two guys learning Love Letter. I thought one of them looked familiar and sure enough, it turned out I recognised him from his blurry blue avatar as Brad from the Meatballs chat list. He and Mike hadn't started playing, or if they had, they reset to let me join in. We had an amusing ten rounds of this game - the first time I'd played with the AEG version (I must say I have been won over by the Japanese minimalism and prefer the Japon brand version). Kate joined us after the first couple of hands.

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Kate
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Mike
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12. Board Game: The Palaces of Carrara [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:547]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Afterwards, we taught Brad and Mike Palaces of Carrara, but this time we went straight for the advanced version, in the packet with the health warning on the front. I benefitted from having played the advanced version before and seeing the power of upgrading the red city (Luca?) to score a ton of points and a bit of money. Kate benefitted from having played the basic game and understanding the importance of racing to the endgame. It was a very lopsided game with Kate and I circumnavigating the scoreboard several times. I think this speaks to the wisdom of starting with the basic game, as otherwise newcomers might get put off by the huge swings in scoring.

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Kate
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Mike
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13. Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:423]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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FRIDAY
By now I felt we were beginning to get the hang of the convention, mainly thanks to the friendly people we'd met so far. First order of the day was 'The Escape Experience': a room full of people all playing Escape to the same soundtrack. There was a long queue to get into the room, but since the game is so short we didn't have to wait long. The reason for the popularity was a combination of buzz around this novel game and the great prizes offered by Queen Games for a few players. The first prize was a trip to Essen with hotel paid for, second prize (and actually more appealing to us, living in the UK) was a trip to BGG.Con 2013. We didn't win any of the prizes and the big winner caught some flak at the awards ceremony for his sulky demeanour - it looked like he’d rather have not won!

We sat down with Matt, Chris and Adam, two of whom had played before and taught us the rules. The game is a real-time frantic dice rolling affair where everyone's trying to roll certain combinations to move around the cursed temple, unlock doors and collect the crystals needed to escape. You can reroll as often and as quickly as you like, but whenever you roll a cursed idol, it locks that die. A golden icon unlocks two locked dice - either yours or those of another player in the same room as you. Despite this being an incredibly simple game, I didn't fully understand the rules for moving from room to room (unsure of which symbols I was looking for on the board), and only realised what I didn't know when the game began and there was no time for explanations. Consequently, I probably did something wrong and definitely contributed very little to the team effort! I did manage to get out safely, though. Not everyone did, so we all lost, as it's supposed to be co-operative.

It's daft, mindless and possibly hilarious with the right group. Space Alert has much more depth and Escape doesn't stand a chance of replacing it as my real-time co-operative game of choice. I'd play it again, though, and I can see it being a hit with a lighter crowd.

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Kate
Chris Hough
United States
Hot Springs
Arkansas
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Adam Webb
United States
Arkansas
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Matt
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14. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:37]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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This was one of the most popular games in the Hot Games room and tables were always full. It was a stroke of luck that we found one emptying just after we'd finished Escape. Matt from our Escape game had already grabbed a place, so we joined him and Todd took the fourth place. Accomplished game explainer, Rick Thornquist, taught us. Thanks, Rick!

I'd played the demo at the UK Games Expo and thought it was OK, not amazing, but I wanted to try out the finished version to check. There are a few tweaks from the version I played, mostly around the optional double-clicking of the cogs. While listening to the rules I began to regret sitting down to play this again, but I guess that's just because I knew them already, as once the game started I regained interest. I decided to concentrate on the temple tracks, as they were something I'd mostly ignored in my previous game. I also built the combo of tiles that meant I never needed to feed my workers and it seemed powerful but I probably spent too much effort getting there. It did allow me to freely collect all six of my workers, then build the bonus card that gives you VPs for them, incidentally spoiling Todd's plans to build the same thing. Kate went heavily into crystal skulls and playing into the VP temple (Tikal?) several times, giving her the win. I came second by one point. It's a solid game that I like but am not completely wowed by.

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Kate
Todd Walker
United States
Culver City
CA
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Matt
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15. Board Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:66] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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I noticed this in the library, had been interested in it for a while and thought this was the only opportunity I'd ever have to try it. It was only once I returned from BGG.Con that I saw the reprint is due out imminently. When we opened it up and saw quite how much text there was to read, I removed the Players Wanted sign and discussed with Kate whether we really wanted to spend our convention time on this game. It seemed like the sort of thing you'd want to spend a quiet evening over, immersing yourself in the theme. Holmes' initial briefing is a short story! We decided to give it a go for an hour, just to see what it was like. We tried the first mystery, about the killing of a munitions manufacturer. We were very thorough in our investigations, which I realised was probably going to count against us, since you need to visit as few locations as possible to score highly. And so it was: Holmes wiped the floor with us. I reckon he cheated. There's no way you could assuredly solve the crime by visiting only four locations - he made way too many assumptions. Bah!

It wasn't so much a game as a variant of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, although it was much better than those. I liked that you could choose where to go and what to investigate, that you had a number of people you could contact about any case and had to decide how relevant their information was likely to be. There's a lot of information for each case, some of it irrelevant to the solution but provided for flavour, and it really feels like you're involved in a Sherlock Holmes mystery. It was good but not something I'd choose to play if I was in the mood for a boardgame, as it feels more like a roleplaying game. I didn't like that the scoring system wants you to read as few clues as possible before coming to your conclusion, because the optimal way to play is also the least immersive and makes less use of all the wonderful material available.

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Kate
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16. Board Game: DVONN [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:356] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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We had made an appointment to try out Coup and needed something short to fill the time until then, so we tried out this 2-player abstract. It's clever. The Coup appointment was cancelled, so we went out for dinner.

Played with:
Kate
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17. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:120]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Over dinner, Kate and I made a list of games we'd like to get played at the con and it included Age of Steam. Kate had played the England map the day before while I was in the 1830 marathon session and was keen to play some more. Back in the main hall, we found Anna with Age of Steam set up and a Players Wanted sign. We were also joined by Tim and Allan. Tim wanted to remind himself of the rules so he could teach a group back home. Allan had played before a long time ago and wanted a refresher. This was my first play on the Rust Belt map for a few years and it was a chaotic game with several non-contiguous track builds as cities ran out of goods. I made an early bidding error, losing out to Allan, which made my game tougher than it should have been, but still managed to get a good series of loops going for big endgame deliveries. It was tense and quite low-scoring.

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Kate
anna schaer
United States
aurora
Colorado
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United States
Elmhurst
Illinois
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Alan Moore
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18. Board Game: Coup [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:382]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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As we finished Age of Steam, we saw Brad again and got our planned games of Coup in. We played five times, Steve playing in all five and Sandra and Gene joining us along the way. The final game was a dull, drawn out affair with a predictable ending but the others were more fun. I've heard comparisons to the dreaded Citadels but I don't get that feeling from Coup: bluffing plays a much bigger part here. I didn't do well in any of the rounds and I haven't yet worked out how best to play, but I'd be happy to play again and find out.

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Kate
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Steve Wardell
United States
Indianapolis
Indiana
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May 25
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Sam Phillips Beckerman
United States
Austin
Texas
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Gene Platt
United States
Houston
Texas
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19. Board Game: BraveRats [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1809]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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To round out the evening, I taught R to Brad and we played one quick round. It's effectively an expanded Paper, Scissors, Stone, but nicely done. This was one of the few games I'd brought with me, as it doesn't take up much space.

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Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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20. Board Game: Indonesia [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:192]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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SATURDAY
Conrad had promised to teach Indonesia and we were expecting four players but John overslept after his second epic 18XX game of the convention and missed this game. We played with three and it worked well. Conrad went heavily into shipping, I started off doing a mix of shipping and production while James concentrated on production, although we swapped partway through the game when my shipping company was merged away from me. I advanced my Slots in order to grab as many companies as possible and be able to control the game tempo to some extent. It was an interesting game and the sort where you never really know how well you are doing relative to your opponents. After saying how badly he was doing, Conrad sneaked a win of just four rupiah!

I made a really stupid misplay in the penultimate round. I could have merged two of my own companies to free up a slot for the final rubber company, which would have triggered game end. I spotted the move too late, didn't insist on a take back, and the extra round ruined my chances. Conrad and James made plenty through their huge shipping empires and by not having to pay to ship their own goods. My companies were not profitable enough to sustain me for an extra round. I think that if I'd ended things sooner, I'd have been at least able to close that 100 rupiah gap.

BGG.Con is an ideal forum for taking the time to learn this sort of longer game and I'm glad I gave it a go.

I had distant memories of watching the Boardgames with Scott video on Indonesia and for some reason I misremembered it as featuring a bizarre ship movement mechanism. One player closes their eyes and tries to trace a route across the board while the other players give them directions. Hitting an island would result in goods being lost in the shipwreck. There's probably a game with that mechanism, but I don't know what it is and I've no idea why I conflated it with Indonesia! I'm pretty sure the game would be 100% more awesome after adding that element, so Splotter should definitely consider an expansion.

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CW Lumm
United States
Hampden
Maine
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James
United States
Fort Polk
Louisiana
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21. Board Game: Puzzle Struggle [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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I knew Indonesia would run long, so I didn't sign up for the Puzzle Hunt, although I had wanted to. Kate did, so I went to see how she was doing. "Go away: solving puzzles!" was her response, so I headed for the Hot Games room instead. laugh

Her team ended up winning and she returned with a nice wooden BGG.Con dice tower and some wooden dice. They make a great souvenir of our trip. Some of the puzzles looked really difficult, but it looked like great fun. Well done for whoever it was that organised it.
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22. Board Game: Al Rashid [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:3499]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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In the Hot Games room I found a group of four trying to learn Al Rashid from the rulebook. Having played at Essen, and also read the rulebook, I knew they had their work cut out for them, so I offered to teach. They asked if I wanted to join them and we played a five-player game. Thankfully, someone had had the foresight to print out player aids for the game, as without them I think it would have been impossible to learn. The title cards all have special abilities or endgame scoring written in tiny text and it's important to use these in your strategy or play towards particular cards. Without player aids, the game is almost unplayable.

After a second play of this game, I think it's fine but not outstanding. It has some really nice ideas in it, particularly in giving players the opportunity to decide in which order each area will resolve, but the graphic design does it no favours. Our game ran long and we rushed the final round so we didn't miss the 7pm prize draw.

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Jay Weesner
United States
Texas
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J M Duran
United States
El Paso
Texas
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Ken Waterman
United States
Dallas
Texas
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Kevin
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23. Board Game: Prized Pony [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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The only time the main hall was packed was for this raffle, but I managed to spot Kate in the crowd. There were problems with the microphone so it was a good job a professional actor was on hand to project the raffle ticket numbers. Lots of exciting prizes to be won, but not by us. Some people came away with huge stacks of games. I wondered whether it might be better to have more prize winners with fewer games each, given that the convention has expanded in numbers from previous years, but maybe I'd feel otherwise if I'd won something... The final announcement of a free-for-all on the door prizes caused a stampede, but really, how many copies of New York does a person need?

Afterwards, Aliza gave me some tasty tangerines and I met
Ben
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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and made extremely vague plans to play a game with him that would never materialise.
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24. Board Game: Trains [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:377] [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Back in the Hot Games room, we started trying to learn Trains from the rulebook, but it was in that slightly odd, translated from Japanese style, making it tricky to discern the writer's intent in places. Luckily, Brian came to our rescue. He wanted to learn Mutant Meeples, which we already knew how to play, so we agreed to teach each other and play one after the other. Even though we were in the Hot Games room, there was no danger of the Mutant Meeples table filling up while we were playing Trains. I barely saw anyone playing that game the whole week.

Trains was the game I missed out on at Essen by just a couple of people ahead of me in the queue, so I was keen to get to play it. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was underwhelmed. It really is just Dominion with track laying. It was OK, but it doesn't add enough to the deck-building genre to be worthwhile owning. Unless we played with a very basic set up and there are more interesting cards available to purchase in future games, I just don't see much long-lasting appeal here. Might as well just play Dominion. All our decks ended up very bloated with waste cards, so turns seemed a little random, but that could easily be our inexperience showing through. Brian commented that the board placements turned out fairly similar from game to game too. I'm glad I played this one but I feel OK about missing out on it at Essen now.

Played with:
Kate
Brian B.
United States
Boston
Massachusetts
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25. Board Game: Mutant Meeples [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:2330]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Fulfilling our part of the bargain with Brian, we taught him this. He hadn't played Ricochet Robots before, which put him at a slight disadvantage. I enjoyed my second play of this a lot more than my first because I was more familiar with the meeples' superpowers so didn't feel as frustratingly pressured. I still wouldn't choose it over Ricochet Robots, though. Sometimes the simple classic is the best.

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Kate
Brian B.
United States
Boston
Massachusetts
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