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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reporting back from GameStorm 18

March 23rd, 2016  |  Published in board games

Last weekend I was at GameStorm 18, Portland’s regional board game convention. I had a great time, and got to play a bunch of stuff:

  • Steam
  • Splendor (x2)
  • Favor of the Pharaoh (x2)
  • Raiders of the North Sea
  • The King is Dead
  • Traders of Osaka
  • Dice City
  • One Zero One
  • Krosmaster: Arena (x2)
  • Skull King
  • Lifeboat (with the Cannibalism expansion)
  • Shipwrights of the North Sea (with Townsfolk Expansion)
  • Isle of Trains
  • Fleet (with all the expansions)
  • Ca$h ‘n Guns (second edition)
  • Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge
  • Eurorails
  • Medina
  • Inglorious Space

Overall, I had a great time. I didn’t run into any annoying people, and nothing I played fell flat (although a couple weren’t as fun as I expected). Here are some of the highlights:

Eurorails – This is something that I have been wanting to play for literally years (rather, I’ve been wanting to play any Crayon Rails game), but the weight of the game and long play time has been problematic. I definitely want to play more Crayon Rails games, and will probably buy/trade for Nippon Rails at some point.

Raiders of the North Sea – This game was just awesome, probably the best Kickstarter I’ve backed. In some ways it reminds me of Tzolk’in, but is a bit lighter and the rules are much more intuitive. I’m not sure if I had as much fun playing it as I did with Eurorails, but it will be much easier to get to the table. (Shipwrights was also great, the expansion really brings a lot to the game without adding much complexity.)

Inglorious Space – This game came as a complete surprise to me, given that I had never heard of it before playing it (not surprising since it is only a few days into its Kickstarter campaign), but I loved it. Based on classic space shooters like Galaga, it is a multiplayer with a semi-co-op mechanic. I had been excited about The Battle at Kemble’s Cascade, but after looking into it more, it just sounded tedious. Inglorious Space, on the other hand, plays quick, light, and fun, but has enough depth to keep it interesting. I’m definitely looking forward to playing it more.

Isle of Trains – Another game that I had never heard of. This is a tiny (52 card?) game about building a train and fulfilling contracts. It had some depth, interesting decisions, and good interaction. For $10, I can’t think of a good reason not to buy it.

All in all, a great weekend. Looking forward to GameStorm 19.

 

Tags: , ,