One Man's Quest for Glory - a GenCon Saga (Pre-Con)
Jacob
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Henrico
Virginia
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I'm here.

I finished my work project (halfway).
I made it through the visit with the in-laws (mostly).
I've been honing my gaming skills (not-at-all).
I have my ticket for GenCon (well, I kinda still need to get that..)

Actually, about the most I can say is...I'm here.

Here is Indianapolis, Indiana. Home of GenCon and, fortuitously, home of my parents as well. This is my 8th GenCon and every year I come here for one reason: Settlers. Well, Settlers and free food. And it's fun to visit my family. Three reasons really - also I like to see the dealer hall. As it turns out there are a lot of reasons why I come to GenCon... The point is, I'm here to compete in the Settlers Masters Invitational Tournament. And the point of that is to win, thereby snagging the last spot in the North American Catan Championship which will secure my bid for world champion next year in Germany. After becoming world champion of Settlers I suppose the sky is the limit. Maybe I'll run for president next.

This geeklist is intended to chronicle my quixotic quest.
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1. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:1504]
Jacob
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Tuesday Night

I'm the first (of seven!) siblings to get into town. That means we are limited in our gaming options. My father loves Scrabble and so I suggested we play.

I've been playing a lot of Words With Friends over the past couple years so my two-letter word vocab is bit better than my father's at the moment. He challenged words like "de" and "za." When those words turned out to be legal he then became quite reluctant to challenge. I exploited this to my advantage and won on the strength of such questionable plays as "toadier" and "jos." In all fairness, I didn't know those weren't words until I looked them up later.

Is it bad to play things that you aren't sure are words just because you don't think your opponent will challenge?
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2. Board Game: Oshi [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:4413]
Jacob
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Henrico
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Tuesday Night

Later on after Scrabble I was pretty wiped out and was just playing some online poker (freerolls). My son, Joe, and my father (who is usually called Granddad while my kids are around) played Oshi.

I don't know much about this game but it was really nice to see my son playing board games with my father. One of the things I really love about gaming is how it can help connect different generations. One of my only memories of my great-grandfather is playing checkers with him.

Do you have memories of playing games with older or younger generations?
 
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3. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:11]
Jacob
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Henrico
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Wednesday Morning & Afternoon

Spent the morning at my father's business playing a nice little online CCG called Kingdoms CCG. I'm a (mostly) free player. I've only dropped $30 on the game because I've been playing it pretty non-stop for the last 6+ months. I figure the devs deserve some of my money if they've entertained me for that long. This game has come closer to scratching the M:tG itch than anything else I've played since I gave M:tG up.

My father and I went over to the airport and picked up my brother, Jon, and his girlfriend Tatiana (Tati). Then we went over to City Barbecue for lunch. If you've never had City Barbecue you HAVE to try it. They have amazing brisket, pulled pork, and turkey. Their peach cobbler is to die for. All in all it's easily the best BBQ experience I've had. Wonderful stuff. If you're here in town for GenCon do yourself a favor and find one of their four Indy locations for a meal.

After lunch we headed downtown to get our GenCon badges. The lines were short and the badges were free! At least, they were free for me and my Dad. We both qualified for the Catan Masters Invitational based on the strength of our final table finish at last year's World Qualifier event. Mayfair has very generously paid for 4-day badges for all 64 participants in the Masters. Thanks Mayfair!

After we got home, Jon got out Castles of Burgundy. This was a new game for us and we struggled a bit with the rules at first. We messed up the round/phase thing and it affected us with how we were scoring the area bonuses. We kept reducing the bonus after each round and then resetting the bonus to ten after each phase. We realized we were doing it wrong about halfway through but decided to keep playing the same way just to keep it consistent. In the end I don't feel like it made a huge difference in the game other than inflating the scores a bunch.

Jon won handily having played several times online before.

I am interested in trying the game one or two more times but ultimately I suspect the lack of theme and the heavy emphasis on tactical play instead of strategic play will do this one in for me. I have to say I really have a strong objection to games which feel like nothing more than a collection of interesting or clever game mechanics. Also, I hate the process of learning a new game even though I love having learned a game once we're done.

What do you like/dislike about learning a new game?
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4. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:119]
Jacob
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Henrico
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Wednesday Night

My son and I were partners and were beating my father and brother by the time he had to go to bed, but the game wasn't finished. Maybe we'll try to finish tomorrow.
 
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5. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
Jacob
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Jon, Tati, Dad, and my wife, Beth all played.

My wife asked me if I thought it was better to double up on numbers and have access to everything or diversify and have slightly worse numbers and no access to one resource. I recommended doubling which turned out to be her downfall. Sorry, Beth!

Tati learned the game and ended up winning. Congrats, Tati! This was especially fun because my father is somewhat fond of mentioning that he is "ranked 9th in the world at Settlers." Just goes to show the luck factor that is always prevalent over the course of a single game of Settlers.
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6. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:11]
Jacob
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Henrico
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Last play of the night was Castles of Burgundy again. Three player game with myself, Jon, and Dad.

We used random boards this time instead of the beginner board. My board didn't have any sections containing more than three tiles together and had lots of double and single-tile sections. My strategy was to complete as many small sections as possible early in order to capitalize on the larger completion bonuses.

Final Score
Dad: 190
Jon: 209
Me: 222

I'm not sure I care if I ever play this again.

Time for bed...Catan Masters Invitational first thing in the morning!
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