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Subject: Escape from BGG.CON 2015! rss

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William Bussick
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You want to know something? I don't think Mozart's going to help at all.
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This was my fifth BGG.CON...my first one in four years(!)...and my first one at the Hyatt Regency DFW.

Matt Fullenwider
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Matt and I traveled together again to the Con. We only played games with each other, as the community interaction was not as valuable as having three solid days to game. And game we did!

Quick note about the Con these days, for comparison sake. Wow! They really have the venue dialed in. Matt and I only had trouble finding a seat once, and that was maybe 5 minutes. The whole place just felt very cohesive as a convention, as opposed to four years ago. Forget something in the room? Bam! You're back there in 2 minutes. The vendor area isn't taking up valuable gaming space...and is actually worthwhile! The worst part is that you are trapped there, food-wise. Okay, sure, you can take a cab/shuttle/what-have-you, but you're losing hours of your valuable gaming time. I'm glad about the cash-and-carry food and the daily buffet meals, but the choices were quite limited. In all fairness, the negotiated prices for the available food were not nearly as gouge-y as it could've been. I don't consider $16 for a dinner buffet bad at all...but I live in Reno. Good format, that buffet: eat then get back to gaming! Very pleased with the venue and would definitely book at the Hyatt again.


THURSDAY (8 new games)
I wanted to get there on Thursday, to ensure we could have decent pickings from vendors and that I could get on some of these sign-up sheets for events. (Spoiler: I didn't sign up for anything!)

Getting to Dallas by Thursday noon-ish meant catching the 5:15am flight out of Reno (with a stop in SFO). Getting up at 3:20 hurt! surprise Got some sleep on the planes over to Dallas, thankfully.

After checking in, I only grabbed For The Win and Number Please! as door prizes (and only then as gifts). Then, we hit the vendor rooms. I bought two Broken Token setups (7 Wonders and King of New York), The Prodigals Club, Funemployed, and Mombasa.

NOTE: From here on out, my game rating and comments will be in braces {} in the thread body.

We dropped our loot off in the room and hit the Hot Games area in the Library, a common thing for the next two days. Matt checked out and taught Potion Explosion {d10-7What a great mechanic! Eye-catching and a pleasure to look at. You have interesting choices to make every turn, and it always seems like you're making forward momentum. I would definitely play this again.} and I taught Spinderella {d10-6The cute gimmick and great art hide a brutal race game. It's all sorts of mean to play, almost too much for the "kid" target audience.}.

A second trip to the Library yielded some stinkers for me: The Arabian Pots {d10-4This is memory tic-tac-toe with sound. Really, a streamlined version of Zapp Zerapp/Igloo Pop. Not a bad game per se, but seriously not my thing. I'd probably play its predecessors over this one.} and one of Knizia's new games, Amphipolis {d10-4Super dry plus a big box for a tiny game. It could be just a card game. Uses parts of Ra, but there's no excitement at all. No spread in the scores. Probably should've changed this into a "Ra Junior" or something.}.

After a fried chicken buffet dinner at the Grille, we hit the Library for the third time that evening. I taught OctoDice {d10-6Pretty deep for a dice game. Complex choices with dice colors and transformation and scoring. I liked it, but it took quite a while to figure out how the mechanics worked together. I'd call it a relative to AquaSphere, not a dice version of the game. Clever pad setup!} and Matt taught Scheffeln {d10-6The game was almost abstract with 2 players. Simple jockey-for-position over multiple rounds. Not bad, quite simple. Big box for a simple game!}.

We were starting to run on fumes, but we got in our last trip to the Library before they closed at 1am. We got in BANG! The Duel {d10-7A lot more complicated than Bang Dice, the Bang game I play most often these days. Probably more complicated than normal Bang too. Longer than its predecessors, but still fun. Good use of semi-asymmetrical decks and shuffling them together later.} and Buttons {d10-7A cool, new press-your-luck dice game with pattern building and spatial reasoning. It felt quite different than other games with the available choices. Poor production choice of nearly-invisible, clear buttons to use on the board.} before calling it a night at 3am!


FRIDAY (4 new games)
Got up at 7:30am (guh!) to get in line for the BGG escape room. Sign-ups started at 8, but I couldn't get on the list. (Mental note: an hour in advance is probably best.) I went back and tried to get some sleep, but my brain was too awake, so I signed us up for an escape room in Grapevine. We headed for breakfast at 9:45. Afterwards, I grabbed some Bang Dice and Forbidden Island custom bits, Qwinto, and FUSE after a demo game.

We caught a cab (~$30 w/tip) to The Escape Room. I signed us up for the Prison Break room, as there were other people scheduled to be at the same time. They didn't show up, so Matt and I had to hack it ourselves. We escaped with 45 seconds to spare! Fun room. Since we were out there already, we hit a second room a half-hour later, the Confinement room. We didn't make it out of this one--about 1-2 puzzles away--but it was darker and creepy. They said no 2-person team ever made it out of this one. After a stop at the neighboring gas station to load up on caffeine and assorted gorge-ables, we took a cab back to the Hyatt.

Gaming didn't start for us until 5:30pm this day. After a trip to the Library, we played Dice City {d10-8A highlight of BGG.CON 2015. Fun engine-building dice and card game. Simple and non-taxing. Nothing really new but a really good production. It felt a little long with 2 players, but the gradual, visual development of my city was really gratifying to me.} and Burano {d10-5Long and intricate. I'm not sure all of the mechanics work well together. A strange pseudo-worker placement wheel mechanism that I never quite figured out. Building a pastel pyramid action tower was a cool idea and looked neat. Not sure this is my thing, though.}.

Instead of trying our luck on the Asian buffet at the Grille, we got burgers there instead for dinner. The second and last trip to the Library that day yielded Completto {d10-8Simple number line game with some clever twists. Heinz did a great job of adding some innovation into something that would be routine otherwise. I like it a lot! And now I have to find a copy...} and Eight Epics {d10-6Cool idea for a game with so few cards. Very hard, though. Interesting puzzles with switching between characters. I probably won't play it again, but I'm glad I tried it.}.

We got to bed about 1:30am. Not too many games today. Our offsite excursion ate up a big chunk, but escape rooms are games too!


SATURDAY (9 new games)
We got up at 8, hit breakfast, the Flea Market (I bought Cheaty Mages for $5, but $100 for Star Wars Carcassonne...really?!), and the vendor room again. We largely avoided the Library today and only played things we brought/bought.

By noon, we started playing. We got in two plays of Thunderbirds {d10-7A brutal Pandemic derivative. Lots of logistics puzzles, which works well for me. Planning is SO important. I like how the Disasters track works. The Hood track is reminiscent of Sauron's track in Knizia's first co-op. I've not seen the show, but the other reviewers say the theme is integrated well.}, Artifacts, Inc. {d10-6Nice engine builder with dice. The rules leave a lot out. -1 because no balancing mechanism and may be broken with dice card buying...seems like this should be limited. Good art!}, Tides of Time {d10-6Lots of planning and some memory. Neat, simple drafting mechanic in 18 cards. Felt like a Japon Brand game.}, Trambahn {d10-7Similar to Lost Cities but more to do. Fun, lots of tactics...but dry. The stock-holding/scoring aspect was interesting. Looking forward to more plays of this!}, New York 1901 {d10-7Cool spatial placement game. Not sure it has much spread in scoring, as it kept really close the whole time. Very simple for such a big box. Kinda made me want to play Arkadia again.}, and Qwixx: Das Kartenspiel {d10-7Pleasantly new play feel from Qwixx. Makes you think in a different way. It does seem weird to get rid of trash cards. Looking forward to trying this one again.} before the closing ceremonies.

After an Italian buffet at the Grill (not my favorite this time), we got in our last three games before heading to bed at 1am: Patchwork {d10-8Quite simple, beautiful and tight. A standout hit for me. What a wonderful design. A work of art in many ways!}, Equinox {d10-6Longish game. Heady placement stuff. Accessible but complex strategies. Not super my thing but would play it again if in the mood. Love the ambigram on the box cover!}, and Qwinto {d10-7A relative of Qwixx. Fitting 3d6 totals on a number line this time. Simple placement rules, clever scoring, small box, mini pencils with erasers(!)...this game is a keeper!}.


SUNDAY (9 new games)
Got up at 4:30am for the 7am flight. We were back in Reno by noon.


OVERALL
Caffeine was silent partner this Con. In fact, I think it's my first BGG.CON with caffeine ever. (Maybe that's why I got so many games in!)

All in all, I played 21 new games. What a treat! Thanks so much to Matt for teaching so many of these.
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Sam Phillips Beckerman
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I don't remember running into anyone from Reno. Too bad.

I missed Dice City and will look to try it. I fell in love with Automobiles which has the same designer and artist as Trains and Planes but almost nothing in common game-wise. The collecting waste thing. It looked like a simple race game (which I abhor) but is really a deck-builder. But a cube-builder. It works very smoothly and didn't find anything that should have been tweaked or improved.

After I got home I was introduced to Orléans. Bought it after one play. Only quibble with it is the set-up time.
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Brian M
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Sounds like a fun con - glad you had a good time!

I didn't know Octo-Dice was at the con - that was one I wanted to try.

Quote:
I fell in love with Automobiles which has the same designer and artist as Trains and Planes but almost nothing in common game-wise.

Same publisher, but Trains has a different designer and all three have different artists - just similar box art styles.
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Mark Sierens
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You were busy
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Matt Fullenwider
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Many thanks for letting me tag along with you as always, Bill. And for putting up with me constantly looking at my phone at Ingress updates and destroying and putting up imaginary triangles in our down time.

Here are my quick thoughts on the games we played:


Potion Explosion - d10-8 - Really enjoyed this one. Had the feel of like a match 3 app game in boardgame form. The marble delivery mechanism didn't always work right (had to be tapped a few times), but overall a great presentation. Looking forward to seeing this released Stateside next year.


Spinderella - d10-7 - Great, mean kid's game with some clever magnet mechanisms going on. Not sure I'd pick it up, but would gladly play again.


The Arabian Pots - d10-4 - I had been curious about this one when I first heard about it, but there really wasn't much of a game here. Great presentation / bits though.


Amphipolis - d10-5 - Always curious to check out Dr. Knizia's latest releases, but this was a letdown. This dummied-down Ra variant just wasn't that fun.


WeyKick On Ice - d10-6 - The board was tilted towards my side, so we didn't really play more than a few rounds, but WeyKick is always a fun distraction. The hockey sticks made for a fun little variant, but it wasn't too long before you just end up using the players themselves again like regular WeyKick.


OctoDice - d10-7 - Not so much AquaSphere the dice game, as really just set in the same "universe". This was a lot heavier than your typical dice game, with some interesting ideas here. I'd definitely consider picking this one up.


Scheffeln - d10-6 - I've enjoyed a lot of Reiner Stockhausen's recent games, so thought I'd give this a shot. It's an interesting abstract bluffing game. Nice chunky bits, didn't think the box was THAT big.


BANG! The Duel - d10-6 - Neat two player version of Bang! Thought it went way too long for what it was, and couldn't help making comparisons to Revolver which I think is a better game.


Buttons - d10-6 - Light push-your-luck dice game, with some interesting positioning decisions to make. Hampered by really bad production decision of using clear buttons though.


FUSE - d10-6 - Played a demo on the vendor floor. Decent co-op speed puzzle game using dice. Didn't really rock my socks, but I'll happily play Bill's copy.


Dice City - d10-6 - Yet another dice worker placement city builder. Didn't think it really did anything new, and went too long.


Burano - d10-8 - Really enjoyed this one too. A unique pyramid building gimmick for worker placement, and was just the right length for its weight. Will probably pick this one up.


Completto - d10-6 - Light line-up-the-numbers type of game. Allowing you to flip tiles upside-down was a clever gimmick, but otherwise not a lot going on here.


Eight Epics - d10-4 - Ridiculously brutal co-op dice game. If I want my hopes crushed as I watch the world burn down, I'll stick with Pandemic Legacy. At least that one's fun.


Thunderbirds - d10-7 - Not bad for a more difficult Pandemic variant, although I still prefer Pandemic Legacy. The theme completely goes over my head though, as my only exposure to supermarionation is Team America: World Police, and this seemed to be less risque and no "Matt Damon".


Artifacts, Inc. - d10-6 - Decent little dice/card engine-building game. Too bad the rule book leaves a lot to be desired.


Tides of Time - d10-7 - Definitely in the spirit of many of the recent Japanese small card games. I like the drafting and it goes quick.


Trambahn - d10-6 - A lot of similarities to Lost Cities, although not as good of a game. Seemed to go on a little too long too.


New York 1901 - d10-8 - Very cool spatial placement game that I can see being a new "gateway" type of game. Now if only I can track down the version of the Flatiron promo with the extra player action and bonus challenge cards.


Qwixx: Das Kartenspiel - d10-6 - Not a bad Qwixx variant. A little more thinky and a little less random.


Patchwork - d10-7 - Great little two player spatial placement game. Looks great when finished too.


Equinox - d10-7 - Kind of a gamer's version of Othello. Think this will just get better with repeat plays.


Qwinto - d10-6 - Another Qwixx variant. Not bad, it's just they start to all feel the same after a while

Other thoughts / notes:

Con in general - Definitely liked the separate vendor areas as opposed to just being stashed away on the sides of the main gaming area like they were in previous years. Although I'm sure there were more people here than when we used to come, it never felt as crowded or like you couldn't find a spot to sit and play games. While I don't necessarily miss the Denny's across the street from the old hotel, it was nice having the convenient store to pick up snacks / sodas within walking distance.

Escape rooms - These were the fifth and sixth escape rooms I've done, and the first one I've actually made it out in time. A lot harder doing these with just two people, but still very fun. This place definitely had a more professional "franchise" type feel to it, even though they said they were independent. Disappointed we didn't get to try the escape room at the con, but these were probably a little better put together anyways (the benefit of being in a permanent location as opposed to something that has to be thrown up in a morning and taken down that evening).




Acquisitions - I was pleasantly surprised that I only already owned one of this year's door prizes (For the Win). As I was sharing space in an empty suitcase with Bill on the way back, I didn't go too gung ho picking up things at the con, and mostly just got small stuff. Disappointed the BGG Store didn't have the Colt Express Time Travel Car in time for the CON. Guess I'll just have to wait and hope I can be one of the people that picks it up in the first 5 minutes of it showing up in the online store before it's all gone.

Article 27: The UN Security Council Game
Monster Derby
Ophidian 2350
For The Win
For The Win: 3-4 Player Expansion
Number Please!
Peloponnes Card Game
Greenland
Neanderthal
Butts away! Heroes (Had to get for the name alone)
Snowdonia: Trans-Australian Railway & The Daffodil Line
Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island – Hunting Dog
King of New York: Hibernation
King of New York: Trump Tower
King of Tokyo: Promo Cards
Brettspiel Adventskalender 2015
Tajemnicze Domostwo: Motive cards
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