Monday, June 6, 2016

Sidetrack - BGG Spring 2016

I just got back from Dallas (editor's note- a week ago, at the point at which I finally got to post), where I attended the second annual BGG Spring convention, formerly know as BGG FAM.  Last year, I was shocked at how small the convention was compared to BGG.CON in November, but still had a lot of fun.  This year was no different.  Still smaller than its fall counterpart, BGG Spring was bigger this year than last.  For most conventions, I volunteer for Stronghold Games.  Stephen is a good dude, and getting free games in exchange for demoing isn't bad either.  This time, however, I decided to take it easy and just focus on playing games.  I got 28 game plays over the two days I was there, and I thought I'd talk about them.

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - 4 Plays

This probably doesn't come as a surprise, but I don't typically get a chance to play LOTR at cons.  I got to teach it to two of my friends, and these four games are me teaching them, and coming back for more!  We played two games each of Journey along the Anduin and Encounter at Amon Din.  I had built three decks for the event: A Leadership/Spirit deck with Aragorn/Arwen/Frodo, an Ent Deck with Treebeard/Merry/Pippin, and a Silvan deck with Celeborn/Legolas/Haldir.

Bear Valley - 2 Plays

This was one of the various games which I played and immediately bought.  New from Stronghold Games, Bear Valley is a press your luck "card game" from Carl Chudyk.  It's a card game, simply in the sense that it uses cards, but they could just as easily be tiles. In the game, you start on one end of a river, and you are trying to get to the other end before your other players.  That, and not get eaten by a bear in the process.  It's a pretty easy game to teach, especially since most features don't need to be explained until they show up on the table.  Very light, very simple, but a fun little game, none the less.

Codenames - 2 Plays

A classic late night game, since I first played it at Gen Con last year.  If you don't know Codenames, it's basically a team game, where one player on each team is giving clues to help the rest figure out their "codewords" while avoiding the other team's words, and the dreaded "assassin" word, which will end the game.  I imagine that I will be hard pressed to not play this game at cons, or other social settings for that matter.  Last Thanksgiving, this was in heavy rotation, even though the relatives are typically more of the "Five Crowns" crowd.

The Grizzled - 2 Plays

Another cooperative game that I love.  It is incredibly difficult, and while simple, takes a lot of team work to be successful.  I have only beat this game once,  these two plays weren't one of them.

Mafia de Cuba - 2 Plays

If you've played The Resistance, I recommend you try Mafia de Cuba.  Similar in the aspect of hidden roles, but different in that you get to choose your role.  One player is the Godfather, and he passes around his cigar box, which is the actual box for the game.  In the box are the boss' diamonds, as well as role chips, such as drivers, loyal hechmen, and federal agents.  The Godfather has to find all of his missing diamonds, while not making too many wrong accusations or revealing one of the feds,

Simon's Cat: The Card Game - 2 Plays

I have a friend who works for Steve Jackson Games.  When I first met up with him at the con, he was demoing this game.  A very simple game based on a YouTube series, which I have never seen, but basically you are playing cards to get other to take tricks.  Whoever takes the most tricks gets a "blame card", and whoever is first to get three blame cards loses.  

World's Fair 1893 - 2 Plays

I really dug this game.  My first game was a demo, then I checked it out from the BGG library and taught it to some friends.  Each section has cards next to it, and on your turn, you place a cube next to a section, take the cards from said section, refill and pass turn.  Whoever has the most cubes in a given section gets to submit invention ideas for points, most points wins.

Animals on Board - 1 Play

My second "demo then immediately buy" game, Animal on Board has the players filling the role off the Ark owners who were left out of the bible.  The basic mechanic is splitting lots, which seems basic, but has significant strategic potential.  You have room in your Ark for 10 animals, and the more of a single type, the more points you get.  Watch out for only having a pair of animals, though, because Noah will grab them.  I guess history is written by winners.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Boardgame - 1 Play

Another upcaming game from Steve Jackson Games that my friend showed me.  This one is a programmed movement game.  You move your phone booth around based on the directions on cards played, trying to pick up historical figures.  The trick is, though, that as you pick up historical figures, they add their own required movements that you have to take into consideration.  Pretty neat, and it's something I may have to pick up when it comes out.

Blood Rage - 1 Play

Colosseum - 1 Play

This is up there as far as favorite board games.  I own the original Days of Wonders edition, and while I don't plan to get the Tasty Minstrel edition, I am excited it's going back in print.  There are so many interesting aspects to this game that make me love it.  It really rewards learning the game, as you need to plan from the start what you want to do on your last turn.  In addition, I love that your score through the game is a strategic element as well.  

The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game - 1 Play

First off, I know nothing about The Dresden Files books or TV series.  I say that, because I really enjoyed playing this game, and it had nothing to do with the source material.  Very different than other cooperative card games, you see all of your threats from the start and unless you can get some card draw, you're stuck with your opening hand.  I have reached out to the publishers, Evil Hat Productions, and I hope to dig into this game further.

Master Thieves - 1 Play

This is a must play if you go to BGG.  Master Thieves is all about spacial memory.  You have a pile of diamonds that you are trying to launder through this very impressive box.  You've got to experience it to fully appreciate it.

Of Dungeons Deep! (Second Edition) - 1 Play

This game was originally a Kickstarter project by Jason Glover.  I discovered it while browsing the vendor area.  One of the vendors, Bob's Weekend Wonders, a non-brick and mortar FLGS, had their own lending library for people to check out.  In addition, checking games out entered you into a drawing for the game at the end of the con.  I played this with a random guy, who ended being the dude who made Captain N: The Game Master (for those who remember that cartoon).  It was an interesting dungeon crawling card game.  It reminded me of Cutthroat Caverns, where you work with the other players to kill the monsters, but you only get rewards if you do the most damage, but you can also set it up so your opponents get hurt by the monsters.  Not a bad game, especially considering I ended up winning it in the drawing!  Definitely worth the price.

Quadropolis - 1 Play

This is one I had come into the con wanting to play.  A game built around tile placement, but with a spacial element involved in the drafting of tiles.  It's interesting to have to balance which tile you want, plus having to make sure you have an "architect" that can grab that tile, plus having the space available to play said architect.  I really enjoyed it and expect to eventually pick this up.

Qwirkle Cubes - 1 Play

Qwirkle is one of those games which are easy to sit down and play.  Qwirkle Cubes is a version of the classic game, but with cubes (shocker!).  Each cube is a certain color, and the sides of the cube have the different shapes.  Each turn, you get to reroll the cubes to see if you can get the shape you need.

Taluva Deluxe - 1 Play

This was a Kickstarter I remember seeing last year.  I had never played the original, but the the pretty factor of the deluxe intrigued me.  A very interesting game where you are trying to layout tiles to make an island, meanwhile trying to put out your hut pieces.  Each type of piece you have has their own rules for placement, and if you ever can't place a piece, you're out of the game.  If you are able to place all of two types of pieces, you win the game.  I didn't win this, but it was really close.

Trajan - 1 Play

This was the last game I played at BGG Spring, and I'm still impressed I was able to teach, play, and win a Stefan Feld game after midnight.  For those unfamiliar, it has a mancala mechanic for choosing actions taken.  Like other Feld games, efficiency is 

Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game - 1 Play

Last, and unfortunately least, was this game.  Probably the biggest disappointment of the con.  I played the tutorial scenario, and had no desire to play any further.  The game play was really simplistic, but in such a way that I wasn't motivated to keep going.  Obviously, the scenarios past the tutorial are more complex, but unless someone really wanted to play with me, I'd pass.