So here’s the rundown of my playlist at Gamefest South and what I thought about those games I played.
So I took off work so that I could leave the house insane early on Friday morning. I was hoping to make it to Chattanooga early enough on Friday to have a full day with it. I got to the Choo Choo a little after 11 local time and got settled into the hotel before heading to the game room.
After checking in to Gamefest South and getting my badge, I was immediately invited into a game of Egizia of which I accepted. I have never played it before, hadn’t really heard of it much (I knew of its existence but not much about it beyond that). In Egizia you are laborers in some ancient civilization building up monuments and buildings. It essentially boiled down to a worker placement game to get victory points. Your workers could either move slowly down the river and do more work, or you could move swiftly down the river and pick better spots than would be available for the people moving slowly. It was interesting, not anything I hadn’t really seen before, and not one I’ll be seeking to play again, but would probably play again if asked.
After Egizia, LH grabbed a copy of Sun, Sea, & Sand to teach to us. I suppose someone was interested in learning it, again, I was there to play games with good people, not really caring what games those were, so I joined in as well.
In Sun, Sea, & Sand you are a family on a resort island destination, you build up your hotel and resort, and try to attract tourists to your hotel rather than competing (read: other players) hotels. It ended up being another worker placement with a twist game. The twist being that your workers could be used to do different things, such as build an attraction, or booking clients, or advertising, etc. Different things took different amounts of time, so you might not get all your workers back for each round.
It was a fun game, very quick, easy to learn with a cute theme. That goes a long way toward me enjoying the game. I liked it alright, and would be happy to play it again, but again, it was a typical worker placement to get victory points game, and there are only so many of those that a person needs to have on their shelf. I’m pretty sure that this one won’t make mine.
Then LH grabbed his copy of Asara and offered to teach it. I wanted to try it because it looked pretty, and was just an SDJ nominee. At least this one wasn’t another worker placement.
It ended up being a card/hand management sort of thing, where by playing cards to certain locations you could get various pieces with which to construct towers of differing materials. Depending upon where you played, how much money you had, how many cards you had and how well you played them, you could optimize building towers to make taller towers, or towers in different more valuable materials than your opponents. I didn’t think all that highly of this game. It was okay, but there wasn’t anything astounding, and the nature of the game assures that everyone will build pretty towers, and be fairly close on victory points. A light family style game with no tense decisions to be made. Of course, playing this after two other light family style games might have been its downfall in my mind. I’d try it again, but I don’t see anything here that is compelling or interesting, and your decisions on your turn are fairly obvious from what’s available on your turn.
I then mixed it up and broke groups when RT was looking for a fourth for Spectral Rails and offered to teach it to me. It was described to me as a quick pick up & deliver train game. Being a big Age of Steam fan, I thought I’d try this one too.
In Spectral Rails, the players represent ghost trains traveling around the old southwest picking up souls to deliver them to their final destinations. Ghost trains tend to drop ether when they travel, and ghost ether is toxic to its own ghost, but turbocharges the other ghost trains, so you can’t backtrack your train along track you’ve been on, and you make it faster for other players to travel along your footsteps.
Movement was limited by the number of cards you play representing sections of the track, but movement along other peoples vapor trails did not count against your movement points.
The game played insanely fast, (actually too fast, but I was told our game was an anomaly), and was really fun. Card & Hand Management combined with pick up & deliver is not something I’ve experienced before, and it was a pleasant game. I’d like to give it a few more plays, but it doesn’t seem like something I need to pick up. I’ll have to play it at some conventions in the future.
After a lengthy discussion of the error in Spectral Rails in that the U.S. Gold Eagles in it were dated 1848, but the map clearly showed the US post Gadsden Purchase, the group grabbed two others and WB Taught us the game Union Pacific.
I’ve had Union Pacific for a couple of years, but never managed to get it to the table. I needed to play it, as I hate to have something on the shelf I’ve never played, and especially now that the release of the retheme Airlines Europe has recently come out. After being taught the rules and comparisons to the game Acquire, we began.
The comparison to Acquire ended up being right on. It was mostly about hand management and laying down stocks in the more valuable companies, paying considerable attention to what your opponents are laying their stocks in, because when the payout cards come out, you want to be majority shareholder or at least 2nd in the bigger companies on the board. I loved the game, I think although it shares similarities with acquire, it has some interest on its own in that the payouts are strictly vp’s and you don’t have to spend vp’s to get more. As in Acquire. It’s more hand management and get the jump on the other players in a rummy style before the scoring rounds, with the bulding trains added on on top of it.
We played a fun variant, it was a six player game and the player opposite you was actually on the same team, so you and they shared stocks. It added a layer onto the game, but didn’t change it significantly and I think the game is fine either way. Their explanation is that it makes the six player game better because it’s half the time before your team can react to the situation as opposed to having to wait 5 turns. I can see that, and will likely use that for trying the game in the future.
I took a break after that, and chatted with friends and went to dinner before coming back and teaching a game of Dominant Species to some friends.
Dominant Species is a fun game that came out late last year. After playing it more and more, it has really grown on me. I know it’s really long, and seems complicated, but really it’s lots of little pieces that fit together to make a complex machine, and a little effect in one area can have make different things happen.
It is really a worker placement game in Age of Empires III style, but while the worker placement was the main focus of AOE3, the worker placement in Dominant Species is of equal importance as the area control portion on the map side of earth. It’s a little hard to teach and learn as you have to go through the entire thing before people can understand what’s going on, but each thing is very easy to learn.
After this, I decided to go to bed, it was already past 1am, and I had a busy day planned for Saturday.
I had promised CD that I would play Disc Golf with him on Saturday Morning at The Sinks. This meant that I had to do my long run before 7am. So I got up at 5:10, (not easy to do after only going to bed at 1:30) to get in six miles. Then I changed clothes and met CD and headed over to the course.
It was a fun course, and it was nice playing a new different course with a friend. I think I’ll try to add a disc golf outing to every convention or travel area I go to going forward, there is just so much variety.
After getting back and cleaned up, I got down in time for my scheduled game of Die Macher. A true ’10′ for me, I always will enjoy a game of this. This particular game ran quite long, and was very tight the whole way. With the game ramping up toward the end, we started with 35-40 point regions, followed by the 15, and 22 in rnd 4 and 5, and ended with the 80, then the 50. Needless to say, there was a lot of posturing throughout the mid game which pushed the time a bit, I’m sure my sleep depravity from a short night’s rest didn’t help matters. I ended up coming in third with CDU taking over the German Parliament. FDP will have their revenge in the future.
We actually took a break from the Die Macher game above for the flea market. I brought a few titles and did okay with getting rid of some stuff. I did end up picking up a copy of Duck, Duck, Go for us to try in our weekly family game night, and I picked up a copy of Isla Dorada as well.
After Die Macher, I was kinda brain drained, and tired from lack of sleep, so I sort of walked around and chatted for a while, and just mingled. Went and picked up some dinner, and came back and fell into a game of Blue Moon City.
I’ve played Blue Moon City a few times before. It’s very light easy hand management game, but it was about all I wanted at the time. It’s alright, not great of course, but interesting enough to play a time or two every once in a while.
I mingled a bit more and was finally starting to feel better when I saw some friends huddled around chatting. I asked if this was game discussion or dinner discussion trying to find something to play. CR was saying that he wanted to learn Merkator, a game I had not heard of before. JN grabbed a copy and invited a group to play.
Merkator was an interesting game. Again, typical Euro, get cubes and trade them in for victory points. The time management in the game was different than anything I’d seen before, in that the game length was determined by the locations with which the players go. Plus the ability to do actions based on others turns, added a layer to the game that prevented you from playing with tunnel vision focusing only on your actions. I enjoyed the game and had fun playing it, but these days, these aren’t the kind of games I get excited to play any more. I would be happy to play it again any time, but wouldn’t seek it out, or suggest it I don’t believe.
Lastly, while walking around, a group was starting a game of Age of Empires III. It’s been a couple of years since I played it, and playing so much Dominant Species lately had this game in the back of my mind, so I wanted to play it again. Honestly, I believe I’m done with the game now. It had it’s day, but playing it one night after Dominant Species, I can’t see myself ever sitting down to this game again. Sure it’s faster, but the meat that DS has just isn’t there with AOE3. I finished in a close second behind GA, He played with lots of resources and building points, while I concentrated on the area majority.
And I lied, because just before heading up to bed, I also ended up teaching CD and his group of his friends from Mississippi State the game of Felix: The Cat in the Sack. This is a pretty fun, light, quick filler game that is always worth the time and effort. Some late night hijinks proved entertaining during this game, and it was a fun game. We’ve played it in the past in our group, and I always have a lot of fun with it.
I slept a little later on Sunday morning, but woke up about 8 to get an easy 3 mi recovery run in before cleaning up and grabbing some breakfast. I met TW down in the breakfast room and he offered to teach me Antiquity
Antiquity has been sitting on my shelf for the better part of two years. I have never really made an effort to read the rules or get it played because of it’s reputation, length, and opening the box to find thousands of little chits.
After being taught the rules, it turns out it’s actually pretty much a city optimization engine building type game. You’ve got to build a city and man it with workers to stay ahead of the curve on food while working toward your victory condition, which you get to pick yourself. And the paths are wildly different.
Of course, staying ahead of the curve is pretty tough to do in and of itself, let alone working toward your victory condition. Me and MS the other new player were locked in a slow death spiral as our city slowly filled with dead bodies due to famine with no visible to us way to prevent it, while TW made some progress toward victory. We ended up calling the game as it was going to take about 4 more turns for TW to win, and there wasn’t really much we could do about it, plus the both of us needed to get on the road. I’m looking forward to trying this one again soon.
Really I think the game could be quite polarizing. It’s essentially multiplayer solitaire for a good portion of the game. At least, at this stage in my playing the game it is, and because there is little to no luck involved in the board setup or available actions, it really seems like you could develop your strategy and just execute that each time going forward.
The game is deep, and I’ll have some fun exploring some of its depths. But I’m not so positive that it has lasting staying power. Its strengthened by the fact that it takes a good while to play and looks daunting, which will keep it from hitting the table, and keep you from optimizing your strategy.
And after Antiquity, thus ended my time at the Choo Choo as I packed up the car and headed home. I had a great time at my ‘BGG.con’ since I won’t be able to attend this year.