Provo, Utah is a small college town located thirty minutes south of Utah’s capitol, Salt Lake City. It is home to Brigham Young University, one of the Missionary Training Centers for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, majestic mountains full of hiking, biking, and skiing, and for the second year in a row, the Timpanogos Game Convention (aka TimpCon).
Last year, I wrote this was Utah’s fourth gaming convention in the state, and I am happy to report it is now one of six: SaltCon (Layton), Salt Lake Gaming Con (Salt Lake City), STGCon (St George), BryceCon (Bryce), MyCon (Logan), and TimpCon (Provo). Utah is booming with gamers, game designers, game publishers, and game conventions, and I am loving every minute of it.
So, the first question should be, what does TimpCon have to offer? Well, for starters, there is over 10,000 square feet of gaming bliss, including exhibitors and vendors, 80+ gaming events, multiple game giveaways, play-to-wins, a game swap, several open gaming tables, demo tables, and a game library of over two thousand games!!!! Yep, two thousand. Try and get all those played in just two days, I dare you.
Kevin Carter, one of the organizers and my main contact, was very excited for this year, as they had sold out and had a record crowd. When asked what his plans were moving forward, he said they were happy with how things were going and would continue expanding the event. He wasn’t sure if they would stay at the Utah Valley Convention Center or if they would need to find a new venue as the event grew larger.
So, the other question that needs to be asked and answered: what games did I play?
I unintentionally ended up focusing on older games. This was partially my doing, and partially my kids picking games they wanted. So, we started things off with a ruckus game of Fireball Island.
(For those unfamiliar with the games I will be listing, I will write a short summary of each one.)
Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar is a two-to-four-player action selection game. Players take on the roll of tourist running around Vul-Kar taking pictures, collecting souvenirs, and grabbing up all the treasures. The only problem is, the island doesn’t want you there. Each turn, a player may find the volcano sending out fireballs or, worse, other players sending fireballs your way. The player who can escape the island with the best combination of treasures and pictures will win!
There isn’t much strategy to this one; however, if you go in with the mindset of just having fun and laughing a lot, you will enjoy it.
Next up was My Little Scythe (MLS). This one has a great back story, which you should look up once you have finished reading this article. It plays one to six players and is geared towards a younger audience. Like its big brother, Scythe, MLS is an action selection/area control game where players are trying to achieve certain goals before the other players.
I am a big fan of Scythe. I enjoy the action selection and engine building component of it, and you can find all this in MLS, as well. While there is a lot more going on in Scythe, you will still find many interesting decisions to be made here, and you’ll be able to get a feel for the real thing.
After that, my boys begged me to go play Company of Heroes from Bad Crow Games, which was being demoed in the main hall. This is one that I was able to review earlier this year for the Kickstarter campaign. You can read that review HERE and see how it plays.
This is one we really like. It has a strong WWII theme, and the streamlined mechanics make it really easy to learn. The tough part is learning how to use all your units efficiently and choosing between all the cool upgrades.
While the boys were keeping themselves busy, I took the opportunity to teach myself how to play Quadropolis. This is a two-to-four-player tile laying game from Days of Wonder. What makes this game so cool is how you pick your tiles and how you place them in your city.
Each player gets a board, which represents their city; there is also a central board that is a five-by-five grid where all available buildings are presented. Each player is given four workers numbered 1-4 which they use to collect the city tiles from the center board and place them onto their board. To do this, the player picks a row or column from which to grab the building from and places their worker along it. Then, they count the number of spaces from their marker equal to the number of the worker. For example, let’s say that I want a building that is in the second row down and third tile in. I can place a number 3 worker along the second row, or a number 2 worker along the third column.
Once you collect the tile, you must place it in your city grid, also based on the number of your worker. For example, if I used my number 3 worker to get the tile, I may place it in any empty space in my third row or column. Alternatively, I could add it to a tower that currently has two stories.
If you haven’t checked this one out before, you should. It is very clever and very clean (not many rules to trip you up).
Next was a play-to-win for Above and Below. This is a beautiful storytelling game from Ryan Laukat of Red Raven Games. Players are creating a city above and below the ground while exploring and facing many obstacles and threats. It is a type of worker placement where you use the workers you have to do various actions like build, recruit, adventure, etc. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to finish this one, but we had a great time playing it.
Explorers of the North Sea was our next game. This is a one-to-four-player game of viking exploration. Each turn, players use four actions to explore, collect livestock, build outposts, fight NPC vikings, and raid villages. The player who has the best combination of livestock, raided villages, captured islands, destroyed viking ships, and dead vikings, wins the game.
This was one of my personal favorites of the weekend. While it is no brain buster, it is enjoyable trying to figure out how to maximize each of my four actions. I played against my twelve-year-old son, who also really liked it.
My nine-year-old ran into the library and grabbed Fastrack. A two-player dexterity game from Blue Orange Games. In the game, players use rubber bands to launch disks back and forth, trying to get all of the disks on your opponent’s side. The caveat here is that there is a wall between each player, and just a small little hole to get the disk through.
At first, I was schooling my older two sons, right up until my oldest said, “Dad, I figured it out!” From then on, I only won once out of many, many, MANY tries.
The last game we played at TimpCon was Bunny Kingdom, from IELLO. I had a chance to play this a couple years ago at SaltCon, and it has been on my wish list ever since. It is an area control game with scoring based on how you arrange your bunnies in relationship to cities and resources.
The cool thing about this game is how you choose where to place your bunnies. At the start of a round, each player is given a hand of ten cards. They choose two, then pass the rest to the player on their left or right (depending on the round). The two cards they kept, they then play. It could be a Location card, in which case you will place one of your bunnies out on the board, or it could be a Goal card which you keep until the end of the game. You could also get a Building card, which allows you to add extra resources or cities out on the board. You then take the cards that were passed to you and pick two new cards. This continues until all cards have been played. There is then a scoring phase and a new drafting phase. You do this four times. At the end of the game, you do the normal scoring, then score the goal cards you collected over the game.
Super simple game with many fun choices. My only complaint is the final scoring; I think it took 15 minutes.
Lastly I was able to pick up a copy of Gizmos at the game swap. It is another game that I have played before and has been on my wish list. It too is a two-to-four-player game where players are building up their Gizmos in hopes of earning victory points. Players only get one action each turn and must choose between grabbing a card from the market to save for later, picking an energy marble from the supply, building a gizmos from your file or the market, or researching.
The game starts off slow, as there is not much you can do with one action, but it builds quickly as your gizmos start creating crazy chain reactions. One action could trigger another, which could trigger still more.
I am a huge engine-building mechanic fan, and this one fits the bill well.
It was another great year of gaming with my family and friends. I was able to catch up with many colleagues, and for me, the highlight was the amazing game library.
Any regrets? Yes… I had Tapestry in my hands, and never got it to the table.
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Dane Trimble – Owner
Dane is an Advertising Manager for a national magazine by day and a husband, father of four, and board gamer by night (and mornings). He has a passion for board games and believes board games help bring families closer together while providing kids a unique way to learn many diverse skills. And he thinks they are downright fun!!!
See Dane’s reviews HERE.