Thursday, November 12, 2015

Euro Quest 2015

Euro Quest is a Euro-game conference sponsored by the Games Club of Maryland. They've held the con for thirteen years and draw 300 to 400 attendees. The convention is a mixture of tournaments and open play opportunities. Some of the organizers go to the Spiel at Essen, the major board game expo held in Germany, and pick up the latest (and hottest) releases. Some of the games are even given away as door prizes. I didn't win any but I had fun playing all sorts of games.

Euro Quest 2015

The first thing I did was go to the UnPub Game Demo room. These games are still under development. Designers playtest their games to get feedback. I tried out Empire, an auction and trading game from Stephenson Brothers Games. Players vie for dominance in a time of colonial expansion. But dominance is a tricky thing to manage. Populations grow but need both goods to keep them happy (thereby amassing support) and industry to keep them busy (thereby amassing more goods). Goods can also be sold for money, which players need to fund their exploration. Exploration brings new people, goods, industry, and wealth, but often in different proportions (and usually not all four at once). If populations are idle or the empire can't pay for its bonds (yeah, there's debt too), revolt cards are earned. The game is tense and quick. Players can either start out with the same resources in the basic game or bid to be one of the great empires of the 16th and 17th century (e.g. Great Britain, France, Prussia). Those empires all have different starting resources and have special powers. Players can also trade whatever they have. At the end of the game, whoever has the most support after subtracting any revolt cards is the winner.

Empire set up

I enjoyed the game even though I didn't do very well in it.

One Euro game I tried was really Euro. By that I mean it was from Italy. Given the content of the game, it will probably never be published in the United States. The game is The Producer: 1940-1944. In it, players are studio heads in 1940s Hollywood. They want to make movies, which means recruiting actors and directors, buying scripts, building the studio lot, and maybe even dealing with the Mafia. The game features actual movies (like Casablanca or The Philadelphia Story) and real actors and directors (like Cary Grant, Bela Lugosi, Orson Welles, Katherine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, etc.) with art and photos that probably are under license to somebody in America. So the game probably couldn't get published here without a lot of legal permissions (which is probably impossible) or making it totally generic (which would take a lot of the fun). The game is a worker-placement style game where the studio execs can hire new people or building new buildings (like extra sets or a make-up department or an orchestra) or try to garner Academy influence through CBS Radio (another copyright violation!). Or, of course, they can make a moving picture once all the resources are in place. After making a picture, they get a certain amount of money based on the audience they can draw. A picture with more stars can get more money. At the end of each round (i.e. each year), the Academy Awards are held and each studio puts forward candidates for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor/Actress. Victory points are given for these awards (as well as for building up the studio). At the end of the game, additional points are given for the variety of genres for all the pictures made. The game is a lot of fun just from mixing up directors and actors in pictures. It also has lots of flavorful bits, e.g. one spot to put a worker is the "cocktail party" where the player can hire an available person at half price; another spot is the "casting director" where the player can hire up to three people but at full price. The game does run a bit long.

The Producer: 1940-1944

I tried out Too Many Cinderellas, a light card game where each player tries to convince the prince that one of the people in their hand is the true Cinderella. Each card has a person with a variety of attributes (like hair color, personal likes, and age) and a rumor which says that the true Cinderella doesn't have a certain attribute. Players are dealt four cards and they play two of them as rumors, keeping the other two as possible candidates. Each player can put a "No" token on a rumor when it is played to make it untrue, though each player has only one such token so they can only dispel one rumor. After all the card are played, players check their remaining two to see if they are still possible (i.e. any of the attributes on that card have not been rumored wrong). If more than one player has a viable candidate, the card with the lowest number wins. The game looks interesting, but I just read through the rules while I was waiting to play in a competition.

Many different games had tournaments running. I thought I'd try out Splendor, which is a new game about trading gems to gain victory points. I played with three other people. In a tense game, I managed to purchase a five point value card that was the last card I needed to get one of the nobles who gave me three additional points. That eight point swing brought me to fourteen points, just shy of the fifteen needed to end the game. Other players gathered resources for one more round but I was able to buy a two point card, which gave me the win with sixteen points! The victory meant I had a chance to move on to the semi-finals the next day since I was tied with nine other people for thirteenth place. Only sixteen people compete in the semifinals, so something would have to go my way.

The rankings after the final heat

Me in the middle

The next day, it did work out--not everyone showed up (maybe they were sleeping in or stuck in another competition) so I was a semi-finalist. I played okay but came in fourth (out of four), so I did not advance to the final round. Maybe next year.

I played Castles of Mad King Ludwig with three random strangers. Players are builders in the kingdom of Mad King Ludwig, who wants to have many splendid castles in his kingdom. But he also wants some odd attributes for those castles, represented by some randomly drawn objectives. Players also draw some personal, secret objectives that will give them bonus points at game end. During the game, players take turns building rooms onto their castle from a set. The cost of each room is assigned by the player who is, for that turn, the Master Builder. Each other player gets to buy rooms before the Master Builder, so the MB can't just make a favorite room the cheapest. Once everyone has bought rooms, the Master Builder token moves clockwise and new rooms are drawn to replace the ones built. The game is a little chaotic, though the anarchy looks less random with more experience playing the game. Even if a player doesn't win, there is the satisfaction of making a castle. It has a whimsical charm, if only because it's your own creation.

The Voyages of Marco Polo is a worker placement game where players build trade centers on the route from Venice to Beijing. trade various resources to fulfill contracts, get other resources, and gain victory points. The game was supposed to be under two hours but with a bunch of new people (me included) it was closer to three hours. I enjoyed it (except at the end when one or two players had analysis paralysis for their last few moves) and would play it again. But I am not going to buy it since I already own a couple of games that are similar weight and time length.

The convention had one store selling new games and a used game store where attendees could sell their old, unwanted games. I didn't put anything up for sale, but snagged the expansion for Castellan (so now we can play with four players) and one of the Mystery Rummy series games, Jekyll and Hyde.

Might have been a store selling Castellan

The convention was a lot of fun and I may bring my oldest son next year.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed playing Empire with you on the 7th. Thanks for the great write up and helping me find this very cool blog!