Gen Con Anticipation

It’s almost time for the biggest gaming event in the United States. GenCon is celebrating 50 years this year, and with expected crowds of more than 70,000, it’s gonna be a wild one. I attended GenCon way back when it was held in the Mecca Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Once it moved, we were less motivated to go, plus we had a small child.

Flash forward about 16 years to GenCon 2016 last year.

I have become involved with a group call Double Exposure Envoy as a “Herald”. The Herald program lets you demo games for companies in exchange for getting the game for free as long as you agree to run it X number of times (depending on the game and company). But around these big convention times (Origins, GenCon, and several other larger cons), these game companies need help manning their booths. They turn to Double Exposure Envoy for help and offer some pretty swanky perks for doing so. You will usually get a badge to the con, and maybe a shared hotel room. Some companies pay in store credit, others give great bags of swag. I got set up to work with Bezier Games. I had a super awesome time running the games and being a part of the convention.

This year, my whole family is going. They’ll be doing some RPG’ing while I work, then we have all number of cool things scheduled to do. Honestly, we couldn’t even go through all the things there are to do. Some of our highlights include an Escape Room, Pathfinder, and a few panels. (I get to go to my first Dice Tower Live! show… squeee!)

I could spend my entire convention in the dealer room and NEVER GET BORED! It’s amazing. Trying out new games, seeing all the cool accessories for sale, wandering the artist section and drooling over the amazing art on display. I expect this year to be super crowded though, and hope to do a few other things.

If you end up with some time, scope out the first exposure playtest hall. You can help beta test new upcoming games, give feedback, and you’ll get to play games before anyone else! It’s really interesting. Last year I helped a designer playtest their rules. Oh, how I wish more companies would do that!

So what is the “cult of the new” that I want to check out this year? Hotshots from Fireside Games definately tops my list. It sounds like they won’t have it for sale, but hopefully I can get a demo in. It looks like a lot of fun. I’m planning on picking up Biotix from Smirk and Dagger. I like their games, and the collaboration between Smirk and Dagger and Tina Bongorno, the artist on the game has a special place in my heart. They were both guests at Gamicon (run by Mindbridge Foundation, whose page you are on), two years ago. While I was talking with them, Curt Covert looked at Tina and said “I may have a project for you…” I feel priviledged to have been a very tiny part of making this combo happen.  One of my favorite games, King’s Forge by Game Salute has a new “Gold” expansion out, so I’m hoping to pick that one up. I’d really like to get a chance to play “Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time”. I don’t know much about the game, but with a title like that, it sounds amazing!

Lots of companies have special GenCon 50 promotions, and I hope to pick some of them up, and may even try to partake in Mayfair’s Ribbon quest. You play games and get various ribbons. Once you have collected all of the ribbons, you can get a special ribbon and promo and discounts & stuff.

If you go to GenCon, come say hi! I’ll be in the Bezier Booth from 10am-2pm every day. Ask for Michele.


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August 2017 Minutes

MB Minutes August 2, 2017, 7 PM, Arc of Southeast Iowa

  1. Call to Order
  2. Minutes – reading waived, posted online
  3. Treasurer’s Report: we have lots more money than last month but AI bills have not been paid yet
  4. Convention Reports Read More »
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Game Review: Diamonds

Stronghold Games, 2014

Diamonds is a entrancing two to six player trick taking game. The object is to collect as many diamond crystals as you can. You collect “diamonds” for suit actions.

Players start with a hand of ten cards. The dealer then determines how many cards each player will pass, either one, two or three. Not passing is not an option, and cards will always pass to the left. Once everyone has their final hand of ten cards, the player to the left of the dealer will lead.

You must follow suit, if you have it. But here’s the twist. If you don’t have the suit led, you may play a different suit AND take it’s suit action. Each suit has it’s own unique suit action. Suit actions will let you collect crystals from the pool, steal from other players, or store crystals in your vault. Crystals in your vault cannot be stolen.  You also take the suit action when you win a trick, and at the end of the round, the player with the most of each suit, will get that suit action as a bonus. Any player who took no tricks gets to take two diamond suit actions.

The number of rounds you play depends on the number of players. At the end of the last round, players will total up the number of crystals they have in their vault are worth two points, while collected crystals out side of your vault only count one point. The player with the most points wins.

I love a good trick taking game, and this one sure qualifies. There is always some strategy in knowing which card to throw off when you can’t play on a trick. Diamonds makes this one step harder. When you play off on a hand, you get to take the suit action for the card you played. This makes each card valuable in a different way. It may be valuable to keep in order to take a trick later on, or it may be worth more to use it’s suit action. It’s these decisions that give Diamonds an edge over other trick taking games.

The game recommends two to six players ages 8+. The game actually comes with a separate set of rules for two player. I’d recommend four or five players as working the best. Because the deck comes with 60 cards, and each player is only dealt 10, the strategy varies based on the number of players as the entire deck is shuffled each round, so you won’t necessarily know which cards are in play at any given round.

Anecdotally, I was running a Diamonds tournament at our local game convention (Gamicon), and had a 10 year old who wanted to play. She had never played a trick taking game before, so we taught the basics of trick taking games first, then added in the suit actions bit. She completely lost the first round (but never misplayed). But then steadily throughout the tournament rounds got better and better, and almost won! It is really an easy game to pick up. It’s a lot of fun, and offers something new to the veteran card player, while still be fun and exciting for the newbie!

I highly recommend adding Diamonds to your collection, especially if you already enjoy trick taking card games.

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Game Review: Slide Blast

Slide Blast
FoxMind Games, 2016

Attention “serious” gamers. Before you look at this game and say “nah, too light” or “kid’s game”, give it one try. Despite the 7+ age recommendation, I promise it’ll be worth your time.

In Slide Blast, you are creating waterslides at a waterpark. Your goal is to make the longest slide possible. You create your slide by playing tiles, adding them to the end of your slide and attempting to connect to unclaimed areas before your opponents can. You begin the game with one tile in your “hand”, each turn you will draw a tile, and then place one of the two in your hand. After placing your tile, you move to the end of your slide. For those of you who have played “Tsuro” this mechanic will be familiar.

There is an initial inclination to try to direct your slide away from other players. But after some game play, you will find that interaction with other players is key if you wish to connect your slide to other slide pieces being created as the board takes shape. If you place a tile, and happen to move another player’s pawn as well, you will get bonus tiles that give you extra points at the end of the game. Strategic tile placement may also head your opponent away from sections they may be trying to capture.

Although easy to learn, this game may take some time to master, but is still accessible to younger players. Younger players will tend to focus solely on adding to their own slide, without taking advantage of tiles placed by other players. I have found this game to be fun for both adults and kids in a way that few other games seem to manage.

Additional large tiles and tunnels make give a little bit of luck to an otherwise very strategic game, as well as adding some fun theme features. The theme and gameplay interweave very well in this game, and complement each other to create a very immersive experience. A real life slide created with lots of twists and turns is more fun than a straight one. In the game, a slide with lots of twists and turns will also tend to get you more points.

The artwork is eye-catching and fun. I recently ran a demo of this, and had people of all ages asking about it as we played. Everyone, from a young boy, to older adults enjoyed the game and when we finished, I had people asking to borrow it to play again. I had never heard of this game before I received this copy to demo, but rest assured I will be bringing it out often, to all different types of groups. This could be a great gateway game if you are looking for something to play with your non-gamer friends and family. Oh, and it has AWESOME meeples!

Highly recommended to EVERYONE…. Really!

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