Shop Till You Drop: Gen Con 2014
Glaya B
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San Mateo
California
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Better late than never? It's amazing how many household tasks demand immediate attention after one has been away from home and garden for two weeks.

This is the list of games that I either played, watched, or purchased at Gen Con. Some of the games were still in rough prototype form. I tried to get pictures when I could.
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Glaya B
United States
San Mateo
California
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I arrived at the convention Wednesday afternoon and checked in, then picked up my registration package just in time for my first appointment. I had backed the Rahdo Kickstarter at the prototype testing level and elected to have a game session of my prototype early, since there was a smaller chance of other events interfering. Rahdo was functioning on very little sleep, but he gave the game his full attention and offered valuable suggestions.
 
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2. Board Game: Norsaga [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:5243]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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My first event, bright and early on Thursday morning, was a card game about selecting a Norse hero and then developing a lineage for that character by matching up dominant and recessive traits on other character cards. When I said that I was interested in the game because I was a geneticist, they thought I would hate it because it allows the characters to have same-sex parents (thus invalidating the genetic inheritance aspect). As it turns out, that feature is a selling point for me. The game is fast and portable, with fun art, and I currently anticipate backing it when it launches on Kickstarter.
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3. Board Game: Samurai Spirit [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:981]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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After the game, I went to line up for the dealer's room (aka exhibit hall). I knew that I would be buying Samurai Spirit and wanted to get that taken care of first. I got a quick look at the components (gorgeous) and rules, then made my purchase and wandered around the room to see what else I could find.

Later in the day, I went back to the dealer's room to get my copy of Samurai Spirit autographed--which was a huge production. Antoine Bauza wrote a quote and drew a picture on each person's game box (inside the lid) using three different pens. It's a good thing the line was short.

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4. Board Game: Abyss [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:324]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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The Asmodee booth was nearby, so I went there next. The flashiest game on display was Abyss, which has absolutely amazing art and components (particularly the pearls used as currency). I watched for a few minutes (coincidentally while Joel Eddy was filming his Drive Thru Review video), but I wasn't especially impressed by the gameplay. That was a bit of a downer. I returned to watch the game several times over the weekend, but I never ended up buying it.
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5. Board Game: Black Fleet [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:641]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I got a detailed description of this game from one of the booth staff members. It looked fantastic. The miniature ships were incredible. Sadly, as with most pirate games, it appeared to have too much "mean" play (e.g. stealing from other players) for my group to enjoy it.
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6. Board Game: Hyperborea [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:520]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I knew I wasn't going to buy this game on the spot due to the price, but I wanted to see if I should keep it on my wishlist. From my brief glimpse, however, it looked too fiddly for my taste.
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7. Board Game: Patchwork [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:57]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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It was tricky to find this prototype sitting on the edge of a table in the Mayfair section of the hall. A friend and I sat down to try a demo game. Each turn, the player uses buttons to purchase an oddly shaped quilt piece. The piece is then placed on a grid-lined player board in an attempt to cover as much of the grid as possible. It feels a lot like Tetris. It struck us as a great gateway game with low confrontation. I would compare it to Finca for two players.

 
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8. Board Game: Chaos & Alchemy [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:7009]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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The time for another event rolled around. I joined a few friends for this light dice game. I have to say the game is pretty, and the dice are very attractive. I'm just not a fan of dice games.
 
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9. Board Game: Imperial Settlers [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:130]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I went to the Portal Games booth to pick up my copy of Imperial Settlers, which I had pre-ordered. I was very excited to get it, though I wouldn't have a chance to play it for several more days. The components are totally adorable, and I love that the player boards are reversible, with a male image on one side and a female image on the other. It's unusual for a resource management game (at least, the ones I've played) in that the players discard all unused resources at the end of every round. When I played it, I used the peaceful variant, which allowed us to get through the game with zero attacks. I'm really glad it has that option, because it wouldn't have worked for my group otherwise.
 
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10. Board Game: Puzzle Strike [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:1372]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I made my way to the next event, which I had wanted to try because I keep seeing people name this as their favorite deckbuilder. Game mechanics were relatively similar to Dominion, with cardboard chips instead of cards. The main difference is that it centers around attacking the other players rather than building up one's own points, and that is a deal-breaker for me.
 
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11. Board Game: Ginkgopolis [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:321]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I started out early Friday morning with a stint in the game library, where I had just enough time to learn and play a few rounds of this game. I had been interested in it for a while, and I was glad to have the opportunity to try it. I hope to buy it if I get the chance.
 
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12. Board Game: Temporum [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:2445]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I had to run to the Rio Grande game room to pick up a math trade game. While there, I checked out the demo games. This was the game I was most disappointed to miss. If it had been available for purchase, it would have been an insta-buy. I looked at the stand-in version they had in the room, but I felt it was a bit underwhelming compared to my expectations. It isn't fair to judge it on that basis, however, so I will file this under "wait and see."

 
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13. Board Game: The Downfall of Pompeii [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:445]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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My group had tickets for Mammoth Pompeii, which was a new game for me. We were essentially left alone with a brief overview of the rules. We sought clarification when we could, but we still ended up making a rules error at the beginning that left the board crammed with meeples where there shouldn't have been as many. It was fun to play such a large version, but it isn't the kind of game that really appeals to me. It's too light on strategy.

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14. Board Game: The Witches: A Discworld Game [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:3058]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I signed up for this because I'm always on the lookout for cooperative games and I'm a big fan of the Discworld series. I had heard that this one was exceedingly light, which made me wary. In the end, it wasn't the weight of the game but rather the fact that it's a dice game that made me decide it wasn't for me.
 
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15. Board Game: Consequential [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I took a stroll through the Indie Boards and Cards room, hoping they would have something good on display, but I didn't see anything that grabbed my attention. I briefly watched a group working on this game, which I was vaguely interested in because it was cooperative, but the digital device aspect was a turn-off, and the board wasn't exciting enough to compensate. I imagine the bulk of the game must be in the cards, and that would require a more in-depth look to evaluate; it seemed to be lacking a better hook to get me interested enough to want to spend the time investigating what it had to offer.
 
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16. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:129]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I had a few minutes before my next scheduled event. I took advantage of the time by visiting the dealer's room, particularly the booth selling Rio Grande games. They were offering good prices, so I picked up several Dominion expansions that I needed. I also bought Galaxy Trucker, which I had never been interested in before. Immediately prior to Gen Con, however, I had watched the Rahdo video of the game, and that convinced me it was worth a try. I have since played the learning version of the first phase of the game, and it has proven very entertaining.
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17. Board Game: Spirits of the Rice Paddy [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:2044]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I really wanted to demo this game, but though I asked about it at the booth twice, all the staff could tell me was to sign up for one of the two ticketed events. Since both were scheduled during times when I was already attending other ticketed events, that wasn't going to happen. I asked if there would be demos at the booth, but the answer was that they could only have demos whenever the designer brought the prototype copy around, and they didn't know when that might be. Thus, I had no way to plan when to return to the booth in the hope of trying the game. Once I passed by while a demo was in session, so I managed to get a photo, but I was in a hurry at the time and couldn't stay to watch for more than a few seconds. Sadly, that brief glimpse wasn't enough to show what (other than theme) might set this game apart from other similar Euros.

 
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18. Board Game: Epic Resort [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:2812]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I passed on this when it was on Kickstarter, since I already have a lot of deckbuilders. I did want to try it out, though, to see if it could earn a place on my shelves. I found this game to be ridiculously brutal. It kicks you in the teeth and then turns you upside down to shake all the money out of your pockets. We played for two hours and only got two-thirds of the way through the game, which means it was also far too long to have a chance to be played at my house. As if that weren't enough, it takes up huge amounts of table space, making it a poor choice for taking to gaming meetups in my area (which all use sites with small tables). While it is a clever theme, it just wouldn't work for me.

 
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19. Board Game: Eminent Domain: Microcosm [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1913]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I had gotten the free tickets for the Tasty Minstrel Games demo event, thinking that they would be giving demos at the specified intervals. Apparently not, since most of the games were in progress when I walked in. I had wanted to try Belfort or Bomb Squad, but all copies were in use. I could have tried Scoville, but I already backed it on Kickstarter and didn't feel any pressing need to get an early glimpse. I asked if any of the new Eminent Domain prototype games were available, and fortunately Microcosm was on hand, so I picked that one. It certainly played very quickly, so it would probably make a good filler for two people, but I personally have a low tolerance for microgames. This one has too much attacking and too few other benefits (e.g. pretty art/components) to win me over.
 
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20. Board Game: Lost Legacy: Flying Garden [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1509] [Average Rating:6.76 Unranked]
Glaya B
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My friends and I got tickets to the AEG game night event, but by the time we had waited in line for our bracelets, the games we wanted to play (Trains and Pagoda) were all taken. I managed to snag the two Lost Legacy games, so we took them to a corner of a table and tried them a couple times. One of my friends had also brought her original Japanese copy, so we could compare them. It was definitely a light game, but with just a little more to it than Love Letter. It had the ability to expand to suit a group with more than four players, which I think gives it an advantage.
 
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21. Board Game: Mai-Star [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:2219]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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After my friends got in a game of Trains while I watched (I already own it, so I didn't want to take up a place that could go to someone new to the game), we were still unable to find an open copy of Pagoda, but we didn't want to leave before all the raffle numbers were called. One of the staff held up a copy of Mai-Star, which looked intriguing enough for us to give it a chance. I love the art, and the portability is great. It has a a bit too much attacking for my taste, but I think it would make a good game to take to meetup groups.
 
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22. Board Game: Dominion: Dark Ages [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I went to the game library first thing Saturday morning, where I got in a couple games of Dark Ages. It was my first time playing a physical copy of the game. With the emphasis on trashing effects, it did require a slightly different approach than some of the other expansions. It was a bit surprising how much could be accomplished with so few treasure cards.
 
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23. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:425]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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I had enough time to get in a game of this with a friend before lunch. It reinforced for me how different it was from Microcosm, but my friend thought that playing the microgame helped her learn the symbols and made picking up Eminent Domain easier.
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24. Board Game: Destination: Neptune [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:7406]
Glaya B
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I was supposed to have played Witch of Salem after lunch, but apparently the event was cancelled due to the owner of the game accidentally selling it. That left me with more time to wander the dealer's room. I stopped by the Griggling Games booth and got an explanation of this game. I liked the wooden spaceship tokens, but unfortunately the game itself seemed too dry for my taste.
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25. Board Game: Upon a Fable [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:4911]
Glaya B
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San Mateo
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Around the corner, I came across this game. I had seen it when it was on Kickstarter, but I didn't back it, mainly because the grid-like game board looked too stripped down for my taste. It's fine for a prototype, but I expect a bit more out of a finished product. If there were a board with a fantasy map or something more involving, I would have been more tempted. One of my friends was interested enough to buy it, though, so I did get the opportunity to play it eventually.
 
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