The dark side is strong in California (just a games played at a con geeklist) (Meeplefest 2009)
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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For the last two years Lisa and I have taken a vacation in August to sunny California. Do we go to the beach? Do we sightsee? Don't be silly! We PLAY GAMES! And hang out with people, and meet new friends.

Though actually, it should be noted that "sunny" CA was refreshingly cool and nice compared to the heat we've been having in Colorado at the moment!
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1. Board Game: I Don't Know, What Do You Want To Play? [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:6066]
Brian M
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A convention vacation is nice, but we always wind up stressing beforehand.

There's always the usual issues of when to get to the airport, how early to leave and stuff like that. We really considered the bus this year, but it winds up being more expensive than parking, takes a lot longer, and puts at the mercy of the somewhat unreliable public transportation.

There's the stress of what games to bring. With only carry on bags, we have to plan carefully. We wanted to bring Shadow Hunters to give our custom characters some more play. A few small games that fit easily, and at the last moment we decided to add Der Hexer since it didn't seem well known. I did take out the insert so other game stuff could be packed inside the box!

Then there was the RPG issue. We had a lot of fun playing D&D (4e) last Meeplefest, and Ric had requested D&D. After much debate, I decided I'd bring the stuff for an adventure. Mostly a pain because making characters in 4e is such a nuisance. Then Lisa and I got to talking about how easy it used to be to make characters and adventurers for the old Dragon Storm game, and I wind up deciding to bring stuff for that. Then one of the con goers online comments about a game with more in depth roleplaying would be nice, and I start flipping through my old Deadlands rulebook and think "hey, I've got a one-shot idea for that..." and stat up some Deadlands characters in Savage Worlds and get that ready to go. RPG overload!

Finally, what games to bring for the game exchange. We debated and debated, and finally decided what to get. Then discovered TimeWellSpent had just gone on vacation! Ahh! Other online stores wouldn't have time to deliver! Luckily, the owner of Gateplay came to the rescue, since he would be at the con and could bring games directly for us. Whew.

Crisis averted, games packed, it was time to head to the convention!
 
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2. Board Game: Fairy Tale [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:747]
Brian M
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Colorado
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We did terrible getting out, with last minute changes in what games we would bring. By the time we'd settled on where to eat at the airport, we actually didn't have time to play a game there. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

We got an aerial view of our house on the way out. Or at least Lisa did - it was too low for me (not right by the window) to see.

We stopped watching the provided inflight little movie when it got kind of disturbing, following being boring. Really losing combo!

We did manage to play our favorite filler on the flight though. I think we play this at least once on the trip to or from every convention.

I actually managed to win this, by one point. Very close!
 
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3. Board Game: Witch of Salem [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1549]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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We got to the airport with lots of time. However, we had some problems getting a shuttle to the hotel.

First, our hotel was mysteriously absent from the computer terminals that showed area hotels.

When we finally got the number, they said the shuttle driver was on lunch, but would be there to pick us up in 15 minutes or so.

The shuttle pickup was located in a different place from last year, with new construction. When we saw other commuters having to run to meet their bus in a different location, we started to worry a little.

Half an hour later, we decided to call the hotel (discovering that I'd cleverly programmed the hotel number into my cellphone...pity I forgot earlier when we were searching for it!) - I think we'd been forgotten about! But they assured that we'd be picked up within 15 minutes or so.

Another half hour later, we were still busless. We called again. They called the shuttle - and discovered they were driving around trying to find us, having completely missed the new bus stop location!

Oh well. We finally made it to the hotel. By then, we barely had time to settle in and take a relaxing dip in the pool and hottub before people were supposed to be arriving and we'd all go out to dinner.

Or so we thought. As it turned out, we had time to get devastated by the forces of the Mythos no less than 3 times before people arrived. This was helped by the game defeating us really fast.

The last game, we were about to win; Lisa had gone to R'lyeh, though she only had enough sanity to last one turn. We had the gates sealed; all I needed to do was close the MU gate on my turn, and we had plenty of room on the Necron track.

Except the event for the last turn was the evil Robert Craven! He sent me back to MU, so I couldn't stay there and seal, and Lisa went mad.

All those brutal defeats - clearly the dark side is stronger in California!
 
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4. Board Game: The Golden City [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1673]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Finally, people started appearing! At least we got credit for first game played...how many VPs is that worth?

We all out to St. Johns for dinner. St John's has burgers; pretty darn good burgers, and some of the best onion rings I've had.

Then, back to the hotel, and finally to get to some serious gaming!

Though, with one group playing a giant game of Hamsterrolle (giant as in physical size giant - maybe four feet across!) and another playing Dixit, it wasn't all that serious.

We, however, were going to play The Golden City, a new Kosmos game that Doug and Shelley offered to teach us. Since the hotel was still setting up the conference room, we played outside on the patio of the hotel. This meant we were occasionally grabbing cards to keep them from blowing away in the wind, but not an obstacle that stops true gamers!

Goldene Stadt has a bit of bidding...sort of...a race to be first to take control of areas to score points, majority control of goods - lots of interesting elements mixed into a simple to play and enjoyable game.

Lisa had a great last turn, managing to get a key to the inner city and play in the inner city for a big bonus.

Scores:
Lisa 72, Brian 65, Doug 64, Shelley 27
 
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5. Board Game: Beer & Pretzels [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:5671]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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The conference room was now available. This time we opted for something much lighter, and Ted taught us his new game, Beer & Pretzels. A very portable dexterity game, good for a light filler.

Playing with the designer may have put us at a slight disadvantage though!

Ted 33, Brian 30, Lisa 29, Toni 25
 
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6. Board Game: Shadow Hunters [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:724]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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We had eight people around, which limits the options, but Shadow Hunters plays well with a group!

Things went very badly for the Shadows, as poor Allie wound up being mistaken for a Hunter and relentless attacked, while the Shadows got picked off.

Lisa, Lorna and Linda - lost as the Shadows.
Toni, Ted and Bruce - won as the Hunters.
Brian - died as Daniel...third, so no win.
Marvin - died as Allie - we hardly ever see that happen!
 
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7. Board Game: Time's Up! Title Recall! [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:291]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Sigh...the disaster that follows was my fault. Someone suggested Time's Up.

For some bizarre, disturbed reason, I was actually curious to play this game.

Now, I hate trivia games. So, if anyone sees me about to play one again, please hit me over the head and remind me:

It doesn't matter how much people say "this isn't like other trivia games", its still a trivia game and you're still going to hate it".

Admittedly, I had a pretty big misconception here. It had been explained as playing 3 rounds; first round you can say whatever, second round you can only give one word. The idea is that after the first round you know what's in the deck.

However, the first "round" actually lasts many "rounds of people" having to guess. Uggg, it takes forever. We hadn't made it through all the cards before I pushed to quit - it was getting way later than we wanted to stay up anyway.

(Actually, I pushed to just move on to the second round with the cards we'd already seen, but that was apparently somewhat heretical).

Would also be greatly improved by playing on teams bigger than two, so you aren't just completely hosed when the guesser has no idea what they are trying to make you guess.

Teams:
Lorna + Lisa
Ted + Bruce
Marvin + Toni
Brian + Linda

Sorry all!
 
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8. Board Game: Pickomino [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1074]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Slept in late, got up barely in time to enjoy the hotel breakfast buffet, and then joined the game of good old Pickomino that was just starting up.

No scores recorded, but I won! Lisa, Lorna, Ted and Bryon did not.
 
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9. Board Game: Hop Hop Hooray! [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:4912]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Breakfasted and warmed up, it was time to play a deep, involving, intense, brain burning game.

But for some reason we tossed colored marbles around and made frog sounds instead

Greg 12, Lisa 10, Brian 10, Chia 8.
 
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10. Board Game: Finca [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:537]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Still not in the terribly heavy category, though it does feature a rondel style action system. Gather fruits, and the mules to haul them with, and score points for crops before someone else grabs them first! Chia and Greg taught us this one (I think they teach us a new game every con). We both enjoyed it.

Greg 46, Brian 41, Chia 40, Lisa 38
 
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11. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:149]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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As the resident fanatic Space Alert fans, it just wouldn't be right if we didn't start the ships getting blown up and other assorted chaos.

Since we had a few new players, we started with a simulation, then jumped into a full mission. We even won both! 7 points on the simulation, 23 on the mission. I don't remember any exciting details - probably because exploding is often more memorable. Fun and excitement were had though.

Captain Eric, Communication Officer Lisa, Security Brian, XO Greg, Red Shirt Jeff.
 
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12. Board Game: Pyramid of Pengqueen [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1363]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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I had read the rules for this while Lisa taught Space Alert, and now felt ready to give it a try. Somehow I got picked as the Mummy, and set out to capture the hapless explorers. This went well...except Lisa was damn slippery and kept evading me. I had her cornered and could have caught her, except Eric passed up reseting the dice and cost me my chance. Curses! (I was a mummy...we're good at 'curses'). Jeff was eliminated entirely, and Lisa wound up sneaking out with all five of her treasures.

For lunch, we ventured out to Specialties, a sandwich stop down the street. While their salads were recommended, we weren't impressed. A few good toppings on a huge (these salads were gigantic, make no mistake) helping of what looked a lot like cole slaw mix. Not exciting.

Unfortunately, the mummy's curse I had been threatening Lisa with - or possibly the really late night the previous day took their toll, and she had to crash out sick for a few hours.
 
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13. Board Game: Valdora [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1218]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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When Lisa recovered enough to venture into the world of the gamers again, we ran into Greg, and discovered he knew how to play Valdora, which we were very curious to try. He nicely taught us, and Lisa proceeded to completely clobber us.

Valdora is sort of a pick up and deliver game, but you have to purchase your orders and the gear to carry more gems around. Another excellent game!

Lisa 145, Greg Z 105, Brian 104*, Jake 92

* I realized later I had not scored my Purple workshop, and should have had more points. Still not even close to Lisa's score, so its kind of irrelevant.
 
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14. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:192]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Jeff D was somewhat skeptical that we had ever actually won Ghost Stories, so Mike M joined us and we did battle with Fu Leng, and won handily (only on Initiation - not so hard to do!)

I think it was helpful that he had the Gaurdhouse expansion; with a random draw, we had the Gaurdhouse (very useful) and left out the Night Watch (not so useful).

Win with 15 points!

To prevent a Fu Leng curse from following up the Mummy curse, we spent a while soaking in the hot tub and turned in early. Hot tub...ahhhh...
 
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15. Board Game: Einauge sei wachsam! [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:3808]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Friday morning, and the con would be getting more into the swing of things. We got off to a much better start ,and after breakfast Doug and Shelley taught us this clever pirate game.

Probably our favorite game of the con; simple but fun! But apparently we were all far too evenly matched in the piratey sense, as the scores show:

Shelley and Brian - tied with 36
Lisa and Doug - tied with 35
 
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16. Board Game: Alea Iacta Est [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1250]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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More new games! Seems like there's a lot of dice games lately, but Alea Iacta Est really distinguishes itself; its very interactive and confrontational, and there always seems to be something interesting to do with your dice. Our second favorite game of the con!

Lisa 43, Shelley 41, Brian 41, Doug 35, Greg P 35
 
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17. Board Game: Witch of Salem [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1549]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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After our earlier defeats, we should have run far away, but we saw Greg sorting through the rules for this and decided to offer to teach him. But a group of players fared no better than the two of us had done. Evil, evil evil!

Greg, Bruce, Lisa, Brian - all devoured by horrific old ones!

Since we'd been lunch, it was time to get some. Stephanie nicely took us along on a dangerous expedition to the grocery store, and then insisted that we needed to try In-N-Out. We were a bit skeptical about a fast food burger place, but I have to admit those are the best fast food burgers I've ever had.

As a side note, going to a grocery store in CA is an odd experience for a Coloradan - there's this whole huge wine and liquor section! What the heck is that doing there? Our grocery stores don't have those.
 
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18. Board Game: Hop Hop Hooray! [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:4912]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Lisa played this as a quick filler while I ran up to the room. Since I wasn't there, I can't comment on the fantastic contest of skill and dexterity that surely took place. Except to note that clearly frogs don't like Marvin.

Susan 13, Chris 12, Lisa 10, Marvin 4

Wait a minute, that's one point short...hmmm...
 
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19. Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1122]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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More new games! This one we'd really been wanting to try. Its a light dice game; a bit more interactive that many die rollers since you compete for pharaoh majorities, can block people out of monuments and civs, and can inflict disasters on each other.

If you go into expecting it to be like Ra, you'll be sorely dissapointed however. The scoring is almost exactly the same, the game play is completely difference.

Experience won out here; Jeremiah taught and won.

Jeremiah 53, Bruce 49, Brian 42, Lisa 38
 
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20. Board Game: Heimlich & Co. [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:1544]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Ok, I'm sorry. I apologize. This one is all my fault. I really thought I'd seen Doug and Shelley playing it twice, and it really looked like everyone was having fun.

We just bungled through wondering what the point of this was. Sure, you could try to bluff about which color you were, but what did it matter since people could clearly see which color was in the lead and try to stop that color?

Did not go over well at all.

Linda won.
Rick B, Marvin, Susan, Chris, Lisa and Brian all lost. And probably so did Linda by virtue of having played at all.
 
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21. Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1122]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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The way of the con: learn a game and teach it an hour later. I wonder how many errors get passed along by the constant word of mouth rules teaching...

We had six people; some of us wanted to try Ra dice, but it only goes to four. So we grabbed two copies and split into groups of three.

In our group, we clearly taught well and Linda, the new player won with 47. I had 45 and Lisa had 43.

In the other group, consisting of Chris, Susan and Marvin, Chris won with 100!

We had finished the game before they finished their first epoch - very odd die rolls!
 
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22. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:149]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Since we failed to get blown up last time, we had to give it another try. This time, with a captain who was brand new to the game, we had - stunning success! 43 points! We even jumped straight into the mixed yellow/white threat deck.

Capt Clark, CO Lisa, Sec Brian, RS Jodi, XO Jeff.
 
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23. Board Game: Carrousel [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:5187]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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I'm a firm believer in fitting in as many games as possible. Where other people said "the meet&greet will be starting in a moment, there's no time for a game", I said "there is if its quick enough!"

Of course, this mostly meant that I lost very quickly.

We played this last year at Meeplefest and I thought it was a very original and fun filler, quite different from anything else. I'm terrible at it though.

Clark 10, Lisa 7, Brian 3, Jodi 2.

 
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24. Board Game: FITS [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1274]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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And then for the gigantic game of FITS! Everyone at the con playing one big session together. In some cases, people had Blokus pieces and printed boards since there weren't enough Fits to go around, but it all worked.

Given my past record of scoring negative every time I played, I considered my 18 for this game a stunning success! I even did better than Lisa, who had 13.

The winner for the tournament was Mike, with a whopping 27 points! I think he was using the same starting pieces as me to.
 
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25. Board Game: Wizard [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:674]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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A big group of us found enough drivers and went out to Kabul's for dinner. I think maybe 12-13 people.

Kabul's had kabobs. Which amount to a lot of big chunks of meat, on some rice, with some kind of dry and tasteless bread. I think everyone else liked it, but I was not impressed.

We could have used this as a break to get away from games for a bit, but Jeremiah had brought along decks of cards! Tichu was played on the other end of the table, while we played Wizard on our end. I enjoyed this simple trick taking game; not as fun as Rage, but easier. The game nicely lasted through dinner.

Lisa and Ted were working so hard messing up each other's bids in the last few hands that I snuck in to win!
 
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