Hello, dear readers! It’s that time of the year again – time to recap some adventures at one of my favorite “local” gaming conventions, PrezCon in Charlottesville, Virginia. The structure of the convention is similar to that of the World Boardgaming Championships, with week-long gaming competitions for everything from Ticket to Ride to Hammer of the Scots. I arrived at the convention a bit later than previous years but with still enough time to get in some quality gaming and meet up with friends old and new. And, so, I prevent a brief pictorial overview of the festivities – enjoy, and consider coming out next year to what we’re fast coming to call the “annual Dice Hate Me summit!”
TC Petty III and Darrell Louder arrived at the con a full day before the rest of us and constantly taunted us with pics of all the fun they were having without us. One of the first sights that TC encountered when he stepped through the door was a group playing VivaJava – which is always a very cool thing to behold. (Photo by TC Petty III)
The taunts – too numerous to post in this article – continued until it reached it’s crescendo: Darrell and TC playing Steam Park, the game that has alluded my grasp since its release earlier this year. Some day, Steam Park… some day. (Photo by TC Petty III)
We arrived late Friday night and jumped right into gaming with our first selection, Euphoria, by Stonemaier Games. It was to be my first play of the dystopian dynamo, and I was joined by TC Petty III, Paul Owen, Dan Patriss, Darrell Louder and Stephanie Straw. As you can see from the picture, there is lots of beer and a fair amount of confusion and commotion in the faux utopian future.
As you can see from this aerial, Euphoria has a LOT going on. Players use dice representing workers to manage their supplies of oranges, energy, water and “bliss” to accomplish objectives. The main twist of the game is managing the workforce, balancing their happiness with their mentality – if you’re not careful, your workers will start to wise up to the totalitarian environment and abandon their posts. Most involved with the game really enjoyed it, but the jury is still out for me on this one. It was, however, probably the most talked-about game during the convention, so I look forward to my next play to see if the future looks bright for this title.
The night was getting late by the time Euphoria wrapped up – and late night gaming often means we break out the fan-favorite Coup. We had a couple of gamers new to Coup in Stephanie and Dan, and they quickly learned exactly how sneaky and cutthroat this game – and this gaming crew – can often be.
One game down and Dan Patriss was already learning the political ropes – and having a blast admidst the lies and deceit.
We started out Saturday morning with something completely different – the PrezCon live auction. We thought we’d check out the goodies up for grabs in this long-standing PrezCon tradition and quickly found out that there are some hardcore collectors at the con.
Amongst our group, I was the only one that walked away with a fairly large haul, and all of my winnings were of the retro variety. I am always on the lookout for classic games, particularly those from the 3M Bookshelf Series of the 60s, and this auction did not disappoint. I enjoy adding them to my collection not only for their uniquity, but also because of their retro design aesthetics – much of which I incorporate into some of the designs for modern Dice Hate Me Games titles.
Having skipped breakfast, we all grew weary after the first half of the auction and decided to break for lunch – whereupon we decided to have some beans. As in Bohnanza. As in Würfel Bohnanza, the dice-based variant of the classic card game. Instead of gathering sets of beans with cards, players have cards with variable sets they must complete in order to collect those valuable thalers. One great benefit of the game is that players can complete sets during another player’s turn rolling the dice, which keeps everyone involved and engaged throughout. We all agreed that this one was a favorite.
After lunch, we broke out a couple of lighter fillers until more players could make it to the table. Here we are trying out Firewall, a game that Dan Patriss and I had reviewed previously on The Geek All-Stars. It’s a very quick dice game where players are trying to construct data packets to the mainframe, all while building firewalls to block out the other players. It’s fast, enjoyable, and the custom dice are nicely done. It’ll be hitting Kickstarter with a project reboot soon.
Darrell had bought Cardline – one of the variant games in the Timeline series from Asmodée – so we broke it out for a quick 8-player game. The game operates similarly to Timeline in that you have to guess where in the line a particular card might go depending on a set variable. In this case, we chose to try and figure out the average lifespan of a given animal. It was just as fun as the other games in the Timeline series, and it felt a bit as though Timeline and Fauna had a little baby together.
Next up was a vigorous and enjoyable playtest of TC Petty III’s Don’t Get Eated. In this game, the players are all animals trying their best not to be devoured by dangerous critters in the forest. In the end, players want to be the last animal standing, but during the game they may have to band together from time to time in order to defeat the nasty predators that would make meals of them all.
Here, TC explains how we’re all probably going to die. Look for more on this future Dice Hate Me Games release in the coming months! (Photo by Brad Smoley)
Asmodée had a booth at PrezCon in the vendor area and I couldn’t resist the look of one of their newest offerings, Concept.
Concept plays like a sort of visual charades. Players are broken up into two-person teams. On a team’s turn, those players draw a card and choose one of nine “concepts” to convey through the use of several icons on the game board. The team places plastic markers on the main concept and a number of sub-concepts to try and get the other players to guess what they’re going for. If the team succeeds, the members gain one point each, while the player who guessed correctly gains a two-point token. The concepts range from the easy – a bumblebee or a bat – to incredibly difficult – the phrase “beat around the bush” or “Justin Bieber”. (Photo by TC Petty III)
Here, Darrell, Stephanie and TC can only help but laugh at their next concept – “clowns” – which managed to stump everyone at the table. (Photo by Brad Smoley)
Here, Darrell uses some sort of hipster device to take a picture of all of us gathered around the table during Concept. (Photo by Darrell Louder)
Next, a few of us tested out the top secret expansion prototype for Compounded! Despite all the finger-pointing, the test went really well.
I would tell you more about the expansion, but then I’d have to kill you (with radiation. That’s a clue). (Photo by TC Petty III)
After dinner – and a couple of beers – it was evident that we needed to continue the imbibing theme with a playtest of Ben Rosset’s newest offering, Homebrewers. Set in the gaming universe of the upcoming Dice Hate Me Games’ release Brew Crafters, Homebrewers is a prequel of sorts where players take on the roles of amateur brewing enthusiasts making beer in their basements. The core mechanics of Homebrewers are quite different than that of Brew Crafters – players begin their turns by simultaneously rolling three dice covered in custom actions from gathering ingredients to brewing their newest recipes to cleaning equipment. Cleaning equipment is very important, as each player needs to manage their “skunk meter” in order to avoid churning out a less-than-desirable concoction.
Here, I try to console Stephanie as she worries about TC skunking yet another homebrewed batch. Homebrewers is filled with a great semi-cooperative environment that never leaves a player with any downtime or a lack of adequate actions on each turn. Everyone at the table really enjoyed this first play of the game, and I look forward to seeing the game develop as Ben works his designer magic. (Photo by TC Petty III)
Our PrezCon trip wrapped up with a play of another title I picked up at the Asmodée booth – The Builders. The game plays exactly as you would expect from the title, with each player drafting workers of varying skills which they then pay to work on constructing buildings for more money and victory points. It’s a simple concept with a good depth of play for so few components. I wasn’t completely enamored after my first play, but it intrigues me enough that I want to give it another go – and that’s always a very good thing.
That wraps it up for this year’s PrezCon. You can delve deeper into our adventures at PrezCon on the next Geek All-Stars podcast where Dan and I will be joined by Stephanie, Darrell and TC. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event, and everyone involved vowed to make some time to come to the show even earlier to fit in more games, more gab and more good times. We hope to see you there!