HeavyCon: Day Two

I can’t say enough how much I’m enjoying this con.

This morning started with Sidereal Confluence- for me, one of the titles I had been hoping to try, but did not schedule ahead of time.

My regular group and I are big fans of Chinatown, but I’ve never found another trading or negotiation game that clicked for me. As I’m not a fan of lots of little cards with text on them or many assymetric powers, so I also went into this with some trepidation.

I’m glad I played it.

The trading was much more frenetic than Chinatown, naturally, as there are probably at least a dozen extra possible things to trade. It seemed infeasible to properly account for other players’ valuations of goods due to the amount of player powers and evolving abilities.

There was certainly a lot of talking, but I’m not sure there was much listening (our 6 player game was also next to a 7 player game), and that grates on me.

But it seemed to work! (while appearing to peter on the edge of emminently falling to pieces.)

Next I joined a group for Mini Rails, which I reviewed previously.

I continued working through some of Scott’s Winsome stack by joining a group about to start Erie Railroad:

Each player starts with a hidden share of one of 5 train companies and 10 dollars. On your turn, a share card depicting two train companies will be put up for auction, and either become a share of one of the two companies, or one of the two companies will issue dividends. The active player (only) will also have the ability to sell shares of the dividend company. That’s pretty much it.

It fell flat for me.

Up next was the title I was probably most looking forward to playing:

The inside of this box was signed by the author, Karl-Heinz Schmiel, as being from Essen 1992. I don’t remember how this one first crossed my radar, but it’s a dexterity game where you are physically moving plastic furniture, in tandem with a partner, using wooden sticks.

It is not a partnership game, however.

There are three movers, and none correspond directly to any of the players. Each is given a random delivery address, kept hidden, and a furniture card which much be delivered, from a structured stack of increasing difficulty, and increasing tip amount.

Each player has a hand of 5 cards depicting a number, an elevator, or a snack of sausage and pretzels. On your turn you’ll play one or certain combinations of these cards to move one of the movers. Afterwards, you can peak at which door they need to deliver to, and then refill your hand.

If the mover reaches the required destination, the players set up the furniture on a tile corresponding to the entrance to the apartment. The current player picks a partner for the turn. They each take one of the wooden components chosen for moving this game -think popsicle sticks- and must lift the furniture onto the overturned game box, which depicts a floor plan of the apartment, and set it on the carpet tile in the middle.

The players then push it into position. Using the sticks.

Without knocking it over.

Or knocking over the other furniture delivered previously.

If successfully delivered, each player will earn a tip, and the higher floors will tip the active player extra -regardless of damaged furniture- as compensation for making the trek up the stairs.

So here’s the thing. Sometimes I forget to breath. At the gym, washing my hair, probably some other times. I’m concentrating sufficiently that I just forget.

You can now add Packen Wir’s to that list. It was an intense experience. The early moves seem random and mundane, and I had my doubts, but it really ramped up by the end, and was a thoroughly good time (and physically exhausting!) I imagine I’ll be playing it again this week.

When I first decided to come to HeavyCon, I did a search of guild owned games for titles which I had expected I would never get to play, but wanted to. Of the two which were owned by guild members, only Larry was attending, and I can’t thank him enough for bringing this along!

I then turned around to the table behind me to re-learn Combat Commander.

Brian has a semi-permanent table in the Japanese game corner of the main hall where he sits ready to teach any and everyone this game. A few years ago, my weekly gaming consisted of 3 standing nights: new games, no new games, and 2 player war games. Jason and I had played this one a few times back then, but never got too far. I enjoyed them, but we never quite had the rules down enough that we weren’t constantly referencing rulebooks and charts and tables.

I asked Brian to set us up with a unique or special scenario that would show off some of what the game could do- while keeping in mind that I was learning from essentially scratch. We played a scenario between German and Russian forces.

In Combat Commander, everything is run through a deck of cards. The cards have 5 main pieces of information, but only two of them are things you can choose to do. Each card has a main action (e.g. move) and a conditional ability (e.g. if condition X is happening, add +2 to Y).

Two of the remaining pieces are randomizing information. Need to roll a die? Flip over a card -each has a 2d6 roll in the corner which serves as your result. Need to target a random hex (for some game reason)? Flip over a card -each has a random hex coordinate in the corner.

I think I’ll save the 5th piece for now.

You’ll have units, leaders, weapons etc. on the board, and various scenario specific rules. Victory points are typically achieved through elimination of enemy units, but can also be gained through hidden objectives, public objectives, and other means. There are immediate victory conditions, and a variable timer as an alternate game end.

You’ll have a certain hand size, and be able to either play a few cards on your turn or discard some cards. In either case refill your hand.

The cards do not have operations points and a menu of what you can choose to do; they are firmly move, attack, etc. In our scenario, my hand size was 4. I was in a defensive position, and many cards were not helpful (e.g. Move -I was set up behind cover where I wanted to be.)

So it can be frustrating that you have little control over what you can do each turn. It occurred to me that really this is an interesting fog of war mechanic, as this means you also don’t know when your opponent has a great hand for responding to certain situations (e.g. opportunity fire), and it makes for dramatic decisions (e.g. timing of when it’s safe to spend a turn discarding and redrawing.)

The fifth piece of information on the card is an event. If a die roll that is flipped has a red box around it, an event is triggered -a weapon may jam, a hero may appear, a sniper may fire, smoke may blow in. How do you know what event? Flip the next card.

In our game, a hero appeared, made an end run around a building on the outskirts of the map, due to some rule exceptions kept running, and was able to double back to attempt to claim an objective location. I had a Russian troop in the area who had just handed over his machine gun to his leader, and made a bee line to protect the objective. As the hero entered the building for melee combat, a sniper missed him by one hex!

Brian is some sort of Spielberg of Combat Commander scenarios -with his smooth understanding and instant calculation of base combat values, the drama of the event cards stood out, and made what could have been a random and frustrating experience, into one of the most fulfilling game sessions in recent memory.

Another title I will almost certainly be revisiting.

OpinionatedEaters break. Today’s afternoon snack was fruit, granola bars, and trail mix, and tonight was a catered dinner. It was another perfect occasion to get to meet other folks you hadn’t met and get to know others better. Small con.

Later that night, another round of cookies, different flavors than before. There are 800. Small cons.

After the dinner, coupons that each attendee received in their welcome bag became redeemable for the games pictured on them. There were dozens of titles available, and attendees were encouraged to swap prior to redeeming to maximize economic utility and all that.

Earlier in the week Rand had swapped to get the voucher for Dice Fishing Roll and Catch! which had been released earlier this month at the Tokyo Game Fair.

In the game, you are blind bidding for a fish card from the top of the stack. The fish are worth different points and will have certain requirements for being caught, such as two three’s and a total value of at least 9.

You are bidding with how many dice you think you will need to roll to meet the requirements. The player who bid the least dice will go first, and if they are unsuccessful, the next lowest will go.

The dice available to choose from include several d6’s, a d10, and a d20. The d19 and d20’s can be used towards your fishing total or provide rerolls for the other dice, but will need a “cooling off period” after use, and will be unavailable to you for the next turn.

To me it was a pass. However, it is worth noting that each of the other 4 players seemed to really enjoy themselves.

I’m skipping a number of titles that I played today, including: Eggs of Ostritch, Memoarrr!, Ginkopolis, and MetroX.

We did break out at the end of the night, Curling Dice! Panic Bridge, and Curling Dice! Little Garden.

These are Tumblim’ Dice variants that add special actions spaces, a more dramatic 3rd dimension, and, well, a catapult.

I forgot my rules translation, but hope to write a brief review of these soon, as part of a larger article on how to obtain Japanese titles.

Tomorrow I have to remember to tell Edward and Amanda what a brilliant time I’m having, and what a quality con I think this is.

Also, remember to breath.

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3 Responses to HeavyCon: Day Two

  1. Jacob Lee says:

    Is anyone aware of Packen Wir being reprinted?

  2. Cthulhu Dreams says:

    I’m really excited by some of the Japanese games you’ve covered off here – so it would be awesome if you did that article on how to get them. Please include options to mail order them for a friend to mule home for you!

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