SaltCon Day #2: 9 more game mini-reviews!

SaltCon Scoville board game

Scoville was a great board game to start the day with.

Before the SaltCon Game Library closed on Friday night, we each checked out a game to hang onto over night so we’d have something new to play before the game library opened the next morning.

After a short but good sleep, Jake and I dove into our second day at SaltCon at 8:30 Saturday morning with a lot of game-playing energy.

Between the 2 games we checked out, we decided to play Scoville.

 

Scoville

Scoville is a game about pepper farming. It’s a very fitting name (based on the Scoville heat scale) since players have been hired by the town of Scoville to meet their need for heat.
In the game players crossbreed peppers to create the hottest new breeds. In the process, players will plant, harvest, and create new pepper breeds to sell at market and fulfill recipe orders for points.

SaltCon Scoville board game

Super cool components and fun game play in Scoville.

As you can see from the photos, Scoville is a very colorful game. And it’s a lot of fun.

Jake and I started setting up for a 2-player game, but we were soon joined by another gamer just passing by who asked if he could play. Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, SaltCon is all about enjoying time with other like-minded people who love games. So of course we let him join in.

And I think a 3-player game was much more enjoyable in Scoville than a 2-player game would have been. And I think additional players would add to even more fun through tougher choices and options. (The game plays up to 6.)

Why? Because each round of Scoville begins with an auction phase where players bid/compete for turn order. Turn order matters each round because players take turns planting and harvesting the peppers. If you don’t get the order you want, you may get blocked from planting in a certain spot or moving to a specific location where you want/need to harvest. Additional players make these choices much more interesting.

Another thing I loved about Scoville were the components. Not only are the peppers very colorful, but they’re also different sizes – corresponding to the level of crossbreeding to get to them. The handy crossbreeding chart is a great tool for knowing what to harvest.

And the board itself is fantastic. Rather than just placing peppers on a board with a grid, the spaces are actually cut out of the board so the peppers actually get ‘planted’ in the ground!
This is also a great way to ensure the peppers don’t get bumped or moved around as players move their farmers around the board. Big thumbs up Tasty Minstrel Games!

Scoville was a great way to start the day. And it’s definitely a game I want to play again.

SaltCon Five Tribes board game

Five Tribes has been a much-talked about game this year.

Near the end of that game, Doug found us and had brought his copy of Five Tribes.

 

Five Tribes

Five Tribes has been a very popular new board game of 2014 by Days of Wonder and I’ve been anxious to play it.
In Five Tribes, players move meeples (wooden people) around the board to secure special actions and points. It’s a very unique spin on typical “worker-placement” games.

In a typical work-placement game players take workers from their stock and place them on unique spaces on the game board to take special actions. However, in Five Tribes, all the workers begin the game on the board and players take turns moving them around and removing them from the board instead.

I definitely enjoyed playing Five Tribes, but I’m not sure yet what I think of the game overall.

SaltCon Five Tribes board game

Jake and I finally get a photo together having fun.

For starters, I love the variability in the game. The game board is made up of individual tiles that are randomly set up at the beginning of the game. Likewise, the many colored meeples are randomly distributed across those tiles to start.

Five Tribes had a very puzzly feel to me so I like the random starting set up because it creates a unique puzzle to work with every game.

I also really like puzzly type games. I like the brain exercise of figuring out optimal moves. However, the amount of options in Five Tribes seemed almost too much. It’s not that they’re difficult decisions. But if someone were to analyze every possible move, it would take absolutely forever.

So rather than try to optimize every single move, I’d simply look at a few options and pick one to do. (Which is actually a great way to approach any new game – just try a few things and see what works without belaboring it too much.)

SaltCon Five Tribes board game

So many options of which meeples to move…

Five Tribes is also a game that can change a lot by the time it’s back to your turn. So as much as you’d like to plan out your next move while other players are taking their turns, you can only do that to a certain extent because of the changes the other players will make.

Thinking about the game after it was over, it was hard to put my finger on exactly why I wasn’t super impressed. My best guess was because there didn’t seem to be any particular cohesive game story. No solid flow. It was about making the most tactical decision each turn out of an endless supply of options. (To be fair, the amount of potential choices does diminish with each round as meeples are removed.)

I’d still like to play Five Tribes again before passing a final judgment, but with all the other games I’m also anxious to play, I don’t know how soon a 2nd play might be.

After a couple of strategy games, it was time to move on to a lighter game in the party games category: Going, Going, Gone!

 

Going, Going, Gone!

Going, Going, Gone! is an auction game where players are trying to win sets of cards to sell later for money – and the win.
It’s a very unique auction game with 5 auctions going on simultaneous – and franticly.

SaltCon Going Going Gone board game

Going, Going, Gone! is a real-time, frantic auction game.

Players bid on the auctions by dropping their wooden cubes (“bucks”) into any or all of the 5 transparent auction cups. Next to each cup is a card (or cards) that is represented in that auction.

So if a player wants to win a certain card, they must drop more cubes than any other player into that cup. But they must do it while the auction lasts.

Players take turns being the auctioneer who counts down from 10. The auctioneer can count down at any speed they’d like and when they get to 0, they place the paddle over all the cups to end the bidding.

Thus, the auction lasts as long as that auctioneer wants it to last. They can count as slowly or as quickly as they’d like. So some auctions will be more frantic than others.

Going, Going, Gone! is a very simple game and one that we bought for Christmas last year but hadn’t yet played. I was very glad I took it to SaltCon because it was a great setting for such a game. And now that it’s been ‘broken-in’ it’s ready to hit our family game table.

After the frantic auctions, we move back to a strategy game and another that Doug had brought that I’ve wanted to play for a couple years – Last Will.

 

Last Will

The best way to explain Last Will is to compare it to the movie Brewster’s Millions with Richard Pryor (1985). Granted many younger players may not have heard of this movie before, but I really liked it and the topic is easy to convey.

SaltCon Last Will board game

How fast can you burn through your millions in Last Will?

In Last Will, players have been left millions of dollars that they must spend as quickly as they can. The person who fritters away their millions the fastest will win the game.

Every player has their own player board where they’ll add cards they collect through the game that give them things to spend money on – such as properties, helpers, trips, entertainment, etc.

It’s another game where the player order changes during the game and effects what options will be left to the players who come later in turn order. So balancing what cards you’d like to acquire with the amount of actions you’d like to take each turn is a big part of the game.

I really enjoyed playing Last Will. It was a tricky mental switch to think of spending money rather than accumulating money, but that’s what made it entertaining. Sure I could buy some cool properties, but I couldn’t win while I still owned them. I’d have to sell them off and find ways to spend the money I got from the sale before I could go bankrupt to finish the game.

Last Will is a very creative concept and fun to play.

SaltCon Isla Dorada board game

I’ve wanted to play Isla Dorada for many years.

The next game we got to a table was another from the Game Library – Isla Dorada.

 

Isla Dorada

Isla Dorada was published in 2010 and has likewise been on my “want to play” list since that time. Why? Because it looks really cool. Oh, and the game play sounded fun too.
In Isla Dorada players are on a expedition on an island filled with unknown treasure. Because of the dangers on the island, the expedition must stick together. So rather than each person rushing off to wherever they’d like to go on the island, players have to bid on the direction they’d like the expedition to go each round.

The playing pieces in the game are very cool and the pawn that represents the expedition is very sweet. It’s like a totem pole with the faces of the different explorers of the expedition – showing that we all have to move together. The other two pawns are used to block certain pathways.

SaltCon Isla Dorada board game

Fun island to explore with super cool pawns.

To win, players have to collect the most treasure. And players gain treasure by moving the expedition to the locations on the board that are favorable to them. Players collect cards that show how many points they’ll get if the expedition lands on a certain spot.

That’s all nice and good, but players also get curse cards that have negative points if they arrive at certain locations as well. And that’s where the player tension occurs.

Since all these point cards are kept secret until the end of the game, you don’t know the other players’ agendas. I may really want to steer the expedition in one direction while another player is very set on not going that direction because they’ll lose points.

Isla Dorada is a creative game that I enjoyed playing, but not one that I left SaltCon dying to play again.

 

Intermission:

At some point, Jake and I took a break to go get lunch, but I really can’t recall when it was. ☺

SaltCon The Discriminating Gamer

Meeting up with The Discriminating Gamer crew.

It was about this time that I ran into The Discriminating Gamer – Cody Carlson and Justin Bruse!

If you haven’t seen The Discriminating Gamer video reviews, you’re missing out. Their game reviews are super creative and really convey how fun games are. Cody Carlson also writes game reviews on a regular basis for the Deseret News.

Not only were they at SaltCon to play games, but they also interviewed many people at the con. And I was lucky enough to get to be a part of the action.

Here’s their video of SaltCon for your enjoyment. (I’m on starting at the 17:10 min mark.)

Colt Express and Mysterium again

Since I had had so much fun playing Colt Express and Mysterium on Friday, I really wanted to play them again with Jake.

So we grabbed a few other players and dove into Mysterium. Once again, we failed to discover the mystery and ended up losing. But like the first time, I still really enjoyed the game.

We then moved over a couple of Hot Games tables to Colt Express and dove into the train robbery. And similarly, my enjoyment wasn’t diminished at all. I still love Colt Express and it’s at the top of my “to buy” lists.

Since we’d been going strong all day, our minds were starting to need a breather. So we decided to move onto a couple simple card games at one of the exhibitor booths – Hoagie and Trash War.

 

Hoagie

Like the name implies, Hoagie is a card game about making a sandwich.

SaltCon Hoagie board game

Hoagie is a fun family card game for young kids to enjoy.

It’s a very simple game where players compete to be the first to build all 5 parts to a hoagie sandwich (2 bread, 1 meat, 1 lettuce, 1 cheese). But they must beware, because other players will try to spoil their sandwich by playing rotten ingredients on top of the pieces.

Players begin with a hand of cards and on their turn will play 1 card and draw 1 card. They can either play a card in front of them as part of their own sandwich or they can play a rotten ingredient card on top of another player’s card.

It’s a game with simple decisions – do I build my own, or slow down an opponent (and if so, which opponent)? – and should be great for kids.

We’ll do a full review in the future, but I gladly report that if you’re looking for a simple game that young kids will enjoy, Hoagie is a great one.

 

Trash War

Trash War on the other hand is more for the teenager crowd.

SaltCon Trash War board game

Flinging crazy items of trash in Trash War.

It’s also a simple card game about playing and drawing cards. But in Trash War players are flinging trash at each other trying to knock down opponents’ walls to eliminate them from the game. The last player with part of their wall still standing wins.

Each player starts with 3 wall cards in front of them – each with a strength value of 4. On your turn, you can place one of your trash cards on another player’s wall segment to damage it. Once the total value of the trash on the wall meets or exceeds 4, that wall is destroyed.

In addition to the trash cards, players may also have defense cards that either block the trash or fling it off to another player (including back to the attacker).

It’s a funny theme for sure and one that should definitely appeal to teenagers.

One of the aspects I really like about Trash War is that you don’t play in a set turn order. Instead, the player who gets attacked will get the next turn. But because the play is so quick, even if a couple players really go at each other just flinging trash back and forth, the other players aren’t sitting around very long before they get something thrown their way – and thus get in on the action.

As the day was coming to an end, I checked out another game from the game library that I had high hopes of playing at SalCon – Libertalia.

 

Libertalia

Libertalia is a game I’d heard about for a while have considered buying for quite some time thinking it would be a fun game for our monthly Guys Game Night.

SaltCon Libertalia board game

Shiver me timbers – another pirate game. Glad to report Libertalia is a very fun game.

Libertalia is a pirate-themed game in which players compete for loot (no big surprise with the objective in this one, it is a pirate game after all).

But the unique thing about Libertalia is that every player will have the exact same set of character cards that each do special actions. The big catch in the game is deciding when to play which character.

Deciding when to play which ability is only part of the strategy because players also need to be wary of what the others will play. As with any simultaneous selection game, in Libertalia guessing what the other players will play is at the heart of the game – and the heart of the fun.

I really enjoy this type of guessing and strategizing in a game and as I anticipated, I really enjoyed Libertalia. It was a great final big game to play as SaltCon was drawing to a close for me.

Sure enough, Libertalia is staying solid near the top of my games wish list.

But that doesn’t mean Jake and I were completely done. There were still SaltCon game giveaway winners to be drawn!

So while we waited and listened to the calling of the winners, we pulled out a very simple dice game – Roll For It.

 

Roll For It

In Roll For It players compete to acquire point cards by matching dice with what’s required on the card. The person to claim the set number of points first wins.

SaltCon Roll For It board game

Wrapping up our time at SaltCon with Roll For It.

Take a look at the photo to see some of the sample card dice requirements.

Three cards are set out and players take turns rolling their six dice. Once a player has rolled their dice, they can commit each of their matching dice to a card (by placing it next to the card). They don’t have to place all or any of the dice that they don’t want to. They keep the remaining dice in their dice pool.

On their next turn, that player rolls the dice from their dice pool and again commits matching dice to the card of their choice. If they have placed all the dice to complete a card, they claim the card and another card is drawn face up to replace it.

Any players that had committed dice to the card that was claimed, take those dice back into their own dice pool for their future turns.

As you can see, Roll For It is a very simple game to play and was a great way to pass the time while we were listening to the winners list.

While I wasn’t lucky enough to win any of the giveaways, Jake did get his number called and headed out with a couple small games.

It was about 10pm when we left SaltCon Saturday night after a very fun, game-filled couple of days. We were tired, but filled.

Cheers and a big thanks to all the staff and volunteers at SaltCon – it was a blast!

And we can already hardly wait until next year!

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SaltCon: More board games – My Day #1 (part 2)

SaltCon game library

Over 800 games to choose from in the SaltCon game library!

A couple days ago I started a mini-series of posts writing about my fun experience last weekend at SaltCon. After 2 days of solid board game and card game playing, I headed home having played 20 different games with a lot of great people.

Today, I’m sharing more about this fun gaming weekend – covering the rest of the games I played on my day 1 (Friday).

For an intro to SaltCon as well as mini-reviews on the first 5 games I played, check out the prior post of Day #1, Part 1.

Here’s Day 1, Part 2.

 

Day #1 continued

Having arrived at SaltCon around 10 am on Friday ready to dive into a ton of board games, I wasn’t interested in ‘wasting time’ with things like eating.

Mysterium board game SaltCon

Solve the cooperative mystery with dreamlike cards.

So I powered through the typical lunchtime block with just a couple granola bars. But just because I did so, doesn’t mean that there aren’t many options for lunch.

In the corridors outside the main gaming hall and other open gaming area was an array of food choices. In addition, just down the street from the Davis Conference Center are many good fast-food restaurants.

However, playing those first 5 games was too fun to stop, so I just kept on rolling.

After a short break to wander outside for some fresh air, I dove into another game that I was super excited to play, which was also on one of the Hot Games tables – Mysterium.

Mysterium is a cooperative game where players are trying to solve a mysterious death. One player takes the role of a helpful ghost who lives in a mysterious ancient manor. Other players are a group of psychics invited to solve the mystery and bring peace to its residents.

The ghost was the previous resident of the manor who wants to share the truth about what really happened. However, the ghost can only communicate via dreams.

Mysterium board game SaltCon

Each player first has to discover their own set of who, where, and with what.

And in this case, the dreams are in the form of cards with super creative artwork.

Thus, the ghost and the other players work together to solve the mystery in 7 days (rounds). However, the ghost can not speak. Instead, the ghost hands out cards to each player that will give them clues to find the person, place, and weapon that caused his/her demise.

It’s a very creative game and one that I really enjoyed.

A lot of people describe Mysterium as a mix between Dixit and Clue. And since our family enjoys both Dixit and Clue, I had high hopes for Mysterium. That’s why I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed at all. Even though we lost both times we played, it was a lot of fun trying to decipher the clues from creative artwork.

Mysterium board game SaltCon

This was our set of possible places, people, and things.

I wouldn’t really compare it to Clue directly. Sure, you’re trying to figure out who, where, and with what – but Mysterium is a cooperative game. So there at lot of cooperative discussions throughout the game on what the images may mean to convey.

One of the reasons Mysterium was on the Hot Games tables is because it’s super hard to get a copy. It’s published by a Polish company, Portal Games, and will be making it’s way to the US later this year!

Mysterium was another game that I bumped up higher on my games wish list.

Read more »

 
 
 

SaltCon: Board games Galore – My Day #1 (part 1)

After a week away on a business trip, I was sure looking forward to a couple days of non-stop board game playing at SaltCon this past weekend.

And I’m happy to report that it was just as fun as I had anticipated!

SaltCon game tables

Ready to dive into the “Hot Games”.

If you like playing board games, then SaltCon is for you. It’s non-stop open gaming for 3 days.

With a game library of over 800 games, there’s never a shortage of something to play.

And if you’re not familiar with how to play a particular game, there’s always someone close by happily willing to teach you.

Yes, the games I played were a lot of fun. But most of the fun is found in the “who”, not the “what”.

And the people that play games at SaltCon are a fantastic assortment of friendly, fun players.

As much as I was excited to play some new games, I was even more excited to meet up with people I’ve met at previous SaltCons. It was so great to see them and play games with them again this past weekend – as well as meet even more fun folks.

Overall I played 20 different board games and card games – 19 of which were new to me!

Since that’s a lot to write about, I’m breaking it up into a series of posts that will include mini-reviews of the games I played.

Here’s Day 1, Part 1.

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Inkognito – deduction game review

Inkognito card game

Ready for some intrigue and deduction?

If your family likes light deductions games, Inkognito: The Card Game may be right up your alley. Read on and deduce for yourself…

In Inkognito players are secret agents at Carnival in Venice. Each player is on a secret mission to make contact with his or her partner agent and trade information to discover the code to break into a safe and win the game.

It’s a fun deduction game for 2-5 players that plays in about 30 minutes.

There are actually a couple versions of Inkognito games. Both have the same setting and theme, but with slight differences in play.

Our review is of the Fantasy Flight Games Inkognito card game.

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My Game Buddy is Gone for 2 Years

lds missionary

So excited for Trevor!

It’s been over a week since our last board game post because our focus has been elsewhere. Writing about games has taken a backseat to our big family change.

This week our oldest son, Trevor, left to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

While we’re super excited for this major event in his life, we’re still going to miss him a lot.

As a missionary he’ll be gone for 2 years and the only contact we’ll have with him will be through weekly letters/emails and phone/Skype calls twice a year (Mother’s Day and Christmas Day). He’ll be focused 100% on teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in the area where he’s called to serve. And we’re very happy that he’s chosen to do so.

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Great gaming weekend – SaltCON 2015 – ahead!

saltconTwo weeks from today I’ll be having a blast playing a ton of board games at SaltCON!

What is SaltCON?

SaltCON is a board game convention in Salt Lake City, Utah for casual and competitive gamers alike that keeps getting bigger every year.

Once again this year it’s being held at the Davis Conference Center. And it runs Thursday through Saturday: March 12, 13, & 14, 2015.

If you love playing board games and think the idea of every once in a while playing non-stop for hours/days, then a board game convention may be just the thing for you.

I’ve attended SaltCON every year but one since 2010 and have a fantastic time every time.

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Hit the tropics in Tahiti – board game review

Tahiti board game

Let’s head to the tropics – Tahiti!

During the cold winter months it’s typical to daydream of visiting tropical islands. And while we may not be able to travel to a tropical island any time we want, at least we can pull out a tropical island board game and mentally escape for a little while.

So let’s take a trip to tropical Tahiti!

The board game Tahiti is a tile-laying game where players set out in their canoes to gather the finest harvest of fruits, vegetables, and spices from the surrounding islands for the tribe.

Players earn glory (victory points) by collecting both variety and quantity of goods over the entire season.

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Coerceo Board Game Giveaway! (and review)

Coerceo board game

Coerceo is a fun 2-player, abstract strategy board game.

When it comes to abstract board games, it’s great to go head-to-head against another player.

That’s why there are plenty of 2-player abstract strategy board games to choose from.

The most popular of course are Chess, Checkers, and Go.

Well, we’ve got another fun one for you to try: Coerceo!

And if you’re lucky, you may be able to win your own copy of the game!

Read on to see how you can win a new, in-shrink copy of Coerceo.

What is Coerceo?

Similar to Chess, Checkers, and Go, in Coerceo players compete by capturing the opponent’s pieces. However, unlike those other games, in Coerceo the game board shrinks as the game progresses – keeping opponents close together throughout the game.

The pyramid shaped pieces in Coerceo are fantastic, the modular board is great, but the real fun is in the strategic choices of capturing pieces and tiles to win the game.

The best way to get a feel for the game, and to learn how to play, is to watch our short video review of Coerceo.

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