Summer Stabcon 2017

Stabcon this weekend, and for the first time I’d booked a full weekend ticket rather than just the Saturday. Whilst I didn’t actually manage to make it on the Friday due to having to run a few last minute errands, a fairly epic Saturday, and quieter Sunday more than made up for it. Monday at work was a lot harder than normal, and booking the day off may become a thing I do the full weekend again.

Saturday was dominated by two bigger games, but I did manage to get a few smaller ones between these. Sunday was smaller games, but well needed after the epics of A Distant Plain / Churchill on Saturday.

First off was Cauldron Master; a fun little collection / set-making card game, with a side element of bidding and resource management. Very tempted to pick up a copy of this as when it says “15 minutes” it really means it, making it something of a standout in that the anticipated play time shouldn’t be taken with a large dose of salt. The card designs are also beautiful, with a subtle enough theming to all the cards but distinct enough designs to be easy to follow. A two minute setup time means that it’s an ideal game whilst you’re waiting for others before starting something larger, which brings me onto…

A Distant Plain; I’ve written about this before, but this is the first time I’ve manged to play the full-fat extended scenario outside of solo play. Four players really opens up the game, and it was interesting to see the Taliban attempt to manipulate the Warlords into being a bigger problem before the Warlords realised they were being played. With the fifth Propaganda Card approaching the game became a struggle between the Warlords and the Coalition for victory, with the Government and Taliban trying to prevent the win for another round. In the end the Coalition won, with the Government unable to siphon off enough support to affect their score, and the Taliban unable to Train enough guerrillas to build an opposition, the Coalition sneaked the victory (although given the board state, it may have just bugged out before things really got bad in Afghanistan). I’m really beginning to see how well this game is put together, and it would be interesting to play a series of games against the same players whilst swapping round roles to see how dynamics change. This may be becoming my go-to game for longer, more involved sessions.

How did Kabul fall to the Warlords?

Kaleidos is very different, a casual object recognition game that possibly required me being a bit more awake to play effectively (I’d just returned from a large meal and a few pints) than I was at that stage. Everyone has the same image and has to write down as many items from the image that begin with a given letter as possible. Very casual friendly, and would suit perhaps relatives who aren’t that keen on board games, but not really my thing if I’m honest.

Churchill, Big Three Struggle For Peace; oh boy – in retrospect beginning a large, heavy political / wargame at 1am on Sunday morning was never going to be the smartest idea, but it turned out to be just what I wanted. Negotiate the future of Europe (or more importantly, who will dominate it post-War) between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, whilst all trying to work together to ensure that the Axis are defeated. A very close run game that came down to the balancing system to determine the winner in the end (America / USSR / Britain in this case), this felt a bit like a three player version of Twilight Struggle. Not a game I’m likely to purchase as I’m not sure how often I’d be able to drag it out (and not sure how well it’s suited to Solitaire given the fun of the game is the negotiation), but would definitely play in a convention environment again.

Inevitably, I was Stalin…

Quartermaster General; finally purchased this over the weekend, and managed to grab a few games as well (although my copy is still in the wrapping). I think this sits on a fine line between being chunky enough to require complete concentration, but fast enough not to require planning your entire day around. Have now managed to play all of the factions, and with a copy finally purchased (I’ve been looking at it for over twelve months now) I’m expecting to be getting a lot of mileage out of this game over the coming years.

Shazarad; Sj purchased this, a nice little one / two player cooperative based on placing tiles to create stories by consecutive number placement. Beautiful design, a really simple mechanic but the scoring could be explained a little better (and before play, it’s really the crux of the game). My only complaint would be whilst it advertises itself as a storytelling game, it’s more of a puzzle game that replicates a story.

Shazarad - seriously pretty
Shazarad – seriously pretty

Beside Quartermaster General and Shazarad, we bought (but didn’t get around to playing) They Who Were 8 and Hand of the King. The former looks to have one of the most interesting graphic designs of any game I’ve seen, whilst the latter appears to be an unholy mix of Game of Thrones and Spongebob Squarepants. Both look to be at the smaller end of the playtime schedule and I’ll try to comment on shortly.

They Who Were 8
They Who Were 8
Game of Thrones: Hand of the King

All in all a great weekend, but I distinctly played for it on the Monday after Saturday night epic.

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