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Subject: BGG.Con - The Post rss

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Jay Moore
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Webster Groves
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Here's my blog-style email that I sent out to my local gaming buddies concerning BGG.Con. Sorry for the references to people you may not know - just insert the name of your favorite local geek and pretend the email was sent to you. Apologies to anyone whose name I used without permission.

So Sarah and I went to Boardgame Geek Dot Con (which is a very odd
name to type out, I must say). Jay L and Chester were there too,
along with a smattering of other people that Sarah and I have met at
various conventions over the last few years.

We've been to Origins and GenCon, as well as a few regional
conventions and then our own local homegrown cons as well (like the
Geekway and the St. Charles Games Days). BGG.Con was the best boardgame event
I've ever been to. That's not saying anything against the other
gatherings that some of you on this list have put together - they're
all very fun (as is Origins and GenCon). But BGG.Con really is the
best overall boardgame experience I've had in that sort of setting.
It was a lot of fun.

There were two things that made it great. First were the people. BGG
is a great online community, and the people who came to the Con were
really the best of the best. Everybody was friendly and eager to play
a game or explain some rules to you. Second was the games library.
My oh my was that a fantastic library. Most of the games were Aldie's
(one of the Con's organizers) but there were several other people who
contributed, too. The library had over 1000 games in it. They were
organized alphabetically, lined up in rows on tables along the walls.
The center table was full of a bunch of brand new games from Essen,
many of them not even available yet in the US.

I was advised not to bother bringing any games, and this proved to be
good advice. Almost anything I could think of to play was in the
library. A group of us would just wander in, browse for a while, and
then pick a game. They let you check out one game each, and keep it
as long as you wanted. We'd come out with three or four choices, each
of us selecting something that looked good to us, and then take them
back to the table to play in turns. Browsing the library was a treat
in itself - it was like being in the world's greatest game store, with
all the games open and available to look through, and then getting to
take those games home and play them right away.

The main gaming room was just a standard open conference room, with
two kinds of tables set up for play - large 12-person round ones, and
narrow 8-person rectangular banquet tables. There was plenty of room
for everybody to have space to play. One side of the room was set up
with a bunch of large pub-type table games, like Crokinole and
Tumbling Dice. I finally got to learn to play Crokinole (as did all
the rest of the StL contingent) and much fun was had flicking
wooden bits across the board at one another.

There were lots of little touches that were neat, too. Hanging from
the ceiling were large reproductions of board game pieces, like a
Samurai hex, a card from Warhamster Rally, or a card from Bohnanza.
The walls were decorated with large cutouts of familiar game pieces,
like meeples or camels. I really liked the Leader Board. This was
just a large board hanging on one wall divided in columns A-Z. A pile
of blank business cards and some pens were nearby. When you played a
game, you either found the card for that particular game or started a
new card, and then put your initials and an impression of the game. A
really great game got ++, a good game got +, a so-so game got 0, a bad
game got -, and a really bad game got --. This let you quickly glance
at the board and see what was being played, and which games were
getting good or bad marks - sort of a snapshot of "What's Hot / What's
Not" at BGG.Con.

There were some pretty great giveaways. They managed to score a lot
of prizes, and Thoughthammer donated a huge pile of swag to give away
each night at midnight. I won a copy of Drakon 2e and a Heroscape
Expansion Pack. Eva and Jorge had Ultimate Luck - Eva won the
Settlers Collectors' Edition, and Jorge won a Thoughthammer $150 gift
certificate.

Finally, there were opportunities to spend money. There was a
one-hour flea market on Saturday morning. Several people brought
large collections of old games that they wanted to dump, which might
be anything from a copy of Civ to a thrift store copy of Perudo. I
got a copy of Stop Thief for $15, Streetcar for $15, and a game called
Mole Hill thrown in for free. And there was a very small vendor area,
with a few companies represented. Twilight Games was there with a
small retail store of sorts, selling lots of currently popular
Eurogames. I bought Hamster Rolle for $60 and also got Balloon Cup
for $17.50, so not bad prices (and no tax, for some reason).

But on to the games themselves. I played a lot, some of which I'd
never seen or even heard of, and a few that I've played at least a
couple of times. I'm going to hit a few of the highlights here and
hopefully touch on some games you guys might enjoy.

Canal Mania: This was the first game we played. It's like Age of
Steam, but perhaps a bit less cutthroat. You build canals instead of
railroads, and you're limited in the sorts of canals you build by
cards you pick up from a stack. It's also like Ticket to Ride,
because you have a route card that defines what you are trying to
build. You're limited to building only two routes at a time, and
can't start a new one until one of your first two is finished. There
are also goods, ala Age of Steam, but there are no goods colors.
Goods are placed when certain track (I mean, canal) cards are taken,
and they're placed in cities based on color. Then on your turn, you
can move a good from any one city to any other city along the canal
network, and each city that you connect gets you a point. Anyway,
it's pretty cool, and definitely appeals to my Age of Steaminess.
It's a game that Jay L should totally avoid, since it's Age of
Steam + Ticket to Ride, two of his all-time least favorites!

Crokinole: It's like Pitchcar in the mechanic. You flick wooden
pieces across the board, trying to get them to land in a hole.
Similar to darts, you get points for where your pieces end up at the
end of the game - the closer to the center, the more you score. I
think I'd like a Crokinole board now.

Show Manager: This is the same as Atlantic Star. Not much to it, but
it's very fun. It's just a set collection game, sort of like Hoity
Toity, but without the stupid parts.

Green Town: Ugh, this game was just awful. I hated it. I mean,
hated, hated, HATED it. Anger-inducing hatred. Anger at having to
play this game when I could've been doing something more fun, like
slamming my testicles into a fire door. You place tiles to create a
little windy maze of streets, and place buildings along these routes,
one building per tile. Then you have to come up with a route that
hits EXACTLY X number of hexes, and passes certain specific numbers of
each building. It got to the point that everyone was helping everyone
else just to find a route - not find the best route or an optimal
route, but just a route. I was excited when I could figure out a way
to just end my damn turn and move on, whilst totally screwing over how
many points I got. I'm hard pressed to think of a game that has
caused me more personal pain. And I LIKE games.

Condottierre: You know it, you love it. I taught it, which is funny,
since I've played it exactly once, at Jay Little's, about a year ago.

Fiji: A pointless game, but not as bad as Green Town. It's blind
bidding to win a set of random auctions so you can accomplish some
obscure goals. Absolutely no discrernible strategy here, and I'm sad
that this game got made. It gives games a bad name.

Keythedral: Again, I taught this one. There was one rules error, but
I think it actually made the game BETTER. We kept the law cards face
up instead of face down. It was well-received, and I liked it better
this time than the first time I played. Great game, and the art is
just beautiful. For those who don't know, it's sort of like Settlers,
but without dice. Think of it as a more "gamey" SoC.

Factory Fun: Sarah's favorite game of the show, and it was #2 for me
(Canal Mania being first). There are a bunch of machine tiles, each
with a couple of inputs of one of four different colors, and one input
of a color. So maybe there's a green input on the left, a red input
on top, and a blue output on the right of a rectangular tile.
Everyone reveals a tile at once, and then you grab whichever one you
want. The faster you think, the faster you can grab it, but once you
grab one, you HAVE to place it in your factory. Discarding it costs
you ten points, which is a lot, so it's better to just not take one at
all. You can use pipes, which cost one point each, to direct the
outputs of your previously placed tiles to the inputs of newly placed
tiles. When you finish, you've got a mess of machines, pipes, and
colored vats all over your board, and hopefully have scored enough
points to win along the way. Pretty fun.

Mole Hill: Sarah and I basically got it for free, and beyond that, it
is not commentable.

Space Trader: This might have been the hit of the show, just for its
novelty value. It's a real-time board game, played to an included CD
soundtrack that tells you when the game is over, and provides a funky
sci-fi new agey soundtrack while you play. Every player gets two
hourglass timers, and you can conduct an action by flipping a timer
and placing it on the proper spot on the board. When your timer runs
out of sand, the action "pops," and you can use the results. For
instance, you put a timer on a mine, and when the timer runs out, you
get a blue cube. Then you put the blue cube in your ship and send it
off to another planet to score points, and of course moving your ship
a space takes the flip of the sand timer as well. Pretty cool game,
with a very unique mechanic. I anticipate this game will be picked up
by most everyone in the group soon.

Antike: I've played before, but this time I won. And I was playing
against Chester (among others) so I was pretty pleased to win. It was
a good win, too, even if Mike basically played Kingmaker and gave the
win to me instead of Chester because he knew me better. If he
wouldn't have done that, I think I still would've won, but Chester
might've had a shot. Anyway, it was a really good game of Antike.

Tumbling Dice: Another table game, with a multi-level platform. You
throw some dice down the platform, trying to land on the smallest ones
without falling off the whole thing. Mindless fun, not worth nearly
the price of the game ($200, I think), but still fun.

Vino: An economic simulation of buying and selling wine that I didn't
really like much. You can catch me doing a funny pose whilst playing
the game somewhere on the Geek. It's been said that I look like a
certain box cover. Go digging - you'll find it.

Big City: This was a really neat oldie but goodie that Sarah and I
both really enjoyed. It's got a board like Acquire, with a number of
uniquely numbered spaces. You have a hand of cards with those numbers
on them. You can place buildings on spots for which you have the
numbered cards. If you get two or three spots in a row, you can place
a bigger building, and score more points. There are a few cards that
let you remove certain spaces from play, either blighting them by
placing a big ugly factory, or beautifying nearby spaces by playing a
large park. Thus there is a good amount of screw your neighbor. I
lost terribly in both games, but it was really fun and visually
appealing. It's now on my want list.

Igloo Pop: A silly little Zoch game that is comprised of a bunch of
plastic igloos, each with a hidden number of small plastic beads in
it. When you say go, everyone has to pick up the igloos, shake them,
and guess how many beads are in them. There's more to it, but that's
basically it.

1000 Blank White Cards: If you've never played, you've missed
something pretty fun. I got the CSI card, which let me create CSI
tokens for free. I don't really know what to say about it besides
that.

That brings us to Sunday. Sarah and I were there till 3, but the
library closed a little early, so we played some new dexterity games
with Chester.

Sac Noir / Bausack: There's a big bag of about sixty wooden pieces or
so, and the idea is that you select one from the pile and add it to
your growing tower. To make it more fun, you get a stack of ten beans
that you use to auction pieces that you want. In an interesting
twist, you can also put up a piece for "refusal," which means that you
pay to NOT get the piece, or else you have to add the piece to your
tower. This makes for interesting strategy - do you put up a really
crappy piece for refusal, banking that someone will refuse it and
spend a lot of beans (you spend your beans even if you lose the
auction), but that it might come back to you?

Hamster Rolle: You guys know this one - nuff said.

Bamboleo: I hadn't seen this one. You have a contraption which is a
goblet, with a cork ball atop it, with a wooden platform atop that.
You put a bunch of wooden pieces on the platform and balance it on the
cork ball. Then you take turns taking pieces off the board. This
game definitely has the best "Oh shit" moments of any of the dexterity
games I've played, as the platform teeters and totters and hopefully
doesn't fall down. Darden, if you don't have this game, you totally
should, despite the fact that it's ridiculously expensive.

And that's about it.

Anyway, it was a great convention with many fun times. There were
lots of good ideas that I'd like to see incorporated into the Geekway
(if my opinions are welcome!) And it's definitely the games fest to
visit if you want to just board game - I really recommend this con to
most, if not all, of you. For those of you who don't get into the
"Geek Culture" thing like I do (anime, comics, sci-fi, RPGs, and
gaming combined into one) this is more fun than GenCon. And it's a
LOT cheaper. You can fly for $100, the hotel is only $109 a night,
and there's a McD's in the hotel. Plus it's in November, which is a
much less busy time than the middle of summer for most of us.

So I'll see you guys at next year's BGG.Con!
 
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J C Lawrence
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Campbell
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MUKid wrote:
Keythedral: Again, I taught this one. There was one rules error, but
I think it actually made the game BETTER. We kept the law cards face
up instead of face down. It was well-received, and I liked it better
this time than the first time I played. Great game, and the art is
just beautiful. For those who don't know, it's sort of like Settlers,
but without dice. Think of it as a more "gamey" SoC.


I also play with face up law cards. It does improve the game. I also play without the player shields and all Keythedral tiles face up.
 
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Chaddyboy
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Bloooooop.
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Quote:
Tumbling Dice: Another table game, with a multi-level platform. You
throw some dice down the platform, trying to land on the smallest ones
without falling off the whole thing. Mindless fun, not worth nearly
the price of the game ($200, I think), but still fun.


Pssst, it's only about $50-$60.
 
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Jay Moore
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Really! My apologies - I thought I saw it briefly in the game store marked down from some higher price to $150 or something like that. Musta been a different game. Well, it's worth $50. Sorry, Tumbling Dice!
 
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David Arnott
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MUKid wrote:
Space Trader: This might have been the hit of the show, just for its novelty value.


LOL. I was calling it Space Trader all weekend, too. But it's actually Space Dealer


-Dave
 
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Michael Pennisi
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MUKid wrote:
Well, it's worth $50. Sorry, Tumbling Dice!


Hell yeah! For $50-60 I'm going to try getting this.
 
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Jorge Montero
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I'll take Manhattan in a garbage bag. With Latin written on it that says "It's hard to give a shit these days"
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Something tells me that the good fellows at crokinoleworld are going to make some good money, just with the St Louis group. I must have played at least a dozen games of that thing.

Oh, and it was the fine guys at Funagain that donated the gift certificate. Thoughthammer donated Eva's Settlers. We got all kinds of strange looks by carrying it around in the airport. I guess that seeing someone carrying a huge box that seems to contain a game is pretty suspicious. We had to show security that the chest wasn't full of C4, and that I carried BGG poker chips, not a detonator!
 
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Jay Moore
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Arnott wrote:
LOL. I was calling it Space Trader all weekend, too. But it's actually Space Dealer


-Dave


Hey yeah, you're right! I don't know why it's so hard for me to keep forgetting what this crazy game is called. I had a hard time finding it here on the geek because I forgot what it was called, and searching for "Space" just doesn't help at all.
 
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Chris Darden
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OMG I was mentioned in the report and wasn't even there!

I know of Bamboleo, but have not yet picked it up, as much as I love dex games, they really don't get played enough with our group to justify owning usually.
 
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