Friday, July 02, 2010

Annual Utah Board Game Convention 2010

Last weekend was the annual "Utah Board Game Convention"…well, sort of. The "official" convention didn't actually happen this year (due to funding, scheduling, sponsors, time investment, etc). Instead, the U of U's board game club hosted an all-day game day during the normal timeframe of the convention. Kudos to Phil for pulling it all together. It wasn't as highly publicized as the official convention and didn't have sponsors or reps from local game stores, so it was a smaller scale than previous years, but it was still a lot of fun.

The event ran from 10AM to 10PM on Saturday. I had previous obligations in the morning, so I wasn't able to show up until ~noon. I brought my wife, kids and brother with me.

We had brought a kids game (Chicken Cha Cha Cha) to help the youngest get into the fun. So while Lynette and Jason scoped out the place, Paul, Andrew, Julia and I had a rousing game of Chicken Cha-Cha-Cha which Andrew proceeded to win.

Jason quickly found a kid his age and started a game of Killer Bunnies. Julia sat down played a bit on my iPod while Andrew and Lynette played a game of Scrabble. Paul and I started up a game of Tikal and had Brent join us.

About this point, the youngest two were getting bored. After having investigated the arcade, the snack bar and other forms of entertainment, Lynette finally took them downtown to the Children's Museum where they played and had tons of fun.

Jason by now had joined a larger group of kids and was having tons of fun playing Heroscape. Ready to try out some new games, Paul, Brent and I started learning Nuns on the Run. Another guy (who's name I forget now, sorry) came over and joined in and helped answer some rules questions for us. When I'd first heard the general concept of this game, I'd wanted to check it out…and now that I have, I can say it's a lot of fun, though probably best with more people (it supports up to 8). For those who have played Scotland Yard, this game is sort of like that…in that there are two main "groups" of players. In Scotland Yard, there's a single thief who's invisible and trying to escape and there are a group of 'visible' detectives trying to find him.

In Nuns on the Run, there are a group of "invisible" nuns sneaking around the abbey (in search of a "secret wish") while a pair of "visible" head-nuns (abbess & prioress - generally both played by a single person) are making their rounds to ensure all the good little nuns are in bed. The theme is whimsical and kind of fun. The gameplay is good, though as I said, it's probably better with more nuns sneaking around. Still, it was fun and probably my favorite game of the day.

The other new game we tried out was Fresco. Fresco was just recently nominated for the Spiel des Jahres (the German "game of the year" award…one of the most prestigious in the hobby game community). It didn't win the award but it was definitely worthy of the nomination. It's a very solid and great looking Euro style game. It involves worker placement, "resource" management and other general strategy elements. In the game, you are a painter with a team of workers and you're trying to earn the most prestige by painting/restoring a fresco at the top of the chapel. In order to do so, you must gather the right colored paint (or mix paints you already have to make different color) and then go in and paint the ceiling.

There's a lot of strategy in planning when you do what….there are a few rather unique mechanics in terms of deciding turn order and planning your worker placement. Turn order is determined in a two-fold process…first, you look at who has the 'lowest' score at the start of the round…that player gets to decide what time "he wakes up", which determines the turn order for the round (first one up goes first, etc). Getting up earlier or later has its advantages and leads to a lot of strategy in the game. While the game was elegant and very well crafted, it's not a "must own" for me. I think it's tighter and more enjoyable than some of the other worker placement games I currently have, but those come to the table so infrequently that I can't warrant investing in another one. Still, it's well worth playing and could become a new favorite for you. A an added note, it comes with a few built in expansions (which we played with) that provided some cool added depth.

And that…was the end of the day. Jason played a few other games (I think I saw him with Ingenious at one point). There was a nice trade table as well as a donation table to help out the game club (they got a ton of games added to their collection as well as $600 to their coffers).

All in all, it was a fun event. I missed the contest, raffles, sponsors, etc from the bigger scale convention…but really, the convention is about playing games. And that was a success.


Brian Miller said...

dude that sounds really cool...scotland yard sounds like the clue game that was a limited release called museum caper...

Okie said...

Yeah...Museum Caper is a lot of fun...I need to get it off my shelf more often. Disabling cameras and sneaking through windows was much more fun than wandering around trying to eliminate cards. :)

Anonymous said...

A Board Game Convention! What fun...I love board games. :)

Also, thanks so much for stopping off at the 365 Days of Novel Writing. I love meeting other bloggers who are working towards their dreams too.

Corinne said...

I am also a giant fan of board games!! My sister's bro in law Matt Tolman is huge into them also, I'll have to ask him if he was at the Convention too :)

TALON said...

I love board games. Grew up playing them and whenever our family gets together we have to pull out something. We like Balderdash and Pictionary and Risk. My Mom always insists that we play Yahtzee - not a board game, but a fun one. I just wish they liked Scrabble as much as I do :)