Darker - BGG.CON 2013
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Recommend
18 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
This is partly a reference list for myself: something to remember the games I played, the things I did, and my impressions of them. My notes from past years have mostly just sat in little notebooks, and splatting out a quick (or not-so-quick ) GeekList seemed like a better idea than that.

It's also something I can point people at if they're interested in opinions on some of the newer releases that I played at the con.

TL;DR: Playtesting and pitching both went very well; ice storms suck. I'd like to acquire Hanabi, Xactica, Sail to India, and Argent: The Consortium. I'm considering getting Lewis & Clark and CO2. I will cheerfully play Concordia, Patchistory, The Capitals, Legacy, Coup, and Roads & Boats (3+ players) again, and might eventually choose to acquire the former two of those. Passing on RftG: Alien Artifacts and Tash-Kalar.
Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: BGGCON2013 [+] [View All]
  • [+] Dice rolls
1. Board Game: Hanabi [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:275]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
TUESDAY

I arrived Tuesday evening, and promptly ran into Aliza, who was already involved in a game but kind enough to loan me her copy of Hanabi. I hadn't played before, but was able to find a small group who knew the rules and were happy to play. We got a 22, but were a bit lax in the communication rules, and probably would have scored more in the 15-20 range if we'd been strictly silent. Players: Chuck, Chad, Justin, me.

This is a very fine game. It starts off feeling like you can cope, but quickly reaches a point where there are no good answers, only hopes and blind alleys. Not always what I'm looking for out of a co-op, but I think I need to pick up a copy.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
2. Board Game: Council of Verona [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:1982]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
I helped teach this to some of the folks from Hanabi. This was my first play of the final release version; I'd seen a pre-release copy at Origins. With 4 players, we played 4 rounds, as suggested by the rules. I got wonderfully pasted, coming in solidly last. Players: Bruce, Chuck, Chad, me.

I really like the core bluff-betting dynamics of this microgame, but find my enjoyment undercut by what feels like a large last-player advantage - perhaps it's illusory, but it's also seemed that way to nearly everyone I've played with, so it's a strong illusion. I don't consider the "play one hand per player in the game" to be a good fix - if I'm in the mood for a quick 5-minute game, I usually am not in the mood for 4 of that exact same game in a row. (This might be different if there were some sort of carryover of state from game to game - then it would feel like something bigger - but there isn't.)

I'd very much like to try this game with the Poison expansion / promo, in which characters can be killed off by influence tokens revealed during the scoring phase; this seems like it would maintain a desirable uncertainty through the end of play about who will actually score. If that didn't add too much chaos, I think it would be all to the good.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
3. Board Game: Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:529]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
I'd been hoping to try this out going into the con - one of the designer diaries intrigued me. First play, obviously. I can't remember who won, but remember that my final score was competitive, and things were fairly close despite different strategies. Players: Bruce (DarthServo), Steve (Khadron), Gil (IngredientX), me. Taught by Gil.

Outside of the marriage / children mechanics, much of this game is simply turning currencies into other currencies in fairly straightforward ways, and "I got that [action / reward / friend] first" is the only major point of interaction. But the marriage piece of the game - where every potential spouse has an array of benefits and drawbacks, some of them dependent on who else is in your family - was engaging, and I expect I'd enjoy playing a few more times at least, even though most of the mechanics didn't grab me.

Also, it's the first game I've played in a while which gave me such a strong sense of narrative. (Entirely self-generated - the mechanics don't try to tie disparate events together - but still.) I mean, I found myself sad that the children cards didn't have names, and that's *utterly* irrelevant from a mechanical standpoint. I didn't just build a score, I built a family tree, with imagined quirks and foibles and tensions between generations, and that's a really neat thing for a boardgame to bring to the table.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
4. Board Game: Lewis & Clark [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:138]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
WEDNESDAY

One of many Hot Games I'd been hoping to try out. Players: Chuck, Trent (trenttsd), Aaron (avlawn). Taught by Aaron. A close game despite very different strategies - Chuck won nicely, but had he not, I'd have claimed victory on the very next turn, and other players weren't too far off. Chuck and I both had ~12 people in our expeditions, but Aaron had trimmed down to 3-4 (!).

If this had been available for purchase, I probably would have made an impulse buy - it was a great deal of fun, and promises a fair amount of variation from game to game. I'm a real fan of the "slowly self-modifying no-random-draw hand" dynamic this game uses (one of my games currently in development does something similar), and there were enough points of interaction [racetrack, village actions, card drafting, resource generation] to keep it feeling like other players were relevant to my play experience.

There are some lovely pain-points in the route you're racing along - for instance, the first land travel is 7 mountains long, which is more than you can get past with most single card-plays. But if you're first to those mountains (stopping at the joint land/water space), the next player(s) to show up will end up on the space beyond... and you can get over 6 land spaces in a single action with many more cards, including one in your starting expedition! So there's real benefit to either not being first, or if you are first to racing a few spaces into the mountains right off the bat so other expeditions can't benefit from your scouting.

I also like that all of the character cards are apparently real people (or in one case, a real dog) involved in the Lewis & Clark saga.

I've heard thirdhand mutterings of a card combo which turns the game mostly solitaire, which would be sad, but probably avoidable by just omitting one of them from the deck.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
5. Board Game: AttrAction [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:4610]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Walked by a demo. It looked simple and quick, and was both.

Basically marbles, except they'll stay on your table, you don't need perfect precision to hit, and you can try for some slightly esoteric shots using the magnetism. Probably the best 2-minute dexterity filler I've seen, though that category isn't large.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
6. Board Game: Hegemonic [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:2327]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Got a full rules rundown on this in the dealer room - no actual play. If an opportunity presented itself, I'd have taken a game; it looks like it's between Eclipse and TI3 in length, and has some intriguing dynamics around how contestation is done in the three different types of influence.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
7. Board Game: Coup [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:372]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Had one game of this in the dealer's room, and another few late Thursday evening before bed. I'd heard of this - or possibly played the earlier printing last year? - and wanted to try it. Players varied; I won only once, and that only because it was a 3-player game where the other two players went after each other.

One player said, "The Resistance is a deduction game with some bluffing; Coup is a bluffing game with some deduction." This seems more or less spot-on. I'm decent at bluffing inside of systems I'm familiar with, or when lying is basically mandatory due to role-draw or whatnot, but tend to have an honest streak when it's my choice whether to deceive. This makes this game difficult for me - but also really good practice.

If it were any longer I'd find the player elimination annoying, but if players don't get too hung up on things it plays quite quickly.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
8. Board Game: Paradise Fallen: The Card Game [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:9245]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Saw this at the Crash Games booth, and couldn't tell from the rulebook whether it was a pure "stop each other from winning" luckfest or a dynamic tactical challenge - the card-drawing was obviously highly random, but the special powers of the islands seemed like they might allow for more long-term influence over one's fate. Not likely to be one of my preferred games either way, but I do try to keep an eye on lighter fare (not all my gaming friends share my tastes), and it looked quick, so I checked it out of the library. 2P game with a random passer-by.

With two players, there's a fair amount of control over one's destiny (though not one's short-term goals) - but the Aberrations (obstacles) don't come out very quickly, so the only interesting terrain to navigate is the differing costs of the islands themselves, and the aberration-affecting cards were basically null-ops much of the time. I suspect that the obstacle rate would be better with three players, and either "even better" or "too high" with four.

The special powers of the islands did provide enough planning flexibility to make the game feel a bit more tactically interesting than most "play your 5 cards and move around the board" fare, but not to the point where I'd seek the game out again. It looks above-average for what it is, but - as expected - not my preferred type of game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
9. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:23]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Another Hot Game to try. Players: ?, Garett (IAmSpartacus), Steven, me. Taught by Val (TheNameForgotten). I had a strong-but-not-crushing victory via Cloth/Wine dominance with the appropriate Hestia cards.

I ended the rules explanation *really* excited to play. The game was fun, but when it finished I was overall less excited, primarily for two reasons:

1. The board felt too big. We had 4 players on the 2-4 player side, and it felt like there was *always* room to spread out into uncontested territory. There's certainly reason to be 2nd or even 3rd into a city - leeching goods off of a region that someone else is likely to produce in seems lucrative - but I was expecting/hoping the board would grow uncomfortably crowded by endgame, forcing hard decisions about where to produce, and that simply didn't happen. Three of us still had private or mostly-private fiefdoms, either maintained for the game or built after primary fiefdoms were encroached upon.

(This may have been in part because one of the four players built very few cities, but we still had as many on the board as you'd expect in a 3-player game.)

2. One player came in a strong 2nd place despite building something like 3 cities, mostly on the strength of having all of his colonists and all three of the Mars cards. On the one hand, it's nice that players can pursue different strategies. On the other hand, I find the strategy of "just build colonists" to be uninteresting - and on first glance, it seems like the Mars cards are something you *cannot* afford to let one player buy all of. I expect this will balance itself out with experienced players, since the Mars cards are apt to be worth a minimum of 6-10 points each (unless there are low-colonist strategies?), but the dynamic irritates me. I'm hoping scores will in general be higher than they were in our game, to help make the Mars cards more of a side dish.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
10. Board Game: Argent: The Consortium [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:471]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
The designer of this was running demos most days. I'd playtested this game two or three times at previous BGG.CONs and Origins, and was curious to see how it had been changed / modified since being picked up last year by Level 99 Games. It went to Kickstarter on day 2 of the con.

Don't be fooled by the worker placement; the primary enjoyment-source of this game is very much AT-style thematic awesomeness / playing the odds / messing with each other, not incentive webs and indirect interaction. It's also a lovely trap of a game for those (like me) who enjoy variable powers and special abilities: you can feel like you're making all the progress in the world, but if it's in the wrong things, it's not going to help you in the end.

I had an absolutely miserable time for the first 50% of this game: two of the five mage (worker) types have some sort of fast placement ability, and I'd drafted such that I only ended up with 1 fast worker out of 5, to most other players' 2-3. Between this and a spell or two I had which required an action to use, I ended each round not so much wishing I could have done just one or maybe two more things (the mark of a good game), but wishing I could have, say, cast any of my cool spells, or even just played more than 3-4 of my 5 workers.

I buckled down and spent all of round 3 trying to dig myself out of the speed hole, grabbing first-player and a pair of one-shot items which let me place mages as fast actions. This gave me a reasonably satisfying round 4 and an OK round 5. I won 2 of the 11 voters (one due to my deliberate effort, one a surprise), which isn't terrible for a 5-player game, but the real problem for those locked-out rounds was less "unbalanced" and more "unfun". AT-type titles should be a rollicking good time even when you're getting pasted. Getting hit with a fireball is one thing, but this play-lock was another one entirely.

Despite that bad experience, I'm still backing the Kickstarter: rules are not finalized, and I've been back-and-forthing with the designer about the dynamics of the speed mages. While I don't think he sees the problem looming quite as large as I do, he's leaning towards making at least one change which will both tone the speed dynamic down and streamline the game at the same time - and worst-case, I've come up with a dirt-simple house rule to fix things if his changes aren't sufficient. Aside from that specific dynamic, I like where the game's gone, I'm a fan of variable powers, and I'm light on experience games that don't take 3+ hours to play. (Plus, there's a natural tendency to pick up games one's playtested multiple times, to which I am hardly immune.)
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
11. Board Game: Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:455]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
I've always admired the diversity of Vlaada Chvátil's designs, even when the titles themselves are less to my taste, so I usually make a point of trying his titles at least once. Played a 2-player game with Danny (xwilson). He had me on the ropes for the first third of the game, but I came back, made a Legendary summon, and dominated the later game.

Felt too long / involved for a light game, too random for a thinky game, and too abstract for an experience game.

I've heard that Tash-Kalar is intended to be played in half an hour, in sort of an instinctual style. I can certainly imagine that it would be better that way, but the trouble is that the game itself doesn't do enough to push you towards that style of play. Having only 3 cards from your deck instead of the whole thing is certainly a help, but only goes so far, particularly because many people take a bit to figure out the possible rotations and reflections. If there were, say, a hard time limit on turns (15 seconds? Or 30 seconds when learning?), that'd do it - but again, some folks have trouble seeing the rotations and reflections that quickly, so it might drive off many players.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
12. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2239]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
THURSDAY

I go to cons partly for fun, but also partly to playtest / pitch / demo games. This year, my primary project was Spirit Island, a 90-minute strategic co-op about elemental spirits of the land defending their island from overseas colonists. It's just undergone some medium-sized changes, for which I especially wanted feedback from first-time players.

This was a 2P test, with Trickster Wind and Tangled Shadows of the Forest. Major takeaways:
* The default difficulty is too easy - players aren't forced to cooperate / coordinate as much as they should. This conflicts with previous feedback on good difficulty levels; much of this is probably the fundamental conflict in preferences between "probably win with some chance of loss" and "probably lose with some chance of win". The cooperation dynamic is enough to push me towards the latter.
* Giving some basic tips (in rules briefing or rulebook) is a good idea. Players feel slightly adrift on their first couple turns.
* Drop Fright Effects which produce Cities (or mark some Fright Effects as not to be used in a teaching game); with new players, they tend to create "anticlimax" rather than "complication". (Leave City creation to Event Cards, which aren't in the teaching game.)
* Strongly consider including a few "1-turn effect" markers.
* [Various notes on specific Powers / Spirits]
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
13. Board Game: Roads & Boats [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:271]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Gil Hova and I arranged this game after playing Legacy together Tuesday evening - he'd played once, and I'd never played; we figured learning together was apt to be less punishing than getting stomped for 4 hours by veterans. I caught on to one or two things a touch earlier, which snowballed into a decisive-but-not-blowout victory.

I had a real blast learning this and exploring it with Gil, but I think I'd much prefer to play 3- or 4-player for future games. With just 2, it's all a zero-sum game: there's no point to localized cooperation with another player if it's going to aid them more than you, so with reasonable skill joint plans simply shouldn't happen. By contrast, it looks like in a 3+ player game that there would be ample opportunity for "we both win" ventures, which would increase intermingling / permeability of borders, the potential for later-game power plays, and other interesting dynamics. (As well as providing some table balance - in our 2P game, it was pretty clear I was going to win by about halfway through, and there wasn't much Gil could do about it other than hope I dropped the ball.)

We had physical problems playing due to every dry-erase marker we could find crapping out on us, but even before we resorted to using a neutral player's wonder tiles as roads, the hexes felt very crowded. I wish they'd been about 50% bigger.

But the economic ladder was really neat (though the "geese => technology" thing is just baffling), as was its interaction with the game terrains. The title of the game is apt; this really is a game about transit, not ownership, and considering what things can bring what where how quickly along what routes was a lovely way to pass an afternoon (and conclude that I'd done it terribly wrong and should have chosen quite differently).
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
My secondary design project was pitching a 10-minute real-time cooperative dexterity / card game. The working title is Response Lab Alpha, purely because "The Lab" grew too confusing when Pandemic: The Lab came out.

Designer-Publisher Speed Dating is an event where each designer sets up their game at a table, and every 6 minutes publishers rotate to a new table to get the pitch for that game.


This was both more intense and more exhausting than I'd anticipated, but well worth the time - setting up individual meetings with that many publishers would have taken an absurd amount of time and attention.

Even better, the game was a clear hit with the publishers; something like half a dozen folks were interested to some degree or other. (I had to make a list to keep track of which ones wanted demos vs. a visit to their booth vs. print-and-play files. This was an awesome problem to have.) My prototype ended up going home with one publisher to bounce off of their partners (and if that goes well, off their testing playgroups), but there are 2-3 others who'd like to know if that deal falls through.

I've always known that this game was on the unique side and demoed really well at cons; that turns out to be a recipe for high publisher interest at an event like this!

I dealt with post-pitching activities off and on for the rest of the con: giving more demos, stopping by booths in the dealer's hall to talk to people, etc. Nearly everyone I talked to seemed like great folks, and I really had to wrestle with the decision of who to give the prototype to.

There was also an awesome and hilarious moment while talking to the folks I decided to send the game home with, which I hope I'll never forget.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
15. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2239]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Trey Chambers (the designer of Argent: The Consortium) and I recently started collaboration on a game, which is a new thing for me.

Pioneers was a game I developed years ago, and with loads of testing it hit a local maxima of "good game, but not compelling enough to publish". 3-4 months ago, Trey, who'd playtested it, came up with a game based around some of its core concepts, and I backported large swaths of his ideas into the original to make a 3rd-generation hybrid. We each brought our designs to the con for a chance to test them back-to-back, and figure out where to go from here.

Too many takeaways and ideas to list. We've got a path hashed out from here, using my 3rd-gen design as a base and pulling in several more concepts from his version, but we're probably holding off until spring-ish to get really into further work so he can concentrate on Argent and I can concentrate on Spirit Island.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
16. Board Game: CO₂ [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:536]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
FRIDAY

A pre-arranged meetup with Jerry, we managed to snag two players in the main room for a full complement of 5. Players: Jerry, Jeff, Stephanie, ?, me. Jerry won resoundingly; I believe I came in a distant second. Taught by Jerry, with Jeff providing some assistance.

This game is very much what I'd hoped it would be: the fairly straightforward choices of "what do I want to accomplish this turn?" complicated by the effects of those choices on other players' options.

5-player seems pretty brutal on the pollution front. We came about as close to losing as it's possible to do: at 470, with a polluting plant draw staring us in the face. (We were fortunate enough to draw a 20.) While we certainly overlooked some opportunities to keep the pollution down, I didn't notice anyone sandbagging too overtly. This is another one of those games, like Archipelago, which asks you the question, "how much are you willing to sacrifice your own plans to prevent a group loss?", and I suspect tables which find that question problematic in Archipelago are also going to have a hard time of it here.

But we pulled back from the brink (saving the world WOOOO!). I'd built a few plants - just enough to snag 1 UN goal - and gone heavily into CEPs due to my corporate objective. I didn't quite have time to drive the price up to the level I'd have liked - it ended the game at 4 - but it was a near thing, as most other players were pretty much out of CEPs to sell!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
17. Board Game: Patchistory [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:782]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
After a short break, Jerry, Jeff and I were fortunate enough to find the Patchistory table vacant! (Well, quasi-camped by two people who didn't actually have time for a game, but were keen to learn the rules.) It ended up being just the three of us, with Jerry teaching. I held the Trade Routes voting card, and patched together something like 4 different powers that directly or indirectly fed into a trade-route strategy, which ended up giving me a very solid victory.

The core innovation / mechanic of patching made me joyously happy the entire time I was sitting at the table. (I'm rather fond of spatial puzzles.) It even felt thematic on some deep level: old parts of one's civilization being changed by the new, or new possibilities which fail to take hold in the face of the established. There seem to be rather more tiles in each era than one is apt to see in a given game, which in concert with their double-sidedness ought to avoid pre-calculation of build sequences, as well as providing a bit of a buffer if a card or two are discovered to be unbalanced (simply omit them).

Other things I really liked: that military dominance could be used to good effect without an all-out war (and in a more predictable fashion than TtA) but with some cost in the political/trade arena; that in most cases you could play simultaneously; the possibility for hero/wonder-centric strategies; and the end-of-era voting - specifically, that it awards points based on number of votes rather than level of dominance (or flat rewards), which is very unlike most civ games I've experienced. (Though thematically, I've no idea what it represents beyond "political clout is useful".)

On the negative: I'm slightly wary of broken combos (though keeping in mind that with experienced players, it might be like Glory to Rome - when all combos are equivalently broken, none of them are overpowered), but not overly concerned unless they're endemic enough to overwhelm simple house rules and tile omissions. I would have dearly loved some purple cubes to help me plan/track my political actions more readily. The occasional need to shift one's civilization on the table becomes more and more fraught as the game goes on (placemats might help, but what if you build off the placemat?) Like most civ games, early VP acquisition seems like a waste of time that could be spent building up to the larger endgame point sources. (Perhaps grant +N% VP at the end of each era?)

But these are all nits; the only real reason I'm not making plans to try and acquire a copy is that I have so few chances to bring games of its length to the table...
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
18. Board Game: The Capitals [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1547]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
I was having an excellent time gaming with Jerry and Jeff, and they invited me to a game of The Capitals. I squeaked out a win by using a ridiculous income combo next to an "advance culture with each activation" building: having good initiative and other players' tourism let me overcome the numerous holes I'd dug myself into during the first 50% of the game. I also must mention that Jeff's power plant was arguably more powerful than the Sun, as he broke the cube bank - we had to start using another player's pieces as 5s. It was awesome to behold, and made for much hilarity as he made one activation using 16 cubes. Players: Jerry, Jeff, Rich, me.

This is not a kind game. It doesn't hate you to the level of some other titles, insofar as you can't actually bust out entirely, but you are likely to be at negative points for most of the game. (I went into turn #12 of 12 with 0 points, and I *won*.)

Interaction is higher than it looks at first glance: in addition to turn order affecting building draft, relative position on several of the board tracks is important - most particularly for culture, where the leader gets both the tourist marker from one or more laggards as well as an extra building activation. This is pretty huge. (Not that the VP penalties from being behind Civics are a cakewalk, mind you.)

For the first 2/3 of the game, the initiative system was awesome: the multiplication makes staying ahead wickedly expensive, and rewards cycling your position. Later on, incomes rose high enough that it became possible for players to lock in first (or second) place. It's not 100% clear that this was actually a net advantage on points, but it still felt a bit odd.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
19. Board Game: BraveRats [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1797]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Aliza stopped by as our game of The Capitals was finishing up. She and I adjourned to the main game room and played some shorter games as we waited to see if Dave E would free up. Both of them were first plays for me, with Aliza teaching, though I think it was her first play for R as well.

This game is split about evenly between getting into your opponent's head and playing the odds, though those odds sometimes include considerations for future rounds as well as the likelihood of winning the current one.

In retrospect, it's unsurprising that the "getting into your opponent's head" portion faltered somewhat in the face of (a) neither of us knew the game well, and (b) we'd only really met each other that day, and this was the first game we'd ever played together. We called the game after two hands that served to illustrate the mechanics well, but only hinted at the maneuvering that might be possible with people who know both the game and each other better.

If I had to summarize the feel, it would be "Cat-and-mouse, but both players are both cat and mouse", which isn't bad for a game of 14 cards and a rulebook. And it's lightning-quick. Would cheerfully try again.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
20. Board Game: Xactika [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:7161]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
After R, Aliza broke this game out; she is both wonderful and evil for introducing this to me at 2 AM. I started off with several minor victories where we both missed our bids but I did so by 1 less, then she started making her bids and I got stomped. It was glorious, and I learned a lot.

I have a real fondness for weird trick-taking games, and this one is up there - I think I need to track down a copy. I quite like that each card has four different suits (of 12, effectively); the decisions about what groupings you use for your cards (and how that interacts with your opponents' hands) look like they could be really interesting with a bit more experience. The fact that you have to make bids exactly is pretty brutal, though I presume it will become less so with experience / skill.

I'd very much like to try with with >2 players, so it's a little less zero-sum-ish; with two, if we both blew our bids in opposite directions, the remaining tricks didn't matter.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
21. Board Game: Sail to India [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1115]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
SATURDAY

Got a text from Aliza just as I was walking to the elevators, so popped in to join her, Dave E., and Marshall for Sail to India. Dave taught. Marshall claimed a decisive victory.

This is really smooth - an economic trading/exploration game distilled down to its barest elements. (I can't think of a shorter/simpler game that actually has something that could be called a tech tree. OK, "tree" is an exaggeration, but still.)

I particularly like the way cubes for your VP and money track come out of your supply of bought cubes - and on the flip side, the way your money cube can become a spare ship if you spend yourself out. An interesting representation of going all-in on a business venture.

There seem to be multiple interesting strategies and fairly strong player interaction (of the blocking/"I got here first" variety, but that's very significant here). So long as one or two dominant strategies don't emerge this is a really great quick game. Should acquire.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
22. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2239]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
I'd have loved to continue exploring new games, but felt like I ought to put Spirit Island through its paces at least once more. I ended up testing it 3 times, with only a break for RftG: Alien Artifacts in the middle.

First play was with 3 new players, though one of them was someone who'd tested Insane Alchemy with me last year. One of the players wanted to play again immediately (always a good sign) and tried a different spirit; we were joined by two other new players - though one of them was someone who'd playtested The Lab with me last year! Both of these games went really well.

The last play of the evening was with one experienced player and two friends-of-a-friend. It was less of a hit for the two new players - they got a good sense of distinctness off of the spirits and had some awesome moments, but also felt portions of the game were too confusing. This led to some really good discussion about improvements, which is much more valuable in the larger scheme of things. (Just demoralizing.)

Major takeaways (for all 3 combined):
* Starting each board with 2 additional Settlements (in lands other than #1) seems to be in the neighborhood of appropriate difficulty. Test with 3? (Fright tends to pull one of them off early anyhow.) New Cities sometimes spawn from them, which is nice.
* No matter how much I want to streamline the play experience, I must get the players to take over running the Invader phase on their own; without doing so, they don't internalize how the Invaders act and don't enjoy the game as much. This will also be a pitfall for experienced players teaching the game - should probably mention something to this effect in the rules.
* Players really like the huts representing the Islanders. In final version, try to go with something like them (Clans huts?) rather than mini-meeples. (They also represent "Islander settlement" better than mini-meeples would.)
* The Invader board has become too crowded / confusing and needs an overhaul. Split the Blight track off onto its own board. Maybe split the Fright/Fear track onto its own board. And make the Invader phase a clear layout progression as well as being lettered/numbered: 1. Fright; 2. Events; 3: Actions [A. Ravage; B. Build; C. Explore]. (4: Cleanup/shift cards?)
* The teaching spirits should be as they are, with no Elements showing up on their Presence track. Every new player asked said that would have been too much for a first game.
* The new nomenclature for element thresholds seems fine. Players understood it immediately and intuitively.
* Energy gain for starting spirits may be slightly too high - but many players ran double-infrastructure turns back-to-back, so their lack of Energy constraints may be due to that.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
23. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Some friends and I camped this game out - it took weirdly long to finish, whereupon we found that the previous players had misinterpreted the alternate end condition ("run out of Orb cards") as a replacement end condition.

The new cards were fun. The Orb exploration was disappointing: while it keeps the "race" theme nicely, and does have interactions both ways with your tableau, it didn't feel interesting enough to justify the amount of time and attention it required. Every time we hit an Explore, I had to swap out all my tableau thoughts/plans and swap in all of the spatial / pathfinding thoughts I'd had during the previous Explore phase. The lack of any simultaneous play during Orb exploration also hurt.

It didn't bump the game down into "totally unfun" for me, but it did for 1-2 other players at the table, so halfway through we abandoned the Orb and just played out the game of Race - which was a lot more engaging, and a lot faster.

Before I played with the Orb again, I'd want to sit down and play *just* one or two Orb games with no surrounding RftG (kludged to compensate for, say, the lack of military tableau), both to figure out if there was real interest in there once you know it, and to get my (and my co-players') familiarity with the Orb higher so we could play our Explores faster during the full game. But this plan doesn't rank very high on my priorities for gaming.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
24. Board Game: Wild Weather [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
R. Eric Reuss
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
I headed for bed after the last Spirit Island playtest, and a happenstance encounter with Gil while washing hands alerted me to the severity of the impending ice storm. So from 2-4 AM, I found myself rebooking to an 11 AM flight, sending emails to all of the publishers I'd planned on talking to the next day in the dealer's hall, and making arrangements for my prototype to get dropped off with the right people.

In earlier years, I'd have cheerfully taken the alternate path of "see if I can get a hotel room for another couple nights, then rebook my flight to late Monday or Tuesday" so I could get more gaming in. But we've got a 1-year-old at home - my wife and relatives are *awesome* for getting me the time to make it to two cons/year - so getting back in a timely fashion was #1 priority.

As it turns out, rebooking was very much the right call; by the time I arrived at the airport the evening flight had been canceled and the 11 AM flight I'd shifted to was entirely sold out.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.