Sunday, July 1, 2012

Review of DieCon 12

Last weekend was DieCon.  It's a game convention in Collinsville, IL.  I haven't been to a convention in 25 years, so I was nervous, but really excited as well.  I had a great time, and saw many of the regulars I see from the St. Louis Board Games group at (I'm in the meet-up on the last Friday of the month, Metro East).  I had a great time, and plan to go back next year.  The facilities were spacious and comfortable, and everyone was pleasant.  Below the fold I will discuss all the game I played and my reaction to them.

My first session was Friday, 7pm, for Morris Cubed.  This was a three-dimensional version of Nine Men's Morris.  It was the work a a nice gentleman named Alan, who has apparently sold one set to far.  The third dimension made the game interesting, but I think it created a sort of leader effect, although perhaps no more than in the regular game.  In each game, the winner was able to create a very stable structure in two of the three dimensions, one that was difficult to attack.  We split two games.

Friday at 9 was Dominion, the only game at the convention that I had played before last weekend. This was my third time playing, and I started to understand some of the ideas behind reducing your deck. I played two five-player games, coming in second and fifth.

Saturday at 9am was Quicksilver, a game about racing airships across a terrain.  It was a basically-finished, unprinted game (the link is to the Kickstarter).  There were some important choices, but not really difficult choices, and there was a small amount of player interaction, but it was basically a racing game.  The person running the game arrived late, and I left shortly before the game ended to get to the next game on time, but was on track to finis 3rd or 4th, I think.

The following game, Puerto Rico, is one of the classic in the modern game era. I started with a corn farm under the standard rules (and so a slight advantage, it seems), and I was pleased with my game, except I made a big mistake on the final turn, and wound up not scoring points that turn. I was 5th in a 5-player game, I think, but could have been third.

After a break, at 2 pm I was scheduled to play Ninja, but the person who was scheduled to run the game never showed up.  For a short while, I played Abalone with someone who had just showed his niece how to play. It was a lot of fun, and winning certainly enhanced the experience. Then, someone else came by who happened to know Ninja, so we started that game. It's a game with one side having hidden movement while the other side is trying to catch them, and I did not really enjoy it much.

Next up at 4pm was a play test of the very raw Minimum Wage Gorilla, by Split Second Games, who also are doing Quicksilver. Minimum Wage Gorilla is a blind bidding game with a cute theme. I think the game was slightly too long, long enough that I made it a point to increase my bidding force by "hiring" more gorillas in three of the first six rounds (since only one person can hire at a time, this was a commitment of resources). It gave me a large advantage for later rounds, and I won fairly easily.

I ended the evening with the only four-hour game I selected, Le Havre. I was in a five-player game. There were an increasing number of choices as the game went on. I think I made some short-term decisions that were inferior to some 4-5 turn plans. Since with 5 players it is a 28-turn game per player, planning ahead 4-5 turns can pay off well. I came in third, though, and I had a good time doing it.

Sunday morning, 9am, I went off to Hawaii, at least in the imagination. There were only three of us. I think I was lucky on the initial turn, in that there was an option available that mean I would have as many movement points as I needed for the rest of the game. I fell behind early, but made up for it in the final scoring and eked out a one-point win.

Next on the itinerary was London, and again there were only three of us. I think I got lucky in the early going, and was able to choose a couple of high-cash options the first time I collected for my layout. Even so, I found myself doing some intense calculations trying to get my cards to come out with the proper count. I managed to pull out a win here, as well.

My final game was another gem by Alan, called Brigade.  We each started with 18 brigades, which we cold group into divisions and corps (but not armies). Grouping carried power advantages, but disadvantages in mobility. I played with a pleasant young man, Alan watching on, and again split two games. I really enjoyed this game.

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