Another BGGCon is over, and I’m already thinking about 2023. I’ve been to several Cons over the years, and all of them seem to have their own personality. And while all of the events I’ve attended have their place, BGGCon has become the one convention that I look forward to the most. And it primarily has to do with the amazing group of friends I’ve made at the event. Well, that and the games. But it’s mostly the people.
I made the trek down I-30 Tuesday afternoon and landed at my brother’s place just as his work day was ending. A few of the selling points for BGG are how close it is to Little Rock and the fact that I can stay with my brother and sister-in-law for the event. Granted, staying onsite for these types of conventions has its pluses, but the ability to save on room for me, outweighs the positives of being at the show.
Scott and I wake up Wednesday and prepare to make our way to the Hyatt Regency to begin the week. The drive from his place to downtown typically takes 45 minutes or so, depending on morning traffic. Once parked, we make our way inside and get in line for the 10am opening for badges. Waiting in line is a grants an opportunity to play a few smaller, quick-play games. This year, Scott brought Hive Pocket. A fun little game where you move various bug tiles around in an attempt to surround the opposing player’s queen bug tile.
I had never played it before, but thoroughly enjoyed it and made a mental note that I would look to add it to the library at some point. Unfortunately, I failed to get a pic of, so here’s a stock photo instead.
Game 1: Hive Pocket
Once 10am hits, we make our way to pick up our badges, grab our freebie game, and exit to locate our crew.
We meet up with Chris Smith, Chad, and Scott Weeks as they were ahead of the line from us. After some catch-up, Brandon, Chris, Mike, and Amy join (our group has two Scotts and two Chris’, so I’ll use last names when needed), and we make our way to stake out a spot in the gaming hall. At BGGCon, there are two primary gaming halls. Last year, we had staked a spot in the downstairs gaming hall for the week. At the start of the show, they hadn’t opened it yet for gamers, as they were still working on setting up the vendor area. So we grabbed a spot in the upstairs hall and looked to get the games going in full swing.
Once there, Phil and Hazel met up with us, and after some more catching up, we get started. As is always the case with Cons like this, there is always discussion around what to play. After a little back and forth, it was decided to I would bring Ankh to the table. This would be my first official game of the BGG.
Game 2: Ankh
I had 5 players for Ankh, with 3 of them being new to the game. Scott Weeks, Chris, and Hazel joined my brother and me at the table. My wife and both have really come to love Ankh. Its great theme, coupled with very tight mechanics and a few other pieces are thrown in, make for a very fun game. The game normally takes about 2-3 hours depending on the player count. But as is with any time you are teaching a game. After about 4 hours, Ankh was completed, with my brother taking the victory. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
Once Ankh was done, we moved to a game that Scott Weeks was excited to share, Thunder Rolls! Who doesn’t love a good racing game?
Game 3: Thunder Rolls
No, no, he didn’t slam you, he didn’t bump you, he didn’t nudge you… he *rubbed* you. And rubbin, son, is racin’.— Harry Hogge, Pit Crew Chief
Once Scott Weeks had setup TR, our first game was myself, Mr. Weeks, Scott, and Hazel. The game supports up to 8 players. If you have less than 8, the game is filled to 8 players by using NPC drivers to make up the difference. Game 1 was rough for me, as I didn’t quite get the concept (and mechanic) of drafting. Needless to say, I was DFL for game 1. If I remember correctly, Chris won game 1. I could see the appeal of the game, as it was still a lot of fun, once I got the mechanics down.
After finishing the first game, we decided to play a 2nd game of Thunder Rolls, this time adding Phil, Chad, Chris Smith, and Brandon to make a full 8 player game. In game 2 I did much better as I had things down, and I was able to pull out the victory. Perhaps there is a NASCAR fan in me after all?
Game 4: Foundations of Rome
After finishing my first experience with a racing board game, Chris Smith was setting up Foundations of Rome for play. This one had my attention back during its Kickstarter run was ongoing. Granted, the hefty price tag had scared me off at the time, but it did still leave an impression that I wanted to check it out at some point if possible. In case you haven’t seen it in person, the box for Foundations is huge! The game itself has some of the best presentation and game components I’ve seen for a long while, possibly ever. Chris Smith ran the game for me, Scott and Chris.
I don’t recall who ended up winning, but it seems like we all were winners as the game was great. I would possibly look to add this to the library, if I could find it as the right price.
After finishing Foundations, it was close to 11pm, so my brother and I decided to call it a night and head home. Knowing we still had the full week ahead, we wanted to save the extreme lates nights for the end of the Con.
We hit the convention center around 9am, and after getting settled, we look to start the day with my very first 18xx game, 1846 The Race for the Midwest. I had mentioned to Chris Smith the day before that I had never played an 18xx game, and I saw he eyes light up with the chance to share the gospel that is 18xx. Our group also had moved to the downstairs ballroom, as our group prefers the basement to the main floor. Last year, the vendor hall was much smaller and was setup in small portion of the main floor ballroom. This year, it was moved downstairs and shared some of the ballroom space there. It was sectioned off with the moveable room dividers.
Since the exhibitor hall opened up at 10am, I made sure to grab a copy of Splendor Duel from the Common Ground Games booth. My wife and I are always looking to add 2-player games to the library. This had been on our radar for a while, so it was nice to be able to pick it up during the convention. After my purchase was complete, it was time for trains yo!
Game 1: 1846 The Race for the Midwest
In all honesty, 18xx games never appealed to me from a distance. I know what they are, know what they’re generally about, but they never seemed like something I would enjoy or be in to. So going into this game, I was a bit apprehensive as to my level of enjoyment I would end up having. Needless to say by the end, I not only appreciated my first foray into the world of 18xx a lot more than expected, but I just had a great time.
A couple of things I learned about 18xx games while playing 1846, first; playing an 18xx game is kind of like doing a school project and your math homework at the same time. second; players who are into 18xx games are REALLY into 18xx games. During our 4-hour game, we had several attendees stop at our table and profess their love of 18xx games to us, and then engage with Chris Smith (since the 3 of us were first-time players) about which of the vast library of 18xx games were their favorite.
All this to say, by the end of 1846, I had somehow managed to squeak out victory from Chris Smith by less than $30. A good time was had by all players.
Once we finished 1846, my brother and I broke away from the convention to meet up with family for a birthday gathering for a few hours. After making our way back to the Con around 7pm, it was time to to sus out some toasters.
Game 2: Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica is a game that does a fantastic job of encapsulating the feel and heart of the show it’s based on. Players who are secretly (until they reveal) running amongst the human players, pretending to be on their side, working to make sure they can perform the number of jumps needed for victory. Only to have it all come crashing down. BSG is also of my all time favorite games, across the board. I’ve had some of the best tabletop experiences playing this game.
We had Chris, Chad, Scott, Scott Weeks, and myself at the table. I ended up with Tom Zarek and was a Cylon from the start of the game. Ultimately, I didn’t play a good game. Which can happen, so no biggie there. After we hit 5 units of distance jump, Scott Weeks became the second Cylon. The game played out with the humans making it 10 before we could stop them. I should have revealed much earlier, but I didn’t and alas we couldn’t cause enough damage before they made it.
Great game as always. I never have a bad time playing BSG.
Once we landed on Kobol, we decided to call it an early night, as we had to setup for the Bazaar the next morning, and we’re kind of old. Plus as previously stated, we wanted to save ourselves for the end of the Con for the really late nights. So we headed back, looking forward to the next two days.
We left earlier than previous days, as I wanted to make sure we didn’t get caught up in any crazy commute traffic. Making your way into downtown Dallas can be a crap shoot when it comes to what you may or may not encounter the closer you get to downtown. Luckily we didn’t have anything that delayed our drive in, and we were in the convention by 8:30am. Doors opened at 9am for sellers to get to their table and get it setup for 10am opening for buyers.
My brother graciously decided to help me as sellers were allowed to have a single assistant. I have never sold for the Bazaar and wanted to give it a go and see how the experience was from the other side of things. Plus, I had a lot of games that I was looking to move to find a new home and hopefully make some extra money at the same time.
We were able to get in about 9:15 and by 9:30, we were setup and ready to go.
A nice perk of being a seller is the opportunity to browse other sellers’ wares before the buyers are let in. I walked the entire hall, and while there were more than a couple of things that piqued my interest, I restricted myself to a single purchase, the premium version of Kingswood.
The Bazaar is only open from 10-11am. It’s a mad rush once the doors are opened. The hour goes quickly and everyone is moving fast to find the games they’re hoping to add to their collection. My goal for this was to move games that don’t make the table and make some extra cash, in that order. I had prices for certain things I wasn’t willing to go under, otherwise, I was pretty willing to negotiate to a point, so games wouldn’t be coming home with me.
By the end of the sale, I had moved everything I brought, minus 3 games. And honestly I was okay with that. Two were higher priced OOP games, and the third was a Kickstarter game with a lot of expansions. My brother even brought a handful of games of his own and he was able to move all of them. Granted he didn’t make as much as he had hoped, but at the end of the day, we didn’t have to deal them after the sale. Here is what the table looked like at the end.
After clearing out, we headed back to the ballroom to start our gaming for the day.
Game 1: Witch’s Brew
Like BSG, Witch’s Brew is another game that I’ve never had a bad time playing. People that I introduce to it have said they had a great time learning and become sad when they learn the game is OOP and almost impossible to find. For those reasons, I’ll never sell it.
We had Phil, Chad, my brother, Hazel and myself at the table, with my brother being the only player who had experience with playing Witch’s Brew. In the end, Phil was our winner winner chicken dinner. WB is such a great social style game for 5 players.
Game 2: Lacrimosa
Here it is. One the games I was most looking forward to trying out heading into BGGCon. Even though I knew it was in the Hot Games room, Brandon had told us he would be bringing it to try out. Knowing how hit or miss it can be getting into games in the HG room, this would be my best chance to get a play in for Lacrimosa.
We had Brandon, Hazel, Phil, and myself for this one. Looking at the setup before we started to play, I could already tell I this game was going to check lots of boxes for me. After the first round, the game really started to click. And by the end, I knew this needed to be one of my purchases for BGG 2022. Sadly, the Common Ground booth has sold out of it. Luckily, their store (which is 5 minutes away from the convention) still had copies in stock. So I hatched a plan to break away to snag a copy before I headed home.
After some back and forth, Phil was able to pull out victory. Looking back, Lacrimosa was my favorite new play of the event. I’m glad I was able to add it to the library for future games, and I look forward to teaching others.
Game 3: Terracotta Army
Another title from the Hot Games room at BGG, I was able to learn Terracotta Army next. This one wasn’t on my radar, however, after finishing Lacrimosa, I realized it was Friday evening, and I had yet to play a game with Mike and Amy, due to how games had played out up to that point. My biggest regret of this years Con is that I only got to play one game with them. Something I will make sure to correct for 2023. I always enjoy gaming with the Adams.
Mike graciously taught myself, Amy, and Brandon how to play. With this not being anywhere on my radar, I really had no expectations going in. That to say, after it was all said and done, I really enjoyed it. Although scoring for the army portion of the board had me a bit confused at a first, by the end, it all clicked.
After a fun game, Mike came out victorious. And he stated he would look to add it to their collection. Wet clay ahoy!
The game of TA ended around 11pm. After a nice round of cocktails from the 2nd-floor hotel bar, my brother and I called it a night at about 12:30am, knowing the final, and longest night was still to come. Bring it on Saturday!
We made it to the Hyatt about 9am Saturday, as we allowed ourselves a little more sleep in time, knowing we didn’t have to get my niece to school that morning. Once there, I was looking to finish out the day (and convention) strong. The night before I had left my copy of Beyond the Sun with Scott Weeks. That way he could have it setup and ready to go first thing since he was staying at the hotel.
Game 1: Beyond the Sun
Scott, Scott Weeks, and Chris joined me at the table so I could teach/re-teach Beyond the Sun. Probably my favorite game from last year. I love tech tree games. This one is no exception. Plus add in the it’s them and very tight and solid mechanic system, and I keep coming back for more with this one.
After some good back and forth, Scott Weeks pulled out the victory, besting myself and Chris by 3 points.
After finishing BTS, it was time for something a little different. I decided to bring some of my Star Wars Legion to BGGCon. My brother and I would get in at least 1 game for the event. So we pulled out the stuff and got to setting up for a game.
Game 2: Star Wars Legion
For as long as I’ve been a tabletop gamer, I’ve been a painter. I love painting miniature. It scratches more than 1 hobby itch for me. And who doesn’t love painted miniatures? When I was introduced to Legion, it instantly was a hit with me. And I knew it would be the my miniature wargame of choice moving forward.
Scott decided to play an Empire squad, so I of course had to play a Rebel squad. We went with a skirmish game to keep things simple. Once setup, we deployed our squads and got to battle.
We ended up getting a lot of spectator’s, as the event has almost zero miniature gaming (understandable) and it’s Star Wars. So naturally people are drawn to check it out. At one point, it felt like our table was surrounded by people stopping to watch our game. I think I heard someone say, “this must be the Star Wars game I was hearing about upstairs?” Our game was the table of Saturday perhaps?
Either way, as we made it through the match, the Rebels pulled out a victory from the evil Imperial forces. Although Darth Vader did live to see another day.
After Legion was done, everyone else in the group was tied up in games of their own, so my brother and I busted out Sobek. A 2-player game to bridge some time before we jump into something else.
Game 3: Sobek
Sobek is a fun little 2-player game where you collect sets of tiles and sell them as sets to gain points for the end of the game. There are also character tiles that let you do special actions and Sobek tiles which can be used as wild tiles when selling sets.
Like Jaipur, the game has a market and you’re looking to sell sets of things. Both games share a similar feel and some mechanics. Both are also enjoyed by my wife and I. When the end-game was triggered, after the smoke cleared, I was the more trader. Scott and I had a good time.
As we were wrapping up Sobek, Scott Weeks was setting up Ark Nova for Chris, Mike, and Amy. I had noticed earlier in the day that Chris Smith had a copy of Tinner’s Trail and had mentioned that I heard good things about it. That was all it took to plant the seed, and I was on to my next game.
Game 4: Tinner’s Trail
This was probably my second favorite new play of BGGCon. Tinner’s Trail is great game for up to 5 players, that includes a shared market, resource management and an auction mechanic. The game board itself is on the smaller side based on today’s standards, but don’t be fooled. There is a lot going on here. Like with other games of the week, once I had a round under my belt, the tactics of the game started to come into focus.
I managed to get out of the gate early and was able to keep a lead going into to the later rounds. With the game playing over 4 rounds, Tinner’s Trail gives you enough to feel like you were able to sink your teeth into it, without overstaying it’s welcome. Chris Smith did point out that we were playing the second edition, which apparently fixed quite a few things from the original.
Regardless, I would happily look to add this to the library.
Once done, we checked on the Ark game and found out that they still had a couple of hours to go at least. So we made our way to the library to see about checking out a few quicker play games. We came back with Deep Sea Adventure and Bang!
Game 5: Deep Sea Adventure
This little game packs some silly fun. You are all divers on a vessel, looking for that sweet sweet treasure. Players choose a diver meeple, then roll 2d6 (it’s essentially 1d3 dice on a d6 printed twice), and that’s the number of treasure tiles you can dive down. The lower you go, the better the treasure, the problem is, once you start picking up treasure, you start using oxygen. And your newly collected treasure starts to slow you down.
For every piece of treasure you have, you get a minus one movement to your die roll. Also, ALL players start using oxygen collectively, which is also based on the number of dive tokens you’ve collected.
All that to say, the oxygen runs out really quick on DSA. We played 3-4 games and we all died. No one was ever able to make it back to ship before they ran out of oxygen. Still a lot of fun for a 1am game at BGG on a Saturday night.
After we finished DSA, I pulled out Bang! It would be my last game of BGGCon 2022.
Game 6: Bang!
I probably haven’t played Bang! in over 10 years. I’ve had the “bullet” edition for a long time. When I saw it in the library I was thought sure, this will work for 5 players and won’t take forever.
It took a little bit of refreshing, but once back up to speed. The game took off pretty quick. Like the two previous games, it was Chris Smith, Scott, Phil, Hazel and myself. Chris was the Sheriff, Phil was the Deputy, with Scott being the Renegade. That let me and Hazel as Outlaws. First round out of the gate, Hazel guns for the Sheriff. Knowing that Hazel has tipped her hand, I try and pull back, trying to keep Chris guessing who the second Outlaw is.
We somehow manage to take out the Deputy. Leaving just Scott as the Renegade. Chris still isn’t sure if it’s me or Scott as the second Outlaw. After several rounds, I play a Dynamite. Then Scott does as well. My Dynamite makes one full pass around the table, back to the Sheriff. One his turn he draws the card that has it go off. When it does, he has exactly 3 life left, killing him.
The Outlaws are victorious.
And that ended my gaming week at BGGCon 2022 (I was so tired by this point, I didn’t even think to take any pics of the game).
As we were wrapping up, the game of Ark Nova has just finished. It was 2am. I was exhausted. And beyond sleep, the only other thing I could think of was how I was already looking forward to doing this all over again next year.
I’m a pretty lucky guy. I’ve been able to come into this great group of people, all of who are fantastic. Who all share my love of gaming and are genuinely some of the nicest, most friendly, enjoyable gamers I’ve had the privilege of sharing a table with.
BGGCon for me is all about table time. Whereas other events might have a lot more going on in terms of things to do, see and participate in. BGGCon is all about gaming. It’s a stripped-down, more simplified event. If I want the grander convention experience, I’ll look to attend GenCon or PAXU. But when it comes to just getting together with friends or like-minded people who share your love of gaming, BGGCon hits the spot for me.
After we had all packed up for the night, knowing that most of us don’t attend the final day of the event on Sunday, we were saying our goodbyes, I couldn’t help but take a moment and just reflect back on the week, and how much I’ve come to feel like I have this great gaming family that wasn’t there before. And for that, I am thankful.
Until next year!
Various of Pics of BGGCon 2022
As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!
An 18XX game that was only 4 hours?! And with new players? Wow… Glad you had a blast though–and I agree that it’s all about the friendships!