Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Wednesday morning Jon left early and volunteered at registration, and saved spaces in line for Bill and Shirley but not for me, we were in different lines alphabetically. We didn’t get there until close to 10, which I thought was late. I talked to people I was in line with, very representative of the participants – computer programmers from Texas. I said that I was surprised that the line wasn’t moving, they told me it doesn’t open til 10. So we got there at the right time, it went pretty quickly, all very organized. You pick a free game or two upon registering, I took Highland Clans and Train of Thought, I'm not familiar with either of them.

I had read about a new game, introduced at the recent huge Essen game con in Germany, Walnut Grove, which I was thinking of buying it and wanted to try it out. All day Wednesday and Thursday, whenever I went by it in the Hot Games room, which has Essen games set up, either a game was already in progress or there was no one there. I not only needed players, but someone to teach it.


I walked around looking at games, and ended up joining one in the large main game room, K2. One of the people playing was Mischa, a friend of Jon’s who runs the bgg math trade. I had traded one game but wasn’t going to be able to attend the official trade time on Saturday, so I had emailed the person I needed to give my game to, and the person who was giving me a game. The backup plan was to leave the game with Mischa.

K2 has a simple structure with deeper strategy than it appears.You expend points for climbing and oxygen, selected from cards you pick. I didn’t understand certain things right away, so I was behind most of the game. The other woman player was doing really well, she got both of her climbers to the very top, and down again alive, without even pitching a tent which reduces oxygen required. We were playing on the easy side of the board, with only summer weather, but it was still challenging. At the end, two players weren’t able to prevent either one or both of their climbers from dying, which results in a complete loss of points, so I came in second.

First Sparks

I went back into the Hot Games room and sat down by Walnut Grove, but no players came, and I was hungry, so I found the others and we took a break for lunch. I tried again after lunch, but switched to a game nearby which was starting, First Sparks, by the creator of Power Grid. The game is similar to Power Grid which helped us figure out how to play, and someone came over to teach it. One person hadn’t played Power Grid so we gave him some tips. It has a cave man theme and is simpler than Power Grid. The card structure is similar, but you place cavemen competitively for end game points.

We found out near the end of the game, because someone overheard us, that one of the changes from Power Grid is that you don’t bid for cards, rather you have right of refusal in turn order, so you never pay more than the amount on the card. We hadn’t had much competitive bidding, so it wouldn’t have made a big difference in the game, the card movement and availability are the same. I tied to win and had 3 vs. 1 food left to win the tiebreaker. I want to get this game because it’s good with attractive graphics, and I don’t have Power Grid. The store at the con finally got it from the airport on Friday, but it will be available for less at other stores, hopefully in time for Bill and Shirley to bring it.

Coney Island

Then I played Coney Island in the large room. I had this on my wishlist at one point, but couldn’t remember if I had taken it off or not. After playing, I was really hoping that I wouldn’t receive it as my Secret Santa gift. No one liked it, there are so many better games. We all helped each other as we tried to figure out the game. At one point, they recommended that I make a different move, where if I got a red tile instead of white tile in a random draw, I would get 9 points. It worked, which helped me, though I was still behind. I did start to understand the game by the end, by which time things were mostly already placed. I did what I could, and somehow ended up winning by one point.

Flash Point

Then I joined a firefighting game, Flash Point, an Essen game but in the main room. I didn’t realize it was cooperative, but it was interesting. We were playing with intro rules which meant no firetrucks and hoses, which must make it more interesting. I was fighting fires, everyone else was rescuing people. The game actions cause explosions and destruction. We ended up losing, the house collapsed before we could rescue everyone. But I was the only one who didn’t die because I happened to be outside the house. We had bad luck with the people, the first two tokens were blank rather than victims. It’s a good game because there’s a lot of fast action and some planning.

Jon came with me to try to get a game of Walnut Grove going. Scott Nicholson of Board Games with Scott walked by, he didn’t want to play but gave us a quick rules explanation. More players didn’t join, and Jon decided he was too tired to play a new game.


We walked around a bit, Jon agreed to teach Tobago, and I saw a game of Niagara which I had heard of because one year I gave one of my Secret Santa targets a Niagara exapansion. Jon ended up playing Tobago, so I went back to join Niagara. It’s a good game, simple and cute mechanics, you physically move plastic discs in the river which push your canoes around and over the edge sometimes. It’s very difficult, an experienced player won. They played again but I left.

It was freezing cold on Wednesday, we didn’t have all our warm clothes with us because it had been so warm the day before. The rest of the week it warmed up with sun and some clouds, but we were mainly indoors.

Chitin: I

Bill and Shirley played the redesigned Chitin: I, which Bill had a copy of when he was in high school.

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