Strategically Thematic: HeavyCon

June 21, 2017

Strategically Thematic is a segment featured on The Dice Tower's bi-weekly Throat Punch Lunch videos usually about games where the theme and mechanics go together really well. This one is about my time at HeavyCon.

Hi! This is Ambie from Board Game Blitz, and this is Strategically Thematic, a segment where I talk about theme in different strategic games. This week, I’m at HeavyCon, a convention run by Heavy Cardboard, which is a podcast about heavy board games, wargames, and 18xx games. So, let’s take a look!

HeavyCon is a small convention in Denver, Colorado run over Memorial Day weekend. This was my first year going, and it was really neat being able to play heavy games all weekend! When you think of heavy games, theme might not be the first thing you think about. But there are also a lot of unique and interesting themes in heavy euro games. One of the games I saw played a lot at the convention was Pax Renaissance, where you’re a banker working behind the scenes in Europe to steer it out of the Dark Ages. The game is full of historical flavor in the rulebook, cards, and actions. Another game that’s pretty popular, and actually got nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres this year, is Terraforming Mars, where you’re a corporation funding different projects to help terraform Mars.

There were also quite a few prototype games at HeavyCon. One game was themed around asbestos mining, and the designers told us about the history of asbestos mining as they were explaining the rules to us. Another game was a horse racing game, and the racing mechanics were actually really interesting. Each horse had a point in the race where it would reach its maximum speed, but then it would get tired out afterwards, and you’d have to make sure it didn’t wear out too fast.

Of course, there were also a bunch of games with more common themes at HeavyCon, like farming or train games. I personally played 3 different 18xx games over the weekend, and I saw a lot more being played throughout the convention. As I’ve mentioned before on my segment, even though these 18xx games don’t have the best art, some of them are actually pretty thematic. One of the games I played was 1880: China, which has a whole era of communism in the middle of the game.

Like many other great conventions, HeavyCon had some giant versions of games. But, to stay true to the name of the convention, these giant games were heavy games - Age of Steam XL and even an 18xx game, 1861! I had a great time at HeavyCon meeting new friends and gaming with them, and I’m looking forward to the rest of convention season!
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