BGG.CON 2014 -- Wargaming Is Alive And Well
Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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This geeklist summarizes my attendance at BGG.Con 2014. It was a stellar year of wargaming (and gaming in general) and for those of you unable to attend, I hope you have a fun vicarious experience reading through the geeklist. For those of you that were there . . . here is one story, my story, of a boardgaming adventure.

The wargaming, as always, was robust, varied, and fun. If you have any questions, thoughts, comments, or anything, feel free to post. I'll be monitoring this list for a while. But I suspect I am so far beyond the Con that this list won't see a lot of traffic. It's okay. I enjoy making them list and sometimes I'll go back and read the record of Cons-past.

Enjoy!
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1. Board Game: Package has Arrived [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked]
 
Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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Tuesday

Getting There

I caught an early flight. Every year, I fly into Love Field because Southwest usually has the cheapest fares. This necessitates a drive across town to the hotel, which in ever year prior to this one was taken care of by my long-time friend, who picks me up in the airport after he drives down from Oklahoma. I'm not a stickler or a prude when it comes to spending money, but I don't like to spend more than necessary on travel.

This year, Southwest had $65 flights from Chicago to Love Field. The trade off was that my flight left the gate at 7AM.

I landed on time at 9:23 in Dallas, and rather than wait for my traditional ride, I decided to hop a cab over to the hotel at DFW. I won't do that again! The fare was $45. After a 10% tip, that's $50 to get to my destination. Still cheaper than normal airfare, but I would rather wait the hour next year! I had expected about $25 for a cab ride.

Nonetheless, I had an interesting conversation with the cabbie, who regaled me of his American adventures since arriving from Nigeria. He was a really friendly guy - and if he, by some odd happenstance stumbles across this list: best of luck with your father's farm.

I arrived at the hotel, checked in, and said hello to Patrick (farsol), who reprised his role as the third roommate with myself and long-time friend, Tim (gilby).

In 'N Out! Beer! (Well Cider)

Prior to Tim's arrival, I started teaching Patrick how to play Fleet. When Tim arrived, he helped out with the rules, since I had never had to teach before and only had played 5 times or so myself.

We paused our game to go eat at In 'N Out burger, then hopped over to Target and got some food and other supplies for the week: paper plates, etc.

After that, we made a pit stop at a liquor store for some craft beer for the week. In addition to some really great beers, I also picked up a six-pack of Angry Orchard's Green Apple Cider. While not really the height of craftsmanship, it's a sweet cider that makes for easy drinking.

My Kingdom for a Mini-Fridge

The hotel has mini-fridges for rent at $15 for the whole stay (not per day). We had been successful in years past obtaining them because of our Tuesday arrival - but the secret must be out. This year, the refrigerators were all claimed. I had asked around, and a couple of people told me that the hotel was allowing people to reserve them early via a BGG thread. In the past it has been first-come-first-served. Because of this, we didn't buy any refrigerated foods like lunch meat and cheese.

When we returned and put our dry-goods away, Patrick and I finished our game of Fleet. I don't think I did a very good job teaching it, and had to lean on Tim for some of the rules . . . and Fleet isn't really a two-player game, IMHO. I think it plays well with 3-5, though.

After talking for a while about our con plans, getting the room situated and such, we headed downstairs for some pre-con gaming.

Pre-Con Gaming!

The pre-con gaming this year seemed more crowded and busy than in years past; I'm not sure if it was just my impression or if my observation is factually true. But it just seemed very crowded by the evening.

In any case, Tim was running a 10-game list of games to celebrate his tenth year of con attendance (he has come every year the con has existed!). One of his games was Factory Fun, so he talked Patrick and I (both wargamers through and through) into playing Factory Fun.

Factory Fun

We wrangled one other player, Andy (white), who was also a newb.

By the end of the game, my factory looked like a red, blue, and yellow pile of metal spaghetti. But I survived to the end without having to discard any machines.

Final scores:

Patrick (farsol) = 84
Tim (gilby) = 79
Me (cmontgo2) = 71
Andy = 63

It was a nice, fun little game, but Patrick's factory-planning skills blew us all out of the water.

Thunder Alley

At about 4:00 PM, Patrick and I broke away from Tim and went for a 5-player game of Thunder Alley.

Players were me, Patrick, Sharon (sharoz), Chris (cjcjazz), and Mike (Mikefitz)

Sharoz's Purple team cleaned house. Despite having cars come in 2nd, 3rd, and 8th, Sharoz edged me out for the race victory with superior hand management and teamwork. The outcome was a pretty close affair nonetheless:

Sharon (sharoz): 123
Chris (cjcjazz): 119
Me (cmontgo2): 107
Patrick (farsol): 100
Mike (Mikefitz): 99

Fleet (Redux)

We tried Fleet again, since there were a couple more newb players who wanted to get in a game. This was a 6-player game. After a bit of delay in game explanation and set-up, we were all set to go:

Me, Patrick, Chris, Sharon, Jason (Capwulf), and Tim (tskirvin), after a bit of a bumpy start, we got underway. Chris's (not me) Lobster/Cod combo took it home for the win at 84. Sharon had to leave due to some horrible migraines (she was back at it the next day), and she handed her position over to a bystander (sorry I didn't get your name/user!).

My shrimp boat strategy failed miserably. Final scores:

Chris: 84
Tim: 71
Patrick: 54
Me: 42
Sharon: 38
Jason: 37

The game dragged a bit, but it was mainly due to having so many new players learning the game. I don't think six-players is necessarily that ideal for this game, either . . . but only because of the downtime. Also by this point, the side rooms allotted for Tuesday evening play were really filling up and getting loud. The excitement in the room was palpable.

Thanks for the game, everyone!

Pax Porfiriana

Pax Porfiriana was up next. Patrick is an evangelist for this game (I think it might be one of his favorites) so he was the designated teacher for three new students. Our players were me and:

Patrick, Tim (gilby), Sean (daehtloeht), and Mike (pylgrim)

I have played a few times before, mainly on PBEM. The game takes a bit of getting used to, and it can be brutal by the end. Patrick (playing Boss Shepherd) won on an Outrage Victory with 2 to Diaz's 1. The U.S. came in and set up a puppet government. The general consensus amongst the new players was that the game would take a few plays before they could decide if it was for them or not.

I really like the game, my only complaint being that victory can happen at nearly any time and can be rather anti-climactic. But the narrative of the game is very deep and cool: taking over enterprises, sending your troops to extort them, jailing your opponents, bribing partners, wielding influence over the federalies, and so forth. Great fun.

After this game, it was midnight, and we had all had a solid 8-10 hours of gaming. Patrick, Tim, and I filtered into the room over the next hour or so, and dropped off after a short conversation. We were all excited about the Con tomorrow, happy to be there, and had already had a full day of gaming. I retired to bed and reread the rules for Napoleon's Triumph, a game I had scheduled for tomorrow.
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2. Board Game: Jungle Brunch [Average Rating:5.98 Overall Rank:8121]
Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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Wednesday

GCL Gelato Brunch

The next morning, the GCL Gelati members had previously arranged to meet for breakfast. The attendees were me and:

"L'état, c'est moi."
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Edward Uhler
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Commerce City
Colorado
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(both Edward and Amanda!)
Cole Wehrle
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St. Paul
Minnesota
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Patrick Pence
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Tallahassee
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While eating the breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant, we enjoyed many Gelati topics including Pax Pamir (Cole's new game based off of the mechanics of Pax Porfiriana), Container, Die Macher, High Frontier, Line of Battle, Napoleon's Triumph, the Civil War Brigade Series, our upcoming schedules, traffic in our home towns, our travel experiences, other hotels across the world we had stayed at, and an array of other subjects. Good food, people, and conversation . . . all we needed was a few mimosas and/or Bloody Marys and it would have been a party.

Registration

After brunch, we went down to registration. The line was still going. We later found out that the attendance this year was 2,650! Everyone in line was registered by 12:00 Noon, I think. We got in line at 11:00 and made it all the way through in 30-45 minutes.

Next year brunch should be longer and line-waiting shorter! (So say I, anyway - I'd much rather talk over coffee than standing in a line.)

At the registration line, the highlight was having Maia
(maia_ann) as my registration person. She's Sean's (daehtloeht's) wife. Fun, a charmer, and friendly. Though I have only ever seen her at the Con from year to year, it's always great to say hi.

The game selection for door prizes this year was fine. Gilby had asked me to pick up copies of Caveman Curling and RoboTroc if I didn't have any other preferences. He thought they would be good games for his son. I was happy to oblige.

Great Campaigns of the American Civil War - Mega Game

After registration, I ran back up stairs to drop off the schwag, and met up for my first wargamer scheduled event, Great Campaigns of the American Civil War Mega-Game.

After helping Patrick organize and set up my copy of Stonewall Jackson's Way II,

Asher D.
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Lexington
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arrived, and we paired off in Battle Above the Clouds Scenario 6: Battle of Lookout Mountain.

This game qualified for the 100-Game-Play Challenge I am working on for the GCACW. Asher took the USA and I played the CSA. I had previously played this scenario as the USA, and it was a crushing US defeat that time.

Despite his best attempts, the Union took a thrashing due to horrible dice and failed assault attempts and failed attacks. After fatiguing out his entire army over two turns, the CSA had taken 1 manpower of casualties to the USA's 18! It was certainly not due to any grand scheme on my part - just roll after roll of bad dice.

I wish I could, but I can't take any credit. The dice truly hated Asher throughout the scenario. But the scenario did leave me scratching my head on how the USA is supposed to win. Even with better dice, it would've been hard-going for the Union. I'd like to try again with them sometime to see other options.

The map's construction does not leave much room for maneuver, and so breaking through battering-ram style seems like the only USA option.

I would like to play this again - though getting the historical result seems difficult. Maybe there is something I am missing . . .

This game is written up at the GCACW Challenge, here.

1st Annual Wargamer Meet-Up

After grabbing some food with Tim (gilby), it was time to get back in time for the Wargamer Meet-Up. The purpose of the meet-up was to discuss ways to get wargaming more exposure at the Con. There was a very good discussion about what to do next year - one idea was to set up a room and time and have a table of lighter wargames ready to play. Something like "Wargamer Bootcamp" or "Wargaming 101". Anyone who wants can stop by and learn how to play a wargame. We'll see next year, though.

Greg Schmittgens (gs in ks), as always, had buttons this year. He even brought game-specific buttons with Here I Stand logos for those who played the game! And Wargamer Meet-Up buttons for attendees of the meet-up. One of the constants of every BGG Con I have ever been to has been Greg's awesome buttons. I look forward to them every year.

There was also a wargame raffle thanks to some great donations. Copies of about 8 games or so were raffled off, and if Greg stops by the list, perhaps he can give a nod to the companies who donated games.

We also started the Wargame Chain of Generosity at the Con, but it appeared that it didn't take off very well . . . this year was a year of experimentation and somethings will be repeated while others will be changed, or dropped.

Napoleon's Triumph Cancelled

I had a game of Napoleon's Triumph with Rusty (kuhrusty) and Roger (leroy43), but they were already engrossed in a game with other players, and I suggested we find another time. So we did.

Thunder Alley

With Napoleon's Triumph pushed off until the next day, Roger and me, along with Joseph, Dave, Sean, and Geoff played a 6-Player game of Thunder Alley. Geoff roundly beat all of us, and two people at the table who had played the game the most (Roger and I) came in far behind. But it was a fun game. Geoff's refusal to make a pit stop placed him in a winning position - great job!

Final scores:

Geoff = 117
Joseph = 112
Me = 101
Dave = 98
Sean = 90
Roger = 89

Pax Porfiriana

After Thunder Alley, I was still up for another game, even though it was late, and even though I had Here I Stand in the morning. Patrick had come by toward the end of Thunder Alley, so Roger and I sought him out and played a game of Pax Porfiriana. Asher (adiamant), also joined in. It was a long game because Patrick was able to shut-down both Chihuahua and Sonora from any new enterprises. The game came to a rather slow end and was the game in which I discovered how the victory conditions *actually* work. I triggered what I thought was the Topple for the win - I had the most Prestige points in the category that mattered . . . but both Asher and I each defeated Diaz -- Asher with a 4 and myself with a 5. Because we both beat Diaz, it doesn't matter how many Prestige we each have. We have both won. The tie-breaker then goes to money. And Asher had more.

Great job, Asher! A well-deserved victory and apt repayment for our GCACW game.

After this, it was off to bed. I had to be up early for the 8:30 AM Here I Stand.
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3. Board Game: Here I Stand [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:168]
Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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Thursday

Here I Stand

Thursday morning, very tired due to a late night, I grabbed a yogurt parfait, an energy drink, and a cup of coffee from the stand in the hotel lobby, then ran downstairs for the annual Here I Stand game. The belligerents:

Edward (eapeas) = Ottomans
Me (cmontgo2) = Hapsburgs
Scott (cscottk) = France
Roger (leroy43) = England
Troy (troymk1) = Papacy
Justin (houjix) = Protestants

I don't remember the exact order of things, but here are the highlights . . .

Turn 1 saw the Hapsburgs capture Metz. All three colonizing powers launches Voyages of Discovery and Colonies. The Ottomans invaded and conquered Hungary. The Protestants made a lot of headway in the German principalities. The Pope won the Diet of Worms. England conquered Scotland. France built a chateau. Various discoveries were made. Colonies were founded.

Turn 2, the Hapsburg-Ottoman War began in earnest. The first clash was in Vienna and Charles found himself bottled up in the city. I sent some units around to cut off the Ottoman line of communication. I foolishly attempted a seige attack, and lost, and my units were decimated and retreated, opening up the line of communication for free. France declared war on the Hapsburgs, but then didn't attack, and we declared a white peace at the end of the turn. The Pope granted England a divorce. The Protestants continued to successfully spread their new religion across Germany. The German translation of the Old Testament was completed.

Turn 3, the Hapsburg sent a relief army to break the siege of Vienna. The Ottomans and Turks both wasted a lot of cards. Vienna did not fall and the Turks were thrown back to Prague. England continued to divorce and marry (thematically, I wonder why, if the Pope grants the divorce, how come England becomes Protestant?) . . . the Pope attempted to debate a couple of times, but no one was burned/disgraced.

Turn 4, we paused to finish in the morning right before the action phase. In the diplomacy phase, the Ottomans and Hapsburgs declared a peace. Justin (the Protestant player) felt that a peace with the Hapsburgs was a bad idea. I argued to Edward that he could focus on piracy without my meddling fleets . . . and the Ottomans and Hapsburgs, I felt, really hold each other back. The wars between them typically aren't good for either side - they both spend precious CPs fighting each other and rarely do either of them get anywhere. But to each their own. The Schmalkaldic League came out, propelling the Protestants, who were unchecked, to the front of the pack.

Turn 5 was all about the Protestants. The Ottomans did some piracy. Few of the colonies paid out cards most of the game. The Hapsburgs, now at peace with everyone but the Protestants, sent an army in Spring Deployment to check the Protestant surge and the Pope's failed attempts to rein them in. But England moved a large army to Calais during Spring Deployment, rather obviously eying the weak Hapsburg position and able to seige either Metz or Antwerp. The Hapsburgs, seeing the threat of England's Home Card (allowing them to declare war during the action phase) the Hapsburgs responded in kind, marching its armies meant for war against the Protestants against the English, instead. Seeing the threat for the Protestants to win the game, England declared that they would abandon their plans to lay the Protestants low. The Hapsburgs demanded that England spend its Home Card first, and by that time, the Hapsburgs didn't have much in the way of useful cards to thwart the Prots.

The Protestants sailed to an easy enough victory, though -- it seemed they couldn't lose a conversion attempt for much of the game, and it included seven (!) conversions in France, if I recall correctly.

The Protestants won a VP victory at the end of Turn 5.

I had fun, as always! Justin is a really great player of this game, and the dice gods shined upon his face, as well. Congratulations!

Flying Colors Epic

I rushed back to the room to set up Flying Colors Epic. We had four players:

tsuk
raynovich
pawnpusher
freebird77

This was one of my "con experiences" for BGG Con 2014 . . . an epic version with tricked out Sails of Glory miniatures and two-inch hexes on Hotz Mats:



The French pulled off a victory, but only due to some lucky rolling and a short scenario which ended after 8 turns. Jason and I finished up the battle and agreed that if the French hadn't been so lucky with strike rolls or if the scenario had gone on another turn, the British would likely have easily won. But it was beautiful. The playing area was so large that we had to play on the stage in the main ballroom . . . it was the only raised surface big enough.

The scenario was Cape Henry. The full report can be found here.

I probably won't do this again . . . the setup and tear down was a nightmare and time consuming, not to mention the extra baggage for the plane. But it was fun to do it once.

Northern Pacific

After the Flying Colors game was picked up, I wandered around the exhibitor's hall, went to dinner with gilby, and met up and talked with Cole Wehrle for a while. He was doing playtest/teaching games of Pax Pamir, and the game looks like a fine thing! Can't wait until I get a published copy.

After dinner was over, I grabbed some beers from the room, and went back downstairs. We played Northern Pacific, a Winsome Game from 2014's set. The players were me and:

Tim (gilby)
Cole (Cole Wehrle)
SJ Sellers (smintie)

We played two games, and it was a really fast, really fun game. A smaller version would be portage and would be a great filler. Five minutes to explain and ten minutes to play.

Love Letter

After this, we played a game of Love Letter. I had never played before, and it was a fun time. The game itself was not one that I would want to buy, but I would play it again with a group that wanted to. I didn't quite grasp the game in our single play of it, but I was starting to when it ended.

After this, it was off to bed. Here I Stand was to conclude in the morning.
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4. Board Game: Tajemnicze Domostwo [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:411]
Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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Friday

Here I Stand (Denouement)

I didn't get to bed the night before until 3 AM, so I was tired (again). An energy drink and a coffee later and I was in fighting shape again.

Here I Stand got underway with Turn 4.

Turn 4, we paused to finish in the morning right before the action phase. In the diplomacy phase, the Ottomans and Hapsburgs declared a peace. Justin (the Protestant player) felt that a peace with the Hapsburgs was a bad idea. I argued to Edward that he could focus on piracy without my meddling fleets . . . and the Ottomans and Hapsburgs, I felt, really hold each other back. The wars between them typically aren't good for either side - they both spend precious CPs fighting each other and rarely do either of them get anywhere. But to each their own. The Schmalkaldic League came out, propelling the Protestants, who were unchecked, to the front of the pack.

The Ottomans invaded Venice and laid siege, but the Papacy, in a stroke of amazing luck attacked the Ottomans with 8 dice against 14, and WON! The Ottomans lost their entire force due to having no retreat path and Suleiman was captured. On the one hand, it was a fluke . . . but on the other, it's those kind of stories that make this game worth playing.

The last time I played the Hapsburgs, I attacked the Ottomans in Venice and rolled 14 dice with no hits . . . my army was completely defeated, too, and Charles was captured. So I feel Edward's pain!

Turn 5 was all about the Protestants. The Ottomans did some piracy. Few of the colonies paid out cards most of the game. The Hapsburgs, now at peace with everyone but the Protestants, sent an army in Spring Deployment to check the Protestant surge and the Pope's failed attempts to rein them in. But England moved a large army to Calais during Spring Deployment, rather obviously eying the weak Hapsburg position and able to seige either Metz or Antwerp. The Hapsburgs, seeing the threat of England's Home Card (allowing them to declare war during the action phase) the Hapsburgs responded in kind, marching its armies meant for war against the Protestants against the English, instead. Seeing the threat for the Protestants to win the game, England declared that they would abandon their plans to lay the Protestants low. The Hapsburgs demanded that England spend its Home Card first, and by that time, the Hapsburgs didn't have much in the way of useful cards to thwart the Prots.

The Protestants sailed to an easy enough victory, though -- it seemed they couldn't lose a conversion attempt for much of the game, and it included seven (!) conversions in France, if I recall correctly.

The Protestants won a VP victory at the end of Turn 5.

Final VPs:

[c]
Papacy 14
Ottomans 16
Hapsburg 17
France 20
England 23
Protestants 28

I had fun, as always! Justin is a really great player of this game, and the dice gods shined upon his face, as well. Congratulations!

Exhibitor Hall

Since we ended early, I went and wandered the Exhibit Hall and checked out a lot new games. Very few things piqued my fancy, but I did pick up Phil Eklund's new game, Greenland. And some cubes for the 6th player in Pax Porfiriana.

I played a demo game of Golem Arcana, but it was not to my liking . . . I felt like I was playing a computer game and every once in a while I would move pieces on a board. I almost think it's a board-assisted computer game, rather than the other way around. The game is gorgeous and the playtester who taught me the game was a really great teacher and very friendly. While the game wasn't for me, I expect that many thousands of players will enjoy this game.

I then found Roger and Rusty and chatted with them while I ate some dinner from the concession stand.

Gettysburg: The Wheatfield

I met up with Brian Marrs (bartbert) at 2:00 p.m. to play Gettysburg: The Wheatfield. We played through 5-6 turns of the game over three hours. Brian's CSA was hot early on, but things were evened out when my artillery opened up and was able to rout one of his regiments. We had lots of rules questions and look-ups. The main problem I had with the game was that the rules - as long as they are - do not necessarily cover edge cases. The game is essentially a miniatures game played on a tiny board with counters, and miniatures games typically require some compromises as rulesets typically cannot cover all the myriad iterations when you have no grid to regulate movement.

I would try the game again and think it bears further exploration, but it seemed to us that the Union player seems to be at a disadvantage, or at least my set-up was not optimal.

Mysterium

At 5:00 p.m. I went and found Tim, and we played Mysterium. The players were me and:

Tim (gilby)
Sharon (sharoz)
Chris C. (cjcjazz)
Barry
Cheryl

This game was simply great. It was different, the rules were simple, and the cards, the cards were amazing! So many different images and symbols to get confused by and trying to find similarities between the cards you are given to find what *other* card you are being pointed to! It was a great time. Portal sold me a copy as soon as the English version arrives. I tried to buy a Polish copy at the Con, but they were sold out.

Dinner and The Great Campaign

After that, Tim and I went for dinner at Freebird's. The burritos were great. It was second (?) time going there in 7 conventions. When we got back, I had a scheduled game of The Great Campaign with Judd (airjudden).

This is a very old game from the 1980s and is one of very few operational-level ACW games out there. It does a great job of simulating the fog of war and the use of cavalry for its traditional purposes in the ACW -- scouting. And being able to play the Gettysburg Campaign in about three hours is awesome. The game seems like a fun one. After playing, Judd promised to build a Vassal module for it.

Judd's CSA crushed my Union boys: 60 to 30. I definitely learned how NOT to play the Gettysburg Campaign!

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

After our game, I bopped around some more, caught up with Patrick and Roger. They were discussing what to play, but I was in the mood for something light and not wargamey . . . Tim wanted to rustle up players for One Night Ultimate Werewolf, and after walking around for what seemed like 20 minutes, I finally found players. We drank and I got rather drunk. We played 4-5 games, and it was really fun. One player was completely drunk and it made the game all that much more fun. Every time someone asked him what his role was, he say, "I don't know. I forgot."

After the games (I don't remember who won, and that's not really the point, anyway), I went to bed tired and drunk.
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5. Board Game: Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815 [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:1027]
Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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Saturday

Napoleon's Triumph

I slept in Saturday morning. My earliest game was 11 a.m., so around 10 a.m. I rose, showered, and met up for a morning game game of Napoleon's Triumph. Players were me and:

Roger (leroy43)
Rusty (kuhrusty)
Stephen (sdawg)

Rusty and I played the Allies and paired off against the French forces of Roger and Stephen. We played a leisurely game. The French had early successes, but Rusty and I planned on having Rusty hold down the French left while I took our strong units (minus the Guard, which Rusty kept), and fell against the French right. We traded barbs for several hours, but around Noon, the Allies finally put the French right in a pickle and outmaneuvered them. After opening up a hole, the Allies captured a victory objective, and it was to the French to bring on the reinforcements.

Stephen, though, needed to go, and so we called the game there. While not technically a French concession (and we will never know the outcome!), they were in a tight spot, there, at the end.

Triple-Blind Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign

I grabbed a quick lunch, then came back to the same two fellows to play my second "con experience" game: a Triple-Blind game of Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign.

Me = Prussians
Roger = British
Rusty = French

I had never played before, and I set up my cavalry forward and separated from the other corps, and this proved to be a horrible set-up error. I neglected to see that the Prussians only receive one move per turn . . . and I had eight stacks instead of four. I also set up very far forward while Roger occupied further back. It made it easy for Rusty's French to fall upon the Prussians and carve them up. Defeating the Prussians in detail saved the French from casualties, but it also bought the British time.

After finishing me off (it took 90 minutes and Roger didn't have a lot to do), Rusty turned to the British. The game was superbly fun and came to a great climax at Brussels. The French had engaged two battles simultaneously, and the battles are fought that way . . . the British were fortunate enough to win the smaller battle. The battle at Brussels, the French enjoyed a significant advantage. However, the British were able to rout the French in the smaller battle and feed reinforcements into the battle at Brussels.

The game was won on the last battle of the last turn . . . Roger was able to collapse the French right, routing Emperor Napoleon and claiming victory.

We all agreed that while the blind game was very fun, it would be much better as a two-player blind game. For too much of the game, Roger was not able to view the map that Rusty and I fought over, and so he chatted with us, but otherwise had a lot of downtime. In a two-player blind game, he would have had something to do.

But it was great fun . . . Columbia has a winner, here. Rusty thought the terrain elements made the battles last too long, but I thought they added a nice twist and required a bit more planning.

Baltimore & Ohio -- No Wait, Air Baron!

I had a planned game of Baltimore & Ohio that I had set up on the epic games meet-up list, but various things plotted to end the game before it had begun. I explained the game before the prize drawing. Two players didn't show. Another player came to say he was in an 18XX game that had an hour left and he was going to finish it (thanks for letting us know, that was very kind). One of the new players that showed up to learn how to play had some family issues. So I explained the game, and said after Prizes I'd come back. I think the game is best with 4+, so we all agreed that if one of us wasn't going to play, just text the others. We had a 25 minutes game explanation and then went to the Prizes.

Prizes

The Prizes were fun - as always - but nothing came even close to the number on my ticket. It was a really great giveaway, though! There must've been 30 or 40 bundles of prizes, each with 3-6 games. And we had the typical no-shows, with dramatic flourishes.

Air Baron

Well, I was texted and one of the players cancelled, but we still had the conference room until midnight.

Tim was still doing his 10-game challenge, and I'm not sure if our game of Air Baron was one of them or not, but we found Jason (from the Flying Colors game) and his friend, Catherine - both really fun people - and we played Air Baron.

The game itself really showed it's age. It was swingy and random, and I think my Cancun Route must've hit 6 or 7 times for a $20 payout. It was what won me the game in the end. But the real fun was the conversation and the fact that no one took the game too seriously. We just had a good time.

Of course, that was helped along by beer. Tim and I were drinking from our stash, but Catherine shared some Hard Cider (forget the name - sorry!) and it went down like water. By the end of our game I was tipsy, but still okay. But I kept drinking, as we moved on to another game.

Werewolf

So after the game, Jason and Catherine and Tim all kind of discussed if we wanted to play another game. It was late, but we found a game of Werewolf starting up. I was up for a game. We played twice, but I was a Villager both times, and sort of made an obnoxious ass out of myself, I think.

And when we had played two games (each one took about 30-45 minutes), the group sort of broke up.

But Catherine had to catch her flight in a couple of hours and wanted to stay up rather than sleep, so she talked us into a game of Avalon.

Avalon

The moderator of Werewolf (don't remember his name - I'm sorry!) said he had a copy of Avalon and it was one of his favorite games. So we played two games of Avalon, where I was so drunk by this point that I played the game completely wrong and was confused about it all.

I think I apologized, but I tell you, it was the first time in a long while that I had the "drunk sway" going . . . you know, if you try to stand still, your body kind of sways trying to keep it's balance? Yeah, that was me.

It was a great group, though, and very tolerant of my drunken state, so thank you! I had great fun, and hope to see them all again next year.

At 4 AM (!) I crashed into bed talking quietly with Tim, and was out like a light.
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6. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:103]
Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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Sunday

Combat Commander

The next morning, I got up around 10 AM and headed downstairs. Sundys are kind of a "dead" day at the Con. The groups are clearing out, people have to check out by 11, flights are leaving at all different times, the exhibitors are there, but they are ready to go home, and so there are lots of open tables and a rather empty-looking convention space. Everyone is worn out from the five (or six!) days of gaming, and this is the last, tired, myopic experience - one or two or three quick games before taking off.

In all previous years of the Con, I have played at least one game of Combat Commander. This year, I was determined to try and get a game in, and I sat up the game with a Player Needed sign. As I was setting up, Roger came over to chat, and he is a CC fan, so he agreed to play.

I forget what scenario we played, but it was Line Germans in a city against U.S. Paratroopers. My Germans were getting their butt kicked, it seemed. Our random chit draws gave double elimination VPs, but Roger went for an exit VP strategy. He also made some moves against the VP objectives on the map.

I held on tenaciously, and even eliminated a few U.S. troopers as well as getting some exit VPs of my own. I got caught with a long stretch without any Fire cards, and Roger was able to walk off a whole platoon and leader without me being able to stop him. The Germans do start off with a VP advantage, though, and it was this that finally whittled it down to a really competitive game.

The first Time! trigger came and went and at that time I had 1 VP, and could've won it, or at least made Roger burn the Initiative Card, but it was not to be. Due to all the exit VPs, the next Time! trigger has the U.S. winning, and the roll was for the U.S. It was the first game of Combat Commander I have ever played where the initiative card was never used!

This was my second game ever against Roger, and he is now 2-0. Maybe I'll even up the score next year, but that's never the point, really, at BGG Con. We chatted some more after the game and said our good-byes. Roger has become a good friend that I only see once a year at the Con and chat with on BGG Con quite a bit in our weekly GCL.

Thanks for the game, Rog!

Babe's Chicken!

After our game, I packed up, and met Tim to load up the car. We checked out, loaded everything up, and as is our annual tradition, we went to lunch before Tim dropped me off at the airport.

Last year we went to Babe's Chicken and really enjoyed it, so we decided to go again.

Babe's has really great home-style food. You basically order a meat (fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, grilled chicken, catfish, and one or two other choices) and then they bring a huge serving of that, along with all their sides, which are bottomless. With our bellies full, and all accounts settled, we headed over to the airport.

As we were pulling up to the drop-off, I got a notice that my flight had been delayed. I went ahead and checked my bags, and one of them was over-weight by 5 pounds. So I opened the luggage and took out two of the games, which got me under the limit. I had to carry them around with me and onto the plane, but it saved me $50, so I'm not complaining.

The flight eventually left, and while I was on the flight, I read the rules and looked over the cards for Greenland. It seems like it'll be a fun solo game to get to the table eventually.

Final Thoughts

Another Con has come and gone, and I am always surprised at how fast the time goes. I have found that if I don't have games scheduled, I typically end up wasting my time, so I think next year I might try just a bit more scheduling. The exhibitor's halls, as busy as they were, just weren't piquing my interest. The games I was interested in, I already owned, or the exhibitors were sold out of them.

Wargaming at the Con has always been great - mainly because of the meet-up geeklist that let's us plan our games. Next year I think I might like playing a couple more train games. I always try to schedule one, but I have about a 50% success rate actually having the game come together.

It's a great convention . . . and if there's any wargamers out there that are thinking about coming, do it. The first year is fun, but the second and third years get better and better as you meet friends and develop a sort of "core group" of players.

Thanks a lot Aldie for doing this every year. It's probably my most-anticipated event of the year . . . Santa ain't got nothing on you guys! Now if we could somehow just add an extra day . . .
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