And so we came to the last day. Cons end with a whimper, not a bang. People trickle out starting the night before. Often the last day is a sad shade of it's once glorious self with a few beleaguered players fighting exhaustion. This was somewhat evident at BGGcon, although there were more people playing than I expected. Read on to see my big disappointment and the games I wish I had played, but didn't…I was wandering around the main room trying really hard not to buy another game, when I came upon two guys setting up what looked like frying pans. Sure enough, it was an obscure 80s game called Ala Carte. It's actually a dexterity game, and pretty hilarious. The idea is that you are trying to fulfill certain recipes (each recipe requires a certain level of heat on your little oven and a combination of ingredients – represented by little colored crystals) to get points. On your turn you may either roll a die that increases the heat on your oven or try to put ingredients in your dish. To do this, you take the little container and give it one shake. You hope that just the right amount of whatever ingredient you wanted come out. If at any time you have 3 or more of any ingredient in your pan the recipe is ruined. You also have the option of cooking a crepe, which is a cardboard disk about the size of your pan. To properly cook it you have to flip it to the other side, which works just like you think it might. The sight of four gamers taking turns trying to flip a cardboard crepe in little frying pans is worth the price of admission alone. Ala Carte is a silly fun little game. No depth here, but a nice change of pace that had us all laughing.
For 4 days I had been trying to get a play of Dungeon Lords in, and I was constantly thwarted. I would show up to a demo just a little late, or be the 5th player interested. So, I finally got my chance to play. I thought it was an ideal setting, as one of the guys from Z-Man games was going to explain the game. I sat down with a father and two twin sons. The game has some of the best bits (especially the little imp figures) and presentation I have seen. Once you get into the game (which is essentially a boardgame of the old Dungeon Keeper video game) the board actually makes the rules pretty clear and does a great job of walking you through the process. This is actually an underrated part of game design, and a number of recent games (Pillars of the Earth and Kingsburg come to mind) have done it quite well.
Dungeon Lords is a 2 year quest to create the best dungeon you can while fighting off yearly incursions of those pesky heroes. The designer is Vlaada Chvatil, maker of the delightfully loony Galaxy Trucker. This game has the same sense of humor and silly play as Galaxy Trucker, but is much less random. It is a real gamers game. I plan on doing a full review at a later date, right now I want to talk about my experience.
First off, the demoer admitted that it had been a long con and he was pretty burnt out (and yet still trying for the hard sell with the Dad) that should have been a warning sign. A further sign was that I seemed to know the rules better than him after just reading them. A third sign was that the Dad actually threw his hands up during the explanation and said he had no idea what was going on (later after we had a turn under our belt he admitted that the game was actually pretty streamlined and made logical sense.) The final straw was that one of the sons made a bad choice and ended up really messing up his dungeon, which led to this early 20s kids throwing a temper tantrum and getting up from the table. I had not seen anything like it at the con thankfully. We ended the demo after playing only one turn. I wasn't sad. I got a chance to play Dungeon Lords a few more times since coming home, and I love it. I'm glad I bought it.
So, that was the end of BGGcon. Over the course of 4 days I had played 23 games, spent a lot of time talking games with almost uniformly cool and fun people and had a chance to pick up games that were not available anywhere in the US. It was a blast, and I am already making plans to attend next year. Even so, there were games there that I did not get a chance to play. Here's a brief list of games I wish I had got to.
Die Macher – a 5 hour simulation of German politics circa 1986? Sign me up! This is sort of the ur big meaty Eurogame, and BGGcon would have been an ideal time to play it.
Gates of Loyang – the new game by the maker of Agricola & Le Havre (two games I love!) it looked great.
Agricola Farmers of the Moors – an expansion for Agricola (one of my favorite games) that adds even more hardship to the life of your poor farmer.
Stronghold – a big old mess of a game. Great design, takes up a huge table, and plays in more than 2 hours. I might not play it often, but I think I would enjoy it now and then.
Thunderstone – looks like a fantasy themed Dominion, which is good in my book.
Opera – once again, nice design and a cool theme. Players put on various operas trying to make the most money.
and a bunch of others. Hope you enjoyed my long, drawn out discussion of BGGcon. It's a great trip, and there is no better way to play so many wonderful games. I highly recommend making the pilgrimage.
Last 5 posts by Ezra
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