My Eccentric Gen Con 2010 Diary (with Bonus Pictures)
dan schnake
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Gen Con.... thousands of gamers congregating for a festival of fun and weirdness... cannot resist.

This isn't a log of games played, or some kind of review of the con, or anything like that. It's just a visual account of one person's experience. Oh, and some games thrown in.
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1. Board Game: Business [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:9959]
dan schnake
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Your humble guide is a designer at Crosscut Games. I live close to Indy, so Gen Con is an easy commitment. My son is a 4 dayer with me, my daughters and wife come 1 day, my brother haunts the place, my fellow Crosscut Overlord (Adam) is there, many friends show up. It would be difficult to not have an excellent time.

Business-wise, we just wanted to test some minor tweaks with our coming game with a few groups of experienced boardgamers. Other than that, pleasure trip.

Actually, playtesting a final prototype is also a pleasure.


 
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2. Board Game: Good Ol' Charlie Brown Game [Average Rating:6.45 Unranked]
dan schnake
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Wednesday Night, aka Gen Con Day 0, is for the hardcore. Think they were playing Last Night on Earth. She had such striking red hair, my only thought was "So THIS is why Charlie Brown had such a crush."


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3. Board Game: Priests of Ra [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:1636]
dan schnake
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Great. But… it’s Ra. If you have one Ra, I can’t think of a reason to get another one with different scoring.

I did have the pleasure of explaining and playing this with 2 guys who had never played Ra. They were quite impressed. In giving strategy tips, I explained how Ra is “That ol’ Hellbound Train” to me, as I often run the risk of late auctions where one more Ra tile is my doom. My Hellbound Train motif took off with them nicely. “Train’s goin’ down!” or “Runnin’ out of track!”, etc. I say someone should retheme it. The Egyptian thing has been done to death.
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4. Board Game: Galactic Emperor [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1719]
dan schnake
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Just betwixt you and me, Adam West is a bit… off. Perhaps his name has an eldritch curse.

We had a surplus of plastic spaceships for our 2008 board game, Galactic Emperor. I’m sure sane publishers keep such things in a supply room or something. Adam decides to give the surplus ships away in a blowout battlefest.

So Adam created a one-time game called Galactic Emperor 5000. Players commanded ship armadas in a massive confrontation, decided by a contraption called “The Machine.” Don’t even ask about the rules. All I know is that players had dozens and dozens of ships on large paper plates, with Adam gleefully heaving ships into “The Machine” to decide battle outcomes.

A great time was had by all. And some folks left Gen Con with a LOT of plastic ships.

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5. Board Game: Macao [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:248]
 
dan schnake
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Best new-to-me game of Gen Con. Standard engine building Euro complete with vague 16th century port city theme. Executed very well, with an unusual and sweet resource allocation rondel mechanic. Designer Feld metes out punishment for inattention or a failed gambit. Some translation issues and lordy, does the Baroness need a shave.
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6. Board Game: Fancy Nancy Dress-Up Game [Average Rating:5.33 Unranked]
dan schnake
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Sometimes, I'm not sure whether folks are wearing a costume or not...

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7. Board Game: Egizia [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:291]
dan schnake
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Worker placement resource grabber. The twist here is that each new worker must be placed further downriver on the Nile, so you're often tempted to zip down for a goody, only to find your choices restricted later. Liked it, but after the initial play, I wondered if the Sphinx cards are too random/powerful.
 
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8. Board Game: Celebrity Trivia [Average Rating:3.50 Unranked]
dan schnake
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My kids watch this webshow called The Guild, some sort of World of Warcraft spoof. The Gen Con celebs this year included several members of the cast, including the lady in the middle, Felicia Day. No idea who the flowered couple is. I don't know anything about the show, but Felicia is a good sport and was friendly to everyone who queued up.

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9. Board Game: Alea Iacta Est [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1288]
dan schnake
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Fine dice game with Roman theme. Allocate a number of dice each turn, worry about the round ending too soon, interesting decisions. Thought it would pale next to recently purchased Roll Through the Ages, but Alea Iacta Est stands tall. Biggest diff in comparing the two is that AIE needs 3+ players to shine, whereas RTtA is fine with 2, or even solo.

Also, I like the fact that unused dice go into the latrine.
 
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10. Board Game: Ninjato [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:665]
dan schnake
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Adam West (white shirt) running Ninjato, our upcoming game. This group of testers were experienced gamers, picking it up quickly. Better yet, our tweaks to gameplay worked fine and the feedback was great. As a bonus, we got a couple of excellent suggestions.

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11. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:283]
dan schnake
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First play was disappointing. One player got on a good combo of cards and there didn't seem to be anything the other two players could do about it despite making the effort. Game was a complete drubbing. Perhaps this result was an outlier? Given the praise on this one, I'll give it a couple more tries. Not feeling it so far in gameplay or outcome.
 
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12. Board Game: War in Europe [Average Rating:7.05 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.05 Unranked]
dan schnake
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With the overcrowded vendor hall, you seldom see folks actually sitting down to finish a fairly long game in a small indie booth. A few years ago it was much more common. But these guys were into it, made me smile.

Am hoping the the great Gen Con expansion next year brings back a vendor hall where you don't feel like you're in a cattle drive.

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13. Board Game: Connect Four [Average Rating:4.84 Overall Rank:16257]
dan schnake
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If you have to ask why, you'll never understand.

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14. Board Game: Take the Cake [Average Rating:5.57 Overall Rank:13026]
dan schnake
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Next door to the Ninjato playtest, I saw an edible Settlers of Catan game. I think the whipped cream spray cans are for making roads.

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15. Board Game: Star Wars Customizable Card Game [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1564]
 
dan schnake
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This little kid in the jawa outfit was spooky good. In fact, I'm not positive a real jawa didn't visit Gen Con.

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16. Board Game: Guess Who? [Average Rating:4.77 Overall Rank:16259]
dan schnake
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Okay, Poison Ivy, Sailor Moon, and Jack Sparrow. No idea about the blonde woman's costume. Enlighten me.

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17. Board Game: Green Ghost [Average Rating:5.10 Overall Rank:15025]
dan schnake
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Several experts were on hand to protect gamers from the paranormal.

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18. Board Game: Spiel [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:6323]
dan schnake
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Saw the Spiel podcasters, Stephen and Dave, chatting with some Korean game company reps. Normally, those swanky white meeple jackets would make you stand out in a crowd, but at Gen Con, they're practically normal. Well, sort of normal.

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19. Board Game: COSMIC Super Business [Average Rating:5.46 Unranked]
dan schnake
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Caught Zev (Z Man Games) in mid-exhortation with his crew. The essence of the independent business, long may they live.

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20. Board Game: The Anger Solution Game [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
dan schnake
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My brother Dave returned from a scheduled Talisman game in a foul mood. Apparently, one of the other players was an Insane Psycho Rules Lawyer. The charming bonus was that he was tenacious, competitive, and wrong about everything. One player dropped out, another almost did, my brother was ready to drop out himself if anyone else did, and my brother HATES dropouts.

Why would a rules lawyer legislate on an along-for-the-ride random event game like Talisman? I do not understand this.
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21. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:640] [Average Rating:6.97 Unranked]
dan schnake
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My brother Dave also had an interesting take on the Ravenloft revival. Many moons ago, I ran the original Ravenloft AD&D module and the players really enjoyed it. The setting has lived on, vampires being fine villains, and now there’s the Castle Ravenloft board game. Dave decided to double dip Ravenloft, playing a new D&D module and the board game. Said the board game was decent, perhaps not fully baked on balance and intrigue. Dave got an excellent DM on the rpg module and just raved about the experience -- best of show for him.

I suspect that rpg's are better at handling vampires than boardgames, especially with a good DM.

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22. Board Game: Dead of Night [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:5434]
dan schnake
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Through the awesomeness of a gamer named Dave, the top floor of the One America tower, the Skyline Club, was open as a gamer gathering place. The view kicked butt, my camera could not do the night view out the window justice. Really nice club room, food and drink service, and a great group of boardgamers. Technically, this had nothing to do with Gen Con.

Because I'm in a charitable mood, I will not do a compare/contrast with Gen Con's open boardgaming offering this year.

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23. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:100]
dan schnake
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Yeah, I’m still getting the stickers on. A two player game with an initial 2 hours of setup… not the best “play at a con” game. Am very excited though, I wanted a Memoir 44 with more unit types and Dis is It. Only downside for me is the hideous box cover. Also, I’d love a set of custom engraved dice for this game… would probably cost a small fortune.
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24. Board Game: Monopoly: Nintendo [Average Rating:5.01 Overall Rank:15949]
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Mario and Luigi went over to the dark side and coveted my brain. However, in their undead form, they seemed to have lost their spry running and leaping mastery. At their shambling speed, Bowser might finally win.

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25. Board Game: Dante's Inferno [Average Rating:4.70 Overall Rank:16114]
dan schnake
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Ugh. Sometimes, that $5 game in the discount bin is wildly overpriced. Tries to rip off Settlers of Catan and fails horribly at that modest goal. In Settlers, besides the resource roll, there is tension about building roads and houses because of geography. You feel like you need to build in location X before a nefarious opponent does. Dante's Inferno has no idea what tension might be. Instead of gameplay, you get plastic figurines of Lucifer and some minions.
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