I had the pleasure of attending the GameStorm convention in Portland, OR last weekend. I had business travel on Friday and a Cub Scout Pinewood Derby to run most of Saturday, but managed to spend time at the con Saturday evening and most of Sunday. I went by myself Saturday, but brought the whole family on Sunday. KC Humphrey ran an excellent "Intro to Euros" session on Sunday that I thought would be perfect for my wife Julie, son Jacob (age 8), and Matthew (age 6). I had originally planned to just take Jacob, but Matthew became pretty distraught at being excluded and I decided to take a chance and bring him. He has played Carcassonne, Settlers, and a few other similar games.
Saturday Evening - Solo
I have played Settlers of Catan as well as the 2 player card game, but never this expansion. It took a while to understand the mechanics, and I found myself trailing most of the game (we played 5 players on the 4 player board). I really enjoyed the added complexity of this expansion - there are more choices to make and more tension created by the raids. I enjoyed this so much I bought the expansion from a retailer at the convention. I ended up finishing in the middle of the pack with 8 victory points but only got that close when an opponent interrupted one of the two leaders' longest road with a knight, giving me the new longest road.
I managed to get in two casual games of Carcassonne in the open playing area. I played against two opponents that were just learning, and there was some initial confusion on the scoring, particularly for the farmers. I won the first game and finished second in the second game.
Sunday - with the Family
Our morning was spent with KC Humphrey and Jay Schindler who were running the Intro to Euros track, designed primarily to introduce families to German-style games. We hit it off - KC and Jay were just fabulous with the kids; they made the day worthwhile.
Believe it or not, I had never played this game, and it was the biggest hit of the day with the kids. Probably because it was the first time they were able to repeatedly call their mother a liar! This is a keeper and I'll be looking for this at a thrift store soon. Matthew, Jacob, and Jay won with 5 dice (we stopped when the first player ran out of dice).
The theme was a blast - running with the bulls in Pamplona and accumlating bravery points. We raced along trying to stay close to the bull, and KC ended up accumulating the most points.
I loved the cards and theme for this game - traveling the world trying to locate endagered species. We played very cooperatively, and Julie was the first to go out and accumulated the most animals.
I've heard that this game about bicycle racing is fairly rare (it was published in 1988). It was moderately enjoyable, but I don't see much replay value. This is a game where a random factor would actually help. Coming from behind seems almost impossible. Toni, a young girl that joined us for a while, pulled ahead at the end for the victory.
After finishing the Intro to Euros session and having some lunch, we spent about two hours at a Looney Labs demo. I've played Fluxx and several of the Icehouse games, so was eager to try a few more Looney games. We first tried Aquarius, a card game similar to dominos. Very light but enjoyable, but given a choice between this and Fluxx I think we'd usually choose Fluxx. Matthew won this one.
Jacob and I gave the Icehouse game of Martian Chess a try next - even though we have several Icehouse stashes we had yet to try this one. We both found ourselves making bonehead moves - it is hard to get used to controlling the pieces by location, not color. I sneaked by and won 15-12.
Jacob and I sat down with two others to try this. It looked a bit daunting for Jacob given the historical context for the game, but we both loved it. Definitely a heavier game than Fluxx (in fact, the heaviest Looney game that I've played). Jacob sneaked up and won this one.
I've always wanted to play this - our family has enjoyed carom boards (we have one and several of our Indian friends do as well), so the combination of a flicking game with racing was a sure hit for the boys. They spent 90 minutes here and we had to drag them away. Not sure I want to fork over the $ for my own copy, but I'll give it serious consideration.