Sunday, February 13, 2011

EGG (Eugene Games Gala) 2011 - My EGGxperience (Part 4)

I forgot to mention yesterday that on Saturday I missed out on the game giveaways! Lorna contributes some games of her own for the drawing and FunAgain also provides some games. Early Saturday tickets are distributed and then throughout the day they were drawn from a cannister. If yours is drawn you get to go pick any game you like! My friend Bob got a copy of Onirim which he was very excited about. Three years ago I won a copy of Hoity Toity. Unfortunately I still haven't played it yet :(

Speaking of three years ago (2008) apparently that was the first year of EGG as a full 3-day convention! I had thought EGG had been running for longer than that, but apparently it had only been 1 or 2-day sessions up to then. SO, I can proudly say I was an inaugural member of EGG!

Sunday, Feb 6th - 8:00am
Despite getting home late and going to bed even later, I managed to pull myself out of bed at 8am. EGG started back up @ 9am and with it being the last day and having missed out on most of Saturday, I wanted to make sure I got started early.

One small issue this morning - I woke up with a headache, probably from not enough sleep and possibly not enough hydration. I took some Advil but never quite was able to shake it the whole day. I hate gaming with a headache, but nothing  was going to stop me today.

Because I hadn't really played any of the games at the top of my 'to play' list I had resolved to only playing new games as much as possible.

Now, I don't know about you, but I am somewhat anal about 'making a list' of games to play. I first made a rough list, then prioritized it with MUST PLAY game, LIKE TO PLAY games and OTHER GAMES OF INTEREST (or something like that)

Here's the list I put together and what I'd played up to this point (marked with x):
* Magnum Sal
* Porto Carthago
x Sun, Sea & Sand
* Dominant Species
* Inca Empire
* Master of Economy
* Navegador

* Container
* Le Havre

x Merchants & Marauders
* Neue Heimat
* Fresh Fish
x The Great Fire of London 1666
* Dixit
* Hau La
* Fresco

* Antics
* Cavum

* Troyes
* Age of Steam: Paris (& Moscow)
* Sid Meier's Civilization
* 18xx

This isn't everything I'd have been interested in playing, but what I initially came up with based on what people wanted to play and what I knew I was immediately interested in.

Honestly, I don't know why I bother. I never end up playing much of what I plan. What I should do is plan for games I DON'T want to play and then I'll get to play what I DO want to play.

Actually, I think I should just pick 1-3 games I want to focus on and then just play whatever works out after that.

Well, I showered, made a couple pb&j sandwiches, and headed out. I arrived a little after 9am, settled in and then started looking for a game.

Age of Industry was pulled out and being set up by Lorna with Mary, Jeremy and Aaron. I was indecisive only because I knew AoI is similar to Brass which I've played before and I wanted to play something NEW. Someone else was talking about pulling out Dominant Species which I really wanted to play. Ultimately DS was set aside and I stayed on board with AoI. (sorry I was so indecisive guys - hope you understand based on my statements above about playing NEW games :) )

Even though I've played Brass before, that doesn't mean I exactly remembered how to play (which was probably fine for this game as it can create confusion having 2 games be so similar). Chris B had also joined in so Lorna explained the rules and then went off to play another game. Honestly, I think I wasn't quite awake and didn't catch on to the rules immediately. Which was a problem since I was 2nd to play!

Eventually I got into it and started remembering aspects of Brass and figuring out the rules for this game. After my 1st two turns I realized I was in a really good starting position and had a good hand of cards. However, Aaron realized that both he and Jeremy had made illegal plays (building twice into cities with only 3 build spots) and it was far enough back that we decided to abort.
Early in the first (aborted) play.
You can see the illegal purple build near the top of the map.
So, we started again. I ended up with a not-so-good card draw and then ended up building in a poor location and getting blocked out on the port I was going to ship to. I will admit I was a bit frustrated by the whole situation (not playing a preferred game initially, then having to restart, then ending up with a new position I wasn't happy with)

Fortunately, I was able to recover by building a bunch of rails into the Ruhr and then further out from there. I also starting building coal to start getting a bit of income. Throughout the game I ultimately built quite a few rails which got me quite a bit of end-game $$ and converted those to at least 9 points.

I'm happy to say that I quite enjoyed playing Age of Industry even though it wasn't on my list and am glad I played. I also liked how this game seems to play a bit smoother than Brass. Congrats to Aaron for the huge push he made near the end to demolish the rest of us!

After the longer-than-expected Age of Industry game I joined up with Bryon, Anna and John to play Merkator. YES, I know it's not on my list. BUT, I knew it was an Essen 2010 release and that I did have interest in playing it - and I hadn't played it myself yet - yay, a new game! Also, I was happy to play with people I hadn't played anything with yet this weekend!

I actually knew very little about this game but immediately loved all the different colored cubes! It reminded me of all the wonderful colors in one of my favorite games, Fresco.

Oooh! Look at all the pretty colors!
This is an interesting cube-pushing game where each of the colored cubes can represent 2 possible types of products. You must then use the products to fulfill contracts which earns you money that you can spend on buildings that give you additional points at the end of the game or on leveling up your contracts which can give you more money.

You earn goods by going to different cities which give you goods and sometimes extra bonus goods. Adjacent cities are then bumped up with goods that encourages other players to maybe go there. You also have ways to 'tag along' with players visiting cities you that you can fulfill more contracts and maybe pick up some extra goods.

Bryon and John were completing contracts left and right. Anna and I struggled the whole game to get the goods we needed to fulfill contracts and were more sporadic in doing so. I think there were some subtleties that we were missing out on, plus we were a bit late on getting some of the bonus production cards. I think we both started recovering a bit near the end. The one thing I had going for me was I had leveled up my contracts more than anyone else and I nearly got the 14 point contract that would force the end of the game. If I had I think I had a shot at winning.

Mid-game positions
Overall, I really liked this game and even though I didn't 'get' it enough on my first play, I'm strongly encouraged to want to play again to figure out the strategy more now that I have the basic mechanics down.

Troyes. The game of EGG 2011 apparently! Just like Essen 2010! It was played perhaps the most out of any other game and many times there were two games of it being played simultaneously.

Yes, I have played this game before, but it's on my list anyhow, though it wasn't a top priority. In fact I have made my own miniaturized copy of this game, but my copy never got played as there were two actual copies at EGG.

I'm always willing to play Troyes, plus everyone else left was already playing games and this was my last chance to play something at EGG 2011 before it wrapped up so this was totally fine with me even though it wasn't new.

Bryon, John, Anna and me were playing together again and it was the first time for John and Anna. I actually decided to go get a soda with some caffeine (which might help my headache) and a bit to eat while Bryon taught the game to them.

We soon got started and had a great time battling for position in the buildings. There was a LOT of bumping other players - more than I've seen in previous games. John and I got a VP engine going in the yellow building while Bryon got a bunch of VPs defending Troyes on the event cards. Anna did a bit of everything.

Interestingly, I saw very little building on the Cathedral. I built twice on the first turn then never got a chance after that. Only 7 total spaces ended up being built by the end game.

Near end-game - discussion of the event cards
Here's what I love most about this game:
1. The unique (and varied) use of dice. You can place your guys to get dice. Bump others to get more dice for yourself and less for others. You have the ability to purchase dice from other people and you have the ability to re-roll or flip your own dice by paying influence to do so. Lots of great ways to mitigate luck here.
2. The variability of combos from game to game. Each game you have a total of 9 different dice conversions that can occur (i.e. to get VP, Money, special actions, ability to fight, etc). For each of those 9 functions there are 3 possible functions for each that are randomized (giving you 84 possible function combinations I believe). Thus, you have a fairly wide range of possibilities.
3. Hidden objectives. I think hidden objectives help change the game up a bit. In this case, each person has 1 of 6 possible objectives. At the end you get points based on ALL the different objectives that each person has. Therefore, you not only try to meet your own objective but you also try to meet the other objectives as well and have to deduce which ones they might have.
4. Fighting the Invaders. After obtaining and rolling your dice, you must then fight off the black 'invader' dice. This mechanism I think helps balance things a bit as it forces players to use some of their dice to 'fight off' the invaders. Also, the black dice along with the other negative events on the cards forces players to place some focus on the cards to help eliminate them and prevent 'bad' things from happening to everyone.

This is a very thinky/mathy game. And, even though it uses dice, there are so many options for using them that nearly any numbers rolled are useful, just in different ways.

Bryon edged me out by 1 point at the end. I just KNOW I could have squeezed out another point or two somewhere! Must play again!

Well, this pretty much concludes my EGGxperience at EGG 2011. I will, however, be doing one more post with some of the additional pictures I took and a final summary of the convention for me.

Now go play a game! Or attend a convention! Most of all, just have fun!

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