HeavyCon 2017 Recap

May 31, 2017

by Ambie Valdés
This weekend over Memorial Day weekend, I got to attend HeavyCon for the first time! HeavyCon is a convention run by Heavy Cardboard, a podcast about heavier board games (heavy Euros, 18xx games, and wargames). There were 90 attendees, and since everyone was there to play heavy games, it was easy finding people to play pick up games of heavy economic games and 18xx games! Toby and I typically don't schedule games at conventions, and this one was no exception.

Over the weekend (Thursday-Sunday), I had 23 plays of 22 unique games. A bunch of the games were new to me, and 3 of the games were 18xx games (although those weren't new to me)!

Train Games
On Thursday morning, the first game we played was Rolling Stock Stars, which is the the working name of Rolling Stock v2. Scott Petersen from All-Aboard Games was there with the prototype, so we got to borrow it and teach a couple people! In my previous games of v2, I had mainly invested in other people's companies (and done really well with that), but this time I tried building up my own good company, and that was really fun too! Toby ended up playing it and teaching it a few more times at the convention with Scott, but I played other games.

You can see some of the new art for the company shares in Rolling Stock Stars

We decided to teach our friends 1817, which is an 18xx game with a bunch of crazy stuff going on in the stock market - you can short sell stock in other people's companies in order to get a bunch of cash, but then you're liable if that company pays out dividends! Toby ended up shorting all of our companies and opening up about 6 companies in one turn, taking out a bunch of loans and driving up the interest rate. We all ended up going bankrupt except one person who hadn't started up a new company that turn (and therefore had no loans to pay off). It was pretty neat, especially since in the first (and only other) game of 1817 game I played no one shorted any stock.

All of Toby's companies!

On Thursday night, we decided to learn Union vs. Central, a 2 player Winsome game that takes a long time to play. We only played part of it, but it was pretty fun, although super fiddly. You're playing cards down to generate resources and then move them around in order to build train tracks, but you can only carry so much and go so far, so you end up going back and forth a lot. Also, the resources were represented by dice, so that was difficult to move them each time we got more resources. But we enjoyed the play.

So many dice!

Friday morning we played 1880: China with our friends. This time communism lasted longer than the first time I played, so I got my companies to be pretty good! We also got to squeeze in one last quick 18xx game on Sunday, 1857. I started off two companies right away and got really good routes with them! My goal was to get those routes, so that was exciting, but I was really close to going bankrupt. But then I realized that if I started a company, another player would go bankrupt first, and I would win! This was the first time I've done that in an 18xx game, so that was super exciting.

Look at that beautiful route to Chile! (the middle of the pic where the brown and yellow cubes are)

Non-Train Games
We learned Pax Renaissance (Amazon) on Thursday afternoon. I've heard a lot of buzz about this game, and although it's not my type of game (I don't like card driven games or take-that that much), it was kind of interesting how the power kept shifting back and forth. On Friday, I finally got to knock off one of the games from my shame list - Brass: Lancashire. We got to play on a prototype of the fancy new Kickstarter version with all the pretty art! I enjoyed building up a bunch of buildings and getting my income track really high. There was a bit of luck in the cards - all of the actions are done by cards, but only one action needs specific cards, so it's mitigated a lot. We also got to try out Brass: Birmingham on the last day of the convention, but we had to leave for the airport so we only played half the game.

So pretty!

On Saturday there was an EXIT: The Game - The Abandoned Cabin (Amazon) "tournament." Three teams played at the same time to compete for the best score. I signed up because I love escape rooms and wanted to try out the EXIT game, and it didn't disappoint! Out of all the escape room board games I've played so far, this was my favorite one (and the one that most felt like a real escape room). We played with 4 players, which seemed like the perfect number of people for the game, since we could all participate in reading and figuring out the clues.

We escaped!

Sunday we had to leave for the airport before dinner, so we didn't get as much gaming in. But we still got to play a few games. Our friend taught us The Colonists (Amazon) and we played through 3 eras. It was a pretty fun resource building/conversion game. It was interesting because in order to do a specific action, you had to physically move to the space with the action, but you also do the action of every space you move to. So there was a lot of planning ahead, especially since more action spaces appeared each year (round) of the game! There are also a bunch of different embassies that give you different powers if you build them.

My colonists are laying down cause they're tired after a long day's work (or so that they don't get knocked over)

Prototype Games
There were quite a few prototype games we got to play at HeavyCon. We usually don't play prototypes, so it was an interesting experience getting to play them. One game was about asbestos mining. Another was about fishing. My favorite of the prototypes was Call to Post, a horse racing game! Each horse has a different point in the race where it would reach its max speed, and after that it gets tired out. So you wanted to make sure that your horse wouldn't wear out too fast, or else it wouldn't finish the race! There was a lot of luck in the card draw, but it was super thematic and we got really into it.

Goooo Round Eye Blues!

Other Things
Friday night was the dinner and awards ceremony. Dinner (taco bar at the hotel) was included with the event, and it was nice being able to sit down with other attendees over a meal. Then they announced the Golden Elephant award winner, and handed out prizes to all the attendees. At the beginning of the convention, we all got tickets in our bag for prizes, and we could trade with other people. I had started with a ticket for a handmade dice tray, but since I already have a dice tray, I ended up trading for a copy of Sellswords (Amazon) and a Spielworxx game! Toby got Three Kingdoms Redux (Amazon).

If you trade in these tickets, you get games!

Another thing that was really cool was the giant versions of games they had. I saw a giant Age of Steam (Amazon) game, and a giant 1861 game! I didn't get the chance to play them, but it's pretty ridiculously awesome having a giant version of a game that already takes up so much table space!

Hand and regular token for scale

I had a great (and exhausting) time at HeavyCon playing a bunch of games and meeting a bunch of people. This is the start of convention season for me (I'm almost averaging a convention a month from now through November), and it was a great start!
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