Pintosdad Goes To BGG.CON 2009 And All He Gets Is A 17 Sun Tile T-Shirt And 30 Pounds Of Games
Russell Berman
United States
Long Beach
California
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I had considered going to BGG.con in the past but due to my scrooge-like nature always considered the cost of airfare and hotel to be prohibitive. This year with prodding from my wife and the promise of half the cost as a birthday present I finally pushed aside my penny pinching and decided to take the plunge.
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1. Board Game: Airlines: United States Set 2 [Average Rating:5.23 Overall Rank:13893]
Russell Berman
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Long Beach
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While I absolutely want to support the convention organizers even with the help of my wife the cost was still high. I was able to get an Expedia booking that also included the hotel for $200 less than getting the airfare and booking the hotel using the convention rate. I certainly felt guilty regarding this but if I did not I probably would not have attended. $20 difference not a problem. $200 is serious money to me.

Flew out of Los Angeles on a Non-Stop to Dallas Wednesday morning. On the shuttle to the hotel knew I was with other BGG'ers when I noticed the other passenger reading "Pride And Prejudice And Zombies". The three of us on the shuttle traded gaming like and dislikes on the way to the Westin.
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2. Board Game: Hotel Tycoon [Average Rating:5.44 Overall Rank:15110]
Russell Berman
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Long Beach
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Arrived at the Westin and quickly checked into my room. I could have saved a little more money if I had advertised for a roommate but that would have been unwise as I get very cranky on little sleep and I did not want to deal with other people when I am dragging myself to my room at 4 in the morning.

Went down to the lobby and went into the restaurant for a quick bite and ran into the guy from the shuttle. We had lunch and then found another player for my first game of the convention.
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3. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:239]
Russell Berman
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Long Beach
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We made our way to the area outside the Sunnyside room to play At The Gates Of Loyang. I like Agricola, was not thrilled with my one play of Le Harve so I was not sure what to expect wit this.

My intial impression after playing is just okay. I would play again if asked but I feel no need to buy it. I did not like being forced (in the 4 player game) to only use certain cards on my partner. I felt the turns took to long but maybe that would decrease on further playing.
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4. Board Game: Chicken Cha Cha Cha [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1392]
Russell Berman
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I met up with some friends from the LA area and joined them for dinner at Babes Chicken House. We were wondering why there were wheels on the chairs when we sat down but by the end of dinner we had our answer. You needed to roll yourself out the door since you are too heavy to get up.

There is all you can eat sides (mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits, corn niblets, salad and beverages. In addition you choose from platters of smoked chicken, fried chicken, chicken fried steak and fried catfish.

They tried to get us to have dessert at the end but that was going to be physically impossible.

For $11.99 the price was amazing. The company was great, Tom Lehman joined us and it was interesting hearing his stories from Essen.

After waddling back to the hotel I started looking for a second game to play.

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5. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:62]
Russell Berman
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Joined in a five player game of Battlestar Galactica in the lobby. For the first time I was a cylon, but a very bored cylon. It was the most peaceful galaxy I had ever seen. I was waiting for a good opportunity to start causing havoc but we hardly had any crisis to deal with. Finally a Cylon Armada showed up and I was able to reveal myself and start dealing some damage. As the population dwindled my cylon partner revealed and our victory was assured although due to some horrendously poor dice rolling it took a couple extra turns.

Great game that I look forward to playing again.

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6. Board Game: The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1092]
Russell Berman
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Long Beach
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After BSG, I was able to join in a game of The Adventurers. I thought I would like the game more but after seeing it in person I was not impressed with the board (other than the cool walls and boulder). The game itself was mediocre. I enjoyed playing and the company I was in but the game does not lend itself to repetive play. You are exploring the same four sections over and over again and the actions you can take do not change. If they had made the rooms modular so you could switch other adventures in and out that might help. No need to buy.
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7. Board Game: WeyKick [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:2364]
Russell Berman
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Long Beach
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After wandering the rooms for a bit and just checking out my surroundings I was jiggering around with the Weykick game set up in the lobby outside the main ballroom. This is basically 3 figure magnetic ice hockey/soccer.
Another person joined me and we had a riotous 5 point match. If you push your player too hard he goes flying across the board and gets stuck on the opponents player. We had a good time and the game would be nice to have but I have no idea where I would put it.

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8. Board Game: Go Away Monster! [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:2761]
Russell Berman
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Headed back up to my room very tired about 1am. Was too wired to sleep and probably nodded off around 2:30am.

My overall impressions of Wednesday were good. There certainly was plenty of gaming going on. There must have been at least 5 games of Automobile going on simultaneously at one point.

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9. Board Game: Patience [Average Rating:4.79 Overall Rank:15255]
Russell Berman
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I am not a line person. I don't like waiting. Thursday morning I headed downstairs at 9am or so. The line for registration was already snaking back from the lobby outside the main ballroom back to the hotel entrance. There were two lines, one for A-K the other for L-Z. I considered finding a spot but figured even if I get a ticket for the prize room the best stuff would be gone by the time I got there.

I decided to see if I could find a couple of my math trade partners since they were most likely in line already. I was able to drop off a couple games to their new owners and then took my place at the back of the line. Surprisingly the line moved quite quickly once it started.

At the registration desk they gave you your badge and goodie bag. My goodie bag contained a metal miniature from WOW, a small deck of Time's Up cards, a small business card that contained instructions for a metagame going on at the convention and the coveted blue and orange tickets. Blue for the BGG game giveway Saturday night and Orange for the thoughthammer giveaways on Thursday and Friday.

After the registration line is where things got a bit haphazard. The A-K line sort of reversed direction and became the secondary "find out what other ticket you get" line. The free game I recevied was Robber Knights and then I was able to pick a green ticket out of the ticket box. This allowed me to get a game from the prize room. As I feared the best stuff was already gone but I managed to find the last copy of 10 days in Asia which will be a good game for me to play with my kids.

I headed upstairs to drop off my loot and then came back down, had a banana and tried to find a game.

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10. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
Russell Berman
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The hot games room was full so I headed into the main ballroom and joined in a game of Stone Age. This an easy game that is always fun to play. I tried to go for a full set of cards but was unable to get the last two so I did not win. I like to try differing strategies each time I play this.


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11. Board Game: Pony Express [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:2701]
Russell Berman
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After Stone Age I headed into the gaming library to look around. This is contained in one of the side rooms. Every wall has a five tier shelving unit chock full of games in alphabetical sections. In the center of the room was a table literally piled with the newest games from Essen. I pulled out a copy of Pony Express and found a table and set upon learning the rules. Other gamers came along and soon we found ourselves in a five player game. This is a strange mix of race game, liars dice and Cairo. You use poker dice and announce a hand that you use for movement points but only if an opposing player does not call your bluff. That's right you can bluff that you have a full house and move farther than the pair you really have under your dice cup would let you. If you are bluffing and get called on it you go to prison and your opponent moves based on what hand you were bluffing. At certain points if players end up on the same space they can have a duel where each player tries to flick the die and hit the other players cowboy meeple. At other times you are trying to knock over the Indian meeples. It seems like it would be fun but I was just wishing it would end. Some nice flicking was done however.
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12. Board Game: Dungeon Lords [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:182]
Russell Berman
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I headed back into the hot games room and was able to sit in on a game of Dungeon Lords. I am not a huge fan of the designers games other than Through The Ages but I had read the rules and besides being very funny it seemed like it could be a good puzzle type game since you need to figure out what traps and monsters will kill the heroes infesting your dungeon.

Thanks to a great game explanation by Jeff we were on our way. I liked the action selection mechanism which was not too harsh since you would rarely be shut out on an item you needed. Figuring out what traps and monsters would work in advance was difficult since you would not know what heroes you would be attracting until the distribution phase. Overall I put it in the Galaxy Trucker segment (which I don't like). I felt it was a bit too long. No need to buy but will try again.

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13. Board Game: Hot Spot [Average Rating:5.16 Overall Rank:13830]
Russell Berman
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The hot games rooms were adjacent to the game library. In each I think there were six games set up for constant use. The ones I saw in there were Gates Of Loyang, Tobago, Factory Manager, Carson City, Greed, Power Struggle, Shipyard, Dungeon Lords, A La Carte, Farmers Of The Moor, Vasco De Gama and Colonia.

The room itself was very small and crowded. There really was no room other than for the players and the explainers. It was also very steamy.
The explainers when they could be found were very helpful (thanks Rick and Jeff). I know they are there to play as well but at times they were no where to be found and games sat unplayed.

At times when I found myself in there and others were looking confused I took it upon myself to teach. I think I taught 3 games of Colonia while I was there.
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14. Board Game: The Magic Labyrinth [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:849]
Russell Berman
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After sweating it out in the dungeon both literally and figuratively I headed back out to the main ballroom (which fluctuated between hot and cold, good thing I had my sweatshirt with my contstantly).

I popped into the game library and checked out a copy of Das Magische Labryrinth. I love the big chunky games that use the box as part of the game. This was a simple (but not easy) magnetic labyrinth game. Inside the box sits a lattice like board into which you place wooden slats in a labyrinth pattern, then you put the game board on top of that. Your playing piece has a magnetic base. You connect a small ball bearing under the board with the playing piece on top. On your turn you attempt to guide your playing piece through the labyrinth in the attempt to make it to a space with a symbol on it that matches the one you draw out of a bag. The problem is you can't see the labyrinth. You only know you hit a wall when the ball drops off your playing piece and rolls it way back to your starting corner. The four of us playing had a great time finding out that our memory sucks. My kids would definitely kick my butt at this game. If I can ever find a copy at a reasonable price I will pick it up.

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15. Board Game: Tobago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:389]
Russell Berman
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Long Beach
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I went back into the hot games room and was able to sit down to a game of Tobago explained by none other than Rick Thornquist. I had eagerly been anticipating playing this game and was not disappointed. It has all the things I like, deduction, great bits, and fun theme. I however apparently am I very poor treasure finder and came in dead last.

Someone in my group has this game already so I don't need to get it immediately but I am sure it will soon find a way into my game closet.

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16. Board Game: Revolution! [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1004]
Russell Berman
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After scoffing down a turkey sandwich and a coke from the food stand outside the main lobby I went to the sunnyside room and joined in a game of Revolution. We had three players so there was not as much competition for the bidding locations as I would have liked but I liked the game more than I thought I would. It is a quick, sometimes nasty but always fun area majority game with blind bidding/role selection. Definitely would play again but don't need to buy.
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17. Board Game: Lottery Fever [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Russell Berman
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Long Beach
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At midnight Thoughthammer had it's Thursday night prize drawing. During the day they wheeled out a shelving unit that had different groups of games. Under each was a box for tickets. You put your orange ticket in the box for the games you wanted to win. There was an Essen group, a kids games group, etc.

Sadly I am a big loser and did not win that night.
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18. Board Game: Sleepy Time [Average Rating:4.33 Unranked]
Russell Berman
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Long Beach
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Spent a little time wandering around trying to see if I could get into another game but all tables seemed to be in progress and the party game crowd was already full up so I thought it in my best interest to see if I could actually get some sleep. Headed up to the room and was in bed around 2am.

The Westin needs better cable, either that or there really is nothing on a 2am besides ads for P90X.
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19. Board Game: Vasco da Gama [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:441]
Russell Berman
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Long Beach
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Friday morning headed down to breakfast but the Westin breakfast buffet was too expensive for my hunger level. Also if you buy a banana at the buffet it costs 2.00. If you buy it at the food stand near the main ballroom it costs 1.00.

Started off in the hot games room again and slogged through a game of Vasco de Gama. I think I will like the game but my opinion is being colored by a spotty rules explanation and bickering between two of the other players. I really like the turn order mechanic and the rest if your standard put your maker here to take this type of action thing. Once I read the rules again myself and understand how the shipping/floating action really works I probably will have a higher opinion. Definitely want to try again.
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20. Board Game: Power Grid: Factory Manager [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:691]
Russell Berman
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Long Beach
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I don't like Power Grid. Well that is not true, I like Power Grid but I find it to be very repetitive and not that exciting. It is with that background that I tried Factory Manager. I never really quite grasped the concepts and really did not find it very exciting. It has a similar feeling as power grid and the graphics/mechanics certainly are cousins but this was even more boring to me.
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21. Board Game: Ad Astra [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:905]
Russell Berman
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Long Beach
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Earlier I had pulled this game out and explored the contents of the box and made a small attempt to learn the rules but felt it would be quicker/better understood if taught. Luckily I was able to join in a game a little bit later. Think of this as Starfarers Of Puerto Rico. Nice plastic bits and cardboard planets, action cards, resources being made and traded, spaceships flying around searching for more resources and a cool you choose when the scoring happens and what type of scoring it is mechanic. If you play this game make sure you mine for energy or you will just sit on the same planet like I did until you have enough cards to trade for a few energy cards. I came in second to last but would defintely play again and would consider buying.
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22. Board Game: Carson City [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:337]
Russell Berman
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Back into the hot games room (I had made it my mission to play as many of the Essen games as I could).

This time it was Carson City, which some are comparing to Western Caylus.
I don't like Caylus but I really liked Carson City. I don't know if it was the theme or if it was just easier but this definitely is one I like. Lots of different ways to make money so there are lots of ways to get victory points. Someone in my group has this so I don't need to buy it right away but certainly want to play again.
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23. Board Game: Nanuk [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3465]
Russell Berman
United States
Long Beach
California
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Was encouraged by a friend to participate in a game of Nanuk. This bluffing/bidding/party game was fun but not for me in the long run. I did have a lot of fun shouting Dooooom over and over again.
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24. Board Game: Castle Panic [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:809]
Russell Berman
United States
Long Beach
California
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In the main ballroom the outer edges were occupied by the vendors. Besides thoughthammer, Zman, Tasty Minstrel and Valley Games there were a couple other that I don't remember. In one they were demoing Castle Panic.

This was a little to simple and random for me. The game is trying to protect your castle towers from the ever encroaching onslaught of monsters. Each player has a hand of cards that can in various ways kill or stop them. It is supposed to be semi-cooperative in that everyone want to kill the monsters, otherwise if they win everybody loses. But if you kill them monsters the player with the most kill points wins. This just was not my type of game.

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25. Board Game: Rush n' Crush [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:2774]
Russell Berman
United States
Long Beach
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I had seen this game advertised and thought it looked interesting but I was mistaken. Standard racing game with some sci-fi theme and special powers. The car pieces are tiny and have similar colors so you are always trying to remember which car is yours. The track is set up for lots of crashing and interaction but I found the play tedious and was glad when I was killed so I could move on to something more interesting.
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