Board game convention!
Last week, Bill and I went to Breakout 2019, the largest board game convention in the Toronto area. We played games, met new people, met people that we already knew, and had a great time. This here is a recap of the weekend!
Even though the event is three days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I only went on the Saturday. But Bill was there all three days. On the Friday, Bill played Wazabi, Sub Terra, and Tak. I’ve mentioned Tak before, because we won a copy at Skycon. We have the “University ” edition, which is like a smaller travel edition of the full game. We both like it quite a bit. It is based on the game the characters play in Patrick Rothfuss‘ “Kingkiller Chronicle” series, introduced in the second book, “A Wise Man’s Fear”.
But it wasn’t just games; there were people there who made cool game accessories, like Infinite Dimensions who make scenery. But they don’t just make and sell scenery, they sell the plans for 3D printed scenery. So if you have a 3D printer, you can buy the designs and print your own! And these look awesome. They’d really add to any tabletop miniature game.
I joined Bill on Saturday, and we spent most of the day in the ProtoTO section there with other games designers looking to have some playtesting with the con-goers. Of course, on the way to that section, we paused to look at a few of the vendors and tables along the way. One that caught our eye was Doxie Dash. Their colourful cards depicted old-school 16-bit versions of cute little Dachshunds, each with their own abilities and powers. This game is made by Mackerel Sky Games. The people at the table were super nice, but we never had a chance to get back there and try it out!
We did try “Tanks, But No Thanks!”, by Tin Robot Games which was set up in the same area. I was drawn to this one, because (if you’ve been following along you’ll remember) that I’ve been on a bit of a tank thing lately. If you didn’t know about that, you can read more here.
James and his brother were a lot of fun and we really enjoyed playing and talking to them. In the game you control 5 tanks and 3 bases. You get a mission card and a power card at the beginning of the game. The mission card tells you how you are going to win. It isn’t just a case of blowing up everyone else’s tanks or bases to win (although, you are out if you lose all your tanks or bases). On your turn, you can either roll the green movement die, or the red shooting die. You can split the movement between your tanks, but you need to declare who is shooting and at whom before you roll the shooting die.
The mission I got was to destroy a total of 4 enemy bases to win. Let’s see how that’s going:
And I did win, by completing my mission! You might think that playing a lot and getting to know all this missions might be an advantage, but the two veterans kept second-guessing motivations while trying to figure out what the rest of us were trying to do. It is easy to learn, but there are a lot of options for playing and different strategies, so it is very replayable. And of course, it’s fun to push your tanks around making engine and shooting noises.
Anyway, we settled into the ProtoTO area and Bill got out From the Mist while I put Say What, Now? on the table. Just beside us was our friend Joe Slack from Crazy Like a Box, and he and Sylvain Plante were demonstrating “Isle of Rock and Roll”. This pun-filled game is about making a successful rock band, garnering fans, earning likes, making albums and filling seats in concert venues.
I started up a game of Say What Now?, and this gem of a sentence appeared:
I got some great feedback and ideas from these playtests. I incorporated and tried one of them out while playing on the following Tuesday, and it turned out to be a great improvement without much of a rules disruption.
Bill got a game of From the Mist going and was joined by our friend Lock Watson from Brainworm Inc. Again, the ideas and feedback flowed, ever pushing toward a refined and finished game.
And you know you’re at a game design event when your picture has Peter Hayward of Jellybean Games, Shannon McDowell, and David Gonsalves of Fantasy Realm Games in the background. Reed Mascola was there with his game Vigilante, but we didn’t get a chance to play that one this time.
Other games we tried out there were Disastertown: Hurricane by The Game Distillery, and Hysteria Boulevard.
In Disastertown: Hurricane, players are trying to rebuild a city from the resources formerly known as the city itself. Set up happens by throwing the cards on the table all over the “disaster zone”. On their turn, players can draw a card from here, but only ones that are not at all covered by other cards. Cards include building materials, like masonry and wood, or on the backs of those cards, the “scraps” versions of those materials, which can be traded in 2 for 1 at the recycling centre for materials you can build with.
Other cards you can collect from the table are Disaster Relief packages, like Celebrity Appearances or additional resources. I suggested that they add a “Thoughts and Prayers” card, which doesn’t actually do anything in the game. It was close, but I ended up winning by a single point, with Bill just behind me.
I didn’t play Hysteria Boulevard, but Bill did, and it looked neat! It has a hectic feel to it, as players work together against the clock to get monsters back into their cells in a mystical monster prison.
And that’s how we finished our Saturday. Oh… there was a buy and sell area, where I put out 7 old games to sell, which two of them did. But on the way out of that area, I saw that someone had donated a Castle Panic! I love Castle Panic! My students love Castle Panic! I could use another copy! So the wonderful Karen Holah, who redistributes games to clubs and schools, gave it to me. On the way to putting it in my car for safekeeping while heading out to eat dinner (burritos!) I noticed that it included the Wizard’s Tower expansion! Super-bonus! I’ve an idea to write a blog specifically about cooperative games, so keep an eye out for that.
On Sunday, Bill went back and played some more games of From the Mist. From what I gather, there are some great new ideas to try out that came from these tests. Bill’s already incorporating the mist itself into the game more as an important entity on the field as well as in the stories and the lore. But check this out:
The idea is to raise the mist, and possibly print it on clear plastic. How cool would that be?
And thus, Breakout 2019 came to a close. There were many rooms that I didn’t even go into because I was having a good time in the ProtoTO area. Keep an eye on their website for next year to see what games are being played and what panel talks are being given. I know we can’t wait until next year!
In the meantime, we’re next looking forward to Protospiel North in May!
Keep on gaming and learning!
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