Today was a relatively quiet day until the evening.
I mostly slept in and did some computer stuff. Then I went downtown and walked around a bit. I ended up at the Westin already by 12:30 with lots of reading material. I just hung out reading until 6:30 when the first person who knew me (Jared) showed up.
From then on, we had some pre-con gaming in the food court in the center of the hotel area. There were more people than just the ones mentioned in the following report (about five others, not including Aldie and Derk and others who passed by occasionally).
I ended up playing a whole lot of light games, even though some of the others played somewhat more involved games. One table played Caylus, for instance, a game I would very much like to try.
I started off by taking out my glass beads to play my game, but we were waiting for others to buy some food before the food stores closed, so I drew 12 spaces on the back of one of the envelopes and played Mancala with Carl from Dallas. The game was quickly over in my favor.
After that, since nobody else had brought any games out yet, I played my game prototype with Carl, Jared, and Chris, all from Dallas. The game was very distracted, with lots of cross conversations and some getting up. I was nervous that this was distracting from quality time in the game, or that my game wasn't holding their attention. By midgame, however, people began to focus more. Some positive reactions, ranging from wanting to play it again tomorrow, to simply nice comments. We'll see.
When we were done, I jumped over to a Havoc game about to start. Havoc was designed and published by Sunriver Games, partly managed by Chris Brooks and a uy named KC. They are also evaluating my game, so I wanted to see what their first game was like. I think my game is a good match for them.
Havoc is a card game that plays very much like "Taj Mahal light". With six suits and cards going up to 18, the game is played over a series of nine auctions. In each auction, players play cards, with the best poker hand winning. Cards are place one at a time, like Taj Mahal, and if you don't play any cards, you gain a bonus card into your hand, like Taj Mahal. Winner, and sometimes second or third places, get points from the battle. Naturally, after battling for an area, your hand is depleted and someone else is likely to win the next one. Between battles, players sometimes have the opportunity to replenish their hand.
I expected it to be a good game because I figured Chris would make a good game, and because it got some good reviews. When I found out about the mechanics, I expected it to be a dull game. Poker hands? When I played it, however, it turned out to be a very good game, indeed. The playing is very much like Taj Mahal, and the area scoring very much like El Grande, although each area scores only one time, and in sequential order.
In our game, a guy named Dave [Aha: turns out to be the guy from Death Metal Cafe] won with 26 points, followed by Alan with 24, me with 23 and a guy from California named Greg for 23, and Carl had 21.
Worth picking up a copy if it is not too expensive.
I then played another game of my game prototype, this time with Dave and Greg. The tiles that came out were almost all high or low, and somehow they weren't overly impressed, although they liked it. Dave at least said that he would try again tomorrow.
We played a Knizia game called Money! It is a simple auction game about as heavy as For Sale. Auction for piles of money by bidding piles of money, trying to get sets of piles of money. Your bid becomes a pile of money, too. Not very complicated. Jon 730, Eric 520, Greg 380, Dave 290.
Next up was Fairy Tale, a relatively new game based on the mechanic of booster drafting. Each player picks one card and passes the rest, until all players have cards. Then you play 3 out of 5 cards. The cards give you points, usually in some sort of sets or combinations. Some of them flip over your or other player's cards.
Unfortunately, booster draft works because you have some control over cards coming back to you. That doesn't happen here. The game play itself is simply choosing three out of five cards to put down to the table after drafting, but even here the cards are put down simultaneously, which eliminates much of the possible strategy.
I don't know. Not the choices I would have made designing the game. I played it both 5 player (I won) and 2 player (I lost by one point). Not a bad game, but not deep. I do like drafting cards, however.
Another game: From Cape to Cairo. I'm still shuddering from having played this. First game in a long while that I've wanted to quit halfway through the first game. The rules were only available in translation, and a lot of questions seemed to be unanswered. One can only hope that we got the rules wrong. There was almost nothing resembling a meaningful decision, and huge amounts of luck. I take no pride in having won. Brrrr.
Last was Palazzo, another Knizia. This game, actually the whole series of games we played this evening, make me sympathize with Joe Steadman regarding Eurogames - most really are just a bunch of recycled mechanics and are basically abstract. This game was a fiddly game, whose mechanics didn't seem to have any thematic rhyme or reason. Yowch. Still, it was a reasonable auction game.
In this one, you need to make houses that are built out of five floors, and parts 1-5 of each house get flipped up in tiles. On your turn, you can either turn over and split some money cards, or flip tiles and buy some, or flip tiles and auction some of them. Sounds a lot like my game, actually. The money cards come in three flavors, and you can only use ones with the same background, like Taj Mahal (what is it with Taj Mahal imitators?).
This one was at least a decent game which I would be willing to try again. It doesn't make the top of my want list, however.
Tonight's winner: Havoc. Yesterday's winner: San Marco.
See you tomorrow.