TTN: 6-8 November 2022
BGG.CON: 9-13 November 2022
Day 4 – Wednesday 9 November
It was lovely to have George back again for the morning, even though he had to drive out to Oklahoma again in the afternoon – it still meant that we were able to share a meal and spend a bit of time together.
We started the first official day of BGG.CON by trying to order off the menu at the hotel restaurant, but the server was very emphatic that the buffet was better for us (because it was $25 instead of the usual $27 or something silly) whereas we only wanted a much smaller dish off the menu – but it wasn’t worth arguing, so we accepted our fate and had the buffet again. It was nice, but not amazing.
After breakfast, George headed back upstairs to keep working, while I went in search of friends in the Landmark room – which was completely, utterly empty. I had just finished taking video of it when Alan showed up with his prototype game in tow, so we played that. It’s called Jewels of Puerto Primo, and has interesting thematic elements that made it the kind of game I would probably enjoy playing several times in a row. I really enjoyed the elegance of how you rotate cards and use them to cover the others as each bonus is replaced by another.
After that, I headed up to UnPub to secure a table for Emily, who was still stuck in the registration queue. I didn’t know it then, but UnPub was to become my second home at BGG.CON.
While I waited for Emily, I was able to have a look at Fagner’s game, House of Wisdom.
Once she was all set up, we all played a few rounds of Bah! Humbug! with Emily. Bah! Humbug! and the 12 Days of Christmas is currently on Kickstarter and includes designs from several other designers I consider to be good friends of mine. You should probably get a copy, it’s a lot of fun!
Will and I went to check out the Hot Games room, and bumped into Matt Paquette on the way. I remembered to say “Be Creative” and got my coin!
The Hot Games room was stuffy and didn’t feel like an environment I actually wanted to stay and play in (we are still in a pandemic, after all), but it was cool to see all the games in progress, watch them played for a bit, and add to my wishlist.
I picked up my badge and stickers, then we went back to UnPub and played Fagner’s “House of Wisdom“, which feels like a puzzle that has been assembled slightly incorrectly – as soon as he identifies those issues, this is going to be an incredible game, and it will be really interesting to see how he processes the suggestions we came up with.
You play as one of the scholars at the Baghdad House of Wisdom during the Islamic Golden Age, translating texts, gathering more scholars with knowledge of subjects and languages that give you access to more information, and adding books to the library in Baghdad.
You can then read the books, adding prestige to the original translator, and increasing your scores along several tracks. There were a lot of extra things you can do, but they felt disconnected from the main, awesome core of the game, which was the books. For me, what I wanted more than anything was to translate as many texts as I could, and in the process of adding them to the Library, trigger other effects. The general consensus was that combining some of the other elements into actions that revolved around books was the best way forward, so it will be really exciting to see what works for Fagner’s vision.
We had a go at the food they had brought in, which was, honestly, not good. I found out later it was a fundraiser, which is a little more forgiveable. I had a neuro-divergent textural error partway through my burger and had to biff it. Will, made of stronger stuff, finished his meal.
After lunch, we hit the open tables in Landmark and had another playthrough of Winter Rabbit. This time, I did much better, paid better attention, and enjoyed the game even more.
Apart from the fact that Winter Rabbit is based on a Cherokee folk tale, which is really interesting in and of itself, I really enjoy the way that players gather resources in order to use them to contribute to the good of the village as a whole, even though it is a competitive game. As I have absorbed and processed the ideas we had during TTN, I can see that Will has used a lot of really clever positive player interaction elements in Winter Rabbit that in no way take away from the competitive feeling of the game, and I am very keen to play it again.
Waleed arrived with his latest purchase, a standard retail copy of Flamecraft, and was kind enough to trust me to punch it out for him. While we were setting up, another woman with multi-coloured hair, Mallory, stopped by to watch, carrying the KS deluxe version of the same game – so I got to see both versions together at the same time, which was a first for me. I was really tired by this point, and probably shouldn’t have tried to play – I don’t think I really understood the rules at all, but I think I got the gist of it enough that I think it wasn’t annoying for me to be playing.
I really didn’t click with Flamecraft, and I expect it was at least partially from overstimulus and lack of sleep, so I will certainly give it another try. It just felt… disconnected, like the different elements (the dragons, the stores, the cards in the middle) didn’t have a thematic link that made sense to me.
The consensus was to order dinner in, so, while we waited for our order to arrive, we played another game of PaleoVet.
At the time, I didn’t think I knew the game well enough to play it, let alone teach it, but looking back at it now, I certainly understood it well enough that I could probably pick it up and play it again now. I think my favourite part was processing my cured dinosaurs and getting them rehabilitated and out in the wild again – I simply refused to put them at risk by bringing in potentially dangerous carnivores, so I think my score was low but my happiness was high. When our copy arrives, it’s going to be interesting to see how well my rested brain can strategise!
Because my head was so fuzzy, I decided to sit it out, and Ellie gave me a sheet of tokens from her prize game to punch out, to help reduce the weight of her suitcases. I was happy to oblige.
Will went out to meet the delivery person, leaving me (haha) in charge of helping people with any rules questions. Luckily, Eric Reuss, designer of Spirit Island, seemed to have a pretty good grip on how the game went, and everyone else was pretty onto it, so between us all, we solved any questions people had.
Once the food arrived, we ate Chinese food “family style” (which means we shared everything and split the bill) and talked about board games (and politics), then we resumed actually playing board games. Another treat that arrived around the same time as dinner was my George, so my day got even better with food, husband, and fortune cookies (which still fascinate me, as they are uncommon in NZ).
After dinner, we were incredibly lucky to have Eric, Ellie, Will, and another designer, Heather Dixon, test and thoroughly critique Intertidal Survival Board Game. It was really validating again that not only did they spot the same issues as I was concerned about, but also they agreed in general with the direction I wanted to take to fix them, but then gave me amazing feedback, suggestions, and put so much of their energy into making my game better, I feel really privileged.
I will address in detail the feedback we got about each of our games in later posts, so suffice it to say that this was a very fruitful and encouraging session, and thank you again to all who played!
Again, the issues I spotted in Bubble Net were the same ones they saw, and the ideas I had considered aligned with their suggestions. And again, the extra insight took those ideas and suggestions to the next stage.
While I made a big push to get Bubble Net, Mycelia, and Magma into The Game Crafter Lunchtime Game Challenge competition (please vote for them if you like the look of them!), I am really looking forward to picking all these games up again after I recover from the Con and pushing all these concepts through into production.
Bed time was after midnight again, though, so I needed to at least try to sleep – on Thursday, I was taking the final leap and showing The Valley – a boardgame by Drayer, Ink to a group of people I genuinely like and respect, and really hoping it passed the test!
I knew I was going to play Spirit Island with the designer of Spirit Island and was honestly flapping about it a bit, because it’s so hard to process the privilege of access to all these minds and perspectives, let alone people who design games that had such an impact on me personally.
What an incredibly awesome and exhausting experience!