games at BryceCon

I was at a board game con down at Bryce Canyon (best location for a con), and though I did some cross-country skiing and stargazing in the national park, I also played fourteen games! Here’s the rundown.

Castle Panic: This is a cooperative game (mostly) where you’re trying to keep monsters from tearing down your castle. I didn’t enjoy it. There’s very little strategy, unless you’re doing really well, which comes down to luck before then. There is almost always one and only one best move, and it can quickly devolve into just trying to stay alive. And then you aren’t alive.
Disney Villainous: I have to admit, I was skeptical of this game because of the Disney backing. It turned out to be pretty good though. Players take a different villain from a classic Disney movie and use the accompanying hero and fate decks to try to meet their individual win conditions. None of us really knew what the other ones needed to do to win, though, and I imagine familiarity with all the villain play styles would improve the game. All in all, I enjoyed it and would be interested in playing again.
Eight-Minute Empire: Okay, so we cheated a little bit at this game. But it was fun. Like the name says, it takes about eight minutes. Players try to move into territory and control countries and continents. Cards allow you to place armies, move armies, and build cities. Thoroughly excellent short game, probably best used as a palate cleanser between heavy games.
Electropolis: This is a new game out of Thailand, and players are trying to power their cities. The balance comes between minimizing pollution and increasing public opinion. You can build coal, natural gas, nuclear, and green power plants. It was a really good game, on the lighter side, but enough strategy to keep me engaged the whole time. None of us got too far ahead during the game, but the game-end bonuses took me pretty far into the lead.
Passing Through Petra: In a lot of medium-weight and heavy games, you can go in on one or two things and do just fine. In Passing Through Petra, you need to do a little bit of everything to win. It’s an odd way to play if you’re used to other styles, but it’s a lot of fun. Players trade and hire workers, among some other things to try to place all their influence cubes first. It’s a solid game.
Photosynthesis: I’ve played this one before, and I enjoyed it a lot this time too. Players plant trees, grow them, and harvest them for points. It’s a very pretty game, but also quite fun. I think the advanced rules would make it better, where you can’t plant a seed in the shadow of another tree. We took a few different strategies, and the person who won was the person who changed their strategy halfway through and went all in on exterior trees rather than the higher-point interior trees.
Professor Pugnacious: This is a deck-building game with a (very slow) drafting element. Players increase their skill and their fight, and they buy cards with special abilities, and then they fight monsters when they can. It’s a fun game, and I would play it again, but I wouldn’t buy it.
Sagrada: Players are creating stained glass windows through placing dice. Each player’s window has specific rules for placement. It’s a fun game with more strategy than meets the eye.
Sheepland: I didn’t expect to like this game as much as I did. It seems really simple – you want to pen sheep in your area and have the most tiles for an area to maximize points. There’s more game theory than I expected, both with playing off the other person and limiting your options as the game goes on. It was short, light, and quite enjoyable.
Tokaido: Players are on a road through Japan, collecting souvenirs, tableaux, and experiences. I wanted to like this game, I really did. It’s visually quite cool. But… players get forced into positions, and if you go last, you end up mostly going last for the rest of the game because of the way that the turns play out, which puts you at a real disadvantage. I could have been missing something, but I just didn’t enjoy it.
Truck Off: I’ve played this before, and I enjoyed it before and this time. Players are competing to have the highest value food truck at the end of each round. There’s an element of luck in dice rolls, but then a lot of strategy in moving other trucks around. It’s a fun game, easy to learn, and quick to play.
Unearth: We played this again to see if we need to own it. Carl and I both enjoyed it quite a bit when we played it before, and the verdict after this time was yes, we do need to own it. Players place dice to claim cards, play other cards to change the value of the dice, and place hexes in tableaus to gain victory points. It’s a really fun game, and it’s pretty.
Whistle Stop: Generally, I don’t like train games. This one is not your standard train game, and it’s not bad. Players place tiles to get across the board, taking bonuses and resources along the way. I won by quite a bit, and it was a good game, but it wasn’t amazing.
Wingspan: We own this one, but it was our first time playing it. It’s a really beautiful game, and I learned about birds! My bonus card was collecting birds named after people, which was pretty random, but I enjoyed it a lot. It’s an engine-building game with various ways to gain points. Really fun, and I look forward to playing it again!

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