Popular video board game reviewer Richard Ham runs through the game I designed.

The Dragon and the Emperor Gameplay Runthrough

Extended Gameplay

Final Thoughts
For posterity, here is the list of the games that I played on my trip this year. The #1 game was Valley of the Kings, with 4 plays of the base game, 3 plays of the Last Rites expansion, 1 play of the Afterlife expansion, and 1 play of all three combined (though only 1 card was used from Last Rites in that game).

Second was Dominion, with 3 plays of last year's Adventures expansion and 3 plays of this year's Empires expansion.

Third place was Bird of Happiness, a quick-playing deckbuilding game that I picked up at the Tokyo Game Market back in May.

The most-played non-deckbuilder was Codenames, with 2 competitive team plays of the base game and 3 cooperative plays of the Pictures expansion.

Gen Con 2016Game Log )
We continued our game-playing spree this month, making a lot of progress. We've nearly played through my entire collection, with the exceptions at this point consisting mainly of A) Japanese games, B) games that take longer than 2 hours, and C) expansions.

New-to-me games )

Instant Replay )

Dad's Top Five
5. Pandemic
4. Thunderstone Advance
3. Roll for the Galaxy
2. Race for the Galaxy
1. Dominion

With honorable mentions for Eminent Domain and Ginkgopolis.

[livejournal.com profile] megory's Top Five
5. Ascension
4. Trains: Rising Sun
3. Between Two Cities
2. The Dragon and the Emperor
1. The Big Book of Madness

With honorable mentions for Codenames and Dominion.

Games that flopped:
1. Evolution
2. Lost Legacy
3. Neanderthal

With notes that these games would have been too mean if played with aggressive people:
1. Dominant Species
2. Madame Ching
3. New Dawn
4. Norsaga
Since my parents arrived several weeks ago, I have corralled them into playing board games with me nearly every day. We have played 31 games so far, many of them for the first time. I'm hoping to use the experiences from play sessions to determine which games to keep and which ones to submit to the math trade at Gen Con this summer.

New-to-me games )

Repeat performances )

They've both enjoyed most of the games so far. Among the ones we've played, here are their favorites:

[livejournal.com profile] megory's Top Five
5. Pi mal Pflaumen
4. Zooloretto
3. Valeria: Card Kingdoms
2. Alea Iacta Est
1. Between Two Cities

With an honorable mention for At the Gates of Loyang because of the nice wooden vegetable playing pieces.

Dad's Top Five
5. Trajan
4. Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
3. Lewis & Clark
2. Valeria: Card Kingdoms
1. Merkator

There have been a few flops. These games were generally either too mean or too restrictive of the players' strategic opportunities to be considered fun. It's likely that they will end up in the trade pile.

1. Arboretum
2. Francis Drake
3. Kingdoms
This week I spent an overwhelming amount of time and energy preparing for and participating in KublaCon. I started by going through the games I would be giving away at the math trade and getting them ready by removing the card sleeves and checking that the components were well settled inside the boxes. I took the slightly used card sleeves and transferred them to some games that didn't have any yet.

The convention began rather slowly on Friday. I packed some games in a wheeled bag to take with me, along with some sandwiches and water in a backpack, and arrived in time for the gaming room opening and snagged a table. However, most other people were more concerned with signing up for scheduled games than with open gaming at that point, so it was about an hour before some people joined me. They selected a game of Evolution, which went quite smoothly (although I ended up dead last in points).

I stopped briefly to eat, then wandered the tables looking for an open game. I managed to catch a game of Abyss, which was relatively simple to pick up. It's mainly set collection, with just a touch of press-your-luck. Not bad, but not a lot of substance either. Once that ended, the dealer's room was just opening, so I browsed there for a while. I bought a couple of board game organizational inserts (for Among the Stars and Lords of Waterdeep), then stumbled across a copy of Macao, which I've been interested in, but I haven't wanted to pay out-of-print prices for it. I snapped it up on the spot.

I decided to call it a night, since I knew that I wanted to get an early start in the morning. When I got home, I packed up all the games for the math trade in a big suitcase, along with a few just for playing, so that it would be ready in the morning. On Saturday, I was able to leave early enough to get to the hotel at 8am and claim a table in the perfect location.

I was quickly joined by a BGG couple and another random passerby for a game of Ginkgopolis, one of the games I bought after trying at GenCon last year. After that, I looked at the couple's game list and asked to try Guatemala Cafe, which is vaguely about growing and selling coffee. I followed that up with a quick game of Age of Craft from last year's Tokyo Game Market, then they taught me Garden Dice, one of the games I would be receiving in the math trade.

At around that time, people started to gather for the trade. I made the following exchanges:
Caverna: LARP and Cosplay Postcard (+Bleach manga) for Lord of the Rings
Core Worlds (+expansion) for Dominant Species
Dungeon of Mandom for Kingdoms
Florenza: The Card Game for Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
Progress: Evolution of Technology for Zooloretto
Say Bye to the Villains for Garden Dice
Shadowrift for Milestones
Temporum for Thunderstone

After the trade was over, I tried to get together with some others from my "regular" gaming meetup, but they were scattered at a couple of different tables playing games that didn't really interest me. I ended up catching some random passersby. One brought out Dominion, so we played a game of that (with some of the cards from the latest expansion). We started going through my stack of games after that, playing Saint Petersburg, The King of Frontier, and Ou-sama no Macaron.

I took a break to eat then, and I probably should have headed home, but I figured I had time for at least one more game. I wandered around the gaming hall and caught up with one of the guys who had joined me earlier just in the process of selecting a game. I joined in for a 5-player game of Lords of Xidit. That turned out to be a bit of a miscalculation, because he had never actually played it before, so he had to sit and read the rules for about 20 minutes before we could start. We managed to muddle through, but by the time we finished, I had just missed the 9:15pm bus and was stuck waiting nearly an hour for the next one. I didn't manage to get to bed until about 11pm.

I started out later on Sunday, not arriving at the hotel until 9am. I began in the gaming ballroom with a game of Arctic Scavengers, then moved to the open gaming atrium. I found the BGG couple I had met the previous day, and they were willing to teach me Trajan, a complex brain-burner of a game. I had always thought it looked rather dry and couldn't understand why so many people raved about it. It actually turned out to be quite enjoyable once I got into it, and I even ended up winning.

I stayed with the same couple the rest of the afternoon, as we went through Trick or Trick, Tobago, Forbidden Island, Scoville, and Hive.

I was tempted to stay longer, but I decided it would be better if I got home and went to bed at a decent hour, because I still have to work on Monday. It was quite a full weekend. Now I need to face the puzzle of how to get all my new games onto my bookshelves...
Last year I did a list of my favorite games. I was about to write up my new list for 2014, when I ran into a few issues.

Issue #1: There are a lot of my favorite games that I never get to play. Usually this is because I never have the right player count (I'm looking at you, Morels), but it could also be because the game is too heavy to carry around to game meetups, takes up too much table space, or is the wrong "type" of game (e.g. too thinky). Does it really make sense to list up a bunch of games that I almost never play?

Issue #2: There are some games that I have been able to play quite a lot, usually because they are lighter games that are easy to carry around to meetups, quick to set up and teach, and fast to play. However, I may not necessarily consider them the "best" games in my collection just because I get to play them a lot. Would it make sense to list up my "most playable" games? Certainly playability is a factor to be considered, since one generally wants to get one's money's worth out of a purchase.

Issue #3: I have a big stack of games that were just acquired recently (November-December) that I haven't had a chance to play at all. Some of them could be excellent, and it seems a shame to leave them out completely just because they were late arrivals. (For instance, Viticulture was just left on my doorstep about 7pm last night.)

Due to all of these factors, I decided to make up several different Top Ten lists instead of just one. The one thing in common among all of these lists is that I had to own the game personally for it to be included.

Top Ten Unplayed Games )

Top Ten Best New Games )

Top Ten Most Played Games )

Top Ten Favorite Games )
No Kickstarter update today. Nothing that interests me has been posted. However, I did come across this list of games that can be picked up for $20 or less, for anyone interested in starting a game collection or picking up something as a holiday gift. I can vouch for a lot of them.
This is a record of all of the games I played during the entire two-week trip. It does not include games that I merely observed/moderated rather than played. For detailed comments and more info on demo games during the convention itself, I will be posting a geeklist on BGG as soon as I can upload some photos.

Cut for ridiculous amounts of gaming )
Tuesday, June 17
Machi Koro (with [livejournal.com profile] megory and Dad)
Fairy Tale (with [livejournal.com profile] megory and Dad)

Wednesday, June 18
Dragon's Hoard (with [livejournal.com profile] megory)
Citadels (with [livejournal.com profile] megory and Dad)
Fairy Tale (with [livejournal.com profile] megory, Dad, and Joe)

Thursday, June 19
Dragon's Hoard (with [livejournal.com profile] megory)
Pandemic (with Joe and Marika)

Saturday, June 21
Dominion Intrigue x2 (with [livejournal.com profile] megory and Dad)

Sunday, June 22
Haggis (with [livejournal.com profile] megory and Dad)
Dragon's Hoard (with [livejournal.com profile] megory, Albert, and Jessica)
Dominion Intrigue x2 (with [livejournal.com profile] megory and Dad)

Monday, June 23
Tokaido (with [livejournal.com profile] megory and Dad)
Dominion base set + Prosperity x2 (with [livejournal.com profile] megory and Dad)
This weekend I took a couple days off work to attend KublaCon, which bills itself as the largest gaming convention on the West Coast. Since I attended solo, the entire convention consisted of introducing myself to random strangers and joining them (or having them join me) for a variety of board games.

Cut for excessive Machi Koro )

I'm kind of amazed at how many games I was able to get through...not to mention how little sleep I was able to snatch every night. I suspect I'm going to crash tonight before I have to start back to work bright and early tomorrow morning.
Since my game collection is going to expand in 2014, I would like to leave a snapshot of what I have experienced so far in the board gaming arena, hopefully to compare with new things I discover as I look forward to attending gaming conventions this summer. To that end, this is my current Top 10 list of games. The caveat here is that this only includes games that I A) personally own and B) have played in physical form. That means it excludes games such as 7 Wonders (which I played but don't own), Freedom: The Underground Railroad (which I own but haven't yet played), and Carcassonne (which I have only played in digital form).

10. Machi Koro
This is a Japanese game that was introduced to the board gaming world at the Essen convention in October. It wound up becoming a surprise hit. I couldn't attend the convention, of course, but I avidly followed numerous reports and reviews, and it seemed this would be a game I might find interesting. I managed to pick up a copy during my trip to Japan just before Christmas, and it turned out to be a light and fun dice game. It narrowly beats out Lords of Waterdeep and Takenoko on my list due to its advantage of portability.

9. Fresco
In this game, players manage a studio of artists who perform tasks such as buying paints and mixing pigments to obtain new colors, all toward the goal of painting the ceiling of a cathedral to earn points. What I love most about this game is that it plays to my obsession with color. It's also relatively simple to teach, and the expansion modules give it quite a bit of flexibility with regard to the game experience.

8. Forbidden Desert
In this cooperative game, players work together in an attempt to locate pieces of a flying machine hidden by shifting sands and put them together to escape the desert before the sun and storm winds bring them to an untimely end. I enjoy being able to work toward a common goal, and I also like the game components, which are fantastic quality for the price.

7. Citadels
This is an older game that still holds up well. Players select secret roles that allow them special abilities each round as they compete to build the most valuable city, represented by cards with delightful art. This game is wonderfully flexible with respect to number of players, able to handle anywhere from two to eight, and it is highly portable.

6. San Juan
This is the card game version of a classic Euro-style board game called Puerto Rico. It is currently out of print in English, but I managed to pick up a Japanese copy. In this game, each player selects a role that determines what actions all players may perform that round. One distinction of this game is that the cards act not only as buildings (as in Citadels) but also as the currency used to purchase the buildings, so players must weigh carefully how to use each card. This gives it an added layer of strategy that appeals to me.

5. Race for the Galaxy
This game is almost exactly the same as San Juan, except with a science fiction theme. The one other difference is that all players choose simultaneously from the total pool of roles each round (not just from whatever remains after previous players have chosen). I like that the role selection aspect gives each player more options than San Juan, so it has a slight edge in the ranking. I find this game exhilarating and highly addictive.

4. Eminent Domain
This takes Race for the Galaxy and turns it into a deck building game. It also adds little model fighter ships, which give the game a great tactile element. Due to the streamlined nature of the game and the simplified symbols compared to RftG, this one is easier to learn and therefore gets a slightly higher ranking.

3. Arctic Scavengers
In this deck building game, players are tribes in a post-apocalyptic frozen wasteland competing for supplies needed to survive. I like how well the art matches the theme. I also appreciate the tactical decisions players must make each round as they select which cards to use for their abilities and which to hold in reserve to skirmish over valuable supplies.

2. Dominion
By far my most played game of 2013, Dominion is widely considered to be the "granddaddy of deck builders" because it made the genre popular. Easy to teach even to non-gamers, it is quick to play and offers quite a bit of variation from game to game, particularly when expansions are taken into account.

1. Morels
My favorite game of the year, Morels is just brilliant. It has lovely art, simple rules, and a relaxing theme. It is a short game in which players are "walking" through a forest gathering mushrooms to fry up for a delightful meal (and of course points). It consists of a deck of cards and some cardboard tokens, so it is very portable, and though it is competitive as players vie for the same mushrooms, there are no attack cards. Despite the simplicity, it offers the opportunity for complex tactical decisions, making every game experience unique and exciting. I would no doubt play this a lot more if it weren't a 2-player-only game.
Please let me know if I need to make corrections. I'm sure there was at least one day when I forgot to write down tablet games.

December 24

Games Bought
[livejournal.com profile] sara_tanaquil: Lost Legacy, Hanabi, String Railway
[livejournal.com profile] spacealien_vamp: Machi Koro, San Juan, Say Bye to the Villains, Yaminabe
[livejournal.com profile] wednesday_10_00: Mini Russelbande (aka Piggy-back or The Piggyback Brigade), Shephy

Games Played

December 25

Games Played
Machi Koro[livejournal.com profile] sara_tanaquil win
Mini Russelbande[livejournal.com profile] wednesday_10_00 win

December 26

Games Played
Ascension (digital)
Haggis[livejournal.com profile] sara_tanaquil win

December 27

Games Played
Morels[livejournal.com profile] spacealien_vamp win
Yaminabe—[livejournal.com profile] spacealien_vamp win

December 29

Games Played
Ascension (digital)
Lords of Waterdeep (digital)

December 30

Games Played
Cupid's Holiday—[livejournal.com profile] mangaroo win

January 1

Games Played
San Juan[livejournal.com profile] spacealien_vamp win
Timeline[livejournal.com profile] wednesday_10_00 win

January 2

Games Played
Ascension (digital)
Carcassonne (digital)

January 3

Games Played
Citadels[livejournal.com profile] spacealien_vamp win
Say Bye to the Villains—win

January 4

Games Bought
[livejournal.com profile] spacealien_vamp: Road to the Palace



December 2016

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