Last weekend I went to a gaming convention called "Genghis Con" in Aurora, CO. about 10 miles or so from Denver. Here are a few highlights:
1. The first game I played was called World of Warcraft: The Board Game - it is based on the computer game of the same name. There are two sides: one is the Alliance and one is the Horde. Each side has two to three characters (depending on the number of players) and you go around the board to fight monsters and complete quests. If everyone on the team sticks together they have a better chance of beating the quests, but they have to split the rewards, while if you split up you can complete more quests in a shorter period of time, but at higher risk. Most of the other players had played the game before, but with 2 characters on a side, so they were used to all sticking together (2 is about right for most quests, but 3 is overkill). So they all stuck together and ended up having to split all the quest rewards 3 ways, slowing their advancement. In contrast, I let my two teammates stick together but then went off my own way to pick off the weaker monsters by myself, enabling us to advance faster. We also got somewhat lucky when several good quest cards came up right next to each other on the map, so we didn't have to spend much time then running around the map. In the end the game came down to the final player-versus-player battle, which the Alliance won easily.
2. I participated in a couple play-tests of games in development. One was a collectible card game with mechanics similar to Magic: The Gathering, with the exceptions that (1) you can play any card face down and it gets revealed when it is involved in combat, so there is risk in attacking the opponent, and (2) the cards move around on a grid so you have to maneuver your creatures into position rather than just attacking the opponent. Another game was a similar Magic-like card game where, rather than having a "hand" of cards, you just play the top card of your deck each turn. Of course the thing is there are five ways to play each card - as a creature, an equipment (attaches to creatures and powers them up), a supporter (card that boosts all your other cards or has a special effect once a "war" happens), an order (instantaneous effect and is then discarded), or research (lets you use special powers of your other cards).
3. I learned a couple games that use "Icehouse pieces" - generic pyrmidal pieces that can be used for a variety of different games. One was "Homeworlds", a strategy game where you build up a fleet of spaceships to explore planets and eventually take over the opponent's homeworld. Another, and probably one of the most exciting games I played the whole convention, was "Zendo", a game of inductive logic. In this game "students" make "koans" (arrangements of pieces) and a "Master" tells them which ones have the "Buddha nature", and the goal is for the "students" to guess the secret rule that determine which ones have the Buddha nature. One of the other players was also a computer programmer, and he came up with the rule "the number of small pieces is exactly one greater than the number of medium pieces, and the number of medium pieces is exactly one greater than the number of large pieces" I was able to guess that trule and so it was my turn to be "Master", and I came up with a rule that everyone else thought was the best one of the night, although I don't want to tell you what it is in case I eventually play Zendo with anyone who is reading this.
3. There was an exhibitor's room where I bought some cool things, including a belt puch that I can use to hold spell balls in Amtgard, a football board game, and a couple games made by the same people who were doing the playtests mentioned above. I also took some funny pictures which I will show you in the next post.
4. The last game I played at the convention was called "Ascending Empires". This is a strategy game where you have to build and expand a space empire starting from your home planet and moving outward, while colonizing new planets so you can build research facilities on them. Different colored planets give you different kinds of technologies, such as improved defense, better starships, or increased actions. What is unique about this game is that you move your starships by flicking them across the board, so there is manual dexterity involved - you have to get it within an "orbit" of a planet to be able to go onto a planet, if you collide with an enemy ship they are both destroyed, to attack a ship to get points you have to land within a certain range of the enemy ship, etc. I was able to get the "battleship" technology and start wreaking havoc. The other teo players tried to make a plan to defeat me - one of them moved his ship away from the other one's research planet so it wouldn't be "blockaded", then the other one was goign to use it to research the battleship technology to even the odds. Fortunately for me my turn was between theirs, so I was able to bring in the battleship from across the board and blow up the key research facility before he could use it.
5. I also picked up a flyer or a new live action role playing game called "Crusade of Legends" that is in Aurora. I will see if I can try it out sometimes, but unfortunately, getting there isn't cheap. To get to the convention I had to spend $40 on an airport shuttle to the Denver airport, then $60 on a cab ride to the hotel, the cab had a complimentary shuttle back to the airport, then another $40 for the shuttle to go home. I think I have made my decision that I am going to start taking driving lessons soon - there are a lot of places where I would like to go but it is just much harder if I don't have a car.