For more info on games mentioned below, check them out on BoardGameGeek!
Games I played:
- BattleLore: Fantasy wargame for 2, using a simple command card system similar to Memoir '44 and others, plus magic. Tactics and strategy matter, but luck can still carry the day for good or ill. Results: 1 loss, 1 win.
- XXXenophile: A collectible card game (CCG) based on Phil and Kaja Foglio's comics; sex and silliness. (No, the players aren't required to actually do anything untoward, at least so long as "exhibitionist" cards aren't included in the mix (they weren't).) Definitely the game which attracted the most fennish crowd, including organizers from the other major local conventions, C-ACE and ACCC. Result: 2nd of 6.
- Bruce MacDiarmid's AD&D Game, this year's being titled Labyrinth of Self-Discovery, in which the PCs begin as sacrifices to a minotaur, and having no memory of their identity or skills. Bruce is always a fun GM, and I've made sure to get into his games every year I could; we have an understanding on scheduling so that we avoid conflicts, since he likes playing my RoboRally game. Result: no trophy, much fun.
- Caylus: I played this in a pickup game at the Warwick Club's cafe area. I brought it along in hopes of getting a game going, and succeeded; unfortunately, we could only get through 2/3 of it in the time we had. It's one of the biggest, most intricate Eurogames out there, and it seems to be a "love it or hate it" kind of thing. Some players really like its unforgiving complexity, while others find it off-putting; I, of course, am in the former camp. Result: 2nd of 5.
- Scrabble: At the end of Sunday, a couple of us who had been talking about competitive Scrabble for a while but never played against each other finally got some games in. A few spectators wandered by, and were a little surprised to see Scrabble being played at all; they were even more surprised by some of the words being played! I got hot tiles, as it turned out: I won 3 of 3.
- Puerto Rico: This is the top-ranked game on BoardGameGeek, and with good reason. I ran a tournament, and filled 17 of 20 qualifier slots, including a few people who tried in two qualifiers. It ran very well, but I think that next year, I may try to run all the qualifiers in parallel rather than 2 rounds of 2 boards as this year, and eliminate the semi-finals; this will make it easier to have players commit only 1 "slot" of the convention to the tournament. When running a tournament, it's best to formalize the procedure for handling contingencies as well as possible, in order to avoid hard feelings, but sometimes, floor rulings must be made. In this case, I decided to allow the semi-finals runner-up to advance to the finals to occupy the slot left vacant by a no-show winner from a qualifier, and I think it was the right thing to do. When he proceeded to win, however, there was a little bit of testiness from a player or two; nonetheless, I stuck to my guns. The aim of the elimination system is to have the best players play against each other in the final, and he was definitely in that class.
- RoboRally: My annual obligation. This is a race game for which I design and build custom boards; this year, I brought out an old board and gave it to the winner, largely to declutter the apartment. I ended up with 11 players of a maximum 12, due to a cancellation. This is always great fun to run because of the hijinks and errors of the players; I've found a method for running it which makes losing almost as much fun as winning, it seems. Although the eventual winner never made it all the way to the final flag, he was well on his way there, clearly ahead of the pack. Because the board was old, there was a little water damage, which I worked into the rules as a somewhat random effect for the "melted" repair point; this seemed to go over well. It's an exhausting game to run, but it's worth all the preparation and effort!
- Modern Art: While I was running the Puerto Rico tournament, I ran a number of other Eurogames in parallel, with starts every half-hour so that I could explain rules. This one is an auction game in which players are dealers in modern art, whose value has nothing to do with the painting itself and everything to do with the fashionability of the artist, which is in turn determined by the choices of the dealers. A very good game by Reiner Knizia, enjoyed enough by the players that they brought it to another table to play a second round. This is probably the acme of auction games.
- Clans: A quick little game which is much underrated on BoardGameGeek. It's by Leo Colovini, who comes up with clever and unorthodox games in which players' tactical objectives are hard to determine exactly. Besides my two runnings of it, several games were spotted being played at the Warwick Cafe. It's essentially a group-forming geographical game which seems almost random at the outset and becomes progressively more analyzable as it goes.
- Louis XIV: This is a game of influence and resource collection with some very clever mechanics. I hadn't played it in a while, so I was happy that two of the players knew it well enough that I didn't have to deal with many questions once the game was under way. Note to self, and anyone else planning to run multiple games in parallel: review the games shortly before the event, even if you knew them well a few months ago when you set up the schedule!
- Manila: A cute, simple-looking game with punts of trade goods, dockworkers, pilots, pirates, etc. Simple mechanics which hide a very difficult money-management problem; very much enjoyed by both light and heavy game players.
- TurfMaster: A horse-racing game with beautiful game pieces etc. The mechanics of the game are peculiar, with movement being controlled both by cards played from hand and by dice rolls, but the overall effect is very nice, with lots of opportunities for gambles and dirty tricks. This almost didn't run for lack of players, but eventually limped in with a couple of players running 3 horses each.
- Tigris & Euphrates: Another Knizia game, this one being a very aggressive civilization-building game with an extremely clever scoring system: there are 4 kinds of points, and the winner is the one whose worst category has the most points in it. This one also went over well enough that the players went on for a second game after the first; fortunately, there were tables available for all this!
- Citadels: A fairly light game for winding down at the end of the day, this ran perfectly with 5 players. Lots of "take down the leader" went on, so it wasn't as short a game as the box advertises; fortunately, I planned for this in scheduling. My rule was to allow 1/2 hour more than the game "should" take, and that worked out about right.
- Tutankhamun: One last quickie to close out the night, this is a very early Knizia game of resource collection. The rules are extremely simple, but the strategy can be quite elegant. Twenty minutes well spent.