ConnCon 2017: Where About 17 of my Synapses Short Circuited
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Another weekend in Stamford pushing pieces of wood and cardboard with some of the funniest people on the planet. (I'll let someone else post about the Starburst competition.) But man, I played some real thinky games. My neural network was completely rewired by Sunday night.
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1. Board Game: Cards Against Humanity [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:2341] [Average Rating:6.10 Unranked]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Opponents: Erik, Rich C, Joe McD, Britt, Kristy, Aimee

After a hearty meal at Plan B Burger, we sauntered back to the hotel to play the most politically incorrect game ever made. You can probably find some of the responses we gave in the comments section of Breitbart.com. But as usual, the funniest answer was a clean one, this time from Erik:

"I just saw the best movie! It starts with <blank> and then there's some stuff about <blank> and it ends with <blank>!"

"Shapes and Colors"
"Emotions"
"Letting everybody down"
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2. Board Game: A Feast for Odin [Average Rating:8.20 Overall Rank:31]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Opponents: Dante, Gaia, Vas

Friday afternoon. After an excellent instruction session by Dustin (3 tables - impressive!), we played this monster. Although there are 63(!) choices for your workers, I found the game to be more streamlined than Caverna. Victory depends on covering as much of your -1 points as possible, and I had slight brain burn figuring out what would fit where. I lost (look at that opponent list) but at least my final score wasn't "suspiciously high".

I understand Uwe Rosenberg's next game will cover the size of a high school gymnasium and accommodate 51 players.
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3. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:71]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Opponents: Lily, Todd

One of my fav...oh, I'll just say it, my #1 favorite Euro. Also my first teaching slot. Lily and Todd were both new to the game, but picked up pretty quick. I came in second, but the fact Lily (first place) said " I love this game!" before her 2nd turn is more of a triumph. Defensive strategy advice - if your opponent "gets" the Mancala mechanic, make sure they're not hogging all the +9 Trajan tiles.
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4. Board Game: Illuminati [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:2448]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Opponent: Alex

Set up on table 23, of course.

A nostalgia trip for me - played this a number of times in the 80s. But boy, this game didn't age too well. (One of the cards was "Hairdressers and Interior Decorators"). I did like that the Post Office has -1 income, though. There were only 2 players, and this game works better with more, and I suspect would work even better if 1 of them was Dave Regan.
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5. Board Game: Avenue [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:1616]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Opponents: Avri, Dave OT

My first game on Saturday was this short play to win game, where you have to draw roads on pads connecting grapes, castles and numbered farms based on cards drawn. My first win of the Con and I won the physical game, too. Since it has a slight abstracty feel to it...

Abstract Strategy Man strikes again!
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6. Board Game: Eddie Cantor's Game: Tell It to the Judge [Average Rating:6.39 Unranked]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Opponents: Avri, Joe McD

It's a Kickstarter.

This 1939 game was a favorite of my Dad's and my Uncle's when they were kids. Joe was able to get the components and the board on 2 separate ebay bids. It's a race game that uses cards to move, but you can force your opponents to pay fines to the Judge, which could be any one of your opponents. Then the fine payer becomes the Judge. The object is to arrive at the club with the most money. Less trivial than you might think, and I's definitely replay it.

We got a lot of curious looks from passers-by, especially Eric Summerer, who tweeted a picture of it.
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7. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2240]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Roman Riot

Opponents: Erik, Joe Gloa, Joe McD, Avri

A fast moving invention by Erik Dresner. There is a main deck of Roman Monuments, each with a Number of Attributes (Domes, Archs, Statues, some other crap I don't remember). 8 are dealt out. Each player has their own colored deck with said attributes. The object is to be the first one to play their attribute cards next to the monument cards.

At least that's the first round. Because Erik is a jerk Erik, the second round the attribute cards have to be placed to the monument 1 or 2 spaces away from where they're supposed to be. And because Erik is an asshole a creative genius, the 3rd round the attribute cards have to be placed to the monument 1 or 2 spaces away from where they're supposed to be AND you have to substitute one attribute card for another.

Erik obviously won. Ah well, Rome Wasn't Built In A Day.
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8. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:8]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Participants: Eric, Tanya, Christopher, Jeri, Leon

I was originally slotted to play, but there must have been a computer glitch as Leon was not listed on my schedule. No matter - I just sat out this time.

There was a near revisiting of the Die Macher micro-fiasco as I almost dropped a rule or to in my explanation. Luckily, I had 2 experts there to catch the ball. I would've gotten through the rules, but it would've taken a lot longer. I'm considering crib sheets.

We used the first player setup, and this was the first time I saw it played with 5 races. The new players got it pretty quickly, so it was an active game.

Final result:

 
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9. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:554]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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I did not play in the tournament, but got some quick lessons from Dustin, Erick and Rich C. I just might sign up next year.
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10. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2540]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Toon the RPG

In another moment of inspired nostalgia, I decided to run Toon for my first ever ConnCon RPG. Unfortunately, by Friday afternoon, nobody had signed up. So, I was anticipating to play open gaming after the Judges' dinner. But just before eating, I was informed that I now had a table of 6. Of children under 10.

A mad dash to my room to change the module (I felt the one I had originally chosen was too violent) and quickly create some new characters. I rushed down to explain the rules to the kids. After about 3 minutes in, I realized that this Toon Adventure was going to turn into a D&D Adventure when one of the participants wanted to kill all the NPCs.

Gee, she seemed real nice when she was selling Girl Scout Cookies. I hope there wasn't arsenic in those Trefoils I bought.

It took the sudden arrival of 100 policemen to get the adventure back on track. Anyway, when attention was paid, a fun time was had by all.
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11. Board Game: Imperial 2030 [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:167]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Opponents: Joe Gola, Avri, Molnar, Robert Dowdy

An annual event at ConnCon, but my first time playing. I thought this would be a learning game for me, but the mechanics are simple enough that I spent the entire game on strategy. The hurdle for me was to remember that I won't be in charge of a country through out the, so that when I try to build up territory, my possessions could be taken away before I can get any benefit from it.

It was anybody's game for a while, and I finished with a respectable 103, to Molnar's win of 119. But this was one of the brain burning games, enough that I can no longer remember that day in High School where that thing with that person happened.

Gentlemen, it was a privilege playing with you.
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12. Board Game: Axiom [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:3855]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Opponent: Avri

After getting to bed at 2, and setting my alarm for 7:30 (and sleeping on and off because of the caffeine I imbibed), I made it down to my own No Saving Throw event a half hour late, but thankfully before anyone else. Avri appeared and brought out this 3D abstract that I've been meaning to try for years. Win condition is to place your scepter on one of your opponents cubes that also has one of his scepters. However, of you land on one of his cubes that doesn't have one of his scepters, you get to remove the cube.

After a losing a few games, I cried Uncle and then we moved on to...
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13. Board Game: Aries [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Avri: "I got 20 minutes before the soccer game."
Me "How about a quick game of Aries?"
Avri: "Sure"

35 minutes later...

Avri: "This 20 minute game has taken 35 minutes."

We both love this game. It's seems so trivial but is so not. All pieces move like rooks, knock into your opponent's pieces which moves them one space (including rows of pieces), capture by knocking pieces off the board or by crushing them between 2 of your pieces, win by getting one of your pieces into your opponent's corner.

Avri won a piece early, but I was able to gain the piece back and win one of my own. Still, I thought he had me, but he crumbled under my superior endgame tactics.

Abstract Strategy Man strikes again! (The victory cost me another synapse, unfortunately.)
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14. Board Game: DVONN [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:345] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Foe: Joe Gola

Thomas Hobbes said that life is nasty, brutish and short. I had no idea that he played Dvonn.

Having lost all my games against him in the past, Joe graciously gave me his newly patented "Cribbage Handicap". But I gave him a run for his money this time around, even though it was a real crush-up. Just to hear him say "John is doing better than I thought he would" several times was satisfaction enough.

I had hoped to notate the game to post later, but 1 lousy mistake on the score sheet...

The opening position:



I was black. Notice Gola's "dick move" of placing 2 Dvonn tiles next to each other.
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15. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:203]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Opponent: Erica

Erica could only make it for Sunday. Joe McD had just taught her Hive, with the Ladybug and Mosquito expansions, so she was keen on playing a game. She did mention that she sucks at the game (her words) so...

Abstract Strategy Man strikes again!
 
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16. Board Game: Bruges [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:195]
John McDonough
United States
New York
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Opponent: Erica

I asked Erica if she wanted to play this next, as I was hoping to learn a Feld design besides Trajan. Bruges' mechanic is based on 5 colors, with cards, dice, workers and penalty markers matching all 5. The cards allow you to take actions by matching color by discarding (Gain 2 workers, remove a penalty marker, gain money of the amount on the same color die). You also use the cards to build houses and place different occupation cards inside such as Queen, Composer or Moneyererer. Each occupation allows you to bend the rules to your favor.

I loved it. I must now play every game Stefan Feld has made. My brother won Aquasphere in the silent auction, and already has 5 other of his games. I'm sure we could have a Feld day in Pelham someday soon. Dante, want come and teach Oracle of Delphi?

By now, my brain was was feeling the effects of a sugar crash, so it was time to veg and prepare for the trip back to Jersey City. Thanks to all for another great con.

Go Team Strawberry!

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