Monday, February 08, 2010

Eugene Games Gala 2010

Alex and I went down to the Eugene Games Gala, Lorna's awesome mini-con held Super Bowl Weekend. We were only two of the three people from Portland who attended, and in some ways that was a blessing as it forced me to play with people I didn't know before. A really great crowd!

I'll be brief on the various games we played, but here is a list:

  • Wings of War - Famous Aces - A quick game with Alex and Roger. My Spad went down in seconds after two hits prevented it from moving to either side! A simple game, but it piqued my interest as I have a WW2 version that I'm interested in trying out now.
  • Agricola - Four player game with rules as published. I stand by my earlier assessment that the game is potentially broken without a draft for the occupations and minor improvements. I also think that it should be played with three at the most. I'm aware I'm in the minority.
  • Showmanager - After grabbing dinner, we had two more people who wanted to play a game with us, and there were few six player games. I finally noticed Showmanager, which was a great choice. Everyone was very enthusiastic about the game, although there was no grease pencil and we made do with paper scraps. 
  • Alea Iacta Est - Roger bailed and the rest of us played this newly released (in English) dice game. We screwed up by not giving out reroll tokens for unused dice, but otherwise I really like this game. Very light, but lots of interesting options and fairly brisk play.
  • Steam Barons, Stock Variant, N England map - Six player game using the stock variant, which I'm unlikely to do again. It is nearly impossible to build up a long run in five turns, so half of the payout table is useless (we had one person gain a CEO bonus the entire game). It felt like it hadn't been playtested, as there was no way to generate more money other than to onesey-twosey stock sales for a $1 profit. Very disappointing, and I'm hoping I've missed something, but otherwise this is the worst game Wallace has produced. 
  • Pocket Battles: Celts vs Romans - This game has gotten a lot of good buzz, but I'm not sure why. Yet. We played two games (the first a learning game) with 60 point armies, and they were over in 15 minutes after spending 20 minutes assembling an army. Perhaps it will work better with a larger army - less chance of having your units wiped out fast. Having "starter" armies and setup would have helped immensely.
  • Factory Manager - I taught and played in this five player game where I felt like I'd learned a lot from my first two games earlier in the year. However, I decided to go last in the final turn and as such wasn't able to get the necessary upgrades to get over an income of 110, and Aaron's 130 income edged past me for the win. I like this, but the Power Grid name on the box is flat out misleading and it loses points on that basis. 
  • Monty Python Fluxx - Filler while waiting to do the gift exchange. Requires more alcohol than we had in our systems (which was none). However, I did manage to get a decent trade for my copy of Tide of Iron by taking Gloria Mundi, plus Conquest of Pangea which looks to be a mess.
  • Homesteaders - Civ building game set during the time of American Manifest Destiny. Interesting but the theme loses me, and this is a game that requires multiple plays to figure out the best way to manipulate your resources. Won't go on my to-buy list, I'm afraid, but I'd play again.
  • Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus - My first time playing the variant. I found it all pretty worthwhile other than we rarely used the Pegasus locations and the Cylon Leader win requirements are all pretty easy to figure out early. We made it to New Caprica within two (!) jumps, aided by a Crisis card that gave us one jump for "free". We blasted off from NC with three characters in Detention and five civvie ships still on the planet, plus a boatload of Cylon raiders knocking on the door of the five ships that had made it off planet. Population wasn't hurt too much, and our morale ended up at 1, but enough for the Humans to win. A fun game, but I'm not sure the Cylon Leader part of the expansion lives up to the very high quality experience of the base game.
  • We The People - A teaching game with Alex, who is interested in learning wargames. Unfortunately, he took the British (as I thought that keeping Washington safe would be the critical issue), but in both games the Declaration came out in the first turn and the British drew very few Ops cards or things that would give him PC markers. And, stupid me, I forgot that you don't check for victory at the end of a turn, but when the British government failed. Obviously the lack of sleep had taken it's toll by then. Oh well. 
All in all, a very good experience. As always, it's who you play with, and I'm looking forward to reinforcing some of these new friendships when people are at GameStorm in March. 

Many many thanks to Lorna for her time and energy in putting this together. Putting on my Sunriver retreats is hard enough work, having a hotel in the mix seems like it would be even more work. 

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