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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Who's Yer Con 2016

Once again we've returned to Who's Yer Con for another great event of socializing with the locals from Indy and other hoosiers from all over the state. For those of you who have not read our previous post from last year, Who's Yer Con is a free convention that takes place at the Wyndham West Hotel on the SouthWest side of Indianapolis.  It was another great year and Claire and I had a chance to make some new friends and play some new tabletop games.

The amount of attendee's this year was around 2,400 which is really good for a smaller convention.  Every year we go we see such positive interaction and great opportunities for gamers to expand their knowledge of new and old games.  As far as their game library is concerned, we were informed that it increased by more than 235 games this year, making it roughly 450 games!  These games are free to checkout, requiring only a picture ID from one member of your group.  This convention is also an excellent opportunity to learn about local game companies, such as Action Phase Games.  We purchased 3 of their games and they were very approachable and friendly.  
Claire also had a scheduled event to play T.I.M.E. Stories this year which went on for over 5 hours of gameplay.  These are her thoughts regarding her experience: 
"I had wanted to play T.I.M.E. Stories ever since it released.  The idea of a choose-your-own-adventure type of game that involved time travel is just too good to pass up.  When I saw I could play it at WYC I was seriously excited and signed up for the 5 hour gaming slot. I'll give you what I liked and what I didn't about it, and how that relates to the convention itself.  

What I liked: The game has fantastic artwork!  The board/components have a clean, futuristic feel and many of the cards have excellent detail and unique panoramic scenes that span several individual cards. The theme is thoroughly integrated into this game and your quest for answers drives everything you do. The other 3 players I shared a table with were pleasant and helpful and the game was well run.  

What I didn't like: (In the interest of keeping this spoiler free I will be purposefully vague in some points.)   In the game you are time travelers who need to prevent a temporal fault/breach, however for me it was unclear what the actual end game goal was. I prefer games where I know specific win conditions and what I need to do in order to accomplish them, even if that is one of many long strategies that takes several hours. Sometimes you would go through many steps only to find out that one of your characters had died, you wasted time and it was all a dead end.  Some people don't mind this and consider it all part of the experience, but it is not something I enjoy.  Lastly, I did not care for the setting of the game.  We played the base game, "Asylum" I believe it is called. The whole game is set in a post-WW1 era mental institution and I found the use of that setting to be ill-planned and somewhat offensive.  It is worth noting that all expansions have unique settings/characters so that setting would not be repeated, should I play it again.

Overall, I am very thankful I was able to play a game I was interested in without the $40+ commitment. That is one of the best things about WYC, you can try new games and learn about yourself in the process!" 
GHOOOST! is a fast, easy-to-learn card game with a Halloween-based theme and lots of twists and turns! Play your cards wisely to get rid of all the ghosts, undead, vampires, zombies and other spooky creatures haunting your mansion. Block your opponents while they're trying to drive spirits out of their home and into your backyard – but beware as the scariest ghosts will not be driven away so easily. In game terms, your goal in Ghooost! is to get rid of all of your cards in hand and in your mansion by playing a card (or several matching cards) equal to or higher than the one(s) played previously. 

A game consists of two stages. In the first stage, players draw or play cards to prepare their hand of cards for the second stage.  Once the Crypt is empty, midnight is reached which triggers the second stage and players take turns either playing valid cards into the Cemetery or taking all cards from the Cemetery into their hand.  If a player's hand is empty, he draws the top card from his mansion, playing it if valid and taking all the Cemetery cards into his hand if not.  If a player empties his hand and mansion, he's out and the others keep playing.  Play continues until only one player has cards in hand; this player loses the game and everyone else wins.  It may sound fun, and this could potentially work as a kids game, but that's it.  It was far too easy for me with very little feeling of engagement and I would not want to play it again.  The fun, little, animated artwork lends itself as a good kids game.  Unfortunately, Ghooost! was just not for me, but it's like they say, you never know until you try.
Hey it's the ever-present, ever-popular Codenames!  Yes, we are finally reviewing this one on our blog. In Codenames, two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first.  Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their Codenames.  Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team.  Everyone has to avoid the assassin.  Sounds pretty easy right?  Well, it is and it isn't.  The game rules themselves couldn't be simpler, but trying to make sure you can come up with the right kind of description/clue to give to your teammate/s in a combination to handle a least a couple of words or more, without triggering one of the opponents words or God forbid, the assassin, is another.  What can I say?  Since this game released it has been the popular purchase for nearly every other tabletop gamer on the block.  Codenames has reached immense admiration from numerous gamers and out of all of my gaming groups, there has not been one that hasn't had Codenames in play when I've arrived.  The combination of simplicity followed by the challenge of communicating very specific, vital clues and other mechanics makes it a solid party game for your group.
The great thing about having local gamers attending a board game convention like Who's Yer Con is that they tend to bring their own games for the convenience and consideration of other gamers.  These great people are also shown here.  Lee, Kristin and Chris were some new friends that Claire and I managed to make and Chris had brought a bag of games including his copy of Codenames to the convention.  This is what tabletop gaming is all about.
We also met another awesome gamer by the name of Amy who played Eminent Domain with us.  We're very blessed to have met such awesome people from Indy.  Such is the greatness and power of board games to bring like-minded people together for sociable, strategic, and fun times.
Eminent Domain is a civilization-building game in which your civilization's abilities are based on a deck of Role cards.  At the beginning of the game each player has the same deck of cards, with just two cards for each role in it.  Every turn you must choose a role to execute.  Then your opponents will get a chance to follow suit, and in doing so you will add one of those role cards to your deck. When executing a role, you can boost its effect by playing cards out of your hand matching the role you have chosen.  For example, the more you research, the better you get at researching because you'll have more research cards in your deck.  Throughout the overall game, you will survey the galaxy to expand your civilization by colonizing nearby planets, take them over by force, harvesting resources for trade, and perform research to improve your technology.  Whoever builds the best civilization wins the game.  Eminent Domain delivers a great sci-fi experience with diverse actions and mechanics for an excellent flow for gameplay.  The small battle ships are a nice add-in with pristine detail, and great artwork on the cards.  This makes for a very good overall sci-fi deck-building/hand-management, area control type of game.

The event organizers in charge of Who's Yer Con have done an exemplary job every year of bringing local gamers from Indy together to socialize and provide a great experience for everyone involved.  We're very pleased to continually see the events they have planned for the children as well.  There is such a diversity of events both integrated through arts and crafts, video game competitions, workshops, and obviously…plenty of tabletop games from every genre supplied by a free gaming library.  Thank you Who's Yer Gamers and we look forward to another great con next year!

Overall Meeple Ratings:
T.I.M.E. Stories: 8/10

Ghooost!: 5/10

Codenames: 8.5/10

Eminent Domain: 7/10

Have any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.

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