unity 2012

My son asked me “so when the room is not full of hundreds of people playing board games, what do they use it for?”. That day, at the Woburn Hilton Hotel, it didn’t really matter. The main ballroom (as well as a few surrounding hallways) was packed with tables full of people playing games. In the Eastern Massachusetts area there is a loose coalition of gamers and game-groups known as Unity Games. Occasionally they hold full-day gaming events and this past Saturday was one of those. As most people who know me know, when I say boardgames, I don’t mean one of the hundreds of licensed Monopoly re-treads. I am referring to the growing market of games that have a bit more depth and are a lot more fun.

On Saturday we managed to play five different games. We started with a light game that could be played two-player, just to get into the swing of it. Dungeon Raiders was a fun light card game that captured the idea of a dungeon crawl pretty nicely. I think it needed to be played with 3-5 to get a bit more competition on the adventure cards. Next we played a 3-player game of Elder Sign, one of many recent H.P. Lovecraft-themed games from Fantasy Flight. This one is a cooperative game that uses a currently very popular mechanic of very Yahtzee-like sets of six-sided die rolls. Given the theme, multiple choices for characters to play and the random “big bad” that sets the tone for the game, I think it will have a lot of replay value – that is if you don’t mind lots of random die rolls. We did get one key rule wrong in this one that made our victory a little too easy. I look forward to playing this one again. Following this we played a four-player game of Discworld: Ankh-Morpork, an area control game that has lots of funny randomness which follows the theme of Terry’ Pratchett’s universe very nicely. I liked this one a lot but we ran into a player who seemed to suffer form analysis paralysis and took forever to take his turns. ImageThis of course was ironic in a game that had so much chaotic randomness. Next up, a familiar game of Race for the Galaxy. We taught a new player how to play the game so it was a little slow but fun as always….and my son won again, as always. Lastly we played a four-player game of Kingdom Builder, with my gaming friend Aaron (who of course won). I’ve played Donald X. Vaccarino‘s newest game twice now and I think I am starting to like it. It could suffer from the “multi-player solitaire” problem like his previous hit game Dominion does, but savvy players will start to add defensive moves where possible to try to block others from romping.

All in Unity was a great day. I also managed to sell off a number of game stat had been collecting dust in my basement  – and I only bought one new game. There is nothing like being in a ballroom packed full of people enjoying your favorite hobby.

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