Last week I returned from another stellar BGG.CON gaming convention. The routine has become very attractive and fulfilling for me: play games, drink beer and eat some food at the hotel bar, go for a run, repeat. It is just the break I need after a hectic football season. My gaming trickles to nearly zero from August to October - check out this graph of games played by month from 2008-2011.

Games played by month, 2008-2011

November certainly peaks every year, largely because of BGG.CON but also because I get back to hosting gaming, gaming with my local group, and gaming over the Thanksgiving holiday. December looks a bit lower than expected, but I suspect I'll get in 25-30 new game plays this coming month.

Great job Derk, Aldie, and the rest of the BGG.CON for putting on another great show. We are moving to a new venue next year so it will mix things up a bit, but I'm sure they will maintain high standards for the event.

Let's break down what I played this year.

Great Stuff

  • 18AL -- 18xx is a tradition now at BGG.CON and we (Mark, Jim, and I) played the pimped-out version of 18AL. I had a hard time of it, nearly going bankrupt but rising from the ashes to throw off a lot of cash, helping push Hamzy over the edge and get a narrow victory over Jim. 18AL is losing a bit of its luster for me but the company was great.
  • Agricola -- Agricola remains my #1 favorite best-ever game and it was great to get in a live version of this with Yehuda and Nadine (from Israel) (and Jim of course).
  • Gettysburg -- Unfortunately Jim and I didn't get to finish our game -- my second false start of this wonderful game without a finish. Improves on the mechanics introduced in Waterloo but I like the setting and streamlined nature of Gettysburg.
  • A Game of Thrones: the Card Game -- Up there with Magic: the Gathering as one of my two all-time favorite collectible / trading card games. Wiped out Jim's Targaryen deck with my awesome Martell deck. Oh, I built Jim's deck as well but just set him up.
  • D&D: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game -- I love the D&D boardgame series and it was even more fun with characters I enjoyed in Salvatore's books.
  • Innovation -- one of my favorites of the show, and I've played it twice since and still love it.

OK Stuff

  • Alien Frontiers -- This was the first game I played on Thursday and while I enjoyed it I don't think this brings enough new to the table to encourage repeat playing.
  • Poseidon's Kingdom -- Lovely to look at and surprisingly quick to play once we got going, but not much game there and a bit clunky rules-wise. Had fun and enjoyed teaching it to another group though, but not worth spending $100 to own.
  • Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer -- I only know this game well because of the iPad version. Decent deck-building fun but best suited for electronic play vs AI (fast!).
  • Keltis -- My second or third play of this game and it remains enjoyable. It feels so tense when playing - I suspect everyone feels like they aren't making progress because the cards just won't go your way. Plays in only about 40 minutes and I'd gladly play again.
  • Rune Wars -- I'm on the fence about this one and hope to play again in December. I really enjoyed the play but it left me feeling like it is very much like other multi-player build-an-army-and-conquer games. Then again, I there is probably more subtlety to the game that I'm missing (recruiting neutrals as allies seems like a good plan, maybe I should have focused on questing more, etc.) so I will reserve judgment until another play.
  • PÜNCT -- Love the GIPF series of games and need to remember to pull out my copies at home more often. Julie enjoys two-player abstracts.

I'll Pass

  • Nefarious -- My rating here is partly informed by the hefty $60 price tag for a light-ish card game, and partly because the game left me wanting more depth.
  • Troyes -- Glad I got to play this hit from last year. There's so much to like about this game, but I really hated people stealing my dice. Money seemed to flow too freely that I wonder if we played something wrong. Get your hands off my dice!