My Secret History of the Lone Star Games Fest
Brian Bankler
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Yes, it's that time! Howdy Doody time, err, con report time.
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1. Board Game: Blow Out [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Brian Bankler
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We were doing all right, getting good grades, with a bright future. With a bit of luck I missed all the speed traps. And then, 20 minutes from the con, in the left lane of I-10 (a 4+ lane highway) I lost my rear tire. I managed to get over to the right shoulder (behind a cop giving a ticket, amazingly).

Good news everybody -- Houston wants to get you off the damn highway ASAP. The city wrecker got there in 15 minutes and pulled us to the access road. For free.

Bad news -- AAA's wrecker got there second and, not finding us (despite having called to let them know the city moved us off the highway) and left.

After a few minutes to relax, I put on the spare (not trivial on a Sienna, but I have practice). The old tire's tread had completely seperated from the rest of the tire but had gotten tangled in the axle. When they say steel belted, they aren't kidding. That bastard cut my hand when I was pulling it off.

Oh, and apparently when I was doing that I knelt on a really huge piece of gum. Niiiice.

Total cost -- $130 for a new tire. 3 Hours to change the tire and buy a replacement. Also, a slightly pissy mood for the rest of the day.
 
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2. Board Game: duck! duck! SAFARI! [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:9068]
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I think I can say, with total conviction, that I would not have ever expected this to be my first game of the convention. My daughter (age 10) had run into another 10-y.o. girl at the convention and she was playing Duck! Duck! Safari! So we joined!

This is actually a pretty good game, and I can't fault the production values at all. The rubber ducks look amazingly like rubber ducks, or rubber lions, or rubber zebras, or rubber elephants. Rubber (things) are the guerrilla faction in the wood vs plastic war. OK, they're plastics special forces. Like SEALS, but they have tough time going underwater.

My daughter and I staked our fortunes on the rubber monkey.

Stupid Monkey. We came in last.
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3. Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:545]
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The daughter and son discovered that their new friends also had Nintendo's, so I got in a quick game of Roll through the Ages. My early medicine kept me in the game (as Marty, who looked like a runaway leader quickly building the Obelisk and Great Wall) got some well deserved pestilence to keep him in the pack. But at the end the pestilence-giver (Jonathon, I think) won with Empire.
 
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4. Board Game: Bananagrams [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:1486] [Average Rating:6.35 Unranked]
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This is a simplified version of Take Two.

When I learned Take Two, I was the whipping boy of various people who are way too good at word games. But I bought "Winning Scrabble" and studied. (Visualize a martial arts training montage, only, uh, geekier).

Fast forward to Lone Star Games, and the monkey was off my back....

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5. Board Game: Finca [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:509]
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I've been waiting for a Rondel game to live up to the promise of the idea ... and I must admit that Finca's mechanisms work.

Maybe it was the crappy drive talking, but I wasn't particularly pulled into the game. I'll have to try it again at some point, but I think this is a good boring game.
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6. Board Game: Snorta! [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:2957]
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After dinner, pretty much everyone was playing a game, so my son said we should play this. I expressed some doubt ("Players: 4-8") but seven year old boys apparently don't hear the word "No," or phrases like "I don't think this will work." Or variants.

In any case, I can see why a 7 year old would find this hilarious, but it's pretty easy to remember what one other person's secret sound is. (Trying to quickly remember 5+ other people's sound, when the sound on cards are prompting you in different directions, is probably pretty fun though).

Thankfully, using a few parenting jedi mind tricks, this ended quickly. Then came the "Does the boy have any idea which stack he got this game from?" The answer is no, so if that's your copy of Snorta that you had to go hunting for, and we accidentally put in Jim F's game stack, I'm sorry.
 
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7. Board Game: Suppenkasper [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:11082]
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No, I didn't play this, but it turns out that The Boy's order for dinner was messed up so he and I walked to the Taco Cabana. Technically I shouldn't eat there (since it will kill me, and also make me fat first), but it's the last day of the decade and I changed a damn tire.
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8. Board Game: FITS [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1176]
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After Snorta, Me and the boy took on all comers at FITS.

OK, we took on three comers.

Two-out-of-three ain't winning, but it ain't bad.

Since it was 10 pm, the wife and I took the kids back to the room. At this point, the kids argued that Wife and I had to sleep in the small fold out bed (size -- 6 feet by 3 feet ... probably even smaller in meters), because "They had called the big bed."

The Tyranny of the Elderly won. Even that large bed was too damn small.
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9. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:599]
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The game room opened with Kevin, me and the daughter. Kevin's luck would have been great, if he'd been allowed to bet the Don't Pass line.

 
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10. Board Game: To Court the King [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1323]
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Continuing the dice theme, my daughter and I played To Court the King. After finishing, she taught the game to her new best friend, Morgan. Meanwhile, I tried to get in a serious game.
 
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11. Board Game: Homesteaders [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:458]
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I taught three new players (Marty, Tim and one more, sorry) how to play. I apparently did a great job, since I came in dead last. My problem was winning the early Market, then never adding to my supply of Trade tokens. I had a great engine, plenty of workers, decent income, a few resources, but no points, and not quite enough flexibility at the end. I spluttered to a halt on Turn 10 having spent 4 trade tokens on turn 9 getting the Railyard, which left me unable to score more than a handful of points on Turn 10.

Homesteaders remains my favorite recent release, though.
 
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12. Board Game: Small World: Grand Dames of Small World [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Brian Bankler
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Then five of us (I'm not even going to try and remember names) got in a game of Small World with the expansion. I got off to a good start with Seafaring Tritons (who knew?), but it turns out that Peace-loving Wizards kept getting 11 a turn quietly, while everyone else was paying attention the my Tritons, or the Were-Goblins (who entered with 10 tokens on turn 4, scored 10 points on turn 4, and declined on 5) and various other threats.
 
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13. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:62]
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It's been a long time since I played Tigris. In fact, the theme of this convention (at least, the theme for games) was "Hey, I haven't played that in a while." In contrast, I kept missing out trying new games ... I never got in a game of Hansa Teutonica, Batavia (which I'd never even heard of), etc.

But Tigris is a classic, so it wasn't all bad.
 
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14. Board Game: Indonesia [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:181]
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"Hey, I haven't played that in a while!" (H!IHPTIAW). Mark, Toggy, Anye and Jason were setting up a game. Like most five player games, this one was pretty fast, although we were interrupted by the game show....
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15. Board Game: Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? [Average Rating:4.08 Overall Rank:14480]
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The game show was a team trivia game with a betting/bluffing theme. The kids actually did pretty well. In particular, my daughter quickly guessed and locked in the right answer to a rock trivia question that predates her birth by about 3 decades. She happened to be guessing, but she was right.

And she did get several questions correct using some general logic and gut feeling. My son, being a bit younger, was mainly more interested in playing with the poker chips and electronic device that marked your answers. Still, we managed to get to the semi-finals....

The setup for the game show was very well done (by Gene, I think).

After that it was late enough to get the kids to bed, and when I got back to gaming, everyone seemed to be involved a game of something (hey, look, more Batavia and Hansa Teutonica!) So I just crashed...
 
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16. Board Game: Power Grid: Factory Manager [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:647]
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Saturday morning I read the rules for this (while everyone else was sleeping off a late night of gaming) and played a 2 player game with the wife. It was ... odd. I'm sure there must be a way to come back from another player getting a better turn, but I couldn't find it. I had a more efficient (in terms of workers) factory, but produced slightly less each turn, and just kept losing ground. Games sometimes do weird things with 2 players, so I'll try it again. (I don't mind unforgiving games, especially fast ones, but I do mind one-dimensional games. But I probably missed something).
 
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17. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:93]
Brian Bankler
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H!IHPTIAW again.

After finishing Goa, it was time to head out, since work starts back up (for my wife) early Sunday morning. Hope we can make next year!
 
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18. Board Game: Cornerstone [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:3222]
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There were a few games that are important because Der Kinder say so. And Cornerstone is clearly the most important. You build up towers via 3D -ominos (think Blokus, but in 3 Dimensions). On your turn you roll some dice, which say what blocks you can use, place one (following some rules for color patterns) and then try to move your meeple up high.

(I personally think they should have eagle-meeples (eagples?) for this, but they don't). Anyway, the kids love it. Building, falling. Whatnot. Seemed to be a pretty big draw for the adults, including random people who were wandering through the hotel.
 
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19. Board Game: Pandemic: On the Brink [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked]
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My daughter got in a game or two of Pandemic, and discovered the expansion. Looks like I'll have to add that to my next order....
 
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20. Board Game: Gnip Gnop [Average Rating:4.74 Overall Rank:14257]
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There was a copy of Gnip Gnop and one of the other kids (Morgan, I think) challenged me to a game. Normally that's a quick loss for me, but I was En Feugo and won. The I realized that it was all part of her clever scheme to win the "Play a game with everyone" social-butterfly contest and she'd probably thrown the game just to get another fast signature, while thinking "All too easy." sauron

But the joke was on her, because I'd signed her sheet for Duck Duck Safari! Ha!
 
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