The Games We Played – BGGcon Part 4

Saturday was a little different day at BGGcon. First off, there were two scheduled activities that I was participating in that morning. I got a little bit of a late start, but made it down for the start of the flea market. This was a 3 room area where folks could just lay out their random games and sell them. There were all sorts of good deals to be found. Alas, luggage space was a definite limiting factor for me, otherwise I would have bought a few things (including a mint condition Stop Thief! one of the defining games of my childhood..) and I got just edged out for a copy of Space Alert (a space adventure game that has a CD soundtrack that tells you the missions.) As with all good flea markets, the best deals happened either right at the start or right at the end, but it was just fun to wander the rows and look at tons of great games.

The second fun thing that afternoon was a math trade. Math trades are a formula that has been worked out that allows one to list several games they would like to trade, and then examine the list of games others have offered and indicate which you are interested in. A computer puts all the wantlists together and spits out various deals that can accomodate the most wantlists. Essentially I give A to B and recieve C from D. It's very cool. Usually they are done via mail, but this time we did one in person. I am happy to say that everything I got back was smaller than what I traded. Did I mention that luggage space was a premium?

Sadly, because there was not much time between the flea market and the math trade it was now 1PM, and I had not played a game yet. Dave found me, and dragged me into a game I had never heard of, Terra Prime. It's a brand new game, and in a very clever promotion, the winner of the game got to keep the copy we played with. The idea is that we are trying to colonize various planets while exploring a dangerous universe. It has a neat hidden information element, where the tiles that make up the universe are turned over. You can spend an action to scan it before you travel there, and that's the only way to have an idea of the dangers facing you. You are trying to colonize worlds, ship goods and make the most leadership points. The game had nice components, and some good ideas, but just did not click with me. It took a little long for what it was in my opinion (although we played 5 player and they recommend playing 4, so that could have something to do with it..)

After that game, I got a late lunch and then went off in search of another game to play. We were planning on finding a demo of Dungeon Lords to sit in on, but as I entered the main room I saw my Moby Dick. Android! That's right, a ridiculously long game with all sorts of strange mechanics with 3 other players who have never played before. I knew my night was over. I love the game, but I recognize how bizarrely unwieldly it is. Each player plays the game somewhat differently thanks to the mechanics of their special abilities, which means you have to explain a lot of rules for each player.

At it's heart, the game is really a story. It's important that you read all the cards played out loud. You really get a feel for the characters and how well intertwined the game all is. It's surprisingly well written. It's also a very mean game. The mechanics of the game require you to play against the other players (each character has a deck of good and bad cards).

This game had some challenges. The game rooms were pretty noisy (even after we moved to a smaller side room) which made reading the cards tricky. Also, one of our players did not speak great English. They understood everything just fine, but had trouble reading, so I ended up reading their cards.

To give you an idea of the time frame, set up and rules (along with me describing each character and a brief overview of their abilities, etc) took about an hour. The game itself took about 5 hours. I warned everybody before hand that it was a long game (the only longer game I have played is the absolutely great Die Macher) but I think they were unprepared for it. You really have to want to play Android, but BGGcon is a great place to give it a try.

It's a great game. I am fascinated by the mechanics of it (find another game that has a multiplayer jigsaw puzzle seamlessly integrated into it) and the interactions of the various characters and cards. There are several different murders you can play (each with multiple events, etc.) so it has a ton of replayability, but it really can only hit the table on special occasions. I was glad I got a chance to play it, because I had been talking about it being a perfect con game for most of the con. I realize the game is not for everyone, but it definitely is right up my alley.

The night ended with me playing a game I never like, Tichu. It's apparently the most popular card game in China. It is beloved among gamers for some reason. It's a clever trick taking partner game, and I suck at it. Although, given that I play it once every 5 years or so, it takes me a few games to remember the rules. I suppose it wouldn't be a real gaming convention without a round of Tichu, but I wouldn't mind skipping it sometime.

So, it was technically 3 games (although we started Tichu well after 1AM..) but it was still a very full and tiring day. Coming up: the final day of BGGcon where I finally get to play Dungeon Lords.

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  1. Del Coro says

    Throughout all of this, not one game of the recently-rereleased (and utterly gorgeous) Space Hulk?

  2. says

    Yeah, I have been looking at Space Hulk and thinking about buying myself a present. Thanks for this series. I used to trek to the gamecons religiously in my younger days, though mostly in my Avalon Hill / SPI wargamer phase. You are making me nostalgic. I still can't believe I had the time (during high school) to spending the entire summer playing one iteration of War in Europe with my neighbor. Took us almost 8 weeks. He had this truly irritating record of German marching songs he would play every time he won a victory. Russian generals Winter and Space eventually destroyed him.