Haiti Con 2017 Recap

November 6, 2017

by Ambie Valdés
This year Toby and I went to Haiti Con for the first time. Haiti Con is a small 1.5 day charity convention in San Francisco that supports Ti Kay, a free TB/HIV clinic in Haiti. The convention is Friday night and Saturday during the day, but we only got day tickets for Saturday. Being the typical non-picture taker I am, I forgot to take any pictures so this blog will just be text.

The first thing we did when we arrived was explore the area. The convention was held in a 4-story church. The second floor had a small gaming library with some tables for open gaming and some snacks for sale. The third floor was dedicated to special guest designers with their prototypes. The fourth floor was for social games like Werewolf - there were multiple rooms of Werewolf games by the end of the night.

The majority of our time at the convention was spent on the third floor with the designers. We ended up spending time at three different designers' tables, and it was really neat being able to try out their new designs and give them feedback. The first designer we visited was Jeremy Commandeur, and we actually started off playing one of his published games, Pirate 21 (Amazon). It was kind of like Blackjack mixed with Love Letter - you're trying to get closest to 21, but your cards also have special abilities that you can use on your turn (instead of just drawing a card). We then tried a couple of his prototypes - one was a social deduction game based on The Prisoner TV show, where people are voting on event cards to try to fulfill their different win conditions. But my favorite prototype of the day was his other prototype - a real-time cooperative/team bobsledding game. You have four people sitting in a row and picking up cards to get ready, and then you have to work together to play the cards to get around obstacles, and everything is timed for the fastest time! Jeremy said that the final game will have double the cards, so you can have two teams of 4 that will be racing. I love real-time games (specifically real-time cooperative), and this one was a lot of fun.

The second designer we visited was Matt Leacock. He was demoing a lot of games, but we got to try out a team dexterity spaceship game where you're trying to mine asteroids and deliver the goods to get points, but the other team can shoot at you to blow up your ships. It was pretty fun (I also love dexterity games), and our game was super close!

The last designer we visited was Matthew Nguyen, and we tried his game The Adventurer's Guild, which was a tableau building game with simultaneous action selection (similar to Race for the Galaxy). You were trying to go on adventures to level up, and you could get spells, equipment, and companions to help you. Then everyone had an epic quest they had to complete, and whoever does that first wins the game. I really enjoyed leveling up my character and building it toward my specific epic quest, even though I lost. But Toby and the other player tied - they even tied in the two tiebreakers that the designer had in the game, so he had to make a third tiebreaker on the spot!

It was a lot of fun playing prototype games with the designers right there. It was really neat because after the game, the designers would ask for feedback about what we liked and what could be improved. So it was fun to be able to talk about the games and our experiences with the designers right after our plays.

We also played some existing games during the day - of course we had to get a game of Strike (Amazon) in, since we now have our own copy! We also got to try out Altiplano, which Annette (@Nettersplays) had brought. Altiplano was very similar to Orléans - it's a bag building game but with alpacas instead of knights! It also added a location mechanism - you have a worker that could move once per turn, and it has to be on the specific location in order to do the actions for that location (7 locations total). So it required a lot of planning ahead.

Other than games, there was also a raffle and an auction, with all the proceeds going to Ti Kay. We didn't bid on anything, but we had a fun time watching the auction and seeing a couple bidding wars happen! It was also interesting because a lot of the games that were being auctioned off were by designers that were in the room, so the designer could give their pitch on why you want to bid for the game.

Overall, I had a fun time at Haiti Con. It was very friendly and happy, and it was really neat being able to sit down at a table with board game designers and try out their new games. It definitely didn't have the same feel as other conventions that I've been to, but it was still an awesome time!
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