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Geekway Mini 2020 Redux

This weekend I went to a small board game conference in St. Louis called Geekway Mini--it's a smaller, more intimate version of the larger con Geekway To The West that runs in the summer.

Day 1:

New con, new games, new opportunities to meet people and win games! Here's what I played on Friday.

Big City 20th Anniversary Jumbo Edition



City-building game that uses trade as a balancing mechanic. It was fine. Fun, very thinky, probably plays better with more than two people, though. The Jumbo Edition is unnecessarily huge and componenty. It's cool, I guess, but it feels like a gimmick and I would never pay the $100+ price tag for it. Also, it was my first game of the con and I punctured my finger on a tree on one of the models :(

It's A Wonderful World




Favorite of the con. It's an engine-builder where you draft cards in order to build your tableau and then use them to produce resources that you use to build your cards  It's easy to learn, plays fast, and there's a wry sense of humor to the components. Plays okay with two, but much better with three.

Everdell



Charming little woodland creature worker placement engine builder. It's cute and moderately complex. Great art. The treehouse thingy you construct to play it feels a bit gimmicky, but whatever, I had fun.

Homebrewers



This one didn't really work for me. Another engine builder, but I felt like I was never able to get anything going. It's like there just aren't enough actions in a turn or something. There's a dice-swapping mechanic that's part social and would potentially be more fun with a different crowd than I played it with.

Ecos: First Continent



Another really good one. It's not quite an engine or tableau builder. One person draws tokens out of a bag that let you power up cards that you use to build/reshape/populate a continent. The score is pretty swingy, and it's made by AEG, meaning there's a brilliant idea that's been filled out by throwing cards at the problem. I think it works here, though. I will gripe that one of the rules is that the "harbinger" who draws tokens from the bag has to announce them, but the tokens have symbols instead of words and nowhere in the book does it tell you how the symbols are supposed to be pronounced. Look at the above picture and you'll see what I mean. One of them is obviously a sun. One is water. One is a deer. One looks like a grouping of three breasts. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Fantastic Factories



Really liked this one as well. It's a worker-placement engine-builder (seems to be the theme for new games at the moment--or at least for this con) that uses dice as the workers. Charming aesthetic, lots of simultaneous play, and very well-balanced, and not very easy to find if you want to purchase it.

Tapestry



Big game that's mostly centered around building a tech tree. I liked it, though it's a lot heavier than what I normally play. The rule book is a bit thin, but the components are amazing (it's a Stonemaier game, if that means anything to you).

Day 2:

Lots of replays from the previous day and a few kids games since I had my 8-year-old with me for much of the day.

Horrified




Another favorite of this con. It's a co-op survival game in the mode of Pandemic but the threat you're facing is the monsters of the classic Universal horror movies: Dracula, the mummy, the wolfman, the creature from the Black Lagoon, the invisible man, and Frankenstein's monster (along with the bride). It's a scenario-driven game where you have to travel around the map, protecting villagers while gathering items that you'll use to defend yourself from monster attacks as well as defeat them. Scenarios are monster-specific. To beat Dracula, you have to smash his various coffins. To defeat the invisible man, you have to take evidence of his existence to the police precinct. And so on and so forth. I highly recommend this one.

Jetpack Joyride



Real-time path-finding game that has the feel of a continuous runner video game. I played this with my 8-year-old and he loved it. I enjoyed it well enough.

Klask 4


Air hockey, but with magnets, and it's a four-person melee. For a big, noise dexterity game like this, it requires a surprising amount of finesse. Don't know if I would ever want to actually own a copy (it's huge) but it was moderately fun to play.

Roll For Adventure


Co-op dice placement game with a kinda generic fantasy theme. It's got a pretty cool mechanic where you roll your dice pool but you can only place dice that have the same value. It works surprisingly well to keep the game fun (read as: playable) when your dice pool gets small. I played this with three children who were ten and under and we all had a blast. It's one that I think might get a little tiresome after the tenth playthrough or so, though.


Silver and Gold


Surprisingly fun flip-and-write game--if you don't know the genre, Yahtzee is the best known roll-and-write, but this uses cards instead of dice. It also uses dry erase markers instead of a notepad and you are marking off boxes on the island cards you take based on polyomino shapes (think Tetris) flipped from a communal deck. Cleanup was a little tedious since you have to also wipe down all of your cards--though they wiped very cleanly and easily. It was a good filler game and pretty fun if you like spatial puzzling.

Antiquity Quest


Rummy clone with a confusing rulebook and a mechanic built around interfering with other players' sets in order to make them less valuable. It's an interesting enough idea, but there's nothing keeping you from holding all your cards in your hand until you're ready to go out, which kind of breaks the game. Didn't care for it.

The Grimm Masquerade



Fairy-tale bluffing game that was reasonably fun. There are eight guests and each one has a "boon" and a "bane". For instance, The Big Wolf loves disguises but hates cauldrons. Red Riding Hood loves treats, but hates disguises. Hansel loves cauldrons but hates treats. Most of the gameplay is spent taking cards and passing them to other players. If you get two of your "bane" you're out, but if you get three of your "boon" you win the round. Pairs can also be used to take bonus actions, so it's good to get them, even though doing so provides evidence of who you aren't. The scoring felt very uneven, but I suspect it would be better with four or five players.

Village Pillage


Kind of a rock-paper-scissors take-that card game. It's fine, but unremarkable. The art is pretty hilarious.

Day 3:


Not a whole lot happened on day three, since the play-and-win contest had closed and people were mostly biding their time waiting for the prizes to be announced. So my 8-year-old and I spent the entire morning playing...

Rivet Wars: Eastern Front




Light miniatures game that was better than I'd anticipated. It's themed on a steampunk version of something like World War I between the Blightun Empire and the Independent Allied States. Fairly simple as these things go, but engaging and fast-paced and easy enough for my kid to internalize the rules and relationships between unit type and armor type. Decent game engine, interesting scenarios. Would play again.

That's all for this years Geekway Mini. Geekway Prime is in June, so expect a huge update about games when that happens.

Thanks for reading,
]{p

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