Geekway to the West Notes: 2015 "A Decade of Geekways" Edition
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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This was my tenth Geekway, which means I've gotten to the point where I can no longer remember individual Geekways, just lots of memorable moments. Crokinole tournaments, trying to learn Age of Conan cold, Monkey Madness, epic games of Starcraft, Game of Thrones, Mare Nostrum and Chaos in the Old World, playing Blood Bowl Team Manager with Jay Little and getting completely smoked, good times.

My two older sons Logan (13) and Liam (10) joined me again on Friday, about 23 minutes after getting out of school (they were only a little excited). My brother-in-law Jeremy was unable to attend this year, so hopefully he'll make it out next year. I'm getting to the point where I have too many people I want to game with and I have to start picking and choosing. I guess that's a good problem to have.

I had been getting a little worried - maybe not worried, but concerned - about the growing size of Geekway and how that would impact the local, personal feel it had. The first few years I knew almost everyone there. Now I feel like I hardly know anybody, which is true. There were a lot of little changes in the way things were run this year in order to improve the overall experience, and while none of them were major they all added up to a great weekend and put most of my concerns to rest. It's not a small, local con any more, and the organizers (too many to name at this point) deserve a ton of credit for the way they've navigated this event through the years. Awesome job again, everyone.
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1. Board Game: Five Tribes [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:52]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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I always take vacation Thursday and Friday to get the most out of the weekend, and now it gives me a couple of days to game without the kids in tow. Started off bright and early Thursday morning with a game of Five Tribes after meeting up with Sean Carson. Sat down in the Play and Win room to set up, and Jay Little (Geekway founder!) walked by and remarked that he had never played it. Invitation extended! A few minutes later Chris Fountz joined us. Great way to start the day. Pretty sure I won, and I helpfully left the score sheet in the box so others could witness. Was also nice to meet Chris, who was attending his first Geekway and seemed a little overwhelmed (but in a good way). He was a great guy to game with, hope he had a great time and we'll see him again next year.
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2. Board Game: Istanbul [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:91]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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Soon after Chuck Easterlin showed up, and I taught Istanbul to him and Sean. Won this one too. Good morning kept getting better. Can't decide if this is a game I want to get or not - I've only played it twice, and it was fun both times, but it hasn't grabbed me quite yet. Would have happily won it from the Play and Win, but we struck out on that this year.
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3. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:414]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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We wanted a quick game that everyone knew to play over lunch, so I grabbed Vegas Showdown from the library. Considering Sean and Chuck have played this about 493 times, I got (expectedly) smoked. Also, I was somewhat distracted by the gigantic X-Wing Minis trench run setup that was being constructed at the next table over.
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4. Board Game: Fief: France 1429 [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:760]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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The one game I sort of scheduled ahead of time was Fief. I really wanted to try this after passing on the Kickstarter (it really looked like the kind of game I'd admire on my shelf, but never actually play). Aaron got his friend Charlie Theel to teach, so we had a full (?) 5-player game with me, Aaron, Sean, Ben Whiteman, and Charlie. Some really interesting political/diplomatic things going on, but the various titles and elections to get those titles were far more complicated than I expected. Ben started the game by immediately proposing marriage to Aaron, and I realized I was clearly over my head. I thought I was getting a handle on it, but in about turn 3 all sorts of titles started getting snapped up, and then it seemed like about a dozen elections were triggered. Ben and Charlie were clearly prepared and elected themselves King, Cardinal, Pope, Protector of the Realm, King of the Andals and the First Men, Emperor Shaddam IV, and I think maybe Sith Lord while the rest of us were still trying to figure out what was happening. Game over. It was still fun, and I'd like to try it again.

Side note: we registered for the Play and Win copy, and as I filled out the play sheet at the end I realized I couldn't remember Ben's last name. Since I felt he outplayed most of us, I simply wrote "Ben the Winner". When the drawings were announced on Sunday, he ended up winning our ticket for the Play and Win copy. I don't know if my description influenced it, but he deserved it. Hope he enjoys his game.
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5. Board Game: AquaSphere [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:359]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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A little later I ended up in a game of Aquasphere with Tim Bass, Aaron, and Sean. Aaron had emailed me a couple days before the con saying "I have to teach you Aquasphere" so I was game. I can see the mechanics and interweaving strategies, but I have no idea why any of it is happening. Apparently this is kind of a thing with Stefan Feld. I don't remember where I was pointwise, but I do know I had no idea what was going on for most of this game. Aaron was called away to his vendor booth right before the last game, and we used that as an excuse to call it. I'd try it again, but it seemed like a rather cool theme and ideas that weren't really put to good use.
 
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6. Board Game: To Build a Wonder [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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Afterward Aaron pulled out his prototype entry in the Geekway Microgame design contest - a take on the Hanabi reverse-card mechanic. Really neat idea with an advancing "boulder" token that serves as a game clock. It's coop, and I think we finished with a win. I think I heard that it did pretty well in the competition, and I'm hoping he gets some more time with it and really gets a good game out of it. The memory aspect was pretty demanding, so I'll need to start fortifying with gingko in preparation.
 
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7. Board Game: Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:713]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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Friday was my last day gaming with just friends before my kids joined me for the weekend, so I was looking for more meaty strategy games. That morning the first person I saw walking in was Charlie Theel, and the first words out of his mouth were "Hey, want to play Sons of Anarchy?" Perfect!

Joined the game with Charlie, Ben ("the Winner") Whiteman, Sean, and Charlie's friend Don. I'd only played this a couple of times, and right away I felt like my One-Niners were out of this entirely. I could not hold onto any areas, couldn't make any money, was getting kicked back to my clubhouse the entire game. I finally managed to eke out some income the last couple of rounds, mostly because I think everyone was counting me out. Ended up with $29 to the winner's $30 for a second place finish, which frankly kind of shocked me. It was a fun game, lots of negotiation and several throwdowns. I've resisted picking this up largely because of the theme (I don't think my family/kids would go for it) but it's a great game with friends. Gale Force 9 keeps hitting them out of the park.
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8. Board Game: Biblios [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:291]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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Aaron was manning a booth for a bit but really wanted to get in on a game of Voyages of Marco Polo, so while we were waiting I grabbed Biblios from the library to teach Chuck and Sean. This was Chuck's free game for attending, so I figured getting in a couple of plays would be nice. We played two games, and despite my advance experience with it I lost horribly in both games.
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9. Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:40]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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Afterward Aaron, Chuck, Sean and I grabbed a table in the Matterhorn room for a full game of Marco Polo. Aaron was pretty excited considering this isn't out yet in the U.S. Only played two games so far, but I really enjoy it. There is some interesting variety in the player powers, and a lot of different options each turn. I can't for the life of me remember who won the game, but I so far I'm the only one who ever bothers to go to Beijing. Might be picking this up when it's available in English.
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10. Board Game: Chaos in the Old World [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:93]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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We had more time before dinner after Polo, so Aaron suggested his Favorite Game of All Time, Chaos in the Old World. I had only played this once before, several Geekways ago when the Horned Rat expansion had just come out. I remember my Geekway notes from that play, which were essentially "if you're Khorne, just attack everyone". I was Khorne again, and the game kept me from attacking anyone thanks to some ridiculous restrictions and limitations that made doing much of anything almost impossible. We eventually called it when it was clear we were all going to lose.
 
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11. Board Game: Colt Express [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:303]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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My kids showed up at this point, Logan (13) and Liam (10). This was their second Geekway, and I was pretty sure they might go for this game. I had seen it on Miniature Market's discount table for only $20, but wanted to play it first.

We really enjoyed it - some laugh-out-loud moments and overall it was a lot of fun. Alas, Miniature Market was sold out by the time I went looking for it again. Chuck ended up winning this as a Play and Win game on Sunday. Will probably be getting this soon.

For the second year, my kids had an awesome time at Geekway. Despite the fact that there were 1300 people in attendance, and roughly 1200+ of them were complete strangers to me, I had no problem at all with my kids going off on their own to check out games, play, shop, and generally enjoy themselves. Chris, Jay, Marshall, and all the Geekway staff have made this one of the friendliest and hassle-free cons I've ever been to. Can't give them enough credit.
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12. Board Game: Camel Up [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:385]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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After dinner and the door prizes Chuck left, and we played this Play and Win game in the main room. Quick play, decent family game and I ended up with the win thanks to being the first to bet on both the overall winner and the overall loser. This might be a game even my 5-year-old could enjoy.
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13. Board Game: Rockband Manager [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:4825]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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This was Logan's free attendance game, he wanted to give it a try. We were all fading a bit, but I wanted to let them stay late into Friday evening and enjoy a night out with all the "big kids". We broke my Geekway "Rule 1" (no playing games that nobody knows the rules to) to play it, but it was pretty simple. I like that the boys are happy to get anything free, and don't think about whether it's a "good game" or not. They just jump in and have fun. Overall, this one was pretty okay. It helped that my face-melting music garnered me an awesome platinum record collection by the end of my career and catapulted me to a 101-point victory. AWWWW YISSSSSS!!! ROCK ONNNN!!!!

Later in the weekend Liam made sure to let me know he broke my record with 103 points. Showoff.
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14. Board Game: Roar-a-Saurus [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:6124]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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Saturday morning Liam really wanted to grab this off the Play and Win table, so we did. It's a quick dice filler with a lot of yelling, so naturally they dug it. It's pretty chaotic and I'm not sure there's all that much game here, but the kids liked it.
 
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15. Board Game: Tajemnicze Domostwo [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:413]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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After Roar-a-saurus the boys and I joined our friends Gary and Denise and their daughters for a 7-player game of Mysterium, which I'd been wanting to try all weekend. It started off really well, but Logan could not figure out his object card. We were close, but ran out of time. It's a really interesting game, but I have to wonder if it will suffer from the same familiarity burnout that Dixit does. That game was amazing for the first few plays, but once you start seeing the same cards again, it loses something.

This ended up being one of my kids' favorites of the weekend (not to mention the rest of the con - the three Play and Win copies got over 200 plays). It's interesting, but I'm not sure it's a must-own.
 
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16. Board Game: Hot Rod Creeps [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:3906]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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This was Liam's free game - a pretty simple racer with some fun powers and silly antics. I could see this being fun for them with some friends, not a bad game to get. We set up a simple race course and gave it a whirl.
 
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17. Board Game: Ascending Empires [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:778]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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Afterward Sean joined us for a 4-player game of Ascending Empires - one of my favorites. Unfortunately it was getting loud and my voice was getting sore from all the rules teaching, but I gave it my best shot. The tables were also a little small (this one has really tiny bits, I was a bit nervous about losing some). It took a bit to get going, but before long we had the board explored and I came away with the win. This became one of Liam's "need to play that again" games.
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18. Board Game: Tajemnicze Domostwo [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:413]
Jason Nachtrab
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St. Charles
Missouri
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Chuck rejoined us and we finally were able to grab a copy of Mysterium to give it another try. Liam played as the spirit and really struggled in the first game, it might have been a bit beyond him. The game ended pretty quickly with a loss. We immediately tried again - this time I played as the spirit. Turns out it is REALLY hard when your cards don't work for the clues you need to give. Lost again.
 
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19. Board Game: Thunder Alley [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:548] [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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After Mysterium the kids went off to play some games themselves, so I grabbed Thunder Alley which Chuck had been eyeing as it was being played on a table nearby. We broke Rule 1 again, which is okay in some cases but really stupid with a GMT game. But, Chuck really wanted to play it. My Princess Racing team was absolutely smoking it before Chuck tried some hotrod maneuver and yellow flagged the race, which let everyone catch up. WTF? Nascar is dumb. We didn't end up finishing a full game which is good, because I was robbed.
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20. Board Game: Colt Express [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:303]
Jason Nachtrab
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St. Charles
Missouri
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Afterward Sean had to run home, so we played game #2 of Colt Express. Pretty sure Chuck won again. This theme was to repeat.
 
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21. Board Game: Red7 [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:546]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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Filler game while waiting for the prize drawings before dinner.
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22. Board Game: Chaosmos [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:2012]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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After dinner Aaron had returned from the game design competition and was setting up this Kickstarter game which had shown up the same day. The boys and I joined him, and tried to learn the rules for a starter setup. I don't like to try to learn games at Geekway - this is the basis behind "Rule 1*" - but this seemed pretty straightforward, and I was just happy to be gaming with a good friend. The game ended up being pretty damn fun - my kids really took to it and were throwing down within 10 minutes, to often hilarious effects. The object of the game is to end up with the "Ovoid" card at the end of the game. Somehow Logan started with it and never lost it, and won the game with a great play of the "quantum accelerator" which burned the last 8 turns of the game. There was much respectful high-fiving for a well-played victory.

*Rule 1 came about after 2006 or 2007, when we tried to play Age of Conan. Nobody knew how to play, but it looked really cool. We started reading the rulebook, and two hours later I still wasn't sure we were playing correctly. We ended up just quitting in frustration. From that point on, Rule 1 became a guideline of our Geekway group. Followed shortly by Rule 2, "no waffling".
 
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23. Board Game: Kingsburg [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:267]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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Sunday morning Sean, the boys, and I started off with a quick game of Kingsburg. Everyone clearly had had a long, fun Saturday night, as the gaming hall was deserted Sunday morning. I think there were maybe 15 people there as we set up and started playing.

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24. Board Game: BANG! The Dice Game [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:466]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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Another quick game, killing time after Chuck showed up. Think we played this twice.
 
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25. Board Game: Two Rooms and a Boom [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:752]
Jason Nachtrab
United States
St. Charles
Missouri
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Charlie Theel likes to run this at Geekway, and we stepped outside for a couple of games. Logan likes these social deduction games (Mafia, Werewolf) and I thought he'd get a kick out of it. He did. Not the best-played game (we won game two despite not knowing who our President was). It was fun, although it's weird playing social games with complete strangers.
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