Tennessee Game Days 2019: Everything's better with Hot Chicken! ...until 12 hours later.

carrotpanic wrote:

Did it even happen?

YES. It did indeed. I'm taking time this morning to not work and write up a recap of what I played, but as usual, TNGD is still the best damn value for board gaming. The library was even bigger this year, with a lot of brand new copies of requested games. We also noticed that the con is becoming more welcoming, with lots of families and new gamers exploring the hobby. It was fantastic, and I got to play some amazing games.

Scythe

I hadn't played this in a few years, but it was impressive how quickly this game can be picked up considering how complex it is. We did a five player game, but even with several playing for the first time, it went fairly quickly. Stilgar crushed us all, but my strategy of sitting in the corner and not doing a damn thing for half the game other than reproducing like horny rabbits left me rich in friends but not in victory points.

I like Scythe, but I've never gotten as excited about it as much as a lot of people. I think it does a lot of stuff well, and nothing really badly, but there's not any one particular aspect that makes me eager to try it again. Still, it was a good mid-weight game to kick things off.

Treasure Island

Similar to games like Letters from Whitechapel, this game sees one player taking the role of Long John Silver, hiding treasure on a buried island, and spending two weeks in prison getting the tar beat out of him while he gives smug hints that may or may not be true to the rest of the players, who are sprinting blindly around the island. Each turn, the other pirates can move, dig, or check to see if Long John Silver is a lying bastard (spoiler: he is), and draw on the dry-erase board to narrow down where he hid that booty. It's amazing. The game accelerates in a really amazing way. Initially, the goal at hand seems overwhelming, especially when LJS is sitting there like a smug bastard saying, "Maybe the treasure's east of you. Yeah, I know you're two nanometers from the west edge of the board, and that clue basically eliminates a surface area smaller than a postage stamp, but, I dunno, maybe you should be better at interrogations."

Unfortunately, this game has a big, juicy but. While the game is fantastic, some really bizarre choices about how to color the board and the dry erase markers you're given make it really tough to see your marks. It's such a simple thing, and BGG is filled with hacks for how to improve it with chalk markers and other solutions, but it really puts a crimp on the experience. I'd still recommend you try it, but it's disappointing Matago didn't go the extra mile.

Also, I totally found the treasure. Me. Suck it, you pirate jerk.

Lisboa

Minarchist lured me away for a two-player game of this behemoth with his sultry siren song and promise of sweet Vital Lacerda goodness. To call this a brain burner is an understatement. The board looks like an accountant's nightmare (granted, a nightmare with a beautiful art design), and the rules explanation took nearly an hour. Even with Minarchist's excellent teaching, it was still another hour before I felt like I had a grasp on the game.

And I don't care in the slightest, because this came very close to being my favorite game of the damn con. It's so, SO good. I can't imagine trying to design something like this. There are dozens of mechanics, but they all work together so seamlessly that once you understand the basics, the game just flows. Normally, my first game of something this complex is not particularly successful, as I spend the entire game just figuring it out, but it took surprisingly little time for me to offer up a real challenge to Minarchist. It was a narrow victory on his part, but I definitely want to try this one again. It's really amazing.

Lowlands

This was our kickoff of Saturday morning, as Obirano and Domano sat down to raise sheep and stop the ever-encroaching ocean with me. Lowlands is a light worker placement game that sees players trying to simultaneously get that sweet, sweet sheep cash, while all working together to build a dike to stop the rising waters. There's a really awesome balance between the two elements, and leads to some hilarious selfishness. If you see that both of the other players worked on the dike today, I mean, they did a great job, and is it really that big a deal if you skip it today to make sure your sheep have room to bone down? Judging from Domano's expression, he wasn't mad, he was just disappointed in me. Whatever. I rode those sheep to victory, even if half of them did get washed away in the flood.

If you like Rosenburg-style games, this one will hit that sweet spot. It's approachable, but has a lot of cool mechanics to give you various paths to victory. I have a copy at home that I haven't opened, but I'm excited to get it to the table more.

Quacks of Quindlinberg:

Minarchist and I were already interested in this game before we arrived, and quickly found out we weren't the only one. There's always one game that everyone at TNGD wants to play, and this year, Quacks was the belle of the ball, with the single library copy nearly impossible to get your hands on. I bought it from the vendor, and was a bit worried that I would regret buying it without having played it.

Yeah, that wasn't a concern. This bag-builder was the game of the con for me, and I don't think I'm alone in that. Each player is a quack doctor trying to mix up a potion that won't explode. To do this, you draw ingredients from a bag that includes several cherry bomb tokens of various value, trying to add as many to your cauldron as possible without hitting a value of 8 cherry bombs, upon which point your cauldron blows up in your face while everyone howls with laughter at your hubris. At the end of the turn, you earn victory points and cold hard ingredient cash, which you use to buy more ingredients for your bag. It's the best kind of push-your-luck game, as each ingredient has different powers. Rat skulls let you see into the future and change your fate. Theoretically, mandrake root lets you calm down a fizzling potion on the verge of erupting (assuming you draw it at the right time. You won't.) Over time, your bag becomes this unique combination of amazing ingredients that rapidly fill your pot.

That description can't do it justice, though. There were several moments in which one of us, all intelligent, educated adults who can count, would feel around in our bag, and realize that we only had a one in eight chance to draw the ingredient that would make us explode. The reaction when your hand emerges from the bag clutching that cherry bomb is amazing, with the player's howl of rage matched by the laughter from everyone else. It's a joyous, approachable game, and there are lots of variations of ingredients and a special advanced ruleset that I can't wait to try. 100% the best game of the weekend.

Clans of Caledonia

Minarchist was kind enough to teach us this excellent worker placement game that's similar to Terra Mystica, but with whiskey instead of magic gems. Players take turns spraying workers, farms, cows, and sheep across the game board, working to fulfill contracts and make the best whiskey. It's surprisingly generous for a game of this type, with lots of options and variety to what you can do. Each clan has a differing ability, which allows for everyone to embrace a different strategy. It's exactly the kind of game I dig. I'm not really sure why I bounced off it the way I did. I liked it, but I realized near the end that I hadn't really enjoyed playing it. It may have just been some confusion about the best approach for my clan, or just my headspace, because the game's design is really impressive. I think I want to try it again to see if I feel differently.

6 Nimmt

An excellent quick card game about bulls, stacks of bulls, all the ways you don't want bulls, and other people being a jerk and making you take bulls. Obirano had so many bulls. Of course, I had several bulls, but it was funny when CptDomano got more bulls!

Bulls.

Look, I don't know how to explain this game (which began with Minarchist telling us, "Look, just start playing and see what happens," advice which turned out to be surprisingly good). It's fun. Do you like bulls? It doesn't really matter. Give it a shot.

Railroad Ink

With roll and write games having their moment in the sun this year, I'm surprised this was the only one I played, but it's a good one. You spend your turn drawing roads and railroads on a map, with four dice telling you whether to draw a railroad turn, a straight road, an overpass, etc. The goal is to connect everything together in a neat and organized way. The reality is four people cursing at the dice and their board and themselves from ten minutes ago because why the HELL did you put that there you stupid bastard. It's a great puzzle, and a lot of fun. It's nowhere near as good as Welcome To, another roll and write that's impossible to find right now, but an approachable and fun filler game.

Following Trichy's lead and dropping his excellent articulation, here's my abbreviated TNGD rundown:

1) Crokinole Double Tourney: We did 100% better than last year (made it to the 2nd round) , with a comeback for the ages.
2) War Chest (4p): Wasn’t expecting *how* different this would be compared to 2p.
3) Pandemic Fall of Rome: I don’t know why, but I loved the new take with it’s invasion routes and raising armies.
4) Decrypto: I think it’s getting to be one of my favorites of all time.
5) Quacks: Really hit the same deck building mental highs of Dominion, and loved the push your luck element. Hope there’s variety to make it evergreen.
6) Wildlands (2p): 2p was _so_ good, and then 4p was not.
7) El Grande
8) Treasure Island
9) Winner’s Circle
10) The Estates: I’d heard of the Estates, and really didn’t think I would like it, but what a great, distilled auction experience.
11) The Bulls: Strangely, this seemed more strategic to me at the higher player count because you could expect almost every card to be out there.
12) Rollin’ Dice: No legs, but stupid fun when you play. A great game for a con.
13) 13 days
14) Civ: New Dawn
15) Camel Cup: with a C
16) Fox in the Forest
17) The Mind
18) Scythe
19) Villanous: I’d like to play again, but I think I like the production and concept more than the gameplay.
20) Wildlands (> 2p)
21) Roll Player

Best Meal: Bishop’s hot chicken, the second time around.

Worst Surprise: Seeing my phone leap forward an hour Sunday morning as I was falling asleep.

Stilgar Black wrote:

15) Camel Cup: with a C.

You monster.