UnPub 7: Sunday & Monday

I had been super interested in getting to play Daniel Newman’s Step Right Up but by the time both I was free and the table had space on Saturday, my brain was getting fried. So we made plans to play at 10am Sunday which meant I knew exactly where I’d be starting the last day. Unfortunately I was running late, but luckily everyone playing (Matt Riddle, Dan Halstad, and Zev) was either chill or not yet there, which let me drop Daniel a note and then quickly grab coffee. The game is carnival-themed and features a central action rondel where players will gather cards to build their attractions, attract customers, usher them in, and then finally cash them out. But the amazing thing about it all is that each player’s attraction plays & scores completely differently from the others, requiring them to use the same selection of actions to complete different requirements in a way that suits their personal set-up. It’s thinky and meaty and I love the theme; I’m glad I got to play it and would love to try again but take on a different attraction board to see just how different it would feel.

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I’d spotted The Last Garden by Matt Christianson & Chris Rowlands on the table throughout the convention. It’s a beautiful game that I’d already backed on Kickstarter, and so I jumped at the chance to try it out by playing a 2-player game versus Matt himself. Matt did say the game is a little more chaotic at 4 players, but at 2 it’s a really enjoyable tactical back-and-forth. All of your options are appealing as the game begins, and whether you want to focus on building up the regions you score in, or blowing up the region your opponent is in, there’s plenty of opportunity to have fun with it. Beth Sobel’s art looks fantastic and blends sand-swept terrain with rusting mechanicals to evoke the post-apocalyptic desert in which some beauty might still flourish. The Kickstarter campaign ends March 29th and I HIGHLY recommend backing the game. Of course I did win and I hear that tends to colour one’s opinion, so make of my recommendation what you will.

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Jessica and I then ended up sitting down to play BEEEEES! with designer Marcus Ross which was also on Kickstarter (unfortunately I didn’t get this post up before the campaign ended). It’s a real-time scramble to roll dice in order to claim hive tiles and build the most beautiful hive. But you only score for connections made between like-coloured tiles, so you have to think about where you place them during the real-time scramble. It was chaotic and tons of fun. We actually ended up then playing a two-player game against each other for Marcus to see how 3 tile stacks worked, before then playing a four-player game when Ian jumped in and Marcus rejoined the fray. The game takes 10-15 min and is a complete riot that I highly recommend. Plus it’s super pretty.

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Mosley was getting to leave for the airport and had just an hour left, so Jessica, Lillian, and I were looking for a last game to play with him. She had expressed interest in Favelas but there was one problem, Chris Bryan wasn’t at his table. We hung about for a bit and then decided to be cheeky and play without him. Jessica and I weren’t a hundred percent sure of the set-up, but we winged it, erred on the side of using too many tiles, and taught the game from memory. It was just as good as the day before, and really cemented for me how much I want a copy of the game.

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My next game was my other repeat play of the con as I joined Paul Owens, Jay Treat, and Jessica for a four-player game of The Library is Burning. James Meyers had added in objective cards since my previous play which added an extra hint of direction without adding too much complexity; as I said in my recap of Saturday, I really like the game and hope to see it published so I don’t have to steal a copy from James.

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Things were slowly winding down, but Ben Begeal grabbed Jessica and I in order to practice his teach for Circle the Wagons, an upcoming ButtonShy wallet game. I didn’t do a great job listening to his teach as I was too tired to hold back on asking questions and interrupting him (sorry Ben!), but he did a great job and had us off and running. It’s a really interesting two-player game that combines card drafting (in a Patchwork-esque mode) with figuring out how to best connect and overlap those cards to create your final community. If you like quick, puzzley games with various ways to score, keep an eye out for this one.

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For the rest of the evening I pretty much wandered the room chatting and saying goodbye to people as I was starting to get a bit brain-dead. I did jump in on a quick play of a Darryl Andrews’ prototype, a mash-up of Guillotine & Sushi Go complete with (for now) some delightful Pixar art. It was quick and fun and a perfect end to the convention. After that I enjoyed dinner with some of the NC folk and chatted with other Days Inn residents before embracing the inevitable, saying goodbye to UnPub 7, and heading off to bed.

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On Monday morning it was time to pack up my stuff and head back to reality. Unfortunately I’d traveled with one smallish bag and hadn’t thought to bring any foldable bags in case of acquisitions. Since I wanted to avoid making multiple trips, I ended up walking to my car with my new Quiver (an amazing prize I got in the charity drawing) stuffed full of clothing, my bag stuffed full of games, my toothbrush and other sundries shoved in my coat pockets, and carrying a both Imperial Assault and a Brettspiel advent calendar in my arms. I’m sure the front desk of the Inner Harbor Days Inn had seen all kinds of sights due to the combination of UnPub and St. Patrick’s Day sharing a weekend, as they didn’t bat an eye. It was an uneventful drive which is all one can hope for, and soon I was home, where at the very least, there were 2 Kickstarter deliveries and a Wizarding World Loot Crate waiting for me on the porch. I said hello to my animals, unloaded the car, hung up my badge, and called the trip done, at least for this year.

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