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Gen Con 50 games wrap-up part 3 August 24, 2017

Posted by thejinx in conventions, life.
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And the conclusion of my Gen Con gaming posts. Read on for Pinball Showdown, The Sword of Zaldor: A Fantasy Escape Room, and Here, Kitty, Kitty!

Saturday – 7:00-8:00 p.m. – Pinball Showdown

9439472c594bdff24f2d6a51d6df7b9f_originalAs a fan of pinball games, this one immediately caught my eye from the name alone. Players take the roll of the pinball during multi-ball and try to score the most points by collecting playfield devices.

It’s another fairly simple game. Each player starts the game with 20 tokens that can be used for speed or control. Playfield device cards, which are played each turn from player hands, require a certain number of speed to claim, and players can use control tokens to claim them. Bonus cards and Wizard Mode (when points are doubled) offer more opportunities to accrue points.

It was a fun little game and the only one I picked up this weekend (budget was very tight, but I couldn’t say no to limited-edition Kickstarter rewards). I’m skeptical that it would be as fun with two players, as the box suggests is compatible, but it was great with four and I imagine as well with three. Plus, with the large number of playfield device cards and bonus cards, there is a huge randomness factor to the game. I’m looking forward to playing it again.

Saturday – 8:15-9:15 p.m. – The Sword of Zaldor: A Fantasy Escape Room

I had never done an escape room before, but as with the LARP on Thursday, Gen Con seemed like an excellent place to give it a shot. The story was a little more complex, but the premise was simple: we had to work out the clues and solve the puzzles in the room to obtain the Sword of Zaldor before time ran out. I signed my waiver, we got an introduction from the GM, and in we went.

I suppose I’m used to more linear puzzles such as in video games, so I spent a bit of time trying to examine clues and see if I could figure anything out but not making much progress. At the time, I didn’t feel like I made much of a contribution to the game, but I did help sort out a handful of clues. While I don’t know the GM group‘s plans, I will still spare details to keep from spoiling the game, just in case.

Suffice to say, it was challenging. The GM told us that this particular escape room had a low success rate on the weekend. Our group had to ask the GM for help three times, something he said that other groups were reluctant to do. With his hints, however, we were able to work out all the clues and obtain all the relics we needed to get the sword of Zaldor with about six minutes left on the clock. Even if I wasn’t a primary architect of our success, it felt good to help solve the puzzle and win.

Saturday – 10:00-11:00 p.m. – Here, Kitty, Kitty!

An aside before I begin: as an exhibitor at Gen Con, Sunday has always felt like a complete, regular day to me. It ends earlier, of course, but I still have to work a full day like the other three. I don’t lament the end of the con until the lights dim at 4:00 on Sunday.

Not so much this year. Since I was actually gaming in the evenings, it was a sad moment when I had to hand over my last event ticket, knowing that I still had a full of day work coming up.

pic2885654_mdIt was only a brief disappointment, however, and I greatly looked forward to trying out a game in which the purpose is to collect the most cats in the neighbourhood and essentially be the best crazy cat lady. Each player receives a board that is their home, divided up into yard, porch, and house, each worth a different amount of points. Players are then dealt a hand of cards, which fall into one of three categories: cards which a player plays on his turn, cards which may be played at any time (usually in response to a card played by another player), or cards which must be played immediately upon drawing them. The cards’ sole purpose is to move cats around, whether to or from one’s own home, to or from another player’s home, or to or from the ‘neighbourhood’ (the communal pile where all cats start the game). Players take two actions per turn, which can be to move a cat one space or play a card.

pic3069257_mdI loved both the aesthetic and the dynamics of the game, and it felt as though the game only worked with both of those together. It was an adorable way to play through another pretty simple game – with cards like catnip luring cats to your yard or an open window causing your cat to escape from your house to your yard. The rulebook and the GM made scoring out to be more complex than it is, with a level of detail only slightly more involved than, say, end-of-game tallying in Carcassonne. (In contrast, when scoring Pinball Showdown at the end of our game, one player rightfully used a calculator to tally all her points).

I am certainly interested in picking up Here, Kitty, Kitty! sometime. It was quite fun and very cute, particularly with the pile of little plastic cats that make up the game.

Overall, I had a lot of fun playing games at Gen Con and am really glad that I scheduled my weekend as well as I did. For next year, I think I will do the same thing, except that I might extend my solo evenings until midnight. At the moment, I don’t even feel sad that next Gen Con is so far away because I had so much fun.

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