IndyCon '013 - Andrew's Plays
Andrew Brooks
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Indianapolis
Indiana
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Every year I look forward to IndyCon and this year I've been looking forward to it perhaps more than any other year. Having a wife in medical school, a full time job, and a 16-month old means that I haven't gotten much time for gaming and I've been craving a little gaming vacation. IndyCon was amazing as always, lots of great friends and games.

A huge thanks as always to Dave and Adam for all their hard work and making this weekend possible. Thanks as well to Tami for taking care of everything else.
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1. Board Game: Legacy: Gears of Time [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1557]
Andrew Brooks
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I scheduled this one ahead of time with Jeff and Brian, I've played it before with 4 but wanted to try it again with 3 to see if it would be less overwhelming. I realized half way through that we weren't going to finish in time for me to make my lunch date with my wife so I asked Adam if he'd take over for me in the last round. Thanks Adam! Sorry you ended up losing so badly for me, it was probably partially my fault.

I got off to a slow start, throwing down a technology that no one wanted to support and not until the third round did I really get some momentum back with a couple of big technologies. It seemed like it might have been too little too late and it appears that was a correct assessment as Jeff ended up dominating in the final round.

I really want to like this game but it just hasn't fully clicked with me. I don't really like having to draw cards with an action as it seems like that's most of what happens for the first couple of turns each round as everyone looks for key cards or fuel for the cards they want to play. It would be nice if you could just jump right into the round, maybe I don't understand the strategy fully but this happened in both games that I played.

My biggest issue the first time I played this was with the need to scan the cards to find what was in play, this was better in the second play but still not great and bugged me again. I wish there was a better way to find the information that you needed more quickly. The art in this game is amazing and would likely allow you to scan more quickly after repeated play but I can't help but think that some more useful design would have made finding supporting technologies faster.

The fate cards bugged me again as well, I came to the same conclusion that I'd rather have multiple copies of 1 or 2 specific fate cards than unique copies of 6 different cards. Actually, I'd rather just not have them at all.

Despite not really winning me over, I enjoyed my 3/4 play of Legacy and would probably be willing to play it again in the future. I'd be interested to see how the expansion turns out, maybe it will add what I've been looking for to make this one a winner.
 
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2. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:46]
Andrew Brooks
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Indiana
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Since I started recording plays back at the beginning of 2011 I haven't played Caylus once. This is a real shame and although I had hoped to play it in 2012 I just kept forgetting to suggest it. So I'm looking to correct this in 2013 since Caylus is such an excellent game. I scheduled this one ahead of time with Jeff and Matt for after I got back from lunch. When we were setting up I recruited Brian and Chris and lots of "oooh, 5 player Caylus!" comments ensued. Maybe not lots but I heard it at least once. I believe it was new for both Brian and Chris.

This was a pretty friendly game of Caylus, I don't believe anyone got denied their actions for the entire game. About halfway through, once we started getting into the stone buildings, I decided to try and prevent anyone from getting a blue building out by taking the stone building action every time until the end of the game and not building the one that allowed the blue building upgrade. No one stopped me or made a move on the building track to counter and I ended up pulling it off and scoring good points from people using my buildings for the win.

Here's to more Caylus in 2013.
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3. Board Game: Last Will [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:336] [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked]
Andrew Brooks
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Brian had wanted to play this so we set it up and ended up with a full 5 player game. We drew $80 so we were easily able to end the game before the final round. I wanted to try something different than what I've done in the past but my opening hand had the guy that lets you spend $2 per dog on a farm as well as a farm that could hold 3 dogs so that was a no brainer. I picked up the event that lets you add dogs to your farms and another farm that could hold a dog and focused on the high action planning spots to get everything down fast. The second farm may have been overkill in a $80 game but I got a Gentlemen's Club ($5 for 1 action) down along with an event that took lots of guests to finish off my money once the farms were gone. Adam won but thought that he probably cheated in which case I would have won.

I'm continuing to enjoy Last Will a lot. Unfortunately, I feel as though I need to teach it every time I've played it so I'm hoping to get in a game with some experienced players at some point. At least Jeff won a copy in the raffle so hopefully it will get played more often!
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4. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:44]
Andrew Brooks
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Alan mentioned wanting to play this one and I had seen it mentioned enough in 2012 that I was interested in seeing what it was about. I don't think I've played any of the other Key games so this was my first experience in the series.

Alan graciously taught it to Denise, Ross, and me despite my constant interruptions that mostly had to do with how awesome my hut was and what I could use my start player guy for. I understood the rules for the most part but was pretty lost on the actual strategy. I felt like I spent most of the game trying to figure out exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I focused on grabbing resources and then using them to flip some late game buildings for points. This was about the extent of my strategy and I lost pretty good to maybe everybody. Alan seemed to think that he made a big mistake in not getting to flip one of his buildings so maybe I ended up beating him.

Reflecting back on the game I can definitely see how there are a lot of clever elements being used and I would like to try it again after seeing a full game and what the fall and winter buildings were like. I don't really like having to look at other players' boards for what actions are available (as in Le Havre and Ora Et Labora) but the actions are simple enough that it seemed like less of an issue here.
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5. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:75]
Andrew Brooks
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I entered the tournament again and lost to Todd in the second round. Way to go Todd! He ended up going all the way to the final so I like to think that I got third place overall. I think I need to suggest this more often at Dave's so I can actually get some practice in between IndyCons.
 
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6. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:71]
Andrew Brooks
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For whatever reason I can hardly remember who I was playing with in this game. Ross was there and maybe Matt, sorry whoever I'm forgetting about! I had played this once before and wanted to give it another shot before I decided how I feel about it. Turns out 2 plays isn't really enough for me to make much of a conclusion either. I like a lot of what's going on but the mancala element may just be a little to AP-inducing for me. It's a really neat mechanic for driving the actions along with giving you periodic bonuses for the Trajan tiles but something about it just makes me want to have more control or feel like I'm just working a system rather than enjoying the game. I'm sure it would become more second nature after you play it enough but I mostly felt like I was either over thinking it or missing something really obvious for most of the game.

I enjoy Feld designs quite a lot but for whatever reason this one hasn't quite captured me the way some of his other games do.
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7. Board Game: Guildhall [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:717] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Andrew Brooks
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I picked this one up in the math trade and while I was looking over my acquisitions Barry was looking for a game so we decided on this one. This was both of our first times playing so we followed a somewhat similar strategy of getting Farmers and Dancers down and traded back and forth those professions for most of the game. Barry was able to complete more guilds than I had but I completed 2 near the end of the game and then on my last turn was able to cash them in for 9VP and play a farmer (with a bonus action on the 4VP card) for my 20th point. Barry probably would have been able to win on his next turn so it was a tight game.

I've heard a lot of good things about this game and I'm excited to try it out with 3-4 players. It played well with just 2 players so I'm also hoping to play it some with Hannah soon.
 
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8. Board Game: Railways of the Western U.S. [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked]
Andrew Brooks
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This was my big scheduled game for Saturday, I think I've managed to play RRT every year at IndyCon so hopefully that trend will continue for years to come. We had 6 players and man was this game fast. I'm not sure if it was just because the cube placement was poor for longer deliveries or just that eveyone was getting in each others' business but delivering seemed to get prioritized over building. I believe we had only 2 major lines claimed and I ended the game with only 5 links built and a 4-level train. I think this was the fewest links but at least one of the other players had 5-6 built as well at the end and I don't think anyone had over a 4-level train.

I got off to an early lead with an unusual opening for me of taking 3 stocks in the first turn to claim a service bounty. I debated for a while on my opening position but couldn't find anywhere on the board that was as compelling as where I started. Luckily no one came up to my corner of the board and I was able to maintain my lead as the game barreled along. It probably would have been in everyone's collective interest to prolong the game but we were emptying cities at a startling pace and I planned for an early end game. I had enough of a lead to win without completing my Barren card but I'm not sure how things would have played out if we had gone even one round longer.

Great game as always and still a 10 for me.
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9. Board Game: Alea Iacta Est [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1255]
Andrew Brooks
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I had a game scheduled after the raffle and about an hour to kill so I ended up teaching this to Raman, who had just bought my copy, and several others. I enjoyed it but not so much that I regret selling my copy, especially when we had to pass the reference sheet around to figure out what the heck the final scoring tiles do.
 
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10. Board Game: A Fistful of Penguins [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:3550]
Andrew Brooks
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I won this in the raffle and since my scheduled game got pushed back a little bit I ended up playing it with Bob and Emily. We were all playing it for the first time and enjoyed it for what it is. I'm not a huge fan of light dice rolling games but this was clever enough that I think I will keep it around to play with my family and non-gamers.

It was great to see Emily and Bob, we manage to get at least one game in every year at IndyCon and they are a great fun to spend time with. I often found them just playing 2 player games by themselves and joked about how they come to IndyCon just to get away from their kids and not to socialize. It was fun to get in a game with them!
 
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11. Board Game: Bora Bora [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:157]
Andrew Brooks
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I had hoped to play this one with Dave at some point during the con and finally managed to get it out after the raffle. There was quite a bit of setup and rules explanation but I was prepared for all that and we got right into it. I focused on getting guys into the temple early as my goals largely had to do with the temple and gods. I decided to try and get all 9 goals completed and took my actions mostly to support completing them. In the last couple of rounds I did a bit of expanding and ended up scoring nicely from the Red god and then again from the end of game fish bonuses.

I definitely want to try this one again. There was a lot going on and I'm very interested to explore the different areas of the game. I focused heavily on the gods which provided a good amount of dice control despite going later in the turn order. This was promising as it meant that you don't seem to be totally limited by your die results. As far as Feld designs, I like this one more than Trajan at the moment and am expecting it will grow on me even more after repeated plays. It seems to have more depth than Castles but is quite a bit more fiddly so I could see that being a turn off for some but didn't really matter much to me.

This was probably one of my two favorite new to me games of IndyCon (along with Homesteaders). I'm very excited to play it again.
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12. Board Game: Endeavor [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:206]
Andrew Brooks
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This might be my most played game that I don't currently own. I'll pick it up one of these days as my opinion of it grows each time I play it.

I refused, as always, to open with the workshop and went for a shipping heavy strategy. I was able to get enough jars and coins to support the additional building that I picked up every round and this worked very well until the last round when all the shipping lanes had filled up and there wasn't much left for me to do besides pick up cards. Denise picked a couple fights with me and I think I ended with maybe 5-6 points on the board. I had a lot of tokens from shipping and all my cards had at least 4 icons on them so I still finished strong but not quite enough to catch Brendan.
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13. Board Game: Homesteaders [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:504]
Andrew Brooks
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Jack suggested this one and Aristides joined us for it. I hadn't played before so I knew pretty much nothing about this one going in to it. I have heard good things about it but nothing specific so I didn't know what to expect. I was a little bit overwhelmed by all the different buildings at first but once the game got going I really enjoyed the bidding mechanics and engine building.

I ignored the buildings that produced special goods at the beginning of the game to focus on money and trade tokens along with acquiring more workers. About half way through I realized I needed to focus on a specific strategy and decided to try directly producing my points since I wasn't able to afford the really fancy buildings that required lots of resources. I was able to snag two buildings that produced points from workers and was pulling in 7 points a turn from 3 workers for the last 2 turns. I believe I finished 2nd after Aristides so this seemed to work pretty well despite not really having a plan in the first half of the game.

I really enjoyed this game and will definitely be looking to play it again at the next opportunity to do so. Thanks for teaching it Jack!
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14. Board Game: Egizia [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:281]
Andrew Brooks
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I was looking for something in the 90 minute range to finish of the night. Raman suggest this one, describing it as an "elegant design". I hadn't heard anything about it so I figured it was worth a shot. He taught it to Adam and I, who listened to about half the rules and we got going. I definitely see how it's a nice design but something about it didn't really excite me very much. I think I'd be willing to give it another try but I'm not sure that it's for me. Thanks to Raman for teaching and putting up with me and Adam. I had a lot of fun playing but I'm not sure how much of it was because of the game.
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