Helcon 2010 - Thoughts on Some Recent Releases
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Recommend
20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
This weekend Finland's largest annual boardgame convention Helcon was held in Helsinki. I attended on Friday and Saturday and focused mainly on testing some of the recent releases that were available to play. This geeklist catalogues my experiences and impressions of the games I played.
Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
  • [+] Dice rolls
1. Board Game: Glen More [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:262]
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I kicked off the convention by sitting behind the ticket counter for three hours selling tickets and directing the confused-looking people who had actually come to see the dance theatre performance next door to the right place. After this I had 3,5 hours to game before I had to head off to my sleeping arrangements, so I walked in, met a person who I knew and went with him to check the game library that you could loan games from. It consisted of three impressive shelves filled with 150+ (my own estimate, no idea of the exact number) games, so there was a alot to choose from.

I had my mind on testing a number of new releases that had caught my attention in various Essen reports. Glen More was close to the top of that list, so when I spotted it, it was a natural choice. We grabbed two other people to make it four players and sat down only to discover that the game was in German. Fear not, iPad and BGG to the rescue! Luckily someone who knew the game happened by soon and quickly explained us the rules and off we went!

It quickly became clear that each of us had chosen bit different approach to building their realm. One was focusing on villages and clansmen, one had nifty production and selling combination and I was focused on keeping my realm tight and small, grabbing my points with whiskey and trade. In the end it - and the fact that the village guy got greedy and missed the castle that would have given extra points for each of his villages - paid off and the negative points other players got for the size of their villages allowed me to grab the win with 55 points.

I really enjoyed the game. The tile selection mechanism forces you to balance greed and tightness in a nice way and scoring points felt like a natural part of the game flow. After one play, Glen More is close to being my favorite tile-realm-building game.

Initial rating: 8
Interest in buying: possibly, would like to play more.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
2. Board Game: Hey Waiter! [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:5069]
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
After Glen More one player left and the rest requested for something lighter, so I loaned Hey Waiter!, another new title I had been hoping to try out. The initial reaction to reading the rules was a collective 'Huh?!?', but after fumbling through first few turns we figured it out. And it turned out to be exactly what I was hoping for: fun, original, quick card game. In fact, it ended up to be the only game I played more than once during the convention, as after the first round every one was eager to play another one when they actually knew what they were doing.

The game is not perfect, as it's bit chaotic and the end game of placing and dodging lids while setting up your busboys can get bit silly, but original gameplay, nice theme and quick playing time make it one that I'd definitely enjoy playing in the future as well.

Playing aids were next to useless, though. It took us until the middle of the second game to decipher what they were actually trying to communicate to us and it turned out to be stuff that we really didn't need any aid for.

Initial rating: 7
Interest in buying: might end up getting this as an impulse buy. I have yet to figure out whether there is a hole for this kind of game in my collection or not.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
3. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:68]
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
After spending few hours on my friend's guest bed and being woken up by a cat's morning aria of existential angst, I got back to the convention and started looking for new playing group and games. I quickly met a guy from my local weekly gaming group and after some pondering we ended up picking Troyes as our first game.

The rules were straightforward enough and we were soon rolling the dice and placing our meeples. Initally we were reluctant to buy dice from other players, but after couple rounds all such inhibitions were off and we were happily trading for the dice we needed and snatching the ones others had been hoping to use themselves. In that sense the game flow was nice and dynamic, but otherwise I wasn't completely convinced. Stuff you needed to do to gain points felt often quite forced and I was not terribly impressed by losing 4 points (out of 32) to the last random event of the game without being able to do anything about it.

I'm quite willing to play this again to see how it feels like when you know better what you are doing, but for now it's definitely off my buying list and in the category of games that seem to be generally well-loved in BGG, but that leave me bit cold.

Inital rating: 6
Interest in buying: none at the moment.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
4. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:43]
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
After returning Troyes we spotted three guys opening a box of 7 Wonders. They clearly needed more players, so we jumped the chance and were soon sitting in a table of full seven players. I was the only one who knew approximately how to play, so I took to myself explaining the rules. Not having actually read the rulebook before, I missed the one that you can only have one of each individual building, but fortunately people didn't mind.

I ended up playing with Manneken Pis promo wonder and tried to build something around my extra money and the early gained option to buy manufactured goods cheaper. However, my neighbours were strangely unwilling to support my tactics, so I ended up building my whole wonder and a selection of blue buildings, but wasn't able to do anything really powerful and finished fifth.

Despite the small difficulties, everyone in the group seemed to really enjoy the game. I'll probably buy it myself too - while I enjoyed at least Glen More more than 7 Wonders, it's hard to argue against that approachability, range of players and short playing time. 7 Wonders is simply so likely to see much more playing time than any of the other games I tried.

That being said, I have to join the chorus of complaints about the card quality. I don't mind the price point, but I really enjoy card games and have over the years grown rather sensitive to flimsy cards. They just lack something when you are holding them.

Another potential problem I see with the game is playing the cards you have on the table. It takes a lot of space, always ends up looking a mess and it seems to be hard to do it so that everyone can easily see all the stuff they need to see about your cards.

Initial rating: 8
Interest in buying: I'll definitely get this. Will get the Finnish edition that will be published next week to support localizations.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
5. Board Game: London (first edition) [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:276]
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Next we noticed an available copy of London - probably the most played game in the convention with two (I think) copies around - and quickly grabbed it. It took a bit of trying and two people reading the rulebook to get the rules sorted out, but after that the gameplay was mostly straightforward.

In my opening hand I had East-India Trading Company to allow getting a lot of money and Hospital, allowing me to use the former twice, so I decided to try playing without any loans. In retrospect, I should have known better in a Martin Wallace game. I never got the social problems under control (partly because in the mid game I drew four Paupers in rapid succession without cards that would have allowed me to get rid off them), so I finished with exactly zero points after a punishing amount of penalties. Based on this one game, I'd say that in most cases you really need to start by buying a borough for some cards and board presence.

The game mechanics were clever, but I nevertheless, I was left with a vaguely unsatisfied feeling. There seemed to be a hint of Race for the Galaxy type solitaire play where the other players were basically just annoyances that made you wait for your turn. Then again, I finished with zero points, so I'll have to try this again to form a proper opinion.

Initial rating: 6
Interest in buying: decreased significantly, but I've not completely ruled it out yet.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
6. Board Game: String Railway [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:1999]
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
After quick food break we came back to the convention just in time to see one of our locals pulling out String Railway. I had wanted to try it out, so we sat down for a quick game.

It was indeed quick, over in maybe fifteen minutes. And it was also fun and original. Add little buildings on the station cards (yes, it would mess up the game, but just for the sake of argument) and could just see network of rails spreading through a country. I promptly lost this one too, but really enjoyed it and would definitely like to play more. Yet somehow I suspect that it will run out of it's charm after some plays.

Initial rating: 7
Interest in buying: It's cheap, it's small, it's unique, it's cute. I'd find a place for it in my game closet, but until more copies are made, that's not really relevant.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
7. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:283]
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Over the meal we had ended up talking a bit about Innovation. I had played it once before, while the other two had never played it, so I offered to introduce them to the game.

It ended to be what the first touch with Innovation seems to be for most people - utterly confusing. The techs used created more confusing interplay than I had seen in my first game, so after a while one of the two newbies basically gave up feeling totally lost and out of control. The loud buzz of the convention room probably did not help either.

On the other hand, I was able to see, understand and control the flow of my own game much better after just one previous game, so I quickly set up a winning combo and gained five Achievements in a rapid succession to put the guys out of their misery. For them, it was not very good, but I was left both more intrigued and bit worried about the effects of some cards.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
8. Board Game: Peloponnes [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:721]
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Next it was again time to try something new. For me, that is. The others were eager to get in a game of Peloponnes that has gained a lot of positive buzz in our local circles, so I was happy to try it out.

Unfortunately, it ended up to be my most flat and uninspiring game in the whole convention. Not understanding the dynamics of the game completely I ended up making my own food production next to impossible with my first purchase and lost my whole population when the first supply event came up.

After that I figured the game out bit better and managed to get through the rest of the game without losing anything, but I was still left thoroughly unimpressed. There was nothing in the auction and tile buying to catch my attention and the disaster mechanisms often leave me rather cold. For tile-based realm building, I'll take Glen More over this any day.

Initial rating: 4
Interest in buying: none.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
9. Board Game: Dixit [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:204] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
At this point my gaming partners of the day left for a scheduled event, so I started looking for new people to play with. Three guys I did not know were by the game library loaning out Dixit, so I offered to join them to make it four and bit more interesting.

It was my second time of playing Dixit and the experience was again positive, although bit mixed. The gameplay is very enjoyable, but my mind clearly worked in a very different way than those of the other three players. While I was crafting longish sentence clues, they usually went with a single word. I often guessed their cards wrong, but on the other hand managed to trick them a lot with my false ones too. In the end, I was finished way behind the other three who were with three points of each other, but despite, it was a relaxed and enjoyable session.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
10. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:81]
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There was time for one more game and after some discussion I promised to introduce the guys to Stone Age. The game was played in brisk pace, but still we ended up wrapping it couple rounds before the actual end because one of the players really had to go. Despite this, all three seemed to enjoy the game (and I did too), so it was a good choice for ending the day. The winner was one of the newbies who managed to grab a lot of food production and tools and cruised them (along with some pretty good dice rolls) to a clear and deserved victory.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
11. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:184]
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Finally, some games I was really hoping to see and play in the event, but wasn't able to because they were not available.

Sid Meier's Civilization: the Boardgame - unfortunately FFG's latest offering will only arrive to Finland next week or the week after that. I'll buy this straight away anyway, but it would have been nice to be able to play it. It might be a while before I get a suitable group together at home.

Rallyman - I'm very, very intrigued by Rallyman, but I don't know if anyone in Finland actually has it. It's certainly not being sold anywhere around here.

Ascension: Deckbuilding Game - I've been on a will buy-won't buy pattern on this ever since August and would have jumped on a chance to try it out. Unfortunately it has been slow to arrive to Finland, only reaching these shores next week.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
12. Board Game: Hot Numbers [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Mikko Karvonen
Finland
Tampere
Tampere
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Final count:
10 different games, 11 total plays
7 new games, four that I enjoyed, two that I need to play again but left me bit unconvinced, and one that simply fell flat.
3 wins. Especially Saturday was really bad - I lost half of all the plays and did not so too well intwo of the others either.

My thanks to the organizers of the event. The space worked well, the tables and chairs were good and everything flowed smoothly from what I could see.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.