BGG.con/2008/sedjtroll
Seth Jaffee
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It looks like the word is out about arriving on Wednesday... about 200 people came early to get some unofficial gaming in. I arrived (only 1 hour late this time) at about 1:30 in the afternoon and was able to help set up the library and prepare some of the collectible coins which people were supposed to give away.

A note about collectors: If you give them something cool to collect, they will endeavor to get more of them... that's the opposite of giving them up. Have you seen these coins? Aldie doesn't like to half ass things, they are really cool looking. The kind of thing a collector would horde over and refer to as "their precious." As a result I'm wondering how many of them will end up changing hands - my guess is that the percentage would be low.

This coin thing was this year's meta-game, like last year they had a pirate game where you collected different types of cards and submitted the best deck that you could. In both cases the ideas were very cool, and I'm sure everyone who participated had a great time with it. A very fitting thing to do at BGG.con - I wonder what next year's meta-game will be!

After things were set up, I started to play some games...
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1. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:2002]
Seth Jaffee
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BrainFreeze!
My roommate for the weekend hadn't seen my "quick, quick filler" BrainFreeze! So I played a couple games of it with him real quick.

I describe BrainFreeze! as "2 player Toppo with strategy" - it's a pattern matching speed game with a chess clock. You have 3 cards in front of you and a deck in your hand, and you have to match shape or color of your opponent's play, then hit the clock to stop your time and start theirs. If you can't play one of the cards in front of you then you have to flip cards off your deck until you can play one. If you run out of time, you lose.

So you can simply play the first legal card you see and try to stay on top of the opponent time-wise, or you can take an extra second to look at your opponent's options and try to play a card that they cannot respond to quickly. It's not terribly deep strategy, but the point is that you only have a few seconds for the whole game.

It's a lot of fun, and you can play several games in just a couple of minutes. Unfortunately, the fact that it requires a chess clock may make it too expensive to publish.
 
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2. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:56] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Seth Jaffee
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Dominion

I played Dominion a few times over the course of the convention. Like Race for the Galaxy I prefer it with 2 players, although Dominion I tolerate more with more players.

Dominion Is an alright game, but it's unsatisfying to sit down and get out all the cards just to play 1 or 2 hands. I think I'll likely play more of this on BSW than I will in real life.
 
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3. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:2002]
Seth Jaffee
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Odysseus: Winds of Fate

I saw that Tom Lehmann had arrived, and was talking to a few other friends of mine so I went over to say "Hi." Tom wanted to play a game, either a 'normal' (i.e. published) game, or a prototype - one of mine, one of his, he didn't care he just wanted to play something.

As it happened, I had with me many prototypes, but most importantly I'd finally fixed up my copy of an old game I'd been working on called Odysseus: Winds of Fate. I'd updated rules and hadn't tried the new version yet, and Monday night I was talking to people in the Board Game Designer's Forum chat room and decided to throw all my changes out the window and go with something new (which is something that had been talked about before, but I never really gave it any attention). So this game I had was effectively brand new, and I wanted to get it tested during Proto Alley on Friday, but I wanted to make sure it worked like I thought it would and iron out any obvious kinks before then.

So I suggested we play Winds of Fate, and Tom was happy to. Andrew Schoonmaker from California also agreed to play, so we grabbed a table in one of the rooms and gave it a shot.

I'm happy to report that the game did indeed work, and was in fact fairly fun. As I expected, some numbers are off balance-wise (how many points you get for this, that, or the other), and I had a couple of specific questions which I got some good feedback on, and which I wanted to concentrate on at future playtests.

It was a great first playtest, and Tom has a lot of good feedback to offer on any game! Andrew does too, but of course Tom is more used to the prototype format.
 
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4. Board Game: Midgard [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1802]
Seth Jaffee
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The next day was the official start of the Con. I came downstairs around 9am and sad a lot of Hello's - I saw Dan Manfredini (gamebot) who I know from BGDF, I saw John Lopez (Godeke) who lives in Tucson but I only ever see at BGG.con... I saw a bunch of people.

When the line started moving, it went pretty quickly and before I knew it I was all registered. When I was asked for my raffle ticket (which had been placed in the name badges by a crew of volunteers the day before) I noticed I didn't have any! Michelle Alden was kind enough to give me hers. Thoughthammer did their prize drawing in a really cool way this year. They divided prizes into 4 different categories (Eurogames, Space games, War games, and Kids games), and you could drop your raffle ticket into the box for the stuff you actually want. So your chances of winning are the same as ever, but your chances of winning something you really want if you do win are much better!

There was a LOT of stuff on the prize table, and we were allowed to pick something off of there for free, or else get a second Yellow ticket for the Thoughthammer drawings. More yellow tickets could be purchased, with proceeds going to a good cause (sending games to troops overseas) as well.

I didn't really know what I wanted off the prize table (prize racks actually). I kept seeing Midgard which I played 2 years ago at BGG.con and I liked it the time I played it. I almost switched to taking La Strada - it's by Martin Wallace, so it could be good... or it could be terrible. In the end I stuck with my original choice of Midgard. I hadn't heard anything about this Mecanisburgo but it seemed popular, I probably could have picked that up but I had no idea what it was.

Later when I saw Stephanie, who I knew to be one of the people preparing the badges on Wednesday, I playfully accused her of seeing my name on the badge and purposely leaving out the raffle tickets... she categorically denied it and chained the blame on to Chris Johnson... I don't know about those Left Coast gamers...
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5. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:14]
Seth Jaffee
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My friend Brian, who I've known for 26 years now, lives in Dallas, and so BGG.con is a great excuse to see him. He isn't a gamer like we're gamers - but he does like to play games (and is pretty good at them). This year he had a hectic schedule, but was able to make it to the con for a couple hours almost every day to hang out, eat lunch with me, and play a couple games.

When Brian arrived on Thursday he asked what we should play. After a little confusion and back and forth we decided to play Agricola, since it's one of the popular and "good" games of today and Brian hadn't played it yet.

Agricola

We needed players, so I rounded up a couple and one of them even had a copy of the game. So Brian, Snowden, Chris Hillary (ceej), and I played a game of Agricola. It was a learning game for Brian and Chris, but Snowden and I had played before (maybe a lot). Brian did a really good job for his first game, scoring 35 points. Chris struggled to figure out what it was he wanted to do, but in the end he figured out a direction to go (maybe a little too late) and scored something like 31 I think - he's probably posted a geeklist that has a more accurate account of this game. Snowden suffered from concentrating too much on his EXCELLENT assortment of cards that all seemed to work together, but it cost him a lot of points in a lousy farm, he only scored in the 20's. My farm shaped up a lot better than I thought it was going to, and I got 40-some points from it.

Agricola is a tough one on a new player, because it's all about planning ahead, and in your first game, without having experienced the endgame, you don't really know what it is you're planning ahead for... which makes it very difficult to plan ahead. This may be exacerbated when playing with experienced players, because they DO know what to plan ahead for and should always perform better for that reason.

It was a good game though, and the 2 newbies did do pretty well in the end for their first game.
 
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6. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:173]
Seth Jaffee
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Ghost Stories

A lot of the people I talked to, such as the L.A. contingent for example, were really liking Ghost Stories. Several copies were set up in the Hot Games room, and I heard people saying how much they liked the game, and how hard the game was. So after Brian left I decided to give it a shot. 2 other guys were looking at a copy laid out on the table, but none of us knew how to play. So I picked up the rules and started reading.

First thing I noticed about the game is that the rulebook is pretty terrible. It's not clear in some places, and it could be organized better. I've seen worse rules, but these weren't terrific. But that doesn't make the game a bad game, so we kept reading.

About half way through the rules, Aldie came up and offered to teach the game. That was cool, but frankly, either I misunderstood some of the stuff he said, or he misspoke, or he was incorrect. It wasn't clear to me in that first game exactly when you could use your Ying/Yang tile, and what you could do with it. Later I looked at the rules and found my answers.

That first game was a doozie... we got completely thrashed by the ghosts on the 'easy' level. After that the three of us decided to play again now that we knew what we were doing, and that second game was a cake walk! Admittedly, we were playing on the 'easy' level, and we got a rule wrong in our favor, we were placing Buddah's anywhere as opposed to right next to the guy placing them. So that would make a difference, but I'm not sure it would have lost us the game.

The whole point of the game is to simply stall until the big bad Incarnation of Wu Feng shows up, then defeat him to win. In the harder levels you add more Incarnation cards, a "Wu Feng Clan" if you will, which I suppose would make the game harder by definition.

My impression of Ghost Stories is that it's actually pretty boring. Also, it feels like a step backwards in the development of the Cooperative Game genre. It makes no attempt to fix what I believe is the biggest failing of most cooperative games (and perhaps, the entire genre):

It's solitaire. It's not even multiplayer solitaire... one person can just play the game all by themselves. All weekend at BGG.con people were loving the game and talking about how hard it was, but I'm not sure that "hard" should correlate to "chances it's impossible to win, whether you know it or not." Pandemic suffers from that as well - some games you can't possibly win, but you don't know that until after you play. But I had the distinct feeling all throughout my games of Ghost Stories that I would have rather just been playing Pandemic.

Edit: Yes, my favorite part about this entire entry is the phrase "Wu Feng Clan"
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7. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:62]
Seth Jaffee
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Pandemic

Tom Lehmann had with him, among other things, some expansions to Pandemic that he is working on with Matt Leacock. The expansion allows for 5 players, comes with a berth of new roles, and includes a spin on Epidemics: Viral Diseases.

The Viral disease thing was cool because it made us prioritize differently. The Yellow disease wasn't as bad on the board as the others, but it was determined during the first Epidemic to be "viral" and during each epidemic, the viral disease gets some nasty thing happening... for example, each outbreak counts as 2.

The new roles were alright, some were very similar to the existing roles in application. Some were different. All in all I liked the expansion.

The best part of course were the miniature pawns!
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8. Board Game: Wizard's Tower [Average Rating:7.02 Unranked]
Seth Jaffee
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Wizard's Tower
I ran into Gil Hova (IngredientX) and we didn't have much time before his friends were done playing Khronos. Gil hadn't played Wizard's Tower and since it's not a long game I suggested he try it while we waited. Gil, ceej, and ludocrazy sat down to try it. I decided not to play because 3 players would go faster than 4.

Gil mentioned this game in his geeklist. He said it wasn't his kind of game, which could explain why his score trailed behind by a bit... but overall it was a pretty close game. I believe ceej's large tower group held up against ludocrazy's multiple bonuses for most towers and most apprentices in the various regions on the board. In the end he won by just a couple of points.
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9. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:56] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Seth Jaffee
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Dominion

I played Dominion a handful of times throughout the con, just one or two games at a time. I think in general if I'm going to go through the rigamarole of setting out all the cards I would prefer to play a bunch of games in a row. Also, I don't like it when every game's a learning game. This is not limited to Dominion, but in this case it's especially true. The game is not fun when you have to wait and wait for someone to have the rules sort of click. It doesn't take more than a game to understand what you're doing, but then it's time to pack it up and do something else! Or someone else wants to learn! I don't mind waiting for someone to make a decision such as whether to buy the first Province, or the last Market + a Workshop or something, what kills me is when people play their Market and verbally go through the "Ok, so I get another action this turn, and another buy, and a money to spend on it..." and then they get around to drawing their card. It takes as long to verbalize what the card does as it would to finish the whole turn! I guess that's a pet peeve of mine.
 
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10. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:2002]
Seth Jaffee
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Prolix

I first played Prolix at something called Spielbany in New York, and I was excited to play it again at BGG.con. I enjoy this word game very much - I like word games in general, and this one has some nice tactical gamery involved, as well as flexibility for using whatever word comes to mind. In Prolix there are some letters on the board, and you can use whatever word you want, and you score for the letters you use that are on the board. So the more you use the better. The letters have a point value depending on which column they are in on the board, and some of the more rare letters also have a bonus point or two on them. I commented during the game that I was averaging 13 points per word, and another player said their largest score was about that, so I guess I was doing well I interrupted maybe 1 time too many, and actually had to reduce my score a bit because of it. The interrupt system is very cool, if you see a word on another player's turn, you're allowed to interrupt them and take it. But each time you do that you get a penalty, so it had better be a really good word if you're going to come out ahead. you only get to count 5 words, and you MUST count your interrupts first.

Prolix is excellent and I hope it gets published. In that vein, Gil had a meeting with Zev Schalsinger to see if Prolix was something Z-man would like to publish. I volunteered to play the game with Zev, and Ludocrazy was also there. We played a 3-player game, as Gil decided to bow out rather than destroy us... a noble gesture, but I say "bring it on!"

Zev took a copy home with him to try with his test groups. I got the impression that word games weren't his thing, but I'm not sure how much that will factor into his decision to publish it or not.

Good luck with it Gil!
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11. Board Game: Time's Up! Title Recall! [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:260]
Seth Jaffee
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Time's Up! Title Recall!

I managed to get in 2 games of Time's Up!, one of which was Title Recall - which is one of my favorite party games to play late night at a con. (Edit: Time's Up is a favorite... I don't think I like Title Recall as much as the original game) My team didn't win, mostly because Stephanie Kelleher is the biggest Times Up shark ever, and I never get on her team!

In the second game I was on a team with Derk and Tom Lehmann, so that was fun. We didn't win that game either *shake fist at Steph* but it was fun!
 
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12. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:54]
Seth Jaffee
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After the late night party games I finally hit the sack, and on Friday morning I awoke refreshed and ready for some more gaming.

Brian arrived and had only a few hours to spend at the con, so we quickly found a game to play that would fill up that time. We landed on Battlestar Galactica - one of the new coop games which I have been wanting to try out. So far I'd heard that it takes a long time, and thought I might not like it for that reason, but that's what cons are for so...

Battlestar Galactica

In the beginning I was fairly unimpressed with BSG. It was a learning game, and I went last. After a couple of turns my cards were drained and I felt like I had little control over any skill checks. By about midgame though it started to pick up for me.

I was Boomer, and therefore more likely to be a Cylon. In fact, I was a Cylon from the beginning, and I was trying not to be detected... I figured if I wasn't detected I could tank a vital skill check at the end of the game and force the humans to lose. I wasn't too familiar with the things I could do if I were revealed anyway.

The guy teaching the game, who was the only player to have played before, happened to be the other Cylon (though I think he didn't find this out until 1/2 way through the game). He immediately revealed himself, and began to try and advance heavy raiders to get some Centurions onto Galactica. He was pleading with his fellow Cylon to reveal himself and join him in that endeavor, but I didn't see how it was a good idea... the humans were low on fuel and another resource, and starting a Centurion drive seemed like throwing away a head start in other races. So I remained hidden, and when it became obvious I was a Cylon they tried to throw me in the brig... I survived that skill check, and that drained their cards...

In the end I had game in hand, I had that purple card that lets you look at the top Crisis card and put it on the bottom of the deck... I had planned to play it to maximize the chance of a Crisis that would move the Cylon fleet. By the time my turn came around, I forgot about that card, thought I had nothing to do, and so drew a card and then flipped up the Crisis card to find one that made the humans jump (and therefore win). I looked at the following crisis card, it had no FTL drive advance, but did activate the raiders (which would have blown up several Civilian ships and the humans would have lost their last population).

So I accidentally lost the game for the Cylons, and the other Cylon was certain I should have revealed and tried to push the Centurions - our loss looks like evidence that he's right, but really it's not... ah well.

In the end the game was alright. I decided I'd have to play it again to make a real judgment. In the meantime, the game ran a little longer than planned and I ended up starting in on the Puzzle Hunt 30-45 minutes late.
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13. Board Game: Puzzle Perfection [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Seth Jaffee
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Puzzle Hunt

This year's puzzle hunt was Amazing! It had a pirate theme, and we were given a full color pirate map with all kinds of symbols on it. Around the edge were 26 skulls - which corresponded to the alphabet. There were 7 word puzzles printed on the map, each leading to the name of a pirate. When we found the name of a pirate, the moderators would give us a puzzle to solve to find out that pirate's password. When we found out the pirates' passwords, we were given a piece of a pirate ship.

Literally, a little boat - with a mast and crows nest and sails. The pieces had point values on them, and like last year, being the first to get the piece means you got the most points for it.

In fact, the boat itself was part of one of the puzzles! After deciphering the skull alphabet, a clue indicated that you place the boat on the map and follow it from stern to bow. The deciphered clues indicated 2 symbols on the map, and the bow of the ship would point to a third. Unfortunately it wasn't clear that the 2 items named were supposed to be the 2 corners on which to place the stern - it seemed like we were supposed to put the bow on one and the stern on another and see what the ship was pointing at. Some teams managed to figure it out though, and when placed correctly it was obvious what the ship was supposed to be pointing to.

The puzzles were all very good, and I felt like my team, despite starting late, made a lot of progress. I felt like I personally contributed a lot as well, which was a good feeling. I'm not sure, but I feel like we got at least as far along as some of the teams that were there the whole time, if not farther!

The winning team had some of the same people who won last year, and the second place team was my team from last year (who dumped me for someone else )

Kudos to Dave Arnott and whoever else put the Puzzle Hunt together, it was awesome!
 
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14. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:2002]
Seth Jaffee
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For the last couple of years I've been endeavoring to get prototypes noticed at BGG.con - my own in particular, but all prototypes in general. 2 years ago I just played a couple of my games with people. Last year I had signs put up with my avatar, and had several people's games displayed in a corner of one of the ballrooms. I ran several of my games as well as a game by a friend. This year Gil Hova helped and we managed to get enough demand that we got a room for Friday afternoon!

Proto Alley

After the Puzzle Hunt, I spent the rest of the day in Proto Alley - a room devoted to playing unpublished prototypes and giving designers feedback.

Vowel Movement
First I played a word game that turned out to be pretty cool. You are restricted in the consonants you can use, but you can use whatever vowels you want. You mark the vowels you use, and once you've used all 5 you score for them and can start making progress on that front again. Scoring for the consonants depends on how many people use the same letters you did.

I liked the game, but my main concern was that it was a little too restricted in what words you can play. I made a suggestion which I think would improve the game by giving players a little bit more flexibility, but I don't know if anyone agreed that it was necessary.

Consultants
The next game I played was a simple "buy stock then increase the value of the stock" game. It was an early draft, and I think it had some major issues, but I think I saw the basic idea the designer was going for.

Each player controls a company, and controls workers placed at each player's company. Each worker can take an action, so the actions you take at opponents' companies in general help them, so you're supposed to negotiate for that. "If you pay me $2, I'll use my worker to increase your income." I'm not sure if I was right about what he was setting out to do, but I suspect he was trying to make a game where you as a player WANT to be using your actions to help other companies, because in the end it benefits you. My suggestions were to reinforce that incentive, rather than the incentive to simply buy shares of your own stock and then boost your own stock. I feel like there's potential for a decent game there, but it will have to be dredged out of what's currently in the rules.

Winds of Fate
Next we played Winds of Fate, and I was happy to have tried it the night before to know what to expect. I even made some rules tweaks based on the prior game. It went alright, there are some aspects of the game which I wasn't at all happy with (I believe I've since figured out what to do about them).

After the game we discussed it a little and I got some more good feedback. I'm happy with the amount of attention I was able to get on (and give to) this game all weekend, and the end result will probably be showing up as an entry on BGG very soon.

As Winds of Fate was ending, Brian arrived (with my dinner!) and then he joined us for the last prototype of the night...

Chaos
Mike Nickoloff had a game with him by another designer called Chaos. It reminded me of a trick taking game, though it isn't really. On your turn you have three options, one is something like War, another is something like Go Fish, and the third is a trade. The game is a sort of rummy variant, but it's got some crazy twists. I thought the idea was sound, but the twist were a little too crazy, and a little too powerful for the game to be very meaningful.

The attendance at Proto Alley was phenomenal! The entire room was packed all afternoon, and not everybody who wanted to got to participate. We're hoping to do it again next year in an even more organized manner, and get it on the official schedule.
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15. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:56] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Seth Jaffee
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Dominion

After all the prototypes I played a couple of games of Dominion with Zev Schlasinger. I don't think he's a very big fan of the game, I see that as a trend with people who just play a hand here and there and that's it. I think with that game, if you like it then you'll play it enough to appreciate it, and if it doesn't excite you too much then you won't play it much, and if you don't play it much then you won't appreciate it. We played a couple of hands and then it was time for bed.
 
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16. Board Game: Werewolf [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1037]
Seth Jaffee
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After Zev went to bed, I went looking for a game of Werewolf, one of my favorite things to do late night at a con!

In the lobby a group was playing Cash N' Gunz Live, and Steph was webcasting it for those unfortunate souls who couldn't make it to Dallas (and also had nothing better to do than watch other people have fun). I took some time to chat with the people watching between rounds of CnG:L, and after a while they said they wanted to see some Werewolf, so we ended up taking the computer to the hall where the Werewolf was happening. I got into a couple of games and had a pretty good time chatting with people in between rounds or after I'd died.

I was a Werewolf in one game and we ended up winning, then int he following game I happened to be a Werewolf again, but this time I happened to be sitting next to the Seer, who checked me out the first chance she got. She signaled someone across the way that I was a Wolf, and that player claimed to be the seer and that I was a wolf. I couldn't believe my bad luck! However, in my defense (and at the request of one of the villagers) I went through several players and discussed whether I thought they were suspicious or not. I was lynched of course, and I was shown to be a Werewolf... I don't know why anyone would listen to a thing that a Werewolf has to say, but after I died I reveled in the fact that people were taking what I had said to heart, trying to figure out what it meant, and whether it implicated anybody! I think I managed to kill off one wolf, save another, and kill off a villager (who happened to be the Sorcerer, but how would I have known that?) It might have been the most fun I've ever had losing int he first round of the game!
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17. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:54]
Seth Jaffee
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Battlestar Galactica: round 2

I accidentally slept a it too long on Saturday, and didn't get up until lunchtime when Brian called to say he would be there in an hour. He and I both wanted to play Battlestar Galactica again, but this time with players who have played before so we could see how a game goes that isn't a learning game. I spent the following hour securing a copy of the game and recruiting enough players that had played before to play it. I had to turn down severl people who wanted to learn the game - I felt a little bad about that, but we were on a mission.

The people I found was a couple from Tucson, I had me the guy (Brian Poe) before, but never met his girlfriend (Misa). When Brian (my friend Brian, not Brian Poe) arrived, he saw a woman who was in our game yesterday, and recruited her to play again. At the last minute, someone pulled a 6th guy in who had also played before - so we had a full ship as it were, and we were ready to take off on an "experienced" game of BSG!

This time I was Gaius Baltar, who also has a better than average chance of being a Cylon, and again I was a Cylon from the outset. Brian Poe was Boomer, and suggested I wait until the additional loyalty cards were dealt out (when she'd have 3) and then use my once-per-game ability to look at them. When that time came, Brian was so adamantly willing to show me his cards that I trusted he was human. In addition, the latecomer guy had been very suspicious as Admiral in choosing to lose fuel and pretending that it was the lesser of two evils. So on that logic I suggested I look at his cards instead... and I found out that he was the other Cylon!

Of course I "cleared" him as human, and then the paranoia really set in... throughout the game it was never clear who was a Cylon and who was not. On one hand, me and the Admiral were a potential Cylon pair. On another hand, Brian and Misa were acting in concert and backing each other up for no logical reason. Brian Poe, who I thought I'd convinced everyone was human, was drawing suspicion from his own girlfriend... at one point we all simultaneously pointed at the 2 people we most thought were Cylons, and at that time there was a pretty big consensus that Misa and Brian G were the Cylons! The only one that escaped almost all suspicion was the woman from the previous game, who was Starbuck this time.

The game took a really long time - 4 hours! But it was fun and interesting the entire time with all the doubletalk and back and forth suspicion. I think that's just the way that game is supposed to go!

In the end the Cylons could have won again, but we revealed ourselves too late and didn't coordinate our actions very well. However, we were also playing without the benefit of a rules errata on the Executive Order card. We were allowing chains of Executive Orders to be thrown back and forth, and it was a huge boon to the Humans. In the official FAQ for the game it's been made clear that only 1 Executive Order card can be played each turn. The humans scraped by again when they shouldn't have... curse their whole race!
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18. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:2002]
Seth Jaffee
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After the BSG game Brian had to leave, and it was time for the prize drawings and announcements. After that I was excited because I was going to meet with Zev to show him my Odysseus game which I'd told him about the night before while playing Dominion. He had a couple of appointments before me, so in the meantime I was talking to Gil and Michael Cooper and I asked if they wanted to try the game I was about to show him, and they agreed.

Odysseus: Winds of Fate

We played a 3 player game of Winds of Fate and it worked about the same. I adjusted a few rules to see how I liked them, and the game helped me tune in on the desired specifics.

Also while we waited we played a quick card game by Michael called Three Fingered Lefty. In this game you have 10 cards in hand, and you'll be placing them in front of yourself and your opponents, 5 face up and 5 face down. After all cards are played, you reveal them all and total the values... you don't want to have the most points, and you don't want to have the least points - because those 2 players score the total of each of their points (and points are bad). I found the game rather algorithmic, but I think the desired effect could be achieved by having the cards played onto a rack, where they can be seen by all players except the one they're in front of.

After a quick meeting with Zev where I showed him the game and arranged to send a copy to New York once I've gotten the loose ends tightened up, I played another prototype with Zev.

Agenda
This was a cute game about politics... the point is to make political promises such that the other players will agree to let you do your action. The trick is that everyone's got a secret agenda which has 2 parts. It's possible you overlap another player on one of the 2 parts though, so a mutually beneficial arrangement can probably be made for many plays. The current system doesn't do that, but we discussed a number of ways to accomplish that.

Lost Adventures
Finally, we talked about Lost Adventures, an Indiana Jones themed game by Jeff Warrender and Steve Sisk. I brought that to BGG.con last year and ran a game of it which went over really well. Jeff and Steve set out to make a euro strategy game with an Indiana Jones theme... and all the playtest comments I've given them have been along those lines. Zev pointed out that the game should be more like a Fantasy Flight, big box game in the scope of Descent or Starcraft. In that light I could see a lot of things that could be better if they weren't geared toward a eurogame. After Zev went to sleep 4 of us played Lost Adventures and during the game (which I usually enjoy thoroughly) I kept thinking of it as a full fledged Fantasy Flight production and I could tell it was lacking.

After just about everyone went to sleep, I noticed that Christopher Rao was still awake. He had a "15 minute" prototype which he wanted to play. It was 5am and I asked if this "15 minute" prototype was going to take us through 6am... of course he said it wouldn't. So he, the Vowel Movement guy (who had also played Lost Adventures), and I went ahead and played it.

The game was intended to be quick and light, as if it took 20-25 minutes, then there's no reason to play it over Race for the Galaxy. That it DID take us through 6am isn't indicative of anything though, because it was mostly due to Vowel Movement guy protesting every rule as broken as it was being explained. In his defense though, several of the rules or abilities were in fact ridiculous. It felt a lot like a first draft of a game. I could see where Christopher was heading with it though... cards are in different suits and have different values, and wile playing cards you're supposed to have to choose between cards which are more likely to score you points, and cards which are more likely to get you neat abilities.

We talked about that game some, and then I wandered over to find that I'd missed out on all the Werewolf for the evening
 
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19. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:123]
Seth Jaffee
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After I had missed out on Werewolf I wanted to go to bed, but it was already 6am. I found Andrew Schoonmaker watching a game of 18?? and convinced him to go to Denny's with me for breakfast. After that he went up to catch a few hours sleep and I headed back to the gaming area. I found Alex Eaton-Salners down there and he said he really liked Space Alert. I hadn't tried that yet, and wanted to check it out before the con was up, and this seemed like an excellent opportunity!

Space Alert

Alex did a superb job of teaching the game, and running us (there were a few of us) through first the training missions and then a simulation, and finally our first mission. We played 6 games in a row! It was fairly easy to make a mistake, just as it's easy to err in Roborally. In this game, one misplayed card probably means certain death (or at least fewer points as the ship you thought you'd destroy is in fact not destroyed - even if it doesn't kill you). The guy next to me could not seem to tell his right from his left, despite the ENORMOUS BLUE/RED ARROWS ON THE CARDS! Every single round he was looking at his cards during the resolution phase with a confused look, trying to figure out why it wasn't what he thought it would be. That was a little frustrating. I made my own big mistake one time - thinking I was upstairs when in fact I was downstairs. That certainly threw a few things off!
 
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20. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:173]
Seth Jaffee
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Ghost Stories

While looking around for something to do next, I saw some people trying to figure out Ghost Stories, so I offered to sit in and help them learn (someone had just taught them). We played a game, and it went fairly easily. It reinforced my prior opinion that the game is not terribly good.
 
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21. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:123]
Seth Jaffee
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Space Alert

Brian arrived for the last day of the con, and wanted to play something fun. I thought he might like Space Alert, and it only takes a little bit of time, and I thought I could teach it pretty well having learned it just a couple hours before... We found an open set in the Hot Games room and tried it (along with Bill Bussick and Matt Fullenwider). It did NOT go over well. I don't know why, but it didn't even feel as fun as it had earlier that morning. Brian didn't like it at all.
 
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22. Board Game: Royal Palace [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:956]
Seth Jaffee
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Royal Palace

All weekend I'd been meaning to get over to the Rio Grande booth and have Valerie Putman teach me some of the new eurogames. That's really my favorite genre of game to begin with, and I'd skillfully avoided any game of the type all weekend (except I guess that one game of Agricola on Thursday).

Disappointed by Space Alert, I suggested we see if we could get Valerie to teach us one of the new euros. I'd heard some good things about Royal Palace, which before then hadn't even been on my radar. I decided I was most interested in trying that one, and as luck would have it there was a copy available, and Valerie wasn't busy! We rounded up Andrew and Simon and played a learning game. We all liked the game a lot, and decided to play a second game now that we understood the rules.

We noticed that the first player appeared to have a big advantage, and though they start with less money, the advantage comes from a head start in majorities. I think as we got more experienced we figured out we need to stop that by overtaking, but in the beginning of even our second game I (having gone first) got a substantial leg up from that advantage before anyone decided to fight me for it.

I'm sorry it was the only new euro I played at the con, but I'm not sorry I played Royal Palace. On the contrary, I loved it and I know a friend has it on order now based on his initial interest and my thumbs up after playing it. I cant wait until next week when it arrives!
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23. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:56] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Seth Jaffee
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Dominion

After Brian left the con was clearing out. Valerie had some time so she played me a couple games of Dominion. It was fun playing against her, and she beat me every game.
 
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24. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:2002]
Seth Jaffee
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It was now Sunday afternoon, and most of the con attendees had gone home - including my roommates for the weekend. I didn't have a place to stay, and my plane didn't leave until Monday morning.

Fortunately, Christopher Rao invited me to crash at his grandmother's house where he was staying. We went to dinner, then I took a 4 hour nap, and when I woke up Christopher and his brother-in-law Jose and I played an edited version of the card game from the other night. Changes were improvements, but we discussed more potential areas for improvement.

After that we played Winds of Fate, and when Jose went to bed Chris and I talked at length about Winds of Fate (for an hour or 2!) and then talked about other stuff for several hours until it was time to drop me off at the airport. It was a good time, as not a lot of people like to talk so in depth about game mechanisms and design philosophies!
 
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