BGGcon has come and gone for another year, and was another fantastic event. Focused primarily on getting games to tables, with a splash of events and terrific industry vendors to round it out, I have to say it’s one of my favourite times of the year. While I went in with high ambitions regarding the number of games to try, I didn’t quite check everything off my list (and getting sick didn’t help that!) but I do want to share some of what made BGGcon special for me.
First up, the GAMES!! BGGcon is a great con for me because not only does the library have an outstanding range of new and old games, but folks bring their own to teach and share. Highlights included Deception: Murder in Hong Kong (aka Murder Concept!), Flamme Rouge (a surprisingly simple and clean design presenting a bike race very well), Fuji Flush (a perfect and fun take that card game) and Cottage Garden (Patchwork takes it to the next level). A few that I didn’t get to try but I’m now eagerly keeping my eye out for are Terraforming Mars, Kingdomino, Great Western Trail, Key to the City: London and La Granja: No Siesta!
Games of the con for me were these ones I really kept coming back to – or like one that I learnt last minute and wished I’d been playing since day 1! Honshu is a terrific card game for 2 – 5 players that mixes a little trick taking and tile placement elements. Basic play and scoring are made interesting by the trick taking guiding your tile (card) choices. I’m very excited that Renegade Games have picked this up for wider distribution! My first morning at BGGcon was spent in line for registration, and my friend Suz busted out her copy of Broom Service the Card Game, which was perfect for a big group of us. Taking the push-your-luck aspect of the cowardly/brave cardplay and centreing the game on that makes it a streamlined and fun experience. Without a board or tokens, you’re aiming to create sets of potions and obtain combinations for goals to gain points. Perfect and simple – and definitely something that we played really early (like, pre-coffee early!) with no troubles.
I had seen a little buzz about Roll Player as Kickstarter copies had made it out to backers recently, so I put it near the top of my list to try and was certainly not disappointed. For a game whose basic premise is “making an RPG character”, there’s quite a lot of depth in how you approach each round and build up the skills, traits and weapons in addition to your character’s attributes to maximize points. I have heard this will be getting a second printing in the new year, and I’m definitely interested in picking it up! My friend Maggibot taught Capital Lux a lot of times over the days of the con, and I’m glad one of those times was for me – I had heard almost nothing about the game except how beautiful the art was, and it ended up being one of the most fulfilling play experiences of my con. A melange of card drafting, hand management and area influence, Capital Lux is a tight package of surprisingly tense tactics and bluffing. I really hope this makes it to wider distribution. Finally, the game I tried on the last day and fell in love with – Kanagawa. Your aim is to take up painting skills, and create a layout of cards with various landscapes or traits that will score you points (sets of animals, buildings, the longest streak of seasons, etc). It is a beautiful game, with simple and balanced play – and even a little player interaction as the players select cards from a shared pool. This one falls into the same vein of pleasurable play experience as Tokaido for me, and I definitely wish I’d gotten more plays in at the con.
I had a chance to check out some game demos while buzzing around the vendor halls, and a few really stood out for me! Designer Dan Cassar (Arboretum) taught me his newest, Blood of An Englishman from Renegade Games. A tricky little 2 player card game with asymmetric powers, you’ll either be Jack trying to scale the beanstalk for treasure, or the Giant trying to stop him. Clever and quick! The folks at WizKids showed us the (all-Canadian team!) D&D Rock Paper Wizard, a light action selection game. Players have defeated the dragon, but are now battling each other with spells to get out of the cave with the most loot. Definite fun, quick to learn and play, and I think the D&D theme works truly well on this one (loved seeing familiar spell names!).
Sean & I got to sit down with Rhea and Ariel from Steve Jackson Games to try the upcoming Munchkin collectible card game (releasing 2017). Co-designed by Eric Lang and Kevin Wilson, this game takes the humour and pun-filled fun of Munchkin, ramps it up, and slaps it on a light, quick CCG. I’m not someone who’s played a lot of CCG or LCG type games (I’ve never played Magic, for instance), but it didn’t take me long to get into the swing of things with this game. The starting deck I played was funny, it had some nice little tie-ins thematically with weapons, locations and helpers to my Warrior!
Most everyone should know by now that Asmodee is a behemoth in action in the board game industry. I’ve been very interested in seeing what’s been happening on the app side of things, and got a sneak peek at a few great apps from Amber Cook of Asmodee Digital. Coming up very shortly is Colt Express, which flows really nicely and has some stunning animations (the 2D characters are a nice nod to the cardboard version, and the bullet chamber screen transition is a nice touch). Before the end of the year, you’ll also be seeing a Potion Explosion app (oh my goodness this one is so pretty – the potions! The lab!) and Mysterium (which will have online play, and some story modes, making it a really intriguing dip into something new for the game). Over the next couple of years, we’ll be seeing a steady release of board game apps from Asmodee Digital (1 – 2 a month, it seems), and if the quality is anything like the three I got to take a look at, I’ll be beyond excited. Not only that, they’re developing iOS and Android versions side by side (yesssss!) and if you have a Days of Wonder account for online play, that’ll switch over to Asmodee Digital and all new accounts will be managed there – meaning cross-platform play for us all (double yesssss!).
Saturday night’s closing ceremony was a great way to finish up the con for many of us (even though the gaming continued well into the night). It was lovely to see Team Geek out in force and give them some rousing applause for their hard work over the con. And kudos to the VIP guests Matt Leacock, Rob Daviau, Eric Lang and Rich Sommer for being there to say hi and help out. It’s all time for us to unpack our new bounty of games and get some rest – but I am definitely already counting down to next year’s November con (and for those of you who can’t wait, look into BGG Spring!)