Gen Con: Day 3 Recap

Friends, we’ve made it to the third day of Gen Con.
If you have been concerned about our nourishment this week, don’t worry, because we only waited 45 minutes in line for BBQ at a food truck.
We weren’t at the convention for as long today (Aug. 6), but we did get to play a couple new releases, as well as some older games I’ve been waiting to knock off my list.
Oh, and my sister randomly showed up… But she doesn’t know anything about board games, so we don’t need to talk about her.
Let’s get to the games!
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Mystic Vale

Mystic Vale was released at Origins this year, and while I’m not that familiar with it, I was at least looking forward to getting a demo in at some point.
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This is the only artwork that stood out to me. I do like the different card backs.

Mystic Vale plays essentially like a typical deck-builder, but with all cards sleeved. The sleeves are filled with your regular cards, but you slip transparent cards with artwork depicted on various locations to sort of fill each card out. The game balances some push-your-luck elements, while you allocate resources to purchase better card upgrades, and eventually special trees.
To be honest, our instructor at the AEG booth wasn’t phenomenal, so we were left to sort of figure out the game on our own. AEG was short-staffed at the time, so all of that to say, I’m looking forward to playing this again at some point to give it another shot.
My initial impression is that I liked the implementation of transparent cards, but it felt sort of tedious. The demo game also had a shorter victory condition, so I’ve decided I really need a full play-through to make a decision on this one. Also, the artwork didn’t stand out at all on those cards.

The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game

I’m a long time fan of The Castles of Burgundy, from Ravensburger, so needless to say, I was very excited to see this one get a release. 
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I took this abysmal photo, so it doesn’t even do the slightest justice to the game. But at least you can get a tiny glimpse at the cards.

I love the euro game card editions, like San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Brewcrafters Travel Edition, and I think I can add this one to the list.
The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game looks to be the start of the Alea tiny box series; or at least I wish it was. It includes the original artwork from the beloved board game—everything from silverlings to each individual building type.
Cards are tiny, and the game lacks dice. Instead, die are depicted on cards, where each card can be used to purchase another card, build, or even sell goods. Sound familiar? Yes, it blends the greatness of dice mechanics from the original, as well as finding creative ways for cards to have multiple uses. The game is pretty simple for someone familiar with the board game, but I wager not as easy to grasp for the uninitiated.
I had a lot of fun with this one, and I’m looking forward to adding it to my cart.

Game Room

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My camels are better than your camels.

Wes and I arrived a bit late to the convention this afternoon, so our dealer’s hall time was cut short. To make up for the time, we decided to spend the rest of the evening at the board game library. The collection here is huge, so we had many options. We settled on three.
Jaipur is a two-player, card-drafting, set-collection game that forces you to push the odds a little bit in order to maximize your gains. You are drafting different resources in order to sell them off for points. When you sell 3-5 cards, this gives you bonus points. In addition, you are collecting camels to add to your herd, which will net a few extra points. You play two-three rounds with the winner being the one with the most points at the end of each.
I’m glad I finally got to play this one, and I was even more ecstatic it took so little time to learn. I really enjoyed the back-and-forth of trying to build up your set, but also the gamble of drawing a card, and potentially giving up points to the other player.
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I lost twice in a row. I just don’t get it.

Biblios (IELLO Games) puts you in control of an ancient text librarian who hopes to build up the greatest collection of written work. While I’m not sold on this as a two-player game, I do think it would play great with more.
The game is played over two rounds. In the first, you draft cards to be either given to your opponent, to the auction house, or to your own hand. Cards are either gold pieces, or one of five different relics with varying numbers and letters on them. In the second round, you auction off each card from the giant draw deck you’ve constructed over the game. You can bet gold for the text, or to collect gold, each card in your hand has a trade value of one.
Once the auction deck is completed, you then tally up points and whoever has the most points in each color gains victory points based on the value of its corresponding die. These dice start at three, but are manipulated throughout the course of the game through library cards.
As I said before, I think I like this one, but the two-player game left the bidding feeling a bit dry. As in most two-player games, I had a good idea of what my opponent had in his hand, but bidding for cards just felt sort of annoying. If there was just one more player, I think the game would have had more excitement in auctioning.
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Abyss’ artwork is nothing short of enchanting.

Abyss is a game about taking control of an underwater kingdom in the form of persuading various lords to join your cause. You do this by collecting pearls, defeating sea monsters, and exploring, which will net you various sea creatures of different colors.
Each creature you collect can either be bought by an opponent or taken into your own hand in order to purchase these lords. Each lord provides special abilities, victory points, and keys that allow you to take control of location tiles that will also bear additional points at end game.
I’d heard a lot about Abyss from media outlets, but the hype is real. This game has beautiful, environmental artwork that captures the atmosphere of the game quite well. Each card is brimming with interest, and the board has a special feel to it. One outstanding component is the form of currency, which come as small pearl beads that lay dormant in black plastic clams.
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Each Abyss game box has different cover art. Seriously cool.

Abyss carefully balances mechanics involving risk, bidding, and timing in a way I haven’t really seen before.
The pacing of the game is thoughtful and definitely leans toward additional plays. I’d like to review this one in the future to get a better understanding of the game, specifically at a higher player count.
One other note of interest is the lord powers are akin to those of the djinns in Five Tribes. I felt some vibes of familiarity between those two game mechanics, and I liked that a lot.

 


The Final Wrap-Up

This article is actually the last one I’ll be writing on the convention. Tomorrow (Aug. 7), I will be spending time with my family and recovering from non-stop Gen Conning… Although, for me, rest is always accompanied by a few board games.
Until next year: ta-ta.

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Chris Hecox

Chris enjoys the simple things in life, like teaching his wife the newest review game, looking up Ketogenic recipes, and playing 10 hour long indie games on Steam. If he's not thinking about the oil drum components from Manhattan Project: Energy Empire, playing Player Unknown: Battlegrounds with his college buddies, or dwelling on the release of Daredevil Season Three, he's probably shooting or editing video, because that's what he does for a living.

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