Boardgame Babylon's Gamex 2010 Convention Report
E.R. Burgess
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Glendora
California
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The latest Strategicon here in Southern California was a huge success. We had about a thousand attendees - a jump of about 15% from last year's event and I had a terrific time.

Part of the reason I had such a good time is the addition to Strategicon staff of one Neil Figuracion - a fantastic guy who organized our board game schedule with over 250 events for the weekend. He did an amazing job and I am so happy all the hard work didn't scare him away.

Neil's focus on getting events onto our schedule with an army of amazing GMs to run them let me focus back on planning Guests of Honor and growing our now-amazing Board Game Library - as well as demonstrating the latest games from sponsors like Mayfair, Queen Games, Z-Man, Valley Games, AEG, Wattsalpoag, Gamewright, Days of Wonder, Out of the Box, Looney Labs, Steve Jackson Games, FRED Distribution, and many more.

So, here's my list of highlights from the convention:
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1. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:282] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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One of our biggest events for Gamex 2010 was our pre-qualifier for the Worldwide Catan Championship. Gamex was the exclusive west coast location to play this Memorial Day much like our role with the Ticket to Ride Championship at Orccon 2010. We're very proud to host these major events at Strategicon and we are happy it brought more people out to specifically compete to qualify for major tournaments on the national or international stage.

Our event about 30 players and was won by David Zevin. He won an expenses-paid trip to GenCon to compete there for the right to fly out to Germany for the WWCC, held at castle! Congratulations David!

Take a look at the picture to see all the cool Mayfair swag handed out to attendees - pins, posters, and expansions for the game that broke eurogames in the U.S. Thanks to Mayfair and also to our great GMs who helped administer the event (Chris and Alfredo).
 
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2. Board Game: Mystery Express [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1432]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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Mystery Express missed getting shown at Orccon 2010 back in February by a hair. We actually had it on the event schedule but pulled it late due to a late shipment. But I got it shortly thereafter and already reviewed it on Boardgame Babylon. As a fan of Clue, I appreciated the eurogame take on the genre and the magnificent production design.

I showed Mystery Express twice at the convention and it was a hit! People love the fact that they automatically 'get' a sense of gameplay from having played Clue before (okay, except this one really nice guy who admitted later that he never played Clue - ruining many of my introductory comments' value) and yet they see how Antoine Bauza and Serge Laget have made this more palatable for eurogame fans.

The game won't appeal to you if you dislike deduction/induction games but if you like them, give it a whirl and enjoy the delightful artwork and presentation - nobody does it quite like DoW, although some are trying and getting close (looking at you, Asmodee).
 
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3. Board Game: The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1092]
E.R. Burgess
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Glendora
California
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The nice folks at local publisher Alderac Entertainment Group have been making a big splash in board game of late. Although my first encounter with them was their publication of the brilliant CCG Legend of the Five Rings (which I received a recent review copy of their reprint of - soon to be discussed on BGB), they are now bringing out a lot of board games that straddle the line between Amerigames and Eurogames. The Adventurers is a terrific example of this kind of idea working.

Much like the classic Games Workshop title Dungeonquest, The Adventurers gives players a chance for a ‘dungeon-crawl’ situation on a simple map that has a lot of character through the play of different stacks of cards. Players are one of twelve 'Indiana Jones' style characters (with lovely sculpted figures) seeking treasure amongst the danger of an ancient temple. Danger is everywhere in a collapsing room, a lava room, hidden treasure corridors (complete with an Indy-style boulder barreling towards you) and more. Yes, this game is a real ‘experience’ type of game. Yet, the designers have done a great job of keeping the game light enough on the rules to play quickly. Heck, the game plays well in a half-hour or forty-five minute tops.

It’s just a blast and was a very popular at the library - and my son loves it. You can expect a full review on my BGB Family Games series this summer.
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4. Board Game: Fresco [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:248] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
E.R. Burgess
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Glendora
California
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Queen Games, a wonderful new sponsor for Strategicon, was kind enough to send out a copy of this game to us for the library. Sadly, it was held up in customs and only arrived for the latter half of the convention. But on Monday morning, it was officially nominated for the Spiel Des Jahres (as predicted by many) - and may even be the favorite since it is most like the traditional SDJ winners (nice, light euro with a good theme and 45-60 play time). In fact, I’ll be pretty stunned if it doesn’t (even if I would be just as happy for Orccon 2010 Guest of Honor Matt Leacock’s Roll Through The Ages, itself a hot library title this convention). Fresco will get the full review treatment on BGB shortly.
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5. Board Game: Samarkand: Routes to Riches [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1250]
E.R. Burgess
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Glendora
California
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The other Queen title that was sent to us. I’ve played this one and immediately recommended it to some friends (as did the SDJ jury - it is on the recommended list). Samarkand was destined to appeal to me since it shares some mechanics with one of my favorite games of the last few years, Chicago Express (or Wabash Cannonball, if you prefer - which I don’t...) Players also get the chance to ‘invest’ and ‘build’ lines of trade in a semi-collaborative manner. It’s not a great surprise since this is a re-theme of Age of Scheme, another design by the mysterious Harry Wu. But Samarkand is lighter and quicker than Chicago Express, meaning it will likely crossover more casual gamers and that’s a good thing. The gameplay is fun but I do wonder if it is sufficiently different to get to the table more. Time will tell but I sure like this one for now and any "Harry Wu" game is an instant try for me now.
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6. Board Game: Wits & Wagers Family [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:1192]
E.R. Burgess
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Glendora
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I just love the original Wits and Wagers from Northstar Games. It's what I call the 'equalizer' trivia game. All of the answers are numbers so you can always take a guess. Then, you get to bet on who wrote the 'right' answer (closest without going over) so if you had no clue, you can get points by knowing who might actually have one. There are wager paybacks based on the range of choices, too, so you can take a longshot if you like.

The bummer is: gamers ruin everything! Those overly competitive types who need to win party games (not me, as you might guess) can ruin the game by betting everything they have at the end of the game - turning it into kind of a Final Jeopardy situation. The rich get richer and it can be hard to catch up.

Enter W&W Family Edition. In Northstar's desire to simplify the points (already revised from the first edition) and remove all that casino stuff (since it is for families), they made a possibly better game! Now, players get a point for the right answer, two for betting their BIG meeple and one for better their little meeple. It is easy to port this system back to the original game and make it even more approachable for non-gamers. And instead of seven questions, you simply play until a player has acquired fifteen points. Twenty-five minutes of good fun. It's the kind of game you immediately want to play again (as did those in my demo).

This edition also, as you might guess, includes great kid and family questions so there isn't anything the eight year old won't have a chance to know (or be shocked by...) Northstar's done their typically great job of adding a little flavor text so the kids get a little education mixed in with all the fun.

I've played this four times with adults and they all liked the new point system better. The original remains one of the best party games ever and this one is a huge winner, too.
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7. Board Game: Neuroshima Hex! [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:210] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
E.R. Burgess
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Glendora
California
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I’ll be honest about this game. When I first heard about it, I was completely uninterested. Any game with a war-like theme is an automatic turnoff for me but the best of the euros with some of these elements can sometimes work for me. This was one of the games Z-Man was willing to send out for our library with my plans for a demo so I agreed to do it. It wouldn’t have been the first time a game Zev decided to put out surprised me.

And it did! Although Neuroshima Hex isn’t my normal cup of tea, I suppose an energy drink like this one once in a while is nice. NH is a terrific little tactical game that you can play in 1/2 hour and it’s all about effective placement of pieces. In a squished central group of hexes, players place their also hexagonal army units out and wait to until the area is full or a battle is initiated on purpose. Then, you resolve the results of all the placement by seeing how weaponry was aimed and troops were positioned - each side of the hexagon might have a gun or other weapon on it. Prior to the convention, I played it with my ten-year old and he just loved it. At the convention, I showed it off and ended up having to do another round right afterward - always a good sign and not surprising considering the appealing artwork. NH is a welcome addition to our library (looks like it got checked out four more times) and will probably go into regular rotation for head-to-head games with my son (although it does play up to four and that might be even better).
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8. Board Game: Campaign Manager 2008 [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1223]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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It seems the Strategicon attendees can’t get enough of this game. Is it that designer Jason Matthews was our Guest of Honor at Gateway 2009? Is it simply that some Republicans want another shot at defeating Obama? Is it that Eric Burgess can’t shut up about what a good game it is? Whatever the reason, CM2008 was again one of the top games checked out at the library (seven times, including my two check-outs to explain it to players) and is already on my personal nickel list headed for dime territory. A heck of a lot of game is packed into the thirty minutes it takes to play this lighter version of Matthews’ (and co-designer Christian Leonard) masterpiece, 1960: The Making of a President. I don’t get to play the latter anywhere near as much as I would like so CM2008 will have to keep me going between plays. Must get back on GameTable Online to get in some 1960 action sometime soon. Any takers?
 
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9. Board Game: Dweebies [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:4727]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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This funny card game from Gamewright was a new addition to the library and ended up being good fun. I taught it to three gaggles of kids who loved the silly cards and easy game play. Essentially, you get a hand of five Dweebies cards with colorful characters on them. Each turn, you play one to a grid of cards organized vertically and horizontally. You can play anywhere as long as it is part of the ‘blob’ of cards. Then, if the Dweebie you played matches the one on tyhe end of your row or column, you take all the cards in the stack. You have some idea of good cards for snatching a stack - there are small black dots on each to show how many there are. Lone dot Dweebies will never find a match; the threes and fours are not sure things - someone else could come in and steal your pile if you set one up. The trick is to keep most stacks and rows manageable so that if someone does take one, it isn’t the end of the world.

Incidentally, that's my sister (one of our game librarians) and she played Dweebies three times over the weekend. She is, however, not an actual dweeb.

This has been a huge hit with kids, fun with adults that like lighter games, and it will be good for one or two laughs for the serious eurogamer. It was very popular with every adult I demonstrated it for. It even comes in a nice, sealed tin much like...
 
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10. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:587]
E.R. Burgess
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Glendora
California
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Much like Pandemic was a runaway hit when I brought a sole copy to Orccon a few years back, Forbidden Island was our top library checkout and we ran three demos of the game. Of course, Matt Leacock, the designer of the game and the man with perhaps the best SDJ Nomination record in the history of the award, was our special guest at the last convention and that may have helped hype up the game. The rumors you have heard about it are true: it is Pandemic-like but approachable for a six year old that might be scared off my Pandemic’s grim subject matter. Instead, players are working together to find four lost treasures on a sinking (and yes, FORBIDDEN) island. On your turn, you collect clues to the treasure location (cards), help fortify the island spaces that are sinking, and collect the treasure cards when you have collected a set of four cards - but only from one of two specific locations for each treasure. The artwork is utterly gorgeous, with each tile representing a spot on the mysterious island and you even get four real treasures that represent the four elements. Of course, after you take your turn, the game takes its turn and things get worse. Like Pandemic, there are many ways to lose (including key locations sinking, any one of the players drowning, and the water levels getting too high) and only one way to win - getting all four treasures and escaping! Forbidden Island is an absolute winner and deserves to be in every family’s collection of games. Cooperative games are perfect for families with young children that want to be part of the experience and get to learn that not every game has to be a competition with loved ones - sometimes you can succeed (or fail) together.

Do you need this game if you already own and love Pandemic? If you want a more approachable option than Pandemic that you can use with casual gamers, yes.
 
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11. Board Game: Nuns on the Run [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1309]
E.R. Burgess
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Glendora
California
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A late addition to the library, we added this to the game tournament schedule in anticipation it was coming and because it is just a funny theme. Nuns on the Run will win you over purely on the amusement of trying to move your nuns around a nunnery without getting caught. The gameplay is light and amusing - a sure winner if this kind of game appeals to you.
 
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12. Board Game: Lifeboat [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:1851]
E.R. Burgess
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Glendora
California
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Local designer and publisher Jeff Siadek has been a fixture in the SoCal gaming community for...er...decades (sorry, Jeff!) I can recall buying his games in the early days of my Strategicon attendance and he is still publishing titles on his own as Gorilla Games. He was kind enough to ask me to join one of his events at the convention, a light party-card game called Lifeboat. Now, listeners of Boardgame Babylon will know that I’m a hardcore eurogamer and although I do love many party games, I’m less inclined towards card games that follow the American style of play - some standard rules and tons of exceptions via cards (er...Munchkin comes to mind). However, I still play Guillotine and Bang - and Lifeboat compares favorably to those classics of the genre.

In the game, players take on a role of a period lifeboat character along with two additional cards - the person they love and the person they hate. Players get points for surviving and also if the person they love survives and if they person they hate dies. I love this! Semi-cooperative games like Bang and Saboteur are a big hit with casual and even non-gamers. This element of fun makes it more of an ‘experience’ game but Siadek has also done a nice job of streamlining mechanics so they won’t ruffle the feathers of the eurogamer crowd (I say this as one whose feathers are ruffled particularly easily...)

Players are then lined up in the Lifeboat and jockey for position. Each turn, you can row (which will help determine who might be tossed overboard), try to grab someone else’s position (which might cause a fight) or do nothing. Then there is a scramble for provisions (which eventually run out). These might be victory points, water, oars or other actual weapons plus some other lovely stuff like chum (to throw in the water when the person you hate goes overboard). They are distributed in order of seating (one reason you might want to take a better spot on-board) but there is also an advantage to being at the back. The last player on the ship chooses which rowing card is selected. Those cards trigger someone going overboard (mostly), who will be thirtsty this turn and require water (those who rowed, those who fought and potentially some people directly by name) and also if a bird is on the card - the way the game ends. Thus, the guy at the back of the boat calls a lot of the shots.

With all the witty banter it generates, the light negotiations that go on to get people to help you in a fight, and the simple bloothirsty fun, Lifeboat was a quite pleasant surprise for me and I recommend it heartily (and not just because Siadek is a hometown gaming hero - whom I just met by e-mail, actually). It is a genuinely terrific game, a fine design and is well-produced. You can find more information on it at www.gorillaboardgames.com. I look forward to trying out his other games, including the party game Who Would Win and Battlestations!, which may fall further out of my category but I’m willing to give it a go on the strength of Lifeboat. Don’t be surprised if I try to convince him to be on a future BGB podcast as part of my Stories of Self-Publishing series.
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13. Board Game: Munchkin Booty [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2540] [Average Rating:6.29 Unranked]
E.R. Burgess
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Glendora
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After noting my lack of enthusiasm for Munchkin, it was only appropriate that I should mention I did add a review copy of Munchkin to the library - Munchkin Booty. I took this from Steve Jackson Games with the intention of covering it on Boardgame Babylon but haven’t gotten to it because my planned "Boardgame Babylon Goes Amerigame" podcast hasn’t come together yet. But I did try out MB this time so I could comment on it. And....it’s Munchkin. Now, don’t get me wrong. SJG cards are always a hoot. I used to love Murphy’s Rules and I will always enjoy reading the funny cards in Munchkin/Chez Whatever/Pretty Much Anything Steve turns out. Playing the games themselves - that’s another story. Maybe I need to find the variant that turns Munchkin into a 20 minute game, tops. Then, I’m with you for a closing night event. Until then, Munchkin will probably be something I just bring to the library for Strategicon attendees to check out.
 
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14. Board Game: Court of the Medici [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:2184]
E.R. Burgess
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Glendora
California
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I recently got a copy of Court of the Medici from Michael Nickeloff, the principal at Sorvent, a company that helps designers get their games designer - so now it’s in our library and I expect to talk more about it soon. But, for now, I can say that a couple of demos of the game went quite well and so I tried it once afterward with a friend. If you look past the theme (and nice artwork), it is essentially an abstract numbers game where you place cards of certain rank to knock out a card of the same rank on the other player’s side. The interesting trick is that you can create ‘alliances’ between cards (both you own and the other player’s) to knock out cards - essentially, adding values together to get the ones you need to knock out another card. Some special cards break alliances up as well to keep things fluid. All in all, I found the game enjoyable and look forward to more play of it with my son and wife - both of whom like other numerical two-player games like Battle Line/Schotten Totten and Blue Moon. It works nicely into this category and plays in about twenty minutes. The buzz was strong enough on it for another five check-outs at the library, too.
 
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15. Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:316]
E.R. Burgess
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Glendora
California
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I received a couple of requests for a demo of this game from Z-Man so I put in a request for a copy. It is far away from what I normally play; it is essentially a two-hour storytelling game. I’d played the game back in the 80’s in its original incarnation but I was more open to RPGs in those days (heck, I played them actively until perhaps 1988). Reading through the rules impressed me - there looked to be some streamlining but perhaps I was just remembering the old version as being very much in the old style of games at the time; endless exceptions to get the details right with nary a concern about the playability of games. This game, however, is pretty clean and the concept of reading out paragraphs works better than you might expect. I had no problem getting a group together to try it out and I was impressed with how quickly we got through a shorter game I had planned (just lower victory conditions). It was nice to give people a taste of what to expect. Three of the players then ran through a full game (checked it right out after I put it back in the library) and had a great time. I look forward to trying this one out again this summer (my son has expressed a strong interest in it - we read the book together when he was younger) and hopefully we’ll get this on the full event schedule for Gateway 2010. Thanks again to Z-Man for the library donation!
 
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16. Board Game: Cornucopia [Average Rating:5.84 Overall Rank:7410]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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Another nice addition to the library and an interesting title I’m keen to try out. On my play list for Gateway 2010 or before.
 
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17. Board Game: SWAT! [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:7229]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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FRED distribution sent some great new titles to us through retailer Three Sages Games. We welcomed getting more of their terrific titles in the library but I was surprised to see this one from Knizia which had not been on my radar. It’s a push-your-luck game in his classic tradition - each turn one of the players simply deals out cards into a stack until one of the other players decides to claim it. The cards have positive points, negatives and some have sets that can add up (or down). It’s a quick game and easily broken by a player that doesn’t ‘get it’ but once they all do, it is good fun for a families and fairly inexpensive.
 
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18. Board Game: Carson City [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:337]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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Another terrific addition to our library thanks to FRED and Three Sages Games, Carson City is a crazy amalgum of elements familiar from other games (most notably Caylus) with funny rules for shootouts thrown in to resolve multiple people trying to take the same option. We’re happy to have it in the library but this one didn’t work for me on the first try.
 
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19. Board Game: Sounds Like a Plan [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:9586]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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Gamewright was also kind enough to send us this cool new party game to add to our sizable Party Game Library at Strategicon. In the classic tradition of the suggestion/opinion party games, Sounds Like A Plan has one player choosing a task (say, strike it rich or plan a party) and the other players play cards with actions (silly and not so) suggesting the method for doing the original task. In between those two actions, a die is rolled to determine from whom this advice is coming - and tthat really steps this game up a notch. Is it good advice or bad advice you are seeking? Is it advice you’d hear from your grandmother or perhaps from a little kid? Perhaps you’ll get to decide which it is. Of course, the decider for the turn determines who gets the most points for their answer. But that die roll is really fun and the one element they needed to make this one more than just another Apples-to-Apples variant. It’s good fun that I’ve enjoyed with my family and it was checked out a few times at the convention so I had a chance to explain it a few times to people.
 
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20. Board Game: Fruit Fair [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:8268]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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The talented folks at Wattsalpoag (chiefly designer Kris Gould) also sent us this little game which has such bright, colorful graphics that I had a hard time convincing players to sit down for it. They asked if it was a children’s game with all the fruit and smiling raccoon tokens. Alas, once they got to playing the game, they found a fairly nasty market manipulation game that plays quickly and has a few nice design ideas well-implemented in the design. Players gather fruit from orchards, sell them for minor upgrades and then turn them in for prizes at the Fruit Fair to win the game.

But the game is brutal in the turn ordering and special powers you can gain that give you first position, the ability to switch your simultaneous action, or just take some extra fruit once everyone else is done. Sometimes, you can get shafted - all the fruit you intended to pick is gone! But then you can still trade your existing fruit with other players or the supply all in order to get majorities that will hand you those special powers before you use the fruit to obtain medals that are handed out in a nicely ordered fashion that adds just enough luck to spice things up but not blow a game on. Fruit Fair was a pleasant surprise for every player in the demo - they really thought they were going to be playing some simple little game for kids and ended up with something quiet clever and satisfying. This will be featured on an upcoming Boardgame Babylon, too. All Watsalpoag titles will be back on the demo list for Gateway 2010 as well.
 
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21. Board Game: Nomads of Arabia: The Wandering Herds Game [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:9559]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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After Fruit Fair, I was keen to try Nomads of Arabia and we were able to put together a demo the following day. Gould has another interesting mechanic in this one - the way the players wander through the sands of the desert by use of a series of rectangular panels. Players move their nomads amongst the dunes, cities, and locations where they can capture animals to sell. In a slight nod (or precursor, I suppose, since this game pre-dated it) to Fruit Fair, the same dilemna faces the players - restock or gather? Obviously, if the restock never happen, no one can gather anything new. Also similar to Fruit Fair, there are commitments made as far as what kind of animal you can gather and there will be times when the other players can dry up the market to keep their profits higher. In fact, the way the payouts work in the game with a clean supply/demand track that increases prices paid based on scarcity of animals, works really well. The only issue we had with the game was the turn order. It seemed to be hard to catch up with the players ahead of you in turn order. Although the makeup of the board occasionally could be controlled by the other players in the order through aggressive moves (you could sometimes advance by paying more for your hired-hands to keep up), it seemed like we had little change in the perception of who was winning. In the end, it was closer but still between the two players that seemed to set the pace for the game. I look forward to revisiting the game to learn more of the strategy of exploring aggressively to make the others fall behind back on the dunes. An intriguing game and one that everyone agreed captured the theme of ‘nomads’ very effectively. A nice find and welcome addition to the library.
 
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22. Board Game: Jet Set [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1824]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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This is the first game of Wattsalpoag’s that had really caught my attention. Jet Set plays much like a Ticket to Ride with some extra bells and whistles - and that is entirely to its credit. You are still building routes and finding ways to connect places on the map to claim tickets. But instead of locking people out of routes, you just get better deals by claiming certain legs of a route first (reminding me of Rail Baron in the old days). You build out your infrastructure and pick up flights to gain points (with the long flights worth more) and money as you build towards a secret multi-stop flight at the end. I quite like Jet Set as a half-step up from Ticket to Ride for the players that like the style of game but are ready for a little more of a challenge. Due for a full review on the next Boardgame Babylon and the one Wattsalpoag title I didn’t get demonstrated at Gamex. Next con, it will be on the schedule for a demo so come out and learn it! We also have the expansion for the game in the library, too. We even gave out some cool Wattsalpoag M&M’s and other swag they sent along! I saved a few for Gateway 2010 so find me early to grab a cool freebie.
 
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23. Board Game: Claim It! [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:5675]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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Another Watsalpoag title we were happy to get into the library. It is essentially a roll-and-place game of claiming spots on a board to score points. To claim a spot, you need to claim it twice - until then, your stake can be jumped - which will ruin your chances of claiming a large group of squares. It’s a light although somewhat slight game that plays through quickly.
 
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24. Board Game: Word on the Street Junior [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:5021]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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This terrific party game - a winner of multiple awards - where there is a letter-driven tug of war has been introduced for the kid market. While the game play is the same, Word on the Street Junior keeps things age appropriate for the family. The game is ideal for kids since it gets them thinking about the letters in words and being creative to find one with a wider range of letters so they can capture them.

That's the way the game plays - each of two teams drags the letters towards their side for each repetition of a letter in the word they choose. It sounds simple but it is a fast-playing hit as an opening or closing game for an evening with friends and works like a charm with non-gamers. The Junior Edition will get more discussion during my BGB Family Game series, as it is one of the more popular party games we play with our kids.
 
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25. Board Game: Skyline 3000 [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:3294]
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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Although we showed Skyline 3000 at Orccon 2010 back in February, it was back on the tables at Gamex 2010, too. This re-theme of Alan Moon and Aaron Weissblum's Capitol may not be as pretty but the theme actually works somewhat better. Players get a chance to construct buildings and place them in lucrative neighborhoods to score points. Upgrades can be bought for these locations through unusual auctions but the cards you use to pay for those upgrades are the same ones you use for placing levels of your buildings, for capping them with one of two stylish rooftops, and for staking claims in various neighborhoods. You can even drive up the value of neighborhoods by announcing plans to build there (thereby reserving a spot for future construction at the cost of a victory point). However, if others take over the majority in the area, your upgrades will help them more than you. Scoring happens four times so there is often a chance to get back what you lost.

Skyline 3000 reminds me of a favorite game of mine (Big City) in some ways (building in neighborhoods with upgrades) but it adds interesting mechanics like a blind-bid auction that is revealed almost like a game of chicken, cards you draw from face-up piles and those funny advertising signs which cost you points that you will likely gain back but can also be used as a pause in your actions at a key moment. Timing and turn order is key here.

S3000 plays in about an hour and was a very popular demo. We scheduled a second one later on due to demand and it may just be back on the demo schedule for Gateway 2010, so high was the interest.
 
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