Welcome to part 2 of my Gencon 2017 games played report. Let us get right to the games.
Gencon 2017 Games Played Report Part 2
AEG’s Big Game Night 2017 went better than the infamous “box of air” incident at Gencon 2016. For my $32 entrance fee, I got this haul.
I have yet to play most of them (see below), but that was just the “thank you for playing package.” Also, AEG provided some excellent incentive to stay around and play through the entire event with some impressive raffle prizes. (Raffle was free for ticketed attendees.)
Of course, I lost in the raffle but played some great games from the AEG library.
AEG the Captain Is Dead Board Game
Your heroic captain died, aliens are everywhere and half the ship’s systems are offline. Time to man up and save the ship! Players work cooperatively to repair systems, fight off invaders and get the hyperdrive back online. We played on an easy setting and saved the ship. That said, it was a near thing and we almost died. Felt like a better version of “Pandemic” with more options. Fun times.
This is a cooperative card game where you try to keep the world from panicking while a deadly plague threatens humanity. This game did not light my fire at all, but the volunteer explaining it did such a terrible job that I am not sure we played correctly. I got a copy as a door prize, so I might try it again. I barely remember anything about it, other than I found it dull.
My favorite of the evening! Players earn points for taking and holding castles, using different colors of cards to defend their holdings or attack enemies. Standard card combat stuff, but this game really shines with the deal making. Anything goes and once you make a deal you have to keep it. Need to move past someone’s castle to get at your target? Pay them and all is well. Cut deals with friends to pillage another player? Of course! My favorite was a marriage mechanic that allowed two players to join forces and jointly win. This also makes the happy couple a prime target for everyone else. In this game, you win the throne or you die. I liked this one a lot as the deal making made for a “Diplomacy” like experience.
Finally burned out around 11:30 and went to bed. Next morning I arose to…
Avoiding spoilers, as usual, but this game was a blast! Steampunk London infested with Professor Moriarty and his goons. There was a dirigible attack, rocket packs and general mayhem. I got a spinner (basically a face/talker character) pre-gen character that someone thought needed a combat focus. It made him a mediocre speaker and a terrible fighter. So I played him like a nut job with no hope of survival and wound up with a jet pack that I could not pilot. That jetpack was better than any weapon for sheer entertainment value. We defeated our enemy and destroyed at least one London landmark. A job well done.
“Weave” is an RPG, with an IOS app element. I will do a separate post on this game as it requires a more in-depth description.
“1879” is a FASA offering with Victorian England discovering a portal to another universe filled with technologically and magically advanced Babylonians. An amazing introduction to the adventure and world made my spirits soar. We got jeeps, a mission to disarm a magical bomb some ancient race left lying around, big guns and one of the players had a zombie/skeleton horde as a character class power. The GM was deeply invested in the world, extremely well-prepared and my fellow players displayed competence and enthusiasm. It was a glorious start to a convention game. Tally ho!
Then it went horribly wrong.
Driving down the road, we ran into a horde of bugs and combat began. At this point, I looked into the abyss that was my character spreadsheet and felt my soul die. Behold the crunch that is…the Earthdawn RPG game system.
There is is so much math and the system uses exploding dice to step up damage on weapons and the combat crawled like a dying bard in the “Tomb of Horrors.” Slowly, painfully the combat encounter rolled on….
At the 100 minute mark, I broke and fled. I felt bad because I have never left a table before solely because I could not stand the system. Life is short and this style of super-crunchy, math heavy, tedious, over-engineered game system crushes the role-playing aspect of the game. Tragically, the GM and players were great, the adventure carefully plotted out and potentially interesting, but the system killed it for me. No disrespect to the DM or players, this was my fault. I should never have played this game. It is the last time I buy tickets to a system sight-unseen at Gencon. Research and due-diligence are my new watchwords. I just cannot play this style of RPG anymore.
Wandering around the board game hall I found the Kosmos area. Kosmos has a series of “disposable” board/card games that simulate an escape room event. The games are around $20.00 and you play them once. Reason being is you tear up, write on or otherwise spoil the components and puzzles. Each game runs about two hours. Kosmos wisely put together a “demo” version that plays in 30 minutes and it was free. I grabbed one up and tore into it. Behold the carnage of solving the puzzles!
Haldar and I completed it in 33 minutes. We decoded codes, tore up cards and scanned images for minuscule clues. “Exit” was great fun and I went looking for one to buy, but it sold out. Might be a good choice for a party game with non-gamers because the puzzles were challenging, but not overly difficult. I will play it again if I can ever get a copy.
Crashing on Saturday night from game-induced fatigue, I awoke to face the wrath of Dracula in…
Nights Black Agents RPG
This was a priority game for me this year as it got great reviews and the theme was very “Delta Green,” a personal favorite. Our secret organization does battle with the minions of Dracula in 1980s Europe. We got the call to find a missing agent that escaped a massacre at a MI-6 station in West Berlin. Inspired by “3 Days of the Condor” we charged around Berlin avoiding minions and covering up the supernatural to protect the general public and save the agent. It went well until I tried to arrange the pickup location for the agent using a code only she would understand. I assumed the line tapped and an ambush awaited us at the “official” location. GM ran over my plan like a runaway freight train squashing a cute and fuzzy bunny to railroad the plot. So…we got ambushed at the original location by the bad guys that overheard our conversation.
Rant time. Railroading is never acceptable. You are a GM, suck it up and fix it on the fly. Adapt and overcome. Rant over. Sorry, this is a pet peeve of mine.
Otherwise, a fun slot. However, I am still deeply ambivalent about the Gumshoe system. The key mechanic is if you have a skill (ie. forgery) and you examine a forged document, you automatically “get” the clue. If you choose to burn points from your skill (they refresh every game) you get a bonus to potentially get more information. I understand the mechanic solves the “we missed the clue and the carefully crafted plot goes awry” problem, but it feels like a GM crutch to me. Good GMs can recover the plot with cunning and structural legerdemain. Worse, the players have a neon metagame hack staring them in the face. They know that they will always succeed on a trained skill, at least at some level. Nothing should be certain. No skill absolutely effective. Complacency makes for a boring game.
Sorry, slipped into another rant.
Gencon 2017 provided me with many great, and occasionally painful gaming experiences. The next post covers the vendor area and some of the more interesting booths.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer.