BGG.CON 2016 Recap

November 21, 2016

by Ambie Valdés
This year was my husband (Toby) and my first year at BGG.CON, and it was amazing. I tried out 53 distinct games, 49 of which were new to me (some were really quick dexterity games). I'm obviously not going to go over every game I played (you can see what I played here, but here are some highlights of the convention for me.

One of the best things at BGG.CON is the library. The library is HUGE. A whole conference room is filled with board games on all the walls, a lot of which are brand new games from Essen! There was also a section in the main hall with a lot of the hot games set up so that people could play them. Because BGG.CON is right after Essen, it was great for trying out all those games I've been hearing about the past month.

This year we started off with a prescheduled game of 1861 with our new friend, Mike. It's a fun game, and has a laid back nature for an 18xx game. We all got pretty good companies and ran them to the end. I was the first to do the milestones like merging/converting the minors into the major companies, so I was the pioneer in that game!

End game of 1861. Super close game! And cute mini poker chips

We enjoyed playing with Mike, so we decided to play some more games with him. There was a copy of Container, an out of print, economic game. We had been wanting to play Container for a long time but never got the chance because we couldn't find it anywhere. But the BGG.CON library is awesome! As you may know, I like a lot of train games and economic games, and Container is very similar, but with ships. There is a lot of shared incentive and economic manipulation. All goods are bought and sold from other people, so there's a lot of interaction and strategy in choosing how to price your goods. I really enjoyed this game and hope for a reprint soon.

Container has cargo and ships. The BGG.CON copy had nice 3D printed pieces

Another cool thing about BGG.CON is that outside of the main hall, they have a hallway devoted to awesome dexterity games. We got to try out a lot of cool dexterity games! They also had really nice Crokinole boards.

Some of the dexterity games we played - Piratenbillard, Whacky Wit, and Warlords

There were a lot of internet friends that I was able to meet in person, which was really fun! We played The Game (Amazon) with Suzanne, using her beautiful custom set of cards. It was a really fun cooperative card game, and we were so close to winning!

The end of The Game. Only the 46 left over!

One of my favorite games from the convention was Railroad Revolution. This is one of the many games we played with our friends Dion and Greg. It had an interesting worker mechanic where you can upgrade your workers into different colors that give you specialized secondary actions/benefits. There were also options to discard your workers to get more benefits, so there's a lot of choices in how you want to use your workers and when you want to get rid of them. There are three main ways to get points - building track, building stations, and building post offices. I focused on track and post offices, which gave me a lot of stock and money.

End game of Railroad Revolution. Everyone got max bonus for track

There were a few prototypes we got to play, which was pretty exciting. One was a "train game" - a cooperative dexterity real-time pick up and deliver game called It's a Train Wreck! You're basically putting dice on these trains and trying to deliver them to the correct numbered cities, but you have to pass them through tunnels to the other side of the table without dropping the dice. It was pretty fun and hectic.

It's a Train Wreck! prototype

Another prototype we played was Alien Artifacts, by Portal Games. This is a short (1 hour) 4x card game. There was quite a bit of luck, but it got the feel of the 4 x's (expand, explore, exterminate, exploit) in its multi-use cards and technology upgrades.

Alien Artifacts is coming out at GenCon next year

One of the games I heard about from Essen was Crisis. This is a worker placement game where you're trying to run factories to increase your profits, but you have to make sure the entire city's economic status doesn't fall too low, or the game will end and everyone can lose. It was pretty fun and difficult to keep afloat (we played on medium difficulty), since the goal for each round kept increasing.

Crisis also has cute resources, so that's a plus!

Another game that we'd been wanting to try for a while but couldn't find until we got to the BGG.CON library was Pret-a-Porter, an economic game about the fashion industry by Ignacy Trzewiczek. Our friend, Andy, who we met through Heavy Cardboard, taught us the game, since the rulebook is terrible (I tweeted that I was playing, and Ignacy himself replied saying not to read the rulebook). I really enjoyed the game, and there were a lot of combinations you could try out. I got a lot of fashion designs, and Toby was trying to run a hedge fund instead of a fashion company, and he managed to get a lot of money!

I only have a picture of the box since we were having too much fun playing to take a picture

Vital Lacerda is one of my favorite designers, so I was super excited to demo Lisboa, his new game currently on Kickstarter. Paul Grogan from Gaming Rules taught it to us, and we played through about 3/4 of the game. I enjoyed the game, but the rules were a little convoluted, and the iconography was difficult to follow.

Lisboa has beautiful art, but it makes it difficult to remember the rules

I wanted to try out Adrenaline (Amazon) since it's been talked about so much, and I expected not to enjoy it, but I was pleasantly surprised. I usually don't like conflict or area control that much, but I was having a lot of fun playing Adrenaline. I was able to get a cool combo with my weapons - I had a tractor beam that could pull people to my space and shoot them, and then a shotgun that could shoot them again for a bunch of damage. With my combo I was able to get the kill shot on everyone.

BOOM! Head shot

I got to meet Annette and play a couple of games with her. We played Ice Cool (Amazon) and Honshu. Ice Cool was pretty fun just trying to get trick shots. Honshu was an interesting card game with city building. You all play cards, and the highest number gets to pick which card they get to add to their city. But to add to your city, you need to overlap the cards, so you can't keep everything. It was extremely tactical, since you don't know what card you'll be adding until after the trick taking round.

My completed city in Honshu

On Saturday night I was able to play a game with Rodney Smith (from Watch it Played) and Marty (from Rolling Dice & Taking Names). It was really exciting getting to meet Rodney in person, and he's as nice in person as he is online! Except when playing train games, which is what we did! We introduced them to Paris Connection (Amazon), which they had never heard of. But they both really enjoyed the game and were super cutthroat in the track laying. We played it twice in a row because they liked it so much! The second game was super close and exciting. We also got to play on Geeknson's table, which was my first time trying a gaming table.

Where is that red train going?

Meeting Rodney and Marty was one of the highlights of the convention

Late Saturday night we played Time's Up! (Amazon) with the Heavy Cardboard crew - Edward and Amanda, since Time's Up! is a super heavy euro game. There were a bunch of other people too, including Clay (from Capstone Games) and Patrick (from WDYPTW podcast), and it was exciting to meet them in person. We had a good time just goofing around with the game.

There were a bunch of other games I played and enjoyed. One of my favorite party games I tried out was Insider, which is a small hidden identity game like Spyfall mixed with 20 questions. I enjoyed it a lot more than Spyfall, since it was a lot less stressful. Even though we didn't bring any games of our own, there was always a new game to try out, and I had a lot of fun playing games.

The line for registration was huge. The convention started at 10 am on Wednesday. We got there at 7:40, and the line was already out the door! But once the convention opened up, the line moved pretty quickly. At registration, there were a bunch of free games that they were giving out to each registrant. There were 3 tables of about 8 different games each. At first we thought we were supposed to pick one out of all the games, but someone in line told us that we got to pick one from each table, or a total of 3 games each! We were blown away by that awesomeness.

Stacks of games at registration (left) and our registration games haul (right)

Before BGG.CON, I didn't know these ribbon things existed for badges. But they were pretty cool - you could pick up different ribbons to help identify what type of gamer you were, or if you were a first timer.

I like blue.
There were two exhibitor halls in the hotel, and a bunch of vendors. We didn't buy any games, but we walked around the vendor hall a few times. A lot of them were demoing games, so you could try out the new games in the exhibitor hall too.

We went to the Heavy Cardboard meetup on Friday and got to meet Edward and Amanda, along with a bunch of other people from the Heavy Cardboard guild. It was fun to hang out with people. At the end, they had a big raffle with a bunch of prizes. Toby won the grand prize, a Wyrmwood dice tray! For all those dice games we play. :P

We were happy to meet Edward and Amanda

A couple events I wanted to attend were the Puzzle Hunt and the Game Show. I wasn't able to sign up for the Game Show, but since the sign up for the Puzzle hunt wasn't capped, we were able to participate in it. There were a bunch of different types of puzzles (all paper puzzles with alphanumeric answers), set to a Pandemic type theme where we're traveling around the world and curing cities of diseases by solving the corresponding puzzle. It was pretty fun, but we did pretty poorly.

The closing ceremony included a raffle giveaway with over 60 prizes. The prizes were really great, and we were so close to winning! We had a lot of fun even though we didn't win, and it was awesome seeing so many people get prizes.

Something else really exciting happened at the convention. While walking around, someone came up to me and asked, "Are you Board Game Blitz?" He said he liked my videos, and I was probably more excited to meet a fan than he was to meet me! Toby said my jaw hit the floor.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay at the main hotel. We stayed at the Hyatt Place DFW, which had free shuttle service to the convention hotel, but unfortunately the last shuttle every night was 1 am. So we had a curfew, but that also forced us to get enough rest so we wouldn't burn out (like we did at Dice Tower Con). We usually got to the convention hotel at 8 or 9, and the main hall was mostly empty in the mornings.

Our hotel had free continental breakfast. The convention hotel had a lunch and dinner buffet every day for the convention, and it was reasonably priced and not too bad. But since we were in Texas, we wanted to try barbeque. So we went to two different bbq joints, Lockhart's Smokehouse and Hard Eight. Lockhart's had really good brisket and sausage, and the bark on the brisket was really tasty. But the ribs were dry. :( Hard Eight had better ribs, but the food wasn't as flavorful as Lockhart's. Hard Eight is a lot closer to the convention, so a lot of people were going there for food.

Texas bbq: Lockhart's (left) and Hard Eight (right)

Overall, we had a great time at BGG.CON. It was really nice to meet all these online friends in person and play games with them, and it was great being able to try out a bunch of games from my want-to-play list. I hope I can come back next year!
© Board Game Blitz 2016.
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