KublaCon/2008/sedjtroll
Seth Jaffee
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Once again I trekked up to San Francisco for Memorial Day weekend, despite there being a convention in Los Angeles the same weekend (which by comparison is right down the road)... and once again I had a great weekend!

I got off to a rocky start, as my plane was delayed an hour and 45 minutes. This put me at SFO at 11:05pm, and I had Fandango'ed tickets to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - an 11:20 show time. I hopped in a cab directly to the theater, and the driver missed the exit! After the slight detour, I arrived at the theater at 11:36, and missed only the previews and maybe 5 minutes of the movie.

At 2:00 am, Andrew Schoonmaker (NeonElephant) and I were stranded at the theater, as the cab company refused to answer the phone, so we walked back to the hotel. Fortunately it was only about 3 miles. Unfortunately I'd come straight from the airport and had to carry my bag :/
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Seth Jaffee
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I had prepared a list of games I wanted to play over the weekend, some because I like them, and others because I'm considering them for purchase:
Covert Action
Werewolf
Brass: Lancashire
Antiquity
Aquaretto
'Ohana Proa
Muck & Brass
Smoothie King

While at the convention I added a couple games to the list:
Der Goldene Kompass
Keltis
Time's Up!

The entries in bold above are games I didn't get around to playing.
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2. Board Game: Scan [Average Rating:5.63 Overall Rank:11376]
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Friday Andrew and I warmed up with a game of Brain freeze!, a prototype of mine which is like 2 player Toppo with strategy. Then we played a game of Wizard's Tower with the Pizza Box Baseball guy before finally playing Song of the Dwarf Lord - another prototype, this one by Chad Ellis. I liked SotDL pretty well - it's an auction game where the high bidder gets the most points and the right to choose first, second highest gets second most points and chooses second, etc. The things you're choosing are cards in different types, which give you income and/or points and/r endgame bonuses.

After the prototypes, Rick Holzgrafe and family arrived and I played The Princes of Florence with Rick and Helen, Andrew, and Candy Weber. I won that one by only a couple points, owing largely to my 2 Prestige cards worth 8vp apiece. I made a fatal mistake in round 6 that would have put me out of the game altogether (paid 1100 or so for a Jester, leaving myself no money to buy a building with which I would need to qualify a work that turn) - but lucky for me Candy needed to recruit one of the artisans I'd already used, allowing me to recruit him back and re-play him. She really saved my butt there!

While waiting for the BGG meetup I played 2 games of Race for the Galaxy with Andrew, and then we noticed Ted Alspach teaching his game Rapscallion. Some people left after 1 round and Andrew and I sat in to replace them. We finished 1st and 2nd, and though I got the Best Hand in the final round, I had the highest score even without it.

After Rapscallion I showed Ted and a couple other people Brain Freeze!, and then Andrew and I went to get some dinner and meet up with people at Knuckles. Derk, Aldie (and Mrs. Aldie), Sean, and Steve Cates were about the only people still there.

The sports bar was slow to get us or food, and when I finally got my Ribs and potato skins we took the food into a gaming room and Steve, Andrew and I played a game of Wizard's Tower. Steve mentioned in his report that he really liked it.

We also played a game of Risk Express, which frankly I found to be silly and not-at-all my thing.

It was getting late and I was looking forward to some late night Werewolf, but it hadn't started yet. In the Atrium we played a game from the 70's called Scan wherein you scan a grid of cards looking for one that matches a certain part of the drawn card for the round. I didn't do too well at that, so I proposed a game of Fermat afterwards. I got 22 points (out of 40) in that one, making good use of the "Exponent" tile

Finally it was time to play Werewolf! In the first round I was the Seer, and the villagers had a pretty easy time of it. The second round I was a regular villager. That second round several roles were added - the Witch, Sorcerer, and one I'd not heard of: the Cult Leader. The Cult Leader indicates a person each round to be 'inducted into the cult.' They don't even know it. The Cult Leader only wins if at the end of the game, the only players alive are all members of the Cult. This can happen even if the Cult Leader is dead, and even if the only remaining players are Werewolves (so long as they were inducted into the cult!) I thought it was an interesting role at first, then I realized it was just 1 more bit to sit through with my eyes closed each round.

Sadly, several people bailed out after 2 rounds of Werewolf! I suggested that the remaining 7 of us try the similar game Covert Action. I didn't love the game, but I think at least part of that is because we had a bad number of people for it. I think 9-12 people might be better. As it was, there was a team of 3 and a team of 4, and often the team of 4 simply said "I'm the cleaner, whoever the bodyguard is, say so... and then of the other 2 people on the team, the sniper should shoot the mole... hurry up before they realize what we're doing!"
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3. Board Game: Keltis [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:1283]
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Aldie had Keltis with him but he hadn't printed out the English rules. When he went to bed he left the game with me in case I was able to find out the rules. I tried to find an internet connection that didn't cost $5 for 20 minutes or whatever the crazy rate the hotel charged for the business office was... to no avail. So I had the game, but no rules.

Sunday Andrew and I figured out how to cheat the boarding pass printing station into letting us open a browser window, and I was able to print out the game rules... so now I had the rules, but no game!

I did not end up playing Keltis, but I understand it was nominated for the Spiel des Jars. It sounds OK, like multiplayer Lost Cities. Sounds like it's got a little more going on than the card game, so I'd like to try it eventually.
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4. Board Game: Der Goldene Kompass [Average Rating:5.55 Overall Rank:11255]
Seth Jaffee
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Saturday morning I wandered downstairs a little late after sleeping until 10 or so. I saw Doug Garrett and co. playing Der Goldene Kompass. I glanced through the rules as I watched them play (and found a couple things they were playing incorrectly) - and I thought it looked pretty cool and wanted to give it a try. It was like an uphill race where the hill gets steeper and steeper. It also looked like a sophisticated Candyland.

I added it to my "games I want to play" list right then and there. I did end up playing the game later in the convention, it wasn't amazing.
 
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5. Board Game: Jamaica [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:394]
Seth Jaffee
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After watching Der Goldene Kompass on Saturday morning, Doug brought out another game I'd never heard of. He chose Jamaica because it suited 6 players, which we now had. It's a pirate/racing game wherein you attempt to pick up treasure, loot other players, and finish the race. You get points for finishing first, or at least being close to the end when someone finishes, you get points for the gold coins on your ship, and you get points for any treasures you may have found. You also need to pick up food, as many of the spaces you land on require you to pay food.

The main mechanism in this game is that a player rolls 2 dice and then chooses which one will be for the "morning" action and which one will be for the "evening" action. You have a set of cards, each with 2 actions on them (1 morning, 1 evening), and everyone chooses one from their hand of 3 and reveals simultaneously. The different actions are get food, get gold, get cannons, move forward, or move back. You get the thing or move based on the number on the die, and as I mentioned, moving onto some spaces forces you to pay food (or sometimes gold). If you can't afford the 'toll' then you have to pay what you can, then move backwards until you can afford it.

A race game where you spend most of your time moving backwards? Really? Also, I felt like there wasn't a whole lot of control over what you could do - much too little for my liking. It's kind of fun to land on someone and then attack them to take their loot, and there was a nifty mechanic where you had to manage your storage, but all in all this was not my type of game. I did manage to tie for the win, losing out on tiebreakers, but that fact wasn't able to sway my opinion of this game much.

After Jamaica I had the opportunity to demo Terra Prime. I taught the game to Aliza, Steve, and another gentleman, and I was going to play, but another potential player showed up at the last moment and I was able to teach him the game over the course of 2 rounds (the teaching went MUCH faster while playing!) and then set up next to them to play another prototype which I'd been meaning to play, 'Ohana Proa, with JC Lawrence, Andrew, and another gentleman who's name I've forgotten.

JC Lawrence (clearclaw) is a character, he's well known on BGG for his peculiar opinionated stances, his hatred for hidden but trackable information, and his love of Age of Steam (or at least his variant maps). JC has been hanging out on the Board Game Designers Forum recently, and we chat a lot about various things, including the design and development of 'Ohana Proa. I was very excited to try the game this weekend, and I'm happy to say that it was a neat, rewarding experience - even if we didn't actually finish the game. JC gave me a copy of the board so I could create my own prototype of the game and test it with my group here. I expect to have some constructive criticism for him shortly.

After 'Ohana Proa I got Aliza and JC to play a quick game of Wizard's Tower with me. The game ended in a tie between JC and I, while we each pursued entirely opposite strategies. JC wasn't too fond of the game, citing that he only made 1 real decision at the beginning of the game - to put multiple cubes out every turn, wherever they were near other stuff, and sort of see what happens. Very seldom if ever did he discard a die to make a better placement, nor did he move or swap any pieces. I maintain that choosing turn after turn to pass up those options was a series of tactical choices, but he felt they were just an extension of his original decision. I on the other hand was frequently moving, swapping, and discarding dice for better placement, and I had lots of interesting choices. In the end, I got a 10 point bonus for having a tower in each region, and I also got several region bonuses and a bonus for killing the most towers. JC ended up with a largeish tower group, as well as having built all 6 of his towers and a neutral tower. His raw points and my bonuses ended up with the same total, so the game ended in a tie - amusing in retrospect since JC and I have been discussing ties and tiebreakers lately! (Wizard's Tower has no tiebreaker). I don't recall what Aliza thought of the game, but I think her reaction wasn't super-positive either.

The Terra Prime game seemed to go pretty well. There was a rules error though, someone built 2 colonies in the same sector. I don't know how much that really changes the game. All I know is that that player (Steve Cates) did not win. Aliza was ill prepared for the game to end, having built up a lot of infrastructure (pimping out her ship with engines and a Hyperdrive), but not having enough time for that to pay off. the guy who won had killed several aliens. the score seemed relatively close, about 10 points separating each player from the next... although the scores across the board seemed lower than usual.

After the prototypes I headed back to the atrium to see what Derk and Aldie were up to. I ended up playing a game of Pit. It was an OK distraction for a couple of rounds, but I don't really like that game. After a few rounds Derk, Aldie, Kevin (? I might have that name wrong) and I played a game of Stone Age. Stone Age seemed to be the game of the convention, I saw it played frequently, I played 2 games of it myself, and I know Aldie played it 4 or 5 times on the weekend. In this game I was randomly selected to be the first player, so even though I felt like it was not my favorite play, I couldn't think of anything better to do than take a Farm. When my turn came back around I was surprised to find the Baby spot still available, so I placed 2 guys there, and my last 2 guys went on the Hunt space for more food. In the second round I took a card which had 1x or 2x Farms bonus. After that I somehow decided I was better off starving my people, and after round 3 I never fed them again. The game lasted 8 or 9 rounds, so I lost a total of 50 or 60 points to starvation, but in return I got a lot of resources and translated them into a lot of points. I ended up winning by 6 over Derk with 125 points or so.

I'm liking this game more, but it's still much weaker than The Pillars of the Earth, which I enjoy a ton. Stone Age is like The Pillars of the Earth with several layers stripped away. All the VP conversions in Stone Age are at the same efficiency, and there's no difference in the resources except for denomination. I'd like the game better if there were situations where you'd rather have Clay than Gold... in general in Stone Age that doesn't happen. The Huts need specific combinations of resources, but it doesn't seem enough - many of the huts are very flexible in the resources they'll take.

I ran into J.T. Mudge, who along with Scott Caputo defeated All For One with their entry Unearth 2 years ago in the Game Design Contest. We played some games together last year, and he liked Wizard's Tower. This time he didn't have much time so I showed him two quick games. First was a prototype of a 2 player tennis card game by Ariel Seoane called Love Means Nothing. I had heard about this game from Ariel on BGDF, and when I met Ariel in New York (he's from Uruguay) I was able to see it first hand. the rules weren't all there at the time, and Ariel and I played around with some of the ideas and now there's a proper set of rules which work very well. In Love Means Nothing you have a hand of cards, each one depicting 2 parts of a tennis court. One half can be used for defense, returning a ball that comes your way. The other half can be used for offense, sending a shot across the net. You never use both halves of the card at once, it's either one or the other. A turn consists of first playing a card to cover the shot your opponent played, then playing another card to dictate which of the 6 zones you'll hit the ball to. Finally you play a preparation card, indicating which zones you're prepared to cover. The preparation card can be used to cover a shot if the appropriate zone is highlighted. Otherwise you must cover the shot with a card from your hand, in which case the preparation card becomes the attack. So by playing cards that your opponent cannot cover with their preparation card you maintain control of the match because you'll see where the next attack will come and will be able to prepare for that. Of course if a player cannot cover a shot at all, then the point is lost. There are also combinations of cards which create a special shot. Special shots, if not covered with the proper type of card, leave a player off balance... they will only draw 1 card at the end of the turn instead of the usual 2. this will leave them with fewer options and less likely to cover shots. I really like the game, and JT seemed to like it as well. We played a full game (there are a couple ways to keep score, we used "game to 4, win by 2") and I won a close game.

After the tennis game I showed JT Brain Freeze! which plays in 1 minute or less. A lovely young lady (who incidentally reminded me of Tina Fey a bit) stopped by and watched, even played a hand, but I must have been too tired to catch her name! We discussed that the game is similar to Blink, which I hadn't played. JT had a copy so we played a hand of that as well. I maintain that there's absolutely no strategy in Blink at all. I'm not claiming that Brain Freeze! is the deepest game ever, but compared to Blink or Toppo it's got a lot of strategy to it. "Tina" didn't buy it. As a side note, she recognized the brand of chess timer I had for Brain Freeze! and evidently knows the guy who makes them. It turns out it's not a chess timer at all, but was made for Scrabble!

It was getting late, but I managed to talk Chris Hillary (ceej) and Andrew into playing 1 more game for the night... we agreed on Ra. It was a fun game full of bonehead moves all around. Andrew crushed us in the first round, and if I recall, he coasted to victory. I actually don't remember much about that game except that I invested in Monuments heavily in the first epoch, and managed to only get 6 different types in the end.

Ceej left to drive home and sleep, and I was about ready to go to bed myself when Steve Cates had an interesting looking contraption called Hyper Slide. That game was great! There used to be a machine called "Brain Teaser" at Little Caesar's pizza around here, which was basically Simon. It kept your score (equivalent to Hyper Slide's "Add 1" game) until you died 3 times, and if you did well enough you could get a soda, or a slice of pizza. I could routinely score well over enough points for a free large pizza The clerks said they never saw anyone play that as much or score as high as I did, and my friend called me Kid Wizard when we'd go in there to get free pizza.

My high score on Brain Teaser was 325. I'm sure someone out there can beat that! On Hyper Slide you'd play "Add 1" 3 times in a row and count 1 point per correct slide.

Finally I wandered up to the room and went to sleep.
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6. Board Game: Merchants of Amsterdam [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1405]
Seth Jaffee
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5/29/08: I guess it's about time I finished up my KublaCon report from last weekend!

Sunday morning I woke up a little earlier than I had on Saturday and made it to the Flea Market. I'm not usually a fan of buying games, but I thought I'd see if there were any deals so good I couldn't refuse. I ended up buying Winds Of Plunder from Doug Garret for a good price... I don't know if I needed the game, but I kind of like it, and the price was good. I later went back to Doug's booth and bought Toppo as well, mostly because I thought I might use the cards for Brain Freeze!

Rick Holzgrafe had found Merchants of Amsterdam for a mere $18, and since I'd never played it I was thrilled to be asked to join them for a game. Merchants of Amsterdam is AWESOME! It's an area control game with what amounts to 12 different areas to control. You gain influence in 2 areas at a time based on cards which, on your turn, you draw 3... 1 you discard, one you keep and use yourself, and the third you auction off (and could potentially buy). There are rewards for spreading out your influence over certain areas, and of course there are rewards for having 1st/2nd/3rd majority in each area. The auction mechanism is cute - a dutch auction with a countdown timer. The timer starts at 100 and counts down by 10's until someone slaps it, stopping the auction and winning the bid for the current value on the timer. In order to keep the clock intact, rather than slap it we just called out the number as soon as the timer got to a value we were happy to pay. The game makes you think about how much you value any given placement, as well as how much you have to bid to make sure you don't get overtaken by another player. It's a great game, I think I may try and get myself a copy. Design-wise there is just 1 thing I would do differently... instead of awarding players $100 for getting each item in the bottom set of tracks up to the second level, I'd award just $40 or so, and another $20 for getting all 4 to the each additional level, etc. I'd do this because every card allows you to advance one of the tracks (where the other areas require a specific card to gain influence), and because that would reward a diversification strategy - majority is already rewarded in the game.

After Merchants of Amsterdam I hit the atrium again and found Doug Garret. He was kind enough to let me borrow Der Goldene Kompass, so I set out to find someone to play it with - and was decidedly unsuccessful. I ended up talking to a woman set up to run a game called Monster Dice who had no players. The game didn't look like it was really my type of thing - it reminded me of Diceland, which I really like, but Monster Dice seemed weaker as a game. "What the heck" I thought, she'd gone through the trouble of crafting homemade giant foam dice, the least I could do was try the game out - so I did. I chose an army of goblins with several d4 units which have the ability to gang up on an opposing die. I also had a d6 with a ranged attack, and a d8. She ended up with an army of REALLY BIG dice - 2d12 (Ogres), a d6, a d8 and a d4 as well. Her army clearly overpowered mine - you could tell by looking at the dice. It was a complete mismatch. Each turn you move your dice, then attack with your dice. Each unit had some movement (my goblins moved 3, the Ogres moved 1), and attacks were based on the die type of the unit. A goblin rolled s a d4 to attack, an Ogre rolls a d20. If I have (up to) 4 goblins surrounding an Ogre then I can roll all of their attacks together and add them up. Each unit has a number of HPs equal to it's die faces, so I had to do 20 damage to an Ogre to kill it, while she needed only to do 4 damage to a goblin. The defender's roll is subtracted from the attacker's, and if the result is positive, that's the damage dealt to the unit. I had absolutely no chance, but I really wanted to swarm a big Ogre and take him down! I got one Ogre to 2, and I killed a d4 and a d6 I think before all of my squishy goblins got flattened underfoot. The woman running the game was really nice about crushing my goblins, and gave me a consolation prize (custom made foam d20s to hang from the rearview mirror!). Her name was Erin, and she was from Washington (according to her badge), but I didn't see her around the board game area the rest of the weekend.

After dueling with dice monsters and wandering around a lot I managed to find some people - Sean and Steve from the BGG meetup, and Sean's friend Jeff - to play Der Goldene Kompass... FINALLY! As I mentioned, I thought it looked like an uphill race where the hill gets steeper and steeper, or perhaps like a sophisticated Candy Land. In Der Goldene Kompass you play cards to move forward along a linear track, jumping over people ahead of you. Each turn you draw some cards (more if you are further back in the pack), and you choose which color cards to draw (colors correspond to player color). You're only allowed to play cards of the players in front of you - unless you're in the lead, in which case you can only play your own colored cards. The first player to play each round is the one furthest back, but play order is clockwise around the table so there's some question when you're drawing your cards to use for the turn as to who will be ahead of you when it's your turn to go. As you land on spaces you collect "experience" in one of 4 categories. When you get enough experience you can play an Encounter card and therefore claim an Ally who gives you some benefit. In order to qualify to win you must reach the end of the board, have collected 3 Allies, and have each Experience category advanced to at least level 3. At the end of a round, of all the players who qualify to win, the player with the most total experience wins. I found this game to be cooler to watch than it was to play. It's a very light game, well designed, but not my favorite type of game. It's not bad by any means, but I don't think I'd play it too often because it's too light for my tastes.

After Der Goldene Kompass I noticed JC wandering around looking to get a game started. He suggested Locomotive Werks which I had not even heard of until his recent mentioning in the chatroom. I thought I might as well give it a try, if for no other reason than we could talk about it in the chat! Dave, JC, and I found a table in one of the tree rooms, and I noticed ceej walk by. JC said the game was better with 4, so I ran out and roped him in for the game - he was happy to try it, but based on his report I think he wasn't a fan of the game.

Locomotive Werks is a straightforward efficiency game. It was described as the Train Rust mechanism from the 18xx series, abstracted out into it's own game. Players buy factories (which come in Green/Red/Blue/Yellow, levels 1/2/3/4 in each) which make trains, and dice represent the demand for the trains. Demand only occurs (dice are rolled) for factories which are currently owned, as well as 1 die for the next available factory, representing the demand for the upcoming type of trains. When a level 2 factory comes into play, each round the level 1 factory of that color loses some demand, and eventually becomes worthless. Each round you first determine turn order (least to most money); then buy a Factory if you want; then increase the capacity of your factories by buying workers (each factory indicates a cost for its workers) or upgrading them from one Factory to another (paying the difference in cost); then you produce trains to satisfy the demand (i.e. you make money). The making money is deterministic, no decisions to be made there... but it's a little fiddly to see what you're supposed to get when several people are pawing the dice simultaneously thinking they're making things faster. On your turn, you take the highest valued die for each of the factories you own and decrement it a number of times equal to the number of workers in your factory. If you use up the whole die before you run out of workers, then you still have capacity left. When a die gets used up it is set aside and will be re-rolled for next round. If a die isn't fully used up, it remains for next round with whatever pips are left on it. If it gets back around to you and there's still a die left on a factory for which you still have capacity, then you do it again. Each factory indicates how much you make for each worker used, so you multiply that times the number of pips you used up from that factory to see how much money you make. Then you have to pay a 10% tax on your total money, a mechanism which is kinda weird, I guess it serves to keep the leaders from running away a bit, as they'll lose more money than the trailing players.

In the end, I won this game - despite JC's assurance that it's so very important to make only as much money as you plan to spend and not a penny more, so that you can get the favorable turn order (though some turns, going later may be better due to how new Factories open up). I did not play for turn order except for maybe 2 turns, not on purpose anyway (sometimes I spent all my money upgrading my workers irrespective of the turn order I'd receive) and as a result I went 3rd or last for much of the game. The game ends when a player breaks $300, and in our game I ended up with about $330 after taxes, and JC ended up with about $310. I think I did well because I happened to have a nice, juicy Green Factory all to myself, and the next highest Green factory didn't come out until very late in the game, so my juicy factory never really went away. I felt like this game was fairly similar to The Pillars of the Earth, which I like very much. Locomotive Werks is much more straightforward, and therefore might not have as much staying power (for me) as Pillars, and it's certainly not as pretty - a bunch of dice and a cardstock board to put them on doesn't compare well with Pillars' beautiful board and bits. The way the factories become obsolete is the main difference between Locomotive Werks and The Pillars of the Earth, and it's pretty neat - though if you're still using early Craftsmen in Pillars when the late game comes, you're probably not getting as many VPs as you could, so maybe they naturally become obsolete. All in all I liked Locomotive Werks, and would like to play it at least a few more times.

Next up was Brass: Lancashire with Rick, Candy, and Andrew. Brass: Lancashire was on my list of games to try, mostly because Isamoor pointed it out to me and had some good descriptions of it. I had high hopes that it would match Railroad Tycoon in scope (length/depth), and I'd heard good things about it. In fact, Brass: Lancashire was on my watch list from Essen which I posted before BGG.con last year. Now that I've finally gotten around to playing it I can form an opinion...

Brass: Lancashire is by Martin Wallace, so as expected the rulebook isn't terrific. Only Candy had played before, and she couldn't really remember the rules, so we had to decipher the rules as we went. Also as expected, there's at least 1 rule which, just when you think you understand how it must work, you find you're playing all wrong. In this case it was to do with the definition of a "constructed port" - which refers to not only the ports on the board, but also any port built by a player - begging the question "why didn't they just say "port"?".

In Brass: Lancashire you build Industry tiles on the board, then try and use them so they flip (and get you income as well as VPs). There are Cotton Mills which send cotton to Ports, Coal Mines, Ironworks, and Shipyards. Players have cards in hand that depict either a city on the board, or a type of industry. On your turn you get 2 actions, each of which requires you to play a card. You can play a card matching the industry you want to put into play, in which case it must be connected by canals (rails later) to your existing Industry tiles, or you can play a city card to play an industry in that city. You can always play both cards together to put any industry tile in any city. The cities have spaces for specific industry tiles. After a certain number of rounds the game comes to the "end of the Canal era" and there is a scoring round - flipped industries and canals are all worth points. In the second half of the game (the Rail era) you cannot play the low level Industries, you have to play higher ones. The industries are all stacked in order from low to high level, so you might have to use a Develop action to "upgrade" your industry level in order to play the industry you want. In addition to all that, there's a coal and iron market, a variable turn order (sorta like Locomotive Werks - least to most money spent that turn), and a few other fiddly rules.

I think I liked Brass: Lancashire, at least enough to play it again, and nobody here seems to own it. It's unfortunate that the price is fixed for this game, as I don't know if I want to pay a full $60 just to play the game 2 or 3 more times. I'm also not convinced I'll continue to like the game, but I guess I'll have to play it some more to find out!

There was some talk of Aquaretto, so I set out to find a copy for us to play... to no avail. I returned instead with Stone Age, which I borrowed from Doug Garrett. Rick was spent, but we picked up ceej in his place and I explained the rules. I was the only one of us who'd played before, so I made sure to mention that unlike Agricola, "starvation" in Stone Age is a strategy, not a penalty. Candy decided from the outset that she would employ this strategy and see how it fared - fully intending to lose 10 points almost every turn, Candy eschewed Farms and went instead for valuable resources. I followed Candy in turn order, and found it surprisingly easy to get Farms! A by-product of 1 player starving their people I guess. I ended up with 8 or so Farms and several Farm multiplier cards. I also ended up with *6* Building multipliers, but only managed to build 3 buildings. Candy was kicking ass on the scoreboard for over 1/2 the game, at one point scoring 40+ points off of a 1-7 building. In the end she had 5 buildings but only 3 total cards - I had scooped up all the building multipliers she'd wanted. Andrew had invested in people and scooped up a couple people multipliers, but it wasn't enough. Ceej had been concentrating on the artifacts, but on turn I snatched up 2 different ones he wanted, which tore into his ability to collect a big set. I ended up with only 3 different artifacts, but that meant he didn't get them. I am currently undefeated at Stone Age after 3 games, and having played it some more I'm beginning to like it more and more. The Pillars of the Earth it ain't - but at least it would see some play before it got old. I think I may give in and get this one.

My general pattern for the last night of the con is not to sleep, and instead to stay up all night, hopefully playing Werewolf. Unfortunately, there was no Werewolf to be found! Nor Time's Up!, nor... hardly anything. About 4:00 AM I talked Andrew and Ceej into playing another game instead of going to bed, and though Andrew was about to zonk out, they agreed. We were looking around for a game to play and found a copy ofLeague of Six in Candy's stuff. I figured if we were careful with it and put it back she wouldn't mind our using her stuff. I've played a few games of League of Six now, and I originally thought there might be something wrong with 3 player - there aren't really enough cubes to go around. Then I realized : there's nothing wrong with it, it just puts a lot more importance on going first! A LOT more... so this game I frequently went for an auction with fewer goods and more horses in order to be the first person shipping. I was able to drain cubes from my opponents, score a bonus, and leave no other bonus for them because there were not the correct cubes available to fill any other row. I also was able to benefit from the experience of having played when in a bidding war I accepted some money from one opponent, up-bid another opponent, then accepted their money and returned to outbid the first again. That's a sort of sneaky play that I believe becomes standard once you know what you're doing in this game.

After League of Six, Andrew was completely done. He went off to bed while Ceej and I played Qwirkle with Alex Eaton-Salners and Kerin. I've met Alex before at previous KublaCons, nice guy. Usually beats me at whatever game we're playing. This time he set up a number of Qwirkles, most of which Ceej knocked down (despite Kerin's being to Alex's left). Ceej had an amazing game, averaging over 8 points per turn for most (if not all) of the game while the rest of us settled for 6-8 points on a good turn. I was doing horribly in the beginning, but I ended up with some OK plays and narrowly overtook Kerin for 2nd place while ceej was way out in the lead and Alex brought up the rear.

At 6AM I walked ceej to his room, then considered a brief nap - but I decided that if I fell asleep then, I'd never get up in time for anything, and instead I took a shower and headed back downstairs. Unfortunately there was absolutely nothing to do for the next 3 hours or so... eventually I found Joe, and we sat down to play Race for the Galaxy. Alex walked up with luggage in tow, but was not actually leaving, so he joined us. He'd only played once before and needed a slight rules refresher, while Joe had played, and I've got over 100 games of Race for the Galaxy logged. Arkibet arrived as we were about to start another game, and he joined us for a game or 2.

After 3 games of Race for the Galaxy it was nearing 12:00, which is when the Game Design Contest meeting was where they announce the winner and give feedback on the games. I noticed Doug Garrett recording a podcast with Shelly and Aldie (I think Derk had left at that point), but I didn't have time to sit and listen. I found Rick in the tree lobby, and we got to talking shop while we made our way to the room...

I had entered Reading Railroad this year, and while previous years I had done very well with All For One and Wizard's Tower, I didn't have as high hopes this year. The game simply wasn't as "finished" as the others had been. Rick had entered Spatial Delivery, which I played at last year's KublaCon. When they announced the winner of the contest they mentioned that a publisher was very interested in reviewing the winning game for publication, so when they announced thatSpatial Delivery had won, I was very excited for Rick! He was speechless as well, and he even got a prize for winning - 2 tickets to Gen Con.

Back in the tree lobby, Rick ran a game of Spatial Delivery for 4 people (including Andrew), and once they got started, he, Helen, Candy, and I played a game of Reading Railroad. Reading Railroad is a connection/set collection game with word building as a main mechanic. You draw scrabble tiles and spell words to get coins, and you spend coins to lay track on the board connecting cities. When you connect cities you collect City Tiles which have letters on them, and at the end of the game you use those to spell out specific scoring words. You score points for the scoring words, and for having a big network of connected cities, and for coins you have left at the end of the game.

They seemed to like it alright. The main complaints of the judges were that they were confused between the 2 types of letters, that the scoring was more complicated than it needed to be, and that the game was trying to hit 2 markets and might not be saleable. I have ideas to address the first two concerns, but the marketing comment I'm not so sure about. I don't think I'm "trying to hit 2 markets" with this game - rather I think this is an interesting, unique game which might have cross market appeal. I don't think every Word Game fan will like it, and I don't think every eurogame fan will like it, nor do I think they need to. It's supposed to be a game that someone who loves word game can play with someone who hates them, and both can enjoy the game and be competitive.

Finally the time had come to pack it up and head to the airport. After 2 hours in a plane and 2 more in the car I was ready for some good sleep, I slept about 12 hours straight when I got home!

All in all I'd say that was another successful KublaCon experience!
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