Hot lava, evil twins and the mile high club! (Ok, so its really just our BGG.Con list)
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Every year, after Lisa (Nightmare) and I return from BGG.Con, I feel compelled to write about our trip to BGG.Con, our first take on the games we played, and our assorted mishaps. Occasionally people even read it.
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1. Board Game: Vom Kap bis Kairo [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:2845]
Brian M
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Crossing vast savannas, winding through treacherous mountains...that describes our trip to the airport.

Normally, getting to DIA is straightforward for us; drive down south to 104th, go east, turn on tower (ignoring the signs that try to direct you to the airport via the tollway) and there we are.

So we set out, got to 104th, went a ways...and it was closed.

We grumbled and followed the detour signs, heading south, then west (still the right directions at least).

Then the detour signs pointed us onto the the I-76 highway going north. Or were they our detour signs? They actually said "96th detour". But 96th would get us on back on track anyway.

Now we were going north. The wrong way. Then we got to the exit for 96th. Which was closed.

Now we were going north through the middle of nowhere with the only indication of any exits coming up being a sign saying the next town was in 60 miles.

Luckily there was a turn earlier than that, and we eventually got going back south again to 104th, which the more spatially inclined among you may have noticed we started north of to begin with.

Though actually, if you could follow all that you should be off winning Robo Rally tournaments.

We did finally reach the airport, with all the other Denver BGGeeks wondering why we were so late.

We'd arranged to sit next to Jeff Wu from Denvergames on the flight, and he taught us Cape to Cairo, which passed the first part of the flight nicely. An interesting game with a bit of bidding and carefully managing long and short term resources. It was a little hard to play on the plane, but Jeff had brought 9 pocket pages, which helped. I had a really good early lead, but Lisa jumped ahead at the end to win.

One of the flight attendants going past stopped and looked at the game and asked "Is that Dungeons and Dragons?"
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2. Board Game: Space Beans [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:3051]
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We followed it up with Space Beans, which also worked fine in flight. For light casual play, I prefer Space Beans to Bohnanza; they are very similar set collection games, but Space Beans is faster and lighter. It lacks the interaction of trading however.

We didn't quite have time to finish - our flight even got in ahead of schedule!
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3. Board Game: Alea Iacta Est [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1249]
Brian M
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When we started going to BGG.Con on Wednesday night, we just wanted to get settled in the night before. There would be a few stray people to play games with. Now, its practically a full con already!

Its always good to meet up with friends you haven't seen in a year. We ran into Tom (Thommy8 - lots of Toms going around) and he begged/pleaded or possibly stole Alea Iacta from the library to play.

Lisa and I had played this...twice, three months ago. And we had no English rules. But that would not deter us!

I think we did get it mostly right, though I'm not sure we figured out all the bonus tiles correctly.

While heavy on the dice, there's a lot more choice involved than in most "roll a bunch of dice" games, with lots of options for how to assign your dice and lots of ways to score points.

Early on, Tom indicated his strategy was being "get as many women as possible". This almost worked, but not quite.

Brian won with 37.
Jeff and Tom tied at 35.
Lisa had 30.
C. Scott Kippen (from Colorado as well, but we only ever see him at BGG.Con) had 29.

After dinner, a big group headed to the Hard 8 BBQ. We'd experienced this...interesting...place a few years ago at BGG. Lots of meat. No plates. A big pot of serve yourself beans. Uncomfortable seats. A good place to go, especially for heavy duty carnivores.
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4. Board Game: Dungeon Lords [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:182]
Brian M
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When we returned, we ran into another "friend we only see at Cons" - Simon. He does some work for Z-Man games. We mentioned how much we were hoping to get a copy of Dungeon Lords (sometimes copies of the big hot games go REALLY fast). And he said he could sneak us one tonight if we wanted!

WOO HOO!!!!!! We finally can play a REAL game of Dungeon Lords (prior to this, we were leading on plays with an improvised mock up...we were that excited about it).

So we promptly pulled it out, began punching counters, and were joined by Nikki (Lil Red Head, also from Denver) and Linda (Carmilla) for a game of destroying those pesky meddling heroes.

While the explanation took a bit of time, it went very smoothly. Lisa followed the guidelines in the rules, introducing combats via the introductory combat trainings, then playing out a sample round having people toss up random orders to show how it works.

Lisa had her dungeon completely destroyed in the first year! In the second year, she was sneaky and stole the paladin that attacked Nikki after Nikki had already beaten him up good. However, we clearly taught the game well (that's it...sure...) as Linda won the game.
Linda 27
Lisa and Brian tied at 24
Nikki 12 (perhaps not evil enough to be a dungeon lord?)
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5. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:2544]
Brian M
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The first BGG.Con, we stayed up way too late the first night and payed for it dearly, so we've gotten wise and turn in at a semi-reasonable time. So, after Dungeon Lords, we turned down suggestions of more games and headed off to bed.

We were distracted ever so slightly by the sound of Rock Band coming from the nearby room. They'd set it up on a projector screen with lots of good sound equipment.

I asked Lisa if we couldn't play just one, and she agreed and we stepped in, Lisa taking the (previously unoccupied) drums while I took bass.

After the first game, I started to set down the guitar, and she said "just one more!"

You can guess where that went.

We did get too bad before it was too painfully late. Unfortunately, the evil convention gnomes were angered by our attempts to get to bed early and drove huge, loud, construction trucks up and down outside the road all night long.

Uggggghhhh!

This hotel has some serious noise insulation problems. We took a walk at around 3 in the morning to try get a break from the noise and relax a little, but this was overall a fairly sleepless night. Thankfully that was the only night of endless trucks.
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6. Board Game: Byzanz [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:2256]
Brian M
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Thursday

We'd decided we wouldn't worry much about getting in line early, since we'd probably just be getting two copies of Bezzerwhizzer anwyay.

In past years, everyone has gotten an item from a prize table, so there was a strong incentive to arrive early. This year, everyone got a Queen game (either Roma, Aton or Robber Knights) and you drew a ticket for another possible prize - either an extra entry for the big Thoughthammer drawings, a copy of the trivia game Bezzerwhizzer (or something like that) or a coveted green ticket to get a prize table pick.

However, since neither of us could sleep, we went ahead and hopped in line early. However, waiting in line isn't a bad thing when you're with gamers!

We'd bought some good in-line games, but instead played Byzanz, which Carlos taught us.

I enjoyed this set collecting game; the mechanics of bidding with the same cards you were collecting and passing on bids in order to choose one of the free color sets made for interesting gameplay.

Rich 22
Carlos (woozy monkey) and Lisa tied with 21
Snowden 20
Brian 19 (I claim I was being distracted by the amusing sounding 'Bad Hollywood game the people next to us were playing)
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7. Board Game: Sticheln [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:805]
Brian M
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Then Snowden brought out this interesting trick taking game. Its got some odd twists - you don't need to follow suit, every color trumps the suit led each hand, and at the start of a hand you 'bid' one suit that you don't want to take.

Unfortunately, we did not get to finish. I'd love to play this again!
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8. Board Game: Castle Panic [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:809]
Brian M
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Once registration started, the line moved very fast and we were through quite quickly.

There were two lines based on last name, so Lisa and I were split up. She got through well ahead of me, and I saw her excitedly waving a green ticket! She ran off to find a prize.

I got through the line, and to my immense surprise also got a green ticket!!!

This probably used up our prize luck for a while!

She got Castle Panic, while I got the Descent: Tomb of Ice expansion! Awesome.

Shortly out of the prize room clutching our new games, Simon said he wanted to try Castle Panic and we promptly plunked down and gave it a go.

This is a very easy to play game; rules explanations only took a minute or two and we were off and battling monsters.

However, it seemed short on excitement. We wiped out all the monsters with minimal difficulty. Simon commented it was more like "castle mild unease", but that he thought his young daughter would enjoy it.

More on this later...let's just say first impressions can be deceiving...
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9. Board Game: Tobago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:389]
Brian M
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The hot games room has copies of the most sought after Essen releases set up and ready to go. This year, there were 12 games spread across 2 rooms.

We had no idea what Tobago was, but it was empty and the others were full, so we joined in. A big thanks to Rick Thornquist for teaching us this - and in general being so helpful teaching in the hot games room!

I loved this. When so many games are reimplementations of old ideas, Tobago felt wonderfully fresh and different, and a nice blend of being light and easy to play with offering some good opportunities for clever tactics. Plus, its absolutely beautiful!

Jefferson (jridpath) 39
Debbie (inkygirl) 28
Lisa 22
Brian 19
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10. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:239]
Brian M
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As we finished Tobago, Loyang was vacant, so we all rushed over there.

Lisa and I had read the rules, so Lisa taught Loyang to Debbie and Jefferson while I explained Tobago to the next group that sat down. I didn't do as well as Rick - mostly in that I could never find an example clue card to narrow down options as much as I wanted!

Loyang has a TON of stuff going on. Fields to harvest, customers to please, goods to buy. I think the other two were a little overwhelmed! The odd "partner" mechanic for four player games also seemed to cause some confusion.

I really enjoyed this, but my tactic of going into debt big on the first turn to get a high payoff going right away gave me an early lead that petered out toward the end. I should have been taking more two-packs; I think if I had I would have won.

Excellent game; basic core mechanics with a big variety of cards and ways to score. A good medium weight brain burner.

At the start of Loyang, we were a little hungry, but it was an hour or two game...right? I think we took about 3 hours to get it all figured out, by the end of which I'd gone past hungry to ravenous!

Lisa 19
Jefferson 17 (with more money)
Brian 17
Debbie 16
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11. Board Game: Thunderstone [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:531] [Average Rating:6.99 Unranked]
Brian M
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Having recovered from pangs of hunger, we grabbed this from the library and found three more players.

Partway through the game, the designer wandered by and answered a few rules questions. He also pointed out two things.
1) It doesn't play well with 5 players, and should be kept to four, especially for new players.
2) There is an error in the rules, and the starting setup should use Dooms and not Doom Knights.

Despite these problems, Lisa and I really enjoyed this - though 5 players does have too much downtime!

While its essentially a Dominion variant, the addition of the combat phase and the fact that almost all cards have multiple uses really spices it up.

Lisa used her wizard to discard the last monster protecting the Thunderstone and ending the game without anyone claiming it, but giving her the win since she was in the lead.

Lisa 20
Brian and Michael (trump) tied with 16
Michael (medew) 14
John (jmelby) 13
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12. Board Game: Castle Panic [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:809]
Brian M
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We ran into Tom, and we wanted to try Castle Panic so we grabbed our (new from the prize table!) copy, though we warned him that it might not be very exciting.

This time, the monsters promptly swarmed the castle and destroyed us.

We did have some debate early on about what the 'Master Slayer' meant. Tom wanted to go for the master slayer, but argued that we shouldn't be competing for it. Or something like that. Overall, the whole Master Slayer concept really sucks.

In the end though, we just went full on trying to stop the monsters, but failed. Which increased our interest in the game - a cooperative game should provide a good exciting challenge.

Lisa, Brian, Tom and James (darlock) - all destroyed!
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13. Board Game: Savannah Tails [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:3610]
Brian M
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Back to the library. It seemed like "grab whatever Essen release is available at the moment" was a good strategy, so this time we snagged Savannah Tails. We're fond of Snow Tails, and were eager to try this.

Ashley (from Denver) joined us, and I dragged in a couple that was trying to play Crossfire (which apparently wasn't working) alone.

A warning to BGGers; I know its sometimes hard to find people to game with, so when I see people sitting alone or in a pair I tend to try to get them into a group game. Be warned.

(Well, unless they are sitting there playing Space Hulk or Twilight Struggle, in which I assume it was probably what they wanted to be doing).

My impression from the rules was that this was a very simple race game. Which it is. But there's a surprising amount of tactical choice in the cardplay and interacting with the track hidden in the simple game rules. Its much easier to get a straight line bonus than in Snow Tails, so setting up for them is important. Its also a lot easier to block!

Despite Lisa and I both having read the rules, we completely missed an important point; that a '2' move can be used to sneak past a hostile animal. Whoops!

In this game, I used my 'leap' special to jump over an ostrich just in the lead of me before getting to the finish line. Then realized it was a mistake - I crossed the finish line first, but the ostrich's behind me got a better speed bonus. Lisa and Deric however didn't have big cards to play and tied in position right behind. Then Ashley zoomed in from farther back with a big card and a 3 point move bonus to win the race!

However, I have a minor ornithology quibble with this game. The game refers to its ostrich pieces as "meep-meep-meeples". How silly. Everyone knows its roadrunners that go meep-meep.

Ashley 1st
Brian 2nd
Lisa and Deric tied for 3rd
Brianna 4th
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14. Board Game: Tomb [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2343] [Average Rating:6.34 Unranked]
Brian M
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Ashley wandered back to the library with us (random tip for BGG: return the hot games as soon as you're done! Those games need to get back in the mix!), and as we were looking at the new releases commented that she knew how to play Tomb. Well, actually it was the Tomb expansion on the new release table, and we decided to go with the original instead, but it was one Lisa and I wanted to learn.

Ashley suggested playing with randomly distributed crypt cards instead of placing. I can see that placing cards would add a lot of strategy, but I can also see it would really drag out a game that already ran a little too long. I think there might be a happy medium.

As a simple competitive dungeon crawl, this was pretty fun; recruit characters, fight monsters, get new treasure. It had some flaws though; including the minor but annoying quibble that the characters are incredibly bland without art.

Well, they have art, but its on the back side of the token that you can't see and never flip around. Silly design.

I ran into the Tomb early, which got me a bit of a lead, but it wasn't long before I met monsters I couldn't handle.

I should note that Lisa has a thing for Wolverine of Marvel comics fame. So she was quite happy to get a character, Logan wolf-something or-other who was rough looking and reminded her of Wolvie. She happilly souped him up with a few treasures, and turned him into a vicious unstoppable monster fighting machine.

Ashley and I voted to end the game a bit early, as it seemed pretty hopeless - Lisa had a lead of 120 to our 30 each!

Wouldn't mind trying this again - but I'm already thinking of some houserules to improve it!
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15. Board Game: Ramses Pyramid [Average Rating:5.03 Overall Rank:15248]
Brian M
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After we picked up, we saw a group of people heading to the same table area we'd vacated with a fantastic Lego building.

Kid's game? So what! We just had to try this.

The building is a lot neater than the gamplay, which mostly consists of rolling and die and moving around. However, there is actually a level of strategy to it. You need different colored gems to move up different steps of the pyramid. During the game, you can rotate the pyramid. We mostly did that randomly early, but I can see that you really can start planning ahead to build a route of steps that will be to your advantage.

We missed a very crucial rule here. You are allowed to move sideways on the pyramid. Without this rule, when a mummy came down on your path, you just got stuck hoping to twist the pyramid before it hit you. Playing it correctly would probably improve it!

Lisa - won!
Brian, John (bluefocus), Scott Goeth - did not win
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16. Board Game: Ugg-Tect [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:2143]
Brian M
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With an hour or so until the midnight prize drawing, we thought it might be a good amount of time for this silliness.

However, shortly after we grabbed it, Lisa volunteered to teach Loyang. I didn't realize how long a process that was going to be, and lost two groups of interested people waiting. Oops!

When she finally escaped, and I'd finally doused the club nozzles in enough hot water and disinfectant to feel comfortable blowing them up, I went around waving the inflatable clubs and yelling "Munungu!" at people until Deric and Brianna (who we'd played Savanna Tails with earlier) came along to play instead of fleeing in terror like all the sane people.

Lisa and I teamed up against them and we constructed several amazing block and cardboard structures while being beat on the head by our partner.

I think it comes as no surprise that the gals were a lot more vicious with the bopping than the guys were.

I have no idea who did better - I think they completed two first and we completed one. Lisa and I got really stuck when I was trying to get her to move a block "forward" relative to the structure, for which I using the "up". We decided afterward that is probably the correct interpretation.

It was fun, it was hilarious. For about three rounds. Then I was ready to be done. Which, honestly, was about what I was expecting out of the game.
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17. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:2210]
Brian M
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We didn't win anything in the prize drawing, and joined the mass of people heading for the elevators to go to bed.

Then we saw the line to actually get to the elevators and decided we'd play just one more game. Better to keep busy than stand in line!

I'd brought along a little prototype game that had popped into my head Tuesday morning, so we played that. Its a cooperative game with an X-Men theme. Expect it to show up on BGG as a print and play at some point...with a different theme that won't get me sued by Marvel
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18. Board Game: Power Grid: Factory Manager [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:691]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Friday
Wow, had that barrage of games really just been one day?

Once again we went straight to the hot games table. This time we dived into Power Grid: Factory Manager.

This is a game of juggling several things at once. You need to produce boxes and have pallets to store them on to make money. Machines to produce boxes take workers and power. But power costs money, and you'd rather be using your workers to bid for turn order and buy new machines.

For all the managing going on, its a fast moving game, easily coming in under an hour. A speedy brain burner? It is rather heavy on the math and analysis side.

It was also being a bit frustrating to me. First, I'd messed up and put in two tiles that had the 'power' symbol. I thought I was taking a 'controls' symbol on the second. This was purely my screw-up, but it did hose me quite a a bit - we decided I would just toss the extra tile.

Second, I was stuck never being able to get earlier than third in the bidding. Snowden, sitting on my left, was always going last and therefore bidding first. He'd bid 0 or 1. Scott or Lisa would then bid 2. I only had 2 workers I could bid. I just couldn't break out and couldn't get anything good. I was starting to think the game had a turn order problem.

Then, 3/5 of the way through, we made a discovery. You have to use workers to buy machines! This drastically changes how the game plays, and would have made my position much less problematic. Whoops!

Scott (svgamer) - 201
Brian - 196 (I have no idea how I did so well despite all the setbacks)
Snowden and Lisa - tied with 177
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19. Board Game: Dungeon Twister 2: Prison [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1042]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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At this point, the above mentioned horrendous noise from Wednesday night and the early start Thursday took its toll, and Lisa crashed pretty badly. Sigh...seems to happen to us every other BGG.

While she was trying to nap and not be too sick, I looked for something I could play while still keeping her company, and decided to try the solo version for Dungeon Twister 2.

Trying to play in the dim hotel room on the floor wasn't the best environment so I quit about halfway through, but its interesting the trouble they went through to make the game simulate an AI to play against. The miniatures for this are nice as well.
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20. Board Game: Thunderstone [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:531] [Average Rating:6.99 Unranked]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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When the chair massage got set up near the lobby, I asked them if they would be able to help back and neck pain, and convinced Lisa to get out of bed to give it a try. While she got a massage I gave some people playing Chaos in the Old World a bit of a crash course in the rules.

Afterwards, Lisa felt well enough to eat and very hungry. However, she discovered she absolutely did NOT feel like eating Denny's food despite the hunger.

We found a quiet corner and tried Thunderstone 2 player for something light to play. We did find it dragged a bit with 2 players; we spent an awfully long time killing monsters at the end. I think scaling down the monster deck proportional to the number of players would be a good idea. Still liked the gameplay though.

We once again just used the base set, though this time we used the Doom cards instead of the Doomknight cards, which made the priests a lot more useful! Lisa claimed the Thunderstone and won.

Lisa - 42
Brian - 37
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21. Board Game: Havana [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:926]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Jeff Wu found us in the corner and asked if we'd like to learn Havana. This is nothing like Cuba, as it turns out, despite sharing the theme, but is a fast moving game of role selection and building. Its got a bit of interaction as you compete for turn order and can tax and steal from other players.

This was kind of a surprise hit - I'd never heard of it before, but was really grabbed (for a light game at least). After the first play, we all wanted to try it again. (I think partly they wanted to try again just because I won so quickly the first game!)

It was kind of nice to just sit in a quiet spot and get away from the chaos of the main con for a while.

First game:
Brian - 20
Lisa - 10
Jeff - 8

Second game:
Lisa - 21
Brian - 18
Jeff - 11
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22. Board Game: The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1092]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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We caught a ride (hurray, no Denny's!) and picked up food from Le Madeline. Very tasty.

When we got back we did some trading - we happily exchanged our tickets for the age/name game, which we weren't playing, for some people's bronze WoW minis, which we were trying to get as big a variety of as possible.

I'd been looking for Adventurers all con, and it was finally in the library! I made a mad dash for it, knocking people aside like a giant boulder through a bunch of hapless explorers.

We recruited a bunch of victims (Hey, anyone want to fall into lava?) and off we went.

We all moved rapidly through the glyph room. Ezra ducked around the corner into the lava room - and fell through to his firey doom!

While most of us flirted with fiery death, Lisa rushed around the outside and began opening alcoves. Her character had lockpicking, but she was saving it for the big treasure. However, Cindy and Moses also decided they wanted the big treasure, and got there first. A race to find the treasure was on, as the boulder rumbled down the hall.

Meanwhile, I was the only one to dive into the river, finding a lot treasure, though I had to toss quite a bit of it to avoid going over the falls.

David rushed to the exit and escaped first.

The race to unlock the treasure was furious. At one point Moses got 4 dice on his first roll, but never got the last number he needed! However, Lisa's lockpicking paid off, and she got the treasure.

The rest of us got out alive - except Ezra's replacement character, who dallied too long and was squashed!

In the end, Lisa and I each had a treasure chest worth 1 die of gold. If I just could have rolled better...

This isn't going to be something to play constantly, but boy was it fun! This is now around the top of my wishlist.

Lisa 22
Brian 21
Dave 15
Cindy 13
Moses 12
Ezra Died twice over!
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23. Board Game: Space Crusade [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1065]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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In the interest of not being totally dead the next day, Lisa turned in early and I took her Midnight prize drawing ticket, telling her I wouldn't play anything she'd be horribly jealous of.

I picked this out of the library; I have it, but rarely get to play it. Things didn't look hopeful for finding players until Moses showed up. However, we lacked more players, so I suggested I go teach him Space Hulk instead. Halfway there though, we met Ashley who wanted to play, and went back to get in a game of this.

I expected to be able to finish not too long after the prize drawing, but the Space Crusade in the library was substantially less organized and put together than my copy, which really delayed things.

As the aliens, I was doing pretty well - in no small part due to terrible luck on the marine's part! Ashley lost one marine, armed with a bolt pistol to a close assault with a gretchin. That's just embarrassing.

I'm pretty sure I messed up rules about blips. Dang bad memory and late hours.

No wins in the prize drawing, and we all agreed to just call the game with a bit of time to spare to return it to the library on the way out.
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24. Board Game: Tobago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:389]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Saturday
We went to get a good breakfast Saturday. Sadly, the only option was Dennys. Ugh.

Checking the hot games room, Lisa found a few people trying to muddle through the Tobago rules, so she sat down to teach them, and wound up joining there game while I played Power Grid: Factory Manager at the next table.

It looks like she clobbered the poor newbies!

Lisa 46
Michael (magrill) 34
Billy (6414213562) 27
Hessica (erisvc) 21
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25. Board Game: Power Grid: Factory Manager [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:691]
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Played with the RIGHT rules, Factory Manager works a lot better! And I apparently am much worse at it.

I kept picking the wrong tile...literally. I'd select a tile, then realize a little later it actually was not the tile I'd meant to select. Not a good strategy!

Ashley 290
Brian (Golus) 243
Gerry 232
Brian 192
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