Convention Report: GameStorm 19

April 3rd, 2017  |  Published in board games

This past weekend I attended my second GameStorm convention, GameStorm 19. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is a Portland area gaming convention that runs for four days.

Last year I had a good time but didn’t get a chance to play some of the stuff that I had brought with me and really wanted to (this was partially due to the venue, which the convention had outgrown). This year, the convention was in a bigger venue (which was also closer to where we were staying in Portland) which helped a lot, and I signed up to run three games: Mines of Zavandor, Panamax, and Edo. This helped immensely, as it provided a bit of structure to my convention experience (signing up for games that others were running isn’t quite the same, in my experience). If you are planning on going, I would recommend bringing your favorite game and signing up to run it, you are guaranteed a spot at the table, finding players is easier (and they will have a chance to prepare), and you will get to share a possibly obscure game that might not otherwise see the table (I didn’t see or hear about another session of Panamax, and I only met one person who had even heard of Mines of Zavandor).

In any case, you probably aren’t here for gaming convention advice, so here’s what I played:

  • Mines of Zavandor
  • Harbour
  • Mint Works (x2)
  • Panamax
  • Eridu (prototype)
  • Take the Gold
  • Wreck-A-Mecha (x2)
  • Quantum (x2 with three then two players)
  • Nocturnal
  • Tongiaki: Journey into the Unknown
  • Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
  • Hanamikoji
  • Armageddon (recent Queen Games version)
  • Yedo
  • Keyflower
  • Edo

 

Highlights:

  • Wreck-A-Mecha – This is the second game from Black Table Games (makers of the excellent Inglorious Space), and was probably my favorite game of the convention. It is simple and fast (with a playtime of 10-20 minutes), has great theme, great art, and was just a ton of fun. They are planning on launching it on Kickstarter in June, and I will definitely be backing it (and probably mentioning it here, too). My only complaint is that it isn’t on BGG yet, so I can’t log it.
  • Nocturnal – This is currently on Kickstarter (ending tomorrow), and though it looks like the kickstarter may not succeed (currently at 45% with 38 hours to go), I would recommend backing it to get a notice when the designer relaunches (though I will try to make a point of mentioning it here when it does). To me, the game has a vampire hunting theme plus some Carl Chudyk elements (Innovation, Glory to Rome, Mottainai, etc), minus the steep learning curve of Chudyk games. It teaches and plays fast, has good theme integration (the game reminded me a lot of John Steakly’s Vampire$, which I haven’t read in too long and now want to see if it stands the test of time).
  • Quantum – I had been hearing about this game for quite a while and now I’m working on how I can trade for it. It is a fast-playing spaceship game with an innovative use of dice and the perfect amount of player interaction (for me, at least). Combined with fully customizable maps and you have what feels to me like a near-perfect game.
  • Edo – Somehow, I always manage to forget how much I like Edo between plays. I had heard it negatively compared to Yedo, but after playing that for the first time I can’t really agree. There are some similarities between the two (they are both about the historical city of Edo, for one), but they are very different games, with Yedo feeling like a heavy version of Lords of Waterdeep (mostly due to the missions) and Edo feeling like a heavy version of Robo Rally (due to the action programming aspect). Personally I prefer Edo, but had fun with Yedo and would happily play it again even if I don’t feel there’s a home for it in my collection.

 

The other thing I did differently this year was to attend panels, and they definitely enriched the convention for me:

  • Golden Guidelines of Game Design – Dave Howell presented his Golden Guidelines, which was a list of things that suck the fun out of games and why. Even as someone who isn’t into game design (though I would be surprised if I didn’t eventually try my hand at it), the panel was an excellent examination of why some games don’t work. It helped me to put some of the things that bother me into words, and will probably increase the quality of my feedback to game designers when I playtest.
  • A Gamer’s Guide to the Resistance – This was a panel presented by Mike Selinker, Rebecca Meiers, Sara Waffle, George Kennedy, and Adrian Hayes about how gamers with a progressive mindset can work towards positive change in our current political and social climate. This panel was only an hour, and I feel that it really could have used double that time. I was most interested in Sarah Waffle’s story about how she ran for, and won, a local political office using the skills that she had developed as a gamer. I hope to write more about this panel in the next week or so.


In summary, I had a great time and am looking forward to GameStorm 20.

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