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Entries in wcmf 2011 (5)


West Coast Meeple Fest, Wrap Up

Looking back at the weekend the clear winners for me were Die Burgen von Burgund and Airlines Europe.

Die Burgen von Burgund does all the things I want from a game, and it does them pretty well. Turns are fast, with few but meaningful choices. There’s some interaction with the other players, but not direct confrontation. There are multiple paths to victory, and it seems possible to change strategies mid-game. The die-rolling mechanic is an elegant way to constrain player choices without causing luck to trump strategy. I’m not a fan of some of the production choices — I think the board looks like it was printed on a inkjet printer whose cartridge was running low — but it’s a solid game. I expect this one to be appearing at our house soon.

Airlines Europe is basically a third as long and a third as deep. I played three route-building and stock market games this weekend, and this one was my favorite. It is as simple as possible, and no simpler. That, combined with my love my Alan Moon’s designs, means that we’ll probably pick this up as well. And it’s short enough that it could see some weeknight play. Sweet.

As always, Gwen and I had a fantastic time at Meeple Fest. I commented on the way home that over the course of the three previous times we’ve attended, I’d played games with at least half of this year’s attendees. Gwen thinks for her it’s closer to two-thirds. That’s one of the reasons it feels less like a convention and more like a get-together with friends.

Friends who play a lot of board games, that is.


Fitness: None
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 0 words, 201 seven-day average, 260 average, 34090 total, 1910 to go for the week

West Coast Meeple Fest, Day 4

I started off the day by failing to defend my Loopin’ Louie crown, getting eliminated in the first round of the tournament. This game really is stupidly fun, so much so that I’m tempted to try tracking down a working copy. That could be hard.

Die Burgen von Burgund has been getting a lot of praise lately. It’s well-deserved. I didn’t get to play any of the other hot new “gamer games” this weekend, but this one made up for that. Also, Gwen managed to pip an experienced player by one point, beat another handily, and crush me without a second thought.

A second play of Paris Connection convinced me that its lightness is not a virtue. At least with the people I normally play with, I’d rather play Airlines Europe.

Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer seems to be the Dominion version of Magic: the Gathering. The designers also seem to have taken most of the features that I think make Dominion a good game and “fixed” them. Despite the fun some of my friends are having with it online, I don’t think I’ll be joining them.

And that’s it. Tomorrow: Judgements.


Fitness: None
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 0 words, 219 seven-day average, 262 average, 34090 total, 90 words past my goal for the week

West Coast Meeple Fest, Day 3

Uncomfortable hotel pillows led to sleeping poorly, which meant I missed my run this morning. Not the best start to the day, but the game and company helped me recover.

Another play of Luna convinced me that I do like it, though apparently more than my companions. I should give it one more to see if it’s worth owning.

Airlines Europe
implements almost the same idea as Paris Connection, albeit with planes instead of trains and with a better stock mechanic. Curiously for a route-building game, the map is an almost incidental component. It reminded me how much I love the elegant simplicity of Alan Moon’s designs.

We had a wonderfully chaotic ten-player game of Formula D, though nothing can really top last year’s game, which saw Shelly’s car explode before the first turn. I made my characteristic bad choices about coming into corners in too high a gear, but my daring in the final chicane almost made up for them. Almost. James pulled out a well-deserved victory.

Zoff in Buffalo continues to break my brain. It’s so simple, yet it completely eludes me.

Playing Tier auf Tier fulfilled the requirement to play at least once Haba game at Meeple Fest. A children’s game of stacking wooden animals whose start player is determined by standing on one leg like a flamingo for as long as possible? Sign me up.

Dinner with friends cut into the game playing time, so that’s it for today.


Fitness: None
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 0 words, 261 seven-day average, 264 average, 34090 total, 90 words past my goal for the week

West Coast Meeple Fest, Day 2

Getting up to speed now. Today’s games:

20th Century can be roughly if inaccurately described as Power Grid meets Carcassonne, which explains why Gwen liked it. It’s an auction game with a pain management element, combined with a little bit of tile placement. I’m notoriously bad at valuation game, so it’s no surprise I finished last.

Paris Connection is an extremely light rail-building + stock valuation game. It’s very fast, but I’m curious to see how it holds up to repeated plays.

Luna, on the other hand, is a tad baroque. It’s an action-planning game about currying favor with the High Priestess of the Moon that for some reason has jumping into the water as its central mechanic. I liked it, but it feels like it has about three too many actions you can choose from.

Color Stix is a fun party puzzle game from Susan McKinley-Ross, designer of the Spiel des Jahres-winning Qwirkle. It about broke my brain, as did Uluru, another puzzle game that involves trying to set up your board such that all of the rule cards you’ve flipped over are followed.

And that — with a little bit of podcasting — was today.


Fitness: None
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 293 words, 273 seven-day average, 266 average, 34090 total, 90 words past my goal for the week; 24-day streak

West Coast Meeple Fest, Day 1

This is our fourth year of attending a wonderful long weekend of board games organized annually by Doug Garrett. We drove up to Santa Clara this afternoon and arrived in time to get a few game plays in. I think of it as a warmup before the event starts in earnest tomorrow.

Poseidon is a train game masquerading as a game about ancient Greek shipping. Specifically, it’s a stripped down version of the one branch of the 18xx series of train/stock market games. I’ve only played one of these before — 1870, I think — and found this one to be a much better introduction to the family. I do wish that it had a set of turn order reference cards, as there is one portion of the game where the order in which specific things happens really matters, and unless you’ve internalized that it can get very confusing. I liked it, and I’d be curious to give it another play.

Pantheon is the newest “Michael Tummelhofer”1 game, which follows the tradition of Saint Petersburg and Stone Age of remixing mechanics from other contemporary games to great effect. It doesn’t feel quite as elegant to me as the other two, but it does have awesome wooden feet pieces.

We ended with dinner at the Faultine Line Brewing Company, after which I was tired enough to just come back to the room and crash. Gwen’s off playing something now, but I’ll just have to settle for two games today. Like I said, it’s a warmup.


Fitness: Ran 3.5 miles
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 149 words, 268 seven-day average, 266 average, 33797 total, 203 to go for the week; 23-day streak

1 Pseudonym for Bernd Brunnhofer, with a hat tip to Michael Bruinsma and Jay Tummelson.