Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Gamehole Con 2021 - Day 2 Part 1

As I said...this will be a doozy.  Like 18.5 hours of gaming, although with some minimal gaps.  I even played solitaire - not the card game, but a game by myself - for a little bit to keep the high going.  I think after writing about Tapestry, I'll break this into two sections.  I should break it into a section per game for easier reading, but if anyone is reading this they can just go find coffee in the middle.

I started the morning with Tapestry.  I didn't have a game going into the morning, although E did, so I added one of the open slots.  Easier to do on a Thursday than a weekend.  Klund is, or at least was, big on this game and makes some accessories for the pieces.  I had never played despite his enjoyment of it and the fact that I like many other Stonemaier games.  Overall...fun, although long [took almost the full three hours], but the first time through I was at a serious disadvantage against both position [physically, it was important I read the far player's cards] and a few folks who'd played before.  Trying to unpack the iconology was difficult alone and not understanding the full benefit of finishing one of the four outside tracks put me at a disadvantage.  That became an issue because I moved far along on one track immediately only to have a guy with a different civilization power use it to basically pop to where I was and then take all the advantages that I had lined up in conjunction with my civ bonuses.  In terms of overall position, I went immediately from competitive to a solid fourth and a game of catch up.

That's all part of a game, I don't begrudge that and I don't mind losing at all.  But not being able to see his civ text on the far side of the table and not knowing it via some plays meant I was immediately kneecapped.  I know I was playing the game right because my turns were very long so I was leveraging resources to make resources in ways that efficiently extended me beyond the others' earnings, but in the end I didn't finish a single track and instead tried to play a very balanced game that stealthily took me to second to last despite that I don't think anyone even expected me to be anywhere but firmly and decisively last.  It definitely felt like some of the civs were way overpowered compared to others.  Apparently there's a lot of discussion around that conjecture.

I did enjoy the fun little buildings and mini games [cover a 3x3 for a bonus, covers rows and columns for a bonus, get tech cards for a bonus] that benefited from the base size and base shape of the buildings.  Made it very tactile, although honestly I'm generally pretty happy with meeples, cubes, dice and cardboard markers.  I have these next two images out of order...me earlier in the game, me later in the game.  Vice versa.  You can see the evolvement...

..from pretty empty to a board full of buildings, big and basic.  I'll note I also didn't like my era cards [or whatever they're called - the cards that apply to the "age" you're in].  My were generally a flat "counter a treachery" [which never happened] or gain a flat 10 points.  I think one basically did me no good at all, and the alternatives wouldn't have been any better.  The others' age cards seemed to have a LOT of interaction and focus.  Just luck of the draw there.  Once it gets going, I will admit it's fast.  Everyone can almost play through their turn as fast as they can move and as players finish up, the speed for the remaining players gets even faster despite all the pieces.  I will say that its ranking on Boardgamegeek comparative to Seasons seems wrong.  That's a very minimally strategic game in comparison.  Would I play it again?  Yep, but I'd make sure I could read all the civ cards first and take a slower approach to any one lane.

A general picture of the floor at Gamehole Con on a Thursday.  It was much more crowded on the weekend.  This was definitely preferable.  

E reading the Gamehole Con participants [e.g. famous, not rank and file] program.

That stuffy butt next to E is a Blink Dog collectible.  They do one every year for Gamehole Con.  E has all of them except the rare first year Owlbear stuffy.  You can tell it makes them happy.  That is indeed a wizard in the background.  I'll post a better picture of the wizard later.

This beholder in the vendor area was impressive.  If you peruse the Instagram tag, it was probably the favorite photo opportunity.

While I was playing Tapestry, E played Letters from Whitechapel.  E said it was difficult but really fun and they caught Jack the Ripper [one of the other players..."hey honey, I got to pretend I was Jack the Ripper this long weekend.  It was exhilarating."]

Bit more E playing Whitechapel.

We moved on to Fates of Madness next.  It's a very simple RPG card game.  As in a GM-lite tells a story based on the cards while the players try to navigate the encounter cooperatively.  You can search for treasure and trade it to upgrade a few core skills, bump each other's skills, and choose to attack or wait to make an attack more effective.  It was fun, although E and I died during the boss fight.

The hit points system is easy.  You move your card along the grid...at least until you end up dead.  I did get in a lot of healing before that happened.  Our game facilitator, game designer, and story teller was legally blind so we had to tell him the specifics of our status, but he had played so often he had the cards memorized and only needed to see the fuzzy nature of the card to know what it was and what it did. It was nice in that it was stripped down to almost the very basics with a few rules for bows/etc so there wasn't a ton to learn like in Pathfinder, which I've played before [and enjoy], but is complicated. It was a bit more like Tenefyr in nature which lies somewhere between this and Pathfinder.

This was in the vendor area.  I almost bought it because I know some folks in roller derby, including a team mate and one of E's early teachers, but I [mostly] trust the boardgamegeek ratings when it comes to spend versus fun for me and in the 14000 overall range, this wasn't near anything I'd played and enjoyed before.

I think in the upsell version that was there, you might actually get paintable figures rather than semi-generic wood tokens, which was indeed tempting if they could be tailored to particular local teams.

I can't tell what Klund is playing here.  I thought it was one of the Flip City variants, but on inspection, that doesn't seem right.  Wrong colors for one, and more placards than playing cards on his table. I can't pick it out from the publisher list for Flip City, although they also make Ponzi Scheme, which Apong liked well enough to buy.  It does seem to require using a finger to maintain where you're at which seems very inefficient.

Speaking of Apong, here he is - he showed up during the day.  I'm not sure what he's playing either, but maybe it's the aforementioned Ponzi Scheme near the beginning of the game when there's not much money in play.

There was a gap during my day and nothing to add without screwing up my schedule or rushing, so I wandered over to the games library to find something to learn by myself so I could manage my time appropriately.  I've always wondered about Tudor, so I checked it out.  Good news, per the rules, as the only player, I am the one who looks most like Henry VIII.  And, for that matter, the most like any of his wives including Anne Boleyn, with or without her head.  

Amusing aside, while I was checking out the game, I asked the librarian if she had come to Gameholecon as a Star Trek ensign two years earlier.  As soon as I did the guy behind the tables perked up and started watching me. She hesitantly said "yes" and I noted her hair was a much different color so she was hard to recognize.  At this point the guy moves from side eye to a bit more direct attention and I realized I was inadvertently, but clearly, in some sort of "hitting on her" territory.  I quickly added, "I was a winner in the Martian Dice competition" and things immediately became more relaxed and he and I chatted about Martian Dice and what a good game it was for a wide variety of situations including both family and bar/brewery.

Here's my setup for Tudor.  I didn't get to play test it much before having to head to another event because most of it was either still packaged or put away incorrectly, but I got the gist of play.  Roughly, pieces have different movement capabilities depending on which room they go to, and higher value pieces facilitate those moves from the staging rooms and have two moves of their own.  The goal is to get to the top of the board and secure an office by collecting and buying favor on the way, although you can be bumped from an office.  As you play you collect rings, and rings change your movement capabilities depending on the fingers they're on in conjunction with the initial rooms and the presence of a noble.  To the best of my understanding, the color of the rings does not matter, only the fingers/positions. But I disagree.  The colors do matter because you can go with a Vikings motif instead of a Packers motif in Packers territory.

For the end of Day 2, Part 1, E and I played Honga.  It's a super light game - more of a family game - where there's a saber toothed tiger named Honga who wants to eat all your resources.  You draw cards that have hands on them in four directions [a better card if you have the most mammoths on the board] and place them so that some hands point at Honga and some point at the resource/activity you want.  You can choose NOT to point at Honga, and then he'll come eat your berries or fish.  But not you.  See...family game.  You can climb a mountain to pray - first one to the top gets the most points and the mountain climbing starts over.  Collect fish, berries, etc.  Trade fish, berries, etc, for mammoths which are basically a tier 2 resource.  Collect resource bonus cards.  And trade mammoths and resources and cards for victory points [basically inventions and achievements as a stone age tribe].

It's amusing to have a bunch of adults sitting around playing a kids' game by Haba [company known for family games].  One nice thing about it is that it facilitates talking because no one has to overthink their choices.  Lot of chatter at the table, particularly when someone purposefully chose to let the tiger eat their things to make some other move.

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