This year's BGGCon was an absolute whirl-wind, but an amazing one that proved to be very productive. My 3 main goals for the convention were to pitch my game, Galapagos Expeditions, to have a successful premier event for Board with Life: Season 2, and to play games with the slew of board game friends I have made over the years. For the most part, all 3 were huge successes.
I pitched Galapagos Expeditions to over a dozen publishers and I got an overwhelmingly positive response. Some of the publishers I set up specific meetings for, and some I pitched at a publisher speed dating event. Since the speed dating event had a wide range of publishers, obviously my game (a light euro) wasn't right for many of them but everyone seemed interested. I even had a publisher say "this game isn't right for my company, but I want to buy it when it comes out." Which I thought was really kind. I wound up sitting down and playing the game with 6 publishers and sent all 4 of my prototypes home with them. The publishers ranged from major publishers to smaller companies, but I would be ecstatic to work with any of them. I honestly think very highly of how each company is run, and love games from all of them. Now its time to get to work developing Echo Alchemists (which I signed after Gen Con) and play-testing some design ideas so I have something to show at UnPub in April.
Board with Life
On Friday we screened a full episode of Board with Life: Season 2 and premiered the trailer.
We packed the room and had an awesome crowd. People laughed the entire episode and were very complimentary after the screening. It felt amazing to get validation from everyone on something we have been working so hard on for the past 2 years.
Now on to the games I played. In all, I got in 28 plays of 16 different games, which is about half of what I was able to play in previous years. The reason for less plays is 2 fold, first I was just way busier pitching and networking this year. Second, I regularly attend 2 weekly game nights now, so I was already able to play many of the Essen releases that I previously only got access to at BGGCon. Here are my favorite new games I played at the con.
Isle of Skye is a tile laying game with an interesting auction/economic mechanic. In the game, each player is trying to lay tiles on their own tableau, scoring point for things such as the largest completed lake, or the most sheep connected by roads. The scoring conditions are randomized each game for replayability.
My favorite part of the game comes from the auction/economic mechanic where players secretly assign a monetary value to each of their tiles. Other players then have the option to purchase tiles from eachother for the assigned values, if they do, the player they are purchasing from gets both the original amount they assigned to the tile, as well as the money the other player is paying for the tile. If nobody purchases your tile, then you get the tile and pay the amount you assigned to the bank. Its a very clever way to speed up the auction phase of a game, and adds a lot of depth and strategy with a very simple rule system.
Dr. Eureka is a fast paced dexterity game. Players each have 3 plastic test tubes with 2 of the same colored balls in each (purple, green, and red.) The game is very simple, you flip a card that shows the balls in the test tubes in a certain order, and everyone races to re-arrange the balls to match the image. The catch is you cant touch the balls with your hands, and if any balls touch the table, you are out of the round. The first player to win 5 rounds wins. I really enjoyed this game but found I couldn't play it more than twice in a row without having a panic attack
Sapiens is a wonderfully illustrated game from Iello. In it, you use a sort of domino matching mechanic to try and maximize your cave men's food and shelter. You score points for both food and shelter, but at the end of the game, only the lower of the two scores counts. So you constantly have to keep everything in balance.
Each player has their own player board, and you lay two sided domino tiles over it as you expand your settlement. You gain points and special ability bonuses depending on what side of the tile you are matching. Overall it was just delightful to play.
My favorite game of the con was probably Blood Rage. Blood Rage is sort of a re-implementation of the game Midgard, but its wonderfully done. Going in to the con, I had no interest in Blood Rage. I generally avoid games with a lot of conflict, and generally "minis on a board' games tend to not interest me. Its not that I think they are bad games, I just have other preferences. Boy did this game surprise me.
Its basically a point salad drafting game, with some light conflict thrown in. It plays like a perfect hybrid of a Euro and Ameritrash game. You generally get to choose when you enter conflict with other players, and having your vikings die actually grants you points, so even if you get wiped off the map, it doesn't come with the sting of defeat. The game somehow finds all the fun in conflict, without any of the negative feelings.
Cool Mini or Not has really surprised me as a company. Last year, my favorite game at BGGCon was their WONDERFUL (and under appreciated) worker placement game, Dogs of War. My favorite game at GenCon this year was their brutal and beautiful The Grizzled. And my favorite game at this years BGGCon was Blood Rage. Despite not having much interest in their biggest titles, they are more and more growing into one of the most interesting and daring board game companies out there.