A couple of weekends ago, Dave and I attended our very first gaming convention, U-Con Gaming Convention. It was held at the Eagle Crest Marriot Resort in Ypsilanti, just off of I-94. The convention ran from Friday morning through Sunday afternoon and featured board games, collectible card games, miniature games, roleplaying and larping (live campaign). Dave and I got to try a lot of new board games, some that were on our list to try as well as a few that we had never heard of, it was great!
We bought weekend passes and a play games all weekend ribbon. The passes got us into the con and the ribbon allowed us to play any game being run or that was in the library. Instead of a ribbon, we could have bought tickets to individual events. The ribbon gives you flexibility, but the tickets guarantee you a spot. For the most part, the ribbon worked out really well. We participated in a lot of the scheduled games, but then we also tried out several games from the U-Con library. We did end up purchasing event tickets to Takenoko because we wanted to guarantee our spot, it only had four slots and it’s a popular game. Despite double paying for that event, we’re glad we did as Takenoko was one of our favorites from the con. In an ideal world, we’d get the ribbon and that it would also allow us to guarantee our spots in at least a few events.
The first game we played was Power Grid, a game that we’ve wanted to try for a long time. Power Grid is a strategy game in which the players have to bid against one another to purchase power plants. You buy resources like coal, oil, and uranium to power you power plants which in turn power a certain number of cities. As the game progresses, more efficient power plants become available for purchase. If you’re lucky you’ll acquire one of the few wind-powered plants which run for free! We both really enjoyed this game, I was worried that it would be too strategic for me, but I did pretty good.
The next game we played was a game I never heard of called Legacy: Gears of Time. It’s a strategic card game focused on time travel and technology. I had a bit of a hard time understanding the mechanics of the game and never really figured out a strategy. It was fun, but I wouldn’t buy it until after I played it a few more times and see how it played as a two player game.
Our last game on Friday was Flash Point, a cooperative game where everyone playing wins together or loses together. All the players are firefighters trying to rescue 7 people or pets from a burning building. Players use their actions to move through the building, to put out fires, chop down walls, and rescue the inhabitants. The game is a lot of fun and you can adapt it to make it more or less difficult depending on the skill level of all the players. We’ve since bought this game and haven’t won yet, but it’s still a ton of fun.
We arrived on Saturday before our first scheduled game, so we decided to try a game from the library. I had my eye on the game Tahiti so we gave it a go. Tahiti is a resource-gathering game in which you have to paddle your canoe from island to island collecting coconuts, spices, bananas, and more. You have to maneuver around reefs or risk losing your resources. It was a simple game, but lots of fun. It would be a good intro game for new gamers or for younger players.
Takenoko was recently on TableTop, so we were eager to try it out. Your goal in Takenoko depends on what cards you have in your hand. You may want to grow bamboo, you may want your garden laid out in a specific pattern, or you may just want to eat the bamboo. It sounds a bit silly, but it’s a lot of fun. This is another one we want to pick-up, but unfortunately our friendly, local game store, Vault of Midnight, is out at the moment.
Lords of Waterdeep, which we also saw on TableTop, was also high on our list to try and it did not disappoint. We loved it and have already purchased our own copy! Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game based in the world of Dungeons & Dragons, though you don’t have to be familiar with that at all to play and enjoy the game. In short, you have different quests you need to accomplish that require a different mix of cubes (aka the workers) to complete. Again, like most games, the descriptions don’t really do it justice!
Lungarno was a game we tried from the games library during a break between scheduled games. And it was only, meh. Probably the only game we played all weekend that I’m not really interested in trying again. It’s a tile placement games, kind of like Carcassonne, but it didn’t really grab me or Dave.
However, Pompeii, another game from the games library, was a lot of fun. It’s made by Mayfair Games, the company that makes Settlers of Catan, though this game has nothing in common with Settlers. In the first phase of the game, you place your friends and relatives in Pompeii and in the second phase of the game is the race to get your people out before the volcano erupts and blocks their escape or worse. It took a little while to get the mechanics of the game, but once you figured out a strategy for placement and removal, it was a lot of fun.
Our last game was a great one, Starfarers of Catan! Now out of print, Starfarers of Catan is based on the popular Settlers of Catan, but it’s way more than just a space-themed version of Catan. There are some mechanisms and gameplay similar with the original Settlers of Catan, but Starfarers add a lot of new components, including your very own rocket! The rocket is more than just some to look at, it’s actually involved in the gameplay. We’d love to get our hands on a copy, but their going for a pretty penny on eBay. Maybe one day we’ll get lucky!
If you’re interested in gaming, I definitely recommend checking out U-Con. Everyone was super friendly and we played with all beginners. I was worried about it being too crowded and overwhelming, but it was a perfect size. And since U-Con is all the way next November, you can test the waters at U-Con’s monthly gaming days at the Corner Brewery.