Friday, July 7, 2017

KublaCon 2017 Re-cap

I'm unable to attend many more well-known board game conventions because of family and work obligations, but there's one that I reserve one day of the year to attend, and that's the one closest to me - KublaCon.

Yes, you heard me. One day. Because it's only really just me going, and I feel bad already for leaving my wife to handle the kids on her own. But one day a year for myself is more than enough for me to indulge in my favorite hobby, and believe me when I say I make the most of it. 2017 marks the 4th year in a row I've been doing this attending-one-day con, and I always get excited for it, as much as anyone who's able to attend a full every-single-day big-name board game convention. For me this year, though, it's all about the friends, the games, the craft, and the score.

The Friends

More than anything, KublaCon is a chance to meet some awesome people again. Last year's KublaCon I got to break out my shell and meet some people whom I've conversed with online for the first time, and it was awesome. It was also the first time I got to play a grand game like Concordia that spanned for many hours, so long that the dealers hall was closed by the time the game ended and I wasn't able to buy any games (more of that in "The Score" later). But for me to even get the chance to play a big game like Concordia with phenomenal people made the small sacrifice well worth it.

This year once again, I got to hang out with some good friends again from last year. This included the same people I met last year, including Annette (@Nettersplays), Mitch (@R0b0kiwi), Eric (@whatseplaying), and Lance (@LanceSchricke). I also met some new people - Jimmy, John, Amber (@100gamesproject), and Eric (@erykmynn). I really can't stress enough how much of this is all about meeting people, especially so many at once. This made me really happy. What made me happier was all the games we played!

The Games

I have to say, I'm terribly nervous when it comes to bluffing games. I've been told I'm a bad liar and have 10,000 tells on my face whenever I bend the truth. So when the first game we played was Insider, I cringed a little inside.

Insider is an interesting bluffing game where everyone gets a face-down role card and secretly sees what they are - either a master, a common, or an insider. Afterwards, everyone closes their eyes while the master secretly learns of the word that everyone else must figure out. However, after the Master closes their eyes, the Insider then takes a peek at the word. The main game then becomes a flurry of yes/no questions to the Master to figure out the word, with the Insider trying to nudge the team towards the right direction without being completely obvious. If everyone figures out the word, then the second half of the game is determining who the Insider was. If they guess correct, the team wins. If they don't, the Insider alone wins.

My heart raced a little when I found out I was the Insider the first game.

With a mere couple of seconds left on the timer, the word was guessed by someone else. Then, my flop-sweats began as accusations were tossed around. While I made some key contributions, it wasn't as obvious that many people knew it was me (only two had me in their sights), but I was able to get two others in their judgement and escaped capture!

We played two more games of this. It's dead simpler than One Night Ultimate Werewolf, and quite fun. I'm certainly down to play more of this next time!

Then, we played an oddly-adorable game called Garden Eel Go!, a game where you collect eels from the ocean. Eel cards are face-up below three columns of cards, each with a distinct ocean surface card that all other players have. One player controls the fisherman meeple, while the others puts one of the three ocean cards face down to represent the column of eels they want to grab from. The fisherman then uses the meeple to block one of the columns. Everyone else turns their cards face up and see if they are able to fish for eels. All scored eels are then lined up in front of players. If any cards are next to one with a shark icon, they turn into poop and score you no points.

I also got to play some NMBRS9 (a clever puzzler of laying out numbers in a certain way to get the most points), Alpaca Pakapaka (from the same designer as Garden Eel Go!), Port Royal (another game by Alexander Pfister, who also designed Oh My Goods), and even a bit of Roll Player to end my day there.

The Craft

Knowing full well I'd be meeting some familiar faces again, I decided to make some custom dice trays on the spot. They're quite easy to craft out of unique cigar boxes, and being able to do so gave me such joy.

The Score

There's a little story to my one purchase this year at KublaCon. Since last year, when I first met most of these friends for the first time, for my one-day trip then we played an epic game of Concordia, one that lasted for hours. It was my first (and still only) game of it, and all the choices and decisions made was really memorable and stood out. Sometime during the game, we talked about the game Leaving Earth, and how the designer had a booth in the con to sell the game. My appetite grew for the game as we played. By the time the Concordia game ended, however, I found out too late that the Dealers Hall had closed its doors, and my chance was gone.

Many times since then, I contemplated making the purchase online, but the shipping fees were too high to consider. Fast foward to this year, and I wasn't going to let that chance slip by again. Even before meeting up with friends, I made a beeline to the Dealers Hall, went straight to their booth, and made my purchase without hesitation. I even regaled my tale of woe to the designer's parents who were manning the booth. Leaving Earth and its expansion were mine, and I was happy.

KublaCon 2018

It goes without saying that I'll attend next year's convention, most likely just the one day again. But that time limitation doesn't deter the satisfaction I get at all. When I get to meet some wonderful people to play a lot of games I normally don't get to play on my own, it instantly becomes the best day in my hobby life. And I'm determined to not have to wait a full year just to meet with good friends again for a great board game or two.
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