ConnCon 2017 Recap

April 3, 2017

Anna, Eric, Chris, and Francesc went to ConnCon 2017 in Stamford (17-19th March), one the closest and friendliest board game conventions that we have in CT.

There, we had the opportunity to play a lot of new games, especially the hyped games from 2016 that have been hard to find. We all agreed that we had a great time and the average quality of the games played was high. However, none of the games blew our minds, like some did in previous years. These are the most interesting games that most likely will end up (or are already) in our shelves and game nights for all to play.

Great Western Trail: Probably our favorite of the con. In this game, you are a 19th century rancher who repeatedly herds cattle from Texas to Kansas City, where you send them off by train. This earns you money and victory points. Needless to say, each time you arrive in Kansas City, you want to have your most valuable cattle in town. However, the “Great Western Trail” not only requires that you keep your herd in good shape, but also that you wisely use the various buildings along the trail. Also, it might be a good idea to hire capable staff: cowboys to improve your herd, craftsmen to build your very own buildings, or engineers for the important railroad line. Without improving your herd and the trail, you won’t be able to sent your cattle off to the far away land of San Francisco. 

Terraforming Mars: In this game, you play the role of giant corporations in a near future with the mission of terraforming Mars to make it habitable. For that, you will use cards to initiate projects to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and the ocean coverage of the planet until the environment is habitable. You will work together in the terraforming process, but compete for getting victory points that are awarded not only for your contributions to the terraforming, but also for advancing human infrastructure throughout the solar system, and doing other commendable things.

A Feast for Odin: This is a giant worker placement game (over 60 spots for your workers on a central board). In this game, you take on the role of a group of Vikings that you will send to the central board to hunt, gather basic materials, refine those materials, develop their production-buildings, build/buy ships, and raid settlements. Then, you will play a tetris game with the earnings. Those resulting earnings are placed on the players’ board in the best possible pattern to produce income and (later) victory points. Although there seemed to initially be an overwhelming number of options and pieces, people familiar with the designer’s other games can pick up the mechanisms quickly.

The Oracle of Delphi: Stefan Feld’s latest game takes a huge step away from his typical point salad games. In this game, players will sail around a board that they randomly build to race to complete 12 tasks for Zeus. To do this, they must consult the Oracle (dice). You can also look to the gods for help and recruit companions throughout the game. Although the game uses dice, Feld provides enough options and ways to modify your dice that the luck factor does not impede gameplay. Even those who don’t like Feld games should check this out as it deviates from his usual style. 
Millennium Blades: An ambitious card game that seeks to mimic the experience of a collectible trading card game. Players go through several tournaments with time in between these tournaments to buy “booster packs,” sell, and trade cards. The sheer number of cards was overwhelming and we could see little strategy unless you had a thorough understanding on what possible cards were out there. The tournaments seemed to lack substance as they consisted solely of playing seven cards in turn order. We think that this game could have potential if played over and over again with the same people, but as a one-time play, it did not engage us. 
Freedom, The underground Railroad: It might be an older game (2012) but it is one that will leave a mark on you. In this game, players are working together to build up the strength of the Abolitionist movement. By raising support for the cause and moving slaves to freedom in Canada, the minds of Americans can be changed and the institution of slavery can be brought down. It captures all historical moments of Slavery and Abolition, a great history class. The sentimental character of the game makes that the borders of reality and gaming fade throughout the game. Let your heart be prepared for defeat.