UsanaChris' Spring 2015 Hoopla - Welcome to Milwaukee (West Allis, WI)
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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The Gaming Hoopla is my favorite board game con of the year. It is a charitable event that has been going on for a number of years - raising money to fight cancer. All proceeds from the Gaming Hoopla go to the American Cancer Society through the Walworth County Relay For Life.

The con has moved locations a few times due to attendance growth - from the Lake Geneva and Janesville areas to its new location at the Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center - part of the State Fairgrounds - right off the interstate and minutes from downtown Milwaukee. There is plenty of room for growth and this is BY FAR the nicest location to host a Hoopla. Plenty of friendly gamers would like to see you there in 2016.

A big THANK YOU you for the generous support of the sponsors who donated to the Best Game Raffle and Play To Win Game Table. Including those named in the program:

Alderac Entertainment Group
APE Games
Asmodee
Greater Than Games (Dice Hate Me Games)
Floodgate Games
Gorilla Games
Grandpa Beck's Games
Greater Than Games (Sentinel Comics)
Game Salute
Indie Boards & Cards
Level 99 Games
Mr. B Games
North Star Games
R&R Games
Smirk & Dagger Games
Stonemaier Games
Stronghold Games
Tasty Minstrel Games
Z-Man Games
Grand Con (www.grand-con.com)
Fun Deco - Furnish/Organize/Play
Color Ink
Colosseum Games
ZipEtch Laser Engraving LLP

and any other companies or people I missed -- THANKS!

This is a game playing con. There were at least 150 scheduled events (Board Games, RPGs, mini's, etc) and numerous pick up games. The GC Game Library (yes, the Gen Con Library) run by Lee Maile had 100's of titles to check out.

On site food, on site housing, a silent auction, Guests of Honor (this year included Stephen and Dave from The Spiel, Ryan Metzler of The Dice Tower Reviews, and Adam P. McIver designer of Coin Age), special events and much more.

If you are within a 4 to 6 hour drive and at all curious, then you should really plan on coming out - mark it on your 2016 calendar now - April 22-24, 2016.

Visit www.gaminghoopla.com for more info on the con and Why We Hoopla.

This is a recap of my weekend.


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1. Board Game: Subway [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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First stop was the CTA Blue Line Cumberland stop to pick up a fellow gamer Eran S. for the car pool. Conversation flowed freely and we made great time. He recommended Waze as our GPS app and it proved useful since we avoided some of the construction.
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2. Board Game: Small World: Realms [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
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Event judge Jacob C. ran us through a 6 player game - we got through 7 of the 8 rounds and the winner (David C.) was really never in doubt. My first play with this expansion and it was a good time. Interesting to see how everyone could cross water, but not remain there.

Fun group of players included Marissa M., Dan C., David C, Aaron D and Erik - all of whom pre-registered so I can see their names in the event listing.
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3. Board Game: La Isla [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:730]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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I ran and participated in this 4 player game.

Thomas G., J.R. and I all battled it out in one section of the board while Tarah was left pretty much alone in the jungle and walked away with the victory. It is a card game and sometimes the cards get you, other times the other players get you.
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4. Board Game: Bruges: The City on the Zwin [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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4 hours in and I am on my 2nd Feld game. I bought this expansion, but had not played it yet. Erin taught Tom R, Peter V., Jason M. and me and joined us to make it a 5 player game.

The expansion allows for a 5th player, introduces event cards each round which give a limited number of bonus opportunities each round and also introduces boats (when 3's & 4's are rolled) which give bonuses after canal building and turning in a worker of the boat color. I really like the base game. I really like the expansion. We were building canals like crazy, capitalizing on the events and more. I managed a one point victory over Erin. Great gaming experience.

The only drawback I saw in the expansion were the cards that let you dig through the discard pile and look for a certain guild member or something. I just buried those cards when I saw them.
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5. Board Game: Qin [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:1269]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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PLAY TO WIN game.

This is a Reiner Knizia title that I had an interest in trying out. I checked it out from the Play & Win section, grabbed a players wanted flag and started to read the rules. Soon enough we had 4 players (Eran S. and another couple joined me) and I taught from the 2 page rulebook.

I managed a win. Would like to play again.
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6. Board Game: Draco Magi [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:2938]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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PLAY TO WIN game

Eran S. and I scanned the many tables of games and he suggested this recent Kickstarter. I had also Kickstarted it and neither of us had played it yet. Read through the rules and our dragons battled it out. I managed to get 3 blue gems for the win just before his 6PM event was to start.

I would like to play it a few more times before making a final judgment on whether I keep it or not. I do like the defense/offense attack cards and icons.

SPOILER - None of the players I played with in the Play To Win games won, but we still enjoyed them.
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7. Board Game: Touring Europe [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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No, I did not play this game at the Hoopla. After some dinner I traveled a few miles east to the local Indian Casino to catch a concert. One of the benefits of a con in a large city is that there are more things to do and experience to get away from the gaming if you want a break. The Black Star Riders and Europe rock and rolled for over 2.5 hours of music. Yes, Europe's encore was The Final Countdown. The good part for me was that they embraced the song and gave it the same energy they did 25 or whatever # of years ago when it was released. The crowd of 40 to 60 year olds went nuts for that one. If you like solid rock and roll songs, then check out both groups and their recent albums.

The Northern Lights Theater is a nice venue and maybe in 2016 I'll catch another act there during the Hoopla.
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8. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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I ran this event and we got a full table of 5 with me playing as well.

George M., Linda M, Nick K, Jacob C and I worked our way through Epochs of auctions. The table embraced the house rule of chanting Ra, Ra, Ra, Ra . . . . once they had spent their Sun bidding tiles. Jacob managed the win without a lot of monuments. Nicely played.
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9. Board Game: Harbour [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1244]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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Another game I own and had yet played. I love to be taught games rather than read a rulebook myself. I learn by doing.

Dan C. taught Steve C., Erin C, Steve U. and me. Steve U. won the game and got his picture tweeted out holding the victory card. Enough time for a 2nd play, so we did. Steve C. eeked out a win after I triggered the end by building my 4th building. He also got his picture tweeted out.

I like this one. I embraced the chaos of the ever changing market prices for the resources and look forward to mitigating that in the future as we become familiar with more of the cards.
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10. Board Game: Math Magic [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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No, it's not the game - but a placeholder for the every Hoopla Math Trade. I did drop off and pick up my one trade. Good participation and with it being No Ship, you can expand those wantlists and not worry about shipping charges.

This happens every Hoopla and I think the Noon is the best time for most people, as 10AM we found to be just a tad early for some gamers.
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11. Board Game: Beer! [Average Rating:3.37 Unranked]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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This entry is for the beer tasting LARP and bottle exchange that BGG'er Cindy N. has been organizing for a long time. We had a few dexterity games set up that got played.

It is in the program at noon Saturday every Hoopla. Come by and enjoy a few sips. Bring a bottle to share if you like.
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12. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Märklin [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:236] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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I ran this as an event and had planned on playing in it, but my alternates were both there and they both wanted to play real bad. I had also played a few weeks ago in preparation for my judge duties so it was easy to spread the love and let them play.

Brian, M, Heather D, Sam, Ron and Ashley were taught - this was Ashley's first TTR experience, everyone else had played some version but none had played Marklin. Sam managed to slingshot from his last place position for most of the game to the lead.

Glad that they all enjoyed it and to see so many people stop by and ask about this version of TTR. Might run it again next year.
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13. Board Game: Concordia: Britannia / Germania [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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Leslie, Sheila, "soft talker" Chris and me played the expansion map. we knew we would be rushed for time and we got through just about all of the game before 8PM.

The expansion map was a little tough for me to see the Prefect region rewards and the huts or whatever they were when you Tribuned were easy to overlook. Want to play the map again a few times before judging the map too harshly.

We also did the advanced buy what resources you wanted with varying player cash based on turn order. That was neat. will be using that in future games. Thanks "soft talker" Chris for speaking up about that option.
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14. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:414]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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After the 8PM Luminaria Ceremony to remind us all why we Hoopla (short 10-15 minute powerful ceremony), I ran this classic Avalon Hill game.

We only had 3 with Dave M., Wade, and me and Wade really just wanted to learn the rules so away we went. I filled up my player board completely, which is easier to do in a 3 player game, which triggered game end.

Wade won with some nice advanced room builds and partial and complete diamonds ended up being the difference for him to pass me by 2 points or so. Solid 60-75 minute game.
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15. Board Game: Hacienda [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:713]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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Eran S., Dave M and I were trying to decide what to play - one of my favorites got mentioned and we taught Eran after checking the game out of the GC Game Library.

I tried a different strategy and the animal deck got burned up quicker than I wanted (part of my strategy) - Dave M. won and Eran and I tied for 2nd.
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16. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:60]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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I know my limits - and late night gaming (past 11PM) and learning a new game is it. I don't do well in that situation.

Fortunately I knew this title and I walked up to a table of old friends and they recruited me to be the 5th player. OK, maybe I push past my time limit (self imposed).

Dan C, Jason M, Peter V., Tom R. and I rolled to our hearts content. I started to fade about mid way through the game. I think Dan C won - I remember he had 12 building spots built. I think my points were good enough for 3rd.

Good night!
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17. Board Game: Keltis [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1363]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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I ran this as part of Family Day (Sunday of Hoopla).

Michelle P., Eran S, Francois (sp?) and I played this German import, which is basically Lost Cities the Board Game, but Keltis came first.

Michelle had a dominant victory even though she was on all 5 paths.

After we finished Peter T. and his son who had pre-registered for this event appeared and Peter really wanted to try the game out to see if it is one he should acquire. The father and son played as a team while Eran bowed out. Michelle won again, but only by a few points over me. I did better with my double scoring piece.

Peter T. liked it and though his family would enjoy it. I pointed out that Keltis might be tougher to locate and the LCtBG was a fine substitute and just got reprinted and is readily available. Jay T. of RGG can send me a commission check any time.
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18. Board Game: Tikal [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:219]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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Brent C. ran this event and we had Ken L., Gerry, Michelle P and me romping through the jungle after a rules refresh/explanation.

The group was playing at a nice pace for this action point game which can bog down from AP, or so they say, since it was only my second play.

I managed to lock down a 6 point temple in the middle of the board and made some slick builds in the corner which were expensive for others to get to and got two 8 point and one 9 point temple all to myself. I did not get any treasure either.

I really want to play this one again soon. Thanks Brent!
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19. Board Game: Hermagor [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1127]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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My final game of the con. I ran this as an event. Steven, Tom R., Peter V. and I went through the rules and traded goods throughout Hermagor.

Peter V. crushed us (his first play). He caught on quick and benefitted from not being in too many competitions for tiles with other players, which is where Jason and Tom found themselves too often. I was too scattered and knew I was in trouble when I really needed 2 tiles that Peter also really needed. Obviously I did not get them.

Always glad to play this one.
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20. Board Game: Hoopla [Average Rating:5.74 Unranked]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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At 2 PM Sunday they started the closing ceremonies and roughly an hour later ALL of the Play To Win alternates (other winners had claimed by 2pm) and ALL of the what must have been 60+ donated games for the raffle were distributed. Very smooth drawings and there were some very happy winners - young and old - everyone loves to win a raffle.

Walked around said my good byes to the new and old friends from Hooplas. There is a lot of hugging (if you want them) at this event.

Can't wait for next year. If you do make it, then look for me and say hello. Maybe we can get a game in together?

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21. Board Game: VOLUNTEERS! [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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I will end with a BIG THANK YOU to all of the volunteers. There is a core group that plans out the Hoopla and they do a LOT of work that not many people appreciate. THANKS!

In addition to the core staff, there are many other helping hands who volunteer their time in the Hoopla Canteen (food service), Game Library, Auction Room, Registration Desk, Merchandise Table, judges who run events and many more that I am overlooking - THANKS!

There are volunteer opportunities - check out the website for details. www.gaminghoopla.com
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22. Board Game: Game Auction [Average Rating:6.83 Unranked]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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FYI - If you'd like to enter raffles throughout the year to support the Gaming Hoopla, then check out this geeklist Gaming Hoopla "Games for Gold" Raffle that

Brent Cunningham
United States
Lake Geneva
Wisconsin
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maintains.

Donate geekgold, possibly win game, buy more geekgold for next raffle.
 
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