6 minute read

Another gaming convention put on by the folks over at BoardGameGeek has come and gone. Aldie, Derk and the gang continue to deliver an amazing show. I consider BGG.con the best public gathering for gamers particularly if you are looking to play the latest offerings from the Essen game fair held each October. In addition to a game library of 3000+ games, the guys and gals of BGG offer a wide array of activities (puzzle hunt, game show, poker tournament, flea market, etc.) for those desiring more than 4+ days of gaming goodness.

This year’s event was typical of what has become a traditional fall gaming meet-up for Chris Brooks and me. It’s an opportunity for the two of us to catch up face to face and to see our gaming friends from other parts of the US and abroad. Another friend from Indianapolis, Bob Nist, also made the trip this year.

As far as what I played …

What?!? I Already Know How To Play This

One of the reasons I attend BGG.con is to play games I don’t know as a way to find those games that really should be part of my game library. That doesn’t mean I’ll refuse a game I already know how to play especially if it happens to be a favorite and that’s exactly where many of the following games fit.

The Pillars of the Earth

I enjoy this lighter worker placement title. A lot of people do not like the mechanism for determining placement order of the master builders but it doesn’t really bother me.


A refined Age of Steam. Only my 2nd play of Steam but I always enjoy AoS/Steam any chance I get to play.


We played this twice during the con using the Interactive deck in both games. I like this with 3. It plays quickly at that number with very little down time. Take care of finding a way to generate food and then enhance your farm! I failed to to this in our first play and my score suffered as a result.

Power Grid

This game is always intense. We played Central Europe with 5 players using the new power plant deck. The leaders powered the same number of plants at the end and the win was decided by a $20 difference in cash.

Ra: The Dice Game

I had only played this one other time. Feels a bit like Roll through the Ages with fewer decisions. Not bad as a filler but don’t play expecting to scratch the itch for Ra.

Hey! Can You Teach Me How To Play This?

Fortunately, that usually isn’t necessary. Chris and I teach a lot of games. We are quite comfortable picking up a rulebook and teaching a group how to play with little to no advance preparation. Still, it is always a joy when a knowledgeable gamer wanders by and offers to explain.

Carson City

A 2009 release that I did not get to play at last year’s event. Jeff DeBoer, another friend we see most years, had played before. Between Jeff’s knowledge and the rulebook, we didn’t really miss (or misplay) any rules. All I can say is, “Wow!” Certainly nothing new from the worker placement genre but all the elements combine to produce a whole lot of fun. The granddaddy of worker placement, Caylus, tends to be a dry affair. The potential for direct conflict in Carson City tends to liven up things a bit. Sold! (Ordered during the convention and will arrive in a day or two.) 🙂


Jeff to the rescue again! This happens to be one of his favorites right now. It is a euro-style game of trading in the far east. Macao is another in the recent crop of games using dice in new and interesting ways (Yspahan being one of my favorites in this area). I enjoyed this and would enjoy playing again.


Fortune favored us with a wonderful game ‘splainer in the form of John Neff (bgg: grendelson). It plays quickly and the mechanics work well. I can see how traditional euro-gamers would be turned off by some of the randomness. Still, the Magic player in me couldn’t help but think about potential card combos as creature cards were revealed. Overall, it didn’t grab me. We played with three and perhaps we needed another player or 2 to make it more interesting.


This was completely off my radar until a couple of weeks ago when I read this was a great, fast-playing dungeon crawl. Chris and I played this twice and had a blast. It plays in an hour or less. Turns are quick and it is another game using dice in interesting and asymmetrical (for each player) ways. Certainly a game my teenage boys would find exciting. Sold!

Travel Blog

Bob and I played this with Aaron Fuegi. Chris and I met Aaron several years ago and usually have a chance to catch up over a game at each BGG.con. This was an Essen release from Vlaada Chvatil (Through the Ages, Galaxy Trucker, Space Alert, Dungeon Lords). It’s much lighter than his previous fare. It’s a geography/memory game and you should be able to play both maps (US and Europe) in 30 – 45 minutes. It’s a light filler that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Castle Ravenloft

Dungeon crawl, part 2! Ravenloft is very different than Claustrophobia. It’s 4e D&D in board game form. It’s co-op and turns out to be another dungeon crawl that plays quickly. We played with a group of 5. Total time, including set up and rules explanation, was less than 2 hours. Most plays with experienced players should clock in around 60 minutes. The fun factor and D&D setting make this another that should be a hit with my teenagers. Sold!


This is an out of print, ‘empty your hand’ card game. Chris taught and we played a hand with 3 players. It felt like more of an activity than a game with 3 players. So we talked Jon Theys (bgg: AnakinOU) into playing and had a much better time. I enjoyed it and would enjoy playing again with 4 or more players.

1861: The Railroads of the Russian Empire*

Playing an 18xx game is starting to become a bit of tradition. Last year we played 18AL and the year before, Steam over Holland. Nate Sandall (bgg: Cavedog_pdx) was our ‘splainer. We had a 5 player game with Nate, Bob, Chris, Mark Hamzy (bgg: hamzy) and me. This is a longer 18xx title. Our play lasted about 6 hours but it only felt like 2 or 3. I liked the ability of merging minor companies to form a public company and the use of the state run rail company to force the purchase of newer trains. It’s a nice entry in the 18xx series but, unfortunately, out of print.


The last thing Chris and I played before heading to the airport on Sunday was this. I enjoy Dominion but had never learned Thunderstone. Both of us read the rules prior to playing so set up and getting into the game was quick and painless. I enjoyed the idea of having more choice on a turn and doing more than buying a card each turn. Again, I believe the fantasy element will appeal to my teenagers. Sold!


BGG.con 2010 was another great gaming weekend and I look forward to 2011!