July Stabcon 2009 - Games played and friends made.
Andy
United Kingdom
Manchester
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This weekend was the second of the bi-annual boardgames conventions in Stockport, England. The convention opens at around 2pm on Friday and runs through until about 5pm on Sunday... as a local resident, I was able to go on all three days, despite (or perhaps because!!!) it being my birthday on the 3rd.

This year there was a new, international attendee...
Hans Christian Kirketerp
Denmark
Aarhus C
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Who has been visiting England for a few weeks and arranged to be at the con. We made plans via geekmail beforehand to meet up at the con for a game.

Travelling with Hans Christian was another gamer
Rune
Denmark
Engesvang
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who also attended the con and with whom I managed a couple of games... though he did however turn out to be a Cylon!!!
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1. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:50]
Andy
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Due to the fact that I had to work on Friday, I didn't arrive until around 7pm... Hans and Rune had been there for a few hours and had managed a few games. Rune was in the middle of a game of Space Crusade, but after cruising around the room and greeting many of the familiar people, I met up with Hans. We had a good chat and then tried to find a few players for a game of something.

A friend Neil, whom I know from Shire Gamers, was just arriving, with a couple of his friends David and Angela, so the 5 of us sat down for a game of Race for the Galaxy... Hans had played before but it was new to the others, so I did my best to explain the mechanisms of the game, and we played a 5 player game (using the Gathering Storm expansion cards) with the pre-set hands.
 
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2. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:413]
Andy
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Manchester
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After RFTG we were keen to try something a bit meatier that would fit a couple of hours... we looked through the games David had brought, as well as the ones I'd taken, and Hans Christian liked the sound of Vegas Showdown.
No-one else had played, so I explained the rules and we got stuck in. Going 5th on the first round I was unable to buy anything, so felt like I was behind from the start... despite some good purchases later on I still struggled and came last... Hans Christian went the Lounge, Nightclub, Theatre route and won convincingly.

By now it was getting pretty late, so I headed off home, as I had an early start and errands to run in the morning before the con.
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3. Board Game: Piece o' Cake [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1472]
Andy
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Saturday morning, and I had a pre-arranged game of Battlestar Galactica... however I'd arrived pretty early, and the Cylons were not yet around... so I joined up with Boltongeordie; Ben_Tyrer; Andrew and Sam for a couple of quick fillers.
First up was this one... amusingly titled "Only with Cream Please".. a game based on the idea of 'I split the pie, you choose the portion'. A very clever little game considering such a simple mechanism... and one that I won with a shrewd decision halfway through not to eat a piece of Chocolate cake.
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4. Board Game: R-Eco [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1417]
Andy
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Manchester
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Still waiting for my companions of the Galactica to arrive, I managed to get in another filler... I stuck with Boltongeordie and Ben_Tyrer, and we were joined by Aratar (Hans Christian).

Most of us were being pretty cautious about illegal dumping, however partway through the game Hans was forced dump a couple of times, and this put him in a go for broke type situation... he managed to w2in despite all the negative points for dumping, as he'd managed to pick up some pretty high-scoring chips. I finished with negative points however... thanks to poor scoring and some illegal dumping late in the game.
 
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5. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:62]
Andy
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Manchester
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Saturday morning's main event was this smash game based on the re-imagined TV Series. I joined Fred (Terraformer); Charles; John and one of Fred's work colleagues Kieran... and we were joined by Hans' friend Rune (Aermord). Only Fred and I had played before, so I had the mammoth task of explaining the game before we were able to prep the ship.

I had first pick of roles, and I chose Gauis Baltar... John took Chief Tyrol, while Charles was Admiral Adama, Rune was Apollo, Fred was Starbuck, and finally Kieran was Helo.

Right from the off there was some pretty suspect behaviour from the crew, and at least 1 skill check was sabotaged... The Admiral was convinced that his own son was a toaster and tried to executively order President Baltar to have him thrown in the brig... but as usual Baltar chickened out and instead called a press conference... then later released some Cylon mugshots to try and draw out the truth about the Admiral himself.

By the time we reached the halfway point, we were lower on fuel than we should have been... Cylon Sympathiser Starbuck was thrown in the brig, and pretty soon after, Apollo revealed himself to be a treacherous Cylon... damaged Galactica and then resurrected back in the Cylon fleet. Rune had however mistakenly revealed both Cylon cards, so when he used the action at the resurrection ship to give away his second loyalty card, we gave him a bunch of non-cylon cards, so that he could give 1 card to each player and maintain the level of suspicion. Unsurprisingly however Admiral Adama then turned out to be a sleeper agent, and when we jumped with only 2 fuel, Bill lead us on a fools errand and we used everything we had.. leaving us dead in the water and at the mercy of the entire Cylon fleet...
I think everyone enjoyed the game... Rune certainly seemed to have a lot of fun as the original Cylon, throwing suspicion around and causing chaos.
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6. Board Game: Snow Tails [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:604]
Andy
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Manchester
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Fred's mate had to go, so we were down to 5 players, and several people were keen to try Snow Tails. Rune was about to join a pre-planned game of Descent, but he stayed with us until he was needed.

Charles managed to kill his sled on the first bend... first crossing the speed-line at 4 faster than he should have, and then crashing into the back of my sled meaning he had no movement cards to play. He took over from Rune when he had to go, and did his best to crash that sled as well!!!

Fred had a commanding lead out of the second bend, and none of us were able to catch him.. I just hung on for second place, with Rune's sled (now piloted by Charles) just finished third (losing the tie-breaker to me!). Meanwhile John had crashed into the wall just before the penultimate bend and killed his sled.
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7. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Andy
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Manchester
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Now down to 4 players, Fred, Charles, John and myself decided to try and save the world from a swine flu pandemic!
None of the others had played before, so I explained the mechanisms... including the customery pregnant pause after explaining the Intensification mechanism (where discarded infection cards are shuffled and placed back on top of the deck).. there were a few ooohs and aaahs as the realisation of what this meant struck people.

Fred started out as the Scientist, with Charles as the Operations Expert, John the Medic and myself as the Dispatcher. We played with the standard 5 epidemic cards, and it wasn't too long before we had suffered too many outbreaks and were dead.
 
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8. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Andy
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Manchester
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Keen to have another go, we reset the board shuffled the roles and started again... this time Fred was the Medic and John the Scientist... Charles stayed as the Operations Expert and I remained as the Dispatcher, meaning the Researcher was once again discarded.

Playing with 5 epidemics still, we did a lot better than we had in the previous game, but were still unable to save the world.
 
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9. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Andy
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Manchester
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While we'd been playing, Alex (prodromoi) and Keziah had seen us and were both keen to give it a try. I offered to teach them, and Fred, Charles and John were ok with playing something else, without me, for a bit. Bruce was also looking for a game, and he joined us. I went through the rules again and we set out trying to save the world once more.

This game played out quite differently, with new blood and new ideas... we cleared a lot of the diseased areas early on, and then started to work towards cures... this gave us a bit more time, and we in fact came within a couple of turns of ending the game by running out the player deck, however a spectacular double outbreak at the end finished us off.
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10. Board Game: BANG! The Bullet! [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked]
Andy
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Fred, Charles and John had finished their game, and were keen to play Bang! Bruce and I joined them and we had a 5 player game. John started out as the sheriff, and it was pretty obvious early on that Fred and Bruce were outlaws and Charles was the Renegade... I was the Deputy of Course... Despite Fred taking a lot of damage early on from John, Charles and myself, he kept managing to hang on, and it was my Deputy that became the first casualty.
I left the others to it and went to find another game. I'm not sure what the outcome was, but soon after I saw Fred and he said he'd been killed off and the game was still going.
 
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11. Board Game: Sky Runner [Average Rating:5.55 Overall Rank:12136]
 
Andy
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SteveK2 had been playing with Boltongeordie, Ben_Tyrer and Paul (gameslore), and while the game of Bang continued, they were just getting ready for another game... I joined them for this light racing/auction game.
Paul got off to an excellent start, but was then hindered by all the rest of us... I pulled ahead next, and was dragged back into the pack.. meanwhile Ben had been hit hard a few times and was back on the starting face of the building. Steve managed to pull ahead of the pack just in time to reach the top and get over the ledge before anyone could stop him.
 
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12. Board Game: FITS [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1274]
Andy
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Manchester
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SteveK2, Paul (gameslore) and I met up with Chooi, Gavin (G_Man) , Richard (Rplea) and Hans (Aratar) for some dinner in the hotel, and afterwards, while Chooi, Richard, Gavin and Hans were finished their game of Roll Through the Ages, Steve, Paul and I played Fits... the new Tetris-Bingo game from Reiner Knizia.
A surprisingly clever little game, but very much multiplayer-solitare. Paul (pallwood) joined us for the last round, and almost overtook both Paul and Myself. Steve won as the only one of the starting three of us who'd played before.
 
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13. Board Game: Dominion: Intrigue [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:59] [Average Rating:7.76 Unranked]
Andy
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SteveK2 then played something with Hans and Richard, while Chooi, Gavin, Paul (gameslore) and I opened Chooi's new copy of the Dominion expansion and played a couple of game.
In this first game the saboteur dominated the proceedings, removing all the good cards from our decks and replacing them with Pawns or copper coins... it turned out to be a very low-scoring game, and I just won with 4 Great Halls and 4 Estates.
 
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14. Board Game: Dominion: Intrigue [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:59] [Average Rating:7.76 Unranked]
Andy
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Our second game seemed to be mainly about the Coppersmith and the Masquerade. Gavin was able to buy a province on only his third turn, with 4 copper and a coppersmith... and that set the tone for the rest of the game... meanwhile the Masquerade meant we were all passing either estates or copper coins to each other.
Gavin won, just a few points ahead of Chooi... while I managed to finish just ahead of Paul.
 
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15. Board Game: Finca [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:536]
Andy
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Manchester
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My final game of the day was this recent Spiel des Jahres nominee. I played with Chooi, Gavin and Paul (gameslore)... SteveK2 taught us the game before joining Paul (pallwood) and Richard (rplea) for a game. Meanwhile Hans and Rune were somewhere locked in a dungeon, enjoying the Order of the Stick game.
I struggled in this game, as my movement plans were regularly screwed up on the windmill by the other players and I frequently got beaten to the deliveries I wanted to make. Gavin won easily, with Paul in second place, and chooi just managed to scrape ahead of me by 1 point, so I finished last!
 
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16. Board Game: Australia [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1916]
Andy
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Manchester
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I arrived a bit later on the final day... sometime after 1015. But fortunately Chooi, Gavin and Richard (rplea) were just setting up for a game of Australia and had space for another player (I forgot to ask if these guys had been playing together all through the night!!). Only Richard had played before, before he explained the rules... and as often happens in any rule explanation, some things got left until partway through the game.. and at least 1 rule we got wrong from the start. We hassled Richard a bit (in good humour) over the rule explanation.. particularly as he went on to win by a big margin thanks to being the only player to score from the windmill for most of the game, having placed just 1 ranger there. I came second, and was very satisfied with that. Gavin beat Chooi, who was pretty vocal about having come last.
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17. Board Game: Im Reich der Wüstensöhne [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:4128]
Andy
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After Australia, Richard and I jumped straight into a game of
Realm of the Desert Sons... A tile-laying exploration game by Klaus Teuber (Settlers; Entdecker) along similar lines to both Entdecker and Carcassonne.
SteveK2 taught us the game and we set about exploring the desert and loading up our camels with rare spices and jewels. A neat little eurogame, in which we managed quite a bit of interaction by muscling in on each others' oases.
I rather enjoyed the game, and winning gave it that extra little taste of sweetness.
 
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18. Board Game: Sternenhimmel [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:3505]
 
Andy
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Next up was Richard's copy of Sternenhimmel, which he and SteveK2 had been meaning to play at Stabcon for a few years now... despite being an older game, I enjoyed this little area-control game based on the constellations of the astrological signs. Richard won this, with my just managing to beat Steve by 1 point. The interesting mechanism here is that the first place in each constellation gets the most points, but then has to pay points to anyone who was third, so it tended to become a game of trying to be second in any constellation, and therefore netting almost as many, if not more points than the first place position.
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19. Board Game: FITS [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1274]
Andy
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My last game of the day, before I had to head off to a friends birthday party, was a return to this abstract solitaire game. Paul (pallwood) joined SteveK2, Richard (rplea) and myself for 4 rounds of brain burning geometrical fun.
Despite a poor start in round 1, I did much better in later rounds and actually managed to finish second, behind the more experienced Paul.. Richard managed to beat Steve by just a couple of points.
 
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20. Board Game: Funny Friends [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1649]
Andy
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It had been an excellent convention, and I managed to play some really great games... A good mix of new to me games, and some old favourites.

I also managed to play with some great people... always a pleasure to join SteveK2, Richard (rplea) and Paul (gameslore) for games...

It was really nice to meet Hans (aratar) and Rune (aermord), over from Denmark, and to play some games with them...

I often play with Chris (boltongeordie) and Ben_Tyrer... who are always challenging and fun to play with...

I now regularly play with local lads Fred (terraformer), Charles and John, since meeting them a few stabcons ago, and always enjoy their company...

And I play weekly with Chooi, Gavin and Bruce, who are great gamers and always good fun to play with.

Thanks to absolutely everyone I played with (apologies if I've omitted anyone) and a big thanks to Hammy and Michelle for the fantastic job they do of organising the con every year... No doubt I shall be back next January for the winter Stabcon.

If you're a stabcon attendee... don't forget to sign up to the Stabcon guild:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/guild/694
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