Los Angeles Orccon 2008--Acquisitions and Experiences
J.L. Robert
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The Presidents' Day Weekend brings the first Strategicon convention of the year to Southern California.

Orccon is the largest of the 3 Strategicon conventions held each year. The combination of the general lack of family traditions for outings for this holiday, the lack of alternative recreational activities at this time of the year, and the 5-1/2 month period since the last convention, all contribute to a larger turnout in February than the shows held Memorial Day and Labor Day Weekends.

I skipped out on last year's show, due to personal issues which had arisen at the time. However, this year I was ready to get back and have some fun.

With my high school friends, Bill and Mike (who comes out from Virginia each year just to attend this convention), this would be our version of our high school's 20 year reunion...with just the 3 of us.

Over the course of 2 days and nights, I played a number of games, and acquired several others...
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1. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:317]
J.L. Robert
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The three of us arrived in the evening on Friday. While Bill checked us into our room, I deposited my Playstation 2 console, plus several of my games, in the convention's Computer Room. In exchange for allowing its use, I would get my badge fee reimbursed to me.

After dropping off our bags, we came back down to the large ballroom where open boardgaming and tournaments are held. This hotel was the home for the Strategicon shows, and many great gaming memories for me, from the late 80's through the 90's. After a few years at another hotel, the conventions had begun to atrophy, burdened by complacency and indifference. A new ownership group has recently acquired Strategicon, and are making strides to restore the good name of these conventions, and bringing the conventions back to the home of its glory days is a great idea. It was wonderful to see this old ballroom filled with a variety of games and a large number of players...just like the old days.

The first game the three of us broke out was Shadows Over Camelot. The organizers keep a game library at the con, where people can check out games to play (a drivers license/state ID is collateral), so we took this one out to play. It was close, but the three of us were able to complete all 3 major quests (Lancelot's Armor, The Holy Grail, and Excalibur) to win the game.
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2. Board Game: Axis & Allies: Guadalcanal [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:2330]
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While we were checking out Shadows Over Camelot, I was spotted by one of the participants of the Orccon Math Trade, organized and run through this site.

So, before I could even play my first game of the weekend, my collection was getting larger. He handed me this game, which he owed me from the math trade, as well as a game from another math trader which was owed to me.

Bill and Mike would play this on Sunday, and they said it's pretty good. Bill wasn't enthusiastic with the shaker box thingy, but I'll have to figure it out for myself.
 
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3. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
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The other game handed to me Friday night was simple enough for me to teach to my two buddies. I had tried it a couple times before, and was finally able to land a copy of it.

While we were punching out the many tiles, a fourth player was able to join us, and kept us going along without making too many mistakes. Cashing in on the Pharoah bonuses each epoch, Bill was able to rack up the points for the win.

Mike later found a copy in the Flea Market tables, and picked up a copy for him to take home to his wife and younger daughter.

It was midnight by now, and we had all had long days. So, we three called it a night, and would get an early start in the morning.
 
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4. Board Game Accessory: Wings of War: Miniatures
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The Dealer Room opened up at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and we tried to head out there early. However, oversleeping kept us in our room until 9:30.

Looking around, Mike found these at the tables run by Seth's Games in Ventura. This vendor had a huge variety of games available. Mike, a fan of the Wings of War, picked up all 12 Series I models after I told him that each model includes a maneuver deck.

I wound up getting 2 of these for myself, so I could have one miniature of each aircraft model (I already had 3 aircraft, of 2 models). At least my pilot collection includes M. von Richtofen, Rahn, Udet, Barker and Fonck.
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5. Board Game: Wings of War: Top Fighters Booster Pack [Average Rating:7.34 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.34 Unranked]
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Continuing through the Dealer Room, it was nice to see so many different vendors there. I remember the days when twice as many dealers crammed themselves into this room, and the shoppers made maneuvering through the aisles difficult. But, this weekend showed significant growth compared to recent conventions; I hope it's a sign of a revival.

From The Weekend Warrior's booth, I found this gem to add to my own Wings of War collection. I like having variety in my games, so it was great to add these new aircraft to the system.
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6. Board Game: Wings of War: Recon Patrol Booster Pack [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked]
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I also picked this up from Weekend Warrior. New bombers to add to the game. Mike wanted to land these same boosters, but neither of us saw any other copies of either booster while we were there. He'll have to content himself with having 7 more miniatures than I do.
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7. Board Game: Railways of Europe [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked]
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The Gameology booth had a few copies of this new expansion. Dave is a great guy, and hosts a couple of SoCal Gamers events each month in his store in Claremont.

I'm happy to give him some of my money, because he's always kind enough to have us gamers at his store. So, I grabbed the new expansion for Railroad Tycoon. Like the Wings of War boosters, I didn't see it being offered at any other dealer (though I could have just overlooked it).

Of course, I get the one with the dinged box corner (thankfully, the boards are still fine).
 
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8. Board Game: Warmachine [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1286]
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My buddy Bill, on the other hand, found a dealer blowing out Warmachine figures. He's an avid player, Mike less-so, and I'm not at all interested in it.

Bill picks up a few boxes of figures, being offered at 50% off. Mike gets one or two.
 
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9. Board Game: Grand Conquest [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:5431]
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As we leave, I see this being offered by one of the dealers. Had I noticed it first, I would have had it in an instant, as I've been seeking it for a while.

I later spoke with the dealer, and asked them to bring another copy in May. I'll pick it up first thing then.
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10. Board Game: History of War: Pacific Edition [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:11394] [Average Rating:6.09 Unranked]
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After the Dealer Room, we visited the Flea Market tables. Mike picked up his copy of Ra here, and I bought this from the same seller.

Not once, not twice, but three times we looked at something, took a few minutes to consider the price, and returned to find the item had been sold to another person. Fortunately, it meant not having to spend that much more money.
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11. Board Game: Encounters [Average Rating:5.68 Overall Rank:12074]
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After shopping, we went back up to our room to drop things off. There, I pulled out a copy of this game. I had acquired a second copy of this a few years ago, as I had misplaced my first copy. Two weeks ago, I found that first copy. Knowing that Mike had been wanting a copy of this game since back when we first played it in high school, I was happy to finally get a copy in his hands.
 
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12. Board Game: Rail Baron [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1911]
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We decided to go to lunch after that. And chose to go to a Denny's that was nearby...

We soon realized that it wasn't quite so nearby. While a 5 minute walk from the convention's prior hotel, this time we spent about 30 minutes marching over to the restaurant. At least we got our exercise in.

After returning, the 3 of us walked around the rooms once more. I saw a tournament of Rail Baron starting, and decided to jump in. It had been a while since I had played the game, but it's not a complex game, so it was easy to recall the rules.

Despite getting frozen out of the Northeast, and extremely limited access to the North Cenral, it was a really close game. I wound up declaring for the win, and ending 2 spaces from my starting point as the winner only needed a 6 or more on 3 dice to win.

My second place finish allowed me to advance to the final round, but I declined to participate further, as I had committed myself to gather with other BGG members to complete the math trade I had received Ra and A&A: Guad. from the night before.
 
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13. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:411]
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The math trade gathering went smoothly. Had to wait a little for some stragglers, as was expected. But in the end, no real hassles.

I received Ra in exchange for this math trade staple. Pretty fair trade, cost-wise and value-wise.

After the math trade concluded, I went back into the dealer room and purchased another copy from a vendor selling his last copy for $15.
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14. Board Game: Across 5 Aprils [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:2532]
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This gem had been sitting in my parents' house for years, unopened. And me uninterested in keeping it, despite the great overall reviews it has received over the years.

This is what traded for A&A: Guad. I'm curious to see if it gets played, or returns to another math trade in the future.
 
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15. Board Game: Emperor of China [Average Rating:5.92 Overall Rank:10224]
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My parents had given me a copy of this many, many years ago. More out of the fact that they had it, and didn't have much use for it, while I was just starting out in this hobby. I had misplaced it in my journeys over the years.

So, I picked this game up in the math trade for sentimental reasons.
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16. Board Game: Attacktix Battle Figure Game: Star Wars [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:5698]
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Emperor of China was acquired for several boosters of this game. I had no real desire to keep these, so anything for them is alright with me. Getting them from my local 99-cent store makes it easy for me to part with them.
 
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17. Board Game: Panzer Grenadier: Airborne (Introductory Edition) [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:5834]
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The person getting my Attacktix boosters also gave me this game in the same trading chain.

I have several games in this series already, but haven't had the chance to start up with any of them. I hope this will make things easier for me to get into the Panzer Grenadier system.
 
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18. Board Game: The Bridges of Shangri-La [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1167]
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Another often marked down game went for the Panzer Grenadier set. I had been unlucky in moving this game over the past few math trades, but it did find a new home at last.
 
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19. Board Game: Panzer Grenadier: Semper Fi! Guadalcanal [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:5959]
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One of the math traders arrived, stating that he was trying to pare down his collection. He was looking for more shelf space, and was dealing away some bigger box games. However, it appeared to me that he left more burdened than when he arrived, based on what he acquired in the math trade.

This was one of his games that didn't trade. I asked to look at it, because it's on my shopping lists, since it's another Panzer Grenadier title. When he saw my interest in it, he simply gave it to me! I offered to pay for it, or to at least buy him a drink. But he declined my offers.
 
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20. Board Game: Red Parachutes: Soviet Airborne Assault Across the Dnepr [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:7166]
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That same trader almost gave me a copy of Arkham Horror, also for free. But when it was discovered that it was actually trading in the math trade (he didn't keep any records; fortunately, the moderator did, and I made sure to check before accepting his further generosity), I was instead handed a copy of this. Again, for nothing.

Thanks, Karl, for both games. I'll be giving this one a look-over soon.
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21. Board Game: Skräll [Average Rating:5.52 Overall Rank:13991]
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While I was playing Rail Baron and math trading, my buddies were doing their thing. Bill played in a demo of this game of space raiders. He enjoyed it, and was tempted to buy it at the convention price, but he eventually decided to pass on it for now.
 
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22. Board Game: Age of Gods [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:3233]
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Bill also participated in a demo of this game. Another game he enjoyed, but again he decided to think about it for another time.
 
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23. Board Game: BattleLore: Dwarven Battalion Specialist Pack [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
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Both Bill and Mike chose to buy this for their BattleLore collections. They're slowly leaving me in the distance, as I haven't been as dilligent as they have been with picking up the various expansions for this system.
 
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24. Board Game: Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:532] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
J.L. Robert
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
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After re-assembling, the three of us dropped off our acquisitions back in the hotel room, then went out for dinner. The disadvantage of this convention site is the lack of dining choices in close proximity, compared to the previous venue. Aside from the restaurants from the various restaurants in the area, there is only a Subway sandwich shop within a 10 minute walk.

After dinner, it was time for the open gaming room. First up was Last Night on Earth. I brought my copy because Mike, like myself, is a zombie game player. So, he was eager to try this game out, especially after the positive reviews Bill and I have given it.

We played the introductory scenario, with Bill and Mike running characters and with me in charge of the zombies. I started strong with my shamblers surrounding, then eventually defeating, one character (the poor preacher didn't know what hit him). After a little maneuvering (mostly to avoid those darned shotguns!), I was able to surround and finish off the second character, as Jake the drifter just couldn't run away fast enough.

We played again later in the evening, with a fourth player joining in. Our fourth and Mike were able to successfully Save the Townsfolk, with their movement rolls allowing them to escape each attempt on the part of Bill and myself to surround them. The one event card which forces the heroes to flip 10 cards off their deck (with them losing if the deck is exhausted) left the heroes with ONE card, which was as close as we could get to winning.
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25. Board Game: Power Grid: France/Italy [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked]
J.L. Robert
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
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Between games of Last Night on Earth, we played Power Grid. With the new power plant deck, we tried to use the variant using both decks.

OK, we discovered that that was particularly annoying. It was like playing solitaire, flipping card after card until we were able to pare down the deck to the ones that would be used.

Playing on the Italy map, it was a close game, but I was able to out-power Mike on the last turn, despite him having more cities than myself.
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