qzhdad and family's Gencon 2009
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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After some hemming and hawing, sorting out hotel reservations, deciding who all would be coming along, the whole family headed down to Indiana last Wednesday for "the Best Four Days of Gaming!" I think the motto was a slight exaggeration, but it was certainly a good four-ish days for gaming.

Only 15 games of 10 different titles with 17 different Mitspieler, but still a fun con. I had not played anything previously with five of my opponents and few more I only get to play with at cons.

Race and Dominion were the only games that I played more than once.

This isn't my best writeup and it's late, but I hope you all enjoy it.


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1. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:2206]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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I'd planned to pack Tuesday, but John wanted to try our expansion for Steam, so H and I headed over to test some new ideas in between John and Tom's World in Flames turns. Not the most productive session, but our tweaks did seem to work as intended. I see lots of work still to do, but showing it to people won't be embarassing. H and I got home and hit the hay for our last good night's sleep for a while.
 
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2. Board Game: Pick & Pack [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:2669]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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So it's Wednesday morning and time to get packed for the trip. Clothes are an easy decision. Four pair of shorts, four or five shirts, socks and tennis shoes. Now, what games to take? My "travel" RftG and Perry Rhodan are givens, but what else to include. Lisa's favorite is Kleine Fische, so it's in. RftG with the expansions is another given. Galaxy Trucker is always fun. so it made the cut, We still have an unopened Dancing Eggs (it really needs a large area to play) and PowWow is a great group game. There's still room, so put a couple more in and call it good. Only two of these got got played, so next year....

The kids and Lisa got packed pretty quickly, but when we're changing and moving the rodent cages into one room for the pet-sitter's convenience, we notice that we need hay and rat food. A quick trip to Target remedies that and we grabbed some water and snacks for the people, too.

In my dreams we leave at 8 AM, in my nightmares, we leave at 4PM, and we wound up hitting the middle and started rolling just after noon. (We would have beaten that, but our subdivision hired some lumberjacks to take out the remaining dead ash trees from the common area behind our house and we wanted to make sure that they didn't drop them on our new-ish trees and/or our neighbor's garage or our play structure.)

Z has her permit now, so she started off in the driver's seat and we grabbed some drive through fast food and drove for six hours or so and got to the hotel ~6.
 
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3. Board Game Publisher: Rio Grande Games
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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I spent a good portion of the con demo-ing for Rio Grande in the fairly large room dedicated to that purpose. There were 36-40 tables with about that many games available for demo-ing/free play. We tried to keep 4-5 demo-er's in the room and the initial plan was to keep it open from 10-10 Thurs-Saturday.

When we got to the convention center, we got in line for badges for everyone, but me. Then we went to the RGG room to pick mine up. While we were there, we helped punch out the new games and get them set up for the next day.
 
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4. Board Game: Bottoms Up [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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There were a fw groups that wanted to hit Rock Bottom for dinner, so sixteen of us got there, more or less, at the same time and we got tables fairly close. So five Russells, Darrell, Alan, Kevin, Larry, Steve, Tom, Jim, Mike and three guys that they had been playing with filled an end of the dining room and visited, drank $2 microbrews, ate and generally had a good time. Times like these are certainly a good part of going to cons.
 
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5. Board Game: The Very Clever Pipe Game [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:3216]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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Most of the group decided to go to bed after dinner, but Darrell and Alan swung by our hotel for some games after dinner. We got the desk clerk to turn on the lights in the breakfast room and H joined us for a game of pipes and spaces, then watched as we played a couple games of Race for the Galaxy with all the bells and whistles before we called it a night.
 
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6. Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1121]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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So, Thursday and the sun is up. Must be time to head to the con. Z and H wake up and decide to come along early. We had breakfast and walked down to the convention center. I decide to check at RGG room to see if we need to do any more setup and discover that the doors are already unlocked with three groups of gamers already playing. Rather than chase them out until we "open" at ten, the kids and I decide to join them and try out this new dice game. Z dislikes auction games and so was not enamored of the original Ra. H thinks Ra is so-so. (I know, I am raising some Philistines.) They decide to humor me anyway and we played a round of the dice game. Both agreed that the dice game is better, but it's still not their favorite. It's certainly on my buy list and I think it would be even if I didn't really like Ra. The scoring and artwork are familiar, but otherwise there aren't many similarities. It was starting to get busy, so we called the game early and I got to work for a half hour or so. Then it was time to take Q to her quarterly doctor's visit, so I started back to the hotel.
 
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7. Board Game: Dominion: Seaside [Average Rating:8.06 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.06 Unranked]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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Not really, but during this shift, I learned from Valerie why there were no demo sets of Seaside there. (Afraid of too many advance spoilers, so they are keeping it close to the vest this time.)

I got to teach great games to great people for another four hours, but missed out on the great food that Jay had brought in. Meatballs and something that smelled like barbecue. (Did I mention Jay puts on a great party? laugh )

When the Exhibit Hall closed, our room filled up quickly for the rest of the night. I don't think that we had more than a couple empty tables all night (and those weren't empty long). Dale used his impressively loud voice at 8:45 and 9:30 to announce that we were closing at 10. I think everyone was actually out by 10:15 or so.

It was Lisa's birthday, so we took Tom Lehmann's offer to wait for the doors to get locked and headed to Alcatraz for a birthday beer and cake.
 
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8. Board Game: Word on the Street [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1454]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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I was only carrying Perry Rhodan and RftG, but Darrell had picked this one up, so we split into two teams. The kids and I were on one team, while Lisa, Darrell and John made up the other.

I'm planning a review on this one, but in brief, teams have to come up with a word that fits a category, then spell the word. Every letter on the board in their word moves toward their side of the street. When it takes three net steps, it's permanently claimed. Whoever gets more of the seventeen (or nineteen) letters wins. We were down to only Y annd M being left, so our teams first answer, regardless of category became YAMS! Then we came up with a real one. It was a close game that came down to the last letter. Lots of fun and worked well in the bar/restaurant environment.

We had to sweet-talk the waiter into snaring a piece of cake (kitchen closed at 11), but he did. We then trekked the three blocks west and four blocks north back to the hotel. The capitol is pretty impressive at night and we stopped to watch the bats for a while.
 
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9. Board Game: Montego Bay [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:3441]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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My eyes popped open around 6:30 on Friday, but everyone else was out cold. I grabbed a shower, made my Genie RftG moves and headed out to open the RGG room. I called security, then waited with Scott and Beth until the security guard arrived and let us in. We worked on re-arranging a little and cleaning up, but had "customers" within a few minutes of opening the doors. This game was one that I got to teach (not sure if it was that morning or not). I've only logged one game, but think this is a cool little simultaneous choice, serial resolution game.

I wasn't scheduled to work until 2, so I bailed when the (scheduled) first shift arrived.
 
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10. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:2206]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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I then called Tom Wham and we met him to try his new prototype, tentatively called Feudality. Each player purchases tiles to place on his board and everyone's board is activated with a die roll. It had the usual awesomely cute Tom art and worked very well. He was shopping it around at Gencon, but I didn't get to see him late in the con to see how it went. It's a nice little design and I hope it gets picked up.
 
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11. Board Game: Panzer Grenadier: The East Front [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:5429]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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After Tom's game, the kids went back to the Great Hall and Darrell and I located the Panzer General demo area to try Jim Ward's new game.

I got the Germans and Darrell, the Americans. We both started with some artillery, tanks and units of infantry and started fighting over the two objective points.
It's a quick simple little war game on a modular board made of rectangular tiles. Units can move one space or attack (armor can do both) every turn. Players each play a card from hand to add to the attack/defense and a random card from the deck (-2 to 3) is added to the attackers total. The twist is the on every attack, any friendly units adjacent or in range (for artillery) can support the attack. If the defender is not destroyed, a counter attack with the same support is made. If the attacker inflicts more damage, the defender must retreat and the attacker may advance. I think I like it, but will have to play it a couple more times before I am sure.
 
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12. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:362]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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Back to the RGG room for while. Chicago Express was probably the meatiest game that we had on display. I picked up a copy while I was in Germany in July, but hadn't opened it, yet. There is one rule that changed from Wabash Cannonball (round up on all dividends now) that I taught wrong for part of the weekend, but otherwise it's the same great game in a very attractive package. Queen did an excellent job of prettying up the board, adding "spinners" to keep track of actions and the trains are nicer than the original cubes. The icons they added for cost and value of the hexes really helps with playability, too. I taught it to a few groups that I suspected would not like the game, but most of them proved me wrong.
 
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13. Board Game: Royal Palace [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1066]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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This is another that we taught quite a bit. I'd had this for a few months at home, but hadn't tried it until Kevin and I decided that we needed to learn the rules.

It's really a very interesting area majority game. You get bonuses for having majorities of servants in various rooms in the castle. The servants are used to recruit more servants, move servants or to make seals and earn gold. These resources are used to recruit nobles to your factions. I'll probably get a review out on this one in the future, too.

At 10, most people left and we headed off for dinner. Kevin and Darell were scouting for us and we learned that nights of football games are not good times to get tables anywhere. So we wound up at Alcatraz again. Certainly there are worse places to eat, drink and play games.

We discovered a parking lot that allowed us to cut a corner from our otherwise orthogonal journey, so we saved a few steps. We were still glad to get back to the hotel for some shuteye.
 
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14. Board Game: A Castle for All Seasons [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1044]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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Saturday I slept in until 7:15 . Same routine and arrived at the RGG room and called security around 8:15. No real re-arranging this morning, but we still had eager demo-ers aplenty. This is another game that doesn't get a lot of attention, but seemed well received by the demo-ers. It's a pretty quick game of 12 or 15 turns with a lot happening. Each turn players simultaneously select roles that let them collect money, resources and/or build buildings for money or glory. The master builder role allows players to pick up (for reuse) their already played role cards and also, if they time it correctly score for other player's building activities that turn. Erecting buildings often opens up positions that players can populate with their workers for end game glory points. The whole game plays in less than an hour and gives lots of opportunities to out guess and out build one's opponents.
 
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15. Board Game: Steam [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:109]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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I met John to set up our Age of Markets game in the open gaming area, but we only got Darrell to join us. I did get to visit with Bill Corey who was playing Starcraft at the next table. While we were playing Lisa and the kids made it down, so when we finished our game, I took the kids to the exhibit hall while Lisa recovered from the four blocks in 90+ temp/humidity.

 
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16. Board Game: Jungle Speed [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1067]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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Then it was back to RGG for a few hours. On my break, the kids and I headed to the exhibit hall and stopped by Asmodee's booth. We taught this little gem to Kenneth, but all their other demos that we wanted to try were busy. H and I wandered over to try the Naruto card game. It has some interesting features and we managed to get a lot of cards from their version of three card Monte/Naruto. H has made a few decks, but we've not tried it since we got home. We wanted to get in a Cash n Guns demo, but it looked like it was going to go until closing. On the way out, we admired the kids playing Guitar Hero.
 
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17. Board Game: Battle of the Bands [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:9897]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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Lisa and Z had tickets to see Keith Urban at the fairgrounds and Q wanted to hang out in the hotel. So we got Q a barbecue sandwich for dinner, then she took off with Lisa and Z. H hung in the RGG room. That night, Jay provided pizza for the masses. The room was as packed as usual, but we didn't show as many games as we'd have liked because there was a fire alarm. We all stood outside the doors for twenty or thirty minutes before we got to go back in. I think all the players were out by 10:15 or so. We divvied up the demo games among the demo-ers and then we got to play some games. Valerie, Dale's brother, Brian and I got to try a prototype that Jay is evaluating, while H and some of the other demo-er's played some Dominion.
 
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18. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:50]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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Most of the crowd decided to get something to eat and/or get some sleep, but Tom Lehmann, H and I were still up for some gaming.
The only downside of demoing for Jay is that we don't get to play while we're teaching all these great games. Gencon was even worse because Tom had been doing challenge matches all con and I'd never gotten a chance to play with him. He was still game for some RftG, so we played two games with my new base + 1st expansion set while H watched. Let's just say that I learned a lot, but enjoyed the games. Tom is one of those people that it is genuinely fun to play games with. He has a full awareness of the game position and can simultaneously carry on a conversation. Playing RftG with him was probably the highlight of my con. After that Darrell wandered in and we played some four player Dominion, calling it a night around 2 AM.
 
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19. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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I slept until 8:30 and woke H up and we wandered down to the con. The RGG room was greatly depleted. Jay was still having some meetings and some of us had left our demo games for more play on Sunday. Tom popped in and taught a few RftG, but in general, it was very slow. We stopped in to make sure everything was set up ok, I got to play a game of Dominion with Michael, Wade and Jonathon. Alan swung in to say that he was heading home and say goodbye.

H and I then headed off for H's event.
 
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20. Board Game: Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:6182]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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His event was the sneak peek "event" for Yu-Gi-Oh cards.
/start rant On Friday (or Saturday), H, Z and I stood in line for over a half hour to get this event ticket. I am going to gripe about the con a little here. H was literally in line for a half hour and I think they only served ten or twelve customers ahead of him. This was in the TCG hall and they had two lines selling event tickets. Unfortunately, they only had one printer and it was shared between the two lines. It was just ridiculously slow. Any of you remember the days when all the tickets were pre-printed and the volunteer asked what you wanted, walked back and looked in the envelope (or on the pegboard) for the desired event ticket? That old system was amazingly faster!
/end rant
The plan had been to drop H off and head back to the hotel to check out. That part went as planned and I dropped Lisa and the girls off and found a place to park. We arranged to meet at the Asmodee booth to try Cash n Guns. Then H called and said that they needed a signature. So I hurried over to the TCG HallIt turned out to be a waiver for publicity. So I came back and signed the form, then hung around to get him set up.

Anyway, the event consisted mostly of getting five new packs and trading. In theory, you could play pickup games with cards from the new expansion, but we didn't see any actual games being played and he didn't want to trade until he'd looked over the cards. Darrell stopped by to say bye and H settled down watching a big trading session, so we left him to go find Lisa and the girls in the Great Hall.



Darrell was ready to head out by then, so stopped over to say bye. When H was settled in watching some trading, we hit the Great Hall to find Lisa and the girls.
 
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21. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Gun$ [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:889]
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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Lisa and the girls had liked this in the demo, so I stopped by to pick up a copy and a few other games (Dice Town, Bombay, Werewolf and Robot something) fell in the cart. Then Darrell and I both played three card Naruto one more time for some sleeves. Darrell took off and we headed to RGG room to pick up my demo games. Montego and Alhambra were easy to get, but all the Dominions were in use. H really wanted his own set of Dominion, so we waited until one was free. While "waiting" I got to teach Puerto Rico and RftG. I also got a chance to chat with Rajive and Julian Gupta from Queen Games. It's always fun to hear about the business side of gaming.
 
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22. Board Game: Automobile [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:323]
 
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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After securing our games, checking for Larry's hat (he called and had left it in RGG room, he thought) and getting a playtest assignment from Jay we headed off for Michigan. Did I mention it was 90 some degrees with equal humidity? Guess wasn't working in the van? The A/C had decided to konk out. We made it to Dayton and H woke up crying that he was "so thirsty!" We stopped at a Pilot for drinks and I saw an A/C recharge kit. It's been a while since I did a parking lot repair, but after a phone call to my dad, I got the A/C recharged and we continued on our way. We arrived home uneventfully even though Z was at the wheel. I fear that I may have broken the law that requires a (n awake) parent in the front seat while she's driving a few times on the way home. Z and I caught a Gencon cold, but seem to be over it now and looking forward to next year!
 
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