Week 26!!! Geekway Wrap up

Week 26
The Geekway Episode

So, I pulled up to the Sheraton Lakeside Chalet at around 10:30 am on Thursday morning. Amazing after attending only two years you immediately start recognizing the regulars as soon as you walk in the doorway. I headed straight to the registration area to pick up my badge and check out the new setup. One of the perks for registering and attending Geekway to the West is that through the fantastic sponsor support, every attendee receives a free game. This year I picked up Marvel Dice Masters Uncanny X-Men. After saying hello and checking out the new registration digs, I wandered over to the new Play and Win room to see just how it was set up this year. Previously the Play and Win games were just set on a side of the library and you just checked the game out and took it with you to play wherever you found a table to play. This year, the play and win games had their own room, with over half the games already set up on the tables ready for players to tackle. The other half of the room was a small library of more copies of the play and win titles. Those, like in previous years, could be checked out and played anywhere that you wanted to play. The great thing about the Play and Win titles is that after you play the game, or teach the game, the players fill out a card with everyone’s name on it and they are registered to win that game at the end of the convention. This year I believe the sponsors and staff added over 200 total games that were given away. Once again, as in the previous, I was shut out of the Play and Win giveaways, but unlike most previous years, I really didn’t get to play many of the Play and Win titles.

After scanning the room, I spotted Charles Hasegawa and Robert Bolan starting up a game of String Railways with Justing Heimburger and John Lindley. After some introductions, I joined them at the table for my first game of the convention. String Railways is an interesting take on the train game genre. The game consists of some colored strings, some VP tokens and some station tiles, it’s really a small box game. There is a mountain string laid out in the middle of the play area, along with a string that represents a river that can be crossed. Players set their starting station tiles and the game commences. On a player’s turn they draw a tile and play a string from one of their stations to another station in an effort to create a network. The stations that you connect can earn you victory points or maybe even cost an opponent a point or two. The game ends after every player has played their five strings, so after five rounds. The most Victory Points wins the game. If it weren’t for a couple of us being jerks to Robert, I would have taken last place in my first game of the con, but as it was I squeaked out a second to last place finish. Scores were really tight with Charles winning with 38 points and Robert bringing in last playce with 30 points. But like I said, Robert got picked on the entire game due to owning a station that took points from him each time someone went through it and that station happened to be in a fairly busy area. The scores could have easily been flip flopped. String Railways, will end up in our collection at some point, either that or I should try to find a way to pick up a copy of String Safari, which takes the same general game play and puts a wildlife theme on it, that may appeal more to my family than railroads.

String Railways

Just a section of the fantastic Geekway Library, courtesy of Marshall Jansen

After String Railways, we scoured the fantastic Geekway library for our next game and that turned out to be Yedo even though none of us had ever even played it. Learning games in a loud environment is not one of my strong suits, so I was more than happy when Charles grabbed the rulebook to learn it and teach. Yedo isn’t a complicated game by any means, complexity wise it’s probably a step up from Lords of Waterdeep, mostly due to the addition of the auction mechaninc and rotating a moving a policeman who can end up arresting and removing one of your workers. After a bit of rules wrestling we were off and running, well, Justin was running, the rest of us kind just puttered along. Justin ended up winning with 35 points, and I came in 10 points back in second place. Myself and Robert had one more quest that was ready to complete on the last turn but the area that we needed, The Harbor, was closed due to an event flipped before the turn started. I don’t think it would have been enough to win, but it would have made the scores a bit more respectable. I really enjoyed Yedo, although I’m not sure how it would fly for my family as it can be a bit combative, but it definitely jumped up onto my radar. I probably should have bought the ding and dent copy that I saw at Miniature Market last year that was 75% off. The board itself is really busy, but once you know what the board is trying to accomplish, what it wants you to do, it becomes far more intuitive. Really well done game.

Yedo

After Yedo, I checked into my room and grabbed a sandwich. One thing I do when going to a convention like this is I do tend to pack food for my lunches and breakfasts so I don’t have to leave to go get lunch, also it helps to budget the money, after all, who wants to spend money on food when you’re at a convention, we’d rather buy games, right? As I was finishing up moving my stuff and eating lunch, Charles starts messaging me to hurry up as they were setting up for a six player game of Star Realms. Not being a person who misses a chance to play Star Realms, I hustled back to the table to claim my spot.

Star Realms is a head to head deck builder. With six players it’s still head to head for four of the players, at least at the start of the match. Two “Emperors” sit at opposite ends of the table and each “Emperor” has two other players on their team. The other players sit across from each other with them competing head to head against the player opposite of them. When one of them is eliminated they can then start attacking the opposing “Emperor”. The entire time that they are going head to head, the “Emperors” are playing as well and choosing who to attack. It makes for some fun game play. First two matches went the way of myself, Justin and Mike Selby, but with Charles as the “Emperor” the opposing team of Charles, Robert and Matt Dimmic pulled out the victory. It really is a fun way to play Star Realms and has me thinking of getting a couple more starter boxes in order to have enough starter cards to keep an Emperor set on hand just in case I get the opportunity to play again.

IMG_2451

I would like to take a moment to say that my biggest regret of the entire Geekway to the West convention was playing those previous two games on one of the fantastic tables from boardgametables.com. Now I keep thinking that I need one of those in our gaming area at home. The really were pretty fantastic and a nice addition to the main Geekway play area. There wasn’t a time that I walked by that there wasn’t something being played on them. So kudos to Chad DeShon and his fantastic team, those tables were really awesome and they have me saving up some money to possibly pick one up in the future!

http://www.boardgametables.com

After wandering round for a bit I found a couple guys from our local Jefferson City game group, Mike and Jonathon. We sat down to play a game of Roll for the Galaxy. I am not a fan of Race for the Galaxy, but my one abbreviated previous play of Roll led me to believe that I would enjoy it a bit more, and as a matter of fact, I do. It’s still random with draws and you can still get hosed and your engince can suffer because of poor tile draws, but the way Race speeds up the game makes it feel less punishing and I like it for that. Jonathon ran away with this one, winning with 45 points, Mike was next with 35 and then myself pulling up the rear with 32 points. I dig it, and one of these plays I’ll get everything figured out and win. That’s a positive thing for me, I want to keep trying it out, whereas with Race, I really didn’t feel the need to keep trying.

My brother in law Brad, his wife Kate and their 11 month old son Bennett showed up shortely after Roll for the Galaxy and they brought Gabby along with them. After getting everybody settled in their rooms and Gabby registered, sorry Brad and Kate, next year we’ll pay attention to the times on the back of the awesome new tags. We all sat down and I taught them String Railways. I’m really not sure how everyone else felt about it, but I enjoyed it again this time just as much as the first play, but it may help a bit that I won.

So, at 10 pm my first volunteer shift came so I went and manned the play and win room for a couple hours. The first year I was at Geekway I didn’t volunteer at all, since then I have made sure to at least do a couple shifts. The volunteers at Geekway allow the organizers time to tend to bigger issues and even get a little relaxation and gaming time in as they don’t have to be checking out games at the library or manning the play and win area, so I figure in exchange for a weekend of gaming fun, the least I could do is try to relieve them of a bit of stress for a couple hours or so. Plus, this gives me some time to sit down and meet people as they come and go through the lines and check out their next games, maybe give them a bit of advice on a game they aren’t familiar with or even guide them to their next game. If your local convention uses volunteers, give them an hour or two of your time if you can, I know they appreciate it. Plus, if your local convention is as cool as Geekway, you get some cool SWAG as well. For four hours volunteered I got a t-shirt and a $10 gift certificate to one of the vendors and local game shop, Game Night.

Play and Win room about 30 minutes after closing time.

After my shift, Gabby went back to the hotel room as she was worn out from playing Adventure Time Card Game with another girl who was hanging out in the play and win room for two hours, and I decided to wander the convention hall for a bit before heading to the room. I love walking the convention hall late at night, seeing what others are playing, the hall is cleared out most of the way and it’s quiet so you can actually have a conversation with folks at a normal decibel level. During this walk was when I ran into Bill Corey for the first time. He was setting up and messing around with recording equipment in the main hall, I never did get to game with Bill during the convention but we ran into each other several times over the next 3 days or so. Bill always had a smile on his face and something to talk about, it was great to get to meet him and I can’t wait to listen and hear his thoughts on his first Geekway experience. That ends the first night at Geekway to the West, Friday morning is going to come quickly with another volunteer shift at 10 am and Gabby participating in the PitchCar tournament without me.

Day 2
I’m not an early riser anyway, and even though I love gaming, it doesn’t trump my need to sleep in a bit. So I crawled out of bed around 8:30, cleaned up, woke up Gabby and got her moving, just in time to meet Kate and Brad for a quick game of Dragon Slayer before my library hours and Gabby and Brad’s PitchCar tournament.
Dragon Slayer is a simple push your luck dice game where you are rolling your dice, trying to get the correct symbols to defeat the dragon. It’s an okay game, nothing really new or interesting about it, but it definitely is a bit more interesting than Zombie Dice for your dice chucking games.

After two hours in the library, I went to check on Gabby, who didn’t quite advance to the finals in the PitchCar event. I found her in the gaming hall playing Pepino the Clown with a couple of other kids so I went and found my group for my scheduled Thunder Alley game and they were setting up just a couple tables away from Gabby.
I won’t talk much about how to play Thunder Alley, as I covered that a few podcasts back, but I will say that this was one my most looked forward to scheduled events of Geekway this year, I just can’t get enough racing. The first race we ran was a three player race on the Pyramid, a couple other folks had to cancel so it was just myself, Tom O’Neill and Chris(sorry I forgot to get your last name). I’ve said over the past couple months how much I love Thunder Alley and with three players the love is still strong. In the first race I got a bit aggressive and I kind of paid the price as Tom and Chris worked together a bit more and Tom ran away with this game, winning with 199 points with Chris a distant second at 177 and my aggressive self at 172. Second race, Matthieu joined us for some short track action that went a lot better for me. I ended up in second place, just 3 points out of first behind Chris who got the win with 151 points. Coming out of the final corner I made a solo move that moved me up a couple spots but just came up short when the final points were tallied. I really can’t wait to play this some more, as I still have only raced two of the four possible tracks, I’m hoping that I can convince Gabby and Kerensa to learn this one and race a bit over the next couple months. Thank you Tom for organizing this, was a great time and glad I got to do some racing!!

After that final race, I grabbed Gabby and we headed back to the room to get a bit of food and see if she wanted to play something with me. After eating we headed to the library and grabbed Coconuts from the library and headed to the new Matterhorn Room and found Brad, Kate, Mike and Jonathon. Mike and Kate joined us and we flipped some coconuts. Such a fun game with great looking components even if you really don’t’ think the coconuts really look like coconuts.

We swapped out Coconuts for a two player game, Jaipur. I’ve been wanting to get Jaipur for awhile now and I figured we may as well try it while it was available in the library and I had Gabby’s attention. Jaipur is a cool little two player only card game with set collection, hand management and a bit of trading. The two players are competing to be the best trader, you win that honor by being the first player to collect two seals of excellence, you do that by buying, exchanging and selling goods at better prices than your opponent. On a player’s turn you can either sell cards or take cards. When you take cards you have to choose between taking all the camels in the trade row, taking one card from the market or swapping 2-5 cards between the market and your hand. The camels can count as cards to exchange as well. If you sell goods, only one good type can be sold per turn. You receive in return as many chips as goods you sold. The chips decrease in value as the game progresses so you need to sell early to get the most valuable chips. A round ends when four of the goods token stacks are depleted. You total up the points on your chips, including the five point chip for having the most camels in your collection and the player with the higher point total receives the Seal of Excellence. Winner of the game is the first player to collect two Seals. Gabby beat me, no other way to put it, although our third round was a lot closer than the previous two. This is one that will also be added to our collection sooner than later. It’s rules light, but lots of fun choices to be made over the half hour or so it takes to play. After this, Gabby was a bit upset that we had forgotten to bring swim suits, so I tried to cheer her up with many games of Tumblin’ Dice and she definitely took out her frustration on me by winning four of our six plays and then promptly asked for a copy of it. I guess I know what I am getting once it hits retail again, as I didn’t back it on Kickstarter.

Jaipur with Gabby

After all that, Kerensa and our five year old AnnaBeth showed up so we got them unpacked and into the room, ate a bit of food and got Kerensa registered and then we bided our time wandering around and chit chatting until the time came for the World Famous Geekway Battling Tops tournament. For this part, we’re going to switch voices and let Kerensa have the honor of telling the story of the spectacle that is Battling Tops.

Kerensa:

Hi Brandon, husband & fellow Geekway to the West, 2015, Battling Tops competitor. Good day WDYPTWPT listeners and readers. Brandon, you encouraged more trash talk next year so I’m going to practice during the podcast. Thanks for informing me there were still open slots in the competition and suggesting I sign up.

As I marched up to the registration table, I must admit thinking, Chris Darden, you know how to rock a referee uniform. There I met Ethyl. Erratic Ethyl to be precise. She was small, lightweight, and somewhere between orange and yellow in color.

Erratic Ethyl

As a child, I spent many summers with my cousin Jennifer, wandering the land between our grandparent’s farm and the home of my Aunt Ethyl, who was also small, similar in color due to excessive sun exposure, although not at all erratic. Still I thought it was a sign, ending up with this tiny top named after a family member.

Let me pause to thank Charles Hasegawa for the tasty glass of encouragement.

As the crowd dispersed to their designated table, I found myself group with several other battling ladies. We discussed methods for properly winding our tops and placing them in the ring. To the lady on my left who was so friendly, thank you for your patience, in all the excitement, I forgot you name.

As we set up, I struggled to decide if I should pull Ethyl’s trigger over or underhanded. I chose the latter and though I came in second or “first place loser” I stuck with my decision to play underhanded. Please note that was just my trigger finger, not my strategy.

In that first round, I saw tops bump each other, knock each other out of the ring, sometimes completely off the table, tip over, right themselves and strings detach from the trigger ring. I believe we had a few draws as well. The end of the first bracket sent our youngest player on round two and me in to the loser’s bracket. I’ve never played battling tops, so I figured this was bracket of its own. Lucky for me and Ethyl, we still had a chance.

In the second round, we were pitted against 3 boys. Those of you listening may not realize that like Ethyl, I am small in stature. A mere 4’11” and shrinking but my grandpa used to call me “Powerful Katrina” and his words rang in my ears as Ethyl and I kicked one gentleman’s ass after another.

Thanks here go to Chris Neff, 2011 Spin Top world champion who suggested “lots of snap” for long lasting tiny top spinning.
Ethyl and I advanced to round 3. More boys, more ass-kicking. I just forgot to take names so I am unable to properly publicly humiliate. Next year I’ll be more prepared. In the final round, I must admit, I was nervous. I’m a good sport on the outside but I detest hanging my head in shame, which is apparently a time honored tradition at Geekway.

Jon, my opponent, stood opposite me in the finals. He was polite but I could sense his fierce need to win for all the same reasons I needed to win. Honestly the first few face-offs are a blur. Neither of us made much eye contact. On lookers cheered, chanted, heckled in the background. I was starting to sweat but refused to remove my jacket for fear that it might be holding in my luck. One lady shout, “go lady who looks like a stage hand,” breaking the tension a little.

Special thanks to the young girl at the end the table, Jay’s daughter, she kept saying “come on Ethyl, you can do it.” At one point Ethyl emerged so fierce, she split Jon’s top in two, the Center disc flew past my shoulder, the spinning center lay in the middle of the ring as Ethyl mocked it in smooth circles. The man who had previous declared himself “my talent agent” handed Jon the disc stating, “I believe this is yours.”

In the end, it was 2 all. We set up for the last battle, our tops spun, danced and dropped. Dramatic pause… The ref declared, “to close to call, do it again.” Instant relief and stress hit at the same time. I wound Ethyl one more time, placed her in the ring and pulled the trigger on go.

Our tops spun, bumped, circled the outside, then the inside of the ring. They both tipped on their sides, stood up again, taunting each other. Come on Ethyl, stay up, you can do it. I held my breath and clenced my fists, gritted my teeth. It was all up to her and just just kept spinning. Jon’s top went down and she just kept spinning, oblivious.

My eyes went wide. I heard the cheers, Ethyl, Ethyl, Ethyl. I plucked her from the ring as the tiny top in my stomach continued to swirl with joy. My hand was thrust in the air by the ref.

I shook my opponent’s hand thanking him for a great match. I don’t remember if he hung his head in shame but it doesn’t matter. Victory was mine, thanks to Ethyl. We posed together for a few pictures. I look forward to seeing her next year, not mention my champion face on a poster. You can call me Short Stack.

I didn’t get to play as many games as I wanted this year but I it was a blast. The Battling Tops competition was undoubtedly my favorite event for obvious reasons.

The comments I’ve read on twitter about this competition being so family friendly are true. Jay, Chris, Kristen, Matt, Marshall, mad props to you, all the planners, volunteers, attendees, vendors and hotel staff. Not many people understand what it takes to organize a conference of this size that runs so smooth. Thank you again to everyone who cheered us on. Thanks you Brandon, for discovering such a superb hobby. You’ll never be bored gaming when you’re board gaming.

2015 Geekway Battling Tops Champion

Day 3
Day three started out pretty slowly, we were all recovering a bit from the big previous night and got a bit of a late start. As I have mentioned before, I am the Missouri Ambassador for Double Exposure, a group that demoes games for companies all over the country. I wasn’t demoing anything this weekend but I thought I should sit in and help out Vinnie if he needed a hand running the Game of 49 and Diamonds tournaments. Turns out he didn’t need any help but I did stick around and watch him run the Game of 49 tournament just so I could have an idea of how he ran them. While we did that, the girls and I played a few different small dexterity and lightweight games. Everything from Riff Raff, PitchCar, Wordarrific, Tumblin’ Dice and even Chef Cuckoo made an appearance. After we left there we went back to the room and Kerensa and Brad went and picked up lunch at Fuzzy’s Tacos. I believe that Fuzzy’s is new to the Westport area and was a welcome arrival as the tacos were really pretty good and quite affordable. I’m still drinking my water out of my Fuzzy’s cup, just as I did the rest of the weekend after we ate there.

Courtesy of Marshall Jansen

After Fuzzy’s we went back the gaming area and I taught everyone Diamonds as there was a tournament coming up and I thought maybe a couple people would want to enter the tournament, but only Gabby did. Brad ended up winning our 4 player game of Diamonds, pretty good for a game that he doesn’t really enjoy all that much. After we played, we vacated the room and the Diamonds tournament commenced. She did pretty well in the tournament being her first try at it, finishing 2nd, 2nd and 3rd in her three matches, but alas did not advance to the finals. But she had a good time and enjoyed playing it.

While that was going on, Brad and I sat outside the tournament room and started to set up a game of St. Petersburg, we’d just gotten through our first buying phase and Charles and Robert came by, Charles then began talking about how horribly broken the game was and explaining it in great detail. Seems he’s had the game ruined for him via the online play on yucata.de. We are currently in an online game of it as well where him and Robert are showing me the ropes. After hearing him talk about it, we packed up the game and picked up something a bit more light and fun, RattleBones, which turned out to be one of the better games of the weekend and definitely one that I want to add to the collection. For sure it’s a bit fiddly with all it’s pieces but I think the game trumps it’s fiddliness with fun. I really enjoyed our play of this one.

After that we went back to the hotel room and we ordered some pizza that took entirely too long to get to us. At this point I’m getting a bit flustered with AnnaBeth, she’s bounding over everything and bouncing off the walls, which is partially my fault for allowing the sugar intake that she took in this weekend. After eating pizza Kerensa and I go back to the hotel room with the girls, after getting them settled, Gabby and I went out to find a couple games.
I found Mike and Jonathan along with Jonathan’s uncle and a friend of Mike’s, Matthew. We were playing over in the Matterhorn room and broke out an oldie in Bang!. I’ve never played the card game, only the dice game, but this one was fun and it was relatively quick, I’d always heard rumors that games of Bang! last longer than they should, but this one didn’t, but I lost as the sheriff quite horribly.
Then we set up a game of King of New York but about halfway through this one, we could tell that Gabby wasn’t going to make it so I walked her down the hall to the room and then went back and finished up KoNY. This one DID overstay it’s welcome as most of us were eliminated fairly quickly but Jonathon and his uncle battled it out for a bit longer than they really should have, but it’s still a fun game, although I think I’d prefer to play King of Tokyo.

We wrapped up the night with another game of Roll for the Galaxy in which once again I couldn’t get anything going and myself and Paul finished tied for last place with 15 points and Jonathon and Mike ended up tied for first place with 27 points. I’m going to blame the beer for this poor showing though, not the dice or my horrible strategy.

That wrapped up Day 3, a pretty calm day that really didn’t have a whole lot of games played, but it was a bit more than the day to come, but to be fair, Day 4 is really only a half day for us anyway.

Day 4
This is always my least favorite part of vacations, packing up the hotel room and getting everything to the cars and checking out. We live in hotels like we live at home, we make ourselves comfortable and bring entirely too much stuff. But after all that was done, it was about noon and time to eat lunch so we rambled over to St. Louis Bread and had some soup and mac n cheese by the fountain and enjoyed the outside for a bit.

Gabby

AnnaBeth

We came back in and found Brad and Kate playing Boss Monster but they had Colt Express sitting next to them, so I broke it out and learned it and then Kerensa, Gabby and I played a game. Colt Express is a programmed action game, where you play your actions to a central stack of cards and then after the given amount of cards are played, you play out the actions as you have played. It can lead to some really random things happening as you don’t always know what your opponents are going to play. I liked it, but I don’t know about Gabby and Kerensa, so I don’t know if it’s something that I’d add to our collection. It really does have a nice table presence with the train cars sat out and the extra cacti and such really make it look cool.

Colt Express and AnnaBeth

After that was time for our final game of the convention River Dragons. We played a 5 player game of this, it was a bit sporadic as we were wrangling an almost 1 year old and trying to keep a 5 year old entertained as well. I’ve played this one once before at our local meetup, but Brad and Kate had not and they decided to pick this up to play after playing it one time previous in the weekend. River Dragons is a race to get to your color assigned spot on another spot on the board by placing rocks and building bridges. Each player has 6 different sized planks to use as bridge pieces and they play them out in order to build their route. The game is also another programmed movement game so lots of things can change from the time you play your first card to the last card. Glad to have this one around to play as I enjoy it quite a bit.

River Dragons

By the time we finished that, the drawings for the plan and win games were over and it was time for us to pack it all up and head home. I always wish the convention would last longer, but I don’t know if I’d really have the energy to do much more, and I always forget to schedule to have off the day after like a dolt. I will say this, I’ve never had a case of “Con Crud” after Geekway and this year was no different, sure I was tired and worn out, but I wasn’t sick and I don’t think Kerensa or the girls were either. Which is good as Gabby had her final 3 days of the school year still to go to.

To be completely fair, I haven’t been to too many gaming conventions. I’ve been to one GenCon and a couple smaller conventions that really may not qualify as a convention as much as a gathering. But I don’t feel the need to, I’ve got Geekway once a year. I can’t for the life of me imagine any convention with 1400 people being ran any better, or more accommodating than Geekway is, it seems to me to be the perfect convention for everyone. So a huge thanks to all the folks who put this together, we all appreciate the work you all put in into making this the best convention you can. And also a huge thanks to all the other attendees, I am always impressed with the friendliness that everyone displays, I wish I could game with each and every one of you at some point. There are some folks that I wanted to meet that I didn’t get to, Kirk, Toby, Jason and several others were on my list of people to say hi to that I never got a chance to. Rhiannon Ochs came all the way in from out east in New Hampshire I believe and while I got to say hi to her a couple times, I never got to sit down and chit chat with her nor did I get a chance to have her kick my butt in Panamax, but hey, hopefully there is always next year! I really hope everyone can kind of see why Geekway is turning into one of the go to conventions in Gaming, this year was sold out and I believe for the first time they weren’t allowing walk ups to purchase tickets. Next year is in the same place so I imagine we’ll still have only the 1400 tickets or so available, but after next year I’m interested in seeing just what happens. After talking to a couple folks a move from the current venue to find a bigger one would be a huge jump, from 1400 capacity to 5000 or so I think is what I was hearing, plus I imagine a move like that requires moving into St. Louis city proper from the suburbs. But I think it’s a good problem for the organizers to have and I have the utmost confidence that if any convention is able to grow and keep the family and gaming friendly atmosphere the same, the folks at Geekway can do that. So thanks to all the organizers, Matt Becker, Aaron Belmer, Jillian Berger, Chris Darden, Kristin Darden, Matt Dimmic, Mark Finefield, Joe Henderson, Jeff Hiatt, Timothy Hunt, Christy Jansen, Marshall Jansen, Kathleen Mercury, Jay Moore, Sarah Moore, Todd Reed, Chris Schottand Mark Sellmeyer. I tried to thank as many of you as I could at the convention, but I know I didn’t get you all, so thank you, we’ll see you all next year!!

Some Podcast links:

http://www.geekwaytothewest.com/

http://www.castleproductions.co/home.html

https://twitter.com/TheGDGame

https://www.facebook.com/greatdebategame

http://www.thecubistpodcast.com/

https://twitter.com/BillCoreyJr

Week 25 1/2!!!

Week 25 1/2

Geekway Play and Win room at about 11:30 pm on a Thursday night, it “closed” at 11.

You may be asking why this one is being numbered 25 ½, I’m doing that because I am just going to do a real short episode tonight and release it so folks don’t forget me over the week, then next week I’ll do the big Geekway wrap up, this gives me all week to get together with Kerensa, Gabby and AnnaBeth, plus see if I can get anyone else to talk about Geekway with me, to top it all off though, I am just one worn out human being. I tried recording a little bit as I went through Geekway but it didn’t turn out very usable so I’m just going to do it all over from home. I will be doing a geeklist about Geekway 2015 on board game geek, and that will be up this week at some point, but the main event will be next week’s podcast.

I’ll say that we played about 30 games over the 4 days, you always think that number is going to be higher, but then you have to factor in the fact that you just can’t sit in the same spot every hour playing game after game, you gotta get up and move and eat and sleep and drink and see the fountains. Of the games I wanted to play, only Arkwright didn’t get a chance, and that was just because it wouldn’t have been fair to the other players if I had a kid emergency or something of that nature, really wish I could have done that as I know the person teaching it would have done a fantastic job and I’m envious of the others who got to play with him as they got to learn it from one of the better teachers I’ve played with at Geekway. There were a few folks I didn’t get to meet that I hope to get to meet at future Geekways or maybe even at DieCon in June if I get to head up that way.

I will do a brief acquisitions section since I did pick up some games while at Geekway, mostly from the Math Trade. Gabby picked up the Adventure Time Card Game starter box and Cardline Globetrotter. In the math trade I walked away with Blue Moon Legends, Asgard, Toledo and Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age. Also, because Geekway is an awesome convention, everyone who has a pass gets a free game, so I ended up getting the Uncanny X-Men Dice Masters Set, Gabby got Rise of Augustus and Kerensa got High Command. Oh and someone walked up and handed me their copy of Sedition Wars that they got but ended up not wanting. So once again, I came back from Geekway with more games than I left with, for the 3rd year in a row.

Kickstarter
Did you know that Wombats poop cubes? I didn’t either, but Eagle-Gryphon Games and designer Matt Wolfe are going to teach you that they do indeed poop cubes in their new game called Wombat Rescue. Apparently the science community believes that they do this since they can’t see well, and have to use their sense of smell to navigate their environment, and you can’t have your navigation system rolling all over the place, so Wombats have adapted to poop cubes to prevent the movement. In Wombat Rescue you play as Mom Wombat and you are trying to save your four wombat babies who were scattered after the horrible dingo raided your burrow. To lead your babies back you have to use your poop cubes to help the poor baby wombats navigate their way back to safety.

This one hit Kickstarter on the 15th of May, right smack dab in the middle of Geekway for me, but I did make sure to be a backer as soon as I heard it was live as I’ve been anxious to try this one out since I heard it mentioned over a year ago on a couple podcasts after an UnPub event. As a matter of fact this one was on my Top 10 list of games I am looking forward to this year, way back in episode 4. Which also reminds me that I need to find my way over to the Stronghold Games website and get my pre-order of Dark Moon in!!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2002188924/wombat-rescue-unlike-any-game-seen-played-or-smelt

Week 25!!!

Week 25!!!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, especially mine and especially to my wife who has been the perfect mother to our children.

Baseball Highlights 2045

Baseball Highlights 2045
I finally bit the bullet and picked up Baseball Highlights 2045 after finding the Deluxe edition for a fair price and in stock at Cardhaus.com. I’ve played this one other time and when we played that time we did a four player round robin tournament where the best record out of the 9 games played would be the winner. Well this time was just Gabby and I so we went ahead and played just a best of 5 series, with me winning three games to two. Hopefully next time we’ll do the 3 games and then a World Series that they recommend in the rule book but this first time I just wanted to get Gabby used to it. Ultimately, Baseball Highlights 2045 is a Deck Builder, but it really only uses my favorite parts of deck building, the buying a culling. You aren’t chaining effects on cards or anything you are just trying to make your deck of 15 players the best that it can be. You buy a new card, you send one to the ‘minors’. As I said, your deck of cards which represent your players starts at 15 players and never gets any larger than that, each mini-game is a very abstracted 6 inning game that basically boils the game down to the highlights. You play each mini game with a 6 player hand and possibly a seventh in the on deck spot, which can be swapped in with special powers on certain cards. It’s fast, it’s lean and most importantly it’s fun. I’ll give a bit more of a review of it as I get to play it a bit more and get to learn some of the intricacies that may be missing at the moment. But for the moment this game is ranking right up with Thunder Alley as a favorite of the year. What’s funny is that both games take longer events and abstract them down and make them really exciting. It helps that both themes appeal to me as well.

Progress: Evolution of Technology
So, I finally got Progress: Evolution of Technology to the table with more than 2 players and I kind of regret that I did. Friday was a state holiday here in Missouri so I took advantage of that and invited a few folks from our game group over to give Progress a try, luckily three were able to join me. Progress is basically a Civ game, without the Civ building, it’s a game about building the best “Tech tree” that you can possibly build. In a few ways it reminds me of 7 Wonders, but it isn’t nearly as streamlined and easy to play as 7 Wonders. I’ll be doing a full review soon, maybe before Geekway, but for sure right after Geekway so I won’t go into too much here except that in our game on Friday, it took 3 ½ hours, with teaching for 4 of us to play this. We did play with all 4 ages and three of the players had never played before, but it definitely started to outstay it’s welcome, to the point that I got frustrated enough that I really didn’t pay a lot of attention to what I was doing late in the game and I paid attention to what everyone else was doing to try to see how they were doing things. I was frustrated from the 1st age on as I didn’t get a whole lot of anything to chain together. I do enjoy this one as a two player game, so the way we all felt after playing it with four kind of disappointed me a bit, but I can still see this one being played more like Castles of Burgundy, mostly as a two player game. But as I said, the review should be hitting Board Game Geek and the blog within a week or so. Who knows, maybe I’ll get another play or two in before that and things will change again.

Seasons
So, it’s been since November of last year since we have gotten Seasons to the table, and that’s entirely too long for a game that both Gabby and I really enjoy. That’s why it’s on our 3×3 By Memorial Day list. Seasons, is probably best known for being the game with the cool art and the big chunky funky dice and that is true, but unlike a lot of games known for their looks this one actually backs it up. Seasons is a really good Card Drafting, Dice Rolling game where each player is a sorcerer competing in a contest to see who the greatest sorcerer of the land is over a time frame of twelve seasons or three years. The first part of the game is the Card Draft, this is done just like any other card draft is done. Each player is dealt a hand of 9 cards, you chose one card to keep in your hand and pass the rest to the next person, this is done till you have a hand of 9 cards. Once you have your hand of nine cards you choose three cards to start with, and then three cards each for the 2nd and 3rd years, these cards are set aside and will be actively in your hand at the beginning of each respective year. After this, the tournament begins and the first seasons dice are rolled. The dice will have a variety of actions on them including increasing your summoning gauge(you can only have as many cards in your tableau as your summoning gauge allows, you can harvest energy(energy is what you use to play the cost of putting your power cards into play, you could crystallize your energy(crystals serve two purposes, they can be used to pay for some power cards and ultimately they are your victory points at the end of the game) and you could get the ability to draw new cards. Each player only gets to choose one die per turn and the die that is left behind not chosen determines how far along the time track you move after each player’s turn, as you go through the time track, the seasons change and different dice will be used. The different dice will have different energies more prevalent on them, pertaining to the season that they are a part of. As you play your power cards, you are hopefully going to be gaining more and more benefits from them, Seasons is a fantastic card power chaining game where if you play your cards out correctly and synergize them, you can have some outstandingly fun turns, well fun to the active person doing the chaining. Seasons can be fairly confrontational at times, with players actively stealing from their opponents or making them discard power cards from their tableaus, but not so much that you feel like you have to do that to win. If you have power cards that enable you to process energies into crystals far more efficiently, maybe that’s what you concentrate on for most of the game, whereas another player may need to attack and steal crystals from you to try to keep you in check so they hopefully have power cards that help them accomplish that. At the end of the game, the sorcerer with the most crystals combined with the victory points given by the power cards is the best sorcerer in the land and wins the tournament. The base game of Seasons comes with 100 power cards, we’ve added the Enchanted Kingdom expansion to add another 40 cards, so needless to say, there is an awful lot of variety that in this game box, and it lends itself to repeated plays. Not to mention the new abilities that the expansion brought that Gabby and I haven’t even tried out yet. I won the game we played on Saturday over Gabby 163 to 147, I managed to summon a really nice card for free at the end that allowed me to count all my energy in reserve at the end of the game as 3 crystals a piece giving me the 21 points that I needed to win the game. This was my 13th play of Seasons and I’m not tiring of it yet, it’s easily in my Top 10 games at the moment and will probably stay there for a long time, especially if Gabby keeps playing it with me.

Seasons with Gabby

So those are the three games that we got to the table this week, but once again, I got lots of Star Realms in this week. Thank you to all the folks who played me! Sarah, Brad, Kate, Robin, Jim, GoesToXi, Ken and Spencer. I really hope I didn’t miss anyone this week, if I did I apologize. Currently sitting at level 8 8/9, just can’t get that last win to sniff level 9, Kate had a great run of three in a row against me really quick that hurt me this week. Once again, if anyone wants to send challenges, feel free, my id is Vacabck.

Acquisitions
So as I mentioned earlier I bit the bullet and picked up a copy of Baseball Highlights 2045 and it was delivered on Wednesday of the past week. Can’t wait to dig into this one a bit more. Also this weekend the Geekway Math Trade was finalized, I am parting with Quarriors and two expansions, Ascension, Relic and Tragedy Looper. Tragedy Looper hurts, but maybe I can find someone running it at Geekway this year and get it played, but as it is, it was a poor choice for my family and I as it never got played nor did it ever really get requested. In return I’m picking up a couple games that I’ve been looking forward to playing, Toledo, Blue Moon Legends, Asgard and Roll Through the Ages The Iron Age. I think these games are more likely to be played around here than the ones leaving the collection, at least I hope so. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t land a copy of Imperial Settlers, I really wanted to get that, but that’s the way the Math Trade crumbles.

Kickstarter
Nothing new on Kickstarter for me as I am kind of keeping the wallet closed tight leading up to Geekway. But I do want to mention that The Siblings Trouble has about 48 hours left as of the recording and it’s fully funded at a bit over $21,000 and pushing for some stretch goals, so if anything I said in last week’s episode struck your fancy, be sure to check it out before it closes up!!

Geeklist and Thread
Once again another fantastic week on board game geek in the weekly geeklist and thread, lots of fantastic games played and some really great session reports as well! I love seeing the geeklist and thread continue to grow, it really is a fantastic sight every week. Just remember, if you see a thumb from me on either, that means I read your entry from top to bottom, if I don’t comment it’s just because I’m short on time at the moment, but I do still make time to read and enjoy the work that everyone puts forth each week.

Meet The Gamer

On the podcast I sit down to talk with Travis Hill, a fellow game enthusiast and new podcaster, he can currently be heard speaking of the fantastic smaller player count games on the podcast Low Player Count. Hope everyone enjoys meeting Travis, as I had a fantastic time talking to him for the short time that we had. I’ll link his podcast and various ways to interact with him and his fellow co-hosts.

As I said, this week is Geekway to the West, four fantastic fun filled family gaming days in St. Louis Missouri. This year will be our third year attending Geekway and I’m finding myself trying to get a bit more involved every year, through volunteering, trying to promote the heck out of the convention and also by helping run a couple tournaments this year. I’ll be heading up there on Thursday morning to start gaming as soon as I can with Charles Hasegawa(Tatsu) and his group, hoping our plan holds true and I get to play a lot of games that I really should have played by now. Friday has two volunteer shifts for me and also Gabby will be up there all day. Kerensa and AnnaBeth will be joining us on Friday evening. As our lives are right now, I don’t have the ability to go to a lot of conventions, so I am really happy to have such a fantastic one so close to us here in Missouri.

LINKS:

The Siblings Trouble

Travis Hill Twitter

Low Player Count Twitter

Low Player Count Podcast

Low Player Count Board Game Geek Guild

Week 24!!!

Week 24

Wow, and I thought last week was barren, this week is even more so. With helping people move off and on this weekend, Little Olympics for Gabby and also her 11th birthday, we only managed to play a couple games, but at least they were games that she enjoys playing.

Ugg-Tect
So on Saturday night after going out for Gabby’s birthday dinner we played a game of Ugg-Tect, Kerensa and I versus Gabby and her friend. This one was added to our 3×3 Before Memorial Day Challenge by Gabby and I knew it would be a tough one to get played, just because of how it plays, but we threw it on the table and played it on Saturday. Ugg-Tect was originally known as Aargh! Tect and it was re-released by Fantasy Flight Games in 2012. As a matter of fact this was one of our purchases when we went to Gen Con that year. In Ugg-Tect, teams are working to build structures out of the materials lying around them. The trick of the game is that all the players are cavemen and only have a handful of building blocks and rudimentary communication that consists of strange gestures and sounds. One player is the “architect” and you have the plan for what you want your team to build, you are the one who gets to make the gestures and sounds in an attempt to get your partner, the builder to build your building to look like what is on the blueprint card that you have. The best part of the game, at least according to Gabby, is that the architect also has a blow up club with which to “hit” the other player on the head to tell them whether they are correct or not, 1 hit for correct, 2 hits for incorrect. The fastest and most accurate team to build the structure wins the points on the card and then the architect and builder switch positions. Ugg-Tect is really a fun experience type of game, especially when the teams get into character and really get into the “words” and actions that help direct the builder, stomping on the ground shouting “Ugungu!” rarely gets old. The components in the game are pretty top notch, even down to the blow up Caveman clubs which are a fantastic touch to the game. When we played it at GenCon back in 2012, Gabby was really getting into the architect role and we had a nice crowd around cheering her on when she got to hit the builder who just wasn’t getting it, that was me. The only issue I have with the game is the handout that they give you for both players on a team to be able to read is just a small folded crib sheet, it can be a bit hard to read at times, but then again, I’m getting older and my eyes aren’t what they used to be, so they may be just fine. I’ll gladly play it whenever we have people who want to try it out, but it does require at least 4 players to play, and you really need to get into it in order to have fun with the game, no sitting around in this one.

Ca$h n Guns
On Sunday after everyone had participated in cake and presents with Gabby, we broke out Ca$h n Guns for a quick play through. With fewer players this game can get out of hand fairly quickly if everyone decides to go after the same person to start with and that’s what happened to me, and I had to chicken out the first round, I never got back in it after that, even after recruiting AnnaBeth to act as my buffer, was hoping no one wanted to point a foam gun at a five year old, but alas, that plan did not go as planned since everyone really knew who was pulling the trigger. I did manage to stay in the entire game, which is kind of rare for me, but I still only ended up with $75000 in loot. My brother, Shannon, managed to finish about $40000 ahead of me, but we both were way out of first place which was a surprising tie between Gabby and my sister Samantha, they both ended up with $220000 worth of loot. They each had one round where they got to pick up every bit of the loot in the middle. We didn’t bother looking for a tie breaker as everyone was breaking up the party and heading home at that point. Ca$h n Guns is always a fun game but the more the merrier as there are more targets to choose from. Not sure my mom appreciated us playing a game where we were pointing foam guns at each other, especially when I let AnnaBeth do my dirty work, but hey, it’s all in good fun.

A little birthday Ca$h n Gun$

 

I did continue playing Star Realms online quite a bit last week, thank you again Sarah, Jim, Brad, Kate, Kimberly and Robin. For the time being I am sitting at 0/9 and level 8, it’s been a long while since I have been up there and I’m expecting everything to turn on me at any moment, but I’ll keep on playing on and see how far I can get. I was actually a low level 9 at one point, and I started the most horrific losing streak I’ve been a part of, I just could not win to save my life and ended up down in the Level 5s until just recently. So, let’s keep the challenges going, the league over on Board Game Geek should be starting back up fairly shortly so I’ll have more games there as well, but in the entire time I’ve been participating, I’ve never advanced out of my starting division, but then again, I haven’t been demoted either.

I’m hoping that this coming week works out a bit better as far as gaming goes, we do have a State Holiday on Friday so I am thinking about seeing if anyone from the game group is interested in playing a couple games, I need to get a couple more plays of Progress: Evolution of Technology in for the review, and I’d love to be able to get a play in with 5 people if possible, so fingers crossed.

Acquisitions
Once again, nothing arrived on my doorstep this weekend, I’m beginning to wonder if the UPS driver is going to remember us when something comes. I do expect something to show up on our doorstep next week so this little section should have a little bit more excitement in it then. I’ve just been trying to watch the game spending a bit, especially given that I have been backing Kickstarters more regularly than I have ever done in the past. Just because they aren’t delivered right away, doesn’t mean that they aren’t paid for right away.

Kickstarter
I didn’t back anything again this week, although I am going to take a closer look at Xenon Profiteer from TC Petty and Eagle Gryphon Games this week and see if it’s one that I do want to consider. It really is a bit of a different type of game, a “deck deconstruction” game, where you are running a business that separates air trying to isolate Xenon and sell it. This one is part of the Eagle Gryphon Bookshelf Series. It need a bit of work to hit its funding goal of $10,000 in 11 days, as of recording it is sitting just shy of $4000. Give it a look and tell me what you think of it. I’ve got the rulebook downloaded and printed out, just need to find time to read it. TC also has a fantastic Instructional video up for the game on the campaign page that I need to watch as well, but time is not my friend at the moment.

One game that I forgot to mention last week in the Kickstarter round up is a game that I backed when I first saw it hit Kickstarter a couple weeks ago, The Siblings Trouble. Currently, The Siblings Trouble has reached its funding goal and is on its way to reaching some stretch goals with 9 days left in the campaign, but I really regret not even mentioning it last week on the podcast as I am really excited for this one to be made, even with the estimated delivery date of May 2016. The Siblings Trouble is a game brought to us by Eduardo Baraf and a fantastic team of contributors. What it is at its core is a role playing game, but a role playing game that eases you into role playing. It helps guide you, it allows you to role play as much as you would like or as little as you like. Ultimately, The Siblings Trouble is a cooperative game, where you play a group of adventurers trying to complete an adventure, whether it’s in the Hillside Cave of the Ancient Forest, you’ll have a series of narrative moments that lead you through the game, which should last about 30 minutes or so. Survive them and you’ll have treasures and stories to tell, and yes, those treasures can carry on into the next adventure as well, it can be played as a campaign of sorts, you won’t necessarily “level up” but you can have new items carry over from story to story helping you get through the adventure. This really isn’t trying to be a simplified RPG, rather it’s an RPG to introduce your family or friends to RPGs with. The entire game is ran with cards, dice, a few tokens and the player’s imagination. Each adventure is going to play differently as you never play with all the cards from the adventure deck which during game play contains location cards, path cards, the Big Secret and an End of Adventure Card. Each player is going to have a character card, one assigned Trouble Die, a special ability token and one treasure item to start the game with. The treasure that your character brings with them should offer the first story telling spot of the game, each character can describe what they are bringing with them on this adventure and why. The game is played with each player taking a turn and flipping over a card from the adventured deck and resolving them. Some will have events, some will allow you to search for items as well. While resolving the location cards and path cards, there are different storytelling opportunities. You’ll earn different tokens along the way, all hopefully that will help you when you ultimately meet the final boss. That’s it in a nutshell, flip cards, tell stories, roll dice, beat some bosses and make it back home with some cool treasure and a lifetime of stories to tell. As I said, I am looking forward to this landing on our doorstep. If there is one thing that I have failed to do as a game playing parent, that’s introduce my kids to the storytelling games and RPGs. I tend to enjoy my games to be mechanical with a bit of story being told by the game, I’ve never been a huge role player, but I’d like to think that The Siblings Trouble is a game that can help lead me down that path, just as well as my children and my wife. I’ve had Mouse Guard sitting on our shelves for the better part of two years, waiting to be played, but Gabby and I have never gotten past creating our mice, same goes for any other RPG I’ve picked up, Hero Kids, Faery’s Tale or even Do. I did play a bit of D&D 4th with some friends not too long ago, but I never really got into the storytelling of it, I treated it more like a board game or a miniatures combat game, and D&D 4th really kind of let you do that with its miniatures and such. So I’m hoping that The Siblings Trouble helps me learn to Role Play a bit better and it helps my daughters and wife do the same, as I’d love to give our minds an imaginative workout out once in a while to go with our mechanical workout that our brains currently get. So give The Siblings Trouble a look on Kickstarter, hopefully it strikes a chord with you as much as it did with me.

Geeklist & Thread
Once again this week I am going to have to apologize, I really wasn’t as active as I wanted to be on the Geeklist or thread, although I did read each and every one of the entries, I just didn’t have time to comment and discuss as much as I would have loved to do. But there were lots of fantastic reports of some fantastic games being played. I continue to be interested in Argent: The Consortium which user Svengaard continues to play. Really looks like a big sprawling fun game that I’d love to get a chance to try at some point. Arboretum continues to be a huge hit it seems as well, I’m hoping I get lucky and that Miniature Market has some copies back in stock by the time we get up to Geekway in the middle of May. Steph continues to blow me away with some fantastic photos and session reports, really don’t think she gets the credit she deserves around the geek, which is saying a lot considering how much credit she does receive. We saw Lewis and Clark re-appear on the geeklist after a bit of a hiatus, really kind of strange as well after a lot of folks on Twitter were talking about it as well last week. Marco Polo continues to get mentioned and it continues to move up my wishlist and another thing that moves up my wishlist is the ability to join the 1st Minnesota. One of these weeks folks I’ll get to be more of a part of the geeklist and threads, I promise I will, but please continue to post as it really is fantastic to see what everyone else is playing.

Really a short week of gaming, and that makes for a relatively short blog post. Hoping I can remedy that this week. Have a great week everyone!!