Chally's LobsterTrap (A 3-Day Retrospective)
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This year, I attended my first-ever LobsterTrap, an intimate, invite-only gaming convention frequented by some of New England's notable gamers. Due to work conflicts, I could only make it to three days (two and a half, really). Nevertheless, I have decided to commemorate the occasion by making my first-ever substantive Geeklist, to document the experience. Hooray for firsts!

What follows is the list of games I played at LobsterTrap with my thoughts of the game. These will be more mini-mini-review than session report, though I may mention aspects of a particular session that would have impacted my ability to fairly review the game.

Keep in mind that these are off-the-cuff evaluations. Also keep in mind that, though my rating scale may seem unduly harsh to some, I try to commit to the position that the average game is a _5_ (although my actual average is slightly higher than that). Thus, roughly half of all games I've played ought to be below that mark. I play and enjoy many games that I nevertheless consider to be below-average designs.

Thanks in advance to all those who were willing to share their gaming table with me this weekend.

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1. Board Game: Founding Fathers [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:1201]
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1 play.
3 players.


My first game of the event was Founding Fathers, a new-to-me games whose lukewarm reception among Geekbuddies last year bumped it far enough down my want-to-play list that I never got around to giving it a try. The game is reasonably good, which is not surprising given the designers' pedigree, but I actually found the historical flavor more appealling than the mechanics. The production from Jolly Roger is quite good, if a bit short of top notch (and marred by some questionable color choices). But the experience was both more engaging and engrossing than I had expected going in. I think it is roughly in the same class as 1960: The Making of the President -- perhaps a half-notch below a _6_.
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2. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:495]
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3 plays.
3 & 4 players.


Kingdom Builder is a 2011 Spiel release by Dominion designer Donald X. Vaccarino. It was one of the most popular games at the convention, as it is a perfect design for such events: simple rules, quick playtime, high variability, and fairly addictive. Somewhat like Dominion, it's a game where you can just grab a few people who are standing around and churn out a session (including teaching, if necessary) in a flash.

On its own merits, however, it is a perfectly mediocre title. The closest anlogue might be something like Attika (which I actually think is a little more interesting). Nearly everyone I spoke with described it as "fine," "okay," or (more positively) "pretty good." The gameplay is simplistic, and the opportunities for cleverness decrease as the game progresses. Due to the settlement placement rules, the last few rounds are mostly on auto-pilot. The game's graphic design is also uninspiring, and at times bordering on ghastly. For a simple game, this is no great sin. But I would have liked to feel more like the games I play are a labor-of-love. Kingdom Builder feels like a good idea that settled for "good enough." .5.5.
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3. Board Game: Click Clack Lumberjack [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1668]
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5 plays.
2, 3, & 4 players.


Click Clack Lumberjack is a silly dexterity from Korea, released at Essen this year. It was a great way to kill time between longer games at the convention. It also seemed that everyone wanted to try it at least once, so it was an easy game for groups of players unfamilar with each other to reach agreement on.

The point of the game is to strike a large plastic tree with plastic axes. If the outer bark falls off, you get points. Hit the tree too hard, however, and you will knock off chunks of the core (or, worse, topple several core pieces). Core pieces substantially detract from your score. As the game progresses, the opportunities for obtaining bark become rarer and the tree becomes increasingly precarious. It ends up feeling a bit like Jenga, but this is not a bad thing. The tension created as the tower threatens to topple leads to a lot of hilarity from a game that asks little of its players. This is especially true at two or three in the morning.

Most of our sessions also mixed in Toc Toc Woodman: Golden Axe Expansion and Toc Toc Woodman: Golden Core and Bark Promo. These expansions are not stricktly necessary, but they do provide some alternative ways of thinking about the game. I think I prefer the purity of the base game, personally.

All in all I enjoyed Click Clack Lumberjack. It is more of a child's game than a grown-up game. But, as we learned with Loopin' Louie, this has never stopped adults from having a childlike fun. This is not the type of game that I normally rate, so I can't give you a number here. My rating system simply does not encompass such things. But, for what it is, I give the game high marks. It should also win the award for most entertaining tie-breaker in a game: the winning players are instructed to see who can balance the plastic axe in their palm the longest. Most of the time, players wanted to attemt the tie-breaker even when the game was not tied.
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4. Board Game: Quarriors! [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:768] [Average Rating:6.78 Unranked]
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1 play.
4 players.

This was a another new-to-me game that is not strictly. It is a classic snowball, rich get-richer game. With dice! Those who know me well know that dice games are not my strong suit, and though we played a longer session (playing to 15 points, I believe) I was still completely shut out at game end, due to some unfortunate die rolling.

Quarriors! is not exactly a bad game; lots of modern Euro games are mindless snowballing points engines. And for those who enjoy the cartoonish art work and the lampooning of classic fantasy genres, it could be a pleasant and enjoyable experience. However, this is not a game for me. I enjoy quite a bit more thinking in my games. Although the Dominion-esque nature of the game was expected, the volatility of the game that accompanied the die rolling was not. I had hoped it would provide a little more player control to enable true competition. I hesitate to even call the decision-space tactical, as the options seemed too few and too arbitrary from turn to turn. Although the game was not unpleasant in any way, this is not a game I will need to try again. _4_.
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5. Board Game: Tournay [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:893]
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1 play.
3 players.

This was one of the games from this year's Essen Spiel for which I had high, high hopes. In fact, I have a pre-order coming from overseas whenever Pearl Games gets their production problems fixed. After playing at LobsterTrap, however, I am likely to cancel my order.

I am generally not a fan of Tableau games. Nor am I a fan of simple combinatorial games. Tournay is, of course, both. Perhaps I was simply expecting too much in thinking that the designers of Troyes (which somehow made buckets of dice palatable in a Euro game) could recreate that magic in a tableau card game. If I were likely to play such a game, I suppose I would continue to explore Race for the Galaxy, which I rate a mere _6_. Tournay does nothing to threaten that preference.

There is a slight spatial element to the game, reminiscent of last year's Glen More. As some of you may know all-too-well, I disliked that game, and the similarities consequently left an unpleasant taste in my mouth that might not be fully Tournay's fault. Nonethless, the best parts of the the game were really just simplified cute pushing exercises, which we are already all-too-familiar with in this hobby.

At the end of the day, I simply see no spark here that would make me want to dive back into the game. It is ultimately yet-another title in a gaming genre that I do not enjoy. It lacks that certain special something needed, for me at least, to explore the game further. I am inclined to give it a .4.5..
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6. Board Game: Vanuatu [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:754]
 
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3 plays.
4 & 5 players.

Vanuatu appears to be the cream of this year's Essen crop. The fact that I own the game and yet still played it three times at a convention full of new-to-me titles should be strong evidence of this game's merits. After my first play (prior to LobsterTrap), I was hesitant to embrace the game. In particular, I was worried about the variety of scoring paths (the one player shut out of tourists early finished well behind the rest). I also had some reservations about the amount of mental processing necessary to play it competitively. I can now state that those concerns have been put to rest.

The heart of the game is an action-selection mechanism that allows players to choose actions in a worker-placement fashion, but forces players to resolve actions based on area-majority priciples. Thus players can complete for high-value actions by committing more resources to those spaces, but, in so doing, reduce the total number of actions that they can take each round. The result of this mechanical layering is that players should predict what they are opponents will want to do, and in which sequence, in order to the best manipulate the gamestate to their advantage. This is a mean game, and I would not recommended for players who easily get their feelings hurt or for those who would like to make plans and then execute them. On any given round, you may end up with as few as zero viable options thanks to good play by your neighbors.

I enjoy mean games, however. And I have now witnessed sufficient variety between my sessions of Vanuatu to convince me that multiple strategies are available and viable. In one game in particular, a player lapped the scoring track during the game (a feat normally reserved for winners during endgame scoring) by eschewing the highly demanded actions in favor of frequent short-horizon points grabs.

As for my concerns about the taxing mental processing required, I have come to discover that familiarity with the game greatly reduces the amount of processing necessary to compete. In my final game of the weekend, I played a five player session that was over in under the 90 minutes estimated on the side of the box. In this game in particular, the players were sufficiently capable at parsing the incentive structures that one player could almost predict the flow of the round before the first action marker had been placed. I am not naming any names, though. *coughJoeHubercough* I will also say that such mental faculties do not guarantee victory.

All in all I quite enjoy this game, despite its unforgiving nature. Most of the players that I spoke with complained that the game was a round too long. I am probably inclined to agree on that score, and I may experiment with a seven-round game (though I worry about throwing off the balance). On the final round, there seemed to be little that players could do. In a well-executed game, the last round may see only two or three of the action spaces at having any utility. That is of course less-then-desirable.

Nevertheless, there is unquestionably a solid game here, and one that I am happy to play and am likely to continue requesting in the near future. I give the game an _8_ at the moment, with some potential for upward mobility. I do not believe, however, that the game will likely hit a _9_.
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7. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:477]
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2 plays.
4 players.

This is yet another game that has been out for a little while, but which LobsterTrap gave me a chance to take my first real look at. The first play went rather poorly for me, as I struggled to learn tech trees at the core of the game. Additionally, I forgot the endgame condition, leading me too over-invest in game strategies premised on a longer session. Because of this, I made an effort to play again before the end of the con just so that I could have an opportunity to play better. In my second game, things ran more smoothly and I very nearly won.

After two games, I am still not convinced that I would choose this game over Race for the Galaxy. However, it is an enjoyable game. If you are not already a Race fanatic, I can recommend exploring this as an alternative option. The games are not identical (and I hope that I am not implying that they are full substitutes). But, as mentioned above, I am not a fan of tableau games. And I do not see the need to own many games that share similar qualities.

Some people have suggested that Eminent Domain is more akin to Dominion. I see where they are coming from, but I felt that it was much too tactical to support such comparisons. Dominion is a game that requires long-term strategy, chosen at the outset. Eminent Domain, by contrast, seems to turn on see ability to manage one's hand, and to acquire technologies that allow for more efficient use of one's current cards. In this sense, it is more reminiscent of Race for the Galaxy. This is a decent game that I would likely play anytime it was offered, assuming there are no better options on the table. Mostly, this is due to the short duration of the game; 30 minutes or so with four players seems just about right and inoffensive enough that I wouldn't bother to push back against it at a game day. But neither am I enthralled with the game, so I think it ends up at roughly a _6_.
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8. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:52]
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2 plays.
4 & 5 players.

I do not think there is much that I need to say here. Dominant Species is one of my favorite games. It is a rare .10!. Also, the fact that I played nearly 7 hours of this game in a two-day convention loaded with new-to-men titles evidences how much I enjoy this title.

There are plenty of my thoughts in my game comments, so I refer you there. The one thing I will note, however, is that I played the game both with and without the extra Action Pawn cards, and I greatly prefer the game with those cards absent, provided that at least some of the players at the table are less experienced. I also greatly prefer the four-player game. With a four-person table and those cards absent, we managed an amazingly close game in about 2 hours and 15 minutes. This seemed just about perfect.

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9. Board Game: Bisikle [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:3226]
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1 play.
4 players.

One of the interesting features of conventions that I had not quite anticipated was a preference for dexterity games in the wee hours. By the time your brain has been fried from hour upon hour of heavier game, you need a little silly mechanical fun. Bisiklefollowed my first session of Dominant Species, which ran nearly four hours. I was sufficiently mindless that a simple flicking game seemed pretty freakin' cool. I really can't do much to evaluate the game, unfortunately, because we only played one lap around a flat track as a simple intermezzo -- a palate-cleanser of sorts. It was fun, and the Z-ball is a novel idea. None of us, however, were sufficiently skilled at flicking it to make it to do anything of interest. Especially me. Once I fell behind, I was intent on driving the ball as far as I could with each flick, in a futile attempt to gain ground.

I will say that this is not a smart approach to Bisikle.

Since I can't say much more about the long-term success of this game without playing again, I will hold off on giving this a rating. I will say, however, that it is not a game I would own. But it is the sort of game that I would enjoy when I need a break. In this regard, it may be a better game than Snow Tails or Leaping Lemmings, two games that I purchased in a misguided attempt to fit some silly racing fun between longer titles. If you are at all interested in it, I certainly think it is worth checking out
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10. Board Game: TSCHAK! [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:3218]
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1 play.
4 players.

This was one of those last-game-of-the-night games where you try to squeeze in a few extra moments of gaming satisfaction before bed, even if you can hardly keep your eyes open. This is a four-player only card game released at Spiel '11 (although there are two- and three-player rules, they would defeat most everything I enjoy about the game). We also played with a drafting variant of sorts, which I think significantly improved what would otherwise be a draw-dependant game.

The idea here is to take a hand of numbered cards in three different "races" and place them in various parts of what I suspect is supposed to be a dungeon. High-value cards can earn you gold, while low value cards attract monsters. The key to the game is successfully playing cards of just slightly higher value than your opponents to earn gold and ditching lower-valued cards at times when others are going even lower. There is an interesting psychology to the game that results, and I think that this is a great way to fill some time at the beginning or end of a game night. I do not think this would ever become a favorite of mine, but I don't think that games like this are really designed to be anyone's favorite game. It serves its purpose and it does so well. Silly fun somewhere in the _5_ range.
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11. Board Game: Timeline: Inventions [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:957] [Average Rating:6.71 Unranked]
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1 play.
4 players.

So the other thing I learned at LobsterTrap was that, if you think you're brain-dead at the end of the day, try waking up after few hours of sleep with no coffee yet and a room full of games waiting to be explored for the first time. Timeline: Inventions is one of those games that I played first thing in the morning, just to get my brain working again. It seemed to serve this purpose well.

In Timeline, players are given a hand of cards representing inventions. These are played face-up in front of them so that everyone can see what each other player has. On the back of the cards are the dates on which those inventions occurred. So, for example, a player might hold the saxophone, the printing press, and fire. On your turn, you place an invention in the center of the table situated among the inventions that are already in play. At this point, you flip over your invention to see whether you have correctly placed the invention within the historical timeline. If you are correct, your card stays in the center, making future plays more difficult because the gaps between invitation dates are narrowed. If you were incorrect, however, you discard your card and draw a new one to your hand. The point of the game is to correctly place all of your inventions so that your hand empties before the other players.

Timeline is a 5- to 10-minute breeze of a game. It was surprisingly fun, but I think the game would quickly grow old if players became too familiar with the cards. For example, the dates of the Gutenberg printing press, the milk carton, or even the first computer mouse are ones that most people would probably not be familiar with unless they actively studied these things. But after a round or two of the players ooohing and ahhing at how far off each guess was, it would be much easier to remember that typewriters are newer than imagined and barbed wire much older. Those sorts of revelations effectively give the game a very limited life span. Games of this nature are very hard to rate, of course, but I think that a _4_ or so is appropriate here.
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12. Board Game: Cartagena [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:954]
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1 player.
4 players.

Cartagena is quite an old game. However, it was new to me and was a another early-morning game. I had long had an interest in Leo Colovini's other games, especially Atlantis, a 2009 release that mirrored some of Cartagena's mechanics, but added an interesting tile-removing consideration that I enjoyed.

Cartagena was fine enough, I guess. The "go back to go forward" idea was likely quite novel for its time (if you are not accounting for Hare & Tortoise). But games like this are a little too light for my taste and, at slightly longer than a filler, it is up against a much better slate of competition for my time.

I still think that the designer has some very clever ideas, and he manages to implement them and simple and effective ways that do not add unnecessary chrome. I respect this design style, but it precludes him from producing games are amazing, and sprawling, and immersive. I would love to see a company like Ystari Games commission Colovini to attempt a 90-minute, substantial Euro.

I think I can likely falls in the .3.5. or _4_ range for me. I do not mean to say that it is a bad game, but merely that there are many other things that I would prefer to play for the time and effort involved, Atlantis among them.
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13. Board Game: Last Will [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:380] [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
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1 play.
5 players.

Last Will is this year's Essen release from designer Vladimír Suchý. I think it may have been overshadowed by other releases. But Last Will is actually a pretty good game in its own right that deserves a little more attention.

As with most things from Czech Games Edition, production values for Last Will are top notch. The artwork is attractive, and the idea at the core of the game is quite amusing. Effectively, the game is Brewster's Millions (for those who are old enough to understand that reference): Players attempt to divest themselves of a large fortune as quickly as possibly, in order to earn them a larger fortune at the end of the lavish road.

The game includes elements of worker placement and economic snowballing that will be very familiar to fans of modern Euro games. I'm not sure if, mechanically, there is much new going on here (this also seemed to be the critique of Suchy's Shipyard and 20th Century). And, like most of this designer's games, it runs a bit longer than it ought to you. We played a five-player game and most players agreed that they would prefer the game with three or perhaps four. I do think that the game is exceptionally well-balanced given the nature of the design. The experienced set-up includes having players start with different amounts of money. Although this outwardly seems like giving certain players a head start in victory points at random, the game is structured so that more money is necessary for purchases that depreciate more quickly. This not only leads to multiple victory paths, multiple strategies, and an increase in the variety of the game between plays, but it also serves as something of a catchup mechanism. I suspect that most people who purchase this title will get 10 or so plays out of it before they get bored. That is a fairly good number in this day and age. I think you should expect to play the game for 45 to 60 minutes, which also makes it a meaty alternative to most super-fillers in this time range.

This is a well done title that is just entertaining enough to make up for the fact that there are no really new ideas here. I think .6.5. might be a bit generous, but I enjoyed it.
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14. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:265]
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2 plays.
3 & 6 players.

King of Tokyo, another new release, is dice-rolling at its finest. The game is short, easily understandable, and just silly enough to be fun. Players are monsters attacking Tokyo (and each other in the process). The balancing point of the game is attempting to acquire victory points by inflicting damage, while maintaining one's health by avoiding damage. Players who are overly aggressive end up in Tokyo, exposing themselves to damage by other players. It is an interesting take on the few-against-many idea in other games, and I think this is ideally suited for a large, gregarious group. Rarely do games manage to stay entertaining and fast-paced when the player count rises up past five. If you have large groups that meet this criteria, I think King of Tokyo would be well worth a purchase. It can handle 6 to 8 players quite well.

That said, I am not a dice roller. Nor am quite as social and talkative as many other more-casual gamers. I prefer a little more thinking, and a little less cartoonishnish. I would happily play King of Tokyo at a convention like this. In part, this is a function of the nature of conventions. There are always lags when one needs to fill some time. And, often, those lags are between heavier games have melted your brain a fair bit. For this role, I think King of Tokyo is just about perfect. As a game in it's own right, however, I suspect it is just about average.

I give it a .5.5..
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15. Board Game: Poker [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:960]
Ben
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No multi-day gaming convention would be complete without a Poker tournament. The one that I entered happened on Friday night, and was relatively small (keep in mind that LobsterTrap has around 100 attendees over the course of the four days). I finished this one in seventh place, which is not particularly good for me as I'm an experience Poker player. I think the weekend of gaming had led me to be rather reckless. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the opportunity to change things up a bit.
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16. Board Game: Rallyman [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:833]
Ben
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3 plays.
2, 3, & 4 players.

Rallyman was a late, late-night game. My first session was actually a fair bit underwhelming. We played on a basic map without a number of additional rules that added complexity (and, for me, at least, added interest). However, there was enough about even that first game that intrigued me that I chose to read the rulebook on my own after the game. In so doing, I discovered the rules that we had left out for our beginner game. I convinced a fellow gamer, another person that I can now think of as a friend, to stick it out and play a few more rounds with me. We ended up playing two more games, until about 3 AM.

The game, such as it is, purports to be a racing game. It is really more of a racing simulation crossed with a dice game. The movement of the cars depends on dice, although, all the dice really do is adjust your probability of crashing based on the pressure you exert on them. I am not yet certain that most of the tracks do not have an ideal approach since players are capable of checking out the in higher rates from start to finish if they so desire. I do think, however, that the random crashes prevent it from being so fully calculable as to remove the fun.

Believe it or not, the simulation aspect of the game can lead to much more interesting scenarios. In our final name of the night, for example, we managed to construct a track that what is partly on Snow and party on dry asphalt. Each player chose a different tire appropriate for the different weather conditions. This gave us some sense of different strategies in approaching the game, so that we were not simply mirroring each other's efficient approach around the track.

There are some weaknesses in the game, that I would be loathe not to point out, however. One of these is simply that the game requires players to collect cards at the end of every turn and also (very likely) tokens for time. If a player forgets to collect a card or a token, the entirety of the game is thrown off, as player points are scored based on cards and tokens collected at the end of the game. Especially because we were playing until the wee hours of the morning, this was a substantial concern.

I liked the game a lot, and I wish I had a group that would want to play this regularly enough for me to know whether it has any longevity. It may be that experience simply reduces the game to the push-your luck mechanic. Or it may be that the game has legs that I can't yet imagine. But I think that, for me, this game was one of the highlights of the weekend. _7_-ish.
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17. Board Game: Elder Sign [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:500]
Ben
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Ann Arbor
Michigan
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1 play.
4 players.

This list is ostensibly a retrospective, and, in retrospect, I am amazed at the number of dice-rolling games that I ended up playing at this convention. At the time, it did not seem particularly out of the ordinary. Yet, here is another dice-rolling game that I played in between longer titles. This was a brand new game purchased by an attendee who I came to regard as a friend, and who was looking to get it to the table. Fortunately, the game was also taught to us by someone who is familiar with the game. I think learning it from the rule book would likely have longer than the game itself.

Elder Sign is another game in the Cthulhu mythos. I have never played Arkham Horror, so I can't compare this to that. But there is a strong similarity in the nature of the game to Mansions of Madness. In fact, in broad strokes,Elder Sign is to Mansions of Madness as Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age is to Through the Ages. The difference, of course, is that Elder Sign actually improves upon the Mansions of Madness formula by reducing the chaos of blind card draws to the randomness of dice rolling, and thereby cutting the time in about a third. The game itself seemed a little too simple, and a little too easy to win, but I can't be 100% certain that we were playing by the right rules. Such is the nature of conventions. The game is cooperative, and relatively simple, but, surprisingly, I enjoyed it more than most others at the table. I think the group that I was playing with allowed me to turn a less-than-thrilling experience into something more fun.

As an aside, I am not the best cooperative gamer. I tend to want to win, even while cooperating (and by win, I mean beating other people at the table, not simply beating the game). Elder Sign worked for me in this regard because it allows individual players to obtain trophies that they can exchange for additional resources during the game. Thus, when we won the game, the fact that I held more and better trophies than my compatriots meant, in my mind at least, that I was the one true winner. And don't think that I did not lord this over the other players at every opportunity. devil

The verdict? Elder Sign is not my type of game at all, but I had a lot of fun. For this reason, it reminds me a bit of Saboteur. It is a quick game, well-suited for people who enjoy the Cthulhu mythos, but who do not have time for a full-fledged game of Arkham Horror. If you do not mind chaos, and you do not mind dice, and the game turns out to be substantially harder than it actually was for us, there might be something worthwhile here. If you're just looking to have a good time, the game is sufficiently innocuous to be worth playing. I am likely to give it a _4_, maybe .3.5..
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18. Board Game: MIL (1049) [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:2918]
Ben
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1 play.
4 players.

It would be wholly unfair for me to rate this game, because our group gave up trying to understand this incomprehensible, over-chromed title after a single round of play. I was very disappointed, as I had been looking forward to this game through most of the Essen build-up. It was perhaps number three on my list of titles to try, behind only Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas and Vanuatu. However the game seems to be little more than repetitive cube trading.

The game has a lot going on, but very little of it was of particular interest. One player the table, at least, saw that there might be something worthwhile there. But the remainder of us were skeptical that there was enough "there" there to make it worthwhile figuring out where "there" was. At least in part, the game represents the succession of noble families, including purchase or conquer of land and the inheritance by heirs. I had hoped that the heir and vassalage aspects of the game would have lead to an interesting narrative arc. Instead, it seemed that each round would be more-or-less similar, with those aspects little more than labels attached to arbitrary, meaningless efficiency constraints in a game already full of action efficiency options.

I also think that MIL (1049)is a great example of a game that suffers from the poor implemention of its few decent ideas. Too often, I find myself lamenting the way in which designers or production companies choose to represent ideas on a gameboard. For example, here, players' lands produce three resources. Additionally, players can obtain political influence, gold, and single women to be married away to knights. Yet all of these different things are represented by equivalent plastic cubes (yes, plastic; not even wood). The cubes converge these different resources into a genric good with a feeling of interchangeability. (And, in fact, the game's marketplace allows you to change cubes from one to another). There is no need for this. Ideally, these ideas could be retained but differentiated in a way that was more appropriately thematic. For example, money and political influence could be represented as tracks on the gameboard, while resources produced by land could be cubes or other tokens, and single women could be meeples or tiles that actually personify the women rather than objectify them as goods to be discarded.

Unfortunately, not only is the implementation poor, the production value is of questionable quality. This is not a game but I will look to revisit, and, with appropriate apologies, anyone who was hoping to purchase a copy of that I might import some copies sometime soon will have to look elsewhere. At best, the game is best analogized to De Vulgari Eloquentia, which I gave a fair shake last year only to find it not to my tastes. At worst, is simply a bad game with too few ideas, and too many confusing extras. I give it a _3_, I award it no points, and may God have mercy on its soul.
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19. Board Game: Discworld: Ankh-Morpork [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:423]
Ben
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1 play.
4 players.

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork is what happens when Martin Wallace attempts to create a game that is not for gamers. The game is based on the series of popular Discworld novels, authored by Terry Pratchett. The core of the game is simply exexcuting cards from one's hand by doing exactly what the cards allow. This doesn't sound like it would be much fun, but the high production values and the implementation of ideas actually produces something more than the sum of its parts.

The game is largely about competing to achieve disparate victory conditions, which are secretly assigned at the beginning of the game. Players know what conditions are possible, but not which conditions are in play. In this way it is a faux deduction game, with players attempting to sniff out each others incentives. Sometimes, the game simply ends because of unlucky draws, as in our case, where one player drew sufficient numbers of interrupt cards to prevent others from attacking his position. That said, the game is roughly 30 minutes long, and is appropriately easy for teaching to new players. I purchased the game for the purpose of replacing lighter games like Citadels (which I openly despise) in my gaming nights with coworkers, rather than gamers. Even with heavy gamers, however, I think there is sufficient meat on the bones of this game to make it a meaningful super-filler. if you like games that allow you to try and deduce what other players are attempting to do, you enjoy artwork that offers satirical takes on fantasy genres, and/or you are a fan of the Discworld books, there is something to be said for this game. I, myself, am a huge fan of Martin Wallace games, Treefrog production values, and am quite frankly in awe of the quality art that went into bringing the books to life (even though I have not read the books). I think that this will be at a game that I keep around for at least a little while unless it completely fails with my friends. I rated it either _6_ or .6.5. after my first play, prior to LobsterTrap, and I think that range is just about right after my second.
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20. Board Game: Pictomania [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:641]
Ben
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1 play.
5 players.

Pictomania was my final game of the convention, and my second game by Vlaada Chvátil (unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to try Dungeon Petz).

Pictomania is a timed drawing game, in this same class as something like Pictionary. But it adds a great party game flavor by requiring players to simultaneously draw and guess what other players are drawing. Rather than working in teams, each player is assigned a an item to draw, and, at the same time, is given a hand of cards that are used to guess what other players are drawing. If you are correct in guessing what other players are drawing, you get points. If other players are correct in guessing what you are drawing, you get points. The incentive structure in this game is very well set up for a party game. Unfortunately, some players are simply going to be better at drawing, some players are simply going to get better clues, and some players are going to be faster at reading through the available options in order to deduce what other players are drawing. I enjoyed the game, but it is not a game that one can expect to be competitive in. Rather, I think players should do their best and simply enjoy the experience.

If you are interested in party games, and you like things that require you to draw, Pictomania may be the best of the bunch. I tend not to rate party games because, well, you probably know by now.
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