RogerBW's Blog

Gridcon 4 02 December 2023

Gridcon is the convention run by Paul Grogan of Gaming Rules—patrons of that channel get first chance at the tickets, and as a result the remainder sell out very quickly. Still, I was able to get in this year.


I drove to Taunton after work, and arrived in time to show off Lemminge. Other players soon shared my feeling that it’s a crying shame this game isn’t better known.

There was also beer.

Then on to SCOUT in the bar. I had two good rounds. Unfortunately there were four players…


Breakfast (at the Holiday Inn Express, the overflow hotel a few minutes' walk away) was frankly unimpressive. Sausage, bacon, generic scrambled egg, beans, and that's your lot for hot stuff. Still, there was plenty of it.

First game of the day was Thunder Road: Vendetta, one of the Resoration Games updates of a 1980s original. I can see the appeal, and the game moves fast, but I found it extremely random, with chaos predominating over anything like tactics. Maybe a different setup would have helped, but most of the road boards seemed to have plenty of random hazards. Fun as far as it went but I'd want to write a new set of rules if I owned this. (And since it's in a huge box, and costs around $60 even in the US, I'm very unlikely to do so.)

Ark Nova next, and the first of what would become a theme: games seemingly everyone except me has already played. Mechanically much like Terraforming Mars, here you're building a zoo, and trying to balance serious conservation projects with crowd-pleasing animals. I went mostly for the latter by collection all the vultures, and still just about managed second place (out of three). But my goodness it took a long time, something like five hours altogether, and I don’t think we were dithering unduly; that in itself is a strike against it for me, especially when I have Earth.

Player N: "how come you have so many carcasses to feed the vultures?"

Me: "This one just brought back an elephant." (Possibly one beakful at a time…)

The next game was 4-player Kabuto Sumo, which took 70 minutes and really couldn’t justify that length, though I did have a good time. I think for future games I’ll add a “title belt”, as apparently the very latest edition does, to give an instant win to anyone who knocks it ouf of the ring—thus shifting the balance towards the offence. Or use more expansion content, which also offers more ways to win.

Player N: "It’s time for the thoracic horn."

We finished off the evening with Lords of Waterdeep, another famous game I haven't played. Quite fun in itself, and fascinating to see the influence of what were still being called “German games” on the US mass market circa 2012.

Player N: "I’m all out of Intrigue. I can't go down the docks any more."

Me: "So every turn two more thieves turn up? What's in this building, gold coloured fly paper?"


Expecting a long game, we started Xia: Legends of a Drift System fairly early. Every time I play this game I love it. N. and I both started out configured as Explorers, while S. went for Trader—but the trade planets didn’t come up for quite a while. N. made the traditional blind jump into the sun. I merely blind-jumped through a planetary shield.

"What are you in for?" "Paperwork error." (Other prisoners draw back.)

On to Concordia, the third in the "games everyone except me has played" theme of this convention. I was mostly concentrating on building up my resources more than collecting scoring cards, and did the latter a bit too late, but it still went interestingly, helped by my getting all colonists out quite early. A bit low on theme for my taste, not to mention needing some deep study to play at all well.

"You can't diplomat a diplomat."

Nokosu Dice with five, a bit less chaotic than last time at this player count. And I think I finally know how the designers meant trumps to be treated.

Last game of the evening, Pictures: you have a 4×4 grid of photographs, and have to use a very crude tool (e.g. two shoelaces, or a small pile of children’s blocks) to indicate one of them. A bit Paranormal Investigators, a bit Mysterium, but sharing round the fun part of trying to use the tool within a single game.


Another potentially long game as the first of the day: A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game with my newly-found copy of The Coast expansion. The Sunken Seven are tough and the shadow track melted away before our eyes. All the Elders had died or turned evil except for the three we took with us into the showdown (and one of them was evil too). A thorough defeat, but great fun.

Then Piepmatz: aww, sweet garden birds. “Now if you play this, a fight starts…” Always good fun

"That classic of naturalist hip-hop, 'Smack My Spatz Up'."

And finally Project L, always reliable with its clinky tactile appeal.

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