Tuesday, July 08, 2008

People I Gamed With at GenCon

For me, one of the highlights of a con is getting to game with lots of people. GenCon was certainly a success in that regard. CyberKev often points out that we could do just as much gaming at his house, and that would be for free, but would CyberKev remember to invite all of these people? And would they all come? And would they all fit?

  • BGG user names: Harley22, jacko_p, elphiecoyle, cyberkev63, Tyndal, BladeMaster777, pryllin, Pateke, mikey, OzGamer, thunderbirdsix, Peter Hawes, Gecko3D, jwalduck, arnoldrimmer, mickeyjames, Ozvortex, John Reid, smee62
  • From QGG: Vanessa
  • From LXG: Graham, Sonny, Rebecca, Claire, Nigel
  • From Critical Mass: Miss Jane, Anna,
  • From QUGS: Darryl, Julie
  • From Canberra EuroGamesFest: Jenny, Phillip, Eric
  • Scott the on-line Carcassonne guy
  • Mikey's friend Nick (is he on BGG?)
  • Some guy who played Guillotine and I never got his name
  • Dave and Steve who played Puerto Rico
  • Bertie's friend Craig
  • James who played Nerd Trivia
  • OzGamer's friends Mark and Nick
  • mickeyjames's friend Aaron
  • Jim and his son Aidan / Adrian
  • Three random people who played Dancing Eggs
That's 46 different people. What a social butterfly I am!

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Best Four Days in Gaming?

I've just spent the last 4 days gaming at GenConOz. OMG what a lot of hard work! We arrived about 9am each day and gamed until it was time to go home and go to bed. This is what I played:

Race for the Galaxy4
My Word!3
Carcassonne: The Discovery2
Puerto Rico2
Chang Cheng1
Dancing Eggs1
Mr. Jack1
Nerd Trivia1
Power Grid1
Relationship Tightrope1
Ricochet Robots1

I'm a bit amazed I played 4 games of Race. I'm also amazed that every time I play I see new cards. In those 4 games I won once and came second all the other times - and they weren't 2 player games.

All the games of My Word! were on Thursday evening when we were too tired to play something more thoughtful. Carcassonne: the Discovery was easy to teach because almost everybody there already knew Carcassonne, and it's not so different. I think it's a bit lighter than the original because there aren't titanic struggles over fields.

Both plays of Clans were on Sunday morning while we were waking up and more people were arriving. The box says it's a game for 2-4, but we played with 5 without any noticeable problem. I think I'm even beginning to understand it now. I definitely want to play it more. Scrabblette will probably like it.

Guillotine was the Saturday morning game. Play at the con was characterised by people agreeing to play a game, someone new arriving, changing the game to accommodate more players, then someone else new arriving... so if you're playing at a time when people are coming in it's probably best to be playing something quick and easy so people can join in and spawn off new groups frequently. Guilltone performed that function for us on Saturday.

Pictureka! is boring and broken. Play it with small kids. The games of Puerto Rico were much more serious. The second game was a massive 5 player struggle where I pursued a corn strategy with a very experienced player sitting to my right and two newbies across from me. It was so frustrating seeing my corn ships always loaded with tobacco! However the one time he skipped taking Captain I shipped 8 corn for 9 points. I won the game by 2 points.

Taluva, Vikings and Africa are all games that I like, and was able to find people to teach them to. I will continue to play all of them when I get the chance.

Chang Cheng was a new game to me, but I found it to be a very uninspiring area majority game in the same style as Reiner Knizia's Samurai, i.e. I play a piece in an area then the player to my left makes some play to take it off me. That sort of game just doesn't interest me.

Dancing Eggs was my idea - I was too tired to think but I figured I could get a good group to play a stupid game. We did play and we had fun, but after the first game finished there weren't more people volunteering to play. Oh well.

Entdecker is a game that I've been interested in for a while. I like the map, but I didn't find the gameplay to be very satisfying. I lacked money for quite a portion of the game, completely failed in everything I attempted, and came convincingly last. Also, the game went for an hour and a half which was pretty long for someone who couldn't win. I'm no longer interested in it. That same group then went on to play Relationship Tightrope which was decreed to be Much Too Bad To Play, so after one round we played Rheinlander instead. This was the first time I'd ever played without CyberKev, and the first time I won. Well, at least I've won one now.

Genesis is a simple game with some interesting tensions between cooperation and competition and the need to do too many things all at once. This was my third play and I'm yet to win.

The con had also organised for a large pile of Jenga boxes to be in the gaming area, which of course were used to play giant Jenga. At one stage when we were wondering whether a player was coming back or not we even had a game ourselves. That game certainly kept the cosplayers amused.

Of course we don't have a real copy of Keltis, but CyberKev made his own in much the same way that McGyver manufactures escapes. He played a couple of times, but I wasn't very impressed and only had one game. It seemed to me that one track with a few clover leaves on it was a big advantage to the people who had those cards... and I didn't. Well, it's only a Spiel des Jahre, nobody said it had to be a GOOD game.

The kid and I played one game of Mr Jack in which I, as Jack, forgot when I would have to declare light or dark and was quickly defeated. We also played a 9 player game of Nerd Trivia with some people we really didn't know very well, so it was interesting trying to bet that they knew the answers to the questions. The kid came second!

I was gaming in a group of 5, and 3 of the others said Power Grid was their favourite game. I only played it once before and wasn't so impressed, but I agreed to play it again. Three hours later, I still wasn't impressed AND the canteen had closed so I'd only had chips for dinner. It just seems to be an awful long build-up to a very sudden and inevitable finish... and the connection part of the game is basically irrelevant. It might be several more years before I play it again.

I think it was Saturday morning when I found myself gaming with some of the very smart guys from Critical Mass. Mikey is not averse to dice rolling so I suggested Stone Age. It's a very nice game with a strong theme and everyone soon got the hang of it. I had 6 multipliers for huts, but didn't realise how difficult it would be to actually buy huts in a 4 player game with everyone else buying them as well. Meanwhile Andrew had been accumulating tools and tool multipliers, and his 56 point bonus for those won him the game.

The same group then went on to play Prophecy which we borrowed from the Funatical stand. We rushed through the rules and didn't really understand them, so we spent a lot of time searching the rule book to find things out, e.g. what the heck was experience used for? After a bit over an hour we realised the game was going to go for a very long time so we agreed that the first player to kill something in the Astral Plane could win... and Mikey did that. It's an OK game but I don't care to play it competitively. Solitaire might be OK.

Early one morning... Friday?... it was all a blur... the kid and I played Ricochet Robots against Tyndal from Adelaide and got completely flogged. I wasn't with it that morning, but I suspect Tyndal is very very good at it.

I also played one game of Santiago. I played it once before and was impressed with the cleverness of the design but thought I didn't like how it played much - too much screwage. This time, I realised that I really HATE the screwage. It's like the provost gone wild. Santiago is a beautifully designed game but it is definitely not a game for me. Although I have nice things to say about it, I rate it a 4.

Finally, I played a game of the upcoming Gigamic title Inside at the Funatical stand. It totally sucked. However subsequent investigation on BGG suggested we'd missed a very important rule which would make the game much more interesting. I'd like to play again with the correct rules, because it sounds much better played properly. The Gigamic series are beautiful games and some of them (such as Quoridor) are absolute classics.

Finally a few notes on the con in general. It wasn't as big as I expected it to be, which turned out to be great. The board gaming area was quite big and often had about a hundred people in it without being crowded at all. LXG had a portion of their game library there, and we took our own as well, so there were heaps of games to play. The facilities were perfectly adequate. We met lots of new people, none of whom turned out to be arseholes. From my perspective, nothing went wrong, and that's basically an achievement to be proud of.