Dice Tower 2017 Convention Report — Day Three

Hey board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here, back with more Dice Tower coverage. This time, we’re talking about Friday, otherwise known as Day Three (although it was Day Five for us pre-conners!)

Another day, another early start. The gaming halls are eerily more quiet around 8 am, especially on Friday, but that just means many tables in the hotness area are empty. I met with Minneapolis Mike and No Twitter Nate, and we sat down to try out a new racing game from Big Kid Games. Gondola is a 2016 release designed by jim pinto where players lay tiles to steer their gondola through five checkpoints.

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Gondola with Minneapolis Mike (L) and No Twitter Nate (R)

We learned the rules in ten minutes, and then headed off on the race. Nate took an early lead, but Mike was able to come back with a few well placed tiles. Applying the tile laying strategies in Carcassone and combining them with other mechanisms (like dungeon diving in the upcoming Delve release) always piques my interest, and Gondola delivers on the tense nature of any racing game.

The downside was the rulebook and the artwork. The rule book needs an editing job and some graphic design help. I did not have a big problem with the card art, but Mike did. He kept looking at a hand of cards that had bridges on them thinking they were checkpoints, but the bridges were not in the center — which in all fairness, is spelled out in the rule book. I had a good time, but this would be a “streaming” game for me (as opposed to a “screening” — thanks Rolling Dice & Taking Names).

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Not Alone with Alex and Max (top to bottom on left) and Oscar and D.J. (top to bottom on right)

I headed back to the Stronghold Booth, and this time I was able to teach Not Alone a few times. I’ve now played this one v. many game bunches of times, but I’ve never been the solo baddie. I’ll have to take on the Krewe de Gumbo at our next game night. Alex from the Dukes came back with his buddy Max (more from him later), but this time the alien got a few licks in early and the astronauts were ultimately vanquished.

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Stronghold Booth is hopping with Frogriders, Not Alone, and Fields of Green.

I also demoed Cottage Garden, the Uwe Rosenberg follow up to Patchwork that is finally making its way to the States. I’ve never played Patchwork, but I like interesting two player games that can sneak a theme into abstract mechanics. Cottage Garden seems to play all player counts well, including two player, and every time I showed the game off, players really got into the theme of planting flowers, placing pottery and “bells”, and chasing cats and mice around the garden.

The game really flows, and I love the end game. Somehow, Uwe snuck in his usual diabolical management mechanic, but instead of “feeding your garden”, you have to watch the end game very closely by not overplanting a garden for the last round. If you do not finish one or both of your gardens, and they have three or more tiles on them, then you must keep playing taking penalty points each turn during the final round! Uwe is an evil genius.

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Brandt Sanderson (R) from Portal Podcast

Brandt Sanderson from Portal Podcast also stopped by. He and I had worked together (virtually) on a little project for The Dice Tower, but had never met. Brandt’s podcast is a great listen because you get the inside look at both gaming and the gaming hobby from a FLGS owner’s perspective with his podcast partner, Bryan. (I met Bryan the next day at the Baseball Highlights tourney, and he seemed surprised that I knew who he was by his voice — Bryan, this hobby is a very small pond!). Brandt is a champ of a guy, and can talk board games with the best so make sure you stop and say hello if you see him.

My son Jack had volunteered at the Tortured Earth booth on Thursday, and so on Friday, he hung out at the demo table all morning trying out the combat system. My high school classmate, KB Kidder, has developed his own RPG system and is hitting the con circuit spreading the word. Jack gave it two thumbs up, and has the books now to start his own group. Jack says it’s a classless, level-less game system, based on an post-apocolyptic earth. It runs off skill points, instead of experience, and the main attraction for Jack was the skill set idea and combat system because of the back-to-back nature of the dice rolls. The beauty also of this RPG is that your character can be transferred to any theme setting — horror, science fiction, etc — these can all be found in “The Mist” which is the background of the game experience.

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The amazing Flip Ships from Renegade Games. Alex from the Dukes of Dice (L) and Jack (R)

When he finished, Alex and I grabbed him and Max to play a game of Flip Ships, the 2017 release from Renegade Game Studios. Wow, was I disappointed that this sold out the first day and couldn’t get a copy!

It’s a dexterity based table top co-op with a space invader mechanic of invading aliens attacking our world. The flicking mechanism from Rampage is easy to pick up, but what shines is the additional powers that your ships get (including additional ships) to help your squadron defeat the advancing hordes. I played once, and watched two other games, and it always seems to come down to the last one or two ships to win! Kane Klenko has a winner here.

Next up, Bruce from Northstar Games invited us to play Vegas Wits & Wagers. So, one of the group is not big fans of the party style of the original, but decided to try it anyway. This latest iteration of W&W is the best yet….by far.

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Grandpa for the win! Vegas Wits & Wagers at Northstar Games. In order from L to Right, Jack, Alex, Max, demo person from Northstar, BJ, and Bruce from the PartyGameCast featuring the PartyGameCast (and Northstar Games)

It melds the fun elements of guessing who is closest to the right answer on obscure trivia with the excitement of playing long odds to catch up to the leading person. This is a hoopin’ and hollarin’ trivia party game, and does not overstay its welcome (the reason Trivial Pursuit is buried in thousands of landfills everywhere.) The Kickstarter is out in mid-August, which provides you with this awesome neoprene mat with a Vegas style board with colorful graphics. Can’t wait to try this back home with some friends, a couple pounds of boudin and an ice chest of Abita (root beer or otherwise.)

On the backside of Northside was the Attack Dice group. They were showing off two little micro games, When Zombies Attack! and Dungeon Attack! I tried Zombies, with one eyebrow raised up in hesitation, but it was actually fun for a little beer & pretzels dice game. Players toss dice and try to avoid zombies or send them to the other players. The game time is short and the take that is just light enough that I think it would work as an opening night filler for any group.

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Shadowscape at the NKSN Booth

I stopped by NSKN Games to check out Shadowscape. (Ran out of time, and didn’t get to visit the new Strawberry lineup unfortunately). This one really looks interesting. It is a compact looking dungeon dive with little minis (redundant? No!) and an interesting skill / combat system. After being hands on with my demos for three days, I was hoping to grab some pieces and fight some creatures, but this demo team had more of a rules oriented approach. We were a little disappointed, but maybe we can try again at Gen Con.

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Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done at the TMG booth.

Next up, we checked in at Tasty Minstrel Games for a quick demo of Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done. We had an excellent teacher, and were up and running in minutes. This rondel action based DOAM game with a little engine building to boot was a lot of fun. We played a nearly production ready version, but I’m told the Kickstarter will give it the full enhanced treatment. This is one to watch out for as we get closer. We snuck in another quick visit with Lance while we were there.

Next door was the Meeple Source booth, and with the Baseball Highlights tourney approaching the next day, we picked up some cool runner/batter colored meeples. So much better than playing with bowling pins, right?

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Ready for the tourney! Runners and batter meeples.

After a tremendously good bacon and cheddar hamburger (with chipotle mayo of course) from Tropicale, the casual restaurant in the hotel, I headed back for a game of Concordia. I’ve been wanting to play this Mac Gerdts game since the Secret Cabal started raving about it. Jonathan Howe saw my request on BGG and agreed to teach it to me and Jack. Max from the Dukes of Dice wanted in, too, and already knew the game well, so we really had some good instruction.

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Jonathan (lower R) teaching Max (upper L) and Jack (lower L) and me how to play Concordia.

Concordia is an action selection exploration and trading game in the Mediterranean that seriously lived up to the hype. I don’t know that I have played a more elegant game. Each action I took seemed to make sense, and unlocked other combinations. I told Max that my intent was to try out each of the actions, even if they didn’t make combo-tastic sense, just to see the whirring and purring of the engine. By the end of the game, I was finally seeing some of the VP strategies, but of course, it was way too late, and Max cleaned our clocks. But, he and Jonathan were kind enough to walk us through their strategies in the post-mortem, which really helped us. Now, if the rumored re-printing from Rio Grande (or another company perhaps) would happen….

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Alex (far L) and Sean (L) presenting the Best Art award at the Dice Tower with help from Tom (far R) and Eric (R)

It was time for the Dice Tower Awards. As usual, Eric Summerer and Tom Vasel were breezy and fun, and kept the show moving. There were a lot of first time award presenters, as well as some old favorites. Singing happy birthday to Brian Counter (“and he’s counter-productive) might have been a highlight, until Jason Levine goofed on Eric by exchanging the certificate for game of the year with a movie reference to La-La-Land.

Back in the main gaming hall, I ran into some Louisiana pals (Jesse, Melissa, and Ronald) who needed a fourth for Word Slam. Sorry, no pictures, but this game was right up my alley. Team captains take turns giving clues to a secret word to their team members using only decks of cards with nouns, prepositions, and verbs. The words scale up in difficulty and of course, there is a dreaded timer. I really enjoyed Word Slam and need to find a copy for our scouts game nights and family holiday game days.

We grabbed a couple of people walking by, and laughed when one of them was from New Orleans. Six people at the table, only three of whom had met before the Con, and now five out of six are from the same small state — and the sixth one traveled through the Bayou State on the way to Texas one time. I think we ended up playing for about an hour, cycling through a bunch of words, before Jesse suggested that we check to see if Ethnos was available.

It was! Ethnos went back on the table again for the second night, this time with Windfolk and Giants added. Again — the board is ugly, the pieces are chincy, but the gameplay is rock solid. This one is on my list to pick up.

Not counting demos, that’s six games played in one day — not bad considering my commitments to demoing games at Stronghold! I think I played more this day than I did in three days at GenCon!

 

Next post, we’ll wrap up the convention for me and Jack, since we were leaving Saturday night. Any questions about the games we saw or about the convention in general? Send me a tweet @boardgamegumbo, and I’ll do my best to answer.

Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!!

— BJ

Dice Tower Convention 2017 Report — Day One

Hey boardgamers, BJ from Boardgame Gumbo here, and I survived my first day at my first ever Dice Tower Convention here in what I assume is sunny Orlando (I got more of a neon tan today than a real one).

Just steps away from Walt Disney World, the convention provided its own magical times on day one. First up, there was free breakfast for all of the attendees, which helped since the line for registration covered the entire convention hall. The staff announced several times that players could jump right into the hall and start playing or visiting, but I am pretty sure there were a number of attendees who wanted the first crack at that juicy experience from the MASSIVE game library or to be first at the Exhibitor booths.I wandered backstage to the Stronghold Booth way early, but head man Stephen Buonocore was already there prepping the booth for the onslaught. Once a few other knights showed up a couple of minutes later, we started breaking out the games and playing.

I was lucky enough to get a deep dive play with Dan (you know him from his adorable game videos on the Dice Tower with his daughter Cora) on Fields of Green. This new American release of the game really shines. I like engine builders a lot, but many times I get outclassed by other players who are longer range planners. This distills the fun of an engine builder, with a new theme of modern farming, into 45 minutes. Dan is a great teacher with a wonderful sense of humor and even shared some amazing treats from his side of the pond. The Stroopwaffle (think Stinger energy waffles with better flavor) from the Netherlands was particularly good.

Then, the exhibitor doors opened and it was nonstop gaming all day. I manned the Fields of Green table, and we always had a demo game going all day.

One of the memorable games was teaching the crew from Must Love Boardgames, a funny movie directed by Jessie Seidule of Baton Rouge. Jessie, Melissa, and Ronald were fun to hang around with during the game, and it was nice to catch up about gaming in South Louisiana.


I also had a chance to slide around to greet people and play games when I could. One of the highlights was an epic Pit Crew battle with Jon V from Montreal. It came down to the wire, and they used one of Geoff Englestein’s diabolical monkey wrench cards to draft around us for the win.

The guys from Dukes of Dice podcast turned me on to the Draft Mechanic podcast a few weeks ago, and I have been enjoying listening to Jake and Danielle riff on boardgames and craft beer. So, it was fun to meet them in person and teach games at the booth. They are both deadpan funny people, so say hello if you get a chance.

After the booth closed, a bunch of listeners to the Boardgames Insider podcast (co-hosted by Ignacy from Portal and Stephen from Stronghold) gathered at the hotel for a podcast meetup. I think even Stephen was surprised by the large turnout on short notice.

Ignacy had challenged Stephen to a Crokinole match, and I got to watch almost to the end. When I left, the “Pride of New Jersey” was in the lead, and on my way back from dinner with Sneauxbunny, I saw Ignacy racing to the designer panel. When I asked him about the finish, he just smiled and said “No talk about it, I don’t know what happened!” If you haven’t met Ignacy yet, you should because he is one of the smartest gamers and funniest guys in gaming.

After dinner, Alex and Sean of the Dukes of Dice podcast invited us to play games in the main hall. I finally got to play some convention games that I have seen at GenCon but never got to play, like Pitchcar, Rhino Hero, and Monikers.


Pitchcar is a great dexterity racing game where players flick cars one at a time in a race to complete a lap around the track. This was a huge track set up right in the front of the hall. (I’m not sure what regular Pitchcar looks like, but this was a really long track.) Had a great time flicking the car around, but one lap around the track was plenty enough for me. The best part of pitchcar to me is the smacktalk, and since I was in a large group of people that were pretty familiar with each other, there was a lot of that going around.

Rhino Hero — I bought this for my nephew in Maryland for Christmas years ago, but never tried it. I liked it, but I might like it better on a steadier surface than the table we were using. Needless to say, we did not last very long in the game.

Monikers is a Time’s Up clone, but with weirder titles and explanation. Team Sean won after we had a couple of big turns.

Jake from Draft Mechanic broke out Vegas, a game from Rudiger Dorn (the designer of Karuba and many other games). What looked like a simple dice fest — okay, it is a simple dice fest — turned out to have some strategy. Players toss a handful of dice, and then use the results to claim casinos each worth random amounts of money (but at least $50k each). The player with the most of her colored dice on the casino at the end of the round claims that dollar amount. There is a catch — ties are no good as they knock you completely out of the running for the prize. You have to look at the other players hands of dice to gauge how much you need to support your own hold on a casino. This is a perfect beer & pretzel game for my brothers, and I will have to try and hunt down a copy.

After we finally finished playing these deep, brainy, mind burning strategy games, we decided to lighten things up with a game of Ethnos from CMON games. We had six players, so Ethnos was a good choice. Plus, plus, the library copy has the Fairy promo which I had never played.


Ethnos may not look like much on the table, but man is there a lot of gameplay. Players try to play sets of cards with the same color or race on them in an effort to put down their token on one of six areas on the board, with each area having a randomized value at the start of the game. Each faction has a unique special power that if played effectively can lead to awesome combos.

You’re only picking up one card at a time, but there’s lots of tense decisions because of the dragon timer. The bottom third of the deck is seeded with three dragons, and when the last one comes out, the round is over and any cards in your hand that have not been played are worth nothing.

The last time I played was just a learning game where I was trying to understand the rules, but this time, I was able to see the nuances of the combos in the races. Ethnos is one of those games where you are tempted to go for everything, but specializing in three, maybe four areas seems a better choice. I had the lead going into the final round, but tried to shoot the moon on a troll combo that didn’t work. Awesome, awesome game made better with some great players (Ellison, Jay, Jake, Danielle, and Alex).

It was almost midnight, and I had an early morning shift at the booth, so I said goodbye to some new friends. I did see my son Jack at a different table, and got to visit with him about his epic Game of Thrones experience. Sounds like he was having a blast running House Stark. 

I’ll have more thoughts on the Stronghold games we are demoing tomorrow, and hopefully can report on some of the other booths and games that I plan to play.

Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

— B.J.

Dice Tower Con — Pre-Convention Report


Hey boardgamers, BJ from Boardgame Gumbo here, back with more Louisiana flavor. This time, I am coming to you from the beautiful Caribe Royal near Walt Disney World.

My family decided to come in early for our first DTC, and check out some of the newest attractions at WDW. But, I heard rumblings on BGG that people were starting to arrive, and so we checked into the hotel on Monday morning.

MONDAY:

First up, we wandered around the hotel to check out the digs. The resort is beautiful, and has everything for a great family vacation. Pools, spa, fitness center, restaurants, the Caribe has it all.

Of course, pre-convention gaming has to include gaming, and we’ve had it in spades here. Right below the staircase in the main building on the side facing the pool was a large lounge area with big tables and comfortable chairs. One of the Dukes of Dice listeners, Evan, had set up shop on one of the tables, and so I plopped down some games on the next table and watched as gamers started wandering in.

By Monday afternoon, we had six tables of gamers from all over the country playing the latest hotness and old favorites. This part frankly surprised me. When I demoed at Pax South, we played mostly with our friends and I did not see a lot of exchanging. But here at the pre-con, gamers were VERY inviting to solo attendees or people just looking to game.

I’ve met and played games with people from Montreal, Los Angeles, Seattle, Minneapolis, Miami, South Carolina, Texas, Maryland and many other cities and states. Seeing people welcome others to the table without even being asked is truly why the Dice Tower Convention is a special con.

So what games have I seen so far? I have been hearing about Barenpark, and wanted to try it and compare it to Cottage Garden. I don’t own either, but was happy to see that a copy of each was on the table. My wife and I played both games pretty much back to back — twice! — and there’s room for both in a collection. Cottage Garden seems a bit friendlier, with the relaxing stroll around the garden on the wheelbarrow, plotting out your next move, and filling up your own garden space.

 Barenpark scratches that competitive itch, because it features a race to pick up the victory point statutes and extra bonus point tiles. For me, one is a great date night game, where the other can be brought out with my fiercest competitive game group buddies.

Jack and I had been playing Baseball Highlights:2045 at our Disney hotel each night, in preparation for the Dukes of Dice tourney on Saturday at DTC. So, we had to get one more game in. Jack is getting really good, and took a short five game series from me using a glove heavy deck.

Jon V from Montreal requested a game of New Bedford, my favorite little worker placement game from Dice Hate Me Games. We played a five player game (first time for me in a long while), and everyone seemed to enjoy the whaling aspect of the game the most. Mike and Nate from Minneapolis caught on to the mechanics pretty quick and gave me a big challenge as it was a close 1-2-3 finish.

Jason from South Carolina had Century set up, and I was happy to finally play it. I’ve heard people say it is a “Splendor killer”. Was it? Not in my opinion, but the two games do have similar feels. I like the way that Emerson Matsuuchi ratcheted up the tension with the upgrade mechanic on the spices, and the fact that you are limited in your spice board. In Splendor, you have to keep one eye on the other player(s) to see what is going on, but in Century, you really have to keep both eyes on their area or else you will not be able to stop their engines. My only problem? Two player turns go so fast that it is hard to really grok what you want to do on your turn or future turns without slowing down the game too much. I’d like to try it with three people and see if that makes it more manageable.

We closed up Monday with a rousing game of Near & Far. This was my fourth or fifth game, but the other players were new, so we went back to the first map. Beautiful artwork and great components with upgraded story lines and game play makes this my favorite Red Raven Games release, and my early front runner for 2017 game of the year. It solves any of the problems I had with Above & Below. But even better, it makes a campaign fun again. One of the hard things about purchasing a campaign game is getting it to the table with the same people.

I’ve played Near & Far with four different game groups, and playing on three or four different maps has been a blast. Somehow this game scratches one itch of campaign play even in one off games — except for character development, of course — with the connected story lines. I’m still having trouble getting it under a 120 minute time, but our 150 game was lengthened when Tom Vasel came by and talked with us about the game. He knew Jeanne from Miami who was playing with us at the table, and we enjoyed his thoughts about the game, which he hinted was one of his favorite Red Raven Games too.

From noon to midnight, we played games with so many groups that I could not believe it was two days before the con actually started. I am pretty sure I played more games on Monday than I did the entire three days at Gen Con 2016!

TUESDAY:

I got up early and wandered down to the lobby, thinking I would have time to write the blog while other people were still in bed. Well, that was a happy and fortunate mistake. My buddies, Jon and Nate were back at it again.

 Another game of Cottage Garden broke out, and I also tried out a two player 7X7 game of Kingdomino. After thinking that it would not change the experience much, I was pleasantly surprised. Building out the larger area gave me time to watch the other player, and really think about the tiles coming out. This is the way I want to play two players from now on.


Next up, another game of New Bedford, followed by a six player game of Viticulture. (Yes, back to back worker placement games — little bit of brain slowdown after playing them back to back.) I had to teach four of the gamers, so the start was a little rough, but by year two, everyone had the mechanics down and it was a big race to the finish.

 I could not pull the vine cards I needed, but everyone was pretty close. I was happy to see my son Jack race out to the lead and hold on to it for his first ever win against some pretty experienced Euro gamers.

Jon from Montreal had a prototype under his arm, so we asked him to break out Art Traders. What a cool theme! We played owners of art galleries trying to wheel and deal to improve our collection and attract more visitors. It was his first test at five players, and we sort of broke the game a bit at that play count, but he really enjoyed the in game and post game discussion of what we liked and what he could tweak. Can’t wait to see how this turns out as it is developed further.

I really enjoyed gaming with Jon, Mike, Nate and a bunch of others. Sharing game experiences and telling stories with gamers who have the same passion makes this a much different Con than Pax South. 

Then it was off to The Stronghold. I am demoing for Stephen Buonocore’s Stronghold Games this week, and we helped him set up the booth. Lots of good games to play, so we broke out some demos and started playing when some of the other Knights showed up.

We tried out Frogriders, Pit Crew, Cottage Garden (again!), Not Alone, and Fields of Green. I really enjoyed each and will have more to say tomorrow. I will say that Frogriders surprised the heck out of me. What looked like a simple kids game turned out to be a quick playing, thinky little SdJ contender. In fact, it fires Hey That’s My Fish in my collection. It gives me the same satisfying abstract play, but without the head on meanness that my nieces and nephews don’t like about “The Penguin Game.” Plus, gamers will like the special powers, combos, and bonus point / power cards. Two thumbs up.

I also enjoyed meeting fellow Dukes of Dice listener, Bill, from right across the Atchafalya Swamp. We joked that we each traveled 14 hours just to play a game with a guy who lives an hour away!

We closed out another long day of gaming with a four player game of Viticulture by request of Brandon, one of the demo guys from CMON. (By the way, they are demoing Godfather, the new game from Eric Lang, so I am hoping to get a game in at some point.) 

 I tried a strategy that I did once before and pulled off successfully — making no wine and strictly relying on the board and blue cards for my victory points. I miscalculated on my second to last round and scored 19 points — tying with another guy but sending the game into one more year. 

 Without any more blue scoring cards, I was helpless to get 21 points only and lost a close 23-22-21 game. The strategy shortens the game up a bit, since you are always inching closer, but money is tight in the later rounds and even with the Cottage, I had a handful of cards but nothing that generated victory points.

 I love hamming it up with this strategy, bemoaning how Mama and Papa don’t understand that we can make money on marketing without harvesting (that’s why you sent me to the Ivy League business school, Mama!) but it is a very stressful strategy as you hope no other player notices until it’s too late.

But it was one of the most fun experiences playing Viticulture: Essential Edition (despite some catcalls from the crowd that Tuscany is better) because Brandon from LA, and Matt & Tyler from Seattle really got into the theme of the game. I’d play a game with those guys anytime. 

I’ll hopefully be back with more recaps of the games and people, but so far this convention has been a great experience. Can’t wait to get some more gaming in and meet some more great gamers.

Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

— B.J.

Dice Tower Con Preview 2017

Does double the size equal double the fun? In 2017, The Dice Tower’s namesake convention is doubling the size of its convention and Boardgame Gumbo will be there!

While the Dice Tower itself started in 2003, with Tom Vasel’s podcast and a veritable empire of podcasts on the network and a huge following on Youtube, the convention itself is the younger sibling. Begun in 2012, the convention has grown each year and is now housed in the Caribe Royal Resort right on the doorstep to Walt Disney World.

We’ve been scouring the podcasts and Twitter feeds to bring you the games and events that have us “chomping at the bits” to attend. Here is a map of the vendor hall:

But you want more than just a listing of game companies, right? Here’s six companies that have new games we are itching to demo at Dice Tower Con:

Stronghold Games (@StrongholdGames) | Twitter

First up on the list is Stronghold Games (note: I will be one of the “Knights of the Stronghold” demo team from Wednesday to Saturday, so come on by, say hello, and play a game!) Stronghold had a banner year with the hot selling Terraforming Mars and Great Western Trail, just to name two. Can Stronghold top that in 2017 with any of these titles?  (All should be for sale at the booth if you go early). 

First up is Fields of Green, a co-published game with Artipia Games.  Stephen says this is a reworking with a new theme of the original game of Among the Stars, a well known favorite of Dice Tower fans. I saw an interview by the BGG crew at Essen 2016 where the designer said it’s not just a retheme, but stands in its own through the engine building system. The art looks great, and I like the fact that it supposedly plays in only 30-45 minutes. Like Kanagawa or other games of that weight, that’s a good play time to start a game night while waiting for other people to arrive;

Get The Cheese! is a new American release from famed designer Hisashi Miyashi of Trains and Yokohama fame, that looks family friendly with easy play and a 15 minute stated playtime. It’s a quick playing card game (think Fuji Flush or No Thanks!) with some fun art and strategy;

Frogriders, is a 2017 tactical family game that Mina from Mina’s Fresh Cardboard has been posting incredible pictures (and raving about the game). Check out Man v Meeple for an awesome review and how to; and

Last but not least is Not Alone, a super fun, tense one-versus-many humans invading the alien planet game. This one I have played twice already, and I really love it. Imagine if they could squeeze all the tension and cat & mouse games from Fury of Dracula in a game lasting about thirty minutes, and that’s a close approximation of the thrills we have had in playing Not Alone at Gumbo Game Night.

There is even a rumor that there will be demos of Geoff Englestein’s newest real time game, Pit Crew, as well as Stronghold’s American release of Cottage Garden. Come by the booth and play!

Image result for bezier games

Next up is Bezier Games. The makers of One Night Ultimate Werewolf and Suburbia have a few games on the must check out list. First up, fans like me of Castles of Mad King Ludwig are dying to demo the newest expansion, The Palace of Mad King Ludwig.

I do not believe it will be for sale at the booth (the website says Gen Con release) but it should be there for play. One of the complaints of CoMKL was that each player built small bits of a castle, so it was almost a solitaire game where you ran out of time before building up a big, gorgeous castle. The Palace looks like it addresses that complaint. Players will combine to build a large castle complete with a moat, which should amp up the beauty of the build and increase the player interaction.

Plus, we expect to see Werewords, Bezier’s take on an Insider type game, and New York Slice a great little I-split-you-choose party game.

Image result for northstar gamesNORTHSTAR GAMES:

I talked to Bruce Voge, social media manager with Northstar Games (and of course, the Party Game Cast) and he is anxious to show off the new Vegas Wits & Wagers. The original is one of my favorite (mmm…check that, it is my favorite) party games. 

I used to love playing Trivial Pursuit, but the game itself…well, let’s face it, it was the ultimate good time killer. Wits & Wagers is different. It can be played easily in teams, does not necessarily require a lot of trivia knowledge (yet still gives thrills to trivia buffs) and is an easy teach.
Vegas spices up the recipe, and I like what I have seen so far (there’s video on YouTube that shows Bruce demoing the games at a “speakeasy” at Origins). In addition to betting on which team has the best answer, the odds get more favorable as the numbers increase…but you bust if your bet is on a number that is higher than the actual winner. Plus the board is separated into red and black sides, so if you aren’t feeling lucky, just bet on red or black for a 1:1 return.

Bruce says it is coming to Kickstarter on August 19, 2017, and there is a rock solid looking neoprene playmat that will be included, so keep an eye out for that.

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I had a great visit with the folks at Renegade at Pax South 2017 in San Antonio. Clank! was being talked about everywhere (still is with the new expansion here in LA), and you could tell they were excited about the successful year. Now, Renegade has a few more games that are getting some buzz.

First up is Sentient, a 2017 release by J. Alex Kevern (World’s Fair 1893), a dice manipulation game with simple mechanics. The science fiction theme, easy entry, and gorgeous artwork has me excited to demo the game. 

Also, I want to get a close look at Flatline, the 2016 Kane Klenko follow up to Fuse. I’ve seen people on Twitter talk about playing it over and over trying to defuse the bomb, and I’d love to give it a try.

But, the game I am really hoping will be ready for playtesting (or even sales) is Renegade’s production of Raiders of the North Sea. Euro players have had this on the table for a while, and it’s nominated for the Spiel in Germany. But, the game has not had a wide distribution and has not been sold in America yet as far as I know. 

I talked to Sara with Renegade who said it won’t be for sale but that there should be copies in the Con library. Let’s see what the buzz is about.
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FORMAL FERRET GAMES:

Gil Hova has a couple of games to show us at his booth this year. If you are a fan of The Networks, my guess is that you will be stopping by his booth (like I will) for a demo of The Networks: Executives, his expansion for this fun card based take on running your own television network. Ever been ticked off when your favorite program got axed despite good ratings? Do you think you can “program the network better”? That’s what The Networks is all about, and The Executives will add more cards and a couple of unique twists. Can’t wait to try it.

But, I am also hearing that Wordsy may be available for testing or purchase. He sold out at Origins, so this is a hot item. I’ve played it a dozen times and can vouch that it’s a top word game (probably my favorite so far). 

 If you like word games, and haven’t tried Gil’s take on that genre, you ought to yourself to stop by. My family loves Boggle, but boy is it restricting. Wordsy on the other hand is a wide open word building game with very little limits and a lot of tension. Do you go for the big score, or try to get the bonus of finishing first? Check it out at his booth.

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TASTY MINSTREL GAMES:

I talked with Lance Myxter, social media man for TMG, who says that they will be demoing Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done at their booth.

The game was designed by Seth Jaffe, and was originally going to come out in retail format only. But, with enough interest out there for the game, TMG decided to “deluxify” the release through Kickstarter. Anyone who has seen their recent deluxified editions will probably be happy knowing that this game will get that same treatment. I know it plays from 2-4 players and plays in under an hour, but there is a not a lot more about the game out there yet, so I am anxious to stop by and get a demo.

We still reaching out to other publishers, and if we get any news, we’ll update the blog. If you are at Dice Tower Con this year, make sure you send me a tweet or stop by the Stronghold booth. I’m looking forward to playing some great games and meeting lots of boardgame fans.

Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

— B.J.

Take Two Links of Boudin And Call Me In The Morning…STAYING HEALTHY AT YOUR NEXT CON

Recently the wonderful people of Board Game Gumbo took a trip to Gen Con 2016. We had a fantastic time, played amazing and not so amazing games and generally enjoyed the whole experience. Best of all, not a single member of our large group brought back any unwanted additions to our growing gaming stockpile. (To my knowledge at least)

Staying healthy is easily the most important event anyone will undertake at a convention. In the recent blog posts about the Krewe de Gumbo’s Gen Con exploits, Bradly and I were called “the experts” because we had been to Gen Con before. Despite this being our third year (and I personally have attended many cons before Gen Con), I hardly consider myself an expert. If I were such a thing, I wouldn’t have come home last year with a new game for my immune system to play.

So since we all hate being sick, and we must the face the reality that we have to return to work healthy, I offer you some basic guidelines on keeping “con crud” at bay.

  1. Wash your hands, you filthy animals. Now you might be thinking, “But Bryan, I’m not filthy, I wash my hands all the time.” Awesome, you are one less person who needs to be reminded. But there are plenty of people who are just too busy to wash, preoccupied with all the awesome convention stuff, or worse, they just don’t think about it. Then this amazing thing happens–those very same filthy people proceed to touch everything: the doors, the tables, the chairs, the game pieces, even the merchandise you thought was safe to handle is now home to everything anybody all day was carrying on their hands. So for the love of everyone’s health, wash your hands. If you find yourself in a rush, keep hand sanitizer handy, it helps. (ed. note: Go to Walgreens or CVS, buy the little bottles of hand sanitizer that has a clip attachment, and ATTACH TO YOUR BAG!). At the very least rinse your hands. A recent CDC study found that just rinsing will remove a reasonable amount of germs from your skin surface. THIS IS NOT TO REPLACE WASHING, but better some effort than none at all.

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    If that’s what it takes…
  2. Diet is very important when it comes to fighting off disease. I, like most people, have a (probably unhealthy) love of cheeseburgers. But at convention, as B.J. mentions in an earlier post, it is essential to keep your immune running strong. If you are like me and know full well that your con diet is something heart surgeons refer to as “job security” then at least take a multivitamin. Basically, if there is any way you can make sure you get at least some healthy stuff into your digestive system, then just do it.

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    More of this, and less cheeseburgers, at least once per year.
  3. Sleep: Lack of sleep is a leading cause why people get sick. Once your body is exhausted, it becomes much more susceptible to disease. This is probably why I ended up making microbial friends last year. In short, dear reader, don’t be like Last Year’s Me — go get some sleep.

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    Cat nap, anyone?
  4. OK, so normally one would expect exercise here, but really I know myself. If I didn’t exercise before, I’m certainly not going to start now. So instead, I’ll offer advice that most places won’t. If you are not used to being on your feet for several hours and miles a day, for the love of meeples, make sure you take breaks. Stop and rest, don’t exhaust yourself. Drink water, your body will lose water through breathing and bathroom, and it needs to be replaced. This falls into the same idea as getting enough sleep, an exhausted body is vastly more susceptible to illness.

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    You, right before the Gen Con 5k, right?
  5. And finally, don’t kiss the coughing chick or dude. Look, I know we are having a good time, and it is a social event, but when someone looks like death warmed over, it is best to avoid them. If they are playing in a demo or sitting next to you in a panel, be sure to wash and/or sanitize after, preferably before you touch anything. They aren’t trying to get you sick, but those germ jerks don’t care what either of you want, they just want a home where they can settle in, have a good warm environment and proceed to screw up your convention and/or weeks after.

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    You like that new game on Kickstarter, Pups? Me, too! Want to come with me to Steak and Shake? 

Look, this is all basic stuff I admit. But I think most of us would be surprised to learn how often you will see people at conventions not following these very simple suggestions. So until next time, stay healthy, keep gaming, and have fun.

–Bryan “I am not a doctor” Barnes

 

More Gen Con previews…

Why does it feel like Gen Con 2016 is the Super Bowl of gaming?!? So many exciting events, so many new game releases, I am not sure how we are going to fit everything in.

Last week, I covered the top five anticipated game releases. Here are a few more that are really stirring up the acquisition disorder.


ISLEBOUND (Red Raven Games — booth #2657) — Sure, Ryan Laukat and Red Raven Games are blowing up Kickstarter with their currently in development  sequel to Above and Below called Near and Far.

But they will also have limited quantities of their previous release, Islebound. The artwork is as fun, familiar, and whimsical as the best of Laukat’s work. I haven’t tried the gameplay yet but it is in my list to demo.

THE DRAGON & FLAGON (Stronghold Games — booth #2323)) Next up is a tough choice. As one board game podcaster said last week, This may be the strongest lineup Stronghold Games has ever produced at Gen Con. But which one to choose? I think I am most excited about Dragon and Flagon, a new real time programming game from The Engelsteins. I LOVE the chaotic fun if Robo Rally and Colt Express, so this deserves a pass by and a look see. I am also very interested in Terraforming Mars, so we may be spending a lot of time at Stephen Buonocore’s booth.


DARK DEALINGS (Nevermore Games) — I love filler games. I love card games. That’s why Dark Dealings from Nevermore Games is on my list to check out. Drive Thru Review had a great review and synopsis of the game. It looks quick but thinly, and not something you catch onto on the very first play. That hopefully means there’s some depth to it, too, even if it plays in 30 minutes or so. Gonna check this one out.

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PLUMS (Crash of Games) — Yes, I know. I love filler games and I love card games and you know that, too. But look at the artwork on this game! I heard a good review from the blue pegs with Blue Peg, Pink Peg podcast (and you should check them out if you have not already). They made it sound as Plums is the perfect family game. CoG’s website says it is sold out, but I am hoping they have copies at Gen Con or at least a demo.

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VIA NEBULA (Space Cowboys — booth #1619) — I have never played a Martin Wallace game! There, I said it. The guys at The Secret Cabal (my favorite podcast from York, Pennsylvania) are always raving about Mr. Wallace’s latest creations, yet no one in my game group has any. What to do? Head down to booth 1619, of course. I plan on at the very least demoing the game, and it is definitely on my radar of games to pick up.

DASTARDLY DIRIGIBLES (Fireside Games — booth #743) Our last look see for today is a Fireside release. My kids grew up on lots of plays of Castle Panic, but I have honestly never played any of their other games. I believe the company is based down south so it would be nice to meet up and do an interview. But back to the game — as you can see, we like new and unusual themes here, and this one is very unique. Plus it has some Take That, at least from the previews I have seen.
So that wraps up this week’s list. Tweet me if you have something you would recommend that the Krewe of Board Game Gumbo try out at Gen Con 2016. Until then, Laissez les Bon temps rouler!

B.J.

Gen Con Preview 2016!!

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What is the largest board game convention in the entire western hemisphere (and arguably in the world?) GEN CON of course!

The Krewe Capitain at Board Game Gumbo has some tips for you…your guide to the best games debuting at Gen Con 2016.  We could also call this list “The Top Five Games I Don’t Want You to Purchase” because I don’t want the publishers to run out before I get there on Friday!

1. SeaFall — Yes, the wait is finally over! pic3002143_md From Rob Daviau, the designer of Pandemic Legacy and Risk Legacy (among tons of other games) comes the highly anticipated legacy game that is all about exploring an uncharted ocean, and battling for the lands and treasure you find with up to three other  players. Poo-yie! I doubt that there will be any left on Friday afternoon when I get there, and you can always pre-order them from the Plaid Hat Games website, but boy does this one look good.

I have played a few campaign games (most notably the D&D series) but have yet to try a legacy style game. I tired out on Risk way back in my youth, and couldn’t find anybody psyched enough to try Pandemic Legacy. But this SeaFall looks like it hits all of the markers for both my family and my game group. Five cayenne peppers on the Gumbo hotness scale.

2. Oceanos — One of my favorite designers is Antoine Bauza, the designer of 7 Wonders, Takenoko, Tokaido, Hanabi, and many, many more.pic2897710_md Antoine brings a new take on card drafting with what looks like gorgeous components and fun game play. Gotta try this one out.

I love the games I have purchased from Iello, heck Steam Park is one of my all time favorites. I am assuming that the game company will also do right by a designer of Bauza’s stature. Four cayenne peppers on the Gumbo hotness scale.

3. The Networks — Gil Hova is an interesting designer, and I just love the theme of this one. pic2896170_mdForget your tired Trading-Zombies-in-the-Mediterranean-Space-Fantasy themes — Let’s run a television network! This game looks like a cross between the movie UHF and a typical Euro, but the artwork and the theme draw me in like a moth to the campfire. Plus, Gil Hova seems like an earnest, nice guy, hard working designer on all the board game media he appears, so I am rooting for him on this one.

The only downside? The hype has been building since Origins, and I am afraid it is going to sell out! Stay away! Four cayenne peppers on the hotness scale.

4. Simurgh — You like worker placement? You like good art? You like dragons? Have I got a game for you! pic2604563_mdOkay, I know this is a 2015 release, but I don’t think it ever made it to American shores or USA consciousness until this year. So, I am sticking with this pick.

I really got interested when I saw Tony (the other guy from Rolling Dice and Taking Names podcast) posting pictures of the game play at Mega Moose Con. The RDTN boys seemed to talk it up a lot in their last cast, so let’s try it out.

Three cayenne peppers on the hotness scale.

5. Arcane Academy — you want to talk long waits, how about the loooong wait for this gem from the hit duo of Eric M. Lang and Kevin Wilson?pic2965189_md That’s right, these two giants have teamed up for a game that has Tom Vasel drooling in anticipation. (That’s good enough for me!) Three cayenne peppers on the hotness scale.

LAGNIAPPE: can’t leave a blog post about Gen Con with out a little something extra! Go by the Blue Orange booth and check out the new promos and expansions for NY1901. That is the game designed by Chenier LaSalle that I voted for best family game of 2015. It has been sorely needing some goodies, and it looks like the folks at BO have some great stuff. All I ask: just PLEASE leave me a set of minis?!?!?

How about some runner ups? There’s plenty to choose from, but I plan to check out:

Imhotep

Karuba

Rails and Sails for Ticket to Ride

Cry Havoc

Adrenaline

Islebound

Scythe

Dastardly Dirigibles

Legendary Encounters: Firefly

Isle of Skye
Hope to see you at Gen Con! Until next time, Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

B.J.