Yep - they have them - boardgame championships I mean. The games are international, and a few of the attendees are too. And I'm at them. I'll be posting my observations and some pictures from the conference here this week. They're expecting 1500 people; they have seminars and demos and tournaments; and it's intimidating since I am not a long time boardgame player. Thie picture is one of the train track laying games.
Summary - Board Games are becoming increasingly complex. They make the parts tiny to save money. A lot of games have the same game mechanic just in different settings.
this is a really well-organized conference - lots of rooms to keep track of, game managers, sign up sheets. There are so many things going on at once - demos, tournaments, seminars.
For each tournament, there are signs with a picture of the game, info about hte tournament, and a sign up sheet. As the week went on, they posted info about winners.
For each room the conference was using there was a sign showing all the games for that room for hte whole week organized chronologically. All the demo tables were labeled and those numbers were used in the program.
There were a lots of rooms, and an incredible number of things going on simultaneously, but they made it easy to find the desired activity.
Auctions, Game Demos, Tournaments - Here's a picture of the auction - ok - i can't take a good picture with this new camera. I'll try harder to brace myself. They had tons of games for sale in lots of categories. I went to what they were calling family games. Some games went for a couple of bucks some up to $90 and $100.
At the auction when i went, I figure about 50-75 people were present - mostly guys - i see 2 guys playing portable videogames
4 auctioneers, tons of games - I mean tons - many piles probably 4 feet tall on the sales table with the auctioneers and more games in the "store" area where buyers can check out the lots they want to bid on - start bids mostly 1, most expensive i heard was $50 for a game, cheapest $3 (wonder where money goes? maybe the people who put them up for sale get the money - would be an interesting fund raiser
they make a deal about shrink wrapped, punched/unpunched, complete or missing specific stuff (and they say what's missing), condition of the box. these aren't the collectibles either - I have to come back for that at 4
I played or watched depending on the size of the crowd: Cube, Stone Age, Merchant of Venus, Santa Fe Rails, Thurm & Taxis, Candidate, Elk Fest (what a hoot). I liked Thurm & Taxis the best so far and Santa Fe Rails 2nd best. Elk Fest would be good to play in class and to think about how we could recreate it in a videogame - not to mention adding stuff to it since it only has a couple of rules and one way to win.
Here's a picture of one of the game demos. Some folks sit and the rest of us stand around struggling to see and hear. Ok - us old folks who need more light and stronger bifocals struggle to see - ha ha.
Here's a car in the parking lot - these folks are serious. They play till all hours of the late night/early morning. They carry around games. They play pick up board games - "hey, what are you guys playing? Got an empty seat?" or "Anybody want to play Cuba?" These are not quick 10 minute games either - some games can go two and three hours. I'm not playing those - don't have the attention span
Here's the games I played or went to the demo of today - Titan: The Arena (a card game), Amazing Space Venture (created by the head of the marketing department at Wilmington University (Delaware), Power Grid, Ticket to Ride, and Can't Stop (a dice and marker game)
And I went to a bunch of seminars: Probability and Statistics (good one that they should make 2 hours), Buying/Selling Wargames, Ethics & Gaming. The seminars are a neat part of the conference - people talking about some of the logic behind the games, about some bigger issues around games.
Here's what I've played today: Hamburgum Nefertiti, Race for the Galaxy, Stock Car Racing,Monsters Ravage America,
I went to some seminars: - --- ok - I didn't go to any seminars - I went to a demo of a stock car game and a monster fight game called Monsters Menace America, then to a heat of the monster fight game. ANd I won! As a prize I won a Godzilla movie (get it - monster game - monster movie - oh of course you got it - you're smart enough to read this blog
The stock car racing game was a hoot. You have a deck of cards and a race car. You stage battles with hte cards to move up in the pack on the race track. It was different from the other board games with all their little pieces and victory point counters. It's one that would be interesting to buy because i think it's one we could program. The battles would be interesting - ok - they'd be tough to handle for newbies. But it's a game concept we would work on at several levels. I hope to get to play a heat of this tomorrow.
The monster game was also good. There was a central board. Each player controls their monster and one branch of hte military. You move your monster and place troups. You can attack the other monsters. There are move limits, damage points, hit points. You roll dice to see who wins the battles. You ahve a card for each monster to keep track of your hit points. You stomp cities to get hit points. You can mutate. You can upgrade your military. Lots of interesting little side things to keep track of. I focused on getting mayhem points that counted in the final monster on monster battle. That's how I won - by one point - I had 18 mayhem points. For the first half of the game I had the most hit points too. My monster was down in a spot with out many military bases and with small hit point cities so it didn't attract the attention of the other players.
And I poked my head into this room - they have big boardgames set up here. I think they're all games based on wars and historic games. Huge boards, thousands of little pieces. Well it looks like thousands to me.
A light day for me. I'm getting kind of board gamed out. I'm looking for different games now. Here is a picture from the vendor room - the 1st day it was open. I wrote more details here
The Eurogame pattern is all over the place. Used in games with lots of different themes, lots of little tweaks and combinations of the pattern. Maybe that's one of the big take-aways - there are lots of pieces to the eurogame pattern that can be combined in different ways to make new games. And new parts can be introduced to start off a new round of similar games with new themes and new tweaks. There's a whole psychology to the balance of strategy and luck - people want more of one and less of the other in their games. Maybe I want games with a little more luck. There's a range of time frames too - I think i like shorter games. Maybe this is the boardgame equivalent of the casual-hardcore gamer. Don't know yet.
I'll have more pictures to add later. Went to a couple of seminars - one about producing game parts with die cutters that was much more interesting than I imagined. I found out there are small do it your self die cutting machines and companies that will make dies for you for a price of course - but still cheap enough that you could think about it if we got some games that really seemed good. I went to another seminar about election based games - got some info and commentary about 10 or 11 games - could save ya some money by letting ya know which games weren't worth buying or playing.
I bought a couple more games - bought 2 copies of the stock car racing game, Nuclear proliferation and the expansion pack called Weapons of mass destruction, Carcassone, the Ticket to Ride card game and Elk Fest.
So now we have some games to play in class, I have a bunch of notes about boardgames and some ideas about homework assignments. I heard people talking about Origins - another game con in Columbus Ohio. They get 14,000 or more. Yes, that's 3 zeros. About 10 times bigger than the PA conference. I think the Ohio conference has more than just boardgames.
The free play room was open - here are a couple of pictures. The crowd really seemed to pick up on Friday. I talked to a couple at lunch and they said some folks just come for the weekend. A lot of the big, popular heats and finals are scheduled for the weekend.
Demos: Tikal, Nuclear Warfare, a german game that starts with A and in the English re-issue is known as Hoity Toity, Wits & Wagers
Seminars - What we can learn from wargames
The german game had a nice simple but fun mechanic - you're collecting art so you either go to the auction house to buy more art or to the castle to display art. You can also be a thief or a detective.
The Nuclear Warfare is a card game. The final attack is cool - if you run out of population you get to unleash all your weapons on the other players. We had a chain reaction final attack and everybody died - everybody lost.
I think both these games would be good for school because they have different gameplay. I know the nuclear warefare one is in the vendor room so i'll get it tomorrow before i leave.