KublaCon is a gaming convention held on Memorial Day Weekend in the Bay Area, California. Since I live 15 minutes away, I go every year. I believe KublaCon started out as an RPG convention - it has an online system for signing up for different RPG events, and it has a lot of rooms for RPGs and miniatures gaming. But it also has some tabletop gaming, which is primarily what I'm interested in. This year, I spent a lot of time playing games with old friends and new friends.
Throughout KublaCon, I was able to play 25 different games, 10 of which were new to me. Since there are way too many games to talk about, I'll just mention some of the highlights (and show the pictures I remembered to take).
I started off the convention Friday night with Millennium Blades (Amazon), a meta card game about a collectible card game (CCG). You get to draft cards, buy cards, make a collection, and make a deck to play in a 'tournament' against everyone. There are a whole bunch of cards - with a starter deck of 118 cards, plus 12 packs of boosters (12 cards each) added each game to make the main store deck, that's over 250 cards in the game! Also, there's tons of variety, so in the 3 rounds of play, I made 3 different tournament decks, all with different types of combos and ways to get points.
On Saturday morning I played Keyflower (Amazon) for the first time. At the beginning of the game, you draw random meeples out of a bag that has red, blue, and yellow meeples. I normally pick blue for my player color, but apparently this happens even when I blind draw...
My starting draw for Keyflower
One of the vendors there, Lyris Laser Studio, had wooden Keyflower pieces so that it was easier to tell where you were bidding, since everyone can have every colored meeple. I was the bottom right flower piece - I bid 4 meeples for that bottom right building. I liked the auction mechanic - you bid for the buildings with your meeples, but you have to use the same color as whoever started the bid. Also, if you want to use the building, you have to use the same colored meeple.
Bidding in Keyflower; wooden pieces from Lyris Laser Studio
There were a bunch of different strategies, but one of the end game scoring tiles gives you bonus points for green meeples. I spent the whole game hoarding green meeples! Basically I had the Emerald City.
My final city in Keyflower
Another highlight of Saturday was Vital Lacerda day. But this is also where the worst part of KublaCon was apparent - lack of open gaming table space. I played The Gallerist (Amazon) with a few other people, but it took us about 30 minutes to find a table space. We ended up finding a spot in the miniatures room, but halfway through the game we got kicked out and moved to another table. Hopefully the others were able to get a feel for the game (this was my second time playing, and my husband and I were teaching). Then we got to play CO2 (Amazon), and halfway through that, the GMs came by and said we would have to leave soon, but luckily we were able to complete the game of CO2.
The Gallerist in play
Both The Gallerist and CO2 are beautiful games. In The Gallerist, you're an art gallerist trying to discover new artists, buy their art, and make money off of your collections and selling them. You can do an action each turn, but also you leave your worker on the action space. If another player does that action, they kick you out and you get a "kickout action," where you can either do a side action or the main action by spending influence. It's a really neat mechanic, and keeps you involved in the whole game.
CO2 in play
CO2 is a semi-cooperative game. You're trying to make the most money by making sustainable power plants to replace the polluting power plants, but you don't want to let the pollution levels get too high. There are 5 different types of sustainable power plants, and you needed to research for each one in order to build it. Also, it takes 3 steps to make a factory, and you only get points for the final step, so at the beginning of the game there's a lot of tension and it feels like you're going to fail. I had a lot of fun, and this was a game I had wanted to try for a long time.
KublaCon always has some giant versions of games displayed out in the lobby for people to try out. This year, there was a giant version of Tak, a new abstract game base of Patrick Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicle novels. I usually don't like abstract games, but I enjoyed trying out Tak. There was a neat stacking mechanic where you control the stack if your piece is on top. You can move it and drop off pieces, but you don't want to drop off pieces if your opponent's pieces will end up on top of other stacks.
Giant Tak set - special for KublaCon!
Most of Sunday was spent playing games I've played already and haven't played in a while. Conventions are great for that, since they provide the people, the games, and the time required for playing them.
Overall, I enjoyed KublaCon, although it did get a bit crowded on Saturday. This year, I didn't even bother trying to sign up for moderated events. In previous years, certain people would sign up for every event, so all the signups would be full. Then when you try to get into a game, the GM has to wait for the people that signed up, and you don't know if you'll be able to play until 15 minutes after the game was scheduled. It was a lot more relaxed not having to worry about scheduled games, although finding table space was difficult. Also, I was lucky in that I found some other people to play games with, and we all brought some good games to share with each other.