Monday, April 4, 2011

CONVENTIONS - GAMESTORM 13 Gaming Report (SUNDAY, Mar 27th)

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

This is Part 4 of 4 of my gaming report of Gamestorm 13. If you made it this far - thanks for reading! I enjoy writing these convention reports up, but they sure do take a lot of time to write them. Hopefully they are helpful and perhaps a wee bit interesting to you as you read through them.


Sunday morning I woke up and my roommate, Peter, reminded me that we had to check out today! Ugh! Somehow I forgot about that! He noted checkout was 12pm - ok, not too bad (it was about 8:30am then). He headed out and I got up and got ready, then spent a bunch of time re-organizing my games and Wes's games (I was his proxy for the Gamestorm Math Trade) among the 5 totes we had. I decided his totes were too big to fit both in the cab of my pickup, but I had brought an extra 3rd one that I knew would fit (I had tested 3 of my totes before I left and they fit with apparent room for a 4th). 

I have a small Ford Ranger without a King Cab or canopy. I had brought tarps, plastic, tape and bungies in case I had to load some into the bed of the truck (to prevent them from getting wet or falling out) but I only wanted to do that as a last resort. So, I was hoping to get it down to 4 large totes along with my two smaller totes and the rest of my junk so I could maybe cram it all inside.

So, I managed to get it all packed into 4 totes with even a bit of room to spare. Inventory: 4 large totes, 2 small totes, 2 cloth shopping bags, one with my computer, sweat shirt, large can of peanuts, and a few misc items, the other with a couple of games, my jacket, water cup and snacks. Plus my small bag for clothes. (It's funny when you travel and have more non-clothes/personal stuff than other stuff because usually it's the other way around. Gamers --- we're such geeks when we go to conventions :) )

Once I was settled on my packing solution I stacked everything and took down some of my personal gear to the pickup but left the games in the room for now. Then I headed back to the main gaming room to see where everyone was and what kind of gaming was happening. I couldn't find Chris anywhere (I guess we were up a bit late and he's not a morning person :) :) ). But, I DID find Tom and he was ready for a game. Doug was ready as well and he suggested Navegador. I hadn't played and was looking forward to learning some new stuff for my last day. I'm in! Mike joined us to round it out to 4.

(Later, I got a text during while playing Navegador that Chris had been working on getting out of the room and packing his van and they found out the van was DEAD! Luckily he found someone with jumpers that got the van going again. Which in turn let him drive around a bit to recharge the battery and get HIMSELF going again with a large Starbuck's coffee)

  1. NavegadorThis was one of my favorite new-to-me games of the convention (and not just because I happened to win!). You must focus on some sort of strategy to earn points in this game be it shipyards and discovering new land, building factories, establishing colonies, building churches, or perhaps a bit of each. I loved the market mechanism which not only allows you to compete against others by forcing it up or down away from what others want, but also sometimes forces you to work it against yourself if you need money and aren't careful. You must pay attention to what everyone else is doing and try to find your own niche (or maybe mess with the niche of others). Yes, this game has a rondel, but I happen to love rondels. Excellent game that is going on my to-buy list!

    After finishing I realized it was noon. NOON! 12pm! I had to be out of the room!

    I cruised over to Peter to let him know we needed to clear out of the room. I went up and hauled down 2 large totes and 1 small and stashed them in the corner of one of the game rooms. Going back up I checked with the front desk and they said we had to be out by 12:30pm at the latest or be charged another $25. It was 12:17. I rushed back up and got the other two totes and Peter was there grabbing his stuff. We headed back down then I checked out just before 12:30. Whew!

    Ok, what next! I got a quick bite to eat then....
  2. Guatemala Cafe - I got a copy of this recently and had been reading the (poorly worded) instructions and thought I had it down enough to play. Chris wanted to leave by 2pm or so and I knew this would be a shorter game. We pulled it out, I taught it and we played it fairly quickly finishing just after 2pm. This game is an interesting area control game, fairly light, but with a unique market mechanism.

    There is a whole separate board just for the market of things to buy! On this board you move the 'buyer' around a grid that has pieces laid out on it. You can move it 1-3 spaces normally (or pay to go 1 extra space). The buyer lines you up with a row or column. Then, you buy resources to build plantations on the other board (Plantation board) OR you pick a coffee sack and score that type of coffee (6 different types total). You can only move the buyer in one direction, so there is a certain timing aspect to the game as to when you buy stuff and when you sell coffee. There is also a strong potential for screwage in this game.

    I find the mechanics intriguing which is so far keeping me interested in playing it more. Henry, Chris's son, ended up winning by a landslide by building only 1 large plantation and scoring it multiple times. It turned out later I forgot about being able to block the scoring but I'm not sure that we could have blocked enough to prevent him winning.

    So, after this game it was time for Chris and his boys to head out. They said their good-byes then embarked on their long drive to Ashland.
  3. Union PacificI won a copy of this OOP game in the Gamestorm auction so was happy that Dan offered to teach it as it will make my learning it to teach others that much easier. This game straddles the line between light and medium weight - the mechanics are pretty simple, but the gameplay is meaty enough to keep you interested the entire game. I never once stopped playing the game to look around. The turns are quick yet there are always interesting decisions to make.

    This is a nice twist on a Ticket to Ride sort of game (both are designed by Alan Moon) where you are set collecting on train company shares rather than set collecting for the links. Looking forward to getting this to the table again soon. I will probably post a box opening of my 'in shrink' copy as well in the near future.....if I can find the time to write it up :)
This ended up being my last game of the convention. It was around 5pm and I needed to stop in Lebanon, OR, on my way to Eugene in order to drop off the games I had collected for Wes. So, I said my good-byes (to the people that were left at least) and then hauled the totes of games (and other stuff) down to my truck.

I spent some time figuring out how to get everything crammed into the cab of my pickup and eventually had it set. Unfortunately, I forgot to use the seat belt to secure the totes. Later, when merging onto the freeway I had to accelerate while rounding the on-ramp (which curved to the right). Of course, the top boxes shifted LEFT (i.e. towards me) and I had to put my right arm up to keep them from sliding off completely and crushing me. All the time I'm thinking "I can see the headlines now: 'Man Crashes Truck after being Crushed by Board Games' "  Fortunately, that didn't happen....thank god I avoided THAT embarrassment!

As always, Gamestorm was a lot of fun. I got to see some people I hadn't seen in a while and met some new friends as well. Tom from Boards and Bits is always fun to game with and we got in several games together. My good friend Chris and I played 95% of our games together. We later decided that maybe we need to spread ourselves around a bit more with perhaps a day focused on us, then another day focused on pre-arranged/signed up games, then another day where we teach games ourselves.

I also want to start taking advantage of the GM deal where if you run at least 8 hrs of games you get free admission for the next year. I ALMOST thought about doing that this year, but didn't quite get myself to. I think I'll definitely run some games next year - I practically did anyhow so I might as well be getting some benefit from it as well and now that I'm really comfortable going, I won't feel overwhelmed doing it.

In fact, I already pre-registered @ Gamestorm on Sunday at the nicely discounted price of $20 for the entire convention (of course, that doesn't cover hotel) and will be ready to sign up for games and also will be planning what I'll be hosting next year. Hopefully other obligations won't prevent me from going (hi sweetie! :) ). That is one thing that I find tough about it being over spring break as my kids are off of school and I go away to the convention. I'm hoping that maybe in the future I'll be able to bring them along as well!

If you live in the Portland, OR / Vancouver, WA, areas (or even anywhere in WA or OR) you should really consider trying to attend next year, even if only for a day or the weekend as it's great fun and it's a great way to get some new games in and meet some new gamers.

Now, go play a couple of new games....or maybe some old ones. I don't care, just play SOMETHING!

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