$10.00
A year of 7's - Anye's BGG.Con 2010
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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I always try to strike some sort of balance at BGG.Con between seeing my faraway friends and getting to try the new games. In addition, since my honey had missed the last couple cons for various reasons it had been awhile since I'd attended one with him - AND we also had the good fortune to have his older son (who I always refer to on the interwebs as "Sport") now be of an age where he could also attend the festivities.

Tues. night and Weds., I was by myself. Thursday and Friday I had Jason with me and Saturday and Sunday I had Jason and Sport.

We all have a lot of overlap as to what kinds of games we like, however I usually have more tolerance for mediocre Euros and Jason has more tolerance for mediocre Ameritrash. We tried to get a good mix of both kinds of games this year so as to suit everyone's taste.

Ironically enough, we found most of the games we played mediocre regardless of whether they were Euros OR Ameritrash, and in fact I liked two of the Ameritrashy games we played more than he did. Go figure!

I didn't get to play everything new, and there were several games that have had really good buzz that I didn't get to -- which might change my opinion of the overall crop of games. But, Jason and I have both taken to referring to 2010 as the "Year of the 7's" because most of the games we played topped out at a 7 rating, with a couple exceptions.

And, one very, very sad thing about this con is we didn't get any Tichu in

But, we still had fun and got to see friends and that is what is important!
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1. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:296]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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Tuesday night tried this prototype. Thematically very similar to Race for the Galaxy, mechanically it has fewer icons to memorize and is much less solitairish. So, I think that Jason will like it better than RftG when he gets to try it -- which he will do once it is officially "out".

I'd give it a 7.5. I liked it but didn't love it. I don't think it will topple RftG in my mind for any reason other than Jason doesn't like RftG so if he likes it, it might actually get some play.
 
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2. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:89]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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I played this twice - once was just a few rounds to get the feel of the game, on Tuesday night. I liked it enough to introduce it to Jason on Thursday, at which time he and some other folks (Rob and Tiffany Shultz, IIRC) suffered through my rules explanation and we played a full game.

Our game went about 5 hrs. I was only getting bored probably the last half hour or so, which is a good sign. I was attempting a cultural victory as China (perhaps not a wise move, though they do get a culture bonus from assimilating villages and goody huts), but it would have taken another 10 turns or so to do.

As it turned out Jason and Rob were neck and neck for a military and tech victory, respectively, with Tiffany one turn behind on the tech victory. Rob's position was due almost completely to the Statue of Liberty wonder, which none of us had the foresight to gunpowder out of existance. Jason's position was due to him playing Germany and in general being a Warmonger.

He blew my sad Chinese walled capital out of existance with little trouble though, and won the game.

I'd give it a 7.5, and Jason's rating was similar although he expressed concern that Germany really had no choice but to go for a military victory, and that in general he thinks the tech victory would be the easiest to achieve.

We put this on the "play other peoples' copies on occasion" list.
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3. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion #4: France and Italy [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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An oldie but goodie and one of my favorite games of all time. I actually think I did a decent job of teaching it for once as well.

3p game with Rob and Michael Tsuk. France is a great map for 3. I had a master plan that I didn't really carry out particularly well though. Michael ran away with the game.

I still rate this game a 10. It doesn't count on my "year of 7's" though because it isn't new.
 
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4. Board Game: Poseidon [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:863]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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My favorite new game of the con by a mile.

This is an 18xx style game set in ancient Greece. The rulebook has a "for 18xx players" section that says stuff like "This game doesn't have trains, it has ships. This game doesn't have stock, it has merchants." etc. to translate.

It is VERY streamlined compared to most 18xx games. You can't dump a company on anyone. You can't trash their stock price by selling shares. However, it still has some really interesting decisions - especially a mechanic where the same tokens are used for merchants (stock) and trading posts (a la the 2038 mining rights tokens). If you dump all your tokens on the board as trading posts you can potentially get great income but you won't be able to get much money into the company or own a lot of shares. Conversely, if you use too many as shares you may never get enough board position to be financially strong.

Also, the game has a set number of turns which changes the feel significantly from the "break the bank" strategy - and means the game will likely be shorter than your average 18xx. Our first game was about 3 hrs. I think once you know it 2 is quite realistic.

Preliminary rating of 9 and a definitely buy for me.
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5. Board Game: Res Publica [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:3256]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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I used to own this - I think I got it in a "big box of games" purchase once. Jason and I looked at the rules and didn't think it would play well with 3 (our usual max # at home) and so traded it away. I got to try it with 5 at the con.

It wasn't bad, I'd play it again, but it didn't particularly excite me either. I'd give it a 6.
 
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6. Board Game: Magnum Sal [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:764]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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No, it's not a game about a gun-toting guy named Sal -- it's about mining salt. A quintessential Euro theme if ever there was one!

It's a solid worker placement game. Lots of decisions, so little time, money is tight. The theme and mechanics are well integrated. But, it just didn't excite me. I'd play it again but I don't need to own it.

A firm 7.
 
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7. Board Game: K2 [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:319]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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First game of Thursday morning. Jason and I joined fellow Dallas area gaming friend Tanner and someone else whose name I can't recall in this game of perilous peak penetration. Basically you're trying to get as high up the mountain as you can without dying of exposure. Dying of exposure is very easy to do. So easy that both Tanner and Jason were eliminated due to it. There is also competition for spots on the mountain as you go up.

I had some fun playing it and would play again if asked, but it's really not my favorite type of game. I'd give it a 6.5. Jason wasn't particularly keen either but said he might be willing to try with the "hard" rules sometime.
 
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8. Board Game: Merkator [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:610]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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I was really looking forward to this one, as I am a big fan of both Agricola (for 3p) and Le Havre (for 2p). I never did try At the Gates of Loyang... but I digress.

The rules were very clear and the game is actually very simple. I had no trouble learning the game and teaching it on the fly. You're basically collecting goods of various types in order to fulfill contracts to get better contracts so you can sell the weaker ones and buy cards to help you get more goods or end game scoring.

It has an interesting mechanism where people can choose to accompany you when you travel from location to location picking up cubes and fulfilling contracts, and if they join you they give you time markers which can be used to accompany others and/or go to more expensive (faraway) locations.

I enjoyed it fairly well and will play it happily if my friends buy a copy, but it didn't feel particularly new and didn't excite as much as Agricola or Le Havre - so I don't feel a need to buy it. I'd give it a 7.5.

One thing we didn't like - there wasn't really an advantage to being the first player, yet the first player was penalized. There weren't enough cubes on the board to really make the first choice of location a big deal, and honestly 1st choice of the bonus cards wasn't a big deal either. I'd probably play without the 1st player penalty if I play it again.
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9. Board Game: London [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:172]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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Surprisingly simple game play for a Martin Wallace game.

There's a mad rush to buy up territory on the board. Some interesting decisions regarding how many stacks of cards to have (more gives you more power but increases your "poverty points"). It felt very mechanical and mathematical to me. My optimal formula was always take cards in color pairs, focus on cards that stick VPs in your stack but are cheap to buy, buy territory early, play out all the cards at once, and then activate city with only 1 card in hand for minimal poverty.

Since I ended up only 1 point behind the leader (the one person at the table who had played before) I think this strategy is fairly sound. I am sure I will get to play this again as I think plenty of locals will pick it up -- I am hoping that I am wrong and that this isn't truly the optimal strategy and that I have more to learn. This might help me raise my rating of the game above (you guessed it) a 7.

Jason's opinion was pretty similar to mine. It was decent but not earthshattering and not our favorite Martin Wallace design by far (and he is a particular favorite of both of ours!)
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10. Board Game: Magestorm [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:2604]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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Time for something Ameritrashy! This one I'd never heard of but it looked like fun so I checked it out of the library.

Thematically and component wise, it is eerily similar to BattleLore -- a game that Jason and I both love. You're both wizards and you want to beat the crap out of each other on a board with hexes. Mechanically it is very different. It is actually much more tactical. There aren't cards to tell you which troops you can move - you set down waypoints (objective markers) that your troops will move towards, and the composition of your armies is hidden from your opponent until such time as they meet - and even then they only see your 'front lines'. Each mage has a different arsenal of spells, and it takes time to acquire power points and allocate them to those different spells.

So, the first few turns end up a little dull because you don't really have the ability to cast anything. Once you ramp up the carnage begins in earnest.

I don't think either one of us played our armies particularly effectively. I just threw the cards in random order and never really resorted them (which you spend strategic points to do in the strategery phase) although I probably should have, because I discovered having my high initiative troops in front wasn't a good idea.

The combat was a little odd - there are two rounds of combat in each battle, one ostensibly ranged and the other ostensibly melee -- however most troops didn't have any difference in their stats between the two. I am not 100% convinced we weren't doing something wrong here actually.

I wasn't fond of the "Fate" mage -- all her "spells" involve messing with the die rolls -- that's it. The nature mage Jason played had cool spells like bears and thorns and things that bring down raging death. Thus it was a bit surprising that I enjoyed the game more than Jason did.

I'd give it a 7-7.5, but since Jason prefers BattleLore there's not really a need to buy it. I think some folks who like tactical but relatively simple combat games will enjoy this though.
 
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11. Board Game: 51st State [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:598] [Average Rating:6.99 Unranked]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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Another attempt at an Ameritrashy themed card game. We actually played this twice. The first time was when I was trying to learn it from the rules and teach it. Boy, was that a traumatic experience. Seriously. It was very frustrating and we got tons of things wrong. The game was taking far longer than it should have when we realized what our biggest mistake was (regarding the victory point chips) and we figured we'd try again later since there was some cool stuff there.

Not two hours later we ran into some folks with the game, looking confused, and we offered to help and join them. I did a MUCH better job explaining the game this time (though they might not believe it, not having been subject to the original Pain and Suffering), and we got it mostly right.

I really like this one. It absolutely positively and completely needs a player aid for each player, because there are a gazillion little symbols to know. Also, it needs a rules rewrite. I may do that if I have some time because I do think the game is cool.

My preliminary rating is an 8, which could go up or down based on replay value. I will likely buy this one if it becomes available.
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12. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:19]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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I had tried this at Jeff Anderson's BGG prep party the week previous and definitely wanted Jason to try it as a candidate for our collection. It is a meaty game with a short playing time that plays 3-7 equally well. How cool is that?

It surprisingly took awhile to get a spot in this game... not surprising due to popularity but I figured a short game would be easier to get in. However, players hovered around this table like hungry sharks waiting for a bite (or a seat, as the case may be). This method eventually worked for me and we got a game in.

Jason did enjoy it, it was one of his favorite games of the con. Definitely on our buy list. I'd rate an 8.
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13. Board Game: Egizia [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:181]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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This game isn't new to me but has been one of my favorites of 2010. I play it all the time on Yucata and anytime I can get someone to play it live. It plays great (and differently!) with 2, 3, and 4. I have wanted a chance to show Jason for awhile in hopes he would like it as much as I.

We played it with Sport and Andrew Maly as our first Saturday game. As luck would have it, it was Jason's favorite game of the con and Sport's second favorite game of the day.

I rate it a 9. Again, this one doesn't count against the Year of 7's since I've been playing it for months.
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14. Board Game: Neuroshima Hex! [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:157] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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Jason and I tried this last year as a 2p game at Lone Star Game Fest, and we figured it might be a fun 3p to play with Sport.

Unfortunately, none of us liked it as a 3p. We used the non-elimination rules and it just felt kind of flat.

I still like it as a 2p and someday will try to buy it.

As a 2p, I rate it an 8. As a 3p, a 6.
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15. Board Game: Key Market [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:906]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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I keep hoping to find another Key game I like as much as Keythedral. I haven't as of yet.

We only played a couple rounds of this one because neither Jason nor Sport found it particularly fun.

I would like to get a full game in sometime. I can't really rate it until then. It has cute bits though!
 
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16. Board Game: Pocket Battles: Elves vs. Orcs [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1554] [Average Rating:6.76 Unranked]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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This was just a filler that Jason and Sport were going to play while I learned the rules of Key Market, but Jason and I ended up playing while we sent Sport to go listen to the awards ceremony / prize drawing with our tickets.

I didn't see the point of it. It reminded me of the Yeti game we played last year both mechanically and in lack of fun. Half my troops were dead before I even got a turn.

Meh. I'd rate it a 3.
 
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17. Board Game: Road Kill Rally [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1741]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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This was Sport's selection I am guessing (it mysteriously arrived at our gaming table from someone not me) and it is chock full of theme. It's a racing game where you get points for running over pedestrians and you shoot your opponents with flame throwers mounted on your car. Tee hee!

It's actually far less brainless than you would think from the description. There is some luck to it, and a lot of card play (take that and otherwise) but you do have some decisions as far as speeding up, slowing down, what to mount on your car etc.

We played a shortened version of the game with fewer road tiles but I'd happily play it again. Racing games tend to be hit or miss with me and have an upper limit as they aren't my favorite genre but this one was surprisingly fun for a race game. This was Sport's favorite game of the con.

I'd rate it a 7.
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18. Board Game: Vinhos [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:196]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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I had spent about an hour and a half learning the rules to this at Jeff Anderson's house so I could 'splain it to folks who needed to learn, but didn't end up having enough time to play it.

I finally checked it out on Sunday morning and we tried it. We ended up thinking money was exceptionally tight and the 3rd player was at a distinct disadvantage there - since they would likely end up having to pay people for the "good" spots on the board.

We realized we wouldn't have time to finish it anyway before we had to check it back in, so we aborted in favor of something faster. I'd like to try it sometime though to give it a fair shot.
 
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19. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:202]
Anye Freer
United States
Arlington
TX
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I've seen folks at the Dallas group playing the heck out of this one, though I hadn't ever had a chance to try it, so we pulled it out of the library for the last 1/2 hr and Octavian was kind enough to teach us.

Everyone liked it. We didn't really play very well the first time, and I suspect I might have a rule wrong regarding whether non "I Demand" powers would affect people who have more symbols than you (not whether they can copy the effect, but whether if I play it and it lets me do something to you, I can.) I need to look this up.

I think I will buy this. Too soon to rate it.
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