a PO Girl's OrcaCon 2018 Play List
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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OrcaCon 2018 - Bellevue, WA

On Thursday, January 11 Lacy Dove (aka BGG user: lacydove) and I headed over to the Bellevue Hilton to settle into our room the night before OcraCon. This was to be our second time at OcraCon, which was celebrating its third year with a big change in venue from Everett, Washington to Bellevue.

Our compatriot from the previous year, Brianna Davies (aka BGG user: CheekiMonky) (aka Bri) traveled in a separate vehicle with boyfriend and fellow gamer Chris Maupin. Simply put Lacy and I didn't have room for them because we needed all the room for ALL the games we brought along—43 in total (see photos: my games, at left, ready to haul to the con and Lacy's games stacked in our room at right).

Over the course of our extended weekend (Thursday night to Sunday evening) I logged 21 plays of 17 different games, 13 of which were new games that I hadn't played before. Throughout the weekend our foursome was joined by a number of gamer friends including: Eric Portney (aka BGG user Fugazi2112), Delaina Dancey, Ryan Dancey, Chris Braun (aka BGG user Bronn1) (aka Chris B), Aaron Frede, Beth Anderson, and Rebecca Johnson. With so many gaming partners available player counts were in constant flux. During the course of the con I played two 2-player games, three 3-player games, eight 4-player games, three 5-player games, three 6-player games, and two 9-player games.

My most steady gaming partner was Lacy with 15 games logged together. I also enjoyed playing 10 games with Delaina & Beth, 9 games with Rebecca, 7 games with Eric & Chris M, 6 games with Bri, and 5 games with Chris B & Aaron.


[L to R: Lacy, Chris B, Shanda, Eric, Bri, Delaina, Lacy, Rebecca, and Beth]

A whole bunch of great games plus a whole bunch of great people equals a bunch of great times. Thanks for the memories!

The geeklist below enumerates the games I played in chronological order.
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1. Board Game: Go Nuts for Donuts [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:2623]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #1 : Game #1

This year we decided to jumpstart our OrcaCon experience by arriving the night before so we could settle in and be ready for gaming bright and early on Day 1.

So after eating dinner in the hotel restaurant on Thursday night we went back to the room Lacy and I were sharing for some Asti and a game. After assessing the state of our tired crew and the lateness of the hour we opted for a quick and light game and Go Nuts for Donuts was the answer.


 
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2. Board Game: Go Nuts for Donuts [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:2623]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #2

The first play was so fun that we dove straight into a second round where some of us really amped up the meta-game.

This game will make a lot of folks think of Sushi Go!, but the main similarity is the cutely anthropomorphized food and the scoring mechanisms. However, I felt the simultaneous card selection while competing against all players at the same time to draft a card from a common pool distinguished Go Nuts for Donuts from the Sushi Go! and for now I will keep and play both.

 
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3. Board Game: Honshū [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:744]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #3 : Game #2

Day 1 of OrcaCon Lacy and I were up bright and early and were the first gamers in our group down on the convention floor. While we were waiting for more of the crew to show up we decided to play a quick 2-player game, so I whipped out Honshū.

This quirky trick-taking, card-drafting, tile-laying/card-laying game is just super cool.


 
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4. Board Game: The Ancient World [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:947]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #4 : Game #3

After Honshū we were joined by Bri and Chris M and we got down to playing a more meaty game with 4 players. On the menu was Ryan Lauket's The Ancient World, a game both Lacy and I own and hadn't gotten to the table before now.

Of course all the props to Ryan Laukat who is the exception to the rule that you can't do everything well. His artwork make every game he publishes a joy to look at and interact with and The Ancient World is no exception. I enjoyed my first play and feel that there is a lot more to explore in this game with unusual ranked work placement and decidedly challenging set collection.


 
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5. Board Game: Honshū [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:744]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #5

By late morning several more of my gamer buddies had arrived and found us and it was time to switch things up while we waited for even more folks to show up.

What was needed was a short filler game so I played another round of Honshū, this time with 4-players. Joining me were Delaina, Eric, and Aaron.

Playing with 4 versus 2 players really changes up the game and makes the trick-taking phase of the game more interesting.


(Left to Right: Delaina and Eric)

(Left to Right: Beth and Aaron)
 
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6. Board Game: When I Dream [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:1054]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #6 : Game #4

By early afternoon on Day 1 of OrcaCon enough folks had shown up that we were able to play a 9-player social game—When I Dream.

This game was a real surprise for me. I always approach social deduction games with hesitation as they aren't really my cup of tea. As I played When I Dream I was taken by a couple things, first the complexity and difficulty of playing both as the dreamer and as the clue-giver and how it sets itself apart from so many other games in the genre.

The memory component of this game is VERY intimidating and requires some sort of strategy to manage. It is also important for all players to actively deduce who is on what team throughout the game and try to utilize that information while giving clues as well as hearing clues. I was impressed and satisfied with my play and would willingly play again.




(From Bottom Left Going Clockwise: Bri, Chris M, Rebecca, Beth, Aaron, Shanda (myself), Delaina, and Eric.)
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7. Board Game: Grog Island [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:2589]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #7 : Game #5

As we hit the early afternoon on Day 1 folks broke into groups with one group playing Oceanos while I taught a group how to play Grog Island for a 4-player game including myself Eric, Rebecca, and Beth.

While this game was a challenge to teach, once we got going everything fell into place. The dice bidding mechanic is really unique and interesting, combined with resource management, hidden goals, and a fun pirate theme I found this game to be a winner.



(Foreground Left to Right: Rebecca and Beth)
 
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8. Board Game: Vegas Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #8 : Game #6

After dinner a larger party of players came together so it was an opportune time to play Vegas Wits & Wagers. Since we had a player count of 9 we had two teams of two playing against five individuals.

Crazy bidding, wild answers, and long-shots coming from behind were hallmarks of our game.



(From Bottom left Going Clockwise: myself, Delaina, Chris M, Bri, Rebecca, Beth, Aaron, and Chris B)
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9. Board Game: Secrets [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:2116]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #9 : Game #7

I closed out Day 1 by playing the second social deduction game of the day. This time is was Secrets with 5 players—Lacy, Bri, Chris, Beth, and myself.

This was an interesting little game, for which I was not at my best. I was so tired I forgot what team I was on, oh my. Most everyone came away feeling like it would be more fun at a higher player count.




 
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10. Board Game: Honshū [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:744]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #10

Day 2 began much the same as Day 1, with Lacy and I arriving downstairs before most everyone else. So once again we broke out Honshū for another quick 2-player game.

This game was really one of the hits of the con for me and I am sure it will see a lot of table time in the coming weeks.


 
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11. Board Game: Ex Libris [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:794]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #11 : Game #8

Next up was the game that Lacy and Bri got me for Christmas. I have heard some folks be snarky about the theme, but it feels like it was tailor-made for me and I found 3 other players who all felt the same way—that a game about collecting and alphabetizing books couldn't be more cool.

This game has the most amazing artwork and wooden meeples and everyone was surprised at how tricky playing the cards into the bookshelves was. Awesome stuff.


 
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12. Board Game: Meeple Circus [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:1055]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #12 : Game #9

After the brain-burning I got playing Ex Libris it felt like a good time to break out a easier game. Meeple Circus is another game with great colorful artwork and wonderful wooden bits, but it is a light and fun dexterity game with a soundtrack.

Played in "3 acts" with 5-players it was definitely silly fun, but with a big dose of high-stakes tension.


 
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13. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:47] [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked]
Shanda Hoover
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Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #13 : Game #10

After Meeple Circus a lot of folks drifted off to find lunch and the few of us who were left at the table decided to play a quick game of Azul, a game I already know and love and have been kicking myself for not picking up when I had the chance—but I digress.

Lacy and I were delighted to teach Delaina the game and get another chance to play ourselves.


 
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14. Board Game: Custom Heroes [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:1902]
Shanda Hoover
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Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #14 : Game #11

As mid-afternoon came around and the gang of gamers shifted and regrouped we turned our attention to a new game that Delaina had brought and that Chris B was imposed upon to teach, Custom Heroes. We played a 6-player game with Chris B's chair being filled at times by Chris M, or Ryan as Chris B was also teaching a game at the next table.

A novel game of trick-taking, ladder-climbing, and card-crafting. I liked it quite a bit.



[Left to Right: Shanda, Lacy, Chris B, and Delaina]
 
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15. Board Game: Istanbul [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:90]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
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Play #15 : Game #12

After Custom Heroes concluded the group morphed again as folks went looking for dinner. When I got back with my grub Delaina, Ryan, and Aaron were setting up a game of Istanbul and since I love the game I grabbed the fourth chair and joined in.


(I was so engrossed in reviewing the rules and playing that I forgot to take any pictures so as a representative shot I have borrowed David Luchetti's photo from the database.)
 
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16. Board Game: Edge of Darkness [Average Rating:8.14 Overall Rank:6322]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #16 : Game #13

To finish off Day 2 Ryan Dancey offered our little gang a sweet opportunity to play a prototype copy of Edge of Darkness, the latest BIG game from AEG that uses their card-crafting system. Lacy, Beth, Rebecca, and I were the lucky individuals who got to play while Ryan himself taught and supervised our progress.

The game's artwork is final, but the graphic design is not and the other bits are all prototype, however the table presence is still pretty impressive. There is definitely a learning curve to this one and with 4 very competitive and thoughtful players is was a long game—more than 3 hours including instruction. This one goes up on Kickstarter February 20, 2018 and there is at least one backer from our group.


[Bottom Left going clockwise: Beth, Ryan, Rebecca, Lacy, and myself.]

[overhead shot of the game setup and myself.]
 
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17. Board Game: New York Slice [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1304]
Shanda Hoover
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Play #17 : Game #14

On the final morning—Day 3—Lacy and I were running a bit later than usual after packing up the car and checking out of our room before looking for the usual gaming suspects. We found them soon enough and Aaron was preparing to teach New York Slice—a game I have been eager to try out—so I jumped in and after some arm twisting Lacy joined. Six players total with Aaron teaching and giving tips as we went along.




[Bottom left going clockwise: Eric, Chris B, Aaron, Rebecca, Beth, and myself.]
 
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18. Board Game: Zany Penguins [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:2148]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
Washington
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Play #18 : Game #15

After whetting our appetites on New York Slice the table broke up and I found myself along with Eric and Chris B waiting for Delaina to arrive. In need of a filler game that my tired brain could handle I pulled out Zany Penguins and taught it to the guys.

 
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19. Board Game: Asking for Trobils [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:2075]
Shanda Hoover
United States
Port Orchard
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Play #19 : Game #16

Once Delaina showed up we wanted a deeper game, that allowed for a large player count, but that wouldn't take too long since Beth and Rebecca had to leave to catch a plane. The solution was Asking for Trobils. I pulled out and set up my 1st edition copy for 6-players and managed to teach and play a game with time to spare. Everyone was amazed at the fast pace and literally no downtime between turns. It was great to play again as it reminded me of how much I enjoy this worker placement game.

 
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20. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2240]
Shanda Hoover
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Port Orchard
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Play #20 : Game #17

With Beth and Rebecca heading off to catch a plane and Chris B and Eric with things to attend to our numbers had dwindled down to three, Delaina, Aaron, and myself.

That is when Delaina pulled out Tiny Towns an unpublished prototype that she informed me that AEG has just bought the rights to. Despite being a very rough prototype with regards to artwork, graphics, and bits, the game itself was an interesting play.

[photos coming soon]
 
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21. Board Game: Custom Heroes [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:1902]
Shanda Hoover
United States
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Play #21

It was getting late in the afternoon when I sat down to what would be the last game of the con for me—another game of Custom Heroes this time with 5 players instead of 6.

Chris B gave some quick instruction to Eric who was the only one who hadn't played yet and we got right to it. With a bit of experience under our belts it was a close and competitive game that took longer than our first play even though it was a smaller player count. Great little game and a nice way to end my OrcaCon experience for 2018.



[Left to Right: Eric, Chris B, and Delaina]
 
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