dkeisen@BGG.CON2010
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Another great time. You all already know that. Five days spent with my community and in my environment, around games and gamers. I had the opportunity to meet some gamers I had only corresponded with before.

Jesse Dean
United States
Chicago
IL
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Железный комиссар
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Indiana
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It was a pleasure meeting both of you.

Also: the treat of gaming with some of my closest friends in a different context. Different games. Different schedule. More learning. Pretty great.

I've been to a bunch of these by now. I note that the most striking change over the years has been a great improvement in the quality of play in the poker tournament. I mean no one would confuse it with the Big Game, but you no longer have people sticking around with any two cards. People raise when they enter a pot. We've learned Poker 101. This means my chance of reaching the final table has vanished.

I primarily view BGG.CON as a shopping trip. I go to play all of the new games, or as many as I can, in order to plan my purchases over the next six months. In general terms, a bunch of pretty good games, but nothing which will make me look back 5 years from now wishing we were in that golden age of gaming: 2010. Nothing, for instance, which knocks Dominant Species off the perch as the best game of 2010.

This list of games played will be organized in order of my opinion of them, from best to worst. This is not in terms of my judgment of the game right now, but my expectation of what I'll think about it after I've played enough to judge real quality. This is tough to do: it's hard to know after one play whether there really is only one path to victory or if the game in fact offers a rich gaming experience. Conversely, a game might shine once I stop playing so poorly and see options which were not available to me in my first playing. I left Dallas in 2009 thinking the best game that year was Opera. And left in 2006 thinking that Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization was too fiddly to be worth it and wondering how anyone would ever get an economy going sufficient to exercise all the game's levers. Shows what I know.

On to the games.
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1. Board Game: Olympus [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1450]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Best of class. Worker placement civ building game with a couple of innovations. Actions are improving production capacity or producing, getting more population to be able to support this capacity, culture for building better buildings, or military for, well, you know what military is for. Building buildings too, which give benefits as well as victory points. None of those, of course, are the innovations.

But first, when you place a worker to do an action, others can follow with their workers to get a reduced version of the action. This keeps them from being frozen out of something key plus can be important for timing reasons. Also: more confrontational than one would expect of this genre.

Only potential concern is whether or not there are multiple paths to victory and details like whether the various buildings are priced correctly. Only time will tell here.

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2. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:184]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Don't need to describe this one to you.

Had not really been on my list before the convention. The first Sid Meier's Civ boardgame, Sid Meier's Civilization: The Boardgame, had a pretty crummy reputation, enough so that I never played it. And Fantasy Flight Games does a very nice job hitting their target market. I am not that target market.

But it was very engaging. They captured a lot of the computer game without feeling the need to include everything. Seems to be a nice job.

I started two games and never got to finish either so core questions as to how the game develops were never answered. (Do not infer from this that the game is super long. It was merely circumstances.) I don't know if the game is too military focused for my tastes (likely). I don't know if the game still provides hard decisions in the second half or do you just drive to your victory condition. I don't know a lot of things.

But the general feeling at the convention was very positive. And I enjoyed what I saw.

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3. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:68]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Innovative game which uses dice to generate actions for players. Interesting and tight economy. Most polished and best developed of the games here, all of the moving parts fit well together.

I expect this to land as the second highest rated game of those I played (behind 7 Wonders), maybe somewhere in the top twenty. Not so coincidentally that's how it played out at Fairplay.

Good game. Will never make my personal top 10 or anything because it is a little light for my tastes, but it works.

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4. Board Game: Master of Economy [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:5115]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Heavy economic game with stock market component, interesting market for resources, managing your own production. The game Planet Steam should have been.

Chance to be my favorite of the games I played here but question marks in terms of importance of turn order and limited number of viable paths to victory raised enough of a question that I did not list it first. It didn't help that friends of mine played it after I recommended the game and declared it broken.

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5. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:174]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Newest in Gerdts's series of Rondel games. More in the spirit of Hamburgum than the others, as it is not fundamentally confrontational and is basically an economic game. Hamburgum done right.

Smooth design, everything works. Rewards skillful play and timing management.

Some concern in the long term as it is not likely the games will end up playing out very differently on different plays. But for now, an interesting game.

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6. Board Game: Vinhos [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:313]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Rich action management economic game based on wine growing. I at one time expected greatness from this one, but the more I learned, the less excited I became.

First of all, it is unduly complicated. Complex is good, complicated is less so. Too many tiny details to track.

Secondly, there is not the direct connection between making good wines and scoring well that I would hope for.

And third, both the source of end game victory points and the management of bonus actions feel very gamey and not tied into the theme at all. If you export a wine for VP during the game, a better wine pays off better than a worse one. But then there is a majority scoring at the end among those who exported wine for VP where you get points for exporting the most wine of a certain category. Instead of the categories being meaningful, they are just columns on the board that don't correspond to anything involved in wine making. I guess they could be viewed as different countries where you export to, if you wanted to stretch it.

The Wine Tasting Fair is also pretty opaque.

But it still has real potential to show me more as I play it a few times and learn more how to manage it. I look forward to my next chance to do so.

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7. Board Game: London (first edition) [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:276]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Nice light-medium weight card game where you purchase improvements to your city in preparation for running the city when appropriate. Running gives you the benefits in the cards on top of your stacks, but costs you by giving you poverty cubes which end up being endgame negative VP.

I called it a card game even though there is a board with the ability to develop different regions of London. Not that development is unimportant, but this is fundamentally a card game.

I liked the game. Found it engaging and one of the best gaming experiences I had at the convention. Only question is replayability which I expect will be answered in the negative.

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8. Board Game: Magnum Sal [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1270]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Nice medium weight worker placement game where your workers mine salt and bring it to the surface to allow other workers to bring it to the king, who apparently is on the path to having blood pressure issues. Salt must be carried and either your workers carry it or you pay other workers to do so. Water in the mine must also be managed.

Good solid game. Can see this entering the rotation pretty easily. Not enough variety from game to game to go to the top of my list.

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9. Board Game: Grand Cru [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1688]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Simple economy where you plant vineyards, harvest grapes, and sell them at market. Less simple timing. Round length is controlled by player actions and it seems key to make sure you get to do what you need to do, even if you could in theory do more.

Not clear yet how good this is. Was not very interesting in my single play. Might require stronger play on all sides to shine. I'm an optimist at this time.

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10. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:43]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Nice light civ building drafting card game. Not deep enough to keep me interested in the long term, but there's a whole lot of fun in the 50 plays I get before I figure it all out. No doubt there will be plenty of expansions over the years to this one. The Dominion of 2010.

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11. Board Game: 20th Century [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1243]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Interesting auction game I had not even heard of before the event. You buy territory tiles with money, you buy improvements with science. You need to keep the amount of garbage on your tiles limited as that is expensive (in terms of VP) if you don't: another auction using science as your currency controls how much explicit garbage you add to your city.

Innovative and challenging timing element where the first player to drop out of the territory tile auction gets first crack at the improvements, but at a higher price than later dropouts. I note that dropping out is different from passing in a specific auction.

Good solid game. Nothing exciting. Tough call on this one.

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12. Board Game: Kaigan [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:2565]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Clever action selection mechanism. Players place action cards into sequenced batches, a player can choose one of the batches to execute in order after placing his or her action card. Nice.

I would be happier if this were attached to a more interesting game. The actions you compete for are basically placing meeples and/or cubes to establish various majorities for VP or other benefits. Far be it from me to knock a game because it involves placing meeples and cubes, but this one didn't engage me.

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13. Board Game: Era of Inventions [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:4525]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Nice theme. Players develop inventions to allow them to be produced. Players get benefits from from producing inventions, a produced invention also pays royalties to the inventor.

Clean mechanics too. A solid-seeming worker placement approach.

My problem here is that it does not seem to work for any of the advertised player counts. Not quite broken, but unfortunate.

For 5, you run out of actions. The last player each turn is pretty much guaranteed to be screwed out of an action as there is nothing useful left for him. Maybe this is OK from a game theory perspective, but it was frustrating.

For 4, the game was too short. By the end of the allotted 8 rounds (it was 10 rounds for 5 players), we had only invented a small number of things. Too small to allow the game to develop properly.

I did not try 3, but am convinced it would be the worst of all. The game has the concept of knock-offs which can be produced but do not benefit the inventor unless he or she has patented the invention. Good idea. But the inventor is not allowed to produce a knockoff. Given that each invention can have two inventors, one who invented the base product and one who improved the manufacturing process, you are going to have knockoffs which are of value to only one person. Not good.

It's a shame. I bet they could have solved some of these problems with a little more aggressive development and come out of it with a very strong game. But as of now, I'll say the game didn't work.

Real bits problems too, by the way.

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14. Board Game: Merkator [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:853]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Rather pedestrian delivery game. Not that the mechanics are bad, they're not. Everything works. But I rarely felt I had a difficult decision. Biggest disappoint for me at the convention.

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15. Board Game: Last Call: The Bartender Game [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:5514]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Nice light filler. Try to fill drink orders (secret goals) more efficiently than your opponents. Great bits --- little drink bottles --- although I understand the prototype was even better --- real little drink bottles.

I'm sure if I had any use for nice light fillers, this would be a fine nice light filler. But how often do I have time to kill at a convention before my plane leaves?

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16. Board Game: Norenberc [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1738]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Simultaneous selection of region to take an action in, actions are buying or selling goods or buying a special card. Fundamentally did not work for me for two reasons:

1. The simultaneous selection. Generally not my favorite mechanic.
2. The special cards you buy are mostly just additional markers for the various regions to establish majorities for end game scoring. Just not very interesting.

Wasn't just me. No one was liking this.

FINISHED
 
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17. Board Game: 51st State [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:994] [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Card game with too many icons and not enough interaction. This will be popular with a certain category of gamer. I am not that gamer.

FINISHED
 
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18. Board Game: Luna [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:418]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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I did not in fact get to play everything I had hoped to. Hit the highlights, but still curious about a bunch of games. As I did not play them, I will not pretend to provide useful game summaries.

Here's the list, in rough order of interest:

Luna
De Vulgari Eloquentia
Glen More
Río de la Plata
Cleopatra's Caboose
Poseidon
Key Market
Black Friday
The Great Fire of London 1666
Antics!

CURIOUS




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