Friday, November 04, 2005

BGG.con: Thursday, Nov 03

First off, I have to give thanks to everyone who has been so generous to me. I am the type of person who is unashamed to ask for favors that I know that I would happily give in return, and do when I am able.

Being here without a car, many people have offered me rides: Chris Trimmer, Jeff Coon, Eran Eldar. People have agreed to help me sell my stuff on Saturday morning when I can't be at the con, such as Aldie, Dan, and the guys at Sunriver Games. And one even offered me a place to sleep in the hotel on Saturday night. Amazing. Thanks also to my friends, David and Sharron Elkins, for hosting me all week. Thanks so much, and if you're ever in Israel, come stay by us.

The transportation authority gave me one more kick as I watched the bus go sailing by on my way to the bus stop and had to wait 40 minutes for the next. I got to the center about 11:00 .

My first stop was to greet Chris Brooks and meet KC at Sunriver Games. KC had done his own mockup of my game and had lots of ideas for more interesting scoring patterns. I hope to play some today to see if they enhance or just complicate the game. Also, he had more theme ideas; no one outside of Israel is enthused with the Hanukkah theme.

I stored my games to trade in their closet.

My goal was to play lots of games that I have on my want list to see if I really want them. I also just sat in for whatever game was around, however.

My first three games were a progression of train games: TransAmerica, Ticket to Ride: Europe, and Age of Steam. The last two are on my want list.

TransAmerica I played just to say that I played it. It was, as I expected, fairly trivial to play and basically determined by the set of cards you have. I got lucky with the cards and embarrassed both myself and my fellow players Chris and Rita by winning 0 to 11 to 12+ .

Next was Ticket to Ride: Europe. I played with a family: Darlene, John, and their son Kevin, and also Lewis (I really should know who he is, since I played several games with him all day). I understand that the routes are more balanced in this version (rather than Ticket to Ride) and the tunnel and train station mechanisms were added. I liked the game enough to consider it, and I thought the routes were balanced. There was also ample opportunity for screwage that most people didn't take advantage of in our game. I liked the train station mechanism. I really didn't like the tunnel mechanism, which is basically that when you complete a tunnel route, you flip cards to see if you need to pay more cards. Reminds me of the card flipping mechanism of Goa, which is my least favorite part of that game.

Scores: Yehuda 130, Darlene 125, Lewis 125, John 114, Kevin 84.

Then I got to play a game I was really looking forward to: Age of Steam. Joining me were Lewis, Jim, Jessie, and Alan. This was a great game and a tight game. In this particular game, the board was almost totally bereft of good shipping opportunities. I don't know how it is, but I got into "the zone" almost immediately, timing my cash and prospering well, although my train never got very large. My strategy was two-fold: spend no money on auctioning for first, and simply make do with whatever role you receive; and when in doubt: ship first, build an extra track, or upgrade your train. I know that some of the other roles are classically better, but given the lack of shipping opportunities, I figured that the money I save not having to issue shares, the extra tracks, and the gaining access to the goods before others, were keyS to victory.

I was right as it turns out, although if the game had lasted one more round I would have lost. Scores: Yehuda 50, Jim 49, Alan 49, Jessie 40, Lewis 33 .

Having won my first several games, I was anticipating a comeuppance, which happened, as I never won any other games today.

Let me just break for a moment to tell you a little about the site:

The con occupies the entire fifth floor of the south tower of the hotel. There are three main rooms: the registration/prize table room, where everyone got to pick a game; the main play area, decorated in great game cutouts and mobiles; and the business room, with stands by various companies, the game library, and lots of game demos.

When I registered, I got to pick a game, and I picked Primordial Soup, not knowing that it was on sale next door at $25. Still, I'm happy. Also included was a game sample by Dancing Eggplant games, which was a nice bonus.

There were some amazing setups. A huge Heroscape landscape, a huge Memoir 44 scenario taking up a few tables, and a huge Carabande track. There were also some Crokinole sets with BGG logos on them (sweet) and BGG.con T-shirts for sale.

There were so many games being played and so many games that I wanted to play, it was frustrating. The big game hit seemed to be Caylus, with people playing non-stop on three tables and lots of good feedback. People came up to me a lot saying how much they enjoyed reading about my disastrous trip to Dallas (... enjoyed?) and everyone was basically great and we all had a good time.

Since I have organized things before, I know that if everything seems to run smoothly, then a whole lot of people must have put in a whole lot of work. Amazing job, staff of BGG. Well done.

Back to me: I roped people into playing my Game Prototype several times. A few times people only liked it, because the tiles or players somehow didn't interact much, but most of the time people were enthusiastic. I think the real judge is if anyone goes to play it twice, or if people spontaneously go over to the table to play it (I left it on a table). I'm waiting to see if that happens.

I played Odin's Ravens with Jeff Coon, and wasn't expecting much, but it turned out to be pretty nifty with some replay value. A little too much in the luck department. I pulled ahead majorly at the start, but Jeff basically creeped up until we were both 11/11 and then we ended the game with him winning 18 to 14.

I also sat in on a demo of Chizo Rising, a collectible tile game. "Collectible" is a bad word to many gamers, but you can buy the prepackaged sets and pretend that the game is not collectible. The game plays by placing the tiles orthogonally to each other, yours facing you and his facing him. When you place four tiles such that they form a certain pattern you collect them. You can also ping tiles by attacking them. First player to collect 12 wins. He didn't really answer my question about how you keep your tile collection intact if your opponent is collecting your tiles during the game, since they are unlikely to stay properly oriented. Also, the game is supposed to play 3 and 4 player, and he was unable to explain how to prevent two players from ganging up on a third.

The game itself was sort of like Magic, with simplified combat. We played open tiles which detracted from the game, because I could see all of his "Instants". A game with hidden tiles might be better. I wasn't impressed enough on first playing to buy it, but I would try it a few more times to see how much deeper it can go.

Robo Rally is another long time "wish list" game. I like it the same way I like Cosmic Encounter - don't expect to play it like a strategy game. It is meant to be fun, and it is. Just be careful not to play with too long a track or it can get tiring, and halfway through one player's victory is already predetermined.

Marshall Phillips' Game Prototype was a game similar to Battle Line, where you have to play transports to match loads that are available. There were a few problems with the game which we discussed, but the core mechanic is good.

I really didn't think I would like Werewolf, but I owed it to myself to give it a try since my last experience was with non-gamers. We played with 11 people, and I was Seer. I started by hinting at who I though were the werewolves without trying to tip my hand, but I tipped it enough to be killed the first night. Afterwards, the villagers forgot to go after the people I was hinting about, and they ended in miserable defeat. Not my type of game, but nice people and lots of laughs.

I did get in one round of Crokinole, losing in a very close match with Chris Brua's wife (name?).

Lastly, I finally played a game that I actually know, St Petersburg. I taught it to Todd and Renee, trying to coax them as to the correct strategy, but I still trounced them. I don't even really like St Pete that much, since the game has several flaws which I believe could be fixed - the easiest way to fix one of the major flaws is to have all of the Blue buildings score one more time at the end of the game.

By that time it was almost 1:00 am and I was exhausted. Now I'm off to play a few hours before shabbat.



ricardo said...

Yehuda recibe saludos de monterrey mexico (en america ) aqui son las 05:15 hrs.
soy nuevo usuario

Rick said...

Hey Yehuda thanks for posting regular updates of the goings-on at BGG.CON. Much appreciated.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

rick: thanks.