Saturday was the first day of HelCon II. We got up early, packed the car and headed towards the location. Which was quite nice, really! For once the space was open and had windows and even the bathrooms were quite clean. Of course, there was the limitation that all gaming must end before the alarm goes on at 23.00, but I think that was mostly a good thing.
Among the first three games I played were two four-player Crokinole matches. The Crokinole board got lots of use during the weekend, many people seemed to enjoy the game. I’m quite sure there’d be market for Crokinole boards in Finland. Selling perhaps dozen boards wouldn’t be impossible — after that it would require very aggressive marketing.
While we played the first Crokinole match, people drifted in and I recruited a bunch of them to play Alhambra. It turned out we got a full game, with six players. Which was pretty good, really. There are few decent six-player games and Alhambra is definitely one of them. Sure, there’s some downtime and the luck is stronger, but then again, if that’s a large concern, dividing into two groups of three is always a better option. I though six-player Alhambra was fun, even though I didn’t come close to winning the game.
I then had a moment to waste while waiting for a scheduled game to start — Top Speed time! I played three games with Tommy and won them all! I love the game!
Then it was Kniziathon time! We had a large pile of Knizia games to play (29 different titles) and lots of interested people. I thought the Kniziathon was a brilliant idea. I usually don’t like to “waste” time playing the same games again and again when I can spend the time playing many different games, but Kniziathon solves that problem handsomely. I could play many different and interesting games!
The first one I played was Wapi, a re-working of Knizia’s Goldrausch. The game was very quick and light, it took about five minutes for a five-player game. There’s little control, but I thought the game was quite fun, really. Not Knizia’s best work, by far, but enjoyable family fare surely.
A friend of mine had brought me some games from Essen and Drahtseilakt was one of them. I was eager to try it out and it fit the Kniziathon theme perfectly. It’s a good trick-taking game, where both the player with the highest and the lowest card win points — red points for low, blue points for high. The catch is that for a perfect score, you don’t want to win any points — points are bad. But if you do get points, then you can remove them with other points. Each blue point you get cancels one red point. So if you can keep your balance perfectly without taking any points — excellent! But if you make one mistake, you’ll have to balance it. Of course, you can’t probably get the exact amount you need, so you’ll be needing more balancing after that — if that’s not a good simulation of ropewalking, what is? There’s an extra catch — if you’re able to score zero points, you can erase your negative points from an earlier round. The game was fun, everybody seemed to enjoy it well. We played the strategic variant, which plays like a regular trick-taking game. Then there’s the other way, which plays simultaneously, like 6 Nimmt…
We were six after that game, so the next game we played was Royal Turf. It’s a delightfully light little game, which is one of the better six-player games in my opinion. The usual cheering and advising made the game a loud and fun affair, but unfortunately my success ended after the first race. But then again — I wasn’t really looking forward to win the Kniziathon…
One of the Knizia games I was really looking forward to play was Tigris & Euphrates. I hadn’t played it in ages after being a bit bored with it so it was a great pleasure to play the game again. Our game had one complete newbie and two players with little experience and then me with perhaps most experience, but all of that definitely rusty. It was an interesting game! Lots of fights and no monuments at all. So when the game ended, it wasn’t really a huge surprise that the scores were low. However, I wouldn’t have expected it to be that tight… The final scores were 6-5-5-5. Unfortunately I was one of the fives. Still, it was great fun to play the old classic again.
After that I decided my Kniziathon efforts were pretty much over. It was time to get some food. I got Tommy and Laura join me for a pizza. More energy would be needed to finish the day of gaming.
After returning from the pizzeria we found a game of Finstere Flure about to start with two players missing… Me and Tommy joined in. I got the Addams family pieces, which was neat! The game has a great idea — players have to run out of a dungeon as fast as possible. That would be easy, but there’s a monster who’s trying to eat you. The monster moves according to certain rules. It’s always moving towards the nearest piece it can see. With careful planning, you can lure the monster towards opponent’s pieces! It’s great fun and the bits are totally cool. However, I wasn’t completely thrilled. It’s not a must buy, but a game I’ll think about buying. Perfect solution would be if somebody I know would buy it.
After running through the sinister corridors, it was time for different kind of terrors. An Age of Steam session was planned and it was time to play this game of economical horror. Players were mostly newbies and none of us had lots of experience. I opted for the conservative money strategy and finished the game with least issued shares. That secured me the third place. With more money, I could have made more money, I suppose. Stefu, who studies economics and loves the game won. He had the best income (14-18-18-20-21), the average issued shares (5-6-7-8-9) and most track (14-15-16-17-21). Mika got on the slippery slope and had to issue more shares — I was rather glad I could avoid his destiny. Another Mikko, Mikko K. got a nice little transportation monopoly on the east edge of the board. He had lots of cubes to carry, but most of his business was only one or two links. He got second, though, and with longer connections would’ve won the game easily. Anyway, it was an excellent and very exciting way to spend about three hours. Everybody enjoyed the game and I for one wouldn’t mind if Age of Steam would get played more.
The last game of the evening was a game of Attika. It was my first game with the real game and it was just great. Only thing I missed from BSW was the knowledge of which tiles I had used. Stefu had solved that on his game with black plastic discs, but I played with Tommy’s game which didn’t have those. When I buy Attika, I’ll figure out something. It was fun and a close game. I lost, mostly because I was harassed by Mikko K. all the time…
And that was it for Saturday! We locked the place up at 22.30, only 30 minutes after the event was supposed to end and went to sleep around 00.30. That’s quite good, if you ask me. Much better than playing until you’re dead tired…