Completed BGG.CON 2013 Stuffs (or just another list of stuff someone did at a convention you might have attended)
Mark Smalley
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Indianapolis
Indiana
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While it's fresh on mah brain, I wanted to jot down the high points of my first BGG Con.
I owe Stephen Conway (yes, that one) a huge debt of gratitude. (as I have already paid off my other debt to him) Getting to pal around with him, as well as his awesome wife and their awesome friends, took this from an "American Airlines Priority Customer" experience to an "American Airlines Double Platinum" experience.



(Disclaimer: attempting to digest the entirety of this list, and my ramblings, will surely result in ocular boredom-ruptures. So, please use caution. (Especially since the only people that might observe this list are my loved ones, and they need their eyes to play these games I shouldn't have boughten))




((Oh, and there is no rhyme to how these games are arranged. Except for the fact that Nations is so incredible that it refused any other spot. (Actually, this is not true as I will eventually group them together. (Look, I never said I was good at this))))
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1. Board Game: Nations [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:96]
Mark Smalley
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This was definitely my favorite of the convention. Nations is suuuuuch an elegant game. And, the story arch manages to illicit a feeling of an epic resolution.
A smallish rule-set (think Hansa Teutonica, or maybe (dare i say) Navegador), very little downtime, an integrated self-handicap (for heaven's sake!), and the most incredible war/military mechanic you've ever seen, make this soooo good.
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2. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:23]
Mark Smalley
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(Here comes that edit I promised...)
This game was also pretty incredible. I mean, we're talking half of a half a point behind Nations for squeezing into the top spot.

Concordia is super clean. I mean, lay a couple of Concordia rule books out and you got yourself a perfect place to perform open-heart surgery.

As with Nations, downtime takes it right in the ol pecan sack. (Or, I suppose I could compare it to Navegador, but Concordia actually has less downtime because it's that much cleaner.)

The real kicker (as with any substantivelyā€ˇ engrossing game) is the richness of your decisions coupled with the tension of how your decision will impact your opponents, not to mention the tension of how their decisions impact you.
Concordia has those things in spades, (and clubs and hearts and diamonds and blue and red...) and it does so from turn one. "Ooo! I really want to get that card, but I also need to expand my route this way, but I know if I wait, jerkface is gonna grab that card. But that means I will have to play this card now and I just know that biscuit-cutter over there is waiting for me to play it so he can use it..."

The "hand-building" mechanic is soooo sweet. It's so weird to be able to combo-up in a game reminiscent of Navegador.

It's a must buy.
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3. Board Game: Machi Koro [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:738]
Mark Smalley
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This one hit my radar solely because of my friend, Scout. She texted me a photo of it and an estimation that I would probably like it.
I got to try this one at the con, and well, she was right.

It's a fast city-builder. And, city-builder is a term that always makes "it" move. And fast...well let's just say that's good too.

It does seem pretty "lucky", especially compared the kinds of games I'm typically drawn to, but it does provide decision points and I don't feel that, if given the exact same game-state, I would always make the same decision. (a litmus my buddy Mark always applies when measuring a game's value)
Plus, it's blatantly obvious that the designer sought mechanisms to help undermine the impact of luck. (This is done mainly by assuring the wealth gets distributed. Of course, this only works if you don't play like a chump)

So, it's also a must buy.

(I want to add something here, geared towards sociology. Playin this the three or four times I did at BGG Con, showed me that there is no universal motion for rolling dice.
From the lazy; "I shall lift this die off the table, using only the pads of my fingers, and gently give it a toss. So as not to disturb the poor thing" method, to the "Sweet Jeebus dude! You know, you're gonna go blind if you keep rolling like that" method; dice games at a convention make me feel awkward.)
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4. Board Game: Glass Road [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:210]
Mark Smalley
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Indianapolis
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Also got to try this one.

Hoooooly crap, was this thing a let down.
And, I know this sounds like a cop-out but I assure you it's not;
(I have zero qualms in regards to giving the business to a game I don't like. Ask the, like, two people who don't actually hate me because of my judgement face) I can see why so many like this game and I think it's a pretty good design.

It took a mechanism I tend to dislike (super resource management. "I can turn brick to wood, which I can turn to 2 water which I can turn to one glass...) and threw in the secret action selection/"hope no one also picked this one but did pick this one, because I want the extra bonus".
That last thing can be fun, if it's the game. (Like Witch's Brew) But, in Glass Road it just felt chaotic, and chaos in a game already on the bubble because of the resource arbitrage made for a "not gonna buy this one".

(I would like to try it with two, but I really see no point in owning this one when you have Inland Port.)
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5. Board Game: ebbes [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:3697]
Mark Smalley
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What if you made a euro-game out of a trick-taking game?
It would be awesome. (well, it would be awesome if the "you" happened to be the designer of ebbes. If the "you" was you, it might be a train-wreck of a game. Unless you were hot. Then, it would be a train-wreck designed by someone not too shabby on the peepers.)

ebbes allows players to "game-out" the relevancy of each suit as each round progresses, but its gameplay is pure trick-taking. The twist, and thus the real strategy, comes from the scoring.

I wished I had been able to play it again, but it's currently a buy. (though, you pretty much have to buy it from the teeny weeny german developer)
 
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6. Board Game: Nauticus [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1388]
Mark Smalley
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Nauticus was a total sleeper hit. I knew nothing of it going into the convention (or really up until running through the rules). Seeing it played (as I lurked, awaiting a chance at Lewis & Clark or Concordia) I kept thinking it looked a lot like Shipyard.

So, the gross over-simplification of a description would be "Shipyard, Puerto Rico, tequila, and Palaces of Carrara all happen to get left in a candlelit room...(board game genetics are weird)

Thankfully, the Barry White (that I forgot to mention in the previous scenario) did its job and we were blessed with a nice game with several interesting mechanics. (only one and a half of which are listed below)
-Active player chooses an action. Receives a dynamic bonus. Then performs, or not, said action. Everyone else gets to do the action, or can also pass.
-Then, next active player chooses different action, gets bonus...
-keep doing this until only one action is left, then take 6 points away from each player.

The glow to the halo on this game was this little incentive mechanism tied to the passing on performing an action.
Or, maybe it was the "actions probably won't have the same bonus next round".

Either way, I looved it. Hope I can track it down.
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7. Board Game: The Capitals [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1549]
Mark Smalley
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Indianapolis
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So, I bought this one at the con, a day after playing it and having a pretty crumby time. (the other players whined incessantly about this or that in the game. One was getting pretty irate and slammed his bottle on the table, at one point. (Huh, I just realized how apropos the term bottle is for this discussion)

It's a city-builder. I flippin love city-builders. It's also pretty brutal in regards to being constantly impugned for inefficient moves. (which is something I really enjoy) (though, one of the other players most certainly did not like it) (and, one of the great things about this game is that making the inefficient move never feels like a step too far. As in, I felt like I could make ambitious moves, in the hopes that the pay-off would net me a win.) (It didn't)

The game takes some mind-bending liberties with a lot of status quo mechanisms, like; Buildings that languish, unpurchased, get MORE expensive. YES, I said MORE EXPENSIVE. (sorry, but you'd capitalize each letter of words too if you had to listen to all the whining. "That's weird! This game is weird! This game's pretty bad, it's just so weird." Hopefully they read this post and realize their egos out grew their breeches. (I did. I still feel awwwwwful for times like trying to learn Dungeon Petz with Caitlin and Scout. Bad ego. bad)

Or; you can't increase this one track, that gives you good stuff, until you exceed it with this other track, that can give you bad stuff.

These liberties made the game very intriguing. So much so, that I went ahead and bought it (even though I know it's gonna be tough to teach).

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8. Board Game: Olympos [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:873]
Mark Smalley
United States
Indianapolis
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Olympos has been on my "want list" forever. (the linearity of desire's time units is measured in millenia (and that sentence makes sense in my head))
But, I never wanted it bad enough to chase it down. Which is why I'm glad BGG Con caught it for me and sold it for cheap.
 
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9. Board Game: Friesematenten [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:3731]
Mark Smalley
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Don't ask me to tell you why I came out of the hustle and bussil (artistic liberties and you can't stop me) of the BGG Con flea market with this. If you do, I will just tell you that it was due to me recalling it had been on my wishlist for a very long time (though not Olympos long). So long of a time, in fact, that I remember nothing about it except that I can't pronounce it. (and also who designed it)

Also, don't ask me why any of that means that you shouldn't ask me why shouldn't ask me why I got it.

(probably as an excuse for all that silliness)
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10. Board Game: Puzzle Strike: Promo Chips [Average Rating:7.19 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.19 Unranked]
Mark Smalley
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I picked these up from the BGG booth because I love the game and don't have them. Then realized I was a total selfish jerkface (it takes lots of practice) for not also grabbing a copy for my friend Nikki. So, I'm berating myself publicly, and giving the chips to her. (she has more use for them anyway)
 
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11. Board Game: Freedom: The Underground Railroad [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:304]
Mark Smalley
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Indianapolis
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I sat through a super-quick demo of Freedom and walked away thinking "I don't know, 2 hours is an awfully long time to spend on such a 'light' game."
However, I wound up spending several minutes during the last day of the con, trying to get the Academy games guy to sell this game for less than he wanted. I failed.

After the demo, and my initial assessment, I kept thinking the exploration of this theme could be very rewarding. I also reconsidered my negative feelings on the rules lightness, and concluded that a thematic experience would benefit from a rule-set that doesn't get in the way, provided said experience crossed the richness threshold.

So, I'm very eager to give this game a shot. Hell, I'm eager to get my hands on the components, just to read through the historical text.
I'm definitely gunning to acquire this one, though I may try to trade into a copy.
 
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12. Board Game: SOS Titanic [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1663]
Mark Smalley
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Indianapolis
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I lied. For anyone that may have seen my pre-edit text, there is no nice story to along with this one.

SOS Titanic wound up being my very first Kickstartered game. I had played this, prior to BGG con, and fell in love with it. SOS seems like it is the perfect gateway game.
- CO-OP to address those folks that get butt-hurt over losing to someone and thus tend to avoid trying something new.
- The theme has MASSIVE appeal.
- The main mechanisms are from a game that everyone knows.

I got wind that Game Salute was going to be carrying this. I go to talk to them about it (and Lewis & Clark) and boom, I'm navigating Kickstarter to give Game Salute some munnies.
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