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Grand Con 2016 Recap

Grand Con Logo Revised.pngI had the privilege of being a guest at Grand Con 2016. I was invited to attend, run demos of Scoville, give a seminar about The Story of Scoville, and attend the VIP dinner where there was a special surprise.

Grand Con is a gaming convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It has been growing each year and had an expected attendance of about 2,000 people this year. They are out-growing their facility because there is so much awesomeness!

Attenders could visit the vendor hall, with a nice selection of vendors and products. For gaming vendors there was Tasty Minstrel Games, Floodgate Games, Kids Table Board Gaming, Green Couch Games, Calliope Games, Action Phase Games, and a few more that I don’t remember. For a full list visit the vendor page.There were also some RPG booths, a couple local game store booths, and a few other things as well. It was a nice vendor hall that I will expect to be even grander next year.

Attenders also had access to the Grand Con game library. This one isn’t as large as the Gen Con game library, but I would say that the quality of games in the Grand Con library was better since they weren’t overloaded with a bunch of out-dated inventory. There was a great selection of about 400 games, many of which were brand new. The gaming library room was almost always full.

Another nice thing was that Grand Con had many events and a nice event catalog for the attenders. They had brought in a bunch of game designers and ran charity “Play with the Designer” events. The gamers really seemed to like these events. Proceeds went to the De Vos Children’s Hopsital.

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Craft Beer I Enjoyed

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Some awesome artwork on the Bell’s Eccentric Cafe menu.

You can’t really go to Grand Rapids and not enjoy craft beer (unless beer isn’t your thing). So we made sure to work in a few different breweries along the way. On the way to Grand Rapids we stopped at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo. We enjoyed some flights of beer in their beer garden and soaked up a little sun in the beautiful weather. My favorite beers from Bell’s were the Roundhouse India Red Ale and the Special Double Cream Stout.

After we left Bell’s we headed to Grand Rapids and ate dinner outside at Founders Brewing. They have an amazing indoor/outdoor area to accompany their excellent beer. Since I had tried 8 different kinds at Bell’s I was feeling a little beered out. I opted for a low abv beer called CTRL ALT Delete. When I “Untappd” it I earned a special badge that I had been working towards. I earned “Legendary” status for having 500 unique beer check-ins.

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That was a fun milestone to hit and I’m glad that it happened in “Beer City.” During our trip we also visited Brewery Vivant, which was probably awesome but I was struggling from a duel with some bad sushi, so I didn’t partake. It was located in this awesome old church and everyone liked the beers they got.

The other brewery that my friend Jeremy and his wife visited was The Mitten, which is in an old firehouse. He mentioned that the beer was pretty good overall.

It was nice to be able to fit the “Barley” with the “Boards” and make it a complete trip.

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Games I Played

One of the best parts of a game convention for me is that I can usually learn and play new games that I don’t own. My wife and I attended with another couple. So we took advantage of free time and the game library and learned and played the following games:

Port Royal: We played this in our hotel room and we love this game.

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The marble holder where explosions occur!

Potion ExplosionMy friends and I had tried to demo this at Gen Con but the demo copy was always occupied. So we grabbed the library copy and played it and really enjoyed it. The decisions were more interesting than I expected and my friend ended up buying a copy at one of the vendors.

Fauna: This game is kind of like an animal specific version of Wits and Wagers. Players have to guess things like where animals live, the weight, the length, or the height of the animal. We liked it and thought our kids would like it. It was easy to learn and play.

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A look at the box and main board of Coal Baron.

Coal BaronI had wanted to play this one for a long time. Jeremy and I got it out. I had already read the rules so we were able to get started pretty quickly. I really enjoyed this game. The artwork is great, the gameplay is fun and interesting, and it all worked well. The only complaint I had was the paper money. They really missed the mark with the paper money as they could easily have used cardboard coins like most of the game industry. Overall this was my favorite “new to me” game of the convention and I’m glad I finally was able to play it.

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The unnecessary but cool looking ships of North Wind.

North Wind: We sort of enjoyed this Klaus Teuber game since it has some fun decisions. The downside is that you can literally go the entire game without ever being able to complete an objective. This is simply based on the luck of the draw from the tiles you reveal. The other downside for us was the constant shuffling of a tile pile after each player took their turn.

Gold West: I had played the prototype with the designer a couple years ago and I really enjoyed it. I am sad that it has taken me this long to play the final product. I think this game has some fun and interesting choices. The gameplay is pretty simple though the main mechanic can be a bit tricky to figure out how best to use it. I love the theme. The artwork was excellent as well. I recommend checking it out. If I hadn’t played it before the con this may have ousted Coal Baron for my favorite game.

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A nice look at the game board for Gold West.

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The Cacao  board near the end of the game.

Cacao: This wasn’t in the library. Jeremy bought a copy from a vendor and we cracked it open. It is a tile laying game where played collect and sell cocoa pods. Players also utilize the temples for scoring, take advantage of the lakes, and earn sun tiles for bonus overlaying abilities. We collectively enjoyed the game quite a bit. While I was off on a Scoville demo, the other three played it a second time. So it was well liked.

Vikings on Board: Jeremy and I had considered purchasing this at Gen Con. The rules are pretty simple but the gameplay is total chaos. We stopped playing because we didn’t like that you had seemingly little control over what you could accomplish. It was definitely too much of a “take-that” game for the four of us.

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The Vikings on board the board for Vikings on Board.

Going, Going, Gone!I had played this at BGG Con 2013 with Mr. Buonocore and company. At that time of night it was an excellent experience. So we cracked it open here and enjoyed it as well. My wife was great at dumping all her cubes into one single cup, which she would win, and then have very few cubes left. She won one auction 12 to nothing. She won another 7 to nothing. She didn’t win the game. Jeremy managed to get a set of 7 instruments for a big score of 44. We liked it and I’ll definitely play it again.

Train of ThoughtWe got this older TMG game to the table since we wanted a shorter game. In Train of Thought you try to get the other players to guess your secret word by using a pre-determined word in your clue. When (if) they guess, you get a new secret word and have to use the guessed word in the clue. Your round continues with your train of thought until the timer runs out. Some of the words were really tough to connect, but as we went on we got better at it.

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Scoville Experience

It was a privilege and honor to join the Grand Con team to run a few charity “Play With The Designer” Scoville events. At each of these events I was able to award the winner a copy of Scoville. It is always so much fun to play with people who are new to the game or with people who have played it and are passionate about it. I got a good mix of both during the convention. During one event the guy who took second place went to the TMG booth in the vendor hall, bought a copy of Scoville and Scoville: Labs and brought the back to me to have him sign them. That sort of stuff is really what makes game design worth it to me.

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A Scoville conga line!

Overall people who played seemed to really enjoy the game. One couple had me sign one of their recipe cards, which I was happy to do.

The other cool event was a seminar called, “The Story of Scoville.” For this seminar I was joined by the Scoville artist, Josh Cappel, and the TMG representative at Grand Con, Daniel Hadlock. We covered the whole story from my end of coming up with the design, to Josh’s artistic picture of the process, to Daniel’s “behind the scenes” manufacturing and distributing stuff. It was a lot of fun to do. One of the people was a younger guy who is interested in game design. It was a great opportunity to share with him some of the things I have learned along the way about game design.

The other really awesome thing was the VIP dinner on Saturday night. Each of the VIPs and the guests had a special banquet dinner with each other. I had an excellent steak and baked potato and some local craft beer. But the highlight of that party for me was the special cakes that Grand Con had made for the event. It speaks for itself:

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A Scoville (right) and Scoville Labs (left) cake to celebrate the convention!

The whole cake was edible. The hand and trophy were made with rice krispies. The top layer was a bananas foster cake. The bottom layer was a spicy chocolate cake. And the labs flask was a cookies and cream cake. It was a little sad when they started to get cut up and served to people. I couldn’t believe how awesome the cakes were and it was so exciting to be a part of that.

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Overall I’d like to thank Marc Specter and Brian Lenz and all the Grand Con team for putting on an excellent show and for inviting me to be a part of it. I also want to thank those people who participated in all the charity events. Your generosity was excellent. It was great to see good friends and make new ones. The board gaming community is always awesome and it’s so fun to be a part of it!

International Spieltage 2015 AKA “Essen”

The logo could use some graphic designer assistance.

Tomorrow marks the start of the International Spieltage in Essen, Germany. It is the grandest of board game exhibitions in the world*. While I won’t be attending I thought I would share some things to pay attention to or look forward to regarding the convention. To learn more check out the official website: http://www.merz-verlag-en.com/

*Some may argue that Gen Con is the grandest and I would not fault them for that.

For the remainder of this article I will refer to the convention as “Spiel.” There are hundreds of games that are released at Spiel and the awesome, talented, and overworked W. Eric Martin of BGG (Board Game Geek) News has been compiling a list of those games ever since Gen Con concluded. You can find that list here:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/174654/spiel-2015-preview

I want to point out a few titles that look intriguing to me, but I’ll get to that in a moment. One of the highlights of Spiel, as a non-attender, is watching the BGG live feed. Game designers and publishers sit down with someone from BGG and explain or teach or describe their games. This is always such a great thing because it allows us to learn about the game in great detail. I’ll update this article tomorrow with a link to the live feed, otherwise you should be able to find it on the BGG website.

UPDATE: Here is the LINK to the live feed.

Use this link to see the schedule of games they will be covering.

Games of Interest

If I were attending Spiel I would be interested in these games. For the sake of my bank account it is a good thing I’m not attending, as this is a pretty long list. This list is in my order of interest with the most interesting being the first two and then decreasing interest as the list goes on.

Rome: City of Marble

Rome: City of Marble is a must-buy for me. I am personal friends with the designer, Brett Myers, and I had the privilege of playing this prototype. I couldn’t be happier for this game to come to market via R&R Games. It is a solid mid-weight Euro style game that is easy to teach and play. I can’t wait to get a final copy on the table!

The hook with this game is how players use tiles to create different type of buildings. I’ve never seen such an awesome use of Rhombuses in a game before!

Gold West

Gold West is also a must-buy for me (which I will likely do since it has been released here in the US). I am also friends with the designer, J. Alex Kevern, and had the privilege of playing this prototype. It is also a Euro-style game. This game, by Tasty Minstrel Games, utilizes a fresh twist on the Mancala mechanic where you drop resources in bins and get to use all the leftover resources for your actions.

There is a great amount of strategic planning to be done with the options available to you. Planning your moves with your resource bins is a lot of fun!

Dice City: (BGG link) This game looks intriguing as it allows players to upgrade their dice throughout the game and increase their options. Check out the great Designer Diary.

Karuba: (BGG link) I love when a game offers the same information to players and allows them to use it differently. Karuba does just that. Plus, this game looks light enough to be able to get it to the table quite a bit.

Taverna: (BGG link) The artwork on this game looks amazing. The colors really pop and it is vibrant. I am a sucker for good artwork. That said, there are a few cards with some scary or revealing images. Overall, though, this looks like it could be a fun worker placement game.

Grand Austria Hotel: (BGG link) I love Euro style games and this one seems to fit that mold, especially since it has artwork by Klemenz Franz. There isn’t yet that much information available for the game but I’m intrigued none-the-less.

Burano: (BGG link) This looks like another good Euro-style game. It has some cool color mechanics and the board art is visually stunning.

Istanbul: Mocha & Baksheesh Expansion: (BGG link) I love the base game of Istanbul. This expansion looks like it will add quite a bit to the gameplay while perhaps relaxing some of the interaction on the board.

The Prodigals Club: (BGG link) I love Last Will. It’s probably in my Top 10 games. This game, while a stand-alone game, is designed within the Last Will theme and can be integrated with Last Will. I’m looking forward to trying this one.

Nippon: (BGG link) By What’s Your Game, this looks like an excellent and deep Euro-style game.

Signorie: (BGG link) Also by What’s Your Game, this looks like yet another excellent and deep Euro-style game.

Side note: If you enjoy Euro-style games you should probably pay attention to the games that What’s Your Game is coming out with. I previously owned Zhanguo and I am wishing I hadn’t traded it away.

Trickerion: Legends of Illusion: (BGG link) I wish I had backed the Kickstarter for this. I love the magic theme and the way it’s integrated into the game. It sounds like it takes a while to play, but I think it’s probably a lot of fun.

Camel Up: Supercup Expansion: (BGG link) I love Camel Up. It is easy to teach, quick to play, and so chaotic that it leads to crazy moments of fun. This expansion looks like it adds quite a bit to the awesomeness in the game by offering more betting opportunities and more chances for camels to mix it up.

Hengist: (BGG link) I love games by Uwe Rosenberg and I own both the Agricola and Le Havre two player games, so I’m looking forward to this one as well. Plus, there’s a dragonship!

Liguria: (BGG link) I like the game Fresco and this is a prequel to Fresco so I’m hoping for good things from it. Russian

Favor of the Pharoah: (BGG link) Despite the uninspiring artwork of Bezier Games, the games themselves are a lot of fun. I expect the same from this Tom Lehmann game from Bezier.

Russian Railroads: German Railroads Expansion: (BGG link) Russian Railroads is a fantastic game. It’s kind of long so it doesn’t hit the table very often. But it’s so good, so I’m definitely interested in this expansion.

Quartz: (BGG link) I really like the artwork and theme of this one so I’m interested in seeing more about it.

Ticket to Ride Expansion #5: United Kingdom & Pennsylvania: (BGG link) Whether you are a completionist, a train fanatic, or just like the Ticket to Ride series of games, you’ll probably wanna pick this one up.

That’s list “short” list of interesting games that are available at Spiel 2015. What games are you most looking forward to?

My 2013 GenCon Experience

Yesterday I posted a gallery with 40 pictures from GenCon. Today I am giving a more prose-y account of my experiences at GenCon. But with having only 15 hours of sleep total during GenCon I may not remember all the details. So bear with me as I blab through this.

Scoville and my approach to GenCon 2013

Ahead of Schedule!

Ahead of Schedule!

When the calendar flipped from 2012 to 2013 I made a list of goals for the year. One of those goals proclaimed this year the “Year of Manliness,” which we won’t get into here. 🙂 Another goal was to design and playtest Scoville so that it was ready to pitch at GenCon. If you follow this blog at all then you likely know that I didn’t have to pitch Scoville last week at GenCon since it was already picked up by Tasty Minstrel Games. Yay!

So I figured I could try and get another game ready to pitch for GenCon. But that didn’t happen. Games don’t just develop themselves. While I brought a copy of Trading Post and a copy of Conclave, neither were to the point where I felt comfortable putting them on the table with other people besides myself. I showed Conclave to a few people who seemed to like the concept. But the bottom line was that since Scoville was signed and I had nothing else to show I was basically free of stress at GenCon 2013.

So my approach was to cultivate, enhance, and develop professional relationships with designers and publishers. Basically I just wanted to meet as many people as possible. That’s a pretty nice approach to be able to take. I always have to keep in mind that while board games and board game design are my hobby, they are the real-life day to day jobs of a lot of the publishing companies. It’s easy for me to just go up to them and joke around and have fun, but I have to remember that these are professional relationships and I should try to treat it as such. So don’t act like a jerk and do stupid stuff since these are the people that you could be working with in the future.

I brought along the business cards that I had made for Protospiel-Milwaukee. I think I handed out about 30 of those over the course of the convention. I also was able to gather a few business cards from other people. I’ve gained a few new Twitter followers as well, which is always great. So overall I’m pretty happy with the business relationships that I formed.

Thursday Recap

On the road to GenCon!

On the road to GenCon!

Our 5 person cadre hit the road from Madison around 5am. That felt really early, but we powered through and it felt great to be hanging out on the way to GenCon.

Our drive had a few highlights, and thankfully no lowlights. Along the way we made two pit stops. The first was in the beautiful small town of Tonica, Illinois. Unforunately we had to drive like two or three miles off the freeway just to find the gas station. But at least when we found it, it lived up to the expectations of a small town gas station in Illinois.

At the second gas station we stopped at we were pleased to see 10 police cars with cops surrounding a car at a gas pump. We weren’t sure if we were safe, but we gawked for a while anyway.  But let’s keep going with this recap.

On the road we played one scenario of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. I had not played a game like this before but I really enjoyed it. It’s basically a thinky game where people talk through the scenario and try to figure out the Who-Dun-It type thing. We ultimately got the answers right, but we used way more leads than Sherlock did.

Another thing we did during the ride was design a game together. We even pitched it to a publisher later in the con, but I don’t think we were able to really portray the potential of the game. These are all the details I can give, but I think this game has a lot of potential.

We rolled into Indy around lunch time and headed to a restaurant called Yats. Ben had spoken so highly of it last year that we figured we should start our GenCon with it this year.  It was delicious.

Then we hit the hotel and then hopped in line for our GenCon passes in Will Call. The excitement was abundant! To the exhibit hall we went, ready to buy games and meet people!

Thanks Ken!

Thanks Ken!

The first person I met was Ken Grazier of Geek-Craft.com. He had made some Scoville buttons for me and so I traded a small amount of cash for them. They turned out great and I’m thankful to Ken for his button making prowess.

Then we headed to a few specific booths to try and snag some stuff. Thursday isn’t our main exhibit hall day, so we jumped from booth to booth.

An obvious stop for me was the Tasty Minstrel Games booth. I connected with the TMG guys and met the awesome Brian Frahm, who was demoing Dungeon Roll a ton over the convention. Brian is a great guy and it was a pleasure to meet him.

We also stopped at the Cool Stuff Inc. booth because they usually have great deals on board games. We then stopped at the Alderac booth to grab Trains. Then we jumped over to the Asmodee booth to snag Spyrium. And then we hit up the Queen Games booth where we got the new Kingdom Builder expansion and Via Appia. We also stopped at the Game Salute booth to grab Keyflower and The Little Prince and check out Nothing Personal. Overall we got a nice lot of games on our first day:

First Day Haul at GenCon!

First Day Haul at GenCon!

In the picture it should be noted that League of Six was obtained via trade.

Then we headed to our hotel room to unwind a bit and decided to head to the bar for a game. We played The Little Prince, which I’ll be reviewing on Friday. Then we headed to dinner where we got in a game of Love Letter.

Overall I was able to connect with a bunch of people on Thursday, which was awesome. Here are the games I played on Thursday:

  • Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective (The Cryptic Curse scenario)
  • The Little Prince
  • Love Letter
  • Piñata
  • Skyline
  • Spyrium
  • Super Awesome Thing (prototype)
  • Coloretto
  • Coup

As for the Barley side of things Thursday included a sample of the GenCon brew “Flagon Slayer,” a Rock Bottom Honey Ale, and the brown ale at the JW Marriott.

Friday Recap

Kings of Artifice by Wyrd Games

Kings of Artifice by Wyrd Games

Friday is our main Exhibit hall day. On the way to the exhibit hall we noticed a game called Kings of Artifice that none of us had heard of. This was being demoed in Hall C (I think) by the publishing company called Wyrd Games. It had an interesting mechanic of summoning people onto the land and using them to the best advantage. You could be conservative and focus on building your little part of a kingdom, or you could be aggressive and try to wipe out your opponents. It seemed like an interesting game but wasn’t something our group ended up buying. While we were demoing I received a message from the honorable Matt Worden. It was an invitation to speak in a panel discussion on Protospiel. My awesome friends had no reservations about me going to partake in the panel.

So I went over to the Crowne Plaza and joined some esteemed designers for the panel discussion. That was the awesome part. The downside was that there were only six attenders. We had as many people on the panel as there were people attending the panel. Apparently they had 45 attenders last year. I think that since it was in the Crowne Plaza, people weren’t willing to leave the convention center to come over and attend. But I was honored that Matt would invite me to come speak on the panel. Thanks Matt!

The other downside was that I was really looking forward to walking through the exhibit hall. I figured my guys were already halfway through it. But when I came back and found them in Hall D playing a game I was greatly pleased that they had not yet gone into the hall. They chose to play a game and wait for me instead. That was awesome!

So we started walking aisle by aisle through the hall. It’s such an experience to do that. If you’ve never been to GenCon it’s hard to understand the massiveness of the exhibit hall. We bought a few more games before three of the five of us headed out for a talk on Evil Villains by author Brandon Sanderson. One of the fun things about the exhibit hall is sitting down and trying games. One of my favorite games to play was Weykick. It’s basically a magnetic take on air hockey, but it’s very enjoyable. I got owned by Jeremy. We also tried Crokinole, which is a game we’d like to build for ourselves. It’s a fun flicking game on a big round wooden board.

Brew Crafters is awesome!

Brew Crafters is awesome!

We finished in the hall in time to grab some food at Chick-Fil-A in the mall before a demo. We successfully avoided the two hour lines at the food trucks this year! Lunch in hand, we joined up with our guys at a demo for Dice Hate Me Games‘ upcoming game Brew Crafters by designer Ben Rosset. I’d go into a review of the game but I might save that for a session report on BGG. The bottom line is that this is a great game, and not simply because it is a perfect fit for Boards & Barley! It worked really well, the decisions in the game all seemed important and made sense, the theme was awesome, and, most importantly, it was a lot of fun! I’m looking forward to seeing this one on Kickstarter! Ben is a very nice guy and it was a pleasure to meet him. Check out his other game, Mars Needs Mechanics, available from Nevermore Games.

After that we went to the Rathskellar for an awesome time in the beer garden. There were German beers on tap, pretzels to consume, and a plate of sausage that tasted delicious. On top of there there was a really good band that had a great sound. Hanging in the beer garden was one of the highlights of GenCon 2013.

Late that night we headed back to Hall D with a latte. I had the pleasure of teaching Scoville to several new players. It seemed well received and I was happy to give away some of the buttons. It was also cool to have two simultaneous games running. At the same time we were able to chat with Michael Mindes, owner of Tasty Minstrel Games. I also had the privilege to meet Rob Lundy, artist/graphic designer for Dungeon Roll. He’s a home brewer, too!

After all was said and done I rolled/slumped into bed around 3:30am. I’ve been told that’s typical of GenConners.

Friday games I played were these (Not very many):

  • Kings of Artifice
  • Dread Curse
  • Weykick
  • Crokinole
  • Brew Crafters (prototype signed with Dice Hate Me Games)

And Friday’s Barley choices included two (large) Spaten Optimators.

Saturday Recap

Saturday is our last day of GenCon since we normally depart early Sunday morning. We started things off with a demo of Rialto by Stefan Feld. I had already picked it up from the Tasty Minstrel booth because of the great price ($30). It was nice to have someone teach us the game though. It was an enjoyable play and the game seems like a nice lightish Feld game. I was happy to have picked it up.

We then wandered the hall a little more to make sure we didn’t miss anything and to pick up a few other things. I snagged Targi for $20 which seemed like a good find. Then we had lunch and made our way to the GenCon Library room.

In the Library we had scheduled a demo of Francis Drake by Eagle/Gryphon Games. I was a little hesitant about trying this out because it seemed primed to be a 3 hour dry and boring Euro. Boy was I wrong. This game was really fun. There is a nice resource procurement track that worked really well. After goods are obtained you then ship off for a trip to central America where you can pick up trade goods, battle against villages and forts, and attempt to battle another ship. This game was very solid and was really enjoyable. I was very surprised by how fun it was and how not-dry or boring it was.

After dinner at Rock Bottom we made our way to Hall D again where we got in a game of Flick Wars coming soon by Andrew Tullsen and Print & Play Productions. I personally enjoy flicking games like Bisikle, Crokinole, and others. This was also a fun flicking game. I believe Andrew will be putting it on Kickstarter in the near future.

We also got to play Lagoon by David Chott, which should be coming to Kickstarter by his company, 3 Hares Games. While the fantasy theme wasn’t really my thing, the gameplay was very interesting and enjoyable. There are some really interesting combos you can do in the game, which make the decisions really awesome. There is a nice balance of trying to aim for combos to set something up for a future turn versus simply trying to score a tile on the present turn. I think this game was well done and I wish David the best with it.

After that I was fortunate to have a few more players for Scoville. And I was able to sit down for the game as well. It went well and I heard something that really humbled me. One of the players said after the play that it’s in his top ten games. That was amazing.

The night ended with a play of Alex Kevern‘s Gold West prototype. And I had the privilege of playing it with him, Ben Pinchback (Co-Designer of the award winning game Fleet, currently with an expansion on Kickstarter), and the honorable TC Petty III (Designer of the awesome game VivaJava). It was great to meet them and game with them. They are all outstanding people.

Alex Kevern's Gold West

Alex Kevern’s Gold West

Gold West is a great game. There is a really cool take on the Mancala mechanic that you really need to think about to maximize what you can do on your turns. In the game you are helping to develop a western town. You obtain metals and building materials that you have to figure out how best to use. Each turn you can place a building onto the territory and claim the goods from that piece of land. Once you have the goods, you need to place them into one of the Mancala spots on your player board. This is the tricky part of the game. On any given turn you can only use the resources that are placed into the last spot after taking a Mancala action. So you have to plan accordingly. This is a sweet use of the Mancala mechanic and made the decisions in the game very interesting.  The other part of the game that I really enjoyed was how to use the resources once they are available. You can ship off the metals, use them to develop the boom town, or fulfill investments for big points. Each of these mechanics works really well together and I was happy to be able to play the game. It was fun and strategic while also being accessible and easy to teach. And it only took about 55 minutes for four players to finish the game. That’s awesome!

The games I played on Saturday were these:

  • Rialto
  • The Downfall of Pompeii
  • Francis Drake
  • Love Letter
  • Flick Wars (prototype)
  • Lagoon (prototype)
  • Scoville
  • Gold West (prototype)

The barley I consumed were a pair of Rock Bottom brews: Red Ale and Kolsch.

Saturday was over and Sunday meant waking up early and hitting the road. So here are my final thoughts from GenCon 2013:

Top Games Played During GenCon:

My favorite unpublished games were Brew Crafters and Gold West. Those games are both games I would have bought at the convention if they were available. I’ll definitely be watching the development of both of them.

My favorite published games (or soon to be released) were The Little Prince, Spyrium, and Francis Drake. These three games were my most enjoyable plays of the convention.

I also reconnected with or introduced myself to about 50 people. That was great since I had only previously known people through online connections. For aspiring designers who want to get in the game I highly recommend getting on Twitter and starting to develop relationships with the awesome people in the industry. I’ll see you all next year! (Hopefully sooner)

Biggest Disappointments:

I was really hoping to pick up Bruges at GenCon. But Z-Man games only brought a few copies and it was sold out after a half hour. That was well before we arrived on Thursday. That was really disappointing.

The other disappointments had to do with prototype games that I didn’t have a chance to play. I really wanted to try Gyre by Eric Leath (and I’ll likely PNP it), VivaJava Dice by TC Petty III (but it was 3am by the time TC had a chance to show me), Belle of the Ball by Daniel Solis (I think Dice Hate Me had a copy available), and Pay Dirt by Tory Kniemann (designer of Alien Frontiers). Those are all games I had hoped to play but didn’t get the chance.

Next year I think I’ll try and schedule more appointments with people so I can try out their games rather than simply trying to connect randomly.

Overall, though, for these to be the big disappointments means that my 2013 GenCon experience was pretty awesome!

Oakleaf Games

Board Games by Nat Levan

Kevin G Nunn

Mechanisms and Machinations

play without fear

on game design and play

Formal Ferret Games

Gil Hova designs, publishes, and plays board games

Boards and Bees

buzzing about board games

Go Forth And Game

The People Who Make The Games Talking To The People Who Play The Games .... with Tomgurg

Hyperbole Games

Blogging about designing games and brewing beer!

Stonemaier Games

We believe in creating memorable, beautiful, fun games

Cumbersome

Blogging about designing games and brewing beer!

Purple Pawn

Game News Across the Board

iSlaytheDragon

Blogging about designing games and brewing beer!

Daniel Solis

Blogging about designing games and brewing beer!

Board Game Reviews by Josh

Blogging about designing games and brewing beer!

Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Blogging about designing games and brewing beer!

Inspiration to Publication

News from the Game Lab of the Bamboozle Brothers

Theology of Games

Two Geeks, Hundreds of Games, One God.

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