Ahhhh, fall – what a great season. The air is cool and crisp, the leaves are turning beautiful colors, and a whole crop of new games is arriving from Essen.. It’s also the season of one of my favorite game conventions, Lobster Trap. Lobster Trap is a small, invite-only con held just north of Boston. It started out as a large group of friends getting together to play games in one friend’s art studio for a weekend and has morphed into a 4 day, 90 person con in a hotel ballroom.
I was able to attend for three of the four days this year. Over the course of those days I played a total of 15 games (14 were unique plays) with 22 different people. Of those 15 games, 10 were new to me and 3 were games I had only played once. Here are some of my highlights.
Bob, Mark and I pulled out Maracaibo. Mark and I had given it a play the weekend before, which helped us learn it and made it easier for us to teach to Bob, since the rules are mostly clear but a little scattered. The game has a lot going on, so that’s somewhat understandable. I am really enjoying this one. We’re playing the story arc; we repeated the first chapter to catch Bob up; since much of the set-up was randomized, it didn’t feel repetitive at all, since so many elements were a little different. The rules provide a good description of how to save out the story cards, leaving the game playable in one-off mode for others. I’ll be writing a full review of this soon, so stay tuned for that.
I am a big fan of trick-taking games, and with some positive buzz on this one from some of my fellow Opinionated Gamers I was really excited to give it a try. It did not disappoint. All players are working cooperatively to complete the mission, which is a card or cards that have to be taken by a particular player or players, potentially in a particular order. There is very limited communication, so you are relying on the card shark skills of your fellow players as well as a little bit of luck. My copy is already on its way from Amazon.de, since I don’t think I can wait for the English edition to play it again.
I played a pre-release copy of this way back in April and I thought it was a fun, innovative game. For some reason I promptly forgot all about it, so I was glad to give it another try and see if it held up. It definitely did, and I will be picking up a copy. We didn’t play with the new expansion, so I cannot comment on that.
AZUL: SUMMER PAVILION
I am not a big fan of Azul in general; both of the previous versions are fine, but not something that I would seek out to play. In my opinion, this is the best of the three and I enjoyed the puzzle aspect.
ERA: MEDIEVAL AGE
I was curious to try this twist on Roll Through the Ages. It keeps some of the same elements and format, but adds 3d buildings, which lends a bit of a puzzle aspect to your planning. I enjoyed it enough to play it twice.
One of the best games that I played was Promenade. Players are art dealers, buying paintings from galleries to display in museums. It is a creative deck builder, and I really enjoyed. It has a limited printing, but it is my understanding that it has been picked up by a bigger publisher.
As always, the highlight of Lobster Trap were the people. I am so glad that I managed to get a game in with the people that I did, although there is always that feeling of disappointment about all the people I didn’t get to play with (but there’s always next year!). I say it all the time, but I am always thankful for the boardgaming hobby for giving me so many amazing friends. Whether I am sitting down to play with my closest friends or am playing with people I know more casually, I always have a good time. Boardgamers as a whole are a fabulous group of people, but the people that attend Lobster Trap are particularly special.
Spending time with friends was even more on my mind this year with the passing of my friend Adam Smiles. Adam was one of the organizers of Lobster Trap, and most years my first game of the con would be with him. You were missed, my friend, and you were remembered at every table.
Many other games were played. I also played Coloma, Deep Blue, Black Angel, Tajuto, Kerala, Babylonia, Teotihuacan Expansion, The Taverns of Tiefenthal and Humboldt’s Great Voyage.
Maracaibo saw a lot of play, as did Deep Blue, Hadara, Yukon Airways, Babylonia and Krass Kariert. Some older games saw some time at the table, too – I spotted tables with Terraforming Mars, Eclipse, Ticket to Ride, Everdell and Power Grid, to name a few.
I am already looking forward to next year.