Talus's BGG.Con Post-Mortem
- JT CallUnited States
CAVEAT EMPTOR: For those only interested in the games (and not the experience), skip to the geeklist below!Recommend
Flew into Texas late Tuesday evening. Dropped off my stuff, met my roomie, and headed downstairs to mingle at about 10pm. I met up with Dave Howell (the creator of PennyGems) in the Hobby conference room and picked up our custom Imperial Harvest pennygem stickers. While I stickered, I overheard Tom Vassel and a few of the big name publishers/designers discuss their experiences with Kickstarter, Game Salute, the creation of Dice Tower Essentials, and the success of publishers like Michael Mindes of Tasty Minstrel Games. Small world.
Mark, my CFO and brother-in-law, arrived around midnight, so I helped him unpack and we went to bed around 1am.
Mark and I got to the back of the convention line around 8am and spent the next two hours handing out promo baggies (with candy and an exclusive character for our game). We handed out about 500 of those before the line started moving, after which we each got to grab some free games (between the two of us, we got Caveman Curling, For the Win!, Milestones, and Money). We immediately went back up to our rooms, glanced at the promos in our convention bag, and sprinted back downstairs for open gaming. We played For the Win!, then stopped it half-way through when someone stopped by and asked to play our game. We did a 3-player game of Imperial Harvest and saw Lindsey and Clyde just as we were finishing up. Clyde had purchased a copy of Sheriff of Nottingham at his FLGS and brought it for me (just in case they sold out at the Arcane Wonders booth). Us four played that game, and I really enjoyed it. We next played 3 games of ONUW: Daybreak followed by Prohis. After that, we said farewell to Lindsey and Clyde for a bit, grabbed a late lunch/early dinner, and checked out all the exhibition booths. Unfortunately, we neglected to use our "vendor bingo" cards, but we still had a good time visiting every vendor stall at the convention. I picked up some promos for Sheriff of Nottingham and tried to drum up some interest in getting someone to teach us Genoa, Archipelago, Tomorrow, or Imperial Settlers.
As the evening wore on, we reconnected with sailingchris and her friend (I forget his name, but he was a nice guy). We all ended up playing a 4-player game of Imperial Harvest and then one of the games from our card game 8 Kingdoms. After the game, Mark and I hunted down Lindsey and found her in the Werewolf rooms (in the middle of a game). Mark was feeling tired from his 20 hour drive so I dropped him off in our room (where he proceeded to fill more promo bags before going to bed). I stayed up for a few more hours, played 2 games of werewolf, then was accosted by a large gentleman intent on teaching me the games in the physical theater (this was around 2:30am). After declining to play Dominant Species with him in the morning, I eventually extricated myself and went to bed around 3am.
After trying the Hyatt Regency breakfast buffet (it was meh), Mark and I tottered off to get a copy of Genoa and see if anyone was up for a game. As everyone was busy (or still sleeping), we checked out the open gaming area and volunteered ourselves for a game of Die Zwerge (a German mashup of Pandemic and a dwarven dungeon crawl...but more like Pandemic). We never would have played it had a translator not been on hand, but the 5-player game was delightful. Afterward, we decided we should play Northstar's new game Evolution (their first foray into the hardcore gaming realm; we had also promised to help teach the game on Saturday afternoon, so we decided we should learn it more thoroughly). During our last round, Lindsey asked if we would like to meet up for lunch. We said yes but, after realizing Lindsey's group would be eating outside the hotel, we chose to decline in favor of grabbing something quick and playing some more games.
After grubbing, we went over to Portal Games' table and had Ignacy teach us a quick 3-round version of Imperial Settlers. Mark and I really enjoyed it (the economic engine reminded me of 7 Wonders but without the card drafting mechanic...more granular). That said, it was still very different from 7 Wonders. I think I liked it better, too. Hard to say since we didn't play the full game, and I've heard the last few rounds really drag on because there is so much going on at that point.
After Imperial Settlers, we decided it would be worthwhile to grab a copy of Genoa from the library and set it up in anticipation of Lindsey getting back from lunch. Clyde wasn't available yet, though, so Lindsey, Mark, and I opted to play King of Tokyo and Cheaty Mages. Both games were new to us, and Mark made an Amazon impulse buy based on the certainty that King of Tokyo was simple enough that our wives could play it (yet deep enough that we would not hate playing it). We also really enjoyed Cheaty Mages...even more than King of Tokyo. Very surprised, but also delighted by the well-balanced bluffing element and hand management. Never would have played the latter if it weren't for Lindsey, so many thanks to her for introducing it to us.
After we said goodbye to Lindsey, we ran into sailingchris and Eskmoe. Both wanted to play Tragedy Looper, so I offered to play as Mastermind (having played the first mission via PBF, I felt reasonably confident about my ability to teach the game). Eskmoe had to take a work call, though, and then Clyde meandered over to our table. Consequently, we ended up having Clyde host as Mastermind and we all played the 2nd mission together. When Lindsey came back from dinner, we had hoped to play Genoa but (in Lindsey's words): "I've had too much alcohol [for] Genoa." In the end, we played two games of The Resistance, then Mark and I said our farewells and went to go play Lords of Waterdeep (one of my favorites) in open gaming. When we finished, Mark and I bummed around for a bit, checked out the games in the physical theater, then played Tiny Epic Kingdoms with some folks. Lots of fun, though we ended up going to bed late again (around 2am).
Skipped breakfast and went straight to our demo table in the Maverick Foyer (just past the BGG library). This was to be our first day doing "officially sanctioned" demos for Imperial Harvest. We had the spot reserved from 10am—2pm, but the area did not get much foot traffic (everyone tended to stop at the library and not come farther down the hall). Some of the other game designers showcasing their games even farther down the hall offered to play our game. That went well, and we reciprocated by playing some of their games, but we still only had a handful of regular convention goers stop by our table. But you've got to start somewhere, and those that did hear our pitch and/or play our game all said they really enjoyed it. We even had a fellow from the Dice Tower news network (I think he was with Today in Boardgames) stop by and check out the game. He seemed to really like it and said he would help us out when it came time to market ourselves more broadly.
We started to close up shop around 2:15, and Val Texeiras (who I have seen in the BGG online forums) stopped by and asked to play our game. We were starving, but of course we would never say no to a prospective fan, so we played a good 2-player game and said farewell to Val around 3:00. By then Mark and I were starving, so we decided to try out the Hard Eight (based on Lindsey and Chris's recommendations)...and it was AWESOME. First time trying authentic Texas barbecue, and I had a brisket sandwich with spicy apple cider barbecue sauce. OMG. Delicious.
We did not get back to the open gaming room until about 6pm, so we decided to play a few more games of Sheriff of Nottingham while we waited for the 8pm poker tournament. That went well (I pulled out a 155 point victory over some mid 70s and 50s), though poker was less successful (Mark and I survived the first culling, but were knocked out about 1.5 hours into the tourney. Fortunately for us, that gave us the opportunity to try and find folks for Genoa again, and this time we were successful! We started a little after 10pm and didn't finish until almost 3am...but I loved it. Definitely my favorite heavy-weight negotiation game. 2 hours in, I thought I had gotten knocked out, but then I found some strategies for gaining traction and I ended up in a close third place. I think I'll do much better next time around, but I fear I will never get to play the game again unless it is at another convention.
Saturday morning, I sent Mark to play Imperial Harvest in the demo area and I tried to find folks to play the game in the open gaming area (doubling down on our demo efforts). For some reason, we got a lot more people at our table that day, so Mark got to pitch to a few dozen new folks and sat down to play with about half that number. I played with one fellow in the open gaming area, then went back to help Mark with the new influx of players. Several came over because of the advertisement in our promo goodie bag, and a game publisher from a war gaming magazine said he was looking for a game just like Imperial Harvest. I think he would have asked to publish it had we not explicitly stated our intent to publish the game ourselves, but it was still nice to hear of his interest.
Around noon, Dave Howell stopped by our table to see his pennygems in action. He seemed pretty excited to see his wares used so overtly in a game (not just as an accessory). Dave invited us to lunch at the Slow Bone, and Mark and I agreed (not knowing that it was a half-hour away from the hotel). We packed up a bit early and met Dave there along with an employee from Geek Chic. We had a good lunch (though not quite as good as the Hard Eight) and then I said goodbye to Mark (he was driving home while I was flying out Sunday morning).
When I got back to the convention, I spent an hour or two trolling around the ballroom as I checked out all the games being played. Colt Express caught my eye, but I did not get a chance to try it. I eventually settled at a table with an open seat and listened to the results of the raffle (side note: some guy proposed to his girlfriend as part of the crokinole raffle; pretty geekin' sweet proposal).
After the raffle, I dashed over to the elevators to play Two Rooms and a Boom. I played three games with hardly any special characters before deciding I would rather play Werewolf until things got more interesting (I was Blue Team Member each time). I came back later on and played another game with lots of special roles and only 2 vanilla roles...but guess who got Blue Team Member once again? That's right. *this guy* My fifth game I got the Red Alien role (formerly Red Bodysnatcher) and I got six or seven cards before the end of the game. After that, I went back to play some more Werewolf and got to play with Lindsey, some other WW regulars, and Jeff (the BGG admin who was running the convention). I was a wolf cub and he was one of the wolves (along with three guys who were very drunk). Despite some absolutely horrible plays by the drunk wolves, we somehow managed to pull out a win. I decided to call it a night after that, though I did run into Eskmoe playing Colt Express near the staircase. We chatted for a bit, then I headed up to bed. My flight left at 9:20am, so I was rolling out of the hotel around 8:00am, wishing I still had a few more days of gaming, but also happy to be heading back to see my family.
- [+] Dice rolls