Board Game Extras Demo Day - 8 November 2014

Today I got to indulge in more gaming fun as Board Game Extras hosted another Demo day at the Highfield Church Centre in Southampton.

This is an event that the online store hosts usually about 3-4 times a year for people to come along and play demos of their new games in stock as well as a few popular favourites for the young ones. The staff hire out the hall for 5 hours and introduce gamers both new and experienced to the new hotness in their stock line as well as sell the games there and then.

Now personally I think it should be longer than 5 hours, but then I'm biased, I'm a gamer who has completed a 36 hour marathon of gaming before ending on Twilight Imperium 3. Trust me when I say I can game for a LONG time and still enjoy myself!






Lots of games were on offer and thankfully the distributor gods had been kind to them this time and delivered all of the new hotness on time! Games included:


  • Viticulture
  • Pandemic: Contagion
  • Cornish Smuggler
  • Dominion
  • Get Bit
  • Coconuts
  • Walk The Plank
  • Warhammer 40,000 Conquest
  • Trains: Rising Sun
  • Waggle Dance
  • X-Wing Miniatures
  • And More!!!



I got to indulge in a lot of different games on this occasion, one of which I purchased there and then, another I already owned but was struggling to get to the table and some that fell a little flat for me, but were still fun to try out. A brief summary impression of each in the order I played:


CORNISH SMUGGLER

This was another game done by Grublin Games Publishing. I recently reviewed Waggle Dance which I thought was a nice simple little game. Cornish Smuggler is a little more complex about funny enough, smuggling into Cornwall! 

The game was "ok" - it plays fine, but only if you can decipher the rulebook which isn't perfect. There's a reasonable amount of variety here as you move your ship, pick up goods which are strangely like Tetris pieces and sell them in various locations in Cornwall without the Customs officer catching you. In fact the Customs reminded me of the Slave Catchers in Freedom: The Underground Railroad. But it seems evident that you are forced to play a certain way at the start to stand a chance later on which doesn't bode well for paths to victory. Overall it didn't really add anything to the table that I haven't seen in most other "trading in the Mediterranean games" except for the cool gimmick that it was Cornwall (next door to my home county) and that I recognised where my girlfriend and I had recently spent a week together!

Not bad, I'd play it again, but more than likely I'll pass.



PANDEMIC: CONTAGION

A spin-off of Pandemic where you play the role of the diseases trying to infect the world. It's a simple game where you place your cubes on various cities using a similar colour card mechanic to Pandemic, but you're fighting for majority control over the other players. You can also upgrade your disease to draw more cards, place more cubes or become more resistant.

This was fine, but a little too simplistic - this is not going to give you the same amount of brain burn as Pandemic can. And it seemed pretty much pointless to actually care about upping your resistance level. I even managed to get one bad destructive event back on top of the deck to screw the other players over and I still came 3rd of 4th - it barely made any difference to them. Also increasing your incubation and infection rates are key to this game in that order but only up to Level 3. Getting to Level 4 takes far too long and the game is over before you know it. So all of a sudden there's only one real path to victory and it becomes luck of the cards as to where you can infect. 

It's not a bad game and the components are good, but I was a bit disappointed with this one, mainly having fun by pulling off the best "recover an event card from the discard pile" move ever seen in history and by making fun of my purple disease as being the alien disease in waiting!



WARHAMMER 40,000 CONQUEST

The newest LCG from Fantasy Flight Games and one which was getting a lot of buzz being part of the 40K universe. The core set boasts about including 7+ decks, one for each of the factions and of course the usual mass slew of packs to come in the future. In fact I think 3 have been announced and they haven't even released one yet. Seriously FFG what is your game?

The game plays well, but it will take you a few plays to get the glossary of terms and full rules in your head, much like with Lord of the Rings LCG and Android Netrunner in that instance. The factions do feel very different and I love how they each play to a different theme. The game doesn't take too long and there's a good amount of strategy and tactics involved. So all in all I liked the game, but it suffers from a core set that really doesn't give enough card variety in the decks themselves. This game badly needs more cycle packs to get into the swing, but will it have put off potential players by then? I'm going to hang on to my core set and see how things go.



VITICULTURE

Save the best for last. This was a hidden gem among the field there. This was a Kickstarter game that took off like crazy and even now has a great expansion on the way. In fact if I had played this earlier, I would have backed it. 

This is a Euro game of medium weight with good depth that is about wine-making and wow, Euro games don't tend to carry the theme well. This does! You plant different types of grapes, all recognisable types like Sauvignon and Merlot, etc, then harvest the grapes and then crush them into various types of wine from white to red to rose to sparkling. And the grapes and wines age every year and slowly improve by themselves. You then complete these "orders" which require specific levels and types of wine for money and victory points.

The game is not very hard to learn if you've played pretty much any normal worker placement Euro game. It has the typical format of different types of buildings, action spaces with bonuses, special cards you can play and of course managing money that you've seen before. But it flows so smoothly because the theme just gels and if you have any interest in wine (I like white wine but am not a wine expert by any means) then you get sucked into it easily. And the upcoming Tuscany expansion being modular in nature looks to improve this game to even better levels.

I intend to play this a few more times (oh yes I bought it) and will be giving it a proper review hopefully in time before Tuscany hits the shelves. So far it's really grabbed me and makes me want to have a glass of wine.........however I have cider right now here from Herefordshire's finest breweries so I'm going to settle for that. 


So the demo day was a success and I do recommend you attend one if you're thinking of what new games to purchase. You get free tries of lots of different games for all ages and a good laugh all round. Keep your eyes out for the next one and I'm sure I'll mention it on my blog at the time!




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