Lone Star 2007 Play list
Anye Freer
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This was my second time at the Lone Star Game Fest, the third time the event was held. I hope I don't miss any more of them because they are great fun.

I was able to attend from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening. My honey was able to attend only on Saturday & Sunday. We wanted to focus mostly on "games we knew were good" but also try a few games specifically on our to-try list.

Lots of thanks to Kevin Nunn, Debra Joyner, Amy Pike and Gene Platt for running it all!
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1. Board Game: Reef Encounter [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:486]
Anye Freer
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When I arrived, Stephen C. and his wife Karen V. were looking to get a game of Reef Encounter going. Although they'd both played before it had been quite awhile so I refreshed them on the rules and we played. I had just played with Jason at home a few days before so it was quite fresh in my mind. Also, I got abnormally lucky tile draws and so was able to build up and eat my corals very quickly. I always enjoy playing this one so it was a great start to the con.
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2. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:119]
Anye Freer
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A con isn't a con without Tichu, and actually it is surprising that I only played it the one time.

RJ was showing off his hand-made deck from a regular deck of cards, but we started playing with a standard deck. I dealt the first hand, we played it through, then when I was dealing the second hand I noticed we had too few cards. A sort determined we were missing the green queen. We looked all over around the table and never found it, so we went on to RJ's handmade deck. We'll never know whether I merely didn't notice that it was off the first round, or whether the card did just vanish into thin air!

Although I didn't get to play Tichu again at the con, I was excited to see one of my old friends (Amy M.) who is relatively new to "our type of gaming" playing and thoroughly enjoying the game. I look forward to having her and her husband John over to play with Jason and I soon.
 
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3. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:670]
Anye Freer
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During the gameshow, while waiting for our turn, I taught Amy & John this one because I could teach it fast and at a whisper.
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4. Board Game: Trans Europa [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1167]
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We played this one in the back of the room in-between our rounds in the gameshow. Amy particularly loved it so I look forward to teaching her Ticket to Ride, Santa Fe Rails, and Union Pacific next (before moving on to Age of Steam, Empire Builder, and 18xx )
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5. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:128]
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This had been on Jason's and my "must try" list since before BGG.Con but we never managed to get near enough a copy to try it. We finally did on Saturday morning and I thought it was delightful. Kevin H. was kind enough to go over the rules for us (because the instruction book has you play your first game without fully knowing them, you end up flubbing it pretty badly). I can see why people compare it to Factory Fun, there is the same element of putting pieces together, matching connections etc., but this is a lot more fun. You're trying to build a functional spaceship where speed, defense, offense, power, crew space, and cargo space are ALL important, but you have limited space AND limited time. Then, you have to "race" through a bunch of obstacles designed to test your ship's defenses to the fullest.

I got creamed, ended up with a whole six bucks, but I really enjoyed it and wished copies were more readily available. Another reason to be bummed I missed Essen this year! Jason also liked it and we think his older son would love it.
 
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6. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:133]
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We were trying to coordinate when to start Die Macher, one of my favorites that I wanted Jason to try, but while trying to do this we started a game of Ra with Amy & John and John Simons (who owns the FLGS Midnight Comics). We only played one round before we had to go off to get Die Macher started but I think the others either continued without us or started over. I always enjoy playing Ra but I'm not sure it enthralls me as much as it used to. Still, I do like the game and would play it anytime.
 
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7. Board Game: Die Macher [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:185]
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Jason had bemoaned that we didn't play enough long games at home, and one common characteristic of games he hasn't enjoyed as much were ones where there was little ability to plan ahead. So I thought he'd love this one.

But, it was a hard sell. He started out quite unimpressed, but liked it better by the end. Regardless he didn't think it scratched any itches for him and that it was too long. So, I think we may try to do the 5 election variant and see if that length would make it more enjoyable for him. As for me, I always love it.. but the headache I'd been fighting the past couple days was coming out in force by the end of it so we went off to dinner afterwards and sadly missed the prize ceremony.
 
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8. Board Game: StarCraft: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:339]
Anye Freer
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Jason had bought this one when it first came out but we hadn't been impressed with it as a 2 player game. So we were looking forward to trying with more. We played a four player game late Saturday night.

In contrast to our 2p games, which were about 30-45 minutes each, this monster game lasted over four hours. Analysis paralysis on the part of one of the players was the main culprit - he sometimes took 10 minutes to place an order! Having two players new to the game probably didn't help either. But, we started to think Aldaris was a bit overpowered - we got to a point where we could see that Stephen C., playing Aldaris, would win in 3 turns if no one could take away one of his conquest point areas. Jason successfully argued that it wouldn't be possible so we canned the game and declared Stephen the victor.
 
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9. Board Game: Fjords [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:1095]
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Jason and I tried this quick Carcassonne-light-esque 2p filler before heading up to bed. It was cute and we'd happily play it but neither Jason nor I usually get excited about fillers. It did get me thinking though about the recent passing of the designer (Benno Delonge) though, who I liked and respected very much and who will be missed.
 
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10. Board Game: Roads & Boats [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:271]
Anye Freer
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This is one of my favorites so I wanted Jason to try it. If he liked it, I would plan to cough up the large amount of money that the game currently costs to get it, since it has a lot of replay potential with the variable maps. I knew he liked Antiquity so I was hopeful for this one, since they are somewhat similar.

He liked it but felt it was a bit solitairish, which it is at the beginning. Eventually there definitely would have been more competition for the mines in the middle and some of the more advanced buildings, but we decided that he had a feel for it about an hour in and put it away to go try some other games on the list with other people who had just arrived.
 
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11. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:47]
Anye Freer
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I'd played this only once before at Aldie's house, where looking back I suppose someone must have known the game well to teach it because I didn't remember there ever being an issue.

But no one else at the table had played it and I was the "experienced one". We spent an hour trying to go through the "choose your own adventure" style rulebook and people got hopelessly lost. We finally decided to can it and wait until someone who REALLY knew the game could teach it. But Jason is definitely excited to try it again because it is up his alley.
 
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12. Board Game: StarCraft: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:339]
Anye Freer
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Jason had said he had to go home to work but then got seduced into another game of Starcraft. This time we had five players and didn't have the AP issue we had before, but a bit of a steeper learning curve for Amy M. who had never played anything like it before. So this game also went on about 4.5 hours, but it didn't drag as much as the one the night before. Again we thought Aldaris was a bit overpowered, and then I noticed the discrepancy between the faction sheet and overview about the Queen of Blades' special victory condition and (not having immediate geek access to check out which was right) went with the more difficult version (which happened to be wrong).

Aldaris (Amy) did indeed end up winning. The Overmind was close behind though, he also got his special victory condition.

Jason and I discussed this game some more later. We definitely think it needs at least 3 players, and that to try to avoid the overpowering problem you pretty much have to try to set up the universe as "evenly" as possible. If any player is allowed to spread out in "rich" territory, their special victory condition will likely be easy for them to achieve. Having planets with only one or two entry points seems to be a bad idea for this reason based on the advantage it gives anyone with their base cutting it off from others.

In this game there were several "protected" systems and Aldaris ended up having easy access to several of them. I as Queen of Blades actually could easily get 3 conquest point areas, and would have likely won had we stuck with that interpretation of the rules (although Aldaris took away the third at some point, I can't remember if it was before the 3rd stage though).

So we need further play to refine our opinion of the special victory condition balance issues.

This was our last game of the con though. Looking forward to next years, which actually won't be in 2008 because it starts on 1/1/2009!
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