Sunday, September 18

That Board Gaming Thing 2016

That Board Gaming Thing is a local invitation gaming con that happens every year in September.   The con has branched out into two, more open (larger) cons in winter and summer, but this is the one I like better (there's more of a history, the organizers do more stuff).  
As a warning - this post is image intense.

This year, I managed to play 27 total games and of those
  • 21 were unique (I replayed some)
  • 13 New-to-me Games Played (which may or may not have had expansions included)
  • 3 games with new-to-me expansions in not-new games (that I'm aware of)
Games played were:
  • Roll for the Galaxy (twice, once with a new expansion)
  • Tzolk'in Tribes and Prophesy (new to me expansion, played the base game before)
  • Russian Railroads with German expansion
  • Imhotep (new)
  • The Golden Ages (new)
  • Imperial Settlers, with expansion (expansion was new to me)
  • 6 Nimmt
  • Mysterium (new, played twice)
  • Captain Sonar (new, played twice)
  • Diamonds (new)
  • Junk Art (new)
  • Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu (new)
  • Scythe (new)
  • Isle of Skye
  • Fuse (new)
  • Colt Express
  • Terraforming Mars (new)
  • Terra Mystica
  • Time's Up (Titles) (new)
  • Deception (four times, new)
  • Between Two Cities (new)
And now onto (most) of the games I took pictures of - it's how I track what I've played at these cons.  I keep a notebook of plays so I can remember what I've played.  I used to track on, but a glitch lost all of my plays.   I take pics because I don't always want to haul out my notebook and my phone is pretty handy (also, instagram is fun)

I am kicking myself, because one of my favorite games that was new was Terraforming Mars, and that game was so slow/rough going that I never took a picture.   I actually really want to try that one solo, but four of us were playing it for the first time without a teacher - someone did explain it to us, but it's complicated and she left - so it was just really confusing and slow for a while.  We played the beginner game and we shouldn't have, because there is a card drafting element for not-first-time-players that would have made it easier and FAR more enjoyable.

We started off the con with Roll for the Galaxy.  I like this little game - I prefer the card version, so I don't think I'd ever purchase the dice version, but it's fun.  We were hoping to play with the expansion, but we couldn't find it (the gaming con is based on everyone bringing games to play and one of our members brought this, but was waiting for his expansion from one of the con vendors who had not arrived yet)

We finally got to play with the expansion on Friday after more people had come with games and the vendors were there.   I like the expansions, they add more variable dice, but they also add in bonuses for achievements like the card game has.

Roll for the Galaxy!
I've always thought the worker pool symbol looks like a guy at a disco; and I love the running man money marker
Roll for the Galaxy with expansion
I killed it with military in this one.

Next we played Tzok'in with the Tribes and Prophecies expansion.
The story behind this is kind of funny.  One other person and I chose it, even though neither of us actually likes this game at all.  We both wanted to try it with the expansion to see if we liked it better (sometimes expansions make the game so much better, this was only marginally better and even though I "won" I felt like I lost, it was funny).  Big asterisk on this game, we forgot one of the big scoring steps (oops).

"Big Corn" or "The Monsanto Strategy" always makes me giggle
 This is one of my favorite games - Russian Railroads, but with the German railroads expansion.  I slaughtered.  I had not bought the expansion yet, because we don't play this enough to justify it, IMO.  But one of the vendors had this on huge-mega sale so I picked it up.  It really is one of my favorite worker placement games.

Russian (German) Railroads
Killing it with big engines;  We chose not to play with coal to keep it simple.
 New to me game and generally new game (recently published) called Imhotep.   It's a cute medium/light game that's not a filler.   You take turns setting out cubes, getting cubes, and setting the boats off for scoring.  I was terrible, but it was fun

Insert biggest obelisk/phallic jokes here.
The Golden Ages (with an expansion), which was new to me, but one of our group wanted to try.   The tiles can theoretically create a map of our world, but since the tiles are randomly assigned, you don't necessarily get to place them where they belong.   This was a pleasant heavier game with worker placement and tech trees (I love tech trees).   I liked it.  I like it enough that I'd be totally willing to play, but I don't feel the need to purchase.

The Golden Ages
That map is stupid ugly; but damn if the conflict wasn't fun
Imperial Settlers (with expansion).   I have HATED this game every time I played it.   I still think it is far too long for what it is, but I hated it less with the expansion.  Someone else in the game didn't like the expansion cards (that my race, not hers, got), and I think that, honestly, the expansion fixes a huge imbalance in the game.  I won (barely), and I literally could not have gotten any of my points without the expansion cards.  I played the Barbarians and the Romans in the past and found them profoundly weak, and it wasn't so bad here.   So I'd be willing to play, but only with the expansion, I'm still not a fan.

Imperial Settlers
My barbarians lack birth control
Next up was Mysterium
One of our friends that visits for the convention couldn't make it, which makes me sad.  He loves playing cooperative games, and I like playing them with him (so fun).   One of the guys we were playing with hates coops but liked Mysterium because he could be the ghost.   I wanted to try it (this is new to me) because so many people I know love it, but they compare it to Dixit, and I absolutely loathe that game.   It's  more like Dixit, Codenames, and Clue were slapped in a blender and this is the delicious smoothie that you get to consume.   We lost (barely) but it was a lot of fun.  I definitely like it with 7 best - we played it again later with 6 and handily won.

The second section, the room was the most difficult for me, but I got there eventually
I don't have a picture of Captain Sonar, which is a party game with a heavy Battleship feel.   Two teams are sitting on opposite sides of a table with a big divider.   There are four people on each team, the Captain, his First Mate, the Engineer, and the Radio Operator.   You are each on a sub and trying to hunt each other down.   There are rules.  I played twice and RAN THE HECK AWAY.  I was either too tired and crabby or just too sober, I was not a fan, though I think it's probably a perfectly fun party game.

So after I escaped and some of our group were still playing, I got to try out Diamonds, which is a cute trick taking filler game.   I rather liked it.

Diamonds - just call me deBeers
 The last game for the third evening was Junk Art, which is a new game that I'd read about on quite a few gaming blogs and reports from Gen Con.   It's a cute building game that takes place over three rounds.   One of our rounds had a building we had to do together and two other rounds had buildings that we built on our own.  You draw cards that dictate what pieces have to be used and there are cards that dictate scoring.  Plenty of replayability, but I didn't have a chance in hell, most of the people in my group were engineers and played like it.   I'm just a lowly, messy biologist.

Junk Art
One of our rounds was building a common structure
Junk Art
I built this with my remaining time after I'd already lost in the round
First thing Friday morning and I got to finally play Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu.
I have a Cthulhu "problem" (I mean, that's my license plate) and I had preordered this, but then had "un" preordered it because of an order issue and forgot to reorder.  I'd buy it no matter how cheesy, but I'm pleased to report that while it is, in essence, still Pandemic, the theme isn't hastily slapped on.  The mechanics of game play are appropriately altered and it's a solid game in it's own right.  In fact, my other team members (who aren't as excited for Arkham or Eldritch game nights like they should be) said they might even like it better than regular Pandemic.     It was fun we barely lost (it came down to one turn), but we forgot an entire action we could have taken and we really thing if we'd remembered it (we were all new to the game) we would have won.   It was fun.  I'm totally buying it.

Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu
Awesome art, solid game, I'm in love.
And then there was Scythe.
It was a hugely successful kickstarter that I've been hearing about, and apparently I'm one of the last people on the gaming planet to not play it.   The peeps I hung out with had mostly played it multiple times, but one of our party had the collector's edition with a big fancy map and all of the awesomely upgraded token  - all of the resources and money tokens were metal, the player pieces were all molded plastic or fancy wood shapes - none of the plebian cardboard.
It's an alternate history wargame/area control/resource farming/worker placement thing.  It has it all.  It also has variable player powers, which I really enjoy.   We were randomly assigned our factions, and I'm just going to enjoy the face that I was assigned Poland (Polania), because I'm mostly Polish.   I did win, barely.  It was a three way tie for first and I won the two tie breakers we had to come down to (the thirdplace first was broken with the first tie breaker and I won the second tie breaker - oddly what I thought would be the tie breaker was the very last tie breaker, which we didn't get to).   This was tons of fun, I would play it any time someone suggested it, but I'm not sure I need to buy it.  However, if I did buy it, I would splurge and get all of the upgraded stuff.    I've backed Stonemeier games in the past, just not this one, and they always produce an excellent game (I've got all of the Viticulture stuff).

This game was just way, way fun.  I enjoyed it greatly.

Scythe.  Polish War Bears, FTW!
For a break (people went to get food or whatever), we played Isle of Skye.  It's a fun little tile placing game, and we totally played it wrong (which is funny, because we'd played it before), but it's alright.  I don't need it, but I'd never say no (unless something better was being played).

Isle of Skye
It looks like someone was hitting the whisky while building this.
Colt Express is an adorable party game we always like to break out at some point.
Hilariously, I ended up getting shot 9 times by other players... and still won.  Yay.
Colt Express is always good for a late night party game.
And drink, because of course
And we finally busted out Terra Mystica.   It's probably my favorite board game at this point, and I prefer playing it with five because I like a crowded board.   I played the Nomads, who I've not played before, and came out with a respectable 2nd place, but I'm more proud of the third city I pulled off.  I was really tired and screwed up a couple of plays (the ultimate winner even asked me why I'd done it, because, well, duh), but that's OK, because fun.

I do not like playing with the expansion races, so I always beg out of that, but I do like playing with the expansion turn order board (I have not bought the expansion for myself but use post it notes to simulate the player turn order).
A local gaming vendor (they sell inserts and stuff like that) had a Game Trayz set just for Terra Mystica that I did buy, because it's pretty sweet.
Terra Mystica - My favorite.
My awesome new Game Trayz organizer for TM
We played Time's Up: Titles, which is a fun little party game I hadn't played before.
You play in teams of two (mostly, I think if you get over a certain number of players, the teams get larger).   There's a deck of 30ish(?) cards and you want your partner to guess as many as possible (ala Taboo).   This is done in three rounds (each round finishes when the last card is guessed).
First round: You can use as many words as you like
Second round:  You can use one word
Third round: No words, just wild and sometimes HILARIOUS gesticulations

Obviously no pictures were taken, I'll just say that someone jumped on a trash can at some point.

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is another party game.  It's like Werewolf and Codenames had a baby that should have been left on the side of a mountain.   We played four times.   There are variable/hidden roles, the Forensic Scientist is the guy in charge and he's trying to get players to guess who the murderer is and what piece of evidence was left behind.  One of the other players is the murderer (hidden to all but the forensic scientist, of course) and with enough players, you add in a Witness and an Accomplice.   I hate werewolf, so this game was OK as long as I was an investigator, which I only got to be twice.  I was an accomplice and a murder the other two times.
A terrible, late night picture of Deception
And the last game of the con was Between Two Cities, which was actually quite fun.   Your goal is to build two cities, each city is between you and your neighbor, and your lowest city is your score, so it behooves you to not only work well with your neighbor, but work on both of your cities and not throw one of them under the bus.  The tie breaker (because ties are inevitable) is your higher scored city, so it breaks out pretty interestingly.   I ended up second, and my two cities were only a couple of points different.  It was fun.

My beautiful 2nd place city in Between Two Cities
And finally, here is my loot.   I always want to support the vendors who sponsor the con, but at the same time I'm a not-rich cheap bastard who wants the best prices, which are invariably not vendors (I'm a huge fan of CoolStuffInc, who typically has the best prices).  I did buy the Terra Mystica tray set from Top Shelf Gamer.   I bought German Railroads from Cape Fear Games, because it was on Awesome Sale (my term, not theirs) and then I also won a $25 GC for being on the winning trivia team, and I wanted to spend it before they left (they aren't local to me).   I got the Concordia maps expansion, because I really like that game, and I was poking around and found a Viticulture expansion I didn't have, so win-win!

I'll be purchasing Terraforming Mars and Reign of Cthulhu as well (TM apparently is just preorder through many shops right now), and I can't wait to break out some of my new goodies at our regular game nights.   I've also got some great ideas for making my own inserts after seeing some of the ones I saw in the booths (I will splurge for plastic molded stuff, but when I see foam core, I go DIY-mode).


  1. That sounds like an awesome weekend! I'm glad to get your opinion on Mysterium, I've been debating about that game for a while.

    1. I had so much fun. It all started Wednesday and there's something awesome about playing games instead of working on a weekday.
      I did like Mysterium so much more than I thought, and if you have any questions about it, let me know :)

  2. Great weekend. Thanks for your thoughts on each game. My niece and her fiancé are huge board gamers and I've now got some great ideas for gifts.

    1. I'm glad I could help!
      If you have any questions, please let me know and I can clarify or explain anything. Between us and our gaming group we have tons of games :)

  3. That sounds like a ton of fun! I'm not a huge fan of board gaming, though I do enjoy some of the more cooperative ones, I just don't like going in full PvP mode. And it was a lot of fun to read about everything you tried!

  4. Sounds like a lot of fun! I don't know enough people to play regularly but I love board games


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