Gencon 2013 Report and Reviews (Mostly Games, 2 RPGs)
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Headed down from West Michigan Wednesday after work and returned Sunday. We stayed at the Motel 6 next to Indy Speedway for only $40 a night, and the hotel was 90% full of bikers there for the MotoGP at Indy Friday - Sunday. Ironically, our hotel was very quiet, as from other reports it seems that the bikers preferred to make noise downtown.

Saw and did a lot of fun things ....
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1. Board Game: Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:309] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Slept in a little and avoided the massive crush Thursday morning, arrived in plenty of time for the scheduled Thunderstone Advance tournament. It was supposed to go noon - 4:00, with 4 4P games and a final played using Epic rules. It didn't start until 12:30, and we barely squeezed 2 games in before 4:00, at which point most people took off, so although they offered to let us keep playing, they said the results would be determined only on the first two matches.

The games were very fun, as they were set up by the TTA redesigner, and had very clever twists, but all 4 tables had different setups and I happened to get into low-scoring setups. I won both matches 20-19-19-18 and 30-29-27-21 (or something close), but wasn't even in the top 8 for points scored, so I only got a participant prize ($5 off a full retail purchase at the AEG store). I complained nicely that it didn't seem fair as I was one of only two people to win both matches, so they gave me another $5 gift certificate, which was cool until I realized that the gift certificates couldn't be combined (one per purchase). That's called a coupon, not a GC.

So, a little disappointed with the experience, but not the games, which were very fun.
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2. Board Game: Myth [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1862]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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I kickstarted this based solely on the art and game description, so I was a little nervous that I had acted rashly. But no worries! The game is fantastic and I really enjoyed the experience. The designer is also hilarious and a great teacher.
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3. RPG Item: Shadowrun RPG 5th Edition Core Rulebook [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:179]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Played in a Shadowrun 5th edition RPG intro game. I enjoyed the game experience very much, the GM was fantastic and made up an adventure on the fly tailored to the characters we had made.

Scheduled for 4 hours, one of the players spent 2 1/2 hours creating her character. We finally started without her being finished. Seriously, if you're so concerned about whether you have a Mark IV or Mark V machine pistol, and whether you should be left or right handed, tweak your character in your hotel room later, please.
 
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4. Board Game: Star Wars Miniatures [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:1469] [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Went to meet up with my teenage son, who spent most of the weekend playing video games, scoping out costumed girls in the exhibit hall, or playing SWM. The SWM community shrinks a little every year, but they are great people and very willing to help a younger (15 yo) teen learn the game.

Plus, the game is really fun. I played two matches with my son, whose Yoda crushed me into fine dust.
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5. Board Game: Space Cadets: Dice Duel [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:933]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Played Space Cadets: Dice Duel, and was taught by the designers, Sydney and Geoff Engelstein. Rodney Smith of Watch it Played even tweeted a picture of me playing it! Fun, frenetic, quick game. Not good if you don't like people yelling at you. Great if you like yelling at others. The other team couldn't close us out with a premature launch call, and our pilot was phenomenal in maneuvering us around for the kill.
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6. Board Game: Shadowrun: Crossfire [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:611]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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After the fantastic fun I had playing Shadowrun, I was so excited to try this, but really let down by the reality. I enjoyed the first demo, but when I played it again, it just felt like Uno. The game ends up consisting of people saying "I've got a red, do you have a green you can play?" Blargh. Compared to the Pathfinder game it was sad.
 
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7. Board Game: Batman: Arkham City Escape [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:8951]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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My son was excited to try this because he loved the video game. I enjoyed it, but there is not a lot there. My son would rate this at least a point and a half higher than I did.
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8. Board Game: Dungeon Roll [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:1992]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Had to see my peeps at Tasty Minstrel, very glad I kickstarted this one. A quick push your luck game. Probably best with two players or solo.
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9. Board Game: Guildhall [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:696] [Average Rating:7.01 Unranked]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Was examining a copy lying around the AEG event area, and another guy came up and suggested we play. Not a bad trick taking game, I enjoyed it.
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10. Board Game: Ogre [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:981]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Played in an event with my son where we playtested a prototype map with one of the designers. My son, as the Ogre, rolled 5s or 6s in 11/12 of his first rolls, and I rolled a success once in the same time. Needless to say, he crushed me. The designer was laughing so hard I thought he might pee his pants, and he told us he wasn't including this data in his playtest records for obvious reasons.
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11. Board Game: Smash Up [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:622] [Average Rating:6.85 Unranked]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Headed back over to the AEG area as they had lots of free tables with games lying around and didn't mind you playing them even without tickets as long as you didn't bother their people. Played Smash-up with both expansions twice. I had demoed this game at BGG.con but never played a full game, and I enjoyed both plays. My son literally ninja-ed the victory from me in the first game.
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12. Board Game: Smash Up: The Obligatory Cthulhu Set [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:1008] [Average Rating:6.81 Unranked]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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I was the first to 15 in the second game, but my madness cards caused me to only have 7 points. Boo.
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13. Board Game: Firefly: The Game [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:276]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Tried several times to get a demo of this but was unsuccessful. Another West Michigander told me that he thought it was awesome. I'll need to try it.
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14. Board Game: Lost Legends [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:2054]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Ran into another friend, who wanted to demo this. I hadn't heard of it, but ended up buying the last copy available and got the promos. My only retail purchase of the con. I would describe it as all the best parts of the Mage Knight Board Game and 7 Wonders in one game. Kind of like peanut butter and chocolate, it doesn't make sense until you try it.
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15. Board Game: Maximum Throwdown [Average Rating:5.62 Overall Rank:10797] [Average Rating:5.62 Unranked]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Back to our fallback base near AEG. The big AEG event was going on, and people were excitedly opening their swag boxes. I wanted to buy someone's Smash-up expansion, and walked up to a guy looking through his box with a scowl and enquired about a possible sale. He offered to sell me the entire box, which contained Guild Hall, Maximum Throwdown, some L5R stuff, Chthulhu Smashup, a figurine, and a Trains promo map of the US midwest for $25. Sold!

Sat down with my son and a friend to play and another guy came up and asked to join. Of course! He had just come from the L5R tourney and offered to buy the L5R stuff for $10. Sold!

Maximum Throwdown is fun, but not quite as fun as scoring a sweet deal.
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16. Board Game: Fallen City of Karez [Average Rating:4.56 Overall Rank:15194]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Had a full demo and rules explanation of this from the designer in his booth. I have the kickstarter edition and had some rules questions. After playing the game with Elad, I have to say the game is really, really good.

My favorite quote from him: "I like Euro games, but I always wonder, what is the point of pushing around the cubes? In this game, I tried to answer that question. You play the Euro part of the game for cubes, which then you use as resources to buy stuff to go to the dungeon." Extremely apropo.
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17. Board Game: Eldritch Horror [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:46]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Hung around Fantasy Flight for a while, hoping a cool game would magically appear. This was not it. Not impressed. Way too long for what it is. Very little player interaction. I don't know why either an Arkham horror or Elder Sign player would play this, although it's clearly trying to find a niche in the middle of them. It's the boring parts of Runebound and the card conditions of Arabian Nights without the fun of either.
 
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18. Board Game: Blood Bound [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1784]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Also not impressed by the Gencon demo. It's not quite broken, but it's not very interesting or fun either.
 
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19. Board Game: BattleLore (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:130]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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I've never played Command and Colors, Memoir, or Battlelore, so didn't know what to expect, but this game was quite fun.
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20. Board Game: Trains [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:368] [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
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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Back to AEG again, where we borrowed a copy of Trains. I liked it, it's a neat twist on dominion. Again, no need to own it, but I'd happily play.
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21. RPG Item: Shadows of a Black Sun [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:1243]
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Used generics to squeeze into a sold-out demo of this, a game my son was super-geeked to try. I really enjoyed the game, but the 4 hour game really dragged for two reasons:

1. The GM was one of the rules designers, and kept referring to the reference material for clarifications for extended periods of time ... like two minutes at a time, and often. Once it was to see if someone should add a blue or green die to a status check for a mostly inconsequential action. The number one rule of a GM should be Keep the Game Moving. Seriously. Lie about the roll results you got if you need to do real-time balancing. Just fudge it, and look it up later.

2. It's possible that the above was mostly inconsequential, but the effect was exacerbated by the guy next to me playing his Trandoshan as a deep south hillbilly, complete with loud and annoying accent, who was constantly running off to find eggrolls and trying to dance with people. That two minutes the GM spent looking up rules seemed like 2 hours every time.

Maybe RPGs aren't my thing ... I need a game that keeps moving. I felt like it was a great 2 hour experience dragged into 4 hours.
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22. Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:286]
 
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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Got extremely lucky and walked up the line for this with only 4 people in it. Within minutes there was 30 people behind us. I really enjoyed this game and I wasn't expecting much after the Shadowrun: Crossfire demo.

I really enjoyed the experience, and while I don't feel the need to own it, would happily play it.
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23. Board Game: Shafausa [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:10730]
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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Finished the con out with this economic Euro with a fantasy theme, played with none other than Eric Summerer of Dice Tower fame. I was too tired at this point to grok the rules or the strategy, and had to dig out of an early hole I dug. I really enjoyed it. We didn't finish before the game room closed at 4:00, I'd really like to get a full game in.
 
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