Monday, October 2, 2017

Tim's ToonCon 2017 Report

This past weekend I attended ToonCon 2017 with my family. Two years ago I started going with Finnegan. Last year Amanda and The Girl joined us. It's kind of just a thing we do now. (I also ran games at the event in 2012 and 2013).

Day One - Friday, 29 September 2017

This year the event moved from the Sutherland Hall (on the far end of town from us) to the Ramada Hotel on Idylwyld Drive (about 10 blocks from us!). the even had a bike rack - though it was a very small one...  

The convention room actually had carpeted floors and suspended ceiling tiles which made it a lot quieter than the Sutherland Hall

The Girl and I kicked off things with a couple of games of 7 Wonders (something weird going on with this picture - it looks to me like she's about to burst into tears or something!? I assure you she was having fun). Last year The Girl won the event with the highest score of all the games played, but didn't manage to hang onto that title this year. I actually won both games!? And the first game I won with build cards and military - which is something I rarely ever do?

While we were playing 7 wonders, Amanda and Finnegan were trying out Vegas Showdown - a game about building casinos, I think (which none of us have played before).

Apparently he won the event!?

For the second segment of the evening Amanda joined The Girl and I to play Dominion

For out first game The Girl and I played with Logan (on the left) and... um... super nice guy I played a couple games with whose name I am suddenly totally blanking on... Ugh... I am the worst with names. I should write them down or something... (Sorry if you happen to read this!)

We played with the Village Square set from the original box - which was fun because they were cards I had not played with recently and never in that combination. I swear, I totally played my best game EVAR!? (which isn't really saying much... but at the end I felt like Hannibal Smith from the old A-Team Tv series I watched as a kid and felt like saying "I love it when a plan comes together!"


While the rest of us were playing Dominion, Finnegan played Roll for the Galaxy. He figured - we HAVE Dominion, he could play that ANYTIME (though we don't, all that often!?) and wanted to try out or play games that we don't own.

We do have RACE for the Galaxy - which we play a fair bit. And we've all TRIED Roll for the Galaxy, but don't really feel like buying because... well... we already HAVE Race for the Galaxy and we actually LIKE it! I know a lot of people that hate Race, but LOVE Roll...?

I don't mind playing games we already own at conventions - because as conventions I get to play them with different people who always have different approaches and different strategies than the people I'm used to playing with (which is for the most part, my family) which makes it challenging and informs my own playing as I learn a lot from seeing how others play the game.

For the second round of Dominion we switched up tables a bit and The Girl joined Amanda.

While James and... the fellow in the blue shirt (I want to say Justin, but I really have no idea...). This game we played with randomized cards picked by an app - though only using cards from the base set. It was a totally fun game, but I just couldn't seem to get my engine running fast enough...

There was another round of games later in the evening, but we decided to call it quits and head home to try and get some sleep.

Day 2 - Saturday, 30 September 2017

On Saturday I had to take the Yuba all loaded up with stuff for the game I was running in the evening.  It almost didn't make it though the gate!

When we got to the hotel I was a little disconcerted to note there were bits of cut bike locks laying about the bike rack!?

Cut cable lock.

Despite being locked outside all day and night - none of our bikes disappeared or were damaged (I was a little worried about the latter as the bike rack was kind of hidden behind a bush and almost directly in the path of cars backing out of the adjacent parking space).

To start off the day the kids played Sentinels of the Multiverse. Finnegan loves Sentinels - he often sets up solo games on the floor in his room. He was trying out a new hero this game, while The Girl played one of her favourites. They lost... I'm not sure which villain they were battling, but it was apparently a very close game.

Amanda tried out a totally new game (to her) - Mission: Red Planet.

I joined Logan and Ellen (in the blue) and... (ANOTHER person whose name I can't remember) for a game of Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

I didn't do great in the game... but I got a Secret Lair - so that's pretty much a WIN for me!

I've only played the game twice, but I love it. The castles that get built so very much remind me of the plans for "dream homes" I drew in my teens that were a mash up of castles, dungeons, and secret underground survival bunker complexes... with art studios...

Part of me feels like I'd like to get this game... but I've actually gotten to the point were we have so many games that I already don't get to play enough, that when I encounter a new game that seems interesting I seriously question if I REALLY NEED it...

I should really cull some of the collection. I'd though of doing that at the auction this year, but didn't get to it...

After the first games there was a bit of a break for lunch. After we ate the sandwiches we brought along these two women that Amanda had played Mission: Red Planet with taught us how to play Splendor. We didn't get to FINISH the game as the organizers came and kicked us off the table so they could set up Scythe, but we got to play it long enough to get a sense of how it's played. It also seems like a really fun game that would be fun to have... I'd actually seen a copy in the bargain bin at my FLGS a month or so ago. I didn't buy it at the time. I went home and looked it up on board game geek and saw how highly rated it was and went back looking for it a few days later, but it was gone... Now I am kicking myself for having left it there... Ah well...

In the afternoon I tried out Scythe.

I've heard a lot of people raving about what a great game it is and I really love Jakub Różalski's artwork that inspired the game. Given all that raving and the amazing artwork I was really expecting... well... something... more...? I didn't dislike the game, and the guys I played with were just great. I kind of felt like I was just getting things going when the game ended.

My Saxon bit of the Scythe world at the end of the game.

While I was playing Scythe, Amanda and the kids were playing Viticulture with our friend Kurtis (and some other people) I like viticulture, I've played it at my friend John's. I kind of wished I'd played that instead. Ah well. I got to try a new game and now I know I don't have to buy it.

Neither Amanda nor the kids had played viticulture before and they all liked it a lot.

After Viticulture Amanda and Finnegan had signed up to play Wings for the Baron. As my Scythe game ended earlier than expected I got to join in. For some reason I didn't take a picture?

Wings for the Baron - which sounds like a Great War airplane game... well... I guess it IS a Great War Airplane game... but I feel like it sounds like a combat game, but it's actually an economic game where each player is a different manufacturer of German airplanes racing to develop better and better planes so that they can gain government contracts to make money and then convert that money into gold before the war ends and hyperinflation devalues all their cash money. I really like it. I'd played it before. Finnegan did really well at it - I think he actually won! Amanda was utterly lost - which was odd as she's usually very good (or at least lucky) at these economic management games. I think it was the mechanic that determined the number of contracts you got that confused her.

While the rest of us were playing Wings of the Baron, The Girl had signed up for 5 Tribes... she played that... and then found some people who were looking for another player for Machi Koro and just joined them!?

After that there was a bit of a break for supper while they set up for the auction.

I always forget to take pictures of the auction. I guess I'm too busy watching to see what's coming up next and if it's something I want to bid on. I have to say I felt I showed considerable restraint. Despite having $200 cash in my pocket (it's cash only) I spent less than $40 of it. I had looked over all the auction items (of which there were over 300!) Friday evening, made a list of things I was potentially interested in and the starting bids, went home and looked to see what they cost new and what they generally sell for used, and made a bit list with the maximum amount I was willing to pay - and I stuck to it! There ended up being only 10 items on the list, two or three that I was really interested in, a few others that were "well if I can get it for $10 or less..." I ended up getting one of the things I was actually interested in, and one of the "well if I can get it for $10 or less..." things and made one impulse buy (which was $6, so....).

After the auction I set up my big even a game of Faustus Furius: 3000! Faustus Furius is actually a chariot racing game, but upon reading I felt the mechanics would really lend themselves to jet bike racing - so over the last 8 months or so I've been periodically working on some jet bikes and occasionally play testing the rules for this event.

The players from left to right: Pat, Chris, James, John, Gary and Morgan.

it was a RIOT! I'll have a comple separate post with a report of the ensuing shenanigans!

Finnegan had actually signed up for Small World, but ended uphaning out with me until they were just starting Small World, ran over to play, played as quick as he could and then came back. He later said it was really hard to concentrate on the game when he could hear us all laughing and having fun!

While I was running my jet bike racing game, Amanda tried out Terraforming Mars. I'd really wanted to try it out as well - and was pretty disappointed when I found out it was scheduled for the same time as the game I was running! She seemed to like it a lot. She even asked if there was anyone I knew that had it (I do) and if we might be able to convince them to bring I over sometime (we probably will!).

The Girl signed up for Codenames while we were all doing our other things. I have to admit I was really impressed that she did this - she is often EXTREMELY shy in situations with people she doesn't know. I guess it is a testament to just how friendly and welcoming everyone at this event are!

As the game I was running and the one Amanda was playing were longer games, the kids had also signed up for Pandemic. I think they actually won.

The days haul. I actually WON Fresco in the raffle. I've never played it, but every game I've like any game I've played by Queen Games, so I'm looking forward to trying it out. Tail Feathers was the game I got in the auction (for $25CAD) - as we have Mice and Mystics (though we have yet to PLAY it) and I've seen Tail Feathers for $95!? Lascaux was on the "well if I can get it for $10 or less..." list, and Space Junkyard was the impulse buy that I paid $6 for... and am kind of regretting... I mean, I already HAVE Space Junk!? How many games about garbage in space do I NEED!?

If anyone out there wants it and has anything they'd like to trade...?

There was one other game I wished I'd bid higher one - there had been a old well loved copy of Ultra Marines there... It came up early in the auction when I was determined to not bid over what I had originally planned to bid... and let it go at $12... I kind of wished I'd bid a bit more. Maybe $25. I still might not have won it...

It was a LONG day - we got home after midnight and everyone was very, VERY tired...

Day 3 - Sunday, 1 October 2017

Everyone was a little crusty in the morning, but we eventually got out the door and on our way.

The Girl and I started off our day with Kingdom Builder. I've only played once, and the last time I played was at ToonCon 2015. But it's a pretty simple, straightforward game so it all came back to me pretty quick. The game was a lot of fun. I somehow squeaked out a win...

...and that put me at the "Winner's Table" for round two... it was an altogether different game - very cutthroat. It was still totally fun - but one of the victory conditions was connecting sites with contiguous settlements so there was a LOT of cutting off of each other. The guying the ball cap won by two or three points.

Amanda andFinnegan went for something altogether different - they tried out Dominant Species!! I think The Girl and I were both done out Kingdom builder games before Lief, who was running it, finished explaining the rules! The both really seemed to enjoy it. The game went a little long, though, and Amanda missed out on joining in Tzolkin which she had signed up for in the last slot of the day.

After Kingdom Builder The Girl had signed up for Castles of Burgundy. She played it last year with Amanda and liked it so much she'd asked for it for Xmas. We couldn't find a copy at that time, but picked one up later for her birthday in the spring... but we STILL haven't played it at home!

For the afternoon I ran one of the Learn-to-Play events. The Learn-to-Play series is new to ToonCon this year and featured games that are a little harder to learn. While other events have 4+ copies of the game and the person running it would give a brief explanation and then let everyone go at it, and maybe group beginners at one game and try to help them out, the Learn-to-Play series had very limited spots - only enough for one table. This was so the event moderator could sit and thoroughly explain the rules and play through the game with the participants pointing out options and strategies and such.

The game I ran was Pax Renaissance - which I love - but it is a fairly complicated game (not quite as complicated as High Frontier, but it is a Phil Eklund game and it is up there!). I ran Amy, Aaron, and Jon through the game. It was a long game, but I had a lot of fun (despite being dead tired...). I think everyone was pretty tired at this point in the weekend. There is an overwhelming number of choices and strategies and even once you've played the game a few times, you can't just follow the same plan as wild different cards can show up in different parts of the game. Amy came very close to a Renaissance victory (republics and laws) but Aaron eventually won with an Imperial victory (two more kingdoms than anyone else). Great game with a fun group of people to play with (who, hopefully, feel like then know sort of how to play the game now). I feel like I should write more about how the game went... but I'm SUPER tired and just want to get this done...

After I'd packed up the game I found the family at a table and The Girl had set up Kingdom Builder and was trying to teach them how to play. As they had not started I joined them for ONE MORE GAME.

I asked afterwards what their three favourite games were and Amanda said Terraforming Mars, Dominant Species and Splendor. The Girl liked Castles of Burgundy, Viticulture and Kingdom Builder. Finnegan couldn't nail it down to just three - he liked Sentinels of the Multiverse, Pandemic, Vegas Showdown, Viticulture and Dominant Species.

Despite being dreadfully tired at the end of it all, everyone had a GREAT time. Pretty much everyone I played with were fabulous people that were there to have fun. There were no "WIN-AT-ALL-COST!" types. I really like the new location, I hope they run it there in future years. I don't know if I could nail it down to just three - the two games I ran were the best, other than that...? Dominion? I had a lot of fun at that... Maybe we should play that more (and I should open the expansion I bought at the ToonCon auction last year that I still haven't opened!?)

Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers and players that made it a fantastic weekend.

(Now to figure out what game I'm going to run next year)

(Actually first I should probably figure out what I'm going to do for the Winter Wargaming Weekend in February...)


  1. That Sir is a busy busy weekend of gaming. Great report!

  2. I'm tired just reading about it! Glad the jet bike game went well.
    Best Iain