Brettspillfest på Fredriksten 2015
Jason Woodburn
Norway
Halden
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The fourth annual board gaming event held here in Halden, Norway. Last year the festival moved out of the city center and up the hill to a cafe (with adjoining rooms) in the fortress that overlooks the town. It's a cozy and charming environment, and a fine chance for board gaming enthusiasts to get together.

Attendance seemed about the same as last year. I think there were around 16 on Friday night, and I would guess between 20 and 30 on Saturday. There were tournaments in Kampen Om Fredriksten (the setting of which is the very fortress we were gaming in), Pitch Car, and Doodle City, none of which I participated in. I'm usually more interested in playing some new games and meeting new people, or re-connecting with people I don't see very often, all of which I managed to do.

Overall, a great time and a highlight of my gaming year. It might be nice if we could convince a few more people to attend...
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1. Board Game: Orcs Orcs Orcs [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:3299]
Jason Woodburn
Norway
Halden
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I arrived a little after the stated start time on Friday, running into Chris (razorspo) on my way in. We walked up to the cafe, chatting about his language class. There weren't too many other people there yet, but soon we were joined by Kristian (Anaesthetic) and Jarle (Charlie Norsk). Kristian was interested in Orcs Orcs Orcs, as he hadn't played it yet. It was also new to Jarle. We had a pretty entertaining game, with a general agreement that the card play was interesting. Jarle emerged victorious after managing to Lightning Bolt a lot of 4-strength red monsters.
 
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2. Board Game: ZhanGuo [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:396]
Jason Woodburn
Norway
Halden
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This was annother recent game that Chris and I had played, but Kristian and Jarle hadn't and were interested in. This was my third time playing, but first time teaching, and sadly I struggled to present the mechanics in a streamlined fashion. Primarily, some of the interactions in the different ways cards are played (to the player board as bonuses or to the main board to take actions) took a while to sink in. That said, once we did manage to get going the game went pretty smoothly and Kristian ended up winning with a healthy lead over Jarle, who was also well ahead of me. One misgiving I have about this game is that it requires so much attention to your own planning that it's hard to pay attention to what other people are doing - especially the bonuses they are getting from played cards. In the end, although Kristin won by quite a bit, I couldn't tell you what actions he took that differentiated his play from that of the rest of us. Still, an interesting game and a pretty good time.
 
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3. Board Game: Samurai Spirit [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:981]
Jason Woodburn
Norway
Halden
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It was fairly late in the evening and other games had finished, leaving us a combined group of six. Our host, Aasmund (Ozzy 1974), was happy to get this to the table, which was new to most of us, myself included. I think perhaps we were a bit too tired, as it was noteable that aspects of cooperative play, most importantly the support actions, were under-utilized (in my opinion). We ended up losing in the second round, which would have probably happened however we played, as two of us failed to draw any cards with the family symbol to defend with. I thought this was ok, but it the way we lost really felt as though there was nothing we could have done about it, which wasn't very impressive to me. I would try this again with a group that was more alert, but I won't be seeking out further plays.
 
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4. Board Game: Alchemists [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:80]
Jason Woodburn
Norway
Halden
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I arrived shortly after the start time and ended up being the first one there, aside from Aasmund. He had this out and was going over the components, hoping to get it set up and played as soon as enough people arrived. It took a while for people to trickle in, but we ended up getting this on the table with Kristian and Jarle rounding out the group. The game was fairly enjoyable, and definitely had some unique and interesting aspects, including the way you have to pay attention to what other people are doing and the importance of jockeying for position in turn order. However, the amount of time it took for setup, explanation, and (especially) play time makes it unlikely that I will get to play this again (I would be amazed if I played it more than one more time in, say, the coming year). I certainly won't buy it, as it would be so hard to get to the table. I bought an artifact early which gave me an extra reputation every time I gained one. Early on, this seemed a poor move as I was initially behind on making and evaluating potions and gathering important information. In the end, it gained me quite a few points, but not enough. Kristian clearly grasped the concepts of deduction and scoring best, as he finished with a healthy lead over me, with Jarle a further point point behind.
 
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5. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:60]
Jason Woodburn
Norway
Halden
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James had arrived, bringing this with him. We chose this game because it plays five, but then Aasmund had to get up and we were four anyway. This worked a lot like the card game, and I had about the same feelings about it. I think we all enjoyed it enough, but it still has the feeling of multiplayer solitaire that the card game has, and wasn't different enough, for me, to merit picking it up. I'd play it again, but wouldn't seek it out. I think I was the only one that didn't get a bonus vp tile out, and consequently finished last with Kristian winning.
 
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6. Board Game: Five Tribes [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:52]
Jason Woodburn
Norway
Halden
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Geert (LilRed) and Paal-Thomas (HolyFrag) finally showed up. They had a friend along, Bente, and had picked out this game before I joined them. None of us had played it, so we went through the rules quickly, reviewed once,and started. In general, I think we were all fairly ignorant of the scoring opportunities until things started to really happen. Mostly, everyone was very focused on securing tiles, especially using the red pieces to pick up control. When the dust cleared, most of the yellow pieces were in Bente's control, guaranteeing her a sizeable bonus at the end of the game (especially considering most of the red pieces were gone). Geert had been very successful taking control of tiles and had added some palaces and palm trees. I managed to make a couple big scores from blue pieces and green pieces, resulting in a very large pile of cash. In the end I edged Geert by a few points with Bente's army of yellow pieces failing to carry her to victory. I like this game pretty well, and would gladly play again.
 
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7. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:22]
Jason Woodburn
Norway
Halden
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Aasmund joined us and we chose this as a five player, which all of us, I think, besides Bente had played last year at the same event. We did the intermediate scoring, which showed Bente in the lead by virtue of judicious use of all her cards before using the Tribune. Aasmund was in second, having skipped taking control of a brick city. I enjoy the choices presented by the card play in this game, and I also like how you can easily see how your actions affect others. Also, the tempo of the game is nice, with turns proceeding quickly. I picked up the cards for bonus vp for brick cities and cloth cities, and won fairly handily.
 
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8. Board Game: Medina (second edition) [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:887]
Jason Woodburn
Norway
Halden
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Geert left and it was getting late. Aasmund suggested this as a fairly light four player, and we got going. This game was over, in a sense, fairly quickly, maily due to our inexperience. Paal-Thomas and Bente both added to a purple city adjacent to the well, allowing me to grow it to 5 and cap it. This gave me three delay tiles which allowed me to get advantageous position, and also gave me the purple vp tile for the whole game. Bente focused on developing a couple cities with walls in the corners, while Aasmund and Paal-Thomas worked on stringing merchants in front of their cities. As the game wore on, I jumped in and drew the merchants down the alley between two of my palaces. Paal-Thomas and Bente used all of their building caps, and we entered the last few turns with me with one cap and Aasmund with two. I felt I couldn't play until he did, as the prospect of leaving him with the only two roof tops seemed dismal. In the end, the final 3 buildings were all fairly small, by virtue of Paal-Thomas starting them in positions that were disadvantageous to us. I don't think I *got* this game all the way, but I did end up winning, again based primarily on getting lucky with the way people played on the first turn. I'd like to try this again.
 
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9. Board Game: Imperial Settlers [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:129]
Jason Woodburn
Norway
Halden
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I arrived a little late on Sunday. There weren't as many people there, and those who were in attendance were already engaged. I sat around for a while until I saw Jarle's son putting this on the table. I asked to join, then Sverre, who was new to the game, also decided to play. The teaching for this game is fairly simple, although there are a small number of small exceptions and examples you have to be sure to point out. There were some expansion cards mixed into the game, so it was a bit different than I was used to. Sverre got off to a bit of a slow start with the Japanese, while Sølve started building a points scoring engine with some features and action buildings that allowed him to gain several vp's every time his Egyptians played a grey building. I was lagging behind with barbarians, but made steady progress. I was lucky enough to get a fair amount of production for extra raze tokens, followed by a couple of the raze vp feature buildings. Two of the 'raze your own common building' action buildings pulled me closer, and I almost caught up with a 'vp for every black building' building. Sølve stumbled a bit, drawing perhaps too many faction cards and ending up sacrificing faction buildings to build new ones, denying himself some endgame vp's. I had a huge last turn, razing 6 or 7 cards for 2-3 vp each and placing 4 or 5 faction buildings. In the end I managed to edge Sølve by a few points. I like the feeling of this game, and will generally happily play it. However, I do feel that one shortcoming of the game is that one player can end up playing for a long time after the others are finished, creating a fairly boring experience for them.
 
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10. Board Game: Blood Bound [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1789]
Jason Woodburn
Norway
Halden
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Forgot about this one. Kristian had this along and wanted to give it a try. I like playing games like this (many players, hidden roles, find and kill the leader)at big gatherings, as they inevitably draw in people I haven't previously met, and they are quite social. This was no exception, with 4 of the 11 being people I hadn't previously gamed with. It was fairly interesting, giving you some choices but still requiring a healthy amount of guesswork. I thought I had worked out who the Inquisitor was (I was right) and most of the other players, but my guesses were proved wrong when one of the players killed his own leader, not realizing that his card was one of the ones with a false color in the lower right hand corner (so he misunderstood which team he was on the whole time). We went back over the rules and abilities quickly, and played again, this time to a more interesting result, with both teams having 'ones' in play and switching the leader role to the highest player. It then came down to me leaping in front of our new leader and finishing off theirs to give us the win. Pretty fun, I would play again, maybe buy.
 
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