BGG.CON 2013 Wrap-up

Kohle And Kolonie

I thought I'd wrap up my overall experience with BGG.CON 2013 as well as provide links to my past posts going back to the first BGG.CON.

My History of BGG.CON Posts

BGG.CON 2013 Wrap-up

BGG.CON 2013 did not disappoint and I have no plans to stop attending in the future. Looking back on my posts from past years brings a mixture of longing for the intimacy of the first few and admiration for how far the BoardGameGeek team has taken this event.

I had time on my own for the first time in a while at this convention and it was a nice change having to find open tables and new people to play with. It is easy to become insular having a small group of friends that I typically game with and I had very pleasant experiences in my games with strangers during the first 2 days. It was also great to finally play a game again with two fellow Oregonians, Lorna and Jeff, whom I see far too little back here in the NW. Still, I mostly appreciate the time I get with old good friend Jim Ginn and new good friends Mark and Mike.

Jim and I ate at the hotel exclusively this time and did not regret it. I tried the buffet dinner once and was surprised with the quality, and the food we ordered in the bar was always good and service was excellent. The beer is very expensive ($7 for a 12+ oz pour) but to be expected in a hotel bar. Overall I think BGG.CON has found a nice home. It sure is nice to be able to walk to the hotel straight from my arrival gate.

Games I'm Eager to Play Again

  • Mage Wars -- I'm tempted to purchase this game but may try to play it with Matthew first. I love the spellbook idea and the strategic outlook that brings.
  • Eight-Minute Empire -- Hard to resist a 15 minute expansion and area control game with a tight economic system.
  • Core Worlds -- Very fun deck builder but do I need it if I already have Thunderstone with expansions?
  • Lewis & Clark -- If I had a maybe category this would be in it, but I do want to try it again now that I have a better grasp on the mechanics and better opening play. I think this was the heaviest game I played all weekend.
  • Trains -- Simple game that feels very much like Dominion but has enough extra going on with the board to be worthy of its own place on my shelf. Should I wait for Trains 2 though?
  • Clash of Cultures -- This might replace the two Civilization games with maps in my inventory (but not Through the Ages).
  • Rialto -- The only light Euro that I played but I liked it very much. Cool card mechanisms.

Games I'm Fine Not Playing Again

  • Amerigo -- Too long for what it is and no real story arc. I can see how some folks will really enjoy this game though.
  • Patchistory -- Wait for version 2 before attempting this game.
  • Kohle & Kolonie -- A decent enough game but not my cup of tea.
  • Nations -- I did like it but on reflection I think Through the Ages is similar enough yet superior.

BGG.CON 2013 Day 5

1846 With Mark, Jim, And Mike

This post is about day 5 at BGG.CON 2013. You can also read about day 1, day 2, day 3, and day 4.

The last day of BGG.CON 2013 and we almost finished a single game of 1846. We knew it would be aggressive to play this game starting at 8am and finish by noon, but also knew the experience would be good with a partial game. That said, this is a game that should be playable in three hours and I'm determined to pull that off. Maybe Jacob will be up to the task when he comes home over winter break.

1846

1846 has simpler rules than most 18xx games and easy initial private company draft removes the troubling company valuation aspect of most initial auctions in 18xx. You still need to decide what you want, but will generally just pay face value for the company.

I got a heavy dose of three private companies so was cash poor at the start but had a nice rebound with Grand Trunk Railroad. Hamzy was running the best company, NY Central and likely would have been able to pull out a win though Jim was just hitting his stride with Illinois Central as we ended the game. We did make it to the final phase and were probably about 4 operating rounds away from finishing. Mike, similar to me, had to take his company way down before having a nice rebound with good operations.


Jim and I cleaned up the game then made our brisk walk across the parking garage to DFW with the winter storm looming large. We had our traditional closing lunch and Guinness at the excellent Tigin at DFW then parted ways. Another great BGG.CON is done. I'll write a wrap up summary shortly.

BGG.CON 2013 Day 4

Kohle And Kolonie

This is day 4 of BGG.Con. You might want to check out Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 first.

On Saturday morning Jim and I strolled through the hot games area and were invited to join a game of Kohle & Kolonie with fellow Oregonians Lorna and and Mary. This is a hard game to explain and was a bit complex with the symbology and illustration. The basic idea is to buy into coal mines, do various upgrades in your player area, send your workers out to help in the rail network, and avoid mining disasters (cue the Bee Gees song). It feels a bit like Age of Industry but has some interesting company merger mechanics as well. Decent game.

Kohl And Kolonie Board

The graphic design takes some getting used to and could have used some work on distinguishing similar icons (engineers vs workers). Thanks to Jennifer G (again) for volunteering her time to teach us.

Andy Looney of Looney Labs

Noted designer and publisher Andy Looney was on hand running games. We still love our Fluxx!

Nations

I've already played two civilization building games this weekend, so why not a third? Jim and I joined Mark and Mike for the new civ game Nations, a game comparable to Through the Ages (think civilization development without a geographical map). Each player starts with a base set of technologies that can be powered with meeples (e.g., you can pay to out a meeple on your military technology to get a soldier). Every choice like this will cost resources but ultimately produce a benefit. The game has its share of special even that happen, an arms race very similar to Through the Ages (though less punishing), and upkeep during era transitions where you pay your dues like food for soldiers.

UNations Board

The game felt just as rich as Through the Ages but maybe a bit more streamlined and shorter. I look forward to playing again soon.

Pillars Of The Earth With Jim And Mark

Jim and I have a tradition of trying to play Pillars of the Earth each BGG.CON, a game special to us as we played it early at the original Essen Spiel release. I view this game as the first copycat game after Caylus and like it more than the ancestor, especially with the rich theme and beautiful graphical design. Mark joined us and we played with the expansion.

Pillars Of The Earth Board

Jim got off to a great start with an early VP bonus and we were never able to catch up, though it was tighter at the end than we expected. Still love the game and we played in under two hours.

Rialto

The last game of the night was the new light Euro release Rialto by Stefan Feld. My friend Nadine from Israel was able to join us for the night cap.

Rialto Cards And Board

Rialto is a card drafting and area majority game with some nice twists. Players can use cards to buy special buildings that can be triggered with gold to help draw better cards, improve buildings, and other special actions. Resources are tight and there are only six total rounds. We were zoning out by the end and needed to get some sleep for our 18xx game in the morning. We still managed to swing by the bar for a nightcap whiskey first.

BGG.CON 2013 Day 3

Core Worlds

This is part 3. You can read part 1 and part 2 first.

Here's a quick recap on day 3, which featured mostly new games for me that I universally liked. A good day! Jim and I had a leftover game from last year that we never tried, Core Worlds, and we started with that on Friday morning. I had just learned the day before and was able to teach it quickly. I think Jim liked it as much as I.

Trains

Another deck builder was up next -- Trains -- this one with a board that includes track laying, station building, and multiple ways to score points beyond just the cards. This was developed by our very own Steve Ellis of Rainy Day Games in Beaverton OR and was very easy to learn for all of us. It feels most like Dominion but has enough twists to differentiate it.

Your cards can be used to buy other (presumably more useful cards), lay track in the board, build stations, remove cards from your hand, or take special actions like drawing more cards. Your deck can become consumed with waste quickly as many actions introduce these dead cards into your deck. Like Dominion you may find cards to buy that can remove wasteful cards, but with the variable setup that may not be the case. The production quality is outstanding and I understand Steve was the designer of an expansion so I hope to try that soon too.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Jim hadn't yet played the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game so we played through a full three scenario adventure. We died trying to kill Blackfang but it was a fun romp. Matthew and I are ready to dive into the first adventure pack so maybe we can squeeze in a play or two with Jacob back this coming week.

Clash Of Cultures

Our big game of the day was the civilization building game Clash of Cultures where Jim and I battled with Jeff DeBoer. I think this is a better version of both the original Avalon Hill Civilization game or the newer Fantasy Flight version of the Sid Meier a Civilization game. I struggled but had much fun along the way and would like to play again. I think I can swap out a few games and keep this one.

Clash Of Cultures Map

BGG.CON 2013 Day 2

Core Worlds

Day 2 started off on a very nice note as I joined a group of two with a willing teacher to play Core Worlds, a game that was on my list to play last year but never got played. Core Worlds is a deck building game (like Dominion, Thunderstone, etc) with similarities to the modern classic game Race for the Galaxy. Players start with identical home planets and decks (we didn't play with the optional initial drafting rules which would have allowed us to customize our starting decks a bit) and can take actions to draft new cards, deploy forces from their hands, and conquer new planets. These all cost action points and energy which are significantly constrained at the start of the game. As you conquer new planets you will likely add to your energy production.

The cards you draft help you improve your military forces and add new tactics (special events or bonuses) to help you conquer the every escalating spectrum of planets that will come into play. Players are rewarded by some specialization as the final planets in the game will give bonuses based on the types of cards that are in the deck at the end. There's a limited amount of deck tuning and pruning throughout the game as players can bury the basic military units underneath conquered planets if they participated in the battle.

Very good game and one I will consider getting. I may need to choose between this and the soon-to-be-rebooted Race for the Galaxy.

Amerigo

My next game was one of the new hot games released at Essen: Amerigo by Stefan Feld. Amerigo borrows the cube tower from one of my all-time favorite games Wallenstein but with a completely different application: the colored cubes that tumble out of the tower determine the actions that are available to all of the players in a given round.

The theme of the game is exploration and colonization in the Americas during the age of discovery. Players move around ships that can drop off trading posts on islands, then buy and develop structures on those islands with the hope of fully populating them and claiming victory points. Not surprisingly there are many different ways to score points in the game, though we found that if you don't stay on top of the rhythm of buying and placing structures (and keeping enough beachheads on the islands to give you room to expand) you probably won't stay in the running.

I really wanted to like the game but I think it is too long for my taste. I don't mind long games, but they need to have an arc without too much repetition and I think the last 3rd of the game dragged on.

Prize table

A quick diversion to show off the "prize table" for BGG.CON attendees. You get to choose one game from each of the two column racks. These are definitely overstock type games but sometimes you can find a nice pick. I chose Disorder and Venture Forth.

Lewis & Clark

The third in my set of four biggish new games was Lewis and Clark, a game that should be right up my alley living in the Pacific Northwest and all. Game explainer extraordinaire Rick Thornquist taught us in a very efficient way and we were off and running quickly.

Lewis & Clark Board

The game looks like a worker placement game and has elements of that, but is more of a hand management game in my opinion. I had a hard time grasping the various interlocking concepts and made a few foolish plays. It can be pretty punishing early on if you don't manage things well and two of us fell behind pretty early. The game is a race to Ft Clatsop at the mouth of the Columbia River and it takes a lot of planning and proper execution to get the right resources to travel effectively while lightening your load for efficient resting.

This is not a light Euro like Stone Age. I would put it right up there with Agricola and similar heavy Euro games. I would play again but am not likely to purchase.

Patchistory

The disappointment of the night was Patchistory. I'll keep my comments short because I don't want to be overly critical. Suffice it to say that this game could have used another year of development, blind play testing, and rules editing. Unless you are ready for 3-4 hours of reading, errata checking, and online clarification I wouldn't even bother trying to play this game out of the box. It took us about 4 hours total to learn and just play through 2 of the 3 ages and things still didn't feel right rules-wise.

This is a shame as the core mechanic of acquiring tiles and layering them together to tailor your civilization is very solid. There's a good game inside here but it needs a good developer, streamlining, and a complete rewrite of the rules.

Eight-Minute Empire With Mark And Jim

Jim Ginn finally arrived after delayed flights around 11:15pm. After a Laphroig toast in the bar we joined Mark Hamzy for another play of Eight-Minute Empire. This game is a keeper.