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That Board Gaming Thing 2011

September 26th, 2011

Once again, we attended That Board Gaming Thing, though this year we were not at all on the fence about whether to go. After figuring out that it was feasible last year by staying in the hotel, we made it a priority to attend. I still wish we hadn’t missed a couple of years!

This year, we stayed at the Embassy Suites next door so that we had a true two-room suite. The suites were smaller than any other Embassy Suites that I have stayed in, but it worked well enough. We decided to put the kids in the same room, but we had mixed results. They kept each other up, alternating who was the culprit. After the third night, the kids were a bit cranky. We have two cabins on the cruise, but we may have to separate the kids from each other (rather than from the adults). I don’t think it would be a good idea to have 8 nights of poor sleep!

I was a little disappointed this year with how we utilized some of our precious game time. I think I just need to adjust my expectations as it’s only been a year this time since the last TBGT that we attended. Last year, there were so many new games because we’d been MIA for over 2 years. It’s also tricky to manage getting in lengthier games since we had restrictions like going to get the kids or taking turns with the kids (with some organizer duties thrown in).

Still, I got in a bunch of games. Yay! Here’s the rundown on what I played, in alphabetical order. I’ve rated them from 1-10. You couldn’t pay me to play a game rated 1, and I’d play a 10 almost anytime.

7 Wonders with Leaders Expansion (Kerry only): This wasn’t new to me, though it was only the second time that I had played with the Leaders expansion. I love that it can be played with up to 7 people (though I think I prefer about 4 people), and it’s typically a short game. I didn’t mind playing it, even though it wasn’t new. I give the game a 8.5 in general. (Gabe’s score is an 8.)

The Adventurers (Kerry only): This is a dungeon crawl game where all of the adventurers try to make it out of the dungeon with the most treasures without dying. I had heard that generally the person who makes it out of the dungeon is the one who wins, but all of us made it out in this game. I don’t know if we weren’t taking enough risks or whether we just got lucky rolls. I think perhaps it was a combination. I enjoyed it well enough. I’d play it again, but it wouldn’t be a top choice. I give it a 6.

Attika (Kerry and Gabe): We played this one last year. We didn’t have much time before we needed to go and get the kids, so this was a good choice. It’s not too long. I feel the same way about it as I did last year. I’m on the fence as to whether to add it to my collection. I shouldn’t be surprised that I gave it the same score last year as well: 7. (Gabe’s score is 7.)

Cargo Noir (Gabe only): Gabe says: “Well, we played with the wrong rules for about half the game, so that probably influenced my opinion. Um… It seemed like there was a lot of time waiting for your turn and there really wasn’t much analyzing to do while you’re waiting. I give it a 4.”

Catch Charades (Kerry only): I chanced into one of the late night party games on the first night, despite me thinking that I wasn’t going to stay up late on Thursday. The group was using Catchphrase for a free-for-all charades. Passing was extremely discouraged, and it was difficult to charade words that were intended to be used in a game where you can say pretty much any word you want to describe it. Needless to say, many of the words and phrases were quite challenging! The “timer” feature of Catchphrase was not used (thank goodness). It was rare to go through more than one of the words before the time ran out, and the group I played with were both hilarious and quite good at charades. I had a great time. We ended up closing down the game room around 4am. Not a good pacing for the first day. I give Catch Charades a 7.5 for silly late night party fun. I give the entertainment value of the people playing it more of a 10.

Cornucopia (Kerry and Gabe): This refers to a card game, not the expansion for Dominion (which oddly, I did not play at all). This was easily the worst game that I played the entire time. I am fairly certain that everyone agreed. It seemed like some of the rules weren’t well thought through and even contradicted themselves. It seemed to have potential, but it fell flat. Please don’t make me play it ever again. I give it a 1. (Gabe gives it a 1.)

Shot of Cornucopia:

Die Burgen von Burgund (Gabe only): Gabe says: “It was fun. It was a long game, but it didn’t feel like a long game. I enjoyed playing it. The game mechanics seemed to work well. It had dice, but the game didn’t feel completely random. There were a lot of different possibilities and probably various strategy for winning. I give it a 9.”

Fits (Kerry only): I played this one without Gabe, and I’m pretty sure it’s a game that he would hate. It’s a little like a cross between Tetris and Bingo where everyone is trying to fill their board as completely as they can. Each round has a different “trick” like not covering certain spaces or making sure to cover penalty spaces. I enjoyed it well enough, but I was really bad at it. Of course, it was also on Sunday when my ability to think was shot. I give it a 5.5.

For Sale (Kerry and Gabe): I don’t think that I have played this game in more than a decade. I remember I wanted to find a copy of it back then, but I think it was out of print. I still like it well enough. It’s something I wouldn’t refuse to play, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way either. I give it a 6. (Gabe gives it a 5.)

Forbidden Island (Kerry only): Several of us only had about an hour to play, so we had to be selective about the game. We ended up playing Forbidden Island twice (back to back) since we lost pretty quickly the first time. It’s a cooperative game, but it was short. We barely won the second time, so obviously it’s doable but challenging. It was a nice filler game. I give it a 7 for filler games.

Shot of Forbidden Island:

Fortune Cookie Charades (Kerry only): One of the gamers had grabbed a big carton of fortune cookies to be used in Fortune Cookie Charades. It was fun for a round, but the fortunes start to get repetitive. The phrases are LONG, so it’s a little tedious, too. It was still amusing enough. I’m especially amused that each one started with a pantomime of opening a fortune cookie followed by the number of words and the guessers saying, “Fortune cookie! … 8 words! First word! Four syllables! Sounds like…” I give it a 6, but I give the entertainment value of the other players more of a 8 or 9.

Galaxy Trucker (Kerry only): This game amuses me but I’m terrible at it. I’m not totally convinced that you can be good at it and consistently win, but my sample size is still too small. I played twice, and both times I was thoroughly exhausted. Still, it amused me. I wouldn’t refuse to play it, but I don’t think I’ll add it to my collection. I give it a 6.5.

Go Away Monster (Maddie and Cullen): The kids played this game with friends Maya, Tristan, and Natasha. This is the first time that we played it, and all the kids did great! Well, Cullen mostly wanted to throw pieces and say, “Go away monster!” (which is part of the game). The other kids were 2 years old, and they all did well. I put this game on Cullen’s wishlist. I give it an 8 for very little kids and as an excellent first game. I’d rate it higher, but I feel like it’s playability may be limited once they get to be too much older.

And the kids were super cute while playing:

Jaipur (Kerry only): I didn’t have a lot of time to play this one, and I didn’t get to finish it. I felt bad because I promised I could finish it later, and then the stars just didn’t align to do so. It’s really hard to “catch somebody later” at the event, especially when my time is in bursts. The game was ok. I’d play it again, but I’m not going to go out of my way. 5.

Jamaica (Kerry only): This is one that I was glad that I got to play as it was new to me and looked interesting. I didn’t like it much, and I don’t think it was just because I lost horribly (which I did). I wouldn’t play it again, if I could help it, but the experience wasn’t miserable. As was true the majority of the weekend, the people I’m playing with tend to make up for sub par games. I give it a 4.

The Jamaica board:

King of Tokyo (Kerry and Gabe): The first time this game was suggested, I agreed because it was new, but I wasn’t sure I was going to like it from the box art. This turned out to be a very fun filler game! I haven’t played enough to decide how much strategy could be involved, but I think that it may offer the opportunity for more strategy than it would seem. I played it 3 times, and I still love it. This was definitely one of the most popular games at the convention, especially considering that only one copy was floating around the ballroom. It was being played constantly. I’m definitely adding it to my collection, and I give it a 9 for filler games. (Gabe gives it an 8 for filler games.)

Fun monsters in King of Tokyo:

Kingsburg (Gabe only): Gabe says: “It’s ok. It’s kinda random with the dice rolling. Um. I give it a 6 or 7 at most. Maybe a 7.”

Le Havre (Kerry and Gabe): This was the first game that we played at the convention, and I want to say it’s my favorite. Unfortunately, our game was quite interrupted between needing to help Paul set up his store and taking a lunch break. The game took about 5 hours, but only 3 of it was probably actual game time. The box claimed that we would take 200 minutes, so it was just about on target. I really liked it better than Agricola (which is the game that it is most compared to). I look forward to playing it again, and I hear that it plays well with 2 players. I probably will add it to my collection, but I worry it won’t get much play at our games nights due to the length. I give this one a 9, but that is only based on a single play. (Gabe gives it an 8.5.)

Photo of Le Havre:

London (Kerry only): This is another one that I had spotted on the shelves and wanted to play at some point. I got my chance to play it on Sunday afternoon. I was so exhausted at this point, I’m not sure that I gave it a fair chance. I liked it well enough. I wouldn’t refuse to play it, but I probably won’t be adding it to my collection. I give it a 6.

Shot of London:

Puzzling (Kerry only): Our puzzlers do a great job with this every year. This year was no exception. Our team even had a chance to win (if only we hadn’t spent much time with the creative finale as Rob ended up picking the first team that arrived to rescue him). I love this event, and I will continue to participate in it each year! I’ll give it a 8.5.

Quarriors (Kerry and Gabe): I saw 4 copies on the prize table of this one, so I asked around to see what it was about. I would say that it was one of the hottest games at this year’s event. You could almost always find people playing it. The standard description of the game was, “it’s like Dominion with dice!” or “it’s like Dominion except sometimes your cards don’t work.” The first time I played it, I was really excited about it. I definitely wanted to add it to my game collection. I played it 3 times total, and by the third time I was unconvinced. It is a neat concept, but I felt like the game always seems to plod around for a few rounds and then all of a sudden one player starts getting points quickly. I’m sure there’s a variation on this that would work better. I don’t think I’ll be acquiring it for my collection. I wouldn’t refuse to play it. My rating for it ends up at a 5. (Gabe gives it a 6.5 based on a single play.)

The Quarriors setup:

Rallyman (Kerry only): I’m not a big fan of racing games, in general, but this one was not too bad (for a racing game). I liked the mechanism with the dice rolling and collecting the time cards. If I were rating it against all other racing games that I’ve played, it would get a higher score. I would not refuse to play it, but it wouldn’t be a top choice. I give it a 5.5.

Free-for-all Songburst (Kerry only): This was more of an experience than an actual game. We used the Songburst cards mostly to have a big group sing-a-long (more like karaoke than kumbaya). We also did some of the trivia while the designated master of ceremonies found good songs for us. It was hilarious entertainment around 2am. I just hope that the rest of the hotel didn’t file any complaints as we were quite loud at times! It’s not really a game, but I’ll give it an 8.5 for the enjoyable experience.

That Game Table Thing (Kerry only): The prize table has been hit or miss over the years for me, and this year it was a big miss. I overestimated how well that my contribution would do. We ended up bundling two games that ended up being older and not so popular. Still, I thought that having two shrink wrapped games would place me in the middle of the picking order (the first person is chosen at random, and which bundle they choose determines who gets to pick next. So, if your bundle is more desirable, then you should get a chance to pick from the table earlier.). I was a little worried that nobody was going to pick my bundle! I almost ended up in the last 4 people, which would have been interesting since we had a final showdown that I wouldn’t have been able to participate in. I think next year, I’ll participate as a spectator. I’ll give it a 5, but that’s a very personal rating based on me being a bit selective about what I want to add to my collection these days.

Thunderstone (Kerry only): This one wasn’t new to me, though I’ve only played it a few times. My biggest complaint about Thunderstone is that it often seems to take much longer than it should. In this particular play, we had a few monsters that none of us could kill for a while in the first few levels of the dungeon. I would still play it, but Dominion is a much better game overall. I give it a 6.5. (Gabe has played it once not at TBGT, and he gives it a 6.)

Time’s Up (Kerry only): I haven’t played Time’s Up in years! It used to get played almost every games night, but we haven’t played it much recently. The first game of it wasn’t that much fun for me at first. I think maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for the game, maybe? I don’t know. It was still entertaining to watch people give clues. I played another round of Time’s Up the next night, and that was a bit more fun. Most of the people were the same, but I guess I was in a better mood. I usually prefer to play in teams of 2, but this time it was teams of 3 which worked pretty well. I might even prefer to play that way in the future. Overall, I give Time’s Up an 8 for party games.

Tobago (Kerry only): I really liked the way this one worked! I would love to play it again and plan on adding it to my collection. I have discovered it’s not easy to find, though. We had some rules incorrect, so it would be good to play again sometime with the correct rules. I give it an 8.

Witch’s Brew (Kerry and Gabe): We played this one with fun people, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the game. I seem to be saying this a lot: I would play it again, but it wouldn’t be my first choice, and I am not going to add it to my collection. It wasn’t torturous, but I feel like it’s the sort of game that I’d never get a handle on. I give it a 4. (Gabe gives it a 4.)

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