On March 6'th, 2015 I received the following Bookface message from Chad:
"Soooo, when is DaveCon?"
I read this without a hint of surprise. The all-day gaming event named after yours truly typically happens around that time every year. Indeed, DaveCon is as much a sign of Spring as Tim Horton's "Roll Up The Rim To Win" contest.
But a definitive reply to Chad's innocent query was a long time coming. Twenty minutes into DaveCon 2014, I wanted it to be the last one. Irked by eleventh-hour absences, aggravated by red tape of my own creation and irritated by feelings of creeping claustrophobia, I began to consider the very real possibility that the event had become too unwieldy and annoying for me to enjoy.
But then something miraculous happened. I started playing games and *eeeeek!* enjoying myself. After everything was said and done I still had more than enough fun to make the following conclusion at the end of last year's report:
I have no idea where DaveCon 2015 will be. I don't know who'll be there. Hell, I don't even know if I'll be there. But I do know one thing for certain:
It's gonna happen.
Now, the reason I wrote: "I have no idea where DaveCon 2015 will be" is because we'd clearly run out of room at Monster Comic Lounge, especially when I took into account a bunch of awesome new people that I wanted to invite to this year's event. With as many as twenty or thirty potential attendees on the guest list I knew that DaveCon had to ease on down, ease on down the road.
After some cursory research, The Board Room Game Cafe emerged as best new home for the event. Even though it was open this time last year, the cafe had no dedicated private event space. But in November of 2014 they completed an expansion which added two whole new rooms and around seventy-five new seats! This new area, cordoned off from the rest of the cafe, meant that we could be as loud and obnoxious as we wanted to be without lowering the property values.
When I broached the subject with Kris, the cafe's owner, he seemed pretty keen on the idea and we hashed out the details in record time. In paying the cafe's $5.00 entrance fee DaveCon attendees got a chance to win two Gift Certificates totally $50.00 as well as a 10% discount on retail purchases.
A particularly good thing about this arrangement is that I wouldn't have to handle any cash, freeing up more time of my time to get people registered, get them their Door Prize and M.V.P. tickets and, most importantly, get me into a game a lot quicker. An then, when you factor in the added convenience that the cafe serves snacks, sandwiches, coffee, tea and *SQUEE!!!* beer and wine, well, you got yerself a whole lungful of win all the way around!
After looking at potential dates, Kris and I arrived at May 2'nd. Next year I'll probably strive for a day in March since the cafe tends to be packed with reveling students in April and May 2'nd is Free Comic Book Day. Friggin' nerds. I'm not keen on having the event any later in May for fear of missing out on a day of much-needed nice weather. Sure, I love boardgames, but after the winter we had this year I'd much rather be outdoors basking in the sun.
As soon as the official DaveCon 2015 Bookface page went live the internet blew the fux up. With half of the invited guests being new to the event it didn't take long for some crazy rumors about past DaveCon's to spread:
Connie: I heard the cops were called at the last Davecon. #daveconrumours
Me: Just between you, me and the wall, talking about stuff that supposedly happened at previous DaveCons is a good way to get yourself "disappeared". Besides, all of that stuff got settled out of court anyway. #DaveConmandatorynondisclosureform
Dylan: Will there be a ballpit?
Me: Sure, Dylan. Just be aware that the ball pit @ DaveCon is slightly, shall we say, "unconventional".
As you might expect all this did was open the floodgates. Here, then, are my "Top Fifteen Favorite DaveCon Rumors" in no particular order:
(15) Fleetwood Mac will be performing their album "Rumours" live at DaveCon. They will also raffle off seats in their game of 7 Wonders.
(14) The first settlers of Catan were notoriously unkind to one another. Then one day, a wayward traveler named Dave arrived to the island. From his disheveled appearance and cagey eyes, they thought Dave had landed to rob them. That was not the case however and Dave brought the various tribes together in peace under the banner of the first DaveCon. #DaveConLore
(13) The latest "Song of Fire & Ice" novel is late because George R.R. Martin spent all of 2013 prepping the Game of Thrones board game for DaveCon 2014. #ironynotirony
(12) For good luck you can ask Dave "What colour is your shirt?" on even dates before the start of DaveCon or within an hour of the closing time of DaveCon. He will only respond with the phrase, "Chicken's feet are not real feet after all!". This all started after a hilarious exchange between himself and Charlie Chaplin after a rousing game of Escalante, the Spanish horse-racing game.
(11) Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome may or may not be a documentary about DaveCon. Side note, Tina Turner was definitely at DaveCon last year. Yup, someone definitely mentioned Tina Turner last year.
(10) 2 pm - Cockfighting
(9) Amongst Dave's many bazaar pre-game rituals is that he likes to wear the same underpants (unwashed) every year and insists on wearing his socks inside out with his pants tucked into them. This quirk originated from the 3rd annual DaveCon in 1932, where Dave won a whopping twelve rounds of competitive Operation. On that fruitful day, in his rush to not miss out on the DaveCon fun, he accidentally put his socks on inside out over the top of his pants. Upon realizing the luck inherent in this fashion faux pas, Dave's been known to try mixing stripes with polka dots, wearing fedoras, and donning sandals with socks. (Editors note: This one is definitely a rumor. "Sandals with socks?" Ewwwww...)
(8) Iggy Pop was set to be the musical guest last year, but backed out due to "personal safety concerns".
(7) There will be actual Exploding Kittens at DaveCon #betterthanthegame
(6) There will be a Pie Face tournament starting at 1pm. All pies will be baked "prison style" by Martha Stewart! Addendum: if Martha loses her baking privileges for initiating a prison riot we'll be going with Plan "B".
(5) DaveCon will now be a week long event ending in a ritualistic animal and / or plant sacrifice. Spoiler alert: it's a plant sacrifice. Spoiler alert: it's just a veggie tray.
(4) Dave is actually the Power Grid guy. #DaveConRevelation
(3) Nine out of ten DaveCon attendees can't sleep the night before DaveCon. Dave won't let them.
(2) On April 2nd, the groundhog comes out of his hole and if he sees a board game, there's only four more weeks 'til DaveCon!
(1) There is no DaveCon, only rumors.
But DaveCon is real. Very, very real. To prove it I set the alarm for an ungodly hour back on the morning of May the 2'nd, had a lite breakfast, piled all my shit into the car, picked up Sabina and hauled ass down to the cafe.
While Sabina and Cheryl delved into their breakfast across the street, I went inside and made my way down the steps...
...and found myself deposited in the cafe's ample retail section.
Staffers extraordinaire Brittany and Kat were already on hand, prepping the place for the inevitable horde of rampaging DaveCon attendees. After exchanging pleasantries and fueling up with some much-needed caffeine, I made my way to the convention hall where the festivities were to take place.
Along the way I passed by the cafe's expansive library, which features over five-hundred games to pick up and play!
I then passed through the "hub" area, which includes a bitchin' bubble hockey game!
Eventually I arrived at the main convention hall, which I endeavored to set up as quickly as possible.
The signage, the Registration Desk and the ballot boxes were barely set up before the first guests started to arrive. I quickly corralled Jeremy and Mike into my first "gotta play" game: Colt Express.
Colt Express is the rootin'-est, tootin'-est programmable movement game this side o' Carson City. Each player controls a different desperado with a special power that breaks the regular rules of the game. Ultimately you're trying to snatch up as much loot as possible before the speeding train y'all are on pulls into the station.
Game play consists of mapping out a series of actions for your varmint, whether it be moving to a different train car, going topside or climbing down, punching a rival in the sarsaparilla hole, ventilating one of your enemies with a bullet, robbin' an unsuspecting passenger or dispatchin' the super-annoying Marshall after someone. At the end of some rounds a freaky conditional thing can happen which all players must either prepare for or at least contend with.
Now, since participants take actions in staggered order, your opponents can and will throw a monkey wrench into your plans. For example, if you intend to move into the next train car and then rob a passenger, you're opponent can easily fuck up your Christmas if they play a Punch Card before your Robbery Action. The result of this mechanic is a gleefully-chaotic game experience that's sure to illicit a few chuckles.
Lookin' to claim a bounty on yer strategy? Then click on following link to to read the full rules "Wanted" poster.
The lovely and talented Kat was kind enough to roll this one out to our group and she did a bang-up job in the process, pun not intended. Pretty soon we'd picked our characters, shuffled up our Action Deck, put aside our Bullet Cards and ensconced our Bandit Pawns in their appropriate starting spaces.
We were ready to go around 10:05 am.
CHERYL - GHOST
Ghost has the ability to play his first Action Card face down in secret.
When Cheyenne punches an enemy she can pick pocket one random Purse from them.
JEREMY - TUCO
Not only can Tuco shoot enemies as per the normal rules, he can shoot people on the top of the train and vice versa.
KAT - DOC
Doc gets to draw seven Action Cards at the start of a round instead of five.
MIKE - BELLE
Belle is so gosh darn purdy that enemies must target another character with an attack if they share a space with her.
SABINA - DJANGO
Jango's powerful shotgun blast can knock an opponent into an adjacent train car just like a Punch.
I started off reasonably well, relieving one of my opponents of a random Purse and then filching a $500 Jewel from a hapless passenger. Unfortunately, during Kat's game exclamation I must have given people the impression that I'd played the game before or I at least I knew what I was doing. Pretty soon I became a popular target for fists and flying lead.
I can't complain too much since poor Kat got a lot more abuse than I did. By the time the game was over she'd been shot no less than fourteen times by various rivals, including yours truly. Even with Doc's special ability to draw an extra card, Kat often found herself pondering a hand of cards choked up by a swath of Bullet Cards. This forced her to pass on playing an action occasionally in order to draw more options into her hand.
Jeremy didn't get a chance to use Tuco's special ability as often as he wanted, but when it did happen, he was quick to serve up a hot lead sandwich. Cheryl used Ghost's initial stealthiness to try and get the drop on her enemies but soon found herself mired in a heated exchange with several competitors. Mike's Belle stepped out solo once too often and her screams of "NOT IN THE FACE, NOT IN MAH BE-YOO-TEE-FUL FACE!!!" fell on deaf ears, particularly where the possibly-gay Marshall was concerned.
Sabina's Django did a fine job blasting the competition away from the richest passengers, giving her a chance to sneak in and mop up all dem phat lootz. Going into the home stretch, she appeared to be in the lead, that is until I punched a Strongbox out of her hand. Unfortunately my subsequent snatch-up attempt got foiled by Kat's timely interference. Despite looking like a piece of Swiss cheese with a mustache, Doc still had the mobility to snap up the case, catapulting Kat back into contention.
At around 11:30 am the train pulled into the station and all that was left to do was count up our winnings.
MIKE - $250
ME - $750
CHERYL - $1100
JEREMY - $2050
SABINA - $2350
KAT - $2450
Photo by Cheryl Reid.
I picked Colt Express because I thought that I'd enjoy it and - SURPRISE! - I really did! Sure, there's some balance issues RE: the character's special abilities and the best laid plans never seem to survive contact with the enemy, but the sheer, goofy, unrestrained fun of it all is undeniable.
Particularly telling is how it stacks up to other programed move games. Sabina, for example, thinks Robo Rally is stressful, confusing and irritating but she downright loved this one.
While we were occupied with Colt Express the following games were also played:
Play Time: 10:45 am to 11:49 am
Participants: Andrew, Angie, Chad, Claudia, Dean and Kris
Game Notes: Kris emerged victorious in this infernally-themed wagering / press-your-luck type game. According to the notes: "Andrew's multiple pacts with the devil ended in his ultimate destruction". Wow, talk about art imitating life.
Play time: 11:00 am to 11:25 AM
Participants: Dawn and Mark
Notes: "We played plain ol' Tsuro since we couldn't figure out the Daikaiju part". S'alright, guys...you didn't miss much. All the daikaiju really adds is a bunch of crazy random stuff anyways.
Play Time: 10:50 am to 11:10 am
Participants: John and Graeme
Notes: "Tasty pies!" Graeme pulled out the win in this set-collection drafting game.
Play Time: 11:10 am to 11:30 am
Participants: John and Graeme
Notes: "Tasty beer!" Once again Graeme proves his mettle in this easily-portable, quick-to-play, beer-themed, hand management card game.
Start Time: 11:37 am to 12:03 pm
Participants: Dawn, John, Mark, Matt
Notes: John emerges as "the ringer Yahtzee roller" in this lite, press-your-luck dice rolling game.
Next up on my hit parade was Jamaica.
Jamaica is a cut-throat racing game in which players attempt to circumnavigate the titular island. Starting in Port Royal, the first player rolls the die and allocates them to the Navigation box which features a Morning and Evening action. Then everyone secretly selects one of three random action cards which best dove-tails with their intended plans and the die results. Since these cards are also divided into Morning and Evening actions it allows you to control just how deep you invest in a certain action.
These actions control how far your ship moves forwards and / or backwards or whether or not you take on Doubloons, Food or Gunpowder. Doubloons will allow your ship to dock in Port, Food keeps your crew moving ahead in Sea Spaces and Gunpowder is used to improve your chances in Combat. The first player reveals his or her card and takes their actions, following through with the other players in clockwise order. The Compass then passes to the next Captain to the right indicating a new starting player.
If you land in a Sea Space marked you have to pay the indicated amount of Food to your crew or you'll be forced to move back to the next affordable space. Port spaces work in much the same way except that you have to spend Doubloons to tie up there. If you land in a space with a Pirate Lair you get to plunder a Treasure, which could either be Points, a helpful asset or a nasty Curse. Finally if you land on a space with an enemy ship you have to fight them using the Combat die, which can be augmented using Gunpowder Tokens. The winner of the scrap gets to plunder one of the loser's Cargo Holds, steal a Treasure or pawn off a Curse.
The game ends when one player crosses the finish line and Points are calculated based on where you finished in the race, your total Doubloons, your Treasure Chests and any negative Curses (read venereal diseases) that you may have picked up.
Yarrr, lookin' for that elusive treasure map to find a short-cut 'round the point? Then ye need to be clickin' where "X" marks the spot to get a jump on all the rest o' them scurvy dogs!
Once again, Kat was kind enough to teach this one to us. After setting out the dice, shuffling the Treasure Cards, stocking our cargo holds and picking our characters unfurled our sails 'round 11:42 am.
ANGIE - MARY READ (PURPLE)
CHAD - OLIVIER LAVASSEUR (GREEN)
ME - EDWARD DRUMMOND (BLACK)
KAT - ANNE BONNY (YELLOW)
MATT - JOHN RACKHAM (RED)
MIKE - SAMUEL BELLAMY (BLUE)
After a wretched start which involved a lot of inadvertent backward movement and coming out on the losing end of some scraps, Mike rebounded nicely, doing his best to land on spaces with little to no Food or Doubloon costs. Chad did a great job charting his course to Pirate Lairs, but no one knew if he was picking up helpful or harmful cards. Even though he was a popular punching bag at the start of the game, Matt proved to be a wily navigator, sometimes deliberately landing on spaces that he couldn't afford, knowing that he'd be forced back to a Treasure-laden Pirate Lair.
By no fault of her own, Angie mixed up the Morning / Evening orientation of the Action Cards and ended up taking a big leap back right out of the starting gate. This forced her to play catch-up for the rest of the game but a series of conservative and well-gauged moves resulted in a very impressive comeback. Again, as the game's resident expert, Kat got Malachi Crunched by several opponents right out of the gate which left her ship woefully low on supplies. Her lack of Food sent her back several spaces but she still kept up with the pack by exploiting a few efficient inside lanes and docking in Port.
As for my strategy, "Steady As She Goes" was the order of the day. I managed to pick my way along the coast with reasonable efficiently, taking the time to stock up on supplies and mount a rousing defense whenever it was necessary. But when Mike, Chad and Matt all nudged ahead of me and started snapping up all the Treasure, I decided to throw caution to the wind and risk some costly maneuvers. This left me vulnerable to attack and I got set back further than I anticipated.
What followed was a crazy, dramatic finale that no-one could have predicted. Chad and I caught up to Mike and we immediately got into what amounts to a three-way high-seas knife-fight. Meanwhile sneaky-Pete Matt inched his way closer to the finish line, taking great pains to steer clear of this escalating fracas.
Just like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, Mike managed to crawl his way out of the the dust-cloud but not before Matt hit turbo and crossed the finish line at the 1:09 pm mark!
CHAD = -1 Points
KAT = 2 Points
ANGIE = 6 Points
ME = 8 Points
MIKE = 10 Points
MATT = 23 Points
Another game I got off of my must-play list and another real winner. I don't own any racing games and I'm sorely tempted to buy this one. I love the simple combat rules, the risk and rewards of the Treasures, the Morning and Evening dual Actions and rolling dice to provide just a l'il souciant of luck. Ultimately you're the one who's picking the cards and / or allocating the dice and that best suits your strategy from round to round. This results in a constant parade of agonizing decisions.
As if the tense and exciting game play wasn't enough, the game itself looks absolutely gorgeous. Sorry, but if you're gonna stare at a game board for over an hour, you really want that sucka to be aesthetically appealing.
While we were frantically avoiding reefs and our fellow privateers, the following games were played at other tables:
Play Time: 12:00 noon to 12:27 pm
Participants: Sabina, Dean, Claudia & Andrew
Notes: Dean pulls out the duke with a 44 point win in this press-your-luck pirate-themed game. Comments include "Dean was a dick". Now, I'm no Mickey Spillane but I'm pretty sure Andrew was taking notes here.
Play Time: 12:05 pm to 12:30 pm
Participants: Dawn, Jeremy, John, Kris, Mark
Notes: "Tasty worms!" Momma hen Dawn snatches up the most BBQ bait for her chicks in this classic press-your-luck Reiner Knizia die-chucker!
Play Time: 12:30 pm to 12:53 pm
Participants: Dawn, Jeremy, John, Kris, Mark
Winner: Dawn! ("Or did she???")
Notes: Note-taker Jeremy claims that he was the actual winner in a Scooby Doo-style ending. "And I would have gotten away with it too, if not for you meddling witnesses!"
Photo by Cheryl Reid
Play Time: 12:30 to 12:51
Participants: Andrew, Cheryl, Claudia, Dean & Sabina
Notes: Everyone really seemed to enjoy this cute, sushi-themed drafting game. Final Scores...Claudia 20 points, Dean 24 points, Cheryl and Sabina 32 points, Andrew 39 points.
Play Time: 12:53 to 1:15 (ish)
Participants: Andrew, Cheryl, Claudia, Dean & Sabina
Notes: "Dean may have cheated". Yep, Andrew is definitely taking notes here. Final Scores...Sabina 20 points, Claudia 27 points, Andrew 28 points, Cheryl 31 points, Dean 42 points.
During my lunch break I taught Mark and Dawn how to play Marvel Dice Masters using the random cards and dice included in the cafe copy.
Even though it's possible to teach the basics of the game in a short span of time, the multitude of rules governing the unique Hero abilities, Special Action Cards and timing issues virtually demands that you stick around to provide rulings for all the one-off situations that crop up. Mercifully we played an abbreviated game, with both participants starting at 10 Life Points.
I gotta say, Mark and Dawn took the game like champs. In the end, Mark proved triumphant, despite his protest that "Green Goblin sucks".
I respectfully disagree. The ability of "Green Goblin: Goblin Lord" to double the Attack and Defense value of Sidekicks is certainly nothing to sneeze at. In his defense, though, this version does pale in comparison to the borderline-broken Ultra-Rare "Gobby" which actually resulted in reams of FAQ debate and alterations to the game's basic rules.
After this Mark and Dawn joined in a game of:
Play Time: 1:20 pm to 1:45 pm
Participants: Dean Mark & Sabina vs. Cheryl, Claudia, Dawn & Jeremy
Winners: Dean, Mark & Sabina
Notes: Dean, Mark & Sabina proved to be the nerdier of the two teams. IMHO, the jury's still out as to whether or not this is something to be proud of.
Dean then segued into a match of...
Play Time: 1:45 pm to 2:30 pm (?)
Participants: Cheryl, Claudia, Dean & Kris
Notes: Cheryl continued to solidify her reputation as a Splendor shark by chalking up yet another win in Marc André's much-lauded economic set collection card game.
Simultaneously Kris showed Andrew how to play...
Photo by Cheryl Reid
Play Time: 1:30 pm to 1:45 pm
Participants: Andrew & Kris
Notes: "Awesome" is all Andrew said after playing this clever board game, which is basically Pac-Man with the serial number filed off.
At the top of the hour kaiju-fan Matt proposed a run through of:
Play Time: 2:00 pm to 2:55 pm
Participants: Jeremy, Matt & Mike
Notes: Matt took to this one like Godzilla to Tokyo's Ginza district.
When everyone was done with their respective matches 'round 2:13 pm, a saw a window of opportunity to test drive yet another game at the top of my list: Sheriff of Nottingham.
In Sheriff of Nottingham, players try to ship as many goods as possible to their Merchant Stands. After they're given a chance to exchange some of their in-hand cards with face-up and wildcard options, players load what they want into a concealed Merchant Bag. Finally every player declares what single good they're trying to ship and how many individual items (I.E. cards) they're sending through.
Even though you can't lie about how the number of cards you're shipping, you can fib yer face off when it comes to exactly what cards you've just put inside that Merchant Bag. This is where the titular bureaucrat comes into play since the active Sheriff can spot-check anyone's bag for irregularities. Now, if it turns out that the Sheriff was being unduly paranoid, they have to pay a penalty to the up-standing Merchant. But if the Merchant was attempting to smuggle undeclared items, illegal Royal Goods or, even worse, Contraband to market, they're going to have to pay a hefty fine and their goods will be confiscated.
Looking for the entire royal decree? Click on yon link to read the full rules declaration.
Andrew did the honors of teaching this one to us. One great feature about the game is that it barely takes any time to set up. You just grab a colored Market Board and matching Shipping Bag, shuffle and deal out the Goods Cards and then decide who's gonna be the first Sheriff. I think we were ready to go around 2:13 pm.
Within a few short turns I knew that I was going to love the shit outta this game. Chad set the tone early by offering a bribe to Sheriff Angie to inspect Andrew's bag. Needless to say this smacked of unfinished business left over from a previous game. Angie did search Andrew's bag but could find no evidence of any wrongdoing and as a result she had to pay a minor cash penalty to him.
We all watched as Chad removed a slew of cards from his Merchant Bag and stacked them face-down in the Contraband pile. This blatantly-deceitful play kinda backfired on him since Chad fell under our collective suspicions for the rest of the game. Even an omnipresent parade of respectable brides didn't insulate him from from an inordinate amount of inspections. This, and a glaring inability to accurately read any other player around the table left him virtually destitute by the end of the game. Those first-turn shenanigans really cost him dearly and he barely got any goods to his Merchant Stand, legal or otherwise.
At first Sheriff Sabina seemed distracted by Chad and Andrew's determined attempts to finger one another. No, not that kind of fingering, I'm talking about their hell-bent desire to accuse one another of chicanery while serving up some pretty healthy bribes to smoke-screen their own duplicity. Around that same time I decided that this prevailing climate of obfuscation would be the perfect opportunity to sneak some Contraband into my Market.
But as soon as the tumult between Andrew and Chad died down Sabina looked across the table with her characteristic beaming smile and said:
"Alright, Dave, show me what you've got in your bag."
Immediately I started blustering like a crooked politician hauled in front of a congressional hearing.
"Bu...but why?!?" I stammered.
"You're being way too quiet over there," she replied without missing a beat.
Unsurprisingly, my lame-ass defense fell on deaf ears. As a result I was forced to reveal my cards and pay a pretty hefty fine to her. In contrast to Chad's early Contraband windfall, getting busted right away actually worked out well for me. It forced me to take the straight and narrow path for the next few turns, and I only chanced to smuggle in the odd irregular good and Contraband card towards the end of the game when my honesty seemed genuine. As a result I got a fair amount of reparation pay for unjust searches as well as a pretty balanced tableau of goods to market.
Andrew's reputation for being a chronic shyster also worked in his favor. Often he'd goad the current Sheriff into searching him just by raising a single eyebrow, making some sort of insane proclamation or flashing around a red-herring bribe. He also came out on the winning end of the whole "Hey, I'll give you 'X' coins if you search Chad's bag instead of mine" racket. As the Sheriff he was openly corrupt, letting anyone through without threat of inspection if they tabled enough bribe money. Finally he paid particular attention to becoming the lead Merchant in several categories which helped net him some clutch bonus Victory Points right at the end of the game.
On the other end of the spectrum, Sabina's penchant for being honest and upfront worked gangbusters for her. Every single time someone thought that she was lying and called her out on it, she wasn't. This scenario was repeated several times until people got tired of getting burned and left her alone. She definitely racked up more penalty money of any player as well as an impressive variety of successfully-shipped goods.
Angie also took the relatively-honest path. The first time she tried to sneak Contraband into the Kingdom she got busted and ended up going legit kinda like what I did. But where I slowly slipped back into the smuggling business as soon as the heat was off of me, Angie pretty much kept her nose clean for the balance of the game. Even though she didn't get any Contraband through customs, she did manage to get the odd mismatched item and / or Royal good though customs. She didn't get jacked up very often so kinda paid this forward by being a pretty chill Sheriff and letting most shipments pass unmolested.
We finished up around 3:07 pm after every player had their second bash at being the Sheriff.
Me & Angie...42
Andrew, Angie & Sabina...12
Andrew & Chad...0
Angie & Sabina...0
Apple King: Sabina +20 Apple Queen: Andrew: +10
Cheese King: Andrew +15 Cheese Queen: Sabina +10
Chicken King: Me +10 Chicken Queen(s): Andrew, Angie and Sabina: 5 / 3 = 1 each
Bread King: Angie +15 Bread Queen: Me + 10
I was pretty impressed by my game selections thus far and Sheriff of Nottingham was no exception. The art is great, the mechanics are simple, it's easy to pick up, the scoring is straightforward and it's super-gratifying to sneak something past the active gate keeper.
But Sabina's win is perhaps the strongest testimonial for how great this game is. Clearly you don't have to lie yer arse off in order to win. In fact, I'll probably test-drive this "no fibbery" strategy next time out just to see if it'll work for me just as well as it did for her. At face value I don't think it's a guaranteed tactic because you also need to by super-savvy when it comes to Inspections, Bribes, shipping a variety of different Goods and paying close attention to those King and Queen bonus Victory Points.
Around the same time this puppy got played at another table:
Play Time: 3:00 pm to around 3:45 (?) pm
Participants: Cheryl, Claudia, Dawn, Dean, Jeremy, Mark, Matt, Mike
Notes: Exhibiting nerves of steel during a series of tense Mexican standoffs, Jeremy stayed his ground while making his rivals duck for cover and / or eat lead.
The final game of the day for me was Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Here's what publisher Bezier Games has to say about this one, taken directly from their own webzone:
In the tile-laying game Castles of Mad King Ludwig, players are tasked with building an amazing, extravagant castle for King Ludwig II of Bavaria...one room at a time. You see, the King loves castles, having built Neuschwanstein (the castle that inspired the Disney theme park castles) and others, but now he's commissioned you to build the biggest, best castle ever — subject, of course, to his ever-changing whims. Each player acts as a building contractor who is adding rooms to the castle he's building while also selling his services to other players.
In the game, each player starts with a simple foyer. One player takes on the role of the Master Builder, and that player sets prices for a set of rooms that can be purchased by the other players, with him getting to pick from the leftovers after the other players have paid him for their rooms. When a room is added to a castle, the player who built it gains castle points based on the size and type of room constructed, as well as bonus points based on the location of the room. When a room is completed, with all entrance ways leading to other rooms in the castle, the player receives one of seven special rewards.
After each purchasing round, a new player becomes the Master Builder who sets prices for a new set of rooms. After several rounds, the game ends, then additional points are awarded for achieving bonus goals, having the most popular rooms, and being the most responsive to the King's demands, which change each game. Whoever ends up with the most castle points wins.
Wanna review the castle's full schematics? The entire rules blueprint can be perused just by clicking right here.
A quick tip of the hat to Graeme for teaching this one to us. Just like Kat, he did a stellar job explaining the rules and pretty soon we'd made our color selections and were knee-deep in mortar and wood chips.
***Graeme started slow but his momentum picked up to a juggernaut-like pace towards the end of the game. He built a Study and a Billiards Room off of his main Foyer, closing off the latter for big points with the introduction of a Green House and a Utility Room. He couldn't quite seal up the Study but came pretty close when he added some adjoining Formal Gardens as well as a star-themed Tasso Room. He kept chipping away in a north-westerly direction, scoring mondo points for sealing off an Anteroom with a Larder and the Larder with the Berchta Room.
Simultaneously he expanded the eastern wing of his estate, dropping an appropriately-named Focus Room just off the Green House for a nice l'il windfall. Despite adding a northern Hallway which led to nowhere, he also constructed a descending Stairway which spilled out into a Dungeon (natch) and was subsequently sealed off with a Mold Room. Mmmmmm, nummy.
The Focus Room truly became the central hub for most of his development. He dropped in a Scullery, closed all of the exits there with a matching Meat Locker and then neatly zipped this up by installing a toasty Sauna next door.
Meanwhile, I came out like gangbusters, chaining several completed rooms together. After building a Shed just off my Foyer I quickly polished it off with a Powder Room. I continued my quest to seal up my starting room by building a subterranean set of Stairs leading to a totally pimp Secret Lair replete with Bottomless Pit option.
Next door I added an expansive Drawing Room, completing my Foyer and giving me some insane new avenues to build off of. I installed a Porch just off the dining area, giving guests an opportunity to take in some fresh air after playing a rousing game of charades. I then added no less than two extended Hallways, effectively setting the stage for a south and an east wing in this increasingly- insane castle.
Unfortunately I bit off more than I could chew by installing an Eastern Tapestry Chamber with way too many entrances and exits. I managed to close one of these off with a Salon but this still left me with five doors which emptied into nothingness. I then built Pin Alley for some unknown reason, an action made all the more incomprehensible when you take into account the two awkwardly-placed doors that I'd never be able to reconcile.
I rebounded slightly with a southern building initiative for my wait staff. I quickly sealed off the Servant's Quarters with a Dressing Room and then finished the latter with a Grand Bedchamber for my lead serf. I honestly bought a lot of these simply because I had the Bonus Card that gives 3 Points for every 400-Square Foot Room. I also had the reward which gives one point for long Hallways and Stairs so I'm not quite sure why I didn't just buy up every one of those.
Mark also experienced a few hiccups at the start but pretty soon he was trowelin' on the Spackle like a champ. After plopping down a one-hundred-and-fifty-foot Hallway that inexplicably led to a northern Solar and a southern Great Hall things started to get even more schizophrenic. After tacking a Stables on to the end of the hall, Mark decided to go full freak show by constructing a massive Singer's Chamber right next to his horsey hotel. Um, okay.
He started to wrack up a lot more points with the eastern wing of his castle, starting off with a sizable Theater, the east exit of which he sealed up with a Piano Room. This in turn got polished off with an incomplete Oratory. Just north of the Theater he cleared yet another community green belt in order to build something called Hunding's Hut. Eventually Mark managed to accommodate all three exits from this tile, starting with a work-in-progress Gatehouse to the east.
Mark then built a Tapestry Room to the West of the Hut and then got in touch with his feminine side by chaining together a pretty l'il Lilac Cabinet (whatever the fuck that is) and a neighboring Pink Cabinet, where he presumably stored all of his um, pink things. For a while I thought that Mark was picking all of these rooms just because of his musical background but it was actually because he secretly held the Bonus Cards which gives 2 points for every room mit der Lute symbol. He also had the card which gives 3 points for every 350-square foot building in his castle, of which there was only one.
Perhaps inspired by his own real-life aptitude with home improvement, Dean built like Mike Holmes on an PCP bender. To the south of his Foyer he constructed a 75-foot Stairwell which emptied into a massive (and undeniably bad-ass) Armory. He attached a 150-foot Downstairs Hallway to this but ran out of time before he could expand on it. Back upstairs he added another 75-foot set of Stairs which led to his Venus Grotto. Replete with an on-site bathroom that sells things, the Grotto ain't the kinda place you wanna hang out in end unless you're armed with a UV light, asbestos pants and a six-gallon drum of Lestoil.
But the lion's share of his construction work was in the west wing, the nexus of which was a huge 600 square foot sized Vestibule which closed off his Foyer. To the north of this massive chamber was another 75 foot set of Stairs which spilled out into a Knight Room filled with suits of armor. This in turn was sealed off by the medically-practical and surprisingly-pretty Fungus Room.
He wasn't done there. To the south of his cavernous Vestibule Dean built a Food Prep Room so he could get his late-nite snack on. This, in turn, was closed off by a logically-situated Pantry. Then, just south of this, he built a Train Room. Cripes, who was his patron, Reverend Lovejoy? Anyway, there was little chance of getting this closed off mainly because the game doesn't come with an ten foot long corridors. Oh, well.
If Dean got all tuckered out after playing with his caboose, he had the option to wander next door to his Sitting Room to um, sit. If this wasn't restful enough he could crash in his dedicated Nap Room or take a refreshing stroll in his Pumpkin Garden to the west. Dean's spacial relations served him well since he managed to cluster a completed Broom Closet and a Kitchen right next to the Great Pumpkin's landing spot. In a final inspired flourish, the Kitchen was sealed off with an Observatory and an adjacent Gallery of Mirrors. All told a pretty fine showing.
At around 5:04 the last of the Room cards were depleted and the game came to an end.
Wow, this was another great pick, even if I have to say so myself! There's so much to love here. The Room, Hallways and Stair tiles are all colorful and well-designed. The Contract Board gives every component a home. The Master Builder's choice for setting prices is elegant and clever, as is the mechanic which dictates that a Room is completed only after all the doorways leas to something else. Add to this no less than six different scoring elements to consider when a room is completed as well as bushel of bonus points that come from the King's Favor rewards and the criterion laid out on the Bonus Cards.
When I sat down to play Castles of Mad King Ludwig it was late in the day and I think my sleep-deprivation was catching up to me. Whatever the reason I couldn't help but feel as if I telegraphed some of the scoring subtleties. The next time I play this one I really wanna be well-versed in the rules because I can't shake the nagging feeling that I missed out on a few points here and there. Even though I exploited all three of my initial Bonus Cards reasonably well, I also dropped the ball regarding the Room Completion Awards and zeroing in on those valuable King's Favor rewards.
But of all the games I played that day Castles of Mad King Ludwig was the one that I wanted to buy and / or revisit as soon as possible. Frankly I would have snapped it up by now but the game's $60.00 price tag is pretty daunting for yours truly.
While we were completely engrossed in Castles, these games got rolled out at some of the other tables:
Play Time: 4:00 pm to 5:16 pm
Participants: Andrew, Angie, Audrey, Chad & Mike
Notes: Andrew proved to be the zen master in this peaceful game of measured moves and set collection.
Play Time: 4:05 pm to 4:48 pm
Participants: Cheryl, Claudia, Dawn, Jeremy, Matt & Sabina
Winner: Claudia & Sabina
Notes: By all accounts, Claudia and Sabina "massacred" the competition in this stunty phrase- completion party game.
Play Time: 5:05 pm to 5:25 pm
Participants: Cheryl, Claudia, Dawn, Jeremy, Matt, Sabina
Notes: Matt's brain was at its throbbiest in this crazy mash-up between the "Music & Cinema", "History" and "Inventions" sets.
Play Time: 5:25 pm to 5:35 pm
Participants: Cheryl, Claudia, Dawn, Jeremy, Matt, Sabina
Notes: This time Sabina got the duke in this decidedly-non-sucky educational card game.
Play Time: 5:15 pm to 5:40 pm
Participants: Andrew, Angie, Audrey, Chad, Mike
Notes: Even though it was Mike who publicly declared that "No one touches the banana except for my pleasure", Chad "pulled" out the win. "Pulled" out the win. Geddit? Ah, never mind.
With that our time was up but before everyone left I had the unique pleasure of drawing for prizes. Here's how that tumbled out:
The Door Prize winner of the $30.00 Gift Certificate from The Board Room Game Cafe was...
Chad was kind enough to donate two prizes to the event: a copy of Get Bit and Dead Man's Draw.
Winner of Get Bit:
Winner of Dead Man's Draw:
Super-sweet Sabina brought along no less than three prizes to give away: a Wallet Ninja, an Agent Phil Coulson Bobblehead and a bad-ass Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. mug.
Winner of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. mug:
Wallet Ninja Winner:
Agent Coulson Bobblehead Winner:
Chelsea was also kind enough to crochet some super-cool knitted d6 dice, the winner of which was:
Then, after tallying up all of the votes for MVP the winner of the $20.00 gift certificate for The Board Game Cafe was:
After all the prizes were given out there was naught else to do but thank my guests for showing up and heap praise upon the staff of the Board Room Game Cafe for putting up with our hi-jinx. As the attendees filtered out of the convention hall and swarmed all over the cafe's extensive game library and retail section, I mentally declared that this was, by far, the best DaveCon ever.
TOP TEN REASONS WHY THIS WAS THE BEST DAVECON EVAR
(10) Attendance was up. Between myself, Sabina, Cheryl, Jeremy, Kat, John A., Graeme, Claudia, Dean, Chad, Angie, Andrew, John G., Dawn, Kris, Matt, Mike and Audrey we had eighteen people in total...a new record!
(9) Mo' prizes. Speaking of records, this time out we had eight incredible prizes to give away.
(8) The game collection. Having the event at The Board Room was ludicrously-convenient. Most of the games I wanted to play were sitting right there in the cafe's library which meant that I didn't have to shlep my own copies there and back again.
(7) Getcher snack-on. Not only did I avoid going off-site for lunch, the freedom to have a beer or two while playing games was a tremendous boon. DAVECON + CRAFT BEER = BEST DAVECON DEFAULT WIN
(6) It wasn't all about the Benjamins. Attendees only paid $5.00 per person to get in, which is the standard cafe entrance fee. This gave us dominion over a huge space that's just optimized for gaming.
(5) No red tape. Instead of me wasting a bunch of time handling cash and buying gift certificates, everyone just paid their entrance fee to the cafe and Kris dropped off the $20 and $30 Gift Certificates at his leisure. Easy peasy.
(4) Games on site to buy and fondle. The cafe's wide selection of games in the retail section was super-handy for any attendees who felt inspired to pick up new favorites or get a discount on something they've been pining for.
(3) "It's my party and I'll play what I want to." By setting up a "Gotta Play" wishlist I spent my time exactly the way I wanted to. Words can't describe how happy I am to have finally played these four awesome titles.
(2) Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, which is the raison d'être for the whole thing. Whenever I spend the day surrounded with awesome people and indulging in this hobby I love so much, I truly feel like the luckiest man on earth. Everyone should be so fortunate.
Post script: you'll notice that this was the first DaveCon in the past five years that didn't feature a mass game of Ultimate Werewolf, which had become something of a tradition. A part of me kinda missed playing it while another part of me was glad that I didn't have to interrupt what everyone was doing in order to shoe-horn it in.
The worst part about Ultimate Werewolf is that it ties everyone up. Even if you opt out of playing it, you're kinda stuck watching it because it's a giant spectacle. And if you participate and get eliminated in the first coupla rounds then you're left sitting around with your thumb up your ass waiting for it to end.
Having said that, it's still a lot of laughs and a genuine DaveCon tradition that many attendees have come to expect. Maybe next year I'll put it to a survey vote and if the majority of people want to play it I'll make the time to run it.
Anyhoo, I hope that everyone who reads this will be inspired to create your own custom game day. Don't wait for a sanctioned opportunity to get yer game day in, start planning (INSERT NAME HERE)-Con right now!
Wanna delve deeper into the games I played at DaveCon this year? Well, just click on the images below to learn more about these awesome titles!