HeavyCon: Day Three

Day three began with a game I’ve wanted to play for a few years, Swedish Parliament 2014.

Each player represents a political party, and those not used by players are operated by the AI. The board represents 8 issue spectrums on which a party’s affiliation will fluctuate, and where certain voting blocks feel on those issues. Typically you are affecting the stance of the parties, as the voting blocks’ stances are fixed, but which issue they currently care about is variable.

The game follows a Play a Card(s), Draw a Card structure. There is a separate deck for each issue, and the decks contain cards to move the parties towards either end and two cards representing voters.

The icon column on the card shows the order in which the parties act to either move one space or stay, and it may cost a card from the player’s hand.

Voter cards are played in a different row, and sit unresolved until there are 5 present. Each constituency has some subconstituencies and the votes will go to whichever party is alone on the issue. Which track do you check? The color of the last card played to adjust the parties.

Anyway, here’s what makes it interesting:

The hexes and rectangles describe the current relationship between the different political parties. The parties start with no relative relationships, and similar to Maskmen, you create the structure as you play cards, initially it is loose, but as the game progresses, it becomes quite interlocked.

The square chits represent the voters, and rather than the party with the most chits winning, there is a complex procedure to establish a coalition- that is where the connective structure of the hexes and even the color motif of the parties.

The resolution was interesting, but it felt like there was a significant lack of control. As usual, even with games I don’t care for, I’m glad I had a chance to play them.

Afterwards, a box of titles from the recent Tokyo Game Fair had arrived, and we played Passtally, a game about tallying your passes.

Your goal is to earn points by creating paths between your markers. On your turn you have two actions, choosing from placing a new tile either on the base level or spanning two tiles, or move one of your markers in either direction around the outside edge.

Afterwards, look for paths that connect your markers. Each tile is counted with a value equal to it’s elevation level, and can be counted more than once if you pass through it multiple times. The score chart includes a conversion table for path value into victory points.

This was very interesting, and later in the day I suggested it simply to watch other folks play (it is 2 or 3 player only).

The down time can be heavy, but in this setting, it was a nice break to get a drink, use the restroom, or talk with the gameflies. For me, I love the mental processes exercised here enough that I don’t mind the down time. (The rules also include a 60 second time variant.)

We also played Sweets Stack from Muneyuki Yokouchi.

This is a drafting game about fitting akwardly shaped candy in your neighbors bag. You pick a card from your hand and pass it to your neighbor who slides it in vertically, a la Tetris. Some cards will earn you pumpkins which can be used to rotate pieces, and for other effects. The game lasts for three rounds, and at the end of each round you score points for how long you stayed in the round, card colors that match completed row colors, and likely will score extra points if you are able to make an opponent bust.

It’s cute, and I like to play it occasionally.

Up next was Coffee House, another new title from the recent Tokyo Game Fair.

In Coffee House, you are journalists visiting local coffee houses to get the latest scoops on several topics, and then publish your newspapers before the fickle public moves on to another topic.

At it’s heart is a push your luck game. Each turn there will be an event card and players will draft in reverse order which coffee house they’d like to meet their sources at. At the start of each player’s turn, a customer arrives from a customer deck, and visits a shop of your choosing from among the icons pictured on the card. You then either wait for another customer to arrive, walk to another coffee shop, go home for the day, or enter the shop you are in front of.

The hook is that each cafe only has room for 4 visitors. If a customer ever appears and doesn’t have a home, the round ends immediately, and you may have no new news to publish.

Entering a cafe allows you to move up on several tracks representing your scoops in various topics based upon the customers present, and each cafe offers a special bonus.

Once the round ends, players can “spend” their news to issue a general paper covering all topics for a fixed 2 points and/or a specialized paper which is worth a variable number of points, depending on the public’s current interest, augmented by the player’s credibility in that topic.

Some of the processes described above also push the public tracks or the specialized knowledge track.

7 rounds; no final scoring.

I was disappointed in Lagerstatten, but the three Analog Lunchbox games from this week (Botanical Lab, Passtally, and Coffee House) have been good, and I really liked Passtally.

This afternoon, the con had a photo booth.

Ok, it didn’t. Another group in the hotel did and we snuck in. But next year.

Anyway, we decided to give PanzerZug a try. Why? Well, I’m currently asking myself the same question.

It is an older Winsome title that has always held a certain mystique for me because, well, tank trains, and being one of the non-train Winsomes. Luckily my friend Travis had mentioned playing it at a recent convention, and that, well, don’t get your hopes up.

He wasn’t kidding.

It’s a take-that card game with negligible other mechanics. You attempt to fly your plane and attack various German train cars and freight yards. You use a fuel, to take off, then -prior to the trains shooting at you- the other players may play cards that cause you to waste additional fuel or possibly get shot down. I hoped it would be worth it for the novelty, but, uh, it wasn’t for me.

After that I was ready to take a break (I did have my cookie break earlier -the next installment of the 800 cookies), but Andy walked by asking if I was interested in trying The Coin Tribes’ Revolt -a print and play 9 card COIN game.

I had seen Travis mention this a few weeks ago and was glad to have a chance to try it. Without going into too many details- it is what it was advertised as: the factions, the turn structure, the actions, the victory conditions, the victory check situation, etc.

It is still a work in progress, and now I know that the length may not be the reason I don’t play COIN titles.

(But I played with a fellow who uses a Dvorak keyboard on his cellphone; I had forgotten about Dvorak!)

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