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Category: Conventions (Page 1 of 4)

Gen Con Bound and Arrival

Gen Con prep this year was a bit time consuming but I was able to get through it before we left on Tuesday. This was the first time we left early but the flight prices were so much cheaper even with an extra hotel night that we decided to come out early.

After a 3 hour flight delay and some hotel hijinks, we got in bed at 3am. Luckily, we had a ton of drink tickets so a double scotch helped move things along.

When we got to the hotel, things were very deja vu as I saw a Waffle House right outside. After trying to convince my friends that we’d been here before, I realized that they weren’t with me last time I stayed here as it was the very first Gen Con I attended 12 years ago.  As nice as the trip down memory lane was, I am very glad that this was just a late night stopover and we will move on to downtown and markedly better accommodations.

This year I’m going to try to keep up with my recaps of the convention during the Con so updates will be coming as I have time.

CabinCon Prep: Tiny Ass Numbers on Tiny Ass Cars

With CabinCon (our yearly friend meet-up where we catch up and play games up in the mountains) starting Wednesday, there are few things I want to get done before I leave so today was a major prep day.

One thing I want to host this year is a Championship Formula Racing mini cup, a “CabinCon Cup,” if you will.  This will be two or three races with point scoring to determine the overall winner.  I picked up a set of 1957 F1 cars on Shapeways to serve as each player’s cars and as is our custom for CabinCon, these will be given away to each player along with whatever placement prize they achieve during the CabinCon Cup.

After painting a set of the cars up, I wanted to work on the “trophy” stands that will also serve as prizes for the event.

This is a pretty simple stand with a little wooden bit at the bottom and a dowel post at the top, which will support the car.  Magnets for the post and the cars will make it so the cars stay on the stand and can be interchangeable.

So here we have the concept all primed up.  I then had to drill into the cars to magnetize them.  This always sucks but I’ve gotten used to it after all the Dropzone Commander that I’ve magnetized.

Just make sure to mark the magnets for polarity so that everything lines up at the end.

Next came the painting of the actual cars.  Unlike my last set of painted Formula 1 cars, I used google image search more for inspiration rather than trying to find the actual car color schemes.

The 1957 formula 1 cars are pretty conservative on detail which made painting them up pretty quick.  I decided to enhance that detail by adding numbers this time.  Not sure how soon I’ll be doing that again though.  It is really time-consuming and a bit nerve-wracking.  I’m pretty happy with the results but it’s not something I want to jump back into tomorrow. Luckily, I don’t have to as I’m all done with the cars.

Now to complete the trophy stands.

Convention Season Prelude

This past weekend kicked off the start of my usual convention season prep with the annual Gen Con event registration.  This will be my eleventh Gen Con and one would think I’d be used to the stress and frustration of their event registration process but no such luck.

I can’t complain though. This is the 50th anniversary of Gen Con so there is a lot of demand for hot events and so getting into those requires some blind luck.  I was happy to make it into one of the sold out event slots for CMON’s upcoming Song of Ice and Fire miniatures game and I’m excited to go see They Might Be Giants.  I’ve wanted to see that band live for years now so having an exclusive event sounds like a great way to hear them.

image from the publisher via BGG

Another event that has me excited is a run-through of the co-op variant of X-wing Miniatures, Heroes of the Aturi Cluster.  I’ve loved X-wing since my first starter box at the premiere in Gen Con 2012 and this fan-made co-op variant sounds like a lot of fun.  The designers of the variant have the whole print-n-play available for download but it’ll be great to see it all ready to go and be taught the system first hand.

image from IDW Games kickstarter campaign

Some other demo events like Blood & Plunder and Rayguns & Rocketships round out my schedule with an interesting workshop on painting non-metallic metals (NMM) as a non-gaming event.  The NMM event is interesting for my black & white Walking Dead game as I’m not sure how to really paint items like Michonne’s katana in true black and white.  I could cheat and paint with metallics but that sounds like it would be pretty out of place.

blood & plunder image from firelock games site

With the good comes the bad or maybe just disappointing.  It was odd to see that Mantic didn’t have much presence for Walking Dead: All Out War.  It seems to be selling very well for them but the only events were a bunch of duplicated one-off events and I’m not even sure the organizer is from Mantic.  Maybe they were late submitting the events and they’ll come in later.

Also disappointing was the lack of any Championship Formula Racing from Jolly Roger/Upper Deck.  They hosted some demo events last year and with the games release, I would have expected at least something.

I wasn’t able to get into any Wasteland Express Delivery events to try that game out. Someone also had an interesting “Mario Kart” version of X-wing they were going to run at 2 hours but cancelled all of the events at the last minute.  There is another similar event but it is a bit longer at 5 hours and I just don’t have the schedule for that.

Last but not least, I was pleasantly surprised that all the events I decided to run this year have sold out.  That is very exciting as I had a lot of fun last year running things like my Loopin’ Chewie tournament and I’m excited to get some additional dexterity games like my favorite Catacombs and a Pitchcar variant into the event roster.

As exciting as Gen Con 50 is shaping up to be, it is still a few months off and I have another event coming up right around the corner: Cabin Con!

This is our yearly little private gathering where a few friends and I go up into the mountains and geek out on all things board games for a few days.  I’ve already got some fun events planned and it should be a great time.

“FateCon” 2017 Part 2

Part 1 of my FateCon trip can be found here.  Here is the conclusion of my trip out to Fate, Texas and the gaming that lies therein.

Day 2

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past was the first game to hit the table on day 2.  This game kickstarted about the same time as Mantic’s The Walking Dead: All Out War.  I was briefly in both Kickstarter campaigns but decided to pare it down and if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know which direction I went (and have no regrets).

Shadows of the Past ready. Hob is going down!

All the same, I wanted to try TMNT out to see how they approach the “one vs many” mechanic and how all that translated to the Ninja Turtle theme.

…or not. Silly Raph falls hard.

It turned out surprisingly well.  The actions the turtles can take seemed very cinematic and I had my turtles leaping across roof tops and smashing bad guys’ faces in.  I ultimately lost the scenario but liked the shared dice mechanics and the dynamic play the game seemed to offer.

odd figure sizes. why are thugs bigger and smaller than ninjas?

even normal thugs make Shredder look a bit puny.

The only downside is the minis aren’t in scale with each other.  I think this was a mechanical decision to help identify certain “mini-boss” figures but having played quite a few minis games, scale inconsistency bothers me.

Also, the villain player roll seems much less dynamic and a bit boring.  I think the game would have been better if it too the co-operative design cues from Descent and ditched the competitive one vs many system.

this setup is wrong for 2 players, our cars should be mixed, not in discrete lines.

I’ve been on a racing game kick looking for “the” racing game to add to my collection so I asked if we could break out Thunder Alley by GMT.

victory is mine after a bad pit option from my opponent.

After some set up, we got the game going and I found it to be easy enough to understand.  There were some strategy elements that weren’t obvious so the game also has room to grow via multiple plays.  It is more team-based and relies on hand-management more than the feeling of zooming around a race track so this game, while fun, isn’t the racing game I’m looking for.

Day 2 concluded with my first play through of Adrenaline.  I tried to play this game at Gen Con but got shut out after waiting for almost 2 hours so I was excited to try it out fully.

I was glad to find that the game met my expectations and confirmed that I really want to have it my collection.  The pacing seems fast enough and even though it has those euro elements and a subtle area-control system, it still felt like my figure was beating people’s faces in and collecting their skull trophies.

Day 3

In another new game to me, we decided to set up Kings of War by Mantic Games.  My friend was experimenting with reducing the size of this rank-and-file miniatures game and so we tried out two of his armies in 15mm.

Kings of War 15mm set up and ready for battle on an intimately small map.

I love smaller miniature scales for a lot of reasons but this scale down conversion really emphasized how effective the change can be.  At 15mm, the intro 1,000 point army plays on an inviting 2′ x 3′ and all the armies will fit in small containers.

my Kings of War Dark Elves (courtesy of my host).

a hastily put together rabble of tree hugging hippy elves.

the battle can get quite pitched and those little red/blue sewing counters help keep track of the damage.

this is me routinely destroying those pathetic tree huggers. my luck was unstoppable. that and we messed up a critical rule on range units being disorganized only against melee, not other ranged units…

at the end of it all, we have the father tree left and dance around as we light his carcass aflame. it was a good day to be dark.

This intimate setting pulls you into the battle and I ended up really liking the game.  I wouldn’t want to have it at the full scale (though I’d play it if someone else had it available) as the time to create armies and terrain at that scale is pretty intensive.  Luckily Mantic also made their system flexible to use with a variety of miniatures and sizes. This means I can pull out the defunct Arcane Legions or even the original Days of Wonder Battlelore minis to make my own armies and play.

We ended the day playing a few games of Evolution, first with the Flight expansion and second with the new Climate expansion. Evolution is a pretty solid system and I liked the subtle arms race that you engage in as you try to build either better carnivores to eat your friends or better herbivores to defend yourself with.

I didn’t find either expansion really necessary unless you have played the base game to a point where you want the extra variety.

Conclusion

For the cost of a cheap Southwest flight, this was a great little “mini-con” to get away to.  Thanks again to my gracious hosts and all they provided. It made the trip very easy and a great experience.  I’m not sure if I can make this an annual trip but it’d be great to do it again soon.

“FateCon” 2017 Part 1

Earlier this year, I had the fortune to set up a flight to Dallas over this past holiday weekend to hang out with another gaming friend. He lives in Fate, Texas, a small burb outside of Dallas and so we decided to call this little game fest “FateCon.”

It just so happen that another event was happening nearby called the Dallas Games Marathon (DGM).  This game-centric event happens every month and for $20, you can get a pass to play games at their facility and use their library of over 1,500 games. We only decided to go for one day but found that even going one day is worth the $20 weekend admission.

Day 1

We started things off with Isle of Skye.

image from Boardgamegeek

I first played this Kennerspiel des Jahres winner for 2016 at Gen Con and found it great then.  Replaying it at DGM reminded me that I need to play it more often.  It is a mix of Carcassonne‘s tile laying and Castles of Mad King Ludwig‘s auction/price-setting mechanics.

Doom setup and ready

My friends brought Fantasy Flight’s new Doom board game but I had my eye on the Pegasus Spiele game, Porta Nigra.  I’ve been trying to get a demo or play-through of this game for awhile now but it hasn’t been at Gen Con so I dove into the rulebook while the others figured out Doom.

“learn to play” scenario complete

By the time their Doom “learn to play” scenario was done, I had Porta Nigra read and set up.

Porta Nigra early game

The game went well and has an interesting area control system to it.  Ultimately, I failed to realize the importance of the side set collection mechanic and performed pretty poorly.

Porta Nigra end game

I’d like to try it again but I don’t see a need for it in my collection though I find the tower building aspect pretty charming.

We started looking through the DGM library some more and saw AssassinCon by Mayday Games.  The idea seemed interesting as a board game version of the famous college game Assassin.

Unfortunately, the game is pretty weak.  The rules are horrible, the execution overly convoluted, and the game tends to reset itself just when things start to get interesting.

Fleet Commander fleets deployed

Next we hit another game that I couldn’t ever find a demo for: Fleet Commander.  This game seems to struggle getting across the pond as I’ve never seen it in stores or at conventions. It must have some kind of following as it has multiple expansions.

Fleet Commander end game

I think the game has some potential but the little intro game we played seemed to lack enough weight behind it to really feel competitive. It has an interesting dice mechanic where you pick from several colors to move ships, attack other ships, and put up defenses. Unfortunately, I have a plethora of two-player games and I’m heavily invested in Star Wars Armada so I’d play this game again but wouldn’t own it.

my fearsome red dragon, ready to pillage and destroy

We ended the game picking up Catalyst Games Lab’s Wrath of Dragons.  Wrath saw a lot of press at Gen Con a few years back and seemed to sell out at the Con due to it’s euro/worker-placement rules and destruction/fantasy dragons theme.

tight game with a 10 point spread between top and bottom player.

I actually found this game to be my favorite of the games I played at DGM (not at all influenced by the fact that I won. not at all). The combination of the Dragon theme, the worker placement and set collection made for a lot of things to do in the game and they were all interesting. Overall a very fun game that I’m considering picking up to add to my library and a great way to end our DGM day.

Later, back at my friends house, we broke out the racing dexterity game RoadZters.

This game is in direct competition to PitchCar and since it is no longer in print, it looks like it didn’t fare too well.  It has plastic race sections that snap in similar to electronic slot cars.  The main mechanism centers around a special ball (Z-ball) with bearings (or magic?) inside that allow the ball to stop on slight elevation grades and spin in interesting ways.

Overall, it plays exactly like PitchCar but you can do a lot more with the Z-ball in your flicking and it’s easier to have a smooth play track.  I already own and like PitchCar so I wouldn’t pick it up but found the game a fun alternative.

So that concluded an eventful Day 1 of “Fate Con.” Next time I’ll wrap up the last two days of the event with all the games we played at my host’s house.

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