My First Time at the U-Con Gaming Convention
United States
Redford
Michigan
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U-Con is so named because it originally was originally held at the Michigan Union at the University of Michigan for many years, starting in 1988. Over the last few years it has instead been held at the Marriott Ann Arbor Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest. More information can be found here: https://www.ucon-gaming.org/

I went all three days, and this geeklist has everything I played. I don't know if any BGGers played with me in any of these events (other than the ones I regularly hang out with), so if you played in any of these, let me know!
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1. Board Game: The Resistance [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:178]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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I drove to the hotel straight from work and arrived around 6. My scheduled event wasn't until 8, so I picked up my badge and tickets, and found some friends to talk to. We were then rounded up to play The Resistance. We started the first game with 6 of us, including a couple who had never played before. In this first game, the traitors were me and the guy in that couple. His wife/girlfriend immediately suspected him based on his facial expressions, which I thought were going to doom us. But some fast talking and accusations from other players took the heat off him a bit, and I was never suspected, which gave us a narrow win.

Another player joined us in the second game, and the traitors were myself again, the lady of the couple, and the guy that just joined the table. This game worked out perfectly, because I was in the group for all three missions, and I sabotaged the second and third. So I was left out of the fourth, which is the one that needs 2 failures ti count as a spy success. Luckily, the other two traitors were chosen to go on that mission, which won it for us.

One player had to leave, so we were back to six for the final game. I was part of the resistance, and after the first three missions, two of which had failed, it became pretty obvious who the traitors could be. In the last two missions, we had the same people go on both, and both passed for a resistance win.

3 for 3 already, and then it was time for me to go to my first scheduled event.
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2. Board Game: Formula D [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:429]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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A friend of mine was running a two-circuit Formula D race over the weekend in which he would add up points based on your place over both games (if you played in both) to determine an overall champion. This was my first time playing this game, and there were 6 of us on the new Sotchi course, which we would go two laps. One of the players was last years champion.

We rolled for starting positions, in which I got 4th, and the previous champion got last. We chose our vehicles, and I decided to go with the white minivan. But hey, it had a racing stripe, which everyone knows makes a car go faster.

Well with a racing stripe and some risky chances, I was in the lead after the first lap. It became the running joke that a van was doing so well on the course, and I was to be known as Van Man for the rest of the race. I took some damage that first lap and needed repairs, so I went into the pit. The guy in second place decided to use that time to boost ahead and skip the pits. The previous champion had worked his way into third by that point and also took to the pits.

Us three pretty much stayed in our positions for the next 2/3 of the final lap. But skipping the pits proved to be fatal for the lead driver, and after a rough corner, his car couldn't take any more, and he exploded. My friend running the game likes to have players that explode roll the 6th gear die and see how many spectators get taken out, and so 21 fans attended their final race that day devil

With him out of the way, I made it through the final couple of corners and took first, with the previous champ ending in second.

This game was a blast to play, with everyone trying to egg each other on to go into higher gears, and cheering when the car exploded. One of the funniest moments was when the guy in 4th was getting to cross the finish line. I had been playing the second lap much safer than the first and went into the higher gears only when I was pretty much guaranteed to make it safely, so when the guy in 4th was a single space from the finish line, he goes into 6th gear (which was the first time anyone did so on this course), look sat me and shouts "This is how a real man races!" Hilarious!

That was my last game of the night, since I had a 30 minute drive home, so I left to get some sleep before the second race which would occur at 10 the next morning.
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3. Board Game: Formula D: Circuits 5 – New Jersey & Sotchi [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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The second race was going to be two laps around the dangerously curvy New Jersey course. Only myself and last year's champ returned from the previous race, and we were joined by 5 others. Even with a different group, this game was just as exciting and fun with everyone egging on those higher gears, and just laughing at the ridiculous amount of debris being left all over the track in this race.

The previous champ took an early lead and pretty much never lost it. I drifted mostly between 2nd-4th in that first lap. The champ and I both pitted, as did almost everyone else, but some bad rolls really blocked up the pit lane, and one player was forced to skip it. This is a rough course, and we eventually lost two cars from damage. The first car exploded and tied the previous night's roll by taking out 21 spectators. The second explosion was much more glorious, and he took out the max of 30!

The finale was pretty exciting. The previous champ was way ahead and was definitely going to get first. I had to get second just to be able to tie him in overall points. I took some risks to jump from third to second approaching the final turn. I had no tire points left, and needed to make a final stop. I downshifted to second, and had a 2/3 chance of making it, so if course I rolled too high, skipped the corner, and lost my final tire which caused me to spin out. 3rd place was pretty much even with me at that point, but I had to restart in first gear, and he was moving into third, so 2nd place was a lost cause.

But I still had my pride to worry about, and the guy in 4th place was also almost upon me. So after getting back up to second gear on the final stretch, me and 4th place were neck and neck. I jumped into third gear, and was 5 spaces away from crossing the finishing line, so there was a 7/8 chance that I would roll what I needed. Of course I rolled too low, and sat there in front of the finish line as I got passed again, and ended up getting 4th.

Both of these races were just an absolute blast, thanks to everyone playing. The previous champ retained his cup and walked off with the 200 grand prize. Well, two bags of 100 Grand candy bars anyway. Looks like I'll have to take away his cup next year!
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4. Board Game: Coin Age [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:2741]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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I had some time to kill before my next event, so I showed a friend of mine how to play Coin Age. We played on the Frozen Assets map which is the only one I had never used yet. This game was the longest, most cut-throat game of Coin Age I had played yet. Our large coins got swallowed up pretty fast, and we were getting a lot of no-matches on our turn, which meant lots of capturing, which kept a lot of the map empty. My friend was finally able to end it, by filling up the map, and it came to a close game of 21-19 in his favor.
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5. Board Game: Doodle City [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:2960]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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After Coin Age, we were both invited to play a game of Doodle City, which was being played in the Mayfair games section by
Alex Yeager
United States
Ypsilanti
MI
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This was a pretty cool little filler game where one player rolls a bunch of dice, and the blue die determined which column you can draw in, then in turn order, each player picks a white die to determine which row to draw in. Each box of the city grid can have a single road drawn in it, and depending on what is in the square you're drawing, it will earn you points based on the size of the road up to that point or other connections. In the end, I beat the other 5 players mostly because I was able to make a very large road which gave me a lot of hotel points as well as a good amount of store points.
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6. Board Game: Liberté [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:702]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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By now it was time to play in my next event, which was being run by another friend of mine. We had six players for this game, of which only one of us had played before, but a very long time ago.

This is not an easy game to learn, and is one of those games that you need experience to know what kind of strategy to employ, otherwise it is a game of trial and error and experimenting. We had a rough start as everyone was trying to figure out their moves and what to do. and then about halfway through the first round, the one teenager in the group decided he had had enough, and just got up and walked away without saying anything. The lady next to him said she heard him mumble something about the French Revolution being boring.

It kind of caught us all off guard, but we decided that it was early enough that we could just remove his pieces and continue our game. Everything went smoothly after that, and going into the 3rd round, I was in the lead. However, it was two turns in a row that the Moderates had won the election, and a bunch of Royalist pieces were left on the board. This allowed a player who had controlled a bunch of those Royalists to add a little bit more in certain territories for an immediate game ending win for himself. We noticed it happening, but myself and the others did not have enough cards to use up the Royalist pieces beforehand.

It was an interesting game that I would play again, now that I know what's going on.
 
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7. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:71]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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Since Liberte ended earlier than expected, and I had about 90 minutes before the event I was going to be running, three of us grabbed some food and set up for a game of Trajan. We new we wouldn't be able to finish it, but my friend was very interested in learning it, so we played through two of the four quarters.

It seems like every time I play this game, I have a different opening and strategy based only on fulfilling my starting Trajan tiles. It worked out well for me this time, I played a lot into the architect section and got three of a kind with those tiles for my mini-win at the halfway point.
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8. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:53]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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The first event I was running over the weekend was this monster of a game. Unfortunately, only one person had signed up to play it. When I registered to run this event, I put it as a 5 hour time slot, because I didn't want people to register for events after mine and get stuck either still playing and skip their next one, or have to quit mine to get to the next one on time, if I had put in a smaller time frame. And if I had gotten 6 new players, then I am sure that's how long it would have taken. But I am guessing that may be what scared people off. Or maybe no one likes Dominant Species anymore. Who knows?

But the one brave soul was still willing to stick around to learn the game and play against me, so we went for it. It was his arachnids against my mammals. It was a tough one. He picked up on it pretty quickly, and it is tough to take advantage of winning tie-breakers when he gets a free kill every round.

Early on, he used the Fertile card that gave you points based on the number of species on a tile, and the chosen tile was very crowded. This gave him a lead that despite have an extra action pawn, and first on the initiative track for the majority of the following turns, I just could not catch up. But I was slowly setting myself up to survive in the tundra, and on the final turn, with some critical element placements and some heavy migration, I was on 8 tundra tiles for a whopping 36 extra points. It was enough to put me ahead in the end.

This is such a great game, and the last couple of plays have only been 2 player. I really need to play a more interactive 4-6 player game soon.
 
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9. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:23]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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Since a two player game of Dominant Species does not take 5 hours, it was still much earlier than I expected it to be when I left for the day. So I got it one last pick up game, which was a 5 player game of Concordia. Even before knowing who the designer was, from the pieces and some of the mechanics I knew it was similar to other Mac Gerdts games.

I had no idea what to go for at the start, and kind of just mimicked the other players for a bit to get a resource engine going. Eventually I decided the colonists would be my prize winners and I did what I could to get them all out, and buy up cards that would multiply their value. For such a slow start, and not knowing any strategy, I did alright, and got 3rd out of the 5.

It was fun playing with this group. I think because it was late after such a long day, everyone was in a pretty goofy mood. Afterwards, I headed on home, because I had an even earlier event the next day then I did on this one.
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10. Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:316]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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My first event on the last day of the convention was bright and early at 9AM. But I was very excited to get to try out Tales of the Arabian Nights. I had heard quite a bit about this game, but wanted to get a feel for it, and signed up to play in this event immediately once I saw someone was running it. This game was awesome! We had 5 players, and the stuff that happened during the game was hilarious.

My own adventure was pretty dull and uneventful, as could be evidenced by being in last place on both the story track and the destiny track. But some of the other things that happened were great. One player just had the most ridiculously awful luck by getting lost, grief-stricken, kidnapped by a cult, and eventually turned into an ape. Another player that was playing had a quest to get a treasure in order to bribe a prince to marry her, and before that happened, she got turned into a donkey. Great stuff and a great game to start out the day with.
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11. Board Game: Valley of the Kings [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:627] [Average Rating:7.13 Unranked]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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My final event of the con was this deck-builder. We had four players, and I decided early on that my best chance to win was to entomb early and at almost every possible chance. I was able to pick up every amulet type and 3 of the statues which formed the majority of my points, and in the end, I won by 5.
 
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12. Board Game: 1775: Rebellion [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:246]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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After some lunch I set up for the final event that I was running at the convention, which was 1775: Rebellion. And wouldn't you know it, the first person to show up to play was the same teenager that ran out on Liberte the day before. But he told me that he already knew how to play this one and had played the owner of Academy games before and this and that, so I wasn't worried about him running out on this one.

A group of three friends filled out the four players needed, so we got on. Two of the friends got to work together as the Americans, while the third friend and the teenager were the British, and the teen often had some strong feelings about what their strategy should be, which the other three laughed off. In the end, the Americans won it.

As I was putting the game away, the guy that played the British side asked if I wanted to play against him 1 on 1, which I couldn't pass up. He really liked the game, and was excited to get to make his own decisions.

I was the Americans and he was the British. I took a bit of an early lead when I took North Carolina and Georgia, but he kept pushing into Connecticut and eventually took it over along with New York. Then his ships came out and he disrupted my plans in the south. He was having overwhelming success at one point, but eventually my ships came out, and I was able to remove control from some unprotected coastline.

In the 6th round, I played my second truce card, and made a final push to give me the lead. After that, he had one final turn and initiated three battles. He just needed to win 2 out of the 3 in order to beat me. So of course, instead of holding the line, my units started running away left and right. I lost all three battles quite easily, and it ended 5 to 3. What didn't help is that both of my cards that bring in the French were buried, so that was a lot of help I never received that could have helped me keep hold of the colonies I lost.

It was a great game though, and it sounds like I'll be seeing more of this opponent at the monthly meetup group I go to.
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13. Board Game: Kingsport Festival [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1384]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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After 1775, I decided to head home, as the convention was ending, and everyone was packing up. I used this game as my final entry because it is what I used my prize chips to try to win. The winner of every game gets a chip, which you can use to trade in for prizes (the more chips, the better the prize). You can also turn in your chips for three raffle tickets each which you can use for the different games they were raffling off. I had two chips (from the first game of Formula D, and Valley of the Kings) and I used them both to get tickets which I put all into the Kingsport Festival bucket. My number wasn't called, but it looks like the person two spots ahead of me that got tickets ended up taking it home. So close!

Overall I had a great time at this convention, and played a bunch of games that were just an absolute blast. I met some cool people, some of which I will see in the future at the monthly meetups, and I look forward to going again next year. November 20-22, 2015 is now reserved!
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