Sunday, February 26, 2017

Games We Tried at Expedition Prototype Con 2017

Matt and Heidi played many wonderful games at this year's Prototype Con. Some were further developments of games we tried at last year's con, others were new to us. Here's a sampling...

Panoramic: In Wonderland (Card Game, Set Collection), designed by Gary Stishan, 5 players, 30 - 60 mins
"Players compete to build a vast picture of the World of Wonderland. Players create sets of panoramic cards (42 of them) from their hands and place them on the table creating a beautiful picture of Wonderland right before their eyes. On a side trek, players hunt for collectables their persona (character) craves. For instance, the White Rabbit collects clocks. The Mad Hatter collects of course, Hats, along with 4 other characters. When the clock runs out, players tally up their points and the winner is declared the heir to the Throne of Wonderland!" We played this game last year before it had an Alice theme. At that time, the panoramas were strictly horizontal. Gary said our comments caused him to add the vertical aspect!

Thespianage (Tile Selection, Semi-Cooperative, Take That), designed by Will Kenyon, 6 players, 30 - 60 mins
"You’re all aspiring actors and stage crew for a local theater group, about to put on the play of the season, and it’s time to start rehearsal. You hope the play is a success, but more than that, you hope you’re the star of the show. You also want your Crush to be the star alongside you. And that person you hate, your Nemesis, well… you hope they bomb. Without bring the show down, though. Of course. Thespianage is a tile selection and placement game of intrigue that plays 3-6 people in about an hour. Ages 12+"

Clockwork Renaissance (Historical, set collection), designed by Michael Blascoe, shown by Ana Blascoe, 4 players, 30 - 60 mins
"Set collection game with a moving-gear board, set in early 16th century Florence, artists racing to recreate the machines drawn by Leonardo da Vinci. Players gather plans, collect engineers, tools, and materials, and assemble their machines, then test run their results." See those gears? They really turn! They are wood with laser cut art on them, extremely cool. Oh, and Heidi won, by gathering materials and tools and building a skilled team of engineers who could create da Vinci-designed parachute.

Suicidal Cabbages (Card Game), designed by Bryan Kline, 6 players, 10 - 30 mins
"Turn yourself into coleslaw! Suicidal Cabbages is a card game for 2 to 6 players. Each player plays as a head of cabbage trying to end their life in a blaze of glory by shredding themselves into the best coleslaw ever made. Cards in the game can represent objects that do damage to you (knives, chainsaws, dynamite, etc.), or ingredients that go into your coleslaw recipe (mayo, vinegar, pepper, etc.). When one player reaches zero health, the game ends and each player scores points based on their current health and the ingredients they have in hand. The highest scoring batch of coleslaw is the winner!" Heidi gathered the ingredients to make a Thai coleslaw, which really sounds delicious. We suggested they include the full recipes with the game.

Pandora's Box (Set collection, point-to-point movement, hidden objectives), designed by Barb Hirschfelder, 2-4 players, 1 - 2 hours
"In Pandora's Box players take on the roles of major Greek gods who are competing to have the most influence on which elements will be captured in Pandora's Box. There are 6 positive elements, such as hope and piety, and 6 negative elements, such as war and betrayal. Through playing these element cards and moving their minions around the Greek settlements circling the Aegean Sea, they will collect cards matching their objectives and gather converts, represented by population cubes. When their minions visit the famous temples, they will gain alliances with minor gods, who will help them add element cards to Pandora's Box, and soon the Box will get full. When the box is opened, points are earned for matching objectives. Then Pandora will exert her revenge (deducting points) or her reward (adding points), depending on whether more positive or more negative elements have been placed in the Box." We didn't actually get to play this game, but it looked fascinating.

Barb had many of her games at the con. She loves dogs, (her company is 3 Dogs Games), so we played two of her doggie-related games.

I do not recall the name of this game but it features weiner dogs made of hardware (wing nuts make great ears and tails), with a flexible chain middle (think Slinky Dog from Toy Story). As you walk your dogs through the park, they literally get tangled with eachother!

Puppies in the Park is Barb's other dog game, in which you must quickly grab treats out of a doggie bag to lure your dogs forward to the finish line. When the squirrel tile appears, you must should "Squirrel!" and quickly grab the toy squirrel (in Barb's hand in the photos) to end the round. Quick-moving and fun!

Powerstones (Strategy, Tile-Laying, Drafting), designed by Michael Mihealsick, 5 players, 25-35 mins
"Dig up contraptions from ever-changing scrap piles, build them into your engine, and power them with arcane Powerstones. Generate the most energy with your engine to win the Academy's accolades! Powerstones is a hex tile-laying game for 2-5 players, where you acquire new tiles using a modified Winston draft. Balance your resources and diversify the elements in your engine to optimize your energy output!" Fast-paced and fun; one of the test players made a good suggestion about adding steampunky art of the contraptions. The names of the contraptions were highly entertaining. Michael had another game, too, that was not on the official schedule:

Lexicon: Riddle of the Stars is a two-player drafting and set building game in which an alien language is being decoded. We suggested he add an actual translation of the alien graphemes to satisfy our curiosity.

Scribbletown (Roll-and-write city building), designed by Zack Hiwiller, 4 players, 30 mins
"Players work from a pool of common dice to construct the most valuable cities by drawing roads and buildings on their city in the most efficient way." Reminded Heidi of Quadropolis but you get to draw too.

Fixed Fight Night (Betting game), designed by Tom Young, 2 - 4 players, 20 - 30 mins
HITMANagement's description of this game on the website sounds completely different from what we played - perhaps it evolved between the time of sending in the description and the actual convention. We played a boxing game in which we faced off in pairs and bet on the fights. We revealed cards to show our moves (punching, dodging, etc) and see which move beat the other. It was unpredictable and a lot of fun.

No Man's Land (Programmable Actions/movements ), designed by Nick May, 2 players, 10 - 30 mins
"Since the invention of the urinal in the 19th century, there has always been one unspoken rule, NEVER stand next to another person. This micro-game (it fits in a mint tin) consists of a row of urinals in which players find themselves on opposing ends. Their objective is a simple one, place action cards to maneuver around the row while avoiding ending an action beside the other player. Each time this happens the offending player receives a pink urinal cake disc. 3 discs and they lose." This was entertaining and not as gross as you might expect. We suggested he could create companion games themed around the ladies' room, the family restroom, etc.

Barterville (Worker Placement), designed by John Carter, 3 players, 1 hour - 2 hours
"In this post-apocalyptic hellscape, there is only one place of true refuge... BARTERVILLE! You represent one of five gangs poised to take control over Barterville. Through raising the settlement's food reserves, taking out local raider camps, and constructing buildings you can find out once and for all who runs Barterville!" We played this last year too. Matt says that John eliminated the worst aspect of the game since last year (scavenging was way too risky) but also the best aspect (the powerplay between good and evil). John promises that the good/evil powerplay will be used in a future game.

Pizza World (Set collection, memory, take that), designed by Andrew Haigh, 6 players, 30 - 60 mins
"Players are master pizza makers looking for the finest ingredients in a market. Each player is given several shopping lists of ingredients to collect. Unfortunately with a limited number of ingredients in the market, getting the ingredients you need may not be easy, especially if another player got there first. Pizza World is a game about completing as many personal and shared shopping lists as possible, some 'take that' elements and remembering where you last saw an ingredient - although they might not be where you thought. Make friends, or not, as you compete for the ingredients you need." The 3D printed pizza slice place markers are adorable, and the game board is the size of an extra-large pizza. Mouth-watering.

Garage Wars (Deckbuilding with Euro-Style Elements/ "Amerithrash"), designed by Evan Erwin, 2 - 4 players, 30 mins per player
"A strategy game about hiring mechanics, repairing vehicles, and owning a garage." Matt thought the thematic elements were very well wedded to the game play, and the component design was great. His biggest critique was that the game was too short. Evan is hard at work with some good ideas to fix that issue.

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