Indulge Me v7: My BGG.CON 2013
Gil Hova
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Jersey City
New Jersey
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2013 was my seventh visit to BGG.CON. At this point, I have my routine down. It's a very fun and rewarding routine.

You might recall from last year that I'd started dabbling in comedy and backed away from gaming a bit. That was a wonderful break. I needed the time away.

But I got to a point in comedy where I'd have to make significant sacrifices to get any better, and it would start to feel like work. I'm sure that if I'd continued, I'd have a good time, but I've decided to put it back on the shelf and return to board gaming.

BGG.CON 2013 was my welcome-back party.

As always, I’ll provide ratings for all my games, using huber's and Glamorous Mucus’s tried-and-true five-point scale.

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Once again, I’m using the tried-and-true method rating system used by huber and Glamorous Mucus...

++ Really liked it, and I want to buy it.
+ Liked it, but I'll have to play it again to decide if I want to buy it.
0 Mediocre. I'd play again if asked.
- Disliked it. I don't ever want to play it again.
-- Hated it. Maybe enough to design my own game around what I thought it screwed up.


I'll mention Essen games, but I won't rate prototypes. I will try to mention people I played with, but I was much worse at writing down my opponents' names than last year. If I missed your name, it's not because I forgot or dislike you; it's because I was an idiot and forgot to ask you what your name/username was.

Here are my previous BGG.CON GeekLists...

Indulge Me v6: My BGG.CON 2012
Indulge Me v5: My BGG.CON 2011
Indulge Me v4: My BGG.CON 2010
Indulge Me v3: My #bggcon09
Indulge Me v2: My #bggcon 2008
Indulge Me: My BGG.CON 2007
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1. Board Game: Battle Merchants [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:3368]
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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Here's a warning up front: this game will appear a few times. It's my newest game, an economic strategy game coming from Minion Games in spring 2014, in which the players are all arms merchants selling to every side of a war.

I spent about three days preparing a nice PnP version of the game with the final art. My girlfriend pitched in, helping apply stickers, black out borders, and round corners. The result was a gorgeous-looking PnP that I was all ready to bring to the convention.

I didn't get finished until the day before the convention, but I was very happy with the result.

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Gil Hova
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Jersey City
New Jersey
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For the past few years, I ran the Proto Alley event. As a game designer, it was important to me to have a place for designers to playtest. It makes the con more attractive for game designers, and it pulls rough, raw designs out of the main ballroom, which makes things more pleasant for the average attendee.

I was excited to run my newest design, Prime Time, at Proto Alley. But I'd spent so much time preparing the Battle Merchants prototype that Prime Time just plain slipped out of my head. I didn't remember that I had to pack Prime Time until... I was on the airplane.

Well, shoot. At first, I was fatalistic about it, but then I realized I had a chance. I contacted my pet sitter, who is the WORLD'S BEST PET SITTER. She found my copy of Prime Time and overnighted it to the hotel. The show will go on!
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3. Board Game: Supermarket Sweep [Average Rating:4.58 Unranked]
Gil Hova
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Jersey City
New Jersey
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Last year, I missed my flight and arrived late Tuesday night. I missed the Tuesday night games because I was fried from all the travel.

This year, I decided to not make the same mistake. I actually arrived on Monday evening, and had the whole night to unpack my luggage and decompress from the flight. This worked for me, because I had a lot of last-minute Battle Merchants things to do (rulebook and card corrections, proofing, etc.), and this let me knock all that stuff out of the way.

I also got to bump into a lot of familiar faces, and a few new ones!

Debbie Ohi
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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YAY, a chance to play games during the DAY!! (I am cursed with morning person genes)
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I tweet about board gaming at @BGGgirl, about writing/illustrating at @inkyelbows.
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Jeff Ridpath
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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June King
United States
Unspecified
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Jason Henke
United States
Maple Grove
Minnesota
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Patrick Nickell
United States
Bothell
WA
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I have to offer a special shout-out to Patrick, who gave me a ride to the local Kroeger's. It's always good to be stocked-up by Tuesday evening!
 
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4. Board Game: The City [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1695]
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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TUESDAY
First Play
Game Rating: 0


Opponents:
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Doug Chorey
United States
Bellevue
Washington
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Bill Gallagher
United States
Torrance
California
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I've always been intrigued by this game ever since it came out in 2011. It uses the "card payment" mechanism used by San Juan and Race for the Galaxy. It's never been released in the US, but Morganza had a German copy, and asked if I wanted to play.

It's definitely a filler, only about 20 minutes long, with very little player interaction. There's a lot of simple card synergies, just feeding off of icons, and the idea is to build an engine as quickly as possible. It's cute, but not particularly challenging; if you lose, it's just because someone found a way to develop their synergies a little faster.

We played twice. I won the first game, but only because I missed a rule about building prerequisites. Morganza, true to form, smoked us in the second game.

I enjoyed it and would probably play it again, but I don't think it has a home in my collection.
 
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5. Board Game: Trains [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:367] [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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First Play
Game Rating: 0


Opponents:
Doug Chorey
United States
Bellevue
Washington
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Bill Gallagher
United States
Torrance
California
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Trains fit neatly into a subset of deckbuilding games I like to call LDBs, which stands for "Like Dominion, But..." (i.e. "Like Dominion, but you can attack other players!" "Like Dominion, but with a theme!" "Like Dominion, but with Japanese women in maid outfits!") This one is "Like Dominion, but with a board!"

Still, I'd heard a lot of buzz (not hype, never hype) about this game, first on its original (non-US) release last year, and then from GenCon on its US launch. Sure enough, the cards are pretty much copies of Dominion cards, but the board is a new addition.

It's a shamelessly derivative game, but it plays well, and I think some players will probably be just fine with that. I didn't really feel enough to distinguish it to give it a place in my collection, but I'd certainly play it again.
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6. Board Game: Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:529]
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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Game Rating: +

Opponents, first game:
nadine

austin
Texas
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Ben Vincent
United States
Ridgefield
Washington
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There is no Dana, only Zuul
United States
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Opponents, second game:
Steve Wardell
United States
Indianapolis
Indiana
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Bruce Shackelford
United States
Choctaw
Oklahoma
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R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
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Since I knew I'd have a chance to play on Tuesday evening before the library opened, I brought a few games from home. This game, a new release from Portal Games in Poland, was one. I think it's a really nifty game, although I don't know yet if it's Frantic Ferret material.

Legacy is a worker placement game in which you build four generations of your family, scoring points for having children and meeting secret goals. It's wonderfully thematic, with your family tree appearing before your eyes. Players love making up stories about the different wings of the family. The gameplay is pretty good too, with each game feeling pretty different.

I wound up playing two games of it. I always worry when teaching it that the "Complication in childbirth" mechanism will set off terrible memories for one of the players. I usually give a trigger warning before I go into the rules, just in case.

After the second game, I realized I didn't have much left in the fuel tank, and called it a night.
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7. Board Game: Battle Merchants [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:3368]
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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WEDNESDAY
Demo game

Opponents:
Lance Bailey
United States
North Richland Hills
Texas
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K. D. Haley
United States
Texas
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Bill Valonis
United States
Conroe
Texas
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Brett Martin
United States
Texas
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Blake Martin
United States
Benbrook
Texas
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Rishi A.
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Becca Sticha
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Michael Cooper
United States
New York
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Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Mc Jarvis
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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I speak to improve upon the cacophony.
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This heart is meant to convince you that I feel.
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Kevin Smith
United States
Santa Monica
Unspecified
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banky the hack
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(Note: I'm including players who joined me on Saturday as well, although I swear I'm missing some names here. Not listed: Marie, Richard and Brian, the first two who had no usernames and the last whose username I neglected to write down, respectively.)

It was time to go to work. I set up Battle Merchants on the Minion table in Demoland, and promptly ran off three demos (with a fourth one later that night).

Response to the game was very good. Each game felt completely different, and folks who enjoy economic games felt at home here. And it was a chance to make sure no unexpected graphic-design oversights will make it to the printer.

The only thing about demo-ing... man, it's exhausting. I did it a couple of years ago for Prolix, my first published game, but that was a 45-minute word game. This is a 90-minute economic strategy game, so it's much more draining, for some reason!
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8. Board Game: Amerigo [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:265]
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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First Play, Essen Game
Game Rating: ++
BOUGHT


Opponents:
Tony Chamberlain
United States
Little Rock
Arkansas
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Michael Cooper
United States
New York
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Matthew Frederick
United States
Phoenix
Arizona
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One thing I love about BGG.CON is how it gets better and smoother every year. For the past couple of years, I've had a list of games that I've been hot to try, and I generally don't get to play them until the Saturday of the con.

This year, Amerigo was at the top of my must-play list, and it turns out that I got to play it on the first night of the con! This set the tone for the rest of the con. Getting the #1 game crossed off my dance card meant that I could take my time and float around for the rest of the con, looking for anything interesting. Of course, there were a ton of games I wanted to play, but I knew I'd never get to play them all, so any game I got to play was a bonus from there.

Anyway, Amerigo. Stefan Feld already has one Frantic Ferret on his shelf (someone please let him know whenever you have the chance) with Trajan, so I was curious to see how this effort would fare.

Sure enough, Amerigo is wonderful. I love the way it uses the cube tower to offer variable actions every turn. Sure, the game is fairly dry, and its theme is fairly weak, but its mechanisms are so beautifully constructed, I don't care.

I'm no longer giving "Best in show" awards to games I play at BGG.CON (I feel like I need multiple plays to judge them), but if I still did, this would be one of the contenders.

Also, this was my first time meeting Matthew after over a decade of corresponding online! Meeting people like him is really what BGG.CON is all about, even more so than the games.

When all the demo-ing and Amerigo-ing was done, I headed to bed.
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9. Board Game: Core Worlds [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:510]
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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THURSDAY

Opponents:
Chris Brooks
United States
Beaverton
Oregon
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Darrel Hutchins
United States
Bryan
Texas
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I mentioned LDBs before. But not every deckbuilder is an LDB, and Core Worlds is proof of that. It feels more like a RftG/Glory to Rome tableau-building game that just happens to use a deckbuilding mechanism. It's also a wonderful design that I never seem to play enough of.

I saw Dragon with the game and a "Teacher Needed" sign, and I was only too happy to hop in. I strongly encourage other BGG.CON attendees to do the same; paying it forward in terms of teaching is a huge part of BGG.CON's success. Learning games from their rulebooks on the spot is difficult!

I took a strange strategy here, not focusing on any sort of single type of card, instead just grabbing points where I could get them. I wound up with the Core World Ra, and with the ship that gave me a bunch of points if I ended with it in play. It didn't pay off, as I came in last, but only a few points separated me from the leader. We were all hugely satisfied with our play, and with the game.
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Gil Hova
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Jersey City
New Jersey
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Game Rating: - for the game, + for the platform

Opponents:
Jeff Ridpath
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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I'd read about Anki Drive before the con. The game itself didn't sound like my cup of tea, but I was curious about its technology.

Anki is a miniature car racing system where an AI handles most of your car's movement. You control speed and things like lane changes. In Anki Drive, you also get weapons that you can use to disable the other cars. So it's like a 21st-century slot car implementation of Car Wars.

Sure enough, Anki Drive wasn't for me. I'm terrible at dexterity-based realtime games, and Jeff plastered my sorry tail all over the track, although the Anki AI eventually won the race. But the technology is wonderfully impressive, because we never worried about details like cornering and veering off the track (although that still happened, courtesy of the occasional love tap).


 
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Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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And then there was Artemis. Sweet, sweet Artemis.

Last year was my introduction to Artemis, the starship bridge simulator. I got a single mission in as Comms officer then, and I was hooked. Since then, I've run a few Artemis events at home, and I was looking forward to returning to it at BGG.CON.

I wasn't disappointed. The experience was incredible, and the room was busy for the whole con. I think it's worth highlighting the efforts of...

Russell Howell                (What's Right?) (What's Wrong?)        
United States
Canoga Park
California
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He built a light system to enhance the Artemis experience, and then he rebuilt it during a stressful 48 hours after UPS managed to destroy the package. He also handled the network setup in general, which any Artemis fan will tell you is not a trivial task.

The light system featured an Enterprise-like light bar beneath the display, as well as impressive backlighting that lit up green when shields went up, flashed the shield strength (green, yellow, and red) during enemy fire, ghostly yellow during nebula travel, and so on. He also put a sensor near the door that made a Star Trek door sound every time someone entered the room. It's all about the tiny touches!



Our mission was a rousing success! We were all either experienced or fast learners, and we kicked some alien butt.
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12. Board Game: Roads & Boats [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:271]
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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Game Rating: +

Opponents:
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
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I got the Roads & Boats fourth edition from Funagain the week before the con, and I figured that this would be a good time to put it through its paces. Eric had expressed interest in trying it, so we agreed to meet on Thursday at 1 pm.

I hadn't played this game in six years. I remembered the gist of it from the rules, so explaining it wasn't too much of a problem. Playing well, though...

Eric has an amazing mind, so while we both made early mistakes, he made fewer mistakes. He got ahead early, and that small advantage turned into a big one.

I'm still very split on this game. On one hand, its implementation of logistics and strategy are brilliant. On the other hand, it's all about positive feedback loops, so it's very prone to runaway leaders and fallaway trailers. It is possible to for the trailer to attack the leader to disrupt him, but leaders tend to be better at defending than trailers are attacking because of that aforementioned affinity for positive feedback. And attacking has quite an opportunity cost, so it tends to not work as well as it should for a negative feedback mechanism.

This is a harsh and unforgiving game. Any differential in skill between the players will be greatly exaggerated. There are probably professional sports that are easier to master than Roads and Boats.
 
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13. Board Game: Rapa Nui [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1917]
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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First Play
Game Rating: +


Opponents:
Jim Sullivan
United States
Forest Hills
New York
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Michael Cooper
United States
New York
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Keren Form
United States
Forest Hills
New York
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I seem to make a tradition of playing games at BGG.CON in Dallas with people local to me, and this was no exception. I've known my three opponents for awhile, but I've only started gaming with them recently. Jim and Keren's board game collection is threatening to overtake mine in terms of size, but I argue that it's an unfair comparison, as they are two people and I am only one.

Keren adores this card game, and after a game, it was easy to see why. It's a short game, but it packs a great deal of interesting decisions into its tiny time frame. It's sadly out of print, but hopefully we can get our hands on a copy soon.
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14. Board Game: Vinhos [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:293]
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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First Play
Game Rating: ++


Teacher:
Doug Richardson
United States
Gresham
Oregon
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Opponents:
Linda Baldwin
United States
White Plains
New York
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Steve Campbell
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Scott Campbell
United States
Tampa
Florida
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This was another scheduled long game. I've been wanting to try Vinhos ever since it came out. I love heavy economic Euros, so this should be right up my alley, right?

Absolutely right. This is a game with many interlocking mechanisms, and a strong commitment to theme. My favorite thematic flourish is how you can bribe managers with awful bottles of wine, as they are managers and have no real discerning palates.

The only thing that worried me was that the fair scoring seemed very difficult to catch up on once a player fell behind early. But our teacher, Doug, caught up with me later and pointed out that we played incorrectly, as we added the raw values of our wines to the fair scores, which lead to an enormous spread in the fair scoring.
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15. Board Game: Prosperity [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1478]
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Game Rating: 0


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Ben Harkins
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Minneapolis
Minnesota
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(Also, Bob and Josh, who are lurkers without BGG usernames.)

I wanted to try a lighter Essen game, so I picked this middleweight from Reiner Knizia and Sebastian Bleasdale. It's been a while since Knizia has struck gold. Would Bleasdale's presence give Knizia new life?

It's a very well-designed game, but it sadly didn't scratch my itch. I think the problem is is in the buildings you can acquire. In a game where the game unlocks new buildings as the game goes on, I expect the buildings to get more interesting later in the game.

The issue is that in Prosperity, there are several "tracks" you are competing on. Generally, buildings will move you forward one one track, but move you backwards on a different track. You will never get a building that will get you a lot of everything; the best you can do is a building that gets you a lot of one thing and loses a bit of something else, or a building that gets you relatively little, but doesn't lose you anything.

My problem with this is that it's not interesting. It's like the original Power Grid power plants (before Friese fixed them with a new deck); at one point in the game, the buildings provide so many downsides, you're not really interested in them.

In Power Grid, you could skip the buildings and focus on the board, and the game would slowly cycle out the buildings. But Prosperity is all about the buildings. This leads to a feeling of "okay, well, I guess this building is the least worst for me," instead of "Oh cool, I can get this building and it will be awesome."

I can see that what I'm complaining about is a central pillar of the game, but nevertheless, when I play a game, I want the game to get more interesting as my power increases. I wish I got that feeling here.

After this game, I schlepped upstairs for bed.
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16. Board Game: New Amsterdam [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:1212]
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Jersey City
New Jersey
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FRIDAY
First Play
Game Rating: ++


Opponents:
Michael Dew
United States
Daytona Beach
Florida
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Randy Alton
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Lawrenceville
Georgia
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Potomac
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This was one of the games that I missed last year, and everything I read about it indicated that it would be right up my alley. I checked it out of the library, and soon enough, I found a bunch of takers, including my friend Michael, who (as he usually does) kept us all in stitches throughout.

And yes, this game is exactly the kind of game I love. It features three fascinating paths to victory, tied together with an auction.

An auction. Interesting, that. I love auction games, but I had resigned myself to not seeing them anymore, because the gaming public seems to have moved onto other mechanisms. And yet, this was not the only new (or new-ish) game that featured an auction. Could they be making a comeback?
 
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17. Board Game: The Networks [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:546]
Gil Hova
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Jersey City
New Jersey
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And with that, it was time for Proto Alley. This had been my event for the past few years, but I feel like I took it as far as I could, and I wanted someone with a new perspective to take it over. And I also wanted more time to play Essen games...

Darrell Louder
United States
Dover
Delaware
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Enter Darrell Louder, who is now in charge of the UnPub network, a collective of boardgame prototyping events. Darrell agreed to take Proto Alley over, and he expanded the event much further than I ever did. I'm happy to see it in such good hands.

I playtested an intriguing pick-up-and-deliver game, and was able to offer a suggestion that seemed to resolve a longstanding issue with the game. Hey, sometimes you get it right!

After that was a test of Prime Time, my newest game of television networks acquiring programming in the early eighties. With every test, the numbers grow a little more solid, and I'm feel like that it's down to a matter of tweaks now. Of course, tweaks are what take the longest...

And talk about luck; I'd given up on my annual Hard Eight dinner sojurn, when I ran into my friends Alex and Suzannah (I hope I spelled her name correctly), who asked me if I wanted to go. Serendipity!
 
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18. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:23]
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Jersey City
New Jersey
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First Play, Essen Game
Game Rating: ++


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NICK WATKINS
United States
New York
New York
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Darrin Williams
United States
Allen
Texas
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(Also playing was Darrin's fun wife Julie.)

Concordia was the next-highest game on my list, by another Frantic Ferret award winner, Mac Gerdts (for Navegador). Thankfully, I was able to get a game in with my outstanding roommate Nick, and we put this game through its paces.

So, does this game have a rondel? All of Gerdts' other games do. Some say no. Others say yes, it's in the cards.

Having played it now, I don't think it's a card rondel. A rondel forces you to take actions in a predefined order. The cards allow you to take actions in any order, but you can't re-take an older action (other than the one that has two cards) until you pick the discard pile back up. It's similar to a rondel, sure, but it's great to see Gerdts finally moving away from his tried-and-true mechanism. (I should point out that all his games have world-maps, though.)

And what a game! Concordia has all of Navegador's depth, but with a much cleaner and more intuitive ruleset. Decisions are difficult, but never totally opaque. The whole thing feels fresh and fun. I'm looking forward to getting this game.
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19. Board Game: Impact City Roller Derby [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:8780]
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Jersey City
New Jersey
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First Play, new game
Game Rating: 0
(Upgraded from - after rules clarification)

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Matthew Frederick
United States
Phoenix
Arizona
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I dig roller derby. I'm lucky to live in an area with a dominant organization (Gotham Girls), and I'm even luckier that a old high school friend of mine married one of Gotham's top blockers, so I have someone to root for now.

When I saw that there was a roller derby board game, I had to try it! I roped Matthew into the game, we looked through the rules, and started jamming.

The good news is that this game captures the feeling of the sport quite well. Blockers move 1-3 spaces, and there's a bit of a Turfmaster feel in how you can block your opponent by carefully changing lanes. Jammers move with a mechanism similar to Formula De, in which a jammer who has built up speed in a previous turn rolls a larger die.

The bad news is that this game does not seem to have been designed by gamers. It feels like it's from 1995. The jammer dice are not weighted, so it's entirely possible for a jammer who's moving at top speed to roll a 1. That's neither thematic nor fun. (EDIT: This was a misplayed rule. See comments below.)

Adding to the retro feel are all the charts you must consult in order to resolve conflicts and wipeouts. This feels more like a wargame than anything else. On some levels, that's kinda neat, but really, I think the intersection of wargamers and roller derby fans is not terribly large.

We called it after the first jam, which ended without any points scored after one of my blockers knocked the lead jammer off the track and she called it off. That's a totally realistic outcome of a jam, but given that there are only three jams in the board game, it felt a little like that football game adapted from Advanced Squad Leader's rules, which took a whole evening to play a set of downs.

EDIT TO ADD: With the rule clarification below, I think the game would be a lot more interesting. The Blood Bowl-like chart lookups still aren't for me, but I think it's at least a more solid design now. Now I really wish the Jammer Movement area on the board was a little more clear, as you only roll the indicated die to check for wipeouts on cornering.
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20. Board Game: Skyline [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:3377]
Gil Hova
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Jersey City
New Jersey
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Abel Gomez
United States
Houston
Texas
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Those of you who are in my gaming group or follow my Frantic Ferret awards know my love for this game. I think it was the best light game to come out of 2012. I don't normally dig dice games, but there's something about the risk and reward implementation of this game that rings the bell for me. The tension of trying to build a six-story high rise while other players are scoring their mid-rises is a fun challenge. And turns are nice and quick, which is vital for a dice game in which you don't know how to handle your turn until you actually roll.
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21. Board Game: Coal Baron [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:470]
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United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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First Play, Essen Game
Game Rating: 0


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United States
Redmond
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Mark Salamon
United States
Escondido
California
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United States
Houston
Texas
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Eric Jones
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Garland
Texas
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I was curious to try one of the new K/K games, and I was able to check Coal Baron out of the library. We were lucky to get a teacher, and the game turned out to be quite simple to pick up.

It's worker placement, although unlike other worker placement games, you can take a spot someone else has taken, although you will have to pay more workers for the honor.

The game should feel strong and tense, but it fell a little flat for me. It's very slick and streamlined, and I just couldn't really get into any deep decisions. But I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good, solid middleweight.

After Coal Baron, I had a hard time forming complete sentences, so I figured it was time to call it a night.
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22. Board Game: Scoville [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:514]
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Jersey City
New Jersey
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SATURDAY
First Play, Demo
Game Rating: +


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Eric Summerer
United States
Hamden
Connecticut
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Ed P Marriott
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Madison
Wisconsin
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I'd read a lot about Scoville, the forthcoming Tasty Minstrel game, on Twitter. I got to try it, and I'm happy to say that it's another strong entry in TM's lineup.

Turn order in the game is vital, but goes in different orders in different phases. Some players will want to go first, others last. It's interesting to see how they jockey for position. Turn order is resolved through an auction. Hmmm, that's the second new auction game of the con.

There's also a great tree in how you can breed new peppers. It uses a mechanism similar to Fresco's, but I personally found Fresco much flatter and more lifeless than Scoville. This will definitely be getting my pledge money when it goes on Kickstarter.

I'm glad I got a game in with Eric, who has been known to frequent the office I work in (although he hasn't as much lately, sadly). And it was great to finally meet Ed and hear the (probably made-up) statistic that people are 40% more likely to enjoy a game if they win. Finally, I'm eternally grateful to Ed for giving me tips for making an especially tricky move at the end of the game that let me win. Maybe there's something to that 40% thing after all?
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23. Board Game: Bruxelles 1893 [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:251]
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Jersey City
New Jersey
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BOUGHT


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Malverne
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Hudson
Ohio
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El Paso
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Tucson
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Another Essen game crossed off the list! This is a weird one, with a wonderfully unique look to it and a lot of tightly-integrated mechanisms.

The game also features a kind of auction, although it's mixed in with a worker placement mechanism in a really intriguing way. The game pulls you in a lot of different directions, and it comes off totally fascinating.

I'm not giving a ++ rating just yet, because I'm worried about the game's frustration factor. If you're the next-to-last person in a column, you're effectively setting the price for the auction winner. I was only able to win two column auctions the entire game. I had to play into the city a couple of times, which cost me workers that I couldn't get back because I couldn't win an auction. It's totally possible to hit a death spiral, and time will tell if a positive feedback mechanism would have helped.

But I bought the game, so I suppose I'm optimistic that it was just my first play!
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24. Board Game: CV [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:887]
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Jersey City
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Jim Sullivan
United States
Forest Hills
New York
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Michael Cooper
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New York
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Forest Hills
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After spending the afternoon demo-ing Battle Merchants, I met up with my Brooklyn friends again. We gave up on the raffle (a couple of us, including me, had lost our tickets) and went to a smaller room to try this game out, after I quickly taught a game of Copycat. Keep paying it forward!

CV is an interesting game. It has an insanely strong narrative to it, as you're building the life story of a person. These life stories come off as realistic, fun, and interesting; one of us was an athlete who struck it rich on the bodybuilding circuit. Another started her career as an intern at her dad's company, and went on to become CEO. My character reconnected with his first kiss, who went on to become a celebrity.

As a game, it plays pretty well, too. The rules are pretty simple, but there are lots of interesting decision. It is a drafting and a dice game, so it suffers from the common problem of either game that you have nothing but elevator music to entertain you between turns, as all the cards at the end of your turn will probably be gone by the time it comes back around to you, and you have little control over the die results you roll (although late in the game, your cards will give you more symbols, adding a little consistency to your output).

I don't know if the game has a home in my library; I'm not much of a narrative board gamer, personally. But I know a bunch of people who will love it. This might make it into a few gifts before the year is out.
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25. Board Game: Machi Koro [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:736]
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Kevin McKenzie
United States
Garland
Texas
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Andy Van Zandt
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South Ogden
Utah
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The next Essen game I wanted to try was Lewis and Clark. Its table was busy all convention long, so I camped out on the table next to it, which happened to hold this little number. I'd heard good things about it, so I roped Nadine and Andy into trying it.

It's not bad, but nothing that rocked my world. Combining the Settlers dice mechanism with a card tableau engine-builder was pretty clever, as was the idea of some buildings becoming less effective depending on the number of dice you roll. But it felt too flat and quick for me. Interaction in dice games is tricky, and I don't know if it worked for me here, as I was able to build an engine that no one could really affect.
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