RogerBW's Blog

Handycon 5, January 2019 29 January 2019

Still at the larger venue in Maidenhead, but squeezing a lot more people into the space, this local boardgaming convention continues to grow.

With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

Friday

I ran into some friends and joined their game of New Frontiers, otherwise known as "Race for the Galaxy meets Puerto Rico". And I liked it rather a lot.

Compared with Race, you're much less reliant on the right development cards coming up; here they're tiles, and while the numbers are restricted they're all available for purchase. More significantly to me, the annoyance of knowing that almost all of one's hand full of interesting cards will need to be thrown away to pay for just one of them is gone; one accumulates (generic) cash and colonists, which one later uses to buy development tiles and settle worlds.

We had a very close finish, with four out of five players within two points of each other and one a bit behind. It was great fun, but I can't help thinking that every game is likely to be a lot like every other game. For the £55-£60 that this costs, I could get Race and one of its expansions, maybe two, and have more variety. (And while there may be expansions for this, there aren't any yet.)

Next was Onward to Venus, which I didn't know was a Martin Wallace game when I agreed to play it. (I've only really enjoyed one of his games, Exodus Paris Nouveau, and for me even that is in the "good" rather than "great" box.)

It reminded me a little of the 1980s Buck Rogers boardgame: there are troops which can be moved between planets, and others which are more powerful but can't be moved. Each round, various crises and opportunities arise, and one moves troops to deal with them.

It's all rather abstract, but fairly enjoyable – helped by a pleasant group of people. Still, not one I'd seek out to play again.

I met Lizzie, with whom I occasionally contribute to the Our Turn! podcast, and we played Suburbia. I was beaten fairly hollow. I should really try the solo mode of this some time; I think I like it more than most people with whom I usually play.

Joined by a friend, we went on to Railroad Ink

and, still one of my favourites, Xenon Profiteer

…and Star Realms: Frontiers.

After that I was between games for a bit, so played a solo V-Commandos game, just a single tile… which started off quite well, and then, in the way of these things, fell apart suddenly and completely when the enemy massed. From full health to both critically wounded in a single turn. (Though the objective was achieved…)

Lastly a few rounds of 6 Nimmt!, at which I did terribly. Time for bed.

Saturday

There were the usual slight problems of getting into a game, or getting players for one's own; in my experience tables tended to stay together once they'd started. But a friend didn't get that impression at all, so maybe it's just me. I spent the morning mostly socialising, and looking at the Bring and Buy.

And playing more Star Realms: Frontiers, this time solo. (Another defeat against the Blob Assault.)

I'd signed up for the Flamme Rouge tournament, and was on a table of four reasonably experienced players. We got off to a decent start, and my team ("Wizard Sugar") ended up taking first and second places. But we were using tournament rules, so I had a fair bit of exhaustion to carry over.

The second race didn't go as well, but I took second and eighth… leaving my Sprinteur with no exhaustion cards at the end.

Then it was time for the final, which was the winners from each table. (A second table gave the fastest of the remaining players a chance to try to beat our times.)

And I took the win! (First and sixth, I think.) This ended up getting me the triple crown: winner of the race, fastest team, and fastest individual.

These were the courses, in case anyone feels like trying them.

I got together with Lizzie and friends and family, and we played more Railroad Ink.

And, by request, more Flamme Rouge… at which I came, I think, fifth and sixth, being beaten by people who'd never played before. Ah well, no swelled head here!

Decrypto next, out of the games library, and it worked a lot better than when we tried it on the Shut Up and Sit Down forums (better record-keeping helped a great deal) – I still don't think it's a Codenames killer, but it's not bad.

Sushi Go Party!, also from the games library, and when did I get so terrible at this? Dear me.

Last game of the evening was Not Alone, in which I played as the Creature… and, much to my surprise, won!

Sunday

Well, what a surprise, more Star Realms: Frontiers, while I was waiting for the others. And this time I nailed the Blobs!

(I think these solo challenges are improving my game. I hope so…)

Lizzie and co had requested Automobiles, so we played that next; the asymmetrical track makes things much more interesting, and while I ended up in last place we all had a good time.

Finally, Terraforming Mars, vastly improved by the variant rule of drafting cards rather than simply drawing a hand each turn. I was able to focus on specific things, and while I came last and the game still ran to something over six hours I did at least enjoy it. (Though this was definitely helped by the pleasant people with whom I was playing; I don't think I'd want to get into a game with people who took it all Terribly Seriously.)

The next Handycon is the first weekend in August, a week before the Worldcon.

[Buy New Frontiers at Amazon] [Buy Onward to Venus at Amazon] [Buy Suburbia at Amazon] [Buy Railroad Ink at Amazon] [Buy Xenon Profiteer at Amazon] [Buy Star Realms Frontiers at Amazon] [Buy V-Commandos at Amazon] [Buy 6 Nimmt! at Amazon] [Buy Flamme Rouge at Amazon] [Buy Decrypto at Amazon] [Buy Sushi Go Party! at Amazon] [Buy Not Alone at Amazon] [Buy Automobiles at Amazon] [Buy Terraforming Mars at Amazon] and help support the blog.

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