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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Who's Yer Con 2017

Once again, Con Season is here!  Just like previous years, we are kicking off 2017 with one of our local conventions held at the Wyndham West Hotel in Indianapolis known as Who's Yer Con.  For any that are unaware, this is a free tabletop gaming convention put on by Who's Yer Gamers.  The convention has been continuing to grow every year.  The hard work, dedication and passion for the hobby shows at the convention, along with the staff, and other personnel from Who's Yer Gamers that continue to bring awareness of the hobby not just to the city of Indianapolis, but branching out to the entire state of Indiana each year.  Let's take a closer look into what this year has brought us.

Claire and I are always fortunate to come across friends in general, but it's all the better when they're open to learning more about tabletop gaming!  Our friends, Jackie and Sean were able to experience their first board gaming convention with us at Who's Yer Con.  One of the great things about Who's Yer Con, is that while it's growing, it's also very relaxed compared to its bigger brothers like Origins and Gen Con.  Easing people into the hobby can be a delicate process and Who's Yer Con provides a wonderful environment and assortment of games for every type of gamer.  

Speaking of games, Who's Yer Gamers has continued to expand on their game library from last year and per the data from their library personnel, they're up to 612 games!  I would not have expected that many by glancing at their shelves, but apparently it's climbed even bigger this year.  Not only that, but this year was also the first year they applied purchased games from other conventions to their library through a filtered system of requests.

The first game of choice for review this year is Mice & Mystics.  In this cooperative, dungeon-crawl style, role-playing, miniatures game of dice rolling and adventure, you and your fellow comrades are the last group still loyal to the king but are seeking to escape the horrendous grasp of Vanestra.  As a role-playing game, there are various stories that you can choose from, and we chose to play Flight To Barksburg.  You must escape the castle by getting all mice to the old gnarled tree space in the courtyard before the hourglass marker reaches the chapter end marker on the chapter track.  The victory conditions are met when you clear the courtyard tile of minions and get all uncaptured mice onto the tree entrance space on the courtyard tile and the game is over.  Due to the fact that Mice and Mystics is a miniatures game, you can expect the components to be higher quality.  The art has great depth and detail, I love the setting of the game and thematically it's just awesome!  Mice and rats fighting with swords, can we say The Secret of Nimh?  This game is much more fantasy based than that movie, but I couldn't help but think of one of my childhood films when playing through this one.  Mice and Mystics carries enough weight that you and the other players would be able to integrate some intermediate level strategy without being too overwhelmed.  The game is highly intriguing and engaging.  It's an adventurous role-playing game that we would absolutely recommend to anyone who loves Fantasy themed tabletop games.  

Well, it's time to plant some beans in our field, and hopefully sell them for profit.  Bohnanza is another game we played this year that has been held off from our blog for a while.  We know it's been somewhat popular in the board gaming community ever since it's release back in 1997.  We do not own it, and there's a few good reasons for that.  You draw cards, play them and then over a short time, you harvest them for profit.  This is said to be a set collection and hand management game.  The set collection aspect comes from having to plant multiple beans of the same type, but the "hand management" portion of this game is harder to pin point.  Each card is played sequentially in the order that you draw them in, so there isn't as much hand management when you are not allowed to re-arrange any of the cards in your hand.  You're literally just drawing and playing cards.  You and your opponent/s have the option of trading cards, but again, no matter how you attain the cards in your hand, you have to place them on the "bottom" of your hand so it may take a while before you can use it.  You have to play a card regardless of whatever you have in your hand when it's your turn.  You also have the option to donate your cards to your opponents if you wish.  Why would I offer to help my opponent by donating them cards they could use???  They won't accept a donation if it doesn't help them, so why would I want to donate my cards to give them the upper hand?  Gameplay aside, some of the content of the cards lends itself to crude artwork through childish humor.  The reality is that children deserve better than this game and so do adults.  The only thing that made us smile in this game was when it was over. 

We love worker-placement games and Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calender is one that we were very glad to see in Who's Yer Con's game library this year.  The Mayan people were a highly developed civilization known for its unique art, complex architecture, sophisticated mathematics and advanced knowledge of the stars.  At the heart of their society was a mysterious calendar – Tzolk’in.  With a length of 260 days, it could predict the right time to plant seeds, the time to build monuments, the day a new baby would be born as well as the movement of the planets.  It was the centerpiece of the Mayan cycle of life.  The board depicts various actions that can benefit your tribe.  On your turn, you will either place workers on the gears or pick up workers placed on a previous turn.  The game presents a new mechanic referred to as dynamic worker-placement.  This is performed by the workers performing actions when you pick them up.  After everyone has had a turn, the Tzolk'in gear advances one day, causing all workers on all gears to move one position ahead, which changes the actions they can perform.  Corn is the basic commodity, serving as food for your population and as currency.  Actions allow you to produce food, extract resources, construct buildings, and develop technologies.  Some actions please the gods, others displease them.  You track your standing with the gods on the three temples on the board.  The most devout tribes receive the best rewards and the game ends after one full revolution of the central Tzolk'in gear.  Tzolk'in is not just another worker-placement game though.  Aside from the dynamic actions that are done through the rotating gear, this particular game carries more weight than your average worker-placement game.  You have to think three steps ahead in this game in order to attempt to stay on top of strategizing against your opponent/s.  Tzolk'in is by far the heaviest worker-placement game we've played.  I've only ever played this game one other time, but I can safely say that if you're looking for a bigger challenge in a worker-placement game, this is it. 

This year I had been putting off this segment as I was hoping I would be able to provide some turnstile stats of the attendees.  Unfortunately, after multiple attempts at contacting various personnel at Who's Yer Gamers, I was unable to get any numbers this year.  Even after checking the website numerous times, at the time of posting this segment, I still saw no updates there either.  As every year that we attend Who's Yer Con, they continue to deliver, but there are definitely changes that need to start taking place.  While it's great to continue to see the number of gamers growing, parking has become worse than ever.  Unless you arrive to the event much earlier on, by 11am you'll find yourself driving around attempting to locate a spot without having to leave the premises.  This means the Wyndham West Hotel is starting to become overcrowded.  Based on the various conventions we've attended in the past, this one doesn't seem like it could be more than 2,000 people.  Regardless, the convention personnel that are in charge of the statistics, should still be able to get the appropriate information to people that are requesting it.  While the convention is growing, it is not so big that the people that are working for Who's Yer Gamers can't provide useful data such as turnstile attendance.  This is why there are specific people that are in charge of specific details of the event, and the number of attendees is very important information to keep track of.  With 2 weeks passed and still not receiving any information on the event, it's disappointing to witness the struggle of such a small event when it really shouldn't have taken this much time to gather smaller numbers that should already be readily available.  It's not Origins or Gen Con after all, and their personnel are able to report this kind of information within 72 hours for conventions that are considerably larger.  For a free convention, Who's Yer Con is still a great choice to gather with friends for gaming, but there are things that need to start changing for the better, if the event does in fact continue to keep growing.  

Overall Meeple Ratings:
Mice & Mystics: 7.5/10

Bohnanza: 4.5/10

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calender: 7.5/10

Have any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.

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