ConReport/BGG.con/2009/sedjtroll
Seth Jaffee
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Tucson
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This was my FIFTH trip to Dallas for BGG.con!

This year I attended as a Vendor with Tasty Minstrel Games, promoting our new releases: Terra Prime and Homesteaders. Since I spent a lot of time in the booth and/or explaining TP and HS, I only managed to play 2 of the games on my Dance Card. I did get to hang out with a lot of my friends from across the country, including one of my best friends for 25 years who now lives in Dallas... but I was so busy that I didn't really get to do as much socializing with individual people as I would have liked, or play as many new games as I would have liked.

However I still managed to have an awesome time! Here's my account of the experience, in Geeklist form...

BGG.CON 2009 - WEDNESDAY 11/18 - SUNDAY 11/22
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1. Board Game: Automobile [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:323]
 
Seth Jaffee
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The first game I got into was Automobile, with Marshall, Yehuda, and Ray (from Tucson!) - there might have been a 5th player, I don't recall.

I describe Automobile as "Just like Lokomotive Werks, only better because there's a little more going on." I didn't love Loko Werks, and I don't love Automobile either, but it's certainly my favorite of the TreeFrog line so far. Though that's not saying much, as I haven't really liked anything from the TreeFrog line to date.

Automobile is alright, I'd play it again. This game I was doing really well early, but just didn't make enough cars in the late game. I think I came in 3rd or last or something.
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2. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:2211]
Seth Jaffee
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As we cleaned up Automobile, Steph (craftybeans) walked in and asked if I wanted to play Fermat! Of course the answer was yes, so I got my copy out and we threw down!

Fermat is like Set, but instead of a pattern you're looking for an expression in a grid of numbers and operands which resolves to the number on a tile drawn randomly. The first to find one, yell "Got it" and point it out gets to keep the tile - simple as that. The expressions must contain exactly 5 tiles (3 numbers and 2 operands) which are contiguous and in order, though you can use brackets any way you like - so (4x3)-2 is different from 4x(3-2) - those same tiles could be used to claim the 10 tile or the 4 tile.

We played 2 games, one of which was a 1 point game, and in the other she blew me out. It was fun, it's been far too long since I have played Fermat!
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3. Board Game: Belfort [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:359]
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It was getting a little late, but I wasn't tired, so I struck up some people to play Belfort.

Belfort is a Worker Placement/Area Control game which I like very much. So much in fact, that Tasty Minstrel will be publishing it next year. In Belfort your workers are Elves and Dwarves - which can be placed in various places for some effect, or sent to gather resources. Elves gather Wood from the forest while Dwarves gather Stone from the Quarry. An Elf-Dwarf pair can be sent to the Mines to collect Metal, and any worker can collect Gold. After everyone is done placing workers and has sent their remaining Elves and Dwarves to get resources, the player with the most workers in each of the 4 resource areas gets a bonus resource.

Players use these resources in their Action phase to build Properties - buildings which confer some ability. Properties are marked on the board with ownership markers in one of the 5 identical districts. When scoring rolls around, there will be points available in each district for the players with the 1st/2nd/3rd most markers in it, as well as for most of each type of worker.

this game went as well as ever, though I tried a tweak to scoring which inflated everyone's score, making taxes hit a little harder. Not sure if that was a problem or not.
 
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4. Board Game: Train of Thought [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:5300]
Seth Jaffee
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I closed out Wednesday night with some Train of Thought. I played Train of Thought many times this weekend, with many different people... and everyone seemed to love it! I am excited that Tasty Minstrel will be publishing this game next year!
 
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5. Board Game: Homesteaders [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:494]
Seth Jaffee
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Thursday I didn't play much because I was in the Tasty Minstrel booth all day, hoping that Homesteaders would show up. I was selling Tasty Minstrel plushies and the Pandemic vials my friend made, and stressing out about the shipment.

Fortunately, the shipment DID arrive... at 6pm. Not as early as we'd have liked, but better than not arriving at all! I got the Winner Cleans Up event rescheduled for 7pm, and even though it was short notice there were a good 16 people there for Terra Prime, and 14 more for Homesteaders!

Brian arrived just in time to watch my presentation, and after people got underway we decided to play a game of Homesteaders ourselves.
 
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6. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:2211]
Seth Jaffee
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After Homesteaders, I got a chance to play some JAB - a real time boxing card game by an online friend Gavan Brown. It was delivered to me via Jasen Rollibard, who I got to chat with for a few minutes now and again, but with whom sadly I didn't get into a game with.

Jab was a lot of fun!

I also dug out Brain Freeze, since only 2 people could play Jab at a time, and there were 4 or 5 of us milling about.We took turns planing each of these quick speed/reflex games for a little while.

I don't have anything else written down for Thursday, but I feel like I probably played some Train of Thought or something before heading to bed.
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7. Board Game: Terra Prime [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:3565]
Seth Jaffee
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All day long I ran demos of Terra Prime and Homesteaders, starting with another Winner Cleans Up event at 11:00. I didn't actually PLAY Terra Prime at all, but I taught it to several groups in addition to the presentation.
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8. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:2211]
Seth Jaffee
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I headed over to Proto Alley to try and get in a game of Dice Factory, a game we're considering for publication. I played DF with Dan Manfredini and Andrew Schoonmaker - it was a really close and fairly interesting game. I like the game, and I have fun playing it, but it seems the reaction from players is pretty underwhelming. :/
 
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9. Board Game: Skyline 3000 [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:3294]
Seth Jaffee
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Brian arrived again, and while looking for something to play I noticed someone had Skyline 3000 beside them at a table. I had seen some people playing that the day before and I wanted to try it out, so I inquired and we ended up sitting down to play it.

I liked the game alright. Never having played Capital before I thought something felt weird about how we were playing, fortunately Ray walked up and pointed out that we had a very, very important rule wrong! It worked out pretty well, as weld only played about 1 round, and now we knew how to play (and we now knew the right rule), so we started again.

It was a fun game, and despite passing as my first action in the last round (i.e. doing NOTHING) AND not winning any of the auctions at the end of that round, I managed to squeak out a win! I believe it was because I was in a lot of 2nd place positions and controlled 1 area the whole game (and took over another 1/2 way through). I liked the game enough that I'd play it again, but I don't think I'd run out and buy it.
 
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10. Board Game: Tobago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:389]
Seth Jaffee
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Next, Brian and I wandered into the Hot Games room - where I had HOPED to find Factory Manager free. It wasn't, but Tobago was, and that was on my list of things to try. Brian, Tom Lehmann, someone who i cannot remember, and I sat down to figure it out. Tom had played once, and between that and the rules it was pretty easy to learn.

During the game, Valerie Putman and Cynthia Landon wandered in because Cynthia wanted to try the game, but since we'd just begun, they took off to find something else to play.

I liked the mechanism of map-constructing and narrowing down where the treasure is, and I liked the movement mechanism for the ATVs, but the scoring part was pretty disappointing. The distribution of treasure cards was very algorithmic, it gave the illusion of choices when in reality the choices were pretty obvious most of the time. Do I pass up on that 2? Or take it in case the next card is a curse? And speaking of Curses - I was very disappointed in that part in particular. The first player in line runs off with a 6-treasure, and everyone else not only doesn't get a treasure, but has to discard one? On 2 out of the three games I played, both curses came up at the same time, which meant for the rest of the game noone had to worry about running into one.

After this game, Brian and I found Mike and we were looking for something to play. A group was just about to finish up with the library copy of Tobago, and Brian liked it, so we thought we'd play it again and show Mike. Mike had the same opinion that I did about the game (low). Brian won again, and said he enjoyed it. I got kicked in the nuts this game as well by curses.

After that 2nd game of Tobago it was getting late - almost time for the Thoughthammer drawings. So Brian took off and I packed up the game to return to the library - when I noticed Cynthia walking in. I asked if she'd had a chance to play Tobago yet, and since I had it right there I offered to teach it to her. Why would I offer to teach a game I just played twice and didn't enjoy? Well, at the time my opinion of the game wasn't quite as firm as it is now, but I also never get to spend any time with Cynthia, and frankly I find her adorable. Rick Thornquist joined us, as well as another player I don't remember (man, am I bad with names nowadays!)

After that third game of Tobago, I think I've officially had enough. But it was fun hanging out with Rick and Cynthia for an hour or so.
 
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11. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:75]
Seth Jaffee
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I played a game of Crokinole vs John Theys in the atrium/lobby/dexterity game area - and despite a 90-35 lead I ended up losing the game!
 
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12. Board Game: Train of Thought [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:5300]
Seth Jaffee
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I played a lot of Train of Thought last weekend! Everyone seemed to like it. Some didn't want to wait until we publish it next year to get ahold of it.

I had intended to play Time's Up, but the Time's Up players were dragging ass deciding who was playing and what was going on, so I just returned to Train of Thought - I decided I'd rather play Train of Thought some more than sit around NOT playing Time's Up.
 
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13. Board Game: Opera [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:2036]
Seth Jaffee
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I spent most of Saturday in the booth again, selling games, dragons, and Pandemic vials, and demoing TP and HS.

When I finally got out of that I wanted to play something new - I grabbed Opera from the Library because I thought it sounded like the kind of game I enjoy. I saw Alex Eaton-Salners, and roped him into playing - as well as Andy Van Sant (sp?) and his wife (GF?). Sorry I'm so bad with details this time!

What a disappointment! We took forever to get through the rules, and we're still not sure we had them right. We even checked BGG (go go gadget smart phone!) - which seemed to contradict the rulebook. We all agreed the game was way too convoluted to do what it appeared to be trying to do. None of us wanted to continue, so after the first scoring round (which seemed to take forever to get to) we just quit.

My apologies for dragging you guys into that!
 
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14. Board Game: Puzzle Perfection [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Seth Jaffee
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At 2pm it was time for the Puzzle Hunt! I had a really good time last year, and was really looking forward to this year's installment. Dave and Aaron and whoever worked on it did an awesome job again! My team didn't win, but I felt like we were very competitive in solving the puzzles and I had a lot of fun doing it!

Good job Team Tucson (Snowden, John Lopez, and Steve)!
 
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15. Board Game: Gonzaga [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:2316]
Seth Jaffee
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Some time after the puzzle hunt, and after the big prize giveaways, Brian returned and we decided to play Gonzaga - I saw it in the library and had heard good things about it. We played with Mike and someone who'd played once (damnit, why can't I remember who it was? I think it was Chris Hilary (Ceej)) - they taught the game, and we checked the rules for a couple of things...

Long story short, none of us were very impressed. I thought the mechanism where you don't get your cards back for the next turn was neat, but really it just randomly screwed me when every time I wanted to place a piece in a region, I couldn't because I either used the placement or the region card last turn of something entirely different (i.e. the pieces I wanted just came up at inopportune times).

I managed to win, mostly by going for the water symbol thingies.
 
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16. Board Game: Hamsterrolle [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1184]
Seth Jaffee
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Mike had seen Hamsterrolle and thought it was really fun, so he went and checked it out. he, Brian, Andrew Schoonmaker and I played a game of it. It WAS fun and amusing to try and screw the next guy by using the "next but one" space to force their hand. I managed to win by never having any catastrophes occur on my turns, though there were some sketchy situations!
 
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17. Board Game: Train of Thought [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:5300]
Seth Jaffee
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The other guys played another game of Hamsterrolle as I taught Train of Thought to some people I thought would like it - and they did! We had 2 tables going for a while! What a fun game!

One game was getting a little loopy, and they suggested there be an 'adult' variant, full of words which are more suggestive.
 
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18. Board Game: Battle Merchants [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:3366]
Seth Jaffee
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Brian had to leave, so Steve and I met up with Gil Hova (IngrediantX) to play his Pax Robotica. He'd been trying to schedule that with me all weekend, and it was finally going to work out!

We played the game, which is about being an arms dealer, selling weapons (battle bots) to either side of various conflicts. There were some good things about it, but we found it pretty dry - the battles were glossed over, and we didn't care who won or lost - Steve and I both thought it would be better if the player cared about the outcome so they might sell better bots to the side they want to win. I compiled my comments and suggestions and emailed them to Gil already - hopefully he'll find something useful there.
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19. Board Game: Time's Up! Deluxe [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:1068]
Seth Jaffee
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Knowing I had been trying to get into a game of Time's Up! all weekend, Steph texted me that they would be starting that and so I was actually able to get in on it. I only played the one game all weekend, and it was late so people didn't want to do round 4 (posing), but it was better than not playing at all! Thanks Steph for helping make sure I got into a game of that.
 
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20. Board Game: Eat Poop You Cat [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:694]
Seth Jaffee
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Tucson
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I have not actually played this before, but I have seen and heard about it. This is the game (also called Paper Telephone) where one person writes a sentence, the next draws a picture based on that sentence, then the next person writes a sentence based on the picture (without seeing the prior sentence)... etc.

This group was pretty out-there while we were playing Time's Up - there were many a fallace on their papers. I joined in for a game of that rather than looking to get into Werewolf. It was fun!
 
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21. Board Game: Shipyard [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:438]
Seth Jaffee
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Traditionally, I stay up all night on Saturday night at the con, presumably playing Werewolf, but it seems more often than not I'm doing something else instead. This time it was Eat Poop You Cat followed by a cruise through the Hot Games room... Alex was playing Vasca de Gama with some people, and a group was just learning Shipyard. I was interested in Shipyard all weekend so I decided to sit through the explanation - then one of the players decided to go to bed so I took his place.

Shipyard was pretty cool - lots of things to do and lots of ways to do them. I'd definitely like to play it again when it's not 5am! My only complaint was that it did seem to drag. The game took 3 hours, but I didn't mind that so much as the time it took to be my turn again. There just isn't that much to do on your turn that it should take so long. I attribute it to being a learning game at 5 in the morning!

I'm happy I got in on it, and I hope to play it again soon.
 
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22. Board Game: Train of Thought [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:5300]
Seth Jaffee
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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I spent most of Sunday in the Tasty Minstrel booth, more Terra Prime and Homesteaders demos, and signing copies of TP.

After 3 or 4pm we cleaned up the booth and were looking for stuff to do. I saw Aldie just sitting around with one other guy, so I offered to show them Train of Thought. We played 2 rounds of that, and then it was time to get some food.
 
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23. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:108]
Seth Jaffee
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Since we didn't have transportation, and Mike was starving, he decided to concede to simply eating at Denny's across the street. On the way out the door we saw a guy coming in with keys in his hand. It turned out his name was Eric, and he hadn't eaten, and he was willing to drive us somewhere!

I had located a Chipotle nearby (go go gadget smart phone!) and we were able to get there without incident. I'd been craving a burrito all weekend, and Eric hadn't been to Chipotle before. I was happy to get my craving fulfilled, and Eric was happy to learn about the place.

When we got back we decided to play Hansa Teutonica, which Mike had bought from the Valley Games guys in the booth next to ours (great guys! Very nice and helpful all weekend). Eric ad played, so he explained the rules - and I was literally falling asleep during them! Once we started playing I woke back up a bit.

At the beginning of the game, Mike was raving about how good it was going to be, while I was kinda unimpressed with it. It just seemed like we were taking turns upgrading our actions. A few rounds later though, I started to see some interesting things developing, and got more interested in the game. I think Steve did the same. Meanwhile, Mike went from raving about the game to complaining about it. In the end, Steve and I wanted to play it again, and Mike was sorry he'd bought it.
 
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24. Board Game: Infinite City [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:2454]
Seth Jaffee
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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To finish out the night, and indeed the weekend, Mike, Steve and I played the copy of Infinite City that Mike had bought. I didn't love the game, too wild and chaotic for me. But it wasn't so bad because it was over pretty quickly. It reminded me a lot of Drakon (third edition) (old FF Silver Line game), only I liked Drakon better.

We played 2 games and then turned in for the night. In the morning we had planes to catch, and Mike would have to deal with getting boxes of product sent to the PSI warehouse.
 
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25. Board Game: The BoardGameGeek Game [Average Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:4185]
Seth Jaffee
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All in all I really enjoyed BGG.con again! It was very different for me this year, with the booth and the demos. I didn't get to play nearly as many games as I'd have liked, and most of those I did play weren't very good (Opera, Tobago, Gonzaga...). I did bu a copy of The BoardGameGeek Game - mostly for the commemorativity, as I'm not sure how much I'm going to like the game.

I had a great time with some great friends from around the country, and I wouldn't trade that in for anything! I'll see you all next year at BGG.con #6!
 
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