It's the people, stupid - A ConnCon 2015 Geeklist . . .
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Another March, another ConnCon, and as usual it did not disappoint.

35 plays of 27 different games, of which 12 were new to me. But that's not important right now. What matters - as usual - is the amazing atmosphere, the charming small scale feel of the thing that continues to exist despite the Con growing rapidly year by year.

The ghosts of ConnCons past:

My life as the Prettiest Princess - A ConnCon 2014 Geeklist
"It's fun having a Gola shaped whipping boy." - A ConnCon 2013 Geeklist
50 hours abusing Joe Gola - A ConnCon 2012 Geeklist
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1. Board Game: Between Two Cities [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:480]
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FRIDAY

Up at 6am to take my daughter to Kindergarten, bid my wife a fond farewell for the weekend, and hop the rails to Grand Central, and Stamford beyond. Always a reasonably quick ride, I fell through the page of John Fowles' The Magus as I travelled - in hindsight, the untruths and uncertainties of the novel proved a powerful juxtaposition to the artlessness and honesty of the next 52 hours.

As usual, I arrived in plenty of time to check in, unpack my suitcase and pack my messenger bag with the games I would need for the day, and grab a bite of brunch before my first slot.

And, also as usual, once I was done with food there was still time to mingle and play before that 1pm scheduled game.

I am always happy to game with Phil since we have a similar taste in games and alcohol, and he as much as anybody epitomizes the laidback, fun-first vibe that I love so much about this convention - nothing is ever a problem when gaming with Phil.

So I joined him in a four-player game of Between Two Cities, the game that he was pimping for the weekend as some semi-official KickStarter ambassador. There were two rookies and two ringers in the game, which set up quickly and attractively (despite our using a PnP build, not the finished product) and which Phil quickly and aptly explained.

I am almost 3 months into a self-imposed game buying moratorium, so have not been following Kickstarter the way I have in past years. If I had I am quite sure I would have backed this quicker, smaller faster cousin of 7 Wonders. It did exactly what it was supposed to do without even beginning to outstay its welcome, and I can imaging calling "One more!" regularly on finishing a game of BTC.

The two ringers doubled up on the rookie scores, Phil pipping his victim by a single point.

Good people, and a good start.
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2. Board Game: Tiny Epic Kingdoms [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:990]
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My first scheduled slot was TEK, run by Erik, and since the slot was overbooked ConnCon boardgame czar Mark had asked me to bring my copy along as well so as to accommodate more players.

In the end, six of us showed up to play this 20 minute 4X gem, including my neighbor, Chris, who I had finally talked into coming to Connecticut.

[There was mention of stalking in another ConnCon GeekList, so I feel I should set the record straight. Soon after we moved into our apartment about 5 years ago, I noticed a stack of Dominion Expansion boxes in the floor's communal recycling bin. Realizing that there was likely a genuine Board Game Geek in one of the 16 other apartments on our floor, I kept an eye out for likely suspects. A few weeks later, I noticed Chris' heading back down the hall when heading to drop off my own garbage. When I got to the recycling room, I spotted what I immediately recognized were the remains of the Small World punch outs. When, the next day, I introduced myself in the elevator to Chris' girlfriend with, "This is going to sound really weird, but, are you guys boardgamers?", a beautiful friendship was begun.

Even after my response to her, "Yes - how did you know that?" was a truthful if creepy, "I saw your recycling . . ."]

Erik ran through the rules quickly and cleanly - except for the bit about warring, which always seems to take up far more time than it deserves - and two tables of three were patrolling and building, questing and researching in no time at all.

Both tables played two games each, randomizing races and lands between each play, and I finished in 3rd in back to back contests. Probably due to my irrational insistence on trying to win without the Tower . . .

I like this game a lot, despite my obvious blind spot, and am excited to try out all many of the various combos.
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3. Board Game: Cypher [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:4450]
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Cypher was sitting on the Play to Win table, so I roped in John McD to play it and maybe win it. I'm a sucker for these little card-only minigames from AEG and was curious to find one that didn't appear to be modelled on the basic Love Letter mechanic.

The tiny drafting play that the rules trigger here feel fresh, and the game has surprising depth once you have a sense of the cards available in the (19 strong) deck.

It even seemed to work reasonably well in this two-player filler slot. I was happy to be the first to throw my name in the hat for this one.
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4. Board Game: BraveRats [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1817]
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Having teased with Cypher, I pulled out my Secret Santa copy of BraveRats and taught it to John. Two plays later, I realized we were at a game convention with all the meaty goodness we could eat, and we were filling up on the microwave popcorn that we could get in front of the TV at home.

It was time to mingle, time to find new games.

I didn't know it yet, but it was time for a run in with this guy:
I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
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Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
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5. Board Game: Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:2401]
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Anyone who spent any amount of time in Chit Chat (or certain other dark corners of the Geek that we don't like to talk about in polite company) a certain number of years back will have been aroused-appalled by this avatar many, many time, more or less involuntarily. Steve was ubiquitous for a long time, and now after several years of threats and a move halfway across the country, here he was in all his glory.

I can't be the only one over the years who has been appalled-aroused that he in fact looks nothing like his avatar.

He was sitting with Erik and his girlfriend, Maren (Steve's girlfriend, not Erik's. I have to clarify this or I'll have Eggie on me . . . ) in front of a hugely thematic and completely impractical and unnecessary wrestling ring and in very short order we were chucking dice - as much at each other it seemed as into the ring - high fiving, yelling and strutting around the room.

No to mention laughing. A LOT . . .

It was so much fun when Steve's Ay Ay Ay Delores pinned Erik's wrestler that we had to do it again immediately, this time roping in Jeff, one of Steve Jackson's Men In Black. Everybody switched wrestlers except for Steve who was having far to much fun with his bad (female) Mexican accent and we did it again.

And again.

I backed and own this game, but have barely punched it yet. That needs to change now - I'm pretty sure this will be one of the few games I drag to the bar for my birthday bash next month.

I love decisions and tension in my gaming. I love skill and subtlety.

But most of all I love laughing until my sides hurt and my eyes need wiping, and that's why I keep coming back to ConnCon and games like Luchador.
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6. Board Game: Mars Attacks: The Dice Game [Average Rating:5.93 Overall Rank:5213]
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We weren't done with stupid dice games so, while Chris joined us at the table, Jeff did his job by suggesting we play Mars Attacks Dice using the subtle tactic of setting up the game and starting to explain the rules before anyone was quite sure what was going on.

We didn't mind.

Steve responded to every bad roll with, "See. This game is broken."

We laughed.

I told everybody once more how much dice hate me, chose the goal card that required lots of the symbol which otherwise triggers the bust and nailed it. Hilarity ensued.

Turns out that that was the only one of that type of goal city we saw, so that was the end of the scoring for me, but there was plenty of "Ack. Ackackack" -ing, and once again the game did not outstay its welcome.
 
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7. Board Game: Zombie Dice 3: School Bus [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked]
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Apparently still not done with stupid dice games, and with about 20 minutes to kill, Zombie Dice plus School Bus Expansion was floated and approved.

I've mentioned dice hate me, right? I have? Oh, good.

I was sitting on a big zero - through no especially risky decisions on my part - when the end game was triggered. When my first roll showed a pair of shotguns, no one was surprised.

With nothing to lose, I kept rolling. And rolling.

And rolling!

And of course, after racking up an 11 point tally I would have been glad to keep just 2 minutes earlier, I threw like 3 or 4 shotguns in a single glorious roll and, still giggling, it was time for dinner.
 
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8. Board Game: Billionaire Banshee [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:4472] [Average Rating:6.40 Unranked]
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I backed Billionaire Banshee when it was being Kickstarted, and was very impressed with the way designer Razlo worked his way through setbacks and delays by communicating with backers as keeping us informed. When I realized he was based in the NorthEast, I invited him to ConnCon.

Unable to come himself - due to other Cons on the prior and next weekend, I believe - Razlo donated a copy to the Play to Win. I had been hearing good buzz about the game all morning. So when we sat down with our plates of meatballs, wings and cheese I was excited to crack open my own copy.

Explaining the rules raised curious, questioning eyebrows - where was the "game" in this game? - but very quickly we were making assumptions about friends and former strangers, their kinks and turnoffs, and on one memorable occasion being unconscionably mean about Erik's family . . .

Did I mention, it's the people, stupid? Well, it sure doesn't hurt when the people in question aren't afraid to act stoopid . . .
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9. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:210]
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Fed and beered, it was time for my first teaching slot.

I was running a 50+ year old game on an almost 40-year old board (70s era AH edition) to a pair of complete neophites and a pair who, like me, had not played in a while.

I explained the ridiculously simple rules - play a tile, buy up to three stocks, draw a tile - as well as the end game trigger, and tried to describe the nuance of the rules for what happens as chains grow and merge, how mergers are the only way to replenish cash, and we were off.

I am reminded every time I play how much I love this game. And with no dice in sight, I have no one but myself to blame for my uninspired third place finish.

I am pretty sure everyone else enjoyed this play as much as I did. There was none of the near-delirious laughter of much of the earlier events of the day, but there was focus and table talk and cerebral enjoyment.

Also at times some quite colorful threats and trash talk.

It's just not ConnCon until someone has cursed you out immediately after you make a move. It is not a successful ConnCon until someone has done this to you in a supposedly genteel game like Acquire . . .
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10. Board Game: Cypher [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:4450]
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Two more plays of Cypher, this time able to see it's full effect with a player on either side to pass to, confirmed that it is an interesting little brainmasher which I'd be happy to play again.

Despite attempting to play illegally three different ways on my last turn, I was unable to pull out a win. I didn't flip the table, but I may have refused to put the game away.

I don't feel too bad about this since, as I already mentioned, the whole thing consists of a small handful of cards . . .
 
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11. Board Game: Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:451]
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With plenty of time still before the late night slot, Molnar - knowing my love of Abstracts - tempted me with the description of Tash-Kalar as "a Euro that plays like an Abstract, except when it's an Abstract that plays like a Euro."

The description was pretty apt.

Rules quickly internalized, we were soon playing combinations of checkers down onto the board in an attempt to create the patterns in the cards in our hand in order to summon bigger and better checkers, and blow up the checkers already on the board.

I'm sure the checkers were supposed to represent something, but Abstracts.

Despite plying me with multiple bottles of tasty, tasty ginger beer, I was eventually triumphant, managing to summon some abstract thing on enough arbitrary squares to collect the required number of indiscriminate points to claim a victory before either deck ran out.

Despite my chrome-snark, I really enjoyed this one, and I always enjoy beating Molnar, as it is a rare enough occurrence . . .

Added to my Wishlist.
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12. Board Game: Two Rooms and a Boom [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:752]
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I really don't enjoy party games.

[As an aside, I really enjoy Dixit, ergo Dixit is not a party game.]

That said I don't necessarily love dice games, and I'd had a blast with those all day. So, with nothing else screaming out to me in the 11.30pm slot I joined Joe McD and 30 or so of his closest friends in this bluffing / deduction / making it up as you go along game.

I was a lowly Blue supporter of the President, as I solemnly proclaimed to anyone who asked. I was a little surprised when I realized that we could actually show each other our allegiances, but after confirming one or two co-patriots I stopped whipping it out each time I was asked.

At the very start of the very first turn, I suggested that the first person given a card begin as Leader of our room.

Of course she turned out to be the Bomber.

With all the card-revealing that went on early, lines were drawn quickly and it was clear that Red outnumbered Blue in our room. A vote to shift the leadership to Dustin - a confirmed Blue - was shouted down, then it was time to send over hostages.

The Leader sent all Reds.

Needless to say, True Blue Dustin was voted to the Leadership in short order and never relinquished the lanyard.

And then pretty much nothing happened for a couple more rounds, at least as far as I was concerned. When Dustin sent the Bomber away with the last exchange while keeping the President safe with us, I wasn't clear how he had figured it out.

I think people had a good time with this one. Just not me . . .

When they started setting up another play, I slipped back to the ballroom.
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13. Board Game: Coconuts [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:759] [Average Rating:7.08 Unranked]
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Where Erik, Mike, Jess and co. were just finishing up a game of pickup Coconuts - an almost rule free variant with no cards or nut limits, just an endless round robbing of monkeys flinging game pieces that make Through the Desert camels look inedible.

With each shot, Jess was narrating a piece of commentary from the NBA Jam series.

Someone left their monkey - I was onto bourbon by now - and I joined in. At which point the commentary grew subtly weirder. Jess was no longer quoting lines from NBA Jam, but from a Twitter account which posts fake commentary.

It was exactly as creepy and hilarious as it sounds.

We started trying to have our moneys fling their nuts into drinks instead of the game cups, so it was something of a relief when someone ostensibly won by collecting their 6th cup . . .
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14. Board Game: Billionaire Banshee [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:4472] [Average Rating:6.40 Unranked]
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Apparently we hadn't busted enough guts, so Billionaire Banshee came back out.

Late night BB is much like late nigh CAH - what's said at the table (for the most part) stays at the table.

But suffice to say the group was seriously split on the concept of dating a Merman or Maid, regardless how cool the Perk.
 
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15. Board Game: Cards Against Humanity [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:2469] [Average Rating:6.08 Unranked]
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It was after 2am by now, and people had switched to more or less neat vodka, so I headed bedwards. But on my way to bed I ran into a table full of people I like (always a danger at ConnCon) playing CAH. And I stayed, and laughed, for two more hours.

It's almost not fair pulling the Pretty Pretty Princess card in such a situation. Doubly so if you are the reigning champ. It kind of doesn't matter what the Black Card reads . . .

When others started passing out at the table, with my sides sore from 17 hours of laughing, it was time for bed.
 
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16. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:224]
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SATURDAY

Up at 10am, shower and food and who should I run into but Gola, Caleb and Dave Regan - partners in crime at many a previous ConnCon. They were finishing up a game of something Knizia-esqe, and were up for more of the same.

Never one to turn down either Modern Art or a chance to play with these guys, I asked to be dealt in.

I warned them. Over and over again during bidding rounds I told them that they were handing the game to Regan. (Of course, in each case I was doing it to maximize my own profit, but SHHHHH, I am certain that they didn't see through my careful ruse.)

Of course, when all was said and done, I had overplayed my hand of one particular artist (who failed to score at all) and was back in 4th place.

Of course, despite my warnings, Dave had run away with it.

In these sorts of games (much as in Acquire the day before) I like to soothe all but the most miserable of losers that, although Dave fared best, the rest of us had still parlayed $100m into three and four times that amount.
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17. Board Game: The Agents [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:2237]
 
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Time for another teaching slot, this one a sort of reprise of one of the big winners of ConnCon 214 - The Agents.

Or more specifically, The Agents Returned.

While I love the gameplay of the Classic edition, many people were put off by the slow and tight opening ("Seriously, are we not bringing back phrasing?") and the screwage of the rule stating you "must" activate and action if able.

So the second edition included a set of Mark II rules (as well as a different card mix) which is must more friendly to card cycling and changes the "must" to "may". I was happy to try out the new version.

We played a vanilla four-player game which ended with a first timer pipping me to the 50-point win condition with a perfect final play, then went straight into a three-player game with the Special Agents and Mission Critical expansions which essentially just add more of the same without any new mechanics. This time, although both opponents had opportunities to try and get there first, I was able to survive ending my previous turn on 49 points and claim the win.

I love this game. I'm not really sure I care which edition I play, it just works. It looks distinctive from across the room with the diagonal rows of cards, and stunning close up with Danny Morisons iconic art. The gameplay is simple yet deep, endlessly expandable, and the various rulesets and "Break the Rule" cards allow for it to be tailored to almost any group.

One of my favorite games.
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18. Board Game: Baseball Highlights: 2045 [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:365]
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From one ConnCon 2014 favorite to another.

I played this with Ralph last year while the Kickstarter was going on, and immediately backed it. The game arrived a few weeks back and is even better than I had remembered, even including excellent solo rules. When I heard there would be a tournament this year, I was quick to sign up.

The Tournament rules were another value added upgrade to the game, and they make for a fascinating experience. Each set of four players would share a box (and a Free Agent deck), playing a nine-game series with a buy round between each mini-game to determine seeding for a knockout bracket (as well as build your team for the rest of the tourney.)

Chris and I squared off, and my experience with the game quickly showed as I ran out to a lead and stayed there. That is not to say each game was a blowout - we had two extra inning games, one of which was scoreless through the regulation 6 - and the one grand slam of the series came from Chris in one of his 3 wins.

We were excited to go on to the knockout stage, especially Chris who had drafted the most expensive squad of anyone in the Tourney, but a scheduling snafu meant that the judges dinner and another highly anticipated event were calling.

I understand the rest of the Tourney went off well, despite a number of people having to bail. The eventually Champion was designer Mike Fitzgerald, who graciously ceded his prize (a copy of the game) to his vanquished runner up.

I really believe that BH 2045 is a sleeper for best game of 2015. Despite the baseball theme it is an exquisite deckbuilder with plenty of variety and scalability built right in, and despite it boardgame-y pedigree, it evokes serious baseball immersion for those who are looking for such a thing.

So what on Earth would drag me away from playing more of it?
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19. Board Game: Reiner Knizia's Decathlon [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:2976]
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Has anyone noticed how seriously Erik takes his Tournaments? From Halloween Crokinole to late night Schnapp, when Erik puts together an event, I take note.

When BGG first implemented its dice roller, Erik, Gola, Caleb and I played a number of games of Knizia's Decathlon. At some point someone pointed out that we would all be at ConnCon together, and this somewhat annual event was born.

The first year was epic, but dice hate me. My saving grace was that they hate Gola more. (For the record, the dice roller is not real dice, so I do very well here on BGG, thank you . . .)

The next year the turnout was much larger - in part because Erik takes his tournaments seriously and had medals and dice made for the Win, Place and Show-ers - and it was agreed the game took too long and lost much of its edge. (Also, I failed to get my hands on one of those medals, again.)

So last year, no Decathlon. The people howled.

Erik takes his tournaments seriously, so he spent far too much time figuring out a solution.

And he nailed it.

17 competitors came, represented fake nations whose fags we were forced to draw and stick to flagpoles before we were allowed to begin. Erik and Eggie had theirs embroidered - three lobsters for the former and an eggplant for the latter. Erik even had a tracksuit in his national colors with "Dresnerystan" stitched over the pocket.

When it was time to begin, the top came off revealing a running tank top. Then he whipped off the tearaway track pants to reveal matching shorts.

Have I mentioned that Erik takes this stuff far too seriously?

Broken down into groups of four and five to speed up the play, Erik had also implemented a rules fix for the High Jump which worked perfectly. He'll be hearing from Herr Doktor's lawyers shortly.

With all the dice I'd been slinging this weekend, some of my stank had to rub off somewhere, and unfortunately it landed squarely on the poor teenager next to me in the heats. When he scored an unheard of (and seemingly impossible) negative 12 points on the very first event, I had a little tickle in the back of my brain, a thought that maybe, just maybe I might be able to medal this year.

The rounds continued with Jordan unable to dig himself out of the hole he had dug, while myself, Mike (no, not that one) and Jess (yes, that one) eyed each other warily.

Actually Jess, who had jumped out to an early lead, spent more time beautifying her flag than concentrating on the events, and halfway through I had a small but growing lead.

Not needing to push, I did nothing to offend the dice, and they were kind.

When the dust settled, I had won the heat with 215 point, Mike and Jess finished in the high 190s, and Jordan was rewarded for his World Record low score of 160 with a frown-y face medal.

The dice gremlin had passed from me to another!

As the other heats finished, it became clear that I had had it easy in my group - my 215 would have been on the bubble for not making the final event if I had not won the group. Everywhere else were tense races and howls of anguish at every roll.

Except from Joe McD, who it seemed could do no wrong - including a perfect, World Record score of 30 in one event. The howls of anguish in that group were coming from Erik, seemingly every time Joe threw.

Soon the four group leaders and the four highest scoring "also rans" were announced, and it was time to get serious.
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20. Board Game: 26.2: The Marathon Dice Game [Average Rating:6.42 Unranked]
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Erik takes his tournaments seriously. So seriously that he designed an entirely new game to be the final event of this one - 26.2. A marathon to close out the Decathlon.

Many of us at that final table had been involved in playtesting the game. I had fared very poorly in earlier plays, trying to run a very conservative race. Although I almost never busted, I always placed smack in the middle of the pack.

That wasn't going to cut it for a medal, so I tweaked the numbers in my head, adjusted the amount of risk I could stomach, and we were off.

As expected, my middling roll had me off the mark and off the pace, but not stuck on the start line like about half of the other runners. I would stick with my plan.

And as the race wore on, I found myself in a comfortable third, with a little water in reserve in case something went wrong. I never threw the big sprint that others pulled off, but I also did not bust, and was always in control. Only one roll forced a scary reroll, using four water tokens to try to avoid the bust, and when that roll was cleared, and the leader tripped, I found myself in second and a roll or two from the finish line.

The new leader finished with an absurd throw on her next turn - Linda had the Gold but I could smell a medal now. I waffled back and forth between a safe throw and a bigger one, and finally chose the latter.

A clean throw, and I had medaled!

But there was more drama to come. Chris had ended his turn just .2 miles from the Bronze. Erik was a way back, but in with a chance. Erik went big, Chris went small.

Erik blew by Chris at the line, with Chis showing a bust. Chris had been ready to take a pretty safe reroll in an attempt to just finish, but when he saw Erik's roll, he decided to go bigger.

The die came up 9 (a throw that would have won if he'd played it safe) and Chris busted. Clearly Erik tripped him as he passed him at the line.

But who cares? I got my medal!
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21. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:60]
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Throughout the race, I had been sitting next to Gola, who was in an "I love you, man" mood. Far from withholding my crappy beer (in a reference I wonder if anyone but me still gets) I plied him with Old Speckled Hen, which might have been a mistake.

Despite all the good natured stick that I (and others) give Joe online, in person he is simply one of the sweetest people alive. You'd never know it from the biting wit in his writing. Or how mean we all pretend to be to him.

All of which makes me feel terrible to mock him so, here.

Chris and Erik were excited to play Roll for the Galaxy again, and swore blind that they could teach and play in under half an hour to anyone who already understood Race. Gola and Molnar joined us and we were away.

Soon after the first round, Gola begged off, saying he hadn't really taken in the rules. Which greatly confused Erik and Chris, since Gola had been in their earlier slot and played multiple games with them . . .

He stumbled from the table, amiably drunk, and wandered off not to be seen until next time.

[Sorry, man.]

Soon after Loter announced that they would need our table for Pretty Pretty Princess. At which point Erik took off to change from his track suit to his tube top and tutu . . .

Very soon after that, Chris took us to 12VP and game.

Much like Race, I think I'm going to be able to take or leave this one. Mostly leave. It's a game that rewards many repeated plays (which I approve of) but punishes those who are less familiar with the tiles (which I do not.)

I always feel like I am far behind the curve in the . . . Galaxy games.
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22. Board Game: Pretty Pretty Princess [Average Rating:4.31 Overall Rank:15554]
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When people asked me if I would be defending my PPP crown from last year, I told them I was retiring undefeated since I didn't want to make the other Princesses cry. After watching the opening PPP ceremonies, and still feeling the 6am start and 4am finish from the day before, I slipped upstairs and into bed.

From all accounts, this was absolutely the right decision . . .
 
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23. Board Game: Pushee Pieces [Average Rating:6.90 Unranked]
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SUNDAY

Up again for shower and buffet, and it was time for another annual highlight - John McD's No Saving Throw, Abstract Strategy fest. With three of wanting to get our theme free freak on, I pulled out my recently acquired copy of Pushee Pieces and explained the simple rules to John and Molnar.

The rules may be simple - place a piece in an empty square, resolve pushes - but the action on the board was anything but. With each placement causing up to three tiers of pushes, there is plenty of depth and seemingly lots to explore here. The game worked well with three (not always the case with perfect information efforts) and will clearly be a completely different experience with two.

I enjoyed my first play - which was a close win for me - and I think the others did, too.
 
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24. Board Game: Pacru [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:8106]
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Since there were still three of us, John busted out his copy of Pacru. This game has been on my radar so longer, I no longer remembered exactly why!

John explained that there are three different games playable with the Pacru set, and set about teaching us the simplest on, which we quickly decided was like a really slow version of the arcade game Tron.

Despite having one of my three "bikes" gridlocked within just a couple of moves, I was able to maximize the moves of other two into a surprising win. Going in, I was afraid that this would be as incomprehensible to me as Amazons - another shrinking board game at which I am truly terrible - but with the limited movement and fewer pieces I was able to parse the possibilities here to a far greater degree.

It stays on my Wishlist.
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25. Board Game: Lines of Action [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:2585]
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Lisa S had finished whatever Euro she was playing and came to join us in combinatorial land. She didn't have a lot of time, but jumped at the chance for us to play a rare game together when I told her it played in 20-30 minutes . . .

I recently traded for a copy of Lines of Action from the 80s and am always happy to teach this absolute gem.

I love seeing the lights go on in opponents as they figure out the movement and capturing mechanic here - there really is nothing else quite like it out there. And them the excitement of realizing that they already own it, since it is fully playable with only a checkers set . . .

I won quite comfortably, but as I explained I got crushed in my first dozen or more games yet kept coming back since there is something so alluring about it. The fact that consensus of "best play" seems to still be shifting is another great sign that this 40+ year old design is exceptionally crafted.

I always enjoy getting to play with the Sutherlands, excellent opponents who are enthusiastic and tons of fun. Maybe next year I'll get in a game with Don, too?
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