$10.00
BGG Con 2010 - The Return of Scoutmom
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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Last year, I snuck away to BGG Con . This year was different, I let everyone know where I was going.

Oh, sure, accusations of abandonment, wails of "but who will cook us dinner?" But I wasn't about to let that stop me. I handed them the number to the pizza place, grabbed my bags, and smiled all the way to the airport.

What wasn't different this year was the fun that I had. With the exception of a couple of pre-arranged war games, I went with the flow. I tried some new games, met some new friends and reconnected with old friends.

I didn't get a chance to game with everyone I wanted to - my apologies to
Debbie Ohi
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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YAY, a chance to play games during the DAY!! (I am cursed with morning person genes)
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I tweet about board gaming at @BGGgirl, about writing/illustrating at @inkyelbows.
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and
Chapel
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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Exit...pursued by a bear.
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- but hey, there's always next year, right?!


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1. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:50]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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I arrived Tuesday afternoon and wandered about a bit to check things out. I found
Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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The Coat of Arms of Clan Montgomery - Scotland. Yes, that's a woman with the head of a savage in her hand, and an anchor. No clue what it means, but it's cool.
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and we sat down to an eagerly anticipated game of Combat Commander.

We chose Scenario 6 - Paralyzed from the West Down

As the Americans, I certainly felt paralyzed. I just couldn't seem to string anything together. Every time Lt. Wray and his men managed to finish off a German squad, they would find a way to return. In the meantime, the Germans kept chewing through the deck, triggering time...and then again.

The victory point track had moved from 9 to 20 in favor of the Germans.

Suddenly, the Americans got it together. I had a hero - charging at the Germans, charging forward and firing heroically until he was cut down by a machine gun. Things were coming together - but would it be in time? Slowly, slowly, the VPs were whittled away...down to 17, then 15, all the way back to 7.

The Americans had moved into building and with squads pincering the lone German squad cowering there...they were about to seize the objective.

The draw to the hand - Advance, Ambush, Ambush. This next turn would be the shift needed.

Oh, no! Time again! Sudden Death! So, so close.

What a great game, and what a fantastic way to kick off BGG Con.
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2. Board Game: Kaigan [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1558]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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Wednesday morning - and the Con kicks off!

I head down to breakfast and find some old friends from last year -

Richard Pardoe
United States
San Ramon
California
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and
Dave Wilson
United States
Pleasanton
California
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We get in line and make some new friends

Katherine Rosland
Norway
Stavanger
Rogaland
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and
Geir Harald
Norway
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I get my free games - Homesteaders and Architekton. I got to play Homesteaders last year, so glad to have a chance to pick it up.

After registration, Rich, Dave and I head into the Hot Games room to see what we can find.

We decided to give Kaigan a try. After taking a few moments to learn the rules and the icons, we were ready to go.

Your goal is to set out your surveyors to map the coast of Japan. The cards gain you victory points and can advance you on tracks for government influence, travel and artistry.

Cards are played to a grid, which you can then claim. Those cards provide you with your actions.

This is a game I've had my eye on, and I think it has moved up a notch as a potential acquisition.

Final score:

Rich/Dave/me
46 36 33

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3. Board Game: The Great Fire of London 1666 [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1374]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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When we finished, we each headed off in search of more fun. The Great Fire caught my eye and I decided to give it a shot. I quickly found three others - Steve, Cindy (two Cindys in one game? ) and fellow thrifter
Dwayne Hendrickson
United States
Oklahoma City
Oklahoma
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This is a game that another from my regular group has on pre-order, so I was eager to check it out. The rules are fairly straightforward, but we did initially overlook that when the fire moves into an area, you put in fires equal to houses. Oops! But it was caught early enough in the game that it didn't affect play.

The game is set in London during the Great Fire. The fire starts in Pudding Lane and spreads throughout the city. Your goal is to try and direct and contain the fire, sparing as many of your houses as possible. It does require a bit of planning and strategy when it comes to spreading the fire. Just trying to eliminate as many of your opponents houses as possible is mitigated by secret objectives for each player. That district with a whole crapload of other players pieces might just happen to be an objective worth 2, 4 or 6 endgame VPs for you.

I like the "reverse" victory point track. You start at 40 and each house of yours that is burned goes on the track and you lose 2 VPs.

In the end, those saved hidden objectives were the deciding factor in a VERY close game.

Cindy/Duane/Steve/me

32 32 33 35
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4. Board Game: Mr. Jack Pocket [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:419]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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After Great Fire, I headed to the Wargame Room to await Rich Pardoe's demo of Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division. The others who were to join us were involved in the epic Washington's War games. While we waited, I pulled out my new copy of Mr. Jack Pocket which I had just picked up as my pre-order from Fun Again Games. We're both fans of the other iterations of Mr. Jack so we thought we'd give it a try.

Rich was the Inspector, I played Mr. Jack. Interesting game with a neat mechanic of the board being made up of 9 tiles, each containing a suspect and the Detectives circling clockwise around trying to find Jack.

Both Jack and the Inspector achieved their objectives on the same turn. Jack acquired his 6th hourglass (through an Alibi card) and only one suspect remained after the Appeal for Witnesses.

And so play continued with Jack remaining unseen through the 8th turn and ultimately winning.

I really like the way this game plays - and love the "pocket size" part of it as well.
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5. Board Game: Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:722]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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Washington's War finished, folks arrived to check out the upcoming game from Chad Jensen and GMT Games

Rich set the game up for the test scenario and walked us through the mechanics. Wow! wow No, this is NOT "just Combat Commander with tanks." This is a whole new ballgame - and what a game it is. Chad has hit a home run with this one.

The Order Matrix is key, giving you control over just how much you want to do. I had seen this game demoed by John Foley at GMT East and was eager to see more.

Rich was so into showing us the wonders of this game that I bet Chris Montgomery he wouldn't even notice me taking the pictures.

He didn't
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6. Board Game: Grand Cru [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1070]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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Thursday morning saw the old gang getting back together. As we sat down to give Grand Cru a try,
NICK WATKINS
United States
New York
New York
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asked if he could join us. Sure!

One of two "hot" games about wine - Vinhos being the other - this one happened to be ready to go.

In Grand Cru, you are buying vines and special abilities at auction. You plant the varietals in your vineyard and harvest the grapes to make wine. The wine is then aged until it is ready to sell. The wines each age for varying amounts of time.

Some of the special abilities you can buy at auction include accelerated aging, selling your wines for more money, or blending the wines.

You start the game with no money, so you need to take out loans for your beginning capital. The turns go through 4 seasons and at the end of each year there is a wine fair which brings prestige for selling the most of each wine. That in turn allows you to choose and perform special actions. The game continues through each year until someone either pays off all of their loans or goes bankrupt.

I began the game with some Syrah - and also purchased the accelerated aging. I also picked up a Pinot Noir - the longest aging, but ultimately most lucrative at the time of sale. Others seemed to be focusing on the Cabernet and seemed very close to paying off all of their loans. I had obtained the "Assemblage" special ability which allowed me to...blend...my Syrah with Pinot Noir. That, plus my accelerated aging let me slip right past those Cabernet snobs...errrr....vintners and grab the victory.

This game starts slowly and folks amass debts. You work slowly at getting past the need for loans and develop your economic engine. It was compared to Age of Steam, but instead of going down into debt and gradually earning money and working your way to the win, this is more of down into debt and then BAM! the game is over.

The box says 90 minutes, but it took us a full 3 hours. Granted it was the first game for all of us, but I think this is more likely a 2 hour average game once you get the feel for it. Definitely fun, though

Final scores after paying off our loans:
Dave - 42
Rich - 32
Nick - 40
Me - 50
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7. Board Game: Travel Blog [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:2579]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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After the Fighting Formations demo, I headed back to my room to do my therapy exercises - still recovering from surgery on my broken arm. It was getting towards the late side, so down to dinner and then I wandered about a bit just to soak up the ambiance of the Con.
I ran into another friend from last year -
Ezra Denney
United States
Alameda
California
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and demanded a rematch of WeyKick. He declined, something about not wanting his victory to be tainted by beating someone with a less than fully functional arm. Coward. Next year, I shall show him!

As time ticked towards the prize drawings, I ran into Rich again as we got pulled into a game of Travel Blog with Brian and Lisa - who I met last year playing The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac and new folks Jeff and Hsiu Ping. Kind of a wild, scrambling version of the 10 Days games. Well, not exactly, but it DOES involve geography and traveling from place to place.

A quick 20 minutes of slap happy silliness

Final scores:
Rich - 200
Brian - 180
Lisa - 310
Jeff - 390
Hsiu Ping - 270
Cindy - 240
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8. Board Game: Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:722]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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Now was my chance to try out Fighting Formations.

Rich set up the test scenario. I chose the Russians, Rich was the Germans. I decided to move my tanks along behind the village to the walls - anticipating an advance by the Stugs, while moving the infantry into the village to take the objectives. Strategically placed along the road, the buildings provided me the opportunity to use Op Fire against the Germans as they approached. Several times I was able to hit the moving squads twice.

It seemed I was drawing every possible "unconfirmed kill" chit from the cup. Both sides incurred heavy losses, but in the end I was able hold onto the objectives just long enough for the win.

I really loved this game. The initiative track mechanic is an amazing concept. You choose an order and move the marker that number of spaces towards your opponent. So long as it remains on your side, you continue to play orders. There are times when you might take several smaller orders, or go for the big one, and slide it to your opponent. When all 10 orders have been played, the matrix is reseeded by using random rolls of 1d10 - and that means that some orders might not be available that turn. Now, granted when you choose an order, you can execute that order, or any order lower on the matrix, but sometimes, those top orders just might not be there.


Personal confession here - I had this game on pre-order, then canceled. Trying to be realistic, I'm not often able to find opponents for war games. But after having the chance to play...whistle

I'm just sayin'...
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9. Board Game: 20th Century [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:782]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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Once again, Fighting Formations ran towards dinner time. Afterwards, it was time to find more friends, more fun.

Since I couldn't convince Ezra to a rematch in Weykick, I figured we might try 20th Century, along with Ezra's friend Michelle, and Rich.

Dave was on his way to another game, but thoughtfully took some time to explain the rules first.

Each of the five rounds of the game involves an auction of land tiles, then purchasing a technology, followed by bidding to avoid garbage and/or pollution.

When that is done, you place the tiles in front of you in your city. You apply the technologies,then everyone scores. Final scoring takes place after the fifth round, calculating your garbage and pollution levels. Even though I enjoyed this game, I just didn't seem to perform too well.

Final scores:

Rich - 100
Michelle - 102
Ezra - 108
Cindy - 64 also played
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10. Board Game: Tanto Cuore [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1124] [Average Rating:6.90 Unranked]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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We had some time left before the prize drawings, so we moved from the Hot Games room over to Sunnyside for a game of Tanto Cuore. This is the Japanese anime meets Dominion game. I was bound and determined to get it to the table at least once during the Con - as it was quite the adventure getting it there. It triggered a security alert on my outbound flight. Apparently, a box of 300 tightly packed, sleeved cards looks very strange on the scanner.

We played the recommended "learning" set-up, which is probably the most Dominionesque and finished just in time.

Final scores:

Rich - 28
Ezra 30
Michelle 27
Me - 35

I am redeemed!

Quote of the game:

Ezra "I am disturbed by this game, but strangely, I like it"

I'm looking forward to more plays of this game, especially once I add in the two expansions.
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11. Board Game: Black Friday [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1377]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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After the drawing, the four of us came back to play Black Friday.

WARNING!!! Do NOT play this game until you read the corrected rules on BGG! Oh, how I wished someone had warned us!

That being said, we did have fun, even if we kept muttering "WTF? that CAN'T be right" a lot. I have no idea what the final scores were, because I can't read what I scribbled. Oops.
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12. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:78]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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Warning! Warning, Will Robinson! Danger!

Yep, space is a dangerous place - deadly too, as we found out.

Friday morning, Dave waved me over for a game with
Michael Garrett
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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Purity of Essence.
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Before we started
Dylan Gould
United States
San Francisco
California
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came over to join us

As 3 of us had played before, a quick rules explanation and we jumped into the training scenario first, then two regular games. Dave really likes this game. I mean, he REALLY likes it. He has the soundtrack on his phone.

We planned, we plotted, we tripped, we died. Not once, not twice, but THRICE!
Awesome fun!
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13. Board Game: Pirates on the High Seas [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:3320]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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When Mike, Dave and I went back to the library to check in Space Alert - we decided to look for another game.
Nate Sandall
United States
Portland
Oregon
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was in the back, right by a big box loudly proclaiming pirates. Hmmmmm.....

We all looked at each other, then back at the game, then in silent agreement, grabbed it and headed out to find a corner to set up and sail the Seven Seas.

There we were, crawling around on the floor, two teams of Pirates trying to collect the treasures.





Nate/Michael
vs
Cindy/Dave

Who won? arrrh It were that scurvy team o' Nate and Michael
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14. Board Game: Mr. Jack Pocket [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:419]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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Katherine Rosland
Norway
Stavanger
Rogaland
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saw I had played Mr. Jack Pocket, and asked if I would teach her.

I played as Jack again, Katherine was the Inspector. This game went a little different than the first, with Jack getting caught on turn 6. Still a very fun game.
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15. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:19]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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Seven players for 7 Wonders? Excellent!

My apologies to the other players, I think I may have noted a few names wrong. The only one I could find as a user was
Tim Gilberg
United States
Norman
Oklahoma
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. Tim taught me Homesteaders last year.

A card drafting game, where the cards have variable powers. You could think of the as resources - but you put them into your tableau. You can also - for a price - use the resources of your neighbors on either side.

From what I have heard from others, this game scales well for between 3-7 players, always a bonus.


Final Scores:
Chris Cesir 38
Mac MacLeod 37
Lacey 32
Lee McConner 46
Tim Gilberg 36
me 64

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16. Board Game: Rattus [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:543]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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What better theme for a Friday night than spreading the plague!

I had heard of Rattus and it sounded interesting. Dave had played it and told us about it, but every time I went to the library, the game was out. Finally, on Friday night, I was able to get it.

Your goal in the game is to get as many of your cubes as possible on the board - and have them survive against the bubonic plague, the Black Death. Rat tokens, with various elimination consequences are placed face down on the board. There are cards with the various classes of people on them - merchant, peasant, knight, king, etc - that have special powers or abilities. Of course, some of those rat tokens target specific classes...

All in all, a filler which requires some thought and a bit of strategy. Dave's strategy was squidding - maximizing his cubes in a region so that even if he lost some of them to the plague, the sheer numbers would be enough.

It worked:

Dave - 17
Rich - 9
Me - 10

Saturday, I stopped over by Z-Man games and picked up both Rattus and the expansion. Zev graciously offered the opportunity to also get the 4 card Essen promo set as well. Awesome!
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17. Board Game: TransAmerica [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:705]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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After I returned the game, I wandered about a bit. Rich jumped into a game of Glen More - another game I would like to try, but just didn't get the chance at the Con.

Dave asked if I was interested in Catan Histories: Settlers of America – Trails to Rails as there was a copy sitting on the table. I remarked that I had heard it was like Settlers of Catan meets TransAmerica. Not being a fan of Settlers, I wasn't sure. When I mentioned I had never played TransAmerica, Dave graciously offered to teach me.

Bing, bang, boom, done! Personally, I think the game was rigged as I drew Minneapolis 4 out of the 5 turns.

Dave was the flat out winner - every, single, blessed turn!

Damn Minneapolis!
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18. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1545]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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After watching the rest of Glen More - and really liking what I saw - I wrapped up the evening with the opportunity to sit in on a test play of a prototype by
Scott Petersen
United States
St. Louis Park
Minnesota
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called Ladder Logic.

Also playing were Rich and Thomas Lehmann. Cool!

I enjoyed playing and with a bit of tweaking, I think it could be a very good game. What I found to be really fascinating was being able to participate in the feedback session. It was very interesting to hear Tom's thoughts on the game as well as the discussion on the development and publication process.

Good luck with Ladder Logic, Scott!
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19. Board Game: London [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:172]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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Saturday morning, back to the hot games room. Since I had already played The Great Fire of London 1666, thematically, this was an obvious choice. I own the game as well, but hadn't gotten it to the table yet as the previous Friday at game night we played Brass instead.

As I was looking at the rules, I was joined by Rich,
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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and
Anni Foasberg
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In the game, you are trying to rebuild London after the fire up through the turn of the century. The cards allow you to decide what to build and how to run your city - income, VPs, etc. But many of these actions increase poverty - and poverty is negative victory points.

After playing, I am glad I picked up a copy.

Final scores:
Rich 35
Me 41
Doug 36
Ann 27
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20. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1545]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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What do you get when you put 4 war gamers at a table to play a game about chickens? A whole heck of a lot of fun!

Andrew Korson
United States
Kennewick
Washington
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has created a game that will be cute for the kids, but that has that ever elusive screwage factor that makes it great for the adults as well.

I played with Andrew,
Matt Robertson
Canada
Regina
Saskatchewan
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and
Stephen Brian
United States
Houston
Texas
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You have a hand of 5 cards. Each player secretly chooses one card and then all reveal simultaneously. You take the action on your chosen card, and then it is discarded until you have played all 5. My notes are a bit fuzzy, but I believe we played 4 rounds. Your goal is for your chickens to get their food back to their henhouse, without running into the fox.

Andrew used the corn strategy - each piece of corn, when added to the others, increases the value of the set. So while a single piece is only worth one, collecting several results in extra VPs.

Final scores:

Andrew 16
Matt 12
Steve 11
Me 14

Best quote - if I expend one movement point when entering a hex, can I change the facing of my chicken?
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21. Board Game: Regatta [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:4643]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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When we finished, Matt had a copy of Regatta so we decided to give that a try. The wind can be fickle, and with the exception of the obviously skilled sailor Matt, the rest of us seemed destined to languished on a becalmed sea. But with a slight shift in the breeze, we were moving again. Well, most of us. Poor Andrew seemed destined to be marooned just past the red marker buoy.

We finally all made it across the finish line:

same as above
1 Matt
2 Cindy
3 Stephen
4 Andrew
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22. Board Game: Olympus [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:928]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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One more game before dinner. As Dave, Rich and I made our way in that general direction, we ran into
Anthony Gill
United States
Plano
Texas
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and
Jeremy Frank
United States
Austin
Texas
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Space, the final frontier...
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The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace, where hydrogen is built into helium, at a temperature of millions of degrees.
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looking for a few more people to try out Olympus.

This is definitely not one of my favorite games. There is a lot going on in this game, much of it on cards. Like Innovation I think this game might be better once you know what is there. With all of the choices and the different paths to development, it comes down to who can get the unique buildings while advancing on the various tracks.

Perhaps with some familiarity I might enjoy it a bit more.



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23. Board Game: The Pillars of the Earth: Builders Duel [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1378]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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After dinner, I asked Rich if he would be interested in playing Pillars: Builders Duel. I had recently acquired it in a math trade, and as a few of us in our online Tanga group had read the book I thought it might be interesting.

Rich played as Bishop Waleran and I was Prior Philip. Sadly, the rules are a bit muddled and the game does seem rather luck driven. The way the cards are laid out can make it difficult to get what you need. Add into that the fact that you must flip the influence seal to try and "win" your choices.

I really want to like this game. I'm a huge fan of the book and being smaller and two player made it seem ideal. But it's one I am willing to at least give another chance.

Bishop Waleran was victorious this time.
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24. Board Game: Betrayal at House on the Hill [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:334]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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Sunday morning and the Con comes to an end. But not before I play a few more games!

Rich, Dave and I were looking for Ezra and Katherine. We were supposed to meet at 10 AM for a game of Betrayal. Dave checked out the game and starting setting it up - but no sign of the others.
James Schrecengost
United States
Damascus
Oregon
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asked if he could join us as an alternate. When the others didn't show we began exploring the castle.

I had never played the original, but the others had and since I've played a few other cooperative games, it was an easy learn. Until the haunting and Jeff became the traitor. And I got killed. But in the end, Rich and Dave were truly heroic heroes and defeated Jeff.

Dave has a nice recap of the game - set up with a spoiler if you don't want to see the details of the haunt.
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25. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:367]
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
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We finally got everyone together for our group game - Wits and Wagers. I must admit, I had never played it before (sorry, Dom!) but then neither had Katherine and Geir.

A trivia question is asked, and each person secretly writes down what they think is the correct answer. Then the answers are revealed and put on the betting track highest to lowest number. Then you bet on who you think has the closest answer, without going over.

Final scores:

Geir 46
Katherine 55
me 67
Ezra 23
Dave 55
Rich 20

When we were done, some of us stopped at the Crazy Booth for a farewell photo

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