Roger goes to BottosCon 2017: A Mere Matter of Unstructured Gaming
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BottosCon is a game convention organized and hosted by Rob Bottos, one of the local wargamers in the metro Vancouver area. This was my fifth year at the con, and not only did I get to hang out and play games with my friends from last year, two very special guests came up to join me - Sean from Dallas (King Mob) and Marty from San Diego (itsmarty)!

You can learn more about the Con both on the Facebook group and the official Google site.

This was the first year for the convention at the Inn at the Quay in New Westminster, BC, and it was an awesome venue. Rob is planning to sign a multi year deal and to keep the attendance to 125 people.

Unless otherwise stated, the photos here were taken by David Rice, used by permission of BottosCon.
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1. Board Game: Funny Friends [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1549]
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In 2009, at my first BGG Con, Jonathan and I met Sean and Marty.

Sean lives in the Dallas area and took me (among many others) under his wing and took us offsite for dinner and showed us true hospitality.

Marty lives in San Diego and was one of the first people I played games with at BGG Con, including a marathon Here I Stand match.

Both of them came up to Vancouver to visit and to play games with us.
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2. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.38 Overall Rank:6]
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FRIDAY

The weekend opened with a game of Terraforming Mars, which all four of us adored, and it would always be the answer to "what should we play next?"

Jonathan (jonocop)
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3. Board Game: The Expanse Board Game [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:3049]
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After lunch (at a great Thai fusion place in the adjoining Quay market), Sean had to get some work done and a quick round of Startups, Marty, Jonathan, and I played the Expanse with Wilhelm.

The catch phrase after that game was "I have to be done by 5..."



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4. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:23]
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I had a Power Grid rematch with Willow, her friend Chloe (a first time attendee), KC (who was in my CC:E tournament a couple years ago), and Sean.

We played on the India map. Although I couldn't power 15 cities, I ended it the turn before the Step 3 card would have come up as it turned out, and won on the cash tie breaker with 13.

I should have taken a pic, but I was too busy talking. laugh
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5. Board Game: Startups [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:3682]
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Karl joined us after and I taught them how to play Startups and made some more converts to this great game in a small package about trading stocks.
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6. Board Game Publisher: North Quarter Games
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My friend Allan was busy all convention, both hosting a game of Sails of Glory & Sea Monsters, as well as having a demo table to show off his game currently in development and his company's initial release called Crimson Sands.



His demo table was busy all weekend and feedback was positive.
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7. Board Game: Nations [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:83]
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After going for a nice sushi dinner, Jonathan wrangled me into giving Nations a second chance.

Now, the first time I played this, I had a bad experience. I was in dead last, with no hope of recovery, and the player in the lead had to choose between two calamities, and decided to pick randomly, despite that one was clearly disastrous for me, and neither would affect her.

In comparison, while I have a strong preference for my civ games to have a map, I like Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization well enough.

So, after a solid rules explanation by Marty and Sean, we're off to the races. I've got the Romans, I'm doing ok on military and stability, and then Marty says... "Roger, why is you military at 22, I only count 16?"

"I don't understand the question."
"Well, see, you have 2 points for this, and 2 for that, and then a dozen between these two workers on that card, which is 16, but you're at 22."
"I don't understand."

Turns out, that while they had very clearly explained that placing workers on the military card added to the military, they had not clearly explained that replacing that card, knocking the meeples off, would reset your military immediately to a lower value. Oops!

Jonathan had also misunderstood, meaning his stability was also wrecked, and we all looked at one another and packed the game away.

Jonathan sold it to Marty on the spot, since Marty had the expansion at home without the base game.

And now I never have to play Nations again, yay! laugh
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8. Board Game: Bureaucracy [Average Rating:3.99 Overall Rank:14349]
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We ended the night with two games of Startups.

Rob's convention has 125 people, and the annual West Coast Rumble ASL tournament, and the annual set of miniatures games (a mix of Wings of Glory, Sails of Glory, Canvas Eagles, and the like) have pre-established tables for the weekend.

Rob uses a "Roger is hosting game X at time A-B at table Z" model for his convention, and then his friend Art has to do the table mapping and my friend Allan has graciously taken on the scheduling of the games, in event style.

Now, the convention tickets go on sale in August, and this year I said "look, I just want a table for the entire con, and I'll bring a stack of games, and just play whatever with whoever whenever." See, in August I don't know what I want to play the next night, never mind November.

Jonathan said he wanted the same thing and we were assigned a 72x30 table.

Awesome! Win!

Jonathan even brought a nice black tablecloth for us to play on.

At the end of Saturday, Rob came by and asked "So, Roger, how was your day of unstructured gaming?"

Jonathan, Sean, Marty, and I all said "It was awesome! We had a great time," and added that we liked unstructured gaming.

Rob said "I don't."

And in a comedy gold moment, all four us at the same time said "We know!" laugh

Fortunately, Rob is willing to accommodate quirky gamers like us who have a different preference. Maybe some day the con will even just be open gaming in general, with a few scheduled events thrown in.
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9. Board Game: Startups [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:3682]
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SATURDAY
O.Shane joined us at our table for a couple of rounds of Startups, and then went to join his Dune game.

One of the better fillers out there.
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10. Board Game Publisher: Columbia Games
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Grant Dalgliesh came up for the con and held a Julius Caesar tournament (one of their best games by the way), and also demonstrated/taught The Last Spike, Slapshot, and brought along one of the very first copies of Combat Infantry.



I can't wait to get my hands on Combat Infantry, the rules already have me excited, and the game looks great!
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11. Board Game: The Expanse Board Game [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:3049]
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The four of us played a round of the Expanse.

Ooo, tablecloth

I like this game a fair bit. I've read the books, but not seen the show, and the game uses images from the show, but the theme is solid. The game play combines a bunch of elements seen in other games - ops/event cards like we see in many card driven games, the events on the cards being limited to various factions reminiscent of the COIN games, and yet definitely a thing unto itself.

I actually managed to win this time.

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12. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.38 Overall Rank:6]
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"What should we play next?"

Lots of natural light.
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13. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:91]
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Andrew was free for a match, so I joined him.

Sean headed out for a break and more Tim Horton's hockey cards, Marty and Jonathan wanted to play more Terraforming.

We played Scenario 12, Misty Mountain, and I randomly got the Americans. It was a massive win for the Germans when time ran out, but I did manage to take three objectives. I did go for a major offensive in the centre, but his emplaced HMG group in the bunker at the top of the hill was simply too formidable. I did manage to break them several times, but could never quite finish them off, and then he invariably recovered before I could advance into the position.

In hindsight, I should have been more aggressive with laying down smoke with my mortars and marching units off the end. But next time this will play completely differently.

My 99th play. I'm getting close to meeting my 100 play challenge!
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14. Board Game: Time of Crisis [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:1370]
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Andrew and I then roped Gerry and Roger into a game of this, which was new to Gerry, Roger, and I.


Andrew and Roger - these photos are mine

This game is to this era of the Roman republic what Quartermaster General is to WWII, and the interesting deck manipulation system works well enough given how relatively quickly this game plays to call this a winner.
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15. Board Game: In a Grove [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:3145]
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Meanwhile, as I was wrapping up Time of Crisis, Jono, Sean, and Marty had dipped into my gaming bag to play a game of this, and then when I was done, I joined in.

This game is, in a work, marvellous. Definitely another great one from Oink Games
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16. Board Game: Secret Hitler [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:205]
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Chloe, Willow, Sean, Marty, Jonathan, Nick, Norris, Joe, O.Shane, Jack and Rob all gathered around for four rounds of this absolutely classic social deduction game. The liberals won all four games, but fascists never sleep...
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17. Board Game: Tajemnicze Domostwo [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:366]
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SUNDAY
My daughter said she wanted to come to a game convention with me, and Rob was graciously kind enough to give her a day pass for Sunday and so she came along for the day. We were joined by Marty, Jono, Sean, Willow, and Chloe and I was the ghost. I got us to day six and was one person shy of the final answer to take us to the final round, but I just couldn't persuade Marty to pick the right person.

My daughter then went to my friend Allan's demo booth to play test Crimson Sands.
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18. Board Game: Power Play [Average Rating:5.64 Unranked]
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My friend Brian Train was at the con too, and graciously signed my copy of Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62, as well as giving me a copy of Palace Coup, a game that looks really intriguing and that he's asked me to check out. It's definitely on my list to try out.

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19. Board Game: The Gallerist [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:69]
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Sean, Jono, Marty, and I pulled out this game and set it up, and after rules explanation we got underway.

I managed to eke out a win over Jonathan.

I like this game better than Lisboa from a thematic viewpoint (and also - this game is a buy/sell make money game, Lisboa is not), but having played the latter, I can definitely see where Lacerda polished the rough edges to have smoother mechanics.

I still don't care for the kick out action in this game...
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20. Board Game: Lock 'n Load Tactical: Heroes of the Motherland [Average Rating:8.39 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.39 Unranked]
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Photo by Rob Bottos

I won a door prize! There was an awesome selection of prizes at the convention, with games generously donated by GMT, DVG, Lock 'n' Load, Hollandspiele, Nuts!, and others. Also, the local game shops, especially Imperial Hobbies, and Dave's Pop Culture donated gift certificates and other prizes.

Thank you to all the prize sponsors!

I won Lock 'n Load Tactical: Heroes of the Motherland, and my daughter won a $20 gift certificate to Imperial Hobbies. Jonathan, Sean, and Marty also won prizes. We were at a lucky table.

The table cloth clearly helped!
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21. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.38 Overall Rank:6]
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"What should we play next?" cool

O.Shane joined us for a five player game on the Elysium map, and brought his mouse pad player mats (ingenious) which worked really really well.



Unlike the previous game where I managed to get Jonathan apoplectic because I'd managed to get 9 Jovian tags and three of the 1VP/Jovian tag cards, I accumulated points in other ways to sneak the win.

We played all our games this weekend drafting the intergeneration card draws (not the original 10 cards) and I both love and hate it at the same time. I love it because it mitigates a crappy draw, I hate it because invariably I want to keep all four cards and know that I shouldn't.

I'm keenly awaiting the arrival of Terraforming Mars: Venus Next.
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22. Board Game: Thanks a Million! [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
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Caution: May contain wargame like substance
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Thanks Rob, for running and organizing this con. I appreciate all you do to give me a local convention in my area.

See you next year!
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23. Board Game: Up Front [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:337]
Duncan R.
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The Up Front tournament went on again this year. The winner of a fine plaque and Tri-City Wargamers coffee cup went to Joe B.
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