TotalCon Recap

Finally have some time after my first TotalCon to write a bit about it.

This was my first TotalCon and my first board game convention. I live 50 minutes away from the venue so I didn’t bother getting a room at the hotel, though in hindsight that would have made the event easier and more enjoyable. That being said I still couldn’t justify the cost to avoid some driving.

As anyone who was there knows there was a serious lack of parking because of the snow build up prior to the con. I was lucky on Thursday afternoon and easily found a space.

Since it was my first con and I wasn’t going with anyone I know I figured Thursday would be a short day to see how things worked. Also I had scheduled a play test of Space Station Disaster.

The play test was very enlightening and made me rethink some core concepts of the game which may or may not end up going in. Besides that I walked around the venue and got the layout, had some lunch and looked at the flea market. I ended up buying a copy of Scotland Yard which I had wanted to get for some time.

I hadn’t scheduled any games and was planning to just play in the open gaming. This wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped since I didn’t know anyone there. Eventually I found someone looking for an opponent for Twilight Struggle. I’ve never played before but have obviously heard a bit about it with its number one BGG ranking. He taught me how to play and we went through a game. I had a lucky start with my cards and enjoyed the game but I think my inexperience ultimately held me back. I eventually lost on points in round 9 I think. This is a game that I’ll definitely need to play a few more times.

After Twilight Struggle I went home so I could get an earlier start on Friday.

Friday my mother was coming with me so I made sure to bring a game she enjoys, 7 Wonders. We were amazingly lucky with parking and found a space right by the door that someone was just leaving.

The previous night I had worked out some possible changes to Space Station Disaster based on the play test. The main change being adding dice for the disaster movement. Which greatly changed the turn structure eliminating the need for rounds. So when we first arrived we played a couple of 2 player games of Space Station Disaster with the new rules. It went over very well but needs more testing before I add it to the print and play.

Then we got lunch at the hotel restaurant so we wouldn’t lose our parking space. It wasn’t terrible, but I would rather go to any chain restaurant in the area.

After lunch we found 2 people for a game of 7 Wonders which was a lot of fun. Then it was off to the live Dice Tower show. The show was entertaining, but the best part was winning a copy of Nothing Personal at the beginning. After the show we headed home.

Saturday I planned on going the full day and getting in a lot of gaming since I hadn’t played many games up to this point. I left for the con later than I had hoped and parking was especially terrible when I got to the hotel at 12:30. After 40 minutes driving around hoping I would catch a space opening up I did what so many others had done and parked in one of the neighboring business lots.

Saturday ended up being a lot of fun and I got a lot of games in so I will quickly go through them and just thank everyone who I played with now. Thanks.

Sushi Go – Simple card drafting game. It’s quick to teach and play, works with different size groups. A nice start to the day.

Uptown – I had never heard of this one before. It also goes by the name Blockers. It’s an abstract game of placing tiles on a grid. The goal is to have the fewest groups of connected tiles at the end of the game. You can steal opponents tiles and try to block them but your tile placement is restricted to certain rows, columns, or sections depending on your tile. Very easy to learn and complex to play. Enjoyed it even though I didn’t win either game.

Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends – An abstract game with a lot of theme. This one was tough. Me and my opponent were both new to the game so there was less strategy than the game needs. We basically stumbled through a game and he won. I’m not sure if I would enjoy this with more plays. I prefer my abstract games to have very simple rules and complex play.

Chroma Cubes – A pre-production demo. At first glance this doesn’t look like a game. Many people walking by asked if we were coloring by number. The game is simple but allows for strategy on several levels. You roll 6 dice which have 2 colors on each side. Whatever colors come up you can use to fill an area of a coloring page. You can only use each die once per turn or save that die for a later turn. Different areas require different numbers of dice in their color from 1-4. So getting the 4 spots filled is tricky and requires saving some dice or trading dice. The decision of what to go for and especially which of the 2 colors on a die to use is pretty important, but the trading is where it gets fun. The first player to finish an area of the picture scores the most points for it and the second player scores less etc. Once a player can no longer use a die the game ends. Quite fun.

Machi Koro – I had heard a bit about Machi Koro so I was interested in playing it. It was a lot of fun and I won. I was very close to buying it after that, but the more I thought about it the more I wondered if it would be interesting after a few plays. I hear the expansion adds a lot to the game. Maybe it’s a good game for my non gamer family to introduce engine building. I’m still on the fence.

Koryŏ – Interesting little game of playing sets of cards and using special abilities if you have the most of that card. We played with 2 people and I lost by a bit but I enjoyed the concept and the speed of the game.

Space Station Disaster – Played my prototype with the current rules (no disaster dice) went over well pretty consistent with other play test results. Which is why I’m hesitant to rework things for the dice.

Pizza Profit – First play ever. Only managed 4 players instead of the minimum 5 but it was good to see it in action. Definitely needs some tweaks but it went over well and the second game with some modifications went even better. I was glad that the 5 minute time limit wasn’t too short. If anything it was too long since we finished trading both games before time was up.

Schotten-Totten – Also called Battle Line, a simple card game of making 3 card poker hands to take over any of 9 stones. The play is straight forward but the strategy gets complex especially with the ability to take stones early if you can logically prove that your opponent can’t beat you there. Lot of fun, especially for the simplicity of the game.

Coup – We got 4 players and it played well. I think 4 is the largest group I’ve played this with. Bluffing, deduction, assassination. Always fun and always quick.

The Resistance – I’ve owned this game for months and this was the first time I was able to play it. We had a group of 7 and played 2 games. The first game the resistance won 3 missions in a row and it was surprisingly quick. I was on the winning team but it wasn’t the greatest play experience. The second game however, that was a different thing entirely. We went the distance with back and forth missions for the resistance and spies. Had a lot of teams voted down because no one trusted anyone. I was a spy and we managed an early advantage by only playing one fail card on a 3 player mission with 2 spies. This saved some people on that mission from suspicion. Eventually the spies won mission 5 because we already had 4 rejected teams and a known spy was the next leader. By far my favorite game of the con. I now understand the popularity of this game.

Mysterium – I was happy to get to play this game after hearing so much about it. Essentially cooperative Dixit but the game has already made the story and the poor ghost has to find cards that fit. It’s definitely a fun cooperative deduction game, but it is hard. We played 3 games with different ghosts and I never managed to figure out my room. I would definitely play again.

At that point it was 1am and I decided to head home. Sunday I was scheduled for the prototype pitch at 10am but I over slept and it was snowing so I decided to relax instead of trying to get to the con. Overall it was a great time and I look forward to next year.


2 thoughts on “TotalCon Recap

  1. I had so much fun at the con. Wish I had played more games, but didn’t want my inexperience to ruin other people’s games. I’d be interested in playing some of the games on this list if you have them.

    1. The Resistance and Pizza Profit are the only ones I have that you haven’t played. They both require 5+ players though. I’m thinking of getting Machi Koro. You would like it.

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