Indiana John's First Trip to Geekway to the West!
John Richard
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I've had the pleasure of attending quite a few gaming conventions over the last 10 years, including Origins, BGG.Con, IndyCon, WhosYerCon, and (of course) Gen Con. But, 2015 was the first time that I had the opportunity to attend Geekway to the West. And it was a BLAST! It's a very well-run convention, with great volunteers and pretty cool venue.

So, here's a list of everything that I played at the convention. I will likely be doing video reviews of several of these games for the Dice Tower, so keep an eye on our YouTube channel, as well as in the video review section here on BGG.

I highly recommend this convention to anyone who loves to play board games. It's a relaxed, friendly atmosphere with a great game library, some fun scheduled events (which I didn't participate in this year, but maybe in the future!), and a pretty impressive assortment of prizes. I hope I get to go back in a future year!

Thanks for reading! If you'd like to check out all of my video reviews for The Dice Tower, here's a link!

Indiana John's Video Reviews for The Dice Tower

Game On!
Indiana John

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1. Board Game: Tajemnicze Domostwo [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:410]
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One of the coolest features of Geekway to the West is the "Play and Win" area. Publishers (and even fellow gamers) donated more than 200 games to this part of Geekway, and it took up an entire large room at the convention.

All you had to do was play one of the "play to win" games, fill out a card, and drop it into a bucket for that game. Then, at the end of the convention, they drew names and gave away all 200 games. I wasn't a winner this year, but I did play 6 different "play to win games", including 3 games of Mysterium.

I can't wait for this game to come out in the US. Sometimes called a gamer's version of Clue, this game accesses a part of my brain that no other game does. I think this is going to make a lot of "Top 10" lists - I think it's one of the best gateway games I've seen in a long time.
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2. Board Game: Witness [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:666]
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I drove to the convention with two good friends (both named David), and we each brought a few games of our own that we wanted to get to the table at Geekway. David B brought Witness, a 4-player cooperative game about whispering clues to each other in an effort to solve little mysteries in a 1940's comic book spy setting.

There are 64 different cases in the game, and each one is delightfully different. This is a great combination of memory and communication, and much like Mysterium, it creates a cooperative, social environment that accesses relatively untapped parts of the gamer brain. Plus, each game is only 10-15 minutes! Played this one twice over the course of the con, and it was great!
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3. Board Game: La Isla [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:730]
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David R and I sat down for a quick play of this new Stefan Feld game.

This one is a great choice for people who think that Feld games are too complicated. It's pretty light, yet has some interesting choices, and the 2 player game is particularly tactical and competitive, especially since everything is open information.

If you'd like to check out my review of this one, here's a link:


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4. Board Game: The Game of Tom Sawyer [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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There was one part of my trip that didn't really have anything to do with Geekway. It just so happened that the dates of the convention also coincided with a concert tour date for my favorite band of all time, Rush. So, I left Geekway for a few hours to rock out with Geddy, Alex, and Neil in downtown St. Louis. I only include it here in the geeklist because I know that there are a lot of gamers who also love Rush. Here's a pic I snapped from my seat:



Then I headed back to Geekway for MORE GAMES!!
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5. Board Game: Arbos Apfel [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:7646]
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Played this fun dexterity game about building a very wobbly apple tree. Mistakes were made.
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6. Board Game: Camel Up [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:381]
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Friday morning started off in the Geekway game library. This is another great feature of this convention. This is a library that is FULL of every kind of board game you can imagine, including rare and out of print stuff that's nearly impossible to find. And, your badge affords you the opportunity to check out any of them!

I ran into Adam Daulton (ooogene here on BGG), a fellow Indianpolis resident, and he had just enough time before a morning tournament to play a game of Camel Up with me an a couple of new friends. Camels were stacked, money was bet, and (as usual) I did not win.

Here's my video review of Camel Up from last fall:


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7. Board Game: Bugs in the Kitchen [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2507]
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This was a random choice from the game library, but a cute gimmicky game with a battery-powered bug. You turn pieces that are built into the board to get the bug to travel to your personal bug cage in the corner of the board. Pretty cute, quick to play. Although, it doesn't really provide much real-life training to catch actual bugs in my actual kitchen.
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8. Board Game: Riff Raff [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1223]
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Another dexterity game, this time placing wooden items onto a very wobbly boat. Definitely not a game I would ordinarily buy, but being able to check it out from the Geekway game library was perfect.

Also, I suck at dexterity games. David R was a little better:

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9. Board Game: Mermaid Rain [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:4452]
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After Riff Raff, the Davids and I decided to take a little trip to the Miniature Market warehouse, which is based in St. Louis. Miniature Market is an online game store, but they do have a physical location that offers access to their entire warehouse (and online prices). The retail space has a few shelves of Clearance and Ding'n'Dent games, but then they also have a couple of computer stations, and you place your order on the MM website, and then the staff member prints the order, and a warehouse staff member goes into the warehouse and gets everything for you. It's a pretty interesting business model, and definitely a boon for people who live in the St. Louis area.

As for me, I took advantage of their heavily discounted Clearance section and picked up a copy of Mermaid Rain for $6. Don't be fooled, this is actually a pretty good game!



I should also mention that Miniature Market was a prominent vendor at Geekway itself, and had a large booth with a ton of great games at online prices.
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10. Board Game: Freedom: The Underground Railroad [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:308]
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Another great thing about conventions is the ability to get longer games to the table and not have to worry about whether the game store is about to close, or whether you have to get up early for work the next morning.

After lunch on Friday we sat down to a game of Freedom: the Underground Railroad. Freedom isn't a terribly long game, but it was nice to be able to fully engage with the theme and the mechanics, working together to accomplish the goal. Sadly, we lost this time, but we were SO CLOSE!!!!
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11. Board Game: Dungeon Fighter [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:772]
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We made an attempt at this dice chucking dexterity-ish game, but we sucked so badly at it that we had to abandon it halfway through. Seriously, we died so many times that we ran out of characters in the box!

I used to own this game myself, but traded it after it made both of my children cry on multiple occasions.
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12. Board Game: Colt Express [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:298]
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Thanks to the Miniature Market Ding'n'Dent table, I picked up a nearly perfect copy of this game for only $20. And, I'm glad I did, especially since it just got nominated for the 2015 Spiel des Jahres!

Of course, the train components are just ridiculous, and the 3D cacti and desert rocks are as cute as they are unnecessary. But, I think it's a really fun family game with a cinematic flair. I'l definitely be doing a review of this one soon!
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13. Board Game: Alchemists [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:80]
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We have finally arrived at my GAME OF THE CON! I ended up playing this game twice over the course of the convention, and I have to say that it is definitely the best game that I've played in a long, long time. It is chock full of theme that is brilliantly woven into mechanics that make immediate sense, and the use of the smartphone app is in no way a gimmick. It's seamlessly integrated into the gameplay and at no point felt like an afterthought.

Two of my local gaming friends ended up buying it at the convention after playing, and the only reason I didn't buy it is because they already did!

Worker placement, deduction, bluffing, and resource management, all wrapped up in a box full of delightful components and beautiful artwork. This game is a 10 for me.


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14. Board Game: Yardmaster Express [Average Rating:5.85 Overall Rank:4405]
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After an epic game of Alchemists (which I WON!), we played this quick card game that my friend Sean acquired in the Geekway math trade. It's pretty much "Gamer Uno". It was just ok for me.
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15. Board Game: Via Appia [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:2058]
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I did pretty well in the Geekway math trade. Here's how it went down:

Games I gave:

Star Trek: Fleet Captains
Guildhall
Mage Wars
Till Dawn
Legacy: Gears of Time
Innovation
Merchant of Venus (2nd ed.)

Games I recevied:

Via Appia
Twilight Imperium: 3rd Edition
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
Android
Istanbul
Quilt Show
Get Bit!

I love doing math trades at conventions, and this one went very smoothly, although they didn't really have a room for us to do the trade, so we ended up meeting in a cramped little alcove. Still, it's fun and I highly recommend it to anyone attending a convention that's having one. It's a great way to get "new-to-you" games!

We ended Friday evening with a game of Via Appia, which turned out to be a pretty enjoyable euro game with a bit of a gimmicky quarry component. It wasn't fantastic, but it was fun.
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16. Board Game: Imperial Settlers [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:130]
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We began Saturday in the "Play and Win" area, looking for another play of Alchemists. But, apparently a lot of others had the same idea, so the Davids and I sat down for a game of Imperial Settlers.

We all liked this one, and the different factions made the gameplay interesting. Unfortunately, the Egyptian faction just steamrolled all of us, and seems to me to be a bit overpowered. I even sent a Twitter message to Ignacy (the designer) during the game, asking for some strategy help! He replied back with a few tips, but it wasn't enough to keep David B and I from getting skewered by the point of a pyramid.
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17. Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1977]
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This was another game in the "Play and Win" area. I wasn't impressed with this one, even though I like the Bronze Age version quite a bit. I tried to go a military route, but could never get the fate die to roll my way to allow me to attack my opponents. David R built up a ton of ports early on and just blew the rest of us out of the water with developments.

I think I'll stick with the original version of this one.
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18. Board Game: Quilt Show [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:3456]
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Despite having a theme that is the diametric opposite of what usually interests me, this was a really fun game! It plays a lot like Ticket to Ride, but has a different flavor to it that I really liked. I'll be doing a review of this one soon, too!
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19. Board Game: Neue Heimat [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:1537]
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This was a hard-to-find game that David B wanted to try out from the library. It was a brutally unforgiving auction and building game, and not really my cup of tea. Also, I was terrible at it. But, it's another example of a game that I wouldn't ordinarily play that I had to opportunity to try at Geekway!
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20. Board Game: Finca [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:538]
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I found this former Spiel des Jahres nominee in the library, a game that I hadn't played in more than 5 years. It's a really fun little rondel game about collecting and delivering different kinds of fruit. I won by one point!
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21. Board Game: Rhino Hero [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:610] [Average Rating:7.01 Unranked]
John Richard
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Stacking cards? Wooden cartoon rhino superhero? Haba? I'm so in.

First time trying this one. Now I may have to pick up a copy!



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22. Board Game: Mord im Arosa [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1707]
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Sunday started off with another game from the library. But, because of the nature of the game, we played it in our hotel room. Mor Im Arosa is a game about dropping cubes into a tower, and listening to hear how far they fell into the tower. Then, you can investigate particular floors, making educated guesses about which player's cubes are there. The whole thing is wrapped up in a theme about investigating a crime in a tall, tall building.

I can truly say I've never played anything like it. Quick, quirky, and with super cool components.

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23. Board Game: Strasbourg [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:710]
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I'm one of those folks who's happily on the bandwagon of Stefan Feld fans. So many great games from this designer (Trajan, Bora Bora, and Castles of Burgundy are three of my favorites). But, Strasbourg is an earlier Feld game that is pretty hard to find, and I was so happy i got to play it.

This is an auction game where you use cards from a deck of influence cards to bid of various benefits, all with the purpose of scoring points and completing task cards for end game scoring. This is a game that requires a lot of planning and careful choices about which auctions to participate in and which ones to ignore (there are 35 separate auctions in this game!!). It can be pretty punishing if you make a wrong decision, which might be why I don't hear about it as much as some of the other, "friendlier" Felds.

But, I really liked it a lot, and it may have jumped into my Top 5 Feld games. I want to play it again! Now, if I can just find a copy. Somewhere...
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24. Board Game: Long Shot [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:1305]
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The last game of the convention for me was this light horse racing romp from Chris Handy. Dice were rolled, plastic horses were moved, and many horse-related puns were made as cards were played. A nice way to end a fantastic weekend at Geekway to the West!

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