The Games We Played: BGGcon Part 3

One of the fun things about BGGcon (actually, they were all fun things, but allow me a literary meme if you will..) is the ability to demo games (although, in a later episode, we will see that that can be a drawback as well..) To start Friday off, I was lucky enough to get to demo a new Steve Jackson game – Castle Panic! with the designer, Justin De Witt. It's a co-op game, where you represent the meager forces of a small keep besieged by a rampaging horde of monsters. It's a silly, light game that would be a pretty good gateway game for non-gamers (as long as you can say Orc with a straight face..) that involves the players working together to play cards to fight off any number of monsters. There is also a competitive aspect, as the player who kills the most monsters at the end of the game is the grand champion. So, you have to work together to survive the game, but always keep an eye on how you can kill the most monsters. I liked it. It plays fast and clever, and has fun bits (little cardboard walls that get knocked down as the siege progresses). We survived the game, but the designer killed the most monsters.

As I have mentioned before, 1960:Making of a President is one of my favorite games. The designers have come back with a new version of the game (different mechanics) that is themed with the 2008 election. Campaign Manager 2008 does away with the map of the previous game, and starts with the candidates neck and neck in electoral votes. The election is joined in progress, and the battleground states are all that matter. Each state is a 4×6 cardboard plaque that lists the electoral votes, where they lean on the two issues the election has been abstracted to (defense & economy) and what their two key demographics are. 4 states are in play at any time, and the players play cards that will add or remove influence. Once you have the most influence in the issue that state cares about most, you carry the state. A clever bit is that each state has a cardboard marker proportional to their votes, and when you carry the state you line that marker up on your score sheet. So, you can quickly see how close you are to 270. One other aspect of this game that bears mentioning is the card drafting. Each side has 45 cards, but (like Dominion) you will only play with 15 of them in any game. It makes for some interesting deck builds. I look forward to playing this one again soon!

I got two more games of the excellent BasketBoss in on day 3. The first was the site of the greatest travesty in Sports, as your Texas Snakes were robbed of their 4th Championship by a crooked ref. Dark days indeed. The sec0nd was noteworthy because I got to play with the great guys from the Spiel, one of my favorite gaming podcasts. Dave and Stephen were a ton of fun to play games with, and they really got into the spirit of the game.

It may seem like I love every game put in front of me (and I basically do..) but every once in awhile a game just doesn't click. For me, that was the Adventurers. You can't fault the game for it's bits. The board is a huge temple full of death traps that you are trying to escape, while collecting treasures all the way. It has an ingenious time limit, as there is a huge boulder rolling down the cave that will seal it off (or crush you, as in my case..) if you don't avoid it. The problem with the game for me is replayability. I just don't see it hitting the table that often, and the memory aspect of the game might get old, or (even worse) you might remember which tiles are which after enough plays. Another drawback to the game was the downtime between turns. We played with the full complement of 6 players, and it was a long time between turns. So, a rare miss for me here.

How better to cleanse the palate than with a great game like Endeavor? It's a game about controlling cities in Europe and slowly raping the emerging world for resources. Oh, and you can use slavery to further your needs. Despite the theme, it's a wonderful game that offers replayability in spades (every game is different), simple mechanics (the game rules are very simple), tough choices (each turn is agonizing) and multiple paths to victory. I've played it several times now, and liked it more each time I play.

I got a chance to demo another game next, Revolution, from Steve Jackson Games. It's a clever rock-paper-scissors with strategy. You are trying to curry influence with the various factions in a revolutionary war setting. You can use one of three methods – force, blackmail or bribery. If I use one force on the Priest, and you do as well, we tie & no one gets him, but if I use force and you use blackmail, I get him because force always beats blackmail. It's a clever and very mean game. One I would like to play again, to get an idea for how much replayability there is. I like the combination of perfect information (you know exactly how much force, blackmail and gold your opponents have) and blind bidding (you place your bids on the various characters behind a screen.)

The night was drawing to a close, so we moved to a few lighter games. An old classic, Bohnanza, a very silly trading card game where you are planting beans in fields. The Germans love this dang game. To me, the trading is pretty arbitrary (this game was rife with offers of "future considerations" – mostly by me. Heh..) but it's a silly game great for playing when you are tired and ready for lighter fare.

We closed the night off with a few rounds of a very cool dexterity game, Weykick. If I had kids (and was rich) I would be all over this game. It's sort of magnetic air hockey, where you control your blockers by moving magnets under the table. It's great fun, and a good way to end a long day of gaming.

Next – as promised an entire day (lasting until 2AM) where I play 3 games. Good times!

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  1. says

    Oh, and you can use slavery to further your needs. Despite the theme, it’s a wonderful game that offers replayability in spades

    … unintentional, I'm sure, but still unfortunate.