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Geekway to the West Game Play Thoughts Part 1

I spent last weekend at Geekway to the West, a gaming convention near St. Louis Missouri. It was structured very differently from other conventions I have attended. Rather than buying tickets for events, most of the space was available for open gaming with a play to win library and a regular library of games available to play at no cost beyond the price of the badge. This structure allowed me to try fourteen new to me games. Today I figured I would share my thoughts on the new games I was able to try. They are in listed in the order that I played them.

On Tour

I played On Tour twice while at Geekway this weekend. This was on my list because I have seen it a lot on Instagram, and I have been drawn towards roll and writes lately. I really liked how easy it was to teach and the fact that it played very quickly.  It was very challenging to keep track of all the numbers in the 48 states, but I think as I played it more that would become easier. I also liked that price was under 30 dollars, and they sell the wipe boards and markers separately so people could purchase for as many players as they would need. I would love to get a set of this game for my classroom to help my students when they are learning where the states are. My only concern with the game would be the markers and wipe board wearing out, so being able to easily replace those was awesome.  I will definitely be purchasing a personal copy as well because of the great price point.

Fireball Island

Fireball Island was a game that I considered backing when it was on Kickstarter, but wanted to try before playing. My husband has been particularly drawn to this game for the past year, so he was very excited to see it on the play to win shelf. We ended up playing it three times over the course of the weekend. The interaction between players made this game come to life. It was silly and dramatic, which kept my husband and I laughing throughout the whole game. There is some luck involved in the game, but I was also surprised to see strategy behind the decisions being made as well. While I enjoyed the game play itself, I did worry about how fragile the game box and the game itself was. The plastic seems like it could be easily damaged which would be a concern if I were to travel with it a lot. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised overall with Fireball Island, and will be looking to pick it up for my husband eventually.

Fire in the Library

This was another game that I was watching on Kickstarter a while ago, but wanted to try before picking up. This was also available from the play to win library, so we picked it up and were able to learn the rules in around 10-15 minutes. We only played this one once at two players, but I think I would have enjoyed it more with more players. When we played my husband had a string of great luck and easily almost doubled my score, having better luck with drawing tools and drawing cubes. I think with more players, there would have been higher player interaction and the turn order draft would have been far more interesting. If you enjoy press your luck, this may be a good one to check out. The art was stunning, and the game play was quick and easy to explain.

Alwaysgreen Garden

This is a game that will be coming to Kickstarter, released by Splattered Ink Games. I think of the games that I was able to try at Geekway, this was my favorite game. It mixed set collection, worker placement and resource management in a way that felt unique but also familiar. I also liked that the game had a high level of player interaction, despite it being a worker placement game. Players had to be aware of what the surrounding players were doing to plan ahead for their turn. The artwork is whimsical and inviting as well. I worry though that it may be overlooked because it looks as though it would be a game for young families, when in reality most young children may struggle with the complexity of actions. That being said, I am looking forward to seeing this one launch on Kickstarter later this summer and I intend to back it.

High Society

We were asked to play High Society as well on Saturday, and I quickly got the game to learn the rules. The library only had the older travel edition available, though I know there is a more recently published version as well. Thankfully it was easy to learn and explain. Overall I enjoyed it, I liked the fact that the game did not just focus on winning auctions, but also on making sure that you were not the poorest person at the end of the game. It forced players to play more conservatively. If you enjoy games like No Thanks or For Sale, you would likely also enjoy High Society. I already have For Sale in my collection though, and I do not think that I will add High Society because I don’t tend to gravitate towards auction based games.

Tournament at Camelot

Tournament at Camelot was one of my other favorite games of the weekend. It was a trick taking game where players were competing to try to not take tricks. When players did take tricks they lost health points, and eventually died. The player with the most health left at that time would be the winner. I really enjoyed this game, though I lost badly and very quickly! Wrapping my mind around not taking tricks was a new concept and I like that the theme was relevant to the game. Also the asymmetric element of gameplay added an additional layer of depth to the game compared to other similar trick taking games. I was not overly fond of the art style, but after the first play that was the only major complaint that stood out to me. Another great game with a price point under 30$, so I definitely intend to add it to my collection!

Arboretum

Arboretum is a classic that has been on my list for a while. I was able to try it with my husband and really enjoyed the set collection aspects. I am a fan of Topiary, which felt in some ways very similar to Arboretum. The artwork was beautiful, and the game play flowed well. I loved the deluxe edition and picked it up at Miniature Market before leaving St. Louis.

Gizmos

Gizmos has been on my list to try because I am a fan of Potion Explosion which has similar components and is also released by CMON. The thing that really intrigued me about Gizmos was the engine building mechanic, because that is my favorite mechanic in board games. We were able to sit down and play it with four players. After playing it, it reminds me of mixing Splendor with Potion Explosion. It has great table presence and easy game play. I found it to be very enjoyable for a light engine builder with a few unique mechanics. I would love to do a full review of this one, so I will likely pick it up so I can do that!

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