IndyCon '015 - Hey look, I still live in Indiana!
Andrew Brooks
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Indianapolis
Indiana
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This time last year I was pretty sure that we were going to be moving at the start of the summer. In fact, my IndyCon geeklist from last year was titled My Last Year In Indiana (hey what do I know). My wife graduated from medical last May and we had no idea where we were going to end up for residency. A lot has changed since then (I quit my job and now watch 2 three year olds full time) but we were lucky enough to get to stay in Indiana.



IndyCon is a weekend that I always look forward to because it's a time that I remember just as much because of the people as the games. Each year I feel like there are more friends to catch up with on top of meeting several new people. One year I hope to know everyone that's in the room!

I've been pretty intense about getting the most out of my IndyCon experience in the past (all night gaming, playing as many new games as possible) but this year was quite laid back for me. I only had a couple of games planned going in and I tried to be more intentional about bouncing around between groups and getting to see more people. It was a great experience and will probably be how I approach future IndyCons.

Before I get into the games I want to make sure to thank everyone that puts in the hard work to make IndyCon possible, specifically Dave Koch and Adam Daulton. I'd also like to thank all the sponsors that donate games for our amazing raffle.

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1. Board Game: Fealty [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2675]
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I had to drop off the kids in the morning and was expecting to have things just starting to pick up when I got there at 10:30. Boy was I ever wrong, the place was already packed and the shelves were overflowing. I stacked my games in the middle of the room while I waited to figure out where to put them. They stayed there for most of the day. Seriously, there were a lot of games this year and surprisingly not that many duplicates. I'm thinking we'll need some more shelves next year!

Shea and Angie arrived right around the same time as me and we decided to play something. I miss these guys so much. It's been great to meet so many wonderful people through board gaming over the last decade and IndyCon has become the place to reconnect with the folks that aren't actively involved in our group any more.

Shea saw Fealty and suggested it. This is a game that I don't get to play that often probably due to the fact that not many people know about it and it's an abstract with a strong spatial factor. It's probably tied with Through The Desert for my favorite abstract so I jump at any opportunity to play it.

In the first game we all used the Missives (0's) and things got pretty brutal. I'm pretty sure that nobody got much use out of their General (80) or Court Noble. I was feeling pretty good until the final turn when Shea swooped in and cut off a decent chunk of points from 2 of my pieces. It was a really close finish, I can't remember who won (not me).

We were all in the mood to play again so we used the "flip all your pieces randomly" variant. I ended up with 3 Suns, Shea and Angie seemed to have a decent mix as well. This game ended up being more spread out and we had a couple corners that were dominated by some of the big boys. Angie had a corner to herself and Shea decided to come pick on me again in the final turn rather than cut into her haul. If I remember correctly she beat us pretty good.

Great game! I wish I had more opportunities to play.

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2. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:67]
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I knew Shea was a fan of Race For The Galaxy so I asked him if you had gotten to try Roll yet. He hadn't so I offered to teach it to them to see what they thought. It seems appropriate that it didn't take very long into the con before I got this one to the table since it's been my gaming addiction this year. I've even decided to try a 1x100 challenge for it, this was game #30 for the year. They seemed to enjoy it and I saw them trying it again at another point over the weekend.
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3. Board Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:96]
Andrew Brooks
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Before Roll Shea had mentioned wanting to play this one and we debated which one to play first. Roll won because of course it did. I have wanted to try this one for a while but have been hesitant because of the master builder mechanic. It's not necessarily an AP issue but more a matter of information overload compared to other "I split, you pick" style games that I've tried. There are so many things to consider when pricing the rooms and I simply had to block out information in order to make my turn at the pricing snappy. Thoughts on the master builder part aside I really enjoyed my first play. I had heard that it was a lot of fun to build your castle and I can say that it absolutely was. I can't tell how much novelty there is to that aspect but the gameplay definitely backs it up so I wouldn't be too worried.

I already own and enjoy Suburbia and heard that this game replaced it for some. I'm not quite sold on that yet. I liked quite a few aspects that I thought had been improved on such as the goals which were much more forgiving (not all or nothing). Aside from that the games seem much too different for Castles to be considered strictly better. I really enjoyed the closed economic system in Castles (much like Traumfabrik) but also love the ramp up and switch from income to VP generation in Suburbia. I also enjoy the automation in Suburbia with regard to tile pricing. I can appreciate the master builder mechanic in Castles but felt like it introduced a skill set that I'm not as excited about. It created some very entertaining moments but at the end of the day it wasn't enough to trump what I enjoy about Suburbia. I'll likely keep Suburbia in my collection and play Castles when others pull it out.
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4. Board Game: Train of Thought [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:6162]
Andrew Brooks
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I had plans for Fields of Arle with Dave but he had to pop out for a bit so Shea suggested Train of Thought for some silly fun. It was indeed silly and fun with our trains veering on and off of some risque tracks. I'm not a big party game guy but this was clever and fun for a short time with good friends.
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5. Board Game: Fields of Arle [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:53]
Andrew Brooks
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Dave had requested that I teach him Fields of Arle some time over the weekend because he was planning on getting a copy. I've owned this game since the end of December and have been shocked that more people have not wanted to try it out. What can you do? Perhaps it's the 2-player count or just the sheer sight (and weight) of this thing but I'll take a game however I can! I grabbed one of the big tables to set it up and got about half way through the rules before Dave ended up having to leave. He graciously grabbed someone else to take his place (I'm terribly sorry I forgot your name) so I taught it a second time. We got under way and I enjoyed my play immensely (as I have with every game of it so far).

I'm curious to see how this game's reception plays out in the long run. It's gotten some praise but I feel like a lot of others have passed it over simply because it doesn't accommodate more players. Isn't it fairly clear that this game's strong suit is the fact that it was designed specifically for 2? Oh well, I suppose if you wanted to hear me gush about this game you'd go read my review.

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6. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
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It was getting moderately late and the room was starting to thin out a little bit. I caught up with Phil and suggested Race because I didn't feel like thinking of what to play, in which case, Race! We started to pull out the first arc and Denise came over but didn't want to play with us (no one ever does ) so we suggested Rattlebones and started putting Race away. Then Aaron (who I just met) came over and asked us if we were setting up Race because he wanted to try it out. Denise fled the scene and we ended up pulling out the second arc because I thinking it's the best for introducing new players (without the orb, of course).

I proceeded to absolute destroy both of them in the first game with a series of draws that was stupid lucky. I think I pulled every single 5-cost world in the game along with the card flow to play them rapidly. By the last consume cycle I think I ended up pulling back 16-18 VP. It's not my fault Phil kept fueling me with settles! I convinced them to play a second game (we couldn't end on that note) and happened to have another stellar game. Sorry Phil, please keep playing with me! Aaron seemed to enjoy himself well enough. I'm sure Denise was plenty happy to be playing something else.

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7. Board Game: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:216]
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One last quick game to finish the night. Phil took off so Aaron and I were looking for something 2-player and he suggested Agricola All Creatures which I love. We played with the first expansion and I expanded and built pretty aggressively with the hopes of catching back up on animals in the second half of the game. Aaron had more animals by the end of the game but I had one more expansion and some extra points from buildings which put me just ahead.

This is another Rosenberg that I think has gotten overlooked because it's a 2-player only game (and don't even get me started on Le Havre: The Inland Port). This is a perfect couple's game in my opinion. Besides, who doesn't love animeeples?

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8. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:105] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Andrew Brooks
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Saturday morning started with the game that I was looking forward to most over the weekend. Railways of the World is my #2 game (after Race) and I always try to plan a game for IndyCon. We've talked about playing a Transcontinental game and their are finally official rules that gave us the incentive we needed. The game starts on the Eastern US board with one less cube per city. Once the normal end game condition is met the Western US board opens up and you can continue your network (if you played in the west) or start over. There are a couple of other small tweaks but that's pretty much all there is to it.

I traditionally don't care for the Eastern US board because I dislike the dynamic that exists in the northeastern region of the board while the south is almost entirely ignored. The Transcontinental variant actually makes the western half of the board competitive by giving players a big boost once the west is unlocked. It ended up balancing out the game nicely though I do think it pushed a little longer than I would have liked. Much of the excitement of the game is building up and you don't have quite the same tension once the second half of the game hits. Still, it was a great experience and one of the highlights of the con for me.



As for the actual details of the game. I started in the south with a government land grant into a service bounty for a nice income boost without needing to take a single share. Unfortunately Flawless Engineering was nowhere to be seem and I struggled up towards the midwest taking two turns to build those darn 5 length routes. I was able to reach the far north west corner for another service bounty that had been ignored and was set for the rush to the west. I had 4 red cubes in my starting cities that I ended up leaving their with the long term goal of delivering them for 7-8 points into the west once it opened up. It ended up paying off when I grabbed the Denver hotel and linked up for a flood of 8-9 point deliveries. The game ended up going a little longer than I would have hoped and the crawl to the finish end with me just losing 162-163! A very great and memorable game! Hoping to try it again next year.
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9. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:78]
Andrew Brooks
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Back about five years ago we had our very first Crokinole tournament and I was determined to prove my birthright and secure a victory for Canada. I won the tournament (and a t-shirt) but haven't been able to return to my former glory since. This year I lost to Jerry who would go on to win the whole thing. Congratulations Jerry!
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10. Board Game: Endeavor [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:241]
Andrew Brooks
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I heard that Aristides was going to be back for IndyCon so I made sure to plan a game of Endeavor with him and, of course, Krista (Annie too). There was a lot of fighting and I can't actually remember who ended up winning but I had a TON of fun playing with these guys. We all miss you very much Aristides! Game days just aren't quite as much fun without you around.

This game is probably #2 on my list of OOP games that I would buy in a heart beat if I could find a copy (after Ginkgopolis). One day I'll get myself a copy!
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11. Board Game: The Ancient World [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:1075]
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I helped to playtest this game way back in January 2014. This marked the first time that I actually got to see the final version of the game and try it out. The artwork is absolutely stunning and I can't wait to get my own copy eventually. I really enjoyed discovering all the little changes that were made since the last time I played it. Fantastic little game, I'm sad that it has been somewhat overlooked.

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12. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:494]
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Aaron had mentioned wanting to learn Kingdom Builder, a game that is woefully underrated in my opinion. Any time someone expresses interest I am all over it! We played the base game with Fishermen, Workers, and Merchants. We all did pretty well on the first two but there was some blocking that happened and enough water/mountains that none of us scored more than 8 points from Merchants. I ended up pulling ahead since I got all my settlements on the board (and I've played a couple few times before).

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13. Board Game: Temporum [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:2814]
Andrew Brooks
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I guess I forgot to get a picture of this game, the raffle was going on and I was eating dinner so I guess I got a bit distracted. Either way, I was in a Donald X kind of mood and really wanted to try out Temporum which I got for Christmas but has suffered from a case of not being Roll For The Galaxy. Nolan agreed to try it out with me and after a brush up on the rules (of which I messed only one big one up) we got started.

I was surprised to find that the game played out even simpler than I had expected it to. This may sound like a bad thing but Donald X is the king of simple rule sets and subtle interaction/variation so in this case it can actually be high praise. Essentially you cycle through draw card-play card-score card until someone wins the scoring race. It comes down to implemented the finer points more efficiently which is another Donald X characteristic that I love. I'm intrigued to explore this game more but am slightly worried that it won't go over all that well with my groups. Anyone out there interested in playing it with me?
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14. Board Game: Deus [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:331]
Andrew Brooks
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Between Kingdom Builder and Temporum we had our annual fantastic auction. I'm amazed every year at how many great games we get from all of our incredible sponsors. This year was probably the best showing yet and I had my sights set on Deus, a game that I had almost purchased specifically to play at IndyCon. Luckily there were two copies and I ended up being the second name called! As the resident Asmodee representative/fanatic of the group it just felt right.
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15. Board Game: Bora Bora [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:171]
Andrew Brooks
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My only other planned game of the con was a game of Bora Bora after the raffle. I played this with Dave at the same time last year and had an absolute blast. It seems like right around Saturday evening everyone starts to get a little bit crazy from playing games for two days straight. It's a perfect time to kick back and melt what's left of your brain with a heavy Feld. We were joined by Ben which was as close as I got to playing a game with Christy all weekend.

Things started out a little silly when Ben stacked all the men and women tiles up on their spots and I made him struggle with flipping them over for the whole game to teach him why we don't do that. It all went down hill from there. I harassed everyone for not doing what I wanted them to do, made fun of them for not completing enough goals, and tried to do everything because Feld makes it impossible to do but I'm still going to try anyway. All in all, one of the most memorable games of this year's IndyCon for me.
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16. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:67]
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If the previous game of Bora Bora was silly then the one that followed it would be downright ridiculous. We pulled out Roll For The Galaxy (plays #31-32) and Todd attempted to teach Kevin. He understood everything except for shipping which he absolutely did not get. We started playing and took a break every time ship was called to attempt reexplaining how shipping worked to Kevin. It didn't work. He nearly one in spite of that so perhaps the joke was on us?

Mid game I caught Kevin with his hand in the bag of tiles for no good reason with a big smile on his face. I renamed the tile bag to "the bag of fondling" for the remainder of the night. Much tile fondling and other such nonsense followed.

It was getting late and I sadly passed on what promised to be a very entertaining game of Rococo with Denise. She then harassed me for getting old.
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17. Board Game: Deus [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:331]
Andrew Brooks
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Annie had mentioned wanting to try this one after I won it in the raffle so I set it up when I arrived on Sunday morning. Jeremy and Krista joined us for the full compliment of players. I tried out a production/shipping strategy and was beat out by Jeremy's money fueled military power. The ladies seemed less impressed with the game and were frustrated at not being able to draw what they needed. The game system seemed flexible enough to get around back draw luck but I can understand how it could prove challenging while you're still learning. I'm really looking forward to trying this one out more as it really hits on some of my favorite mechanics (tableau building, hand/resource management).
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18. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:49]
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I had been trying to getting a game of Keyflower in pretty much all weekend but the timing hadn't quite worked out. I just picked up the expansions and was particularly interested in trying out The Merchants with a group of experienced players. That didn't quite work out but I did get to play the base game with Dave and some of his friends.

I had a pretty crazy game. I started with Scribes and decided to go all in on tools and try to max it while still setting myself up to win the tile come winter. I ended up only winning one tile in spring and summer (both Tool generators) and got 5 full sets by game end for a whooping 50 points from Scribes. I wasn't sure it would work but I just barely won the bid in Winter, otherwise I would have lost soundly. Fantastic game!

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19. Board Game: Nations: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:759]
Andrew Brooks
United States
Indianapolis
Indiana
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I got to sample part of a game of this way back during Gen Con and have been looking forward to playing a full game since then. Denise and I powered through the rules and we got rolling.

After one full play I'm not entirely sure what I think. It's certainly light (which I was expecting) but I felt like there simply weren't as many decisions as I would have liked. It's quite possible that I got lucky and simply rolled exactly what I needed (no need for rerolls or exchanging dice). The branding probably has something to do with this because you naturally compare it to Nations and of course it's going to feel light on decisions. I'd like to try it again before I make up my mind. It certainly has potential but may end up being simply too decision-light for my taste.
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20. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:76] [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked]
Andrew Brooks
United States
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Todd and I were looking for something to finish up the weekend and he suggested Dominion which I will pretty much never turn down even after over 200 plays. We played with a totally random set and I grumbled about the presence of Tournament, Governor, and Black Market. Then I proceeded to buy many many Tournaments and complain about how dominating the card can be while claiming most of the prizes. There were some other noteworthy cards (Warehouse, Mine/Fool's Gold) which would have been more fun to play with but it's hard to compete with the ruthless speed of the Tournament. We ended up buying out both the Duchies and Estates before finishing off the Provinces.

That brought IndyCon 2015 to a close. It was sad to pack up and take all my games home. Each year has been special and I look forward to many many more IndyCons in the future!
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