A song of dice and conspiring: I'm no con man, so believe me when I tell you that CastleCon 2013 was where it was at!!
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I've only ever attended one other board gaming con: last year's CastleCon. But it was such a great experience that I was quite excited to get back to the lovely metropolis of Oshawa ( zombie ) for this year's event.

Better yet, my wife (Beth) and I were able to arrange a bevy of babysitters so that she could come to her first con ever, and for the 2nd time in the 4 years since she was pregnant with our first child, we could have a weekend away with just the 2 of us.

Just as with last year, I was coming into this one at the tail end of a lengthy viral illness that had wiped me out pretty good, but I was feeling a fair bit better and was ready to have some fun! So here are my experiences from October 18-20, 2013.
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1. Board Game: Master and Commander [Average Rating:7.25 Unranked]
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The Con


Before anything else, I have to give mad props to the event founders and organizers...

Richard Diosi
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Newcastle
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Greig
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Peterborough
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I went out there in search of experience, to taste and to touch and to feel as much, as a man can before he repents...
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Chris Kraska
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...who were joined this year by the indefatigable...

Sara VanderWal
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Toronto
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(is there a gaming event within an hour of Toronto that she doesn't have her hands in??)

...and who once again did an absolutely AMAZING job of sacrificing a weekend's worth of sleep to provide us with a very smoothly and professionally run event.

As with last year, there was a long list of special events and fantastic features that included:
-game demos
-previews of hot-off-the-press Essen releases
-a well-stocked game library
-"play to win" tournaments
-a door prize raffle
-purchasable tickets for the opportunity to win several other games
-a "bring and buy" silent auction
-a math trade
-a booth set up by fungamescafe.com to sell new games
-signup for daily lunch delivery to the convention room from Pita Pit
-discounts at other local restaurants
-an onsite snack/drink kiosk
-endless open gaming

The location was still perfect for the size of the con. Being able to stay on site in a very reasonably-priced hotel room, to roll out of bed in the morning and grab some breakfast that was provided with the room cost (I LOVE breakfast!!), to wander down to the event room in my Dutch clog slippers to begin a day of gaming, to have lunch ordered in for us, to be able to get out to one of the many great restaurants that are just a resource-throw away, and then to get back to continue gaming late into the night, was absolutely wonderful!

I am hugely impressed with what this small team has managed to put together, and am very grateful for the endless hours of hard work they put into providing myself and so many others with such an awesome weekend! Cheers to you!! meeple
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2. Board Game: Cinque Terre [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:1440]
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Friday 11:00am-12:45pm


I'm a sucker for pick-up-and-deliver games and have had my eye on this one recently. So seeing that there was a demo scheduled for 11:00, Beth and I signed up figured it would be a good way to jump into the event.

The group that ended up playing this game were just the nicest people, and made me wish that we weren't separated by so much geography so that I could spend more time around the gaming table with all of them. As an added bonus, this turned out to be my wife's favourite game of the entire weekend.


My previous experience with this game: New to me.

Game teacher: Greig

Players: Me, Beth, Greig, Jen, Ryan

Winner: Beth

My running weekend win percentage: 0% (I managed to squeak out a 2nd place, though.)


Game comments: This game is an accurate simulation of my life: running around in circles feeling like I'm accomplishing absolutely nothing. But as I'm a sucker for pick-up-and-deliver games, I did quite enjoy this one.

The rules are nice and straightforward, but there is surprisingly a lot to consider as you're winding your around the Italian countryside. The physical production value is mostly pretty good, and the chunky wooden trucks are a particularly nice touch. However the score track isn't very good, and my biggest complaint is that the font used for the city names on the game board and cards is nearly indecipherable at first glance, making it hard to distinguish between the various Italian names.

All in all, it's a great game that I might have been even more excited about had I not recently also tried The Great Heartland Hauling Co. and found that to provide a similar, but more streamlined and compact, experience.

Game design: 3.5/5

Personal enjoyment: 3.5/5

Total: 7/10
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3. Board Game: Biblios [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:318]
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Friday 1:15pm-1:45pm


My good buddy Chad had brought this game along but had never played it, so I felt it was my duty to introduce him to a game that has given my wife and I much enjoyment since we first purchased it in a VCR case as "Scripts & Scribes" so long ago (I'm such a hipster cool ).


My previous experience with this game: Very experienced!

Game teacher: Me

Players: Me, Beth, Chad, Paul

Winner: Beth

My running weekend win percentage: 0% (I managed a 2nd place in this one, too.)


Game comments: Well, it turns out the small but rather rabid fan-base that this game has attracted are quite correct - this is truly an excellent little card game! It's easy to learn, great fun to play, and makes you want to play several times in a row. What I didn't expect was just how much this game would make me laugh. For some reason I found some of the outrageous bids and unexpected turns of fortune to be quite hilarious!

The new edition of the game has some vastly improved artwork and pretty cool dice, although I do miss the old VCR case just a little bit! However, 2-player games aren't as interesting, so the number of players is pretty much limited to 3 or 4. It's nice that this game is more readily available now as it is one that holds a huge amount of appeal for hardcore gamers and non-gamers alike. Yes, it turns out that this "board" game snob can indeed love a strictly card game!

Game design: 4/5

Personal enjoyment: 4/5

Total: 8/10
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4. Board Game: Biblios [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:318]
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Friday 1:45pm-2:00pm


I bet you can't play just once! This is a game that tends to get multiple back-to-back plays, especially after a first-timer has just played it and now has a bit of an idea of how it all works together.


Players: Me, Beth, Chad, Paul

Winner: Chad (he learns quickly!)

My running weekend win percentage: 0% (My position: 2nd, of course.)
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5. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:36]
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Friday 3:00pm-5:00pm


This is one of Paul's all-time favourite games, and as Chad had brought along his copy (with cool, customized resource tokens!), they were kind enough to teach Beth and I how to play. Beth enjoyed the game a little more than I did, but I was grateful to finally get to try this BGG favourite.


My previous experience with this game: New to me.

Game teachers: Paul and Chad

Players: Me, Beth, Paul, Chad

Winner: Paul

My running weekend win percentage: 0% (I ended up tied for 3rd place - or last place, depending on how optimistic/pessimistic you happen to be.)


Game comments: So I finally got a chance to play the venerable Power Grid for the first time, and I was surprised by how rules-light it was given its long-time high ranking on BGG (rightly or wrongly or somewhere in betweenly, I tend to associate high BGG ratings with extremely dense, long-lasting, Euro-style brain exercises). But despite the beginner-friendliness of the game, as with many of BGG's highest ranked game, I thought it was okay but will not go out of my way to play it again.

As a whole, it's quite a clever game, but I personally don't tend to enjoy auction-oriented games all that much. And outside of the auctions for power plants, I didn't think that there was much in the way of meaningful decisions to be made, since the route-building was usually pretty obvious (take the cheapest routes that allowed you to get in the way of the other players the most), and the purchasing of resources generally involved buying all the resources required to power your plants for that turn, but not much more (unless the price was particularly good).

The physical components are okay, with the illustrations giving the game a fun, stylized look. So overall, I admire the design without being personally thrilled by the game. (Still, I'd be interested in trying out Power Grid: The First Sparks if given the opportunity.)

Game design: 3.5/5

Personal enjoyment: 2/5

Total: 5.5/10
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6. Board Game: Quicksilver [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:8726]
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Friday 5:45pm-7:30pm


Next up was a Kickstarted game that had been acquired by Jeff (hey, you have a "face" on BGG now, Jeff - it looks good on ya!). It was a fun enough game, but so far no other racing game I've played matches Fast Flowing Forest Fellers for a simply, fast-moving, exciting, highly interactive, almost infinitely variable race experience.

Also, if you ever need to fly anywhere, don't ever let Chad pilot your airship. He will find handy little "shortcuts" through narrow mountain passes, but will attempt to thread the needle by charging it at top speed and will end up baffled that he managed to miss it (again).




My previous experience with this game: New to me

Game teacher: Jeff (the best game teacher around, for my money)

Players: Me, Beth, Jeff, Chad, Paul, Katherine

Winner: Beth

My running weekend win percentage: 0% (I was in the running for a solid 2nd or 3rd place when the winner crossed the finish line.)


Game comments: First of all, I need to applaud a first-time game designer/publisher for successfully bringing such an ambition project to the market! As a whole, he's created a pretty fun, enjoyably-themed, quite customizable racing game that can handle a decent range of players.

There's a good amount of strategic decision-making involved in doing a bit of advance planning, in deciding how to use your cards, and in agonizing over just how much to push it. The "averaged" dice are also a nice touch that mitigates the luck factor to a certain extent (but still did very little to interfere with my propensity toward rolling "1"s!). Another great touch that I particularly appreciated was the double-sided board, which provides a more challenging course on one side and a more friendly course on the other (along with all the items that can further customize your race experience). Also, ya gotta respect the 'stache!

On the negative side of things, I found that the game dragged a bit with 6 players, it felt like there wasn't enough variety in the available cards, and on the components side of things, those cardboard arrows on the dials really need to be plastic. I had a fun time with this one, but there are a few racing games out there that I enjoy much more than this (a player commented that Powerboats is one that seems to provide a similar, and better, experience).

Game design: 3/5

Personal enjoyment: 2.5/5

Total: 5.5/10
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7. Board Game: Chaos in the Old World [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:101]
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Friday 9:45pm-11:30pm


After a really nice dinner out at the Mongolian Grill, we decided to wrap up the day with a game that is apparently an old favourite with several of us (it's a Top 10 for me). I was particularly excited because I had not yet had the opportunity to play with the Chaos in the Old World: The Horned Rat Expansion expansion.

As it turns out, the one playing the Horned Rat (Jeff) ended up running away with both a VP and a dial tick victory! (We had all been fighting over the central and southern regions, while Jeff quietly spread his plague-ridden rodents in the north.)


My previous experience with this game: Experienced with the base game, but the expansion was new to me.

Game teacher: None required.

Players: Me, Paul, Jeff, Katherine, Chad

Winner: Jeff

My running weekend win percentage: 0% (Playing as Tzeentch, I was in dead last by a long shot...)


Horned Rat expansion comments: I finally got to have a date with the horny rat!!! And despite his corrupting influence on me, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

Somehow Eric and his design team have taken a game that was already wonderfully well-balanced despite the extremely asymmetrical nature of the 4 factions and added a 5th faction that plays quite differently again into the volatile mix. And while they were at it, they added some more challenging Old World cards as well as a whole new set of cards for each of the 4 original factions, allowing for different play styles to be tried out by all players. All of this combined has taken an already top-notch game and added so much more variety to the experience.

Hell, I can hardly think of anything negative to say about this amazing expansion, other than the more difficult Old World cards can detract a bit too much from the game play for 1 or 2 specific factions, depending on the card.

Game design: 4.5/5

Personal enjoyment: 4.5/5

Total: 9/10
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8. Board Game: The Great Heartland Hauling Co. [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1101]
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Saturday 9:45am-10:45am


I awoke early Saturday morning with my guts a bit of a mess as a result of a flare-up of my Crohn's disease, and as the day progressed, the pain would escalate pretty dramatically. But it wasn't too horrible yet, so I got a bit of breakfast into me and headed to the event room.

The rest of our group hadn't yet arrived, so Beth and I sat down for a quick 2-player game. Beth hadn't played this one yet, and as I had really enjoyed my 1 previous play of the game, I was excited to teach it to her.


My previous experience with this game: 1 previous play.

Game teacher: Me.

Players: Me, Beth

Winner: Me!

My running weekend win percentage: 14.3%


Game comments: Straight up - this game is brilliant. It takes everything that is good and fun about pick-up-and-deliver games and distills the elements into the tightest little package you could possibly imagine.

Several things about the game (from the card-based "board", to the picking up of goods to sell at specific locations, to the race to reach a certain amount of money, to the ability to spend victory points in order to purchase vehicle upgrades) bring to mind Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League (which is a huge compliment from me, given the esteem in which I hold that great game). But at the same time, between the higher player count, the greater variability in board movement, and other little elements, Heartland ends up feeling quite different than, but just as fun as, Perry Rhodan.

The mini, in-game expansions of the more difficult routes and the truck upgrades also add some very fun twists to the game, without changing it drastically. It's quite a good thing that the most personally annoying part of the whole game is that they would give such a long and cumbersome title to such a small and beautifully streamlined little gem of a game!

Game design: 4.5/5

Personal enjoyment: 4.5/5

Total: 9/10
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9. Board Game: K2 [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:489]
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Saturday 11:45am-1:30pm


This game turned out to be the highlight of the con for me. As you can see from my game comments, I was quite impressed with it! And it ended up being a real nail-biting finish for me: On the very last turn of the game, just 1 of my climbers was just 1 oxygen point short of survival because I was just 1 movement point shy of reaching a safe location!!


My previous experience with this game: New to me.

Game teacher: Greig (but fortunately he had Jeff and Paul helping him out, so he couldn't screw it up too much... cool )

Players: Me, Beth, Greig, Jeff, Paul

Winner: Greig (Yeah, the one who taught us "his" version of the rules. whistle As for me, I was 1 of 2 players - the other being my wife - whose climbers faded off into peaceful oblivion as the effects of hypoxia and hypothermia took over. Remind us to never go mountaineering together...)

My running weekend win percentage: 12.5%


Game comments: I have an unending fascination with humans in extremis, and I've read books and watched documentaries on a couple of the more tragic Everest expeditions of recent decades. With what little mountaineering knowledge I've gained from that, I will boldly state that K2 has succeeded with its thematic integration whilst maintaining a fairly minimal amount of rules more than any other game I can think of.

But it's more than just a thematic "experience" game; it's a fantastic mental puzzle with a very adjustable level of challenge (hooray for double-sided game boards!!). BUT it's more than just a multi-player solitaire puzzle exercise; the race against their opponents and for the limited space on the mountain forces players to push themselves to the very limits of life in order to emerge the victor.

This is the "push your luck" game (with resource management) that I've been waiting for: one that doesn't get bogged down with fiddly rules, while still providing plenty of tense and challenging decisions every snowy step of the way. (But rather than rush out and purchase it, I'm going to be patient and hold out for the next iteration, Mount Everest, to be released.)

From a components point of view, everything is top-notch, and the illustrations on all the game materials are beautifully done. My only little niggle would be that the numbers on the "topless Oreo cookie" spaces of the mountain locations can become quickly obscured when more than 1 or 2 climbers get into a space. On the whole, it's an extremely clever (and tense and challenging and exciting and fun...) game. I like it.

Game design: 4.5/5

Personal enjoyment: 4/5

Total: 8.5/10
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10. Board Game: Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:309]
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Saturday 2:30pm-5:00pm


Trevor very kindly brought this game to the con at my request and taught it to us Saturday afternoon. I was very grateful that I had a chance to give it a try, but the game itself fell rather flat for me. Mind you, a few factors were conspiring against it, including a now overwhelming amount of abdominal pain from my Crohn's disease, the fact that I had never seen the TV show on which the game is based and thus couldn't appreciate the details of the characters and settings, and the fact that we had 3 players who were new to the game and thus weren't yet getting into the true negotiation and backstabbing aspects that bring a game like this to life.

The game reminded me to a certain extent of City of Remnants in that it brought together a whole mish-mash of mechanisms that sounded like they could have created a pretty awesome sum total, but ended up feeling like a cake that had every ingredient in the cupboard thrown into it and then was taken out of the oven half-baked.

BUT, I did get to witness what was probably the classiest, most sporting, most downright awesome move that I've ever seen in a lifetime of playing board games! Trevor had crawled back from behind and had hit the 12 Influence required for victory; all he had to do was survive the gladiator combat and he would clinch the win. As 2 of us only had very weak gladiators, his victory was assured. However, rather than take the easy win, he chose to have an epic final showdown with the only other player who had a gladiator that could compete with him (Chad), and ultimately lost the game as a result.

I'm not one of those gamers who plays games strictly for the mental challenge of puzzling through a game's strategic elements; rather, I play games because I love to create a shared narrative with my friends. Thus, despite my pain-fogged faculties, I was absolutely thrilled that, rather than going for the sure win, Trevor chose to provide us with such an epic and exciting finish to the game! You can read Trevor's own vibrant description of the glorious final battle here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/13743104#13743104


My previous experience with this game: New to me

Game teacher: Trevor

Players: Me, Trevor, Chad, Paul

Winner: Chad (victory conceded by the other players)

My running weekend win percentage: 11.1%


Game comments: Like a too-slow slice from the sica of a Thraex, this game was a swing and a miss for me. I'm normally all over these "thematic experience" games, however I think the fact that I've never seen the TV show on which it was based didn't help this particular game.

But even when diving below the surface, the game play and its hodge-podge/mish-mash of mechanisms didn't work for me either. Probably the most disappointing aspect was the gladiatorial combats, which failed in 2 areas: First, the fight mainly involved the 2 combatants running up to each other and then throwing buckets of dice for a while - there didn't seem to be much tactical play required for the actual combat. Second, this combat phase resulted in fairly lengthy downtime for the non-participating players while they watched the other 2 sit there and roll dice. If there was a way that 2 separate but simultaneous combats could have been happening in the arena in order to involve all players, that would have been much more ideal.

My other major complaint with the game play was that the end game just draaaaaaaagged (and we played the ultra-"short", start with 7 Influence, version of the game!). One player would hit the required 12 Influence for a victory, but another player would play a Guard or another card to cancel the effect and knock him back again... and repeat ad infinitum.

The game's components were excellent (LOVE those plastic gladiator figures!!), and I feel that so much more could have been done with those great bits and that super-exciting theme! Having said all that, I do see how a group of players who are familiar with the source material, who get into "character" to a certain extent in an RPGish fashion, and who embrace the wheeling/dealing, treachery, negotiation, bribery and backstabbery that really elevates a game like this, could have a pretty good time with this one.

Game design: 2/5

Personal enjoyment: 2/5

Total: 4/10
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11. Board Game: Emergency! [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked]
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Saturday 5:00pm
- Sunday 2:30pm



At this point in time, I couldn't take it any more and had to dash off to the local emergency department (I eventually found it after a couple of wrong turns) for management of my Crohn's pain. I spent a little over 20 hours there with some of the most persistently horrific pain I've experienced in 3 decades of fighting my losing battles with this illness (including many ER visits and a very-near-death experience involving an emergency bowel resection).

I don't want to bring down the tone of this list with the full sob story, which can be read in more detail here...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/13755771#13755771

...but in a nutshell, during my time in emerg I received a total IV intake of 24mg Morphine, 150mg Gravol, and 3L normal saline, in addition to 2 doses each of Solu-Medrol, Cipro, and Flagyl. All that was barely enough to take the edge off the pain, and the staff were in the process of admitting me to hospital for a few more days of IV corticosteroids, antibiotics, and pain management. However, I had only had about 2 hours of sleep in 15-20 minute intervals and just wanted to get the hell out of there and get back to my wife (I had strongly insisted she stay at the con since I prefer to not have people in my personal space when I'm feeling like that) and back to my home and children, so I lied about how "good" I was feeling and they reluctantly allowed me to sign myself out.


My previous experience with this game: An entire lifetime of experience.

Winner: The Crohn's (again, dammit!! angry )



Game design: 0/5

Personal enjoyment: -1,000,000/5

Total: -1,000,000/10
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12. Board Game: Airlines Europe [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:337]
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Sunday 3:00pm-4:30pm


Remember what I said about not letting Chad fly your airship? Well, it turns out that you'd better not let him drive your truck either if you have any important deliveries to make. My wife managed a few games whilst I was indisposed, including a 3-player game of The Great Heartland Hauling Co. which Chad somehow managed to finish with an astonishing -4 dollars/VPs! laugh

By the time I got back to the con, there was still time to squeeze in 1 more game, and I was excited to try another that's been on my "want to play" list for a while.


My previous experience with this game: New to me

Game teacher: Jeff

Players: Me, Beth, Jeff, Katherine

Winner: Jeff (I pulled off a solid last place finish.)

My final weekend win percentage: 10.0%


Game comments: With Airlines Europe, Alan R. Moon continues to not thrill me with another mildly interesting game. (Even the physical components are fairly bland, with the exception of those wonderful plastic aircraft - although even with those, the red and orange colours can be difficult to tell apart under anything but the most ideal lighting conditions). It's not that the game is poorly designed; in fact, it's a nice, tight, user-friendly approach to the "network building and shares" genre that provides a good, competitive game experience with a beautifully minimal rules set.

I think that my main problem with the game is that the choice of aircraft placement on the board feels largely meaningless for much of the game, with the exception of the few colours that receive the bonuses for connecting specific cities. I'd really like to see more interesting board play somehow integrated into the experience.

So while it's light and interactive and fairly fun, it has not ended my long search for a "shares" game of this genre that hits my own "sweet spot" ratio of simplicity of rules to interesting decisions.

Game design: 3.5/5

Personal enjoyment: 3/5

Total: 6.5/10
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13. Board Game: Infinite City: Guild Hall and Salvage Yard [Average Rating:6.95 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.95 Unranked]
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Sunday 4:30pm-5:00pm


With CastleCon winding to a close, it was time for the organizers to do the draw for the door prizes. There were about 6 or 8 brand new games, expansions, and promos up for grabs, so we all gathered eagerly around, tickets in hand. The prizes went one by one, and with just a single prize remaining on the table (well, 2 if you count the slightly over-ripe banana that someone had very generously donated to the prize table at the last minute), my number was called! Sweet!!

I went to the table and grabbed a shrink-wrapped punchboard containing half-a-dozen building tiles. A quick inquiry to learn exactly what I had won revealed it to be the Infinite City: Guild Hall and Salvage Yard promotional item.

With constant financial stress being a natural result of my long-time deteriorating health, I am ashamed to say that my first thought was, "A rare promotional item! I wonder how much I could sell it for?" And when another con attendee almost immediately approached me and offered to purchase it from me right then and there if I wasn't interested in it, I though, "Perfect! This will be the easiest money I've ever made!" shake

But then my brain immediately flashed back to my experiences of the previous 24 hours and I came to my senses, recognizing that if I could bring just a little bit of happiness to a fellow human, that was worth way more than whatever money I could make by selling it. So I handed him the item and told him not to worry about paying for it.

For me, it was just fun to actually win something, and then to double the fun by sharing it with someone else!

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14. Board Game: Aqua Romana [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2431]
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Silent Auction Item


Probably my favourite aspect of the con apart from the open gaming is the "bring and buy" silent auction. It's always exciting to participate both as a buyer and a seller! In both years I've been able to cover part of my expenses by selling some games from my collection, and in both years I've also been able to get a great deal on a game.

This year I was able to pick up Aqua Romana (thanks to whoever offered it up for sale!). Since my wife and I were able to give it a play a couple of evenings after our return home from the con, I'll include my thoughts on the game here as a bit of a "bonus" item.


Game Comments: It's not just water; it's ROMAN water!! How... exciting? It's a decent game, though, and quite cleverly designed. (Yet I feel that the ancient Romans were much more efficient with their aqueduct construction than I was.)

My initial impressions are probably slightly skewed since my only experience with the games so far has been with 2 players, and I feel it would be much better as a 3- or 4-player game. So while I wasn't blown away by the game, I did find it to be interesting and fairly fun, and do really appreciate the clever manner in which the simple design elements have been brought together.

Typical of Queen Games, the production value is top notch, with everything from the huge, nicely illustrated board to the big, chunky, wooden master builders feeling larger than life. One thing that IS much too large (and as anyone with limited shelf space can appreciate, it drives me crazy) is the game box, which is about twice as thick as it needs to be.

Another thing that might really help this game to shine is a "shares" system, similar to that used by one of its predecessors, Cable Car. I feel like I could put one together fairly easily by making a deck of cards and a score track, and introducing some different-coloured meeples, so I'll have to get on that. If anything, I think it could really improve the 2-player experience.

Game design: 3.5/5

Personal enjoyment: 2.5/5

Total: 6/10
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15. Board Game: Fail! [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
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The Regrets


Any regrets I have from the weekend are centred around the fact that the con time didn't feel long enough and I just wanted MOAR!! Specifically...

-The most "painfully" obvious one is the fact I spent nearly 24 hours in the ER. More than anything, I feel so terrible for my wife. She has already been forced to take on so much while sacrificing so much due to my declining health over the past couple of years, and when we finally get away for a fun weekend sans enfants, I spent half of it in the hospital. blush Her heart is for me and she would never complain, but I just love her immensely and so desperately want to provide her with a much better life.

-I really missed not being able to get a game in with my new friend, Ben, or with Sara "miraria" who had driven all the way from Michigan for the con. Getting a play of Ben's prototype was near the top of my "want to do" items, and it didn't happen.

-Since I had a wonderful, ready-made group of 7 close friends who were attending the con, I didn't get a chance to game with any of the amazing people I had met at the previous year's con, such as Kris, Misa, Trevor "Mantlerom", Sara "SaraCV" Sammy, Anita, Andrew, Raquel, Jody, Daniel, Melanie, and Debbie (whose presence I missed altogether this year). One thing that stuck out to me with my first CastleCon last year was just how sickeningly nice everyone was, and my wife was similarly impressed with the group this year. So many great people, so little time to game with all of them!

-As a result of my prolonged absence over Saturday and Sunday, I didn't get to some of the games I was hoping to have a chance to try out for the first time, such as Imperial 2030, Las Vegas, and La Strada, as well as a few games from my own collection that others had requested I bring.

-I had brought a truly special beer to share with Greig on Saturday night, but that clearly didn't pan out. (But don't worry, mate, it's one that's safe to cellar, so it will be awaiting your next trip out in a Cambridgely direction.)

Well, there's always next year!
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16. Board Game: Thanks a Million! [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
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My Gratitude


By the end of the weekend, I had managed 10 plays of 9 unique games, of which 6 games and 1 expansion were new to me. As a result of the new-to-me plays, 1 game (Mount Everest - thanks to my play of K2) will likely be purchased. (All 3 games I had previous experience with are already in my collection.) Good times!!


So thanks again to Greig, Doc, Chris, and Sara for your tireless efforts and enthusiasm while running around catering to a million needs all weekend!

Thank you to Greig, Paul, Chad, Jeff, and Trevor for taking time away from your own play time to teach me new games!

Thank you to Beth, Greig, Jen, Ryan, Chad, Paul, Jeff, Katherine, and Trevor for playing games with me and being such awesome opponents!

Thank you to YOU for taking the time to read all this rambling!

And most of all, thank you to my incredible wife/partner/favourite gaming opponent for sharing my life and my hobbies, and for being my strength and hope. So same time next year, then?


All in all (and my health issues aside) CastleCon 2013 was a wild success from my point of view, and I look forward to CastleCon 2014!!

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