Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Trip to BGG Con 2009 and the Meat Sweats

I made it to the Con site around 11:00 AM Friday to find groggy Chris, Jon, and Rob filing out of the Denny's across the street. The past 24-hours had clearly seen some serious gaming. My Geek List has the specific details of my time at the Con. After 1.5 days or so, I was starting to get totally brain fried. I think I must be totally out of shape when it comes to gaming! So, I decided to take a late night flight back from Dallas to San Antonio Saturday evening rather than do another late, late night of gaming.

But... before I departed, I joined the group for a large, confined geek feeding operation. I don't think I've ever seen that much meat consumed in such a short period of time. One of the Austin folks at the end of the table predicted we'd all have the meat sweats on Sunday. He was right.

Best game of the Con for me: Hellenes.

Other must-buy games: Power Grid: Factory Manager
On my strong maybe list: Dungeon Lords, Stronghold

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At 5:23 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger Brian said...

You know, Ben ... we play games most Monday nights. You don't need to go to Dallas to see those guys :) Also, there's a pretty good Brazilian BBQ/Steakhouse/whatever in Stone Oak. It's about $40 a meal, but all you can eat meat.

At 5:23 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger Brian said...

BTW, I got Dungeon Lords (at least, I think I did) on general principles.

At 7:14 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger Tiffany said...

You did. That and Homesteaders.

At 9:24 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger Ben said...

Yes, it was a long way to go for 1.5 game days. But... fun nonetheless.

I don't think I want any form of beef for about two weeks. I need major nitrate cleansing. At one point in the dinner a stream of blood and juice squirted out of one of the spits, leaving a nice spray pattern on the table. I smiled, then shoved another medallion down the hatch. I think we were all in a primitive, altered state at that point.

I look forward to playing lots more Dungeon Lords.

At 10:02 PM, November 22, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob and I sat down for a walkthrough of Homesteaders Sunday morning with Yehuda and Michael Mindes, the founder of Tasty Minstrel. Intriguing game- it's a no-frills auction building sites followed by placement of resource-generating buildings and buildings that convert chains of resources into VPs. It plays either 3 or 4, but not 2, as Michael said Alex worked on 2P rules but couldn't get them worked out to his satisfaction. He also stated that the game at an early stage of development had over 60 possible buildings to play with. I think they cut it down to about 20 at the end. I'll give it a few plays when it hits the table.

My favorite games of the con:
Dungeon Lords--like a tower defense game, with points for whose towers (dungeon) looks best at the end after the adventurers have poked their heads in. I'm looking forward to playing this some more. It was fun at 12:30 in the morning, so I'm hoping it will be more fun at 6 or 7pm.

Carson City--if I had a nickel for every time someone (including myself) said "it's like Caylus with guns," I'd have next year's BGG.con trip paid for. It's short (4 turns), and workers are very valuable, as they claim territory, buy buildings, turn money into VPs at increasingly less efficient rates as the game goes on. And almost all of the available actions can be dueled over if more than one person wants that action. Rob mentioned that the theme ties in really well with the mechanics, and I agree with him. I really liked this game as well, although I don't think we'll end up with a copy in our group.

Gates of Loyang--mixed. I really enjoyed the first play, so much so that I bought a copy at $75. OUCH (didn't know the price until after I bought it because it wasn't marked and I threw it in with other games). People's main complaint is that it stays "samey" as the game goes on, and I've got a sneaking suspicion that this is true. Probably not worth $75, but hey, I took a shot on this one, so hopefully it will see some play.

Small World expansions--great. Additional races are unique and interesting, although the Gypsies are like the new Amazons, where everyone has to stop them or they'll rampage unchecked through the countryside. I like the fact that with new races and new powers, we're a lot less likely to recycle races in a given game, and some games won't see certain races at all. Hopefully it will breathe some new life into this game for a while, because I still really enjoy many things about it.


At 10:02 PM, November 22, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of other people in our group enjoyed Power Struggle, and it got great buzz on the Geekbuzz leaderboard throughout the con. I played it and thought it was ok. You try to achieve victory in 4 out of 6 categories before anyone else. The corruption mechanic is unique in that people offering bribes advance on the corruption VP track, and accepting a bribe hurts you by giving your opponent special good powers, and refusing a bribe gets your territory-control workers taken off the board (they're fired as revenge by the rebuffed briber). But I got a secret objective involving corruption, and there's no way to turn resources into corruption VPs like you can with all the other VP tracks, which meant that I got locked out of victory when it was realistically too late to switch VP tracks and be competitive, but early enough that we had a lot of game left to go. Realizing early on that I couldn't win the game killed my enthusiasm for it, but I'm glad others liked it.

Ben and Rob tried Power Grid: Factory Manager and had good things to say about it, and I expect someone in the group will pick this one up.

Rob tried Shipyard and also gave it favorable reviews. I was looking forward to trying this but just ran out of time.

Stronghold looks intriguing as well. It's a very complex medium/heavy wargame, essentially boiling down to preparing an invading army and trying to cut down a defending army in 10 turns. It has a lot of variable powers that can be purchased by the attacker, and learning the nuances of how to defend against those powers should be a lot of fun. Rob picked up a copy, and I think a lot of people in the group will want to try this game. Techinically it accomodates up to four in the way many wargames accomodate additional players--by splitting the armies into two and giving each player control over their half, but I imagine that once we've all squeezed in a play, it will be mainly a two player game.

At 10:10 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger seanp said...

I picked up Dungeon Lords as well. Won't be there this Monday but will be back next week. I wanted to grab Pelopenees, but choked at the $80 price point. I also give a thumbs up to Agricola: farmers of the moor, vasco de gama, and At The Gates of Loyang. But the con high skews game feelings up, so I'll see how my fondness holds up for these. Castle Panic was fun and quick but wouldn't hold up. There are alternate ways to play, but it was pretty easy to pick the optimal plays, so the game was more about watching the action unfold.

At 10:11 PM, November 22, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remarked to a couple of people that the Brazilian steakhouse (or as I like to call it, the "meat place") made me feel like we were at a Conan the Barbarian feast. ("Conan! What is best in life?") Jon mentioned before we went that the salad bar is awesome, and I laughed because I thought, "I'm not going to a meat place to eat SALAD." He was right--the salad bar (or whatever you want to call it--the appetizer bar) WAS awesome. It was a cool experience in the way that Medieval Times is probably a cool experience (I've never been)--a place that is great to experience, but that you don't need to go to too often. I'd rather pay 10 bucks less for one steak that's really good than the price we did for many steaks (that admittedly were really good). Still, I'm game for a once-a-year meat orgy at next year's con. (I tried to think of another term, but c'mon...that pretty much describes it.)

At 8:12 AM, November 23, 2009, Blogger Michael said...

One of these years I need to go.

I'm out for the next two mondays and this coming weekend but after that I'm good.

One of the guys at the other group mentioned he might try to stop by some Monday.

At 9:57 AM, November 23, 2009, Blogger seanp said...

Here's my "played" list:

Battlestar Galactica + Pegasus (helped teach)
Agricola - Farmers of the Moor
Castle Panic
Vasco de Gama (wasn't excited about the game before it started, and it was the suprise of the con for me - very fun)
At the Gates of Loyang (although we surely got 1/3 of the rules wrong)
Savannah Tails
The BGG Game
Snow Tails
Chaos Tichu
Dungeon Lords
Shadow Hunters

At 10:35 AM, November 23, 2009, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

Found some photos of SABG people in Debbie Oh's flickr gallery. For each photo, paste the number in place of the question marks in

Chris and Rob play Hellenes:

Werewolf, including Jon lying through his teeth and a vicious assault by Sean:

Sean and Amy:

At 10:47 AM, November 23, 2009, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

I was a werewolf in all of the pics taken, you can see in the last one Dennis posted that I was awake at night about to pick my night kill.

At 12:52 PM, November 23, 2009, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

You see? I knew just from the first picture that Jon was lying.

At 1:57 PM, November 23, 2009, Blogger seanp said...

inkygirl took some GREAT pics. Captures the heart of the game very well. The photos of me during a WW game are when I was modding a game. Where it looks like I'm kicking someone, is actually Belash falling to the ground in mock death, and tripping me into the chairs in the process. Funnier than the event itself is that he and I have a running feud in online WW games, and it appeared he was trying to take me out by force...

At 2:01 PM, November 23, 2009, Blogger seanp said...

Oh - and Dennis, the puzzle hunt was amazing. I didn't get signed up in time, and didn't have a team prepared regardless, but observed a good part of it. 7 puzzles, run in sequence. Twenty items on a table, you solve the puzzle, you get to choose an item. After 15 minutes all teams that didn't solve the puzzle get to pick an item in random order. Each round the same items (7 duplicate sets) are available to pick from. At the competitions end, the team with the heaviest total items wins -- but you aren't allowed to TOUCH an item until you pick it up as your choice, so you have to estimate weights.

At 2:32 PM, November 24, 2009, Blogger Rob said...

BGG Con was amazing as always. Someone made mention that the past 3-4 yrs had been "the year of the super filler".... those 45-60min medium meaty euros that are great: Notre Dame, Caylus Magna Carta, etc. This year seems like we went back to the true heavies. All the games I enjoyed (and basically most Essen "hits") were 2hrs long on average.

Shipyard was very cool. A game with 4 rondels? How can u go wrong? There are a billion ways to score, that I just don't see it going stale ever....except that you are doing the same thing over and over. Build ships as maximized in VP's and speed as possible (depending on what your goal cards are), then send them out.

Hellenes... prob the best blockgame I've ever played.

Vasco de Gama... awesome. Overall, I don't know that I'm dying to buy any of these, but if I had to pick one, it might be this one. Like Shipyard, it's a meaty 2hr game with tons of options and ways to score. It also has a subtle screw your neighbor mechanic that works well. Very clever turn/action order mechanic...

Carlson City was just plain darn fun. It's Caylus in the... yep. It worked great. As you build profitable buildings in the city of Carlson, you attract other 'bandits' (other players) that may feel compelled to grab a piece of your profits. It's up to you to defend your stake of the wild west. Cool stuff.

At 4:58 PM, November 24, 2009, Blogger Rob said...

Oh, and if I find a cheap Thunderstone, I'd prob pick it up. It's a cool but messy twist of the Dominion system. It adds RPG elements and multiple 'currencies' that actually work well.

Essentially, the Action cards are heroes or items. Heroes can use weapons if they have the strength to carry them (which can be buffed with other items). Then add their strength and if high enough, slay any of 3 monsters in the dungeon (the VP cards). Once you gain XP cards for the kill, you can use these to upgrade your heroes to the level 2 and 3 versions of them...which get significantly better, and count as VP cards too (monsters provide the most VP's).

Monster have different strengths and weaknesses (eg. magic resistance so can't use spellcasters or magic weapons on them, etc).

At 10:00 PM, November 24, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tiffany was also pretty excited to pick up Cavum. She gave us a preliminary thumbs up as Rob and I walked by at 2am as she played in the hotel lobby. I'm sure she'll fill us in on what she thought about it by the end.

Oh, and I bid my first Grand Tichu ever at the con...and made it! It helped that I was forced to Tichu anyways as we played Chaos Tichu (one person on each team has to bid Tichu every turn. On the last hand, we played Chaos Grand Tichu. And I made my second Grand Tichu ever. Silly fun, but fun nevertheless.

I had forgotten about Vasco de Gama. Not bad. Sean is right, the turn mechanic was interesting, as you take a numbered marker from among twenty numbered 1-20. The "provost" starts on a number that is known, and then moves 0-3 spaces higher or lower after everyone has taken tokens and placed them with their player markers on available actions. If he moves to a higher number, those with lower numbered markers have to pay the difference between their turn number marker and the marker the provost settled on to be able to take their action. So it's a bit of gamble, and that debate over taking a small risky number or larger safe number was agonizing in a fun way. The movement of ships to fill the shipping lanes was also intriguing. I'd have to play it again to really grasp how to use those blocking ships effectively.

A lot of people seemed to like Hansa Teutonica. It looked a bit generic just looking at the board but many people seemed to enjoy it and I think it ended up with the highest spot on the Geekbuzz list at the end.

I cracked the top 25% of the poker tournament (getting AA in first position followed by KK in the big blind helped), but slowly got whittled away by bigger stacks. Oh well--I like poker but I think by the end I was ready to be playing games again.

The flea market was a big flail for me. Why does one of the biggest cities in America not have a Bank of America? No cash means no selling games (can't make change). Several games I wanted to get out of my house made the trip back to SA with me. Lesson learned for next year. I think several SABGers made out pretty well, though.

I said farewell to Mare Nostrum, Cave Troll, and Cold War: CIA vs. KGB and picked up Kutschfahrt, Bonnie and Clyde, and In the Year of the Dragon in the Math Trade. One man's trash...

At 9:20 PM, November 25, 2009, Blogger Tiffany said...

OOH Bonnie and Cylde!

Just an FYI, i have upload a lot of pics onto the geek. So Chris, Sean, Jon, you are on there now. I want GG, and a microbadge. :)

Cavum was awesome. Another solid Kiesling Kramer game. But quite a different feel that my favorite of theirs. This might be my new favorite. We shall see.


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