The Games We Played: BGG Con Part 1

I'm back from vacation, and finally have a little time to throw down some notes on my trip to Boardgamegeekcon. I might also intersperse a few random observations from my ensuing family Thanksgiving in Amarillo, Texas. It was practically an anthropological outing for me! But, I digress…

I got to the hotel on Wednesday, the night before, but games were already being played left and right. As a first timer, I was still trying to get the lay of the land, and I spent more time watching games being played than playing at first. I had not quite grokked that BBGcon is all about walking up to some random players setting up a game and asking them if they needed another player (which is how I got in most of the best games I played..)

My friend Dave and I played a couple games of a fun little cardgame called Gene Pool as we waited to get into the hotel restaurant. Gene pool involves moving strands of DNA to form the genetic strings of various diseases. It can be a little bit of a brain burner, as you seek to get the specific cards you need to move the strands to match your disease cards (matching diseases gets you victory points.) I like the game, it is very similar to one of my all time favorite 2 player games Phoenix, although with an actual theme. The information on the cards about the various diseases is interesting, and adds a little to the game.

After dinner, we wandered a bit, and I saw a bunch of new games being played. I started putting together a must play list – Tobago, Dungeon Lords, Shipyard, Gates of Loyang, etc. We ended up getting into a game that I would not normally have played (a definite hall mark of BGGcon) Automobile. It's a strong economic game from the king of dense economic games, Martin Wallace (Age of Steam, Tinners Trail, etc). Now, I normally am not a fan of Wallace games. Age of Steam is so unforgiving that you can lose the game on the first turn, and still have to play out the string for two more hours. But, Automobile is more forgiving, and (to me) more interesting. The idea is that you are auto magnates trying to make money in America's nascent auto industry. One interesting thing in the game was that workers that you placed in certain areas of the board were persistent (so you weren't placing the same workers each turn.) It also had a neat obsolescence mechanic for older factories. I really liked the game. Certainly my favorite of Wallace's games.

After 2 hours or so of Automobile, I took a brief walk and then crashed to prepare myself for day two (con registration and the first full day of the con – where I got to play three of the hot new games two of which blew me away, and the other made me decide not to buy it.)

I'll be back later (probably this afternoon) with Part 2. I'll leave you with a few snippets from my time in Amarillo.

  • We ate at a great BBQ place called Rudy's. The moist (read fatty) brisket was the way to go. While we were there, my Dad & I had a long conversation about how truly awful the lyrics to most "new country" songs are. My Brother in Law is pretty sure we almost started a fight with an old couple sitting next to us, who apparently kept shooting us disapproving looks.  By the way, I would like to publicly apologize to my Brother in Law for any trouble the various conversations we had in public might have done to him. He does have to work in that town after all. We almost staged a scene where he upbraided us for not being properly respectful of Jesus, just to gain him some Amarillo street cred.
  • I saw (on more than one occasion) actual tumbleweeds. One of them was almost the size of a small car, and rolled right across the freeway. It was astounding!
  • Alert Rush Limbaugh, as the sales clerk at Best Buy wished me "Happy Holidays." I believe that's a misdemeanor in Amarillo.
  • The events center in Amarillo is  a very cool building. The design is supposed to reflect the colors of nearby (and absolutely breathtaking) Palo Duro Canyon. The roof is apparently made of cattle truck panels.

Last 5 posts by Ezra


  1. Andrew says

    Sounds like a blast. Board games I played over the Thanksgiving weekend:

    Arkham Horror
    Kremlin (Man, I love this game. It's long out of print, so I only get to play it when I visit my New England cousins.)

    I also got to flip through my cousin's ancient copy of Car Wars, including sheets of loose-leaf paper decorated with junior-high-era illustrations of his characters.

  2. Ezra says

    Andrew, Kremlin is on the short list of my favorite games (and there's a blog idea for me..) I used to play every New Years Eve when I was in Germany. I was nearly exiled to Siberia for my lack of knowledge of the Russian anthem.

    I spent Thanksgiving weekend introducing my sister & her husband to Agricola & Dominion.

  3. Ezra says

    Oh, and I still have all that old Car Wars stuff. I also found an old binder full of my (totally not Marvel rip off) Champions characters. My brother and I created a whole pantheon of heroes and villains for that game. Awesome old memories!

  4. says

    Rudy's! I love their sauce and their creamed corn. Their turkey is also worth checking out.

    As for games, I've owned and have wanted to play Automobile for a while now. It sounds excellent. You really should try Brass, Ezra.

    This holiday I *finally* got to play Die Macher. Wow. What a beast. Great game. We lightened it up after that with games of Dungeonquest, Prophecy and Runebound. Yeah, it got geeky.