Another Unity Games has come and gone and we had a great time. I’ll get to the games in a moment, but first let me tell you about the event in general.
I don’t know what you think of when you hear “gaming event” so let me explain. It’s a hotel ballroom with tables set up for people from around the area to bring and play boardgames. (Not Monopoly, not Pictionary, but more complex European-style strategy games.) The room is also ringed with tables and everyone brings some games. They put them in a space on the table and people are invited to take whatever they want and play it, returning it back to the table when they’re done. In this way we all get to try out new and new-to-us games. There is not competition (other than each game itself.) It’s just a lot of people having a good time playing games. Admission is $12.50 and it lasts from 9am until midnight.
Becky makes fun of the excitement and preparation we make before each of these events, but it really is a big deal for us, and we greatly look forward to it.
About a month ago a math trade for Unity Games started on Boardgame Geek (BGG). It’s hard to describe a math trade, but it basically involves you throwing games you want to trade away on a list with other people who are putting games they want to trade on the list. Then you pick which games you’d like to trade things for and a computer program goes through everyone’s wants to try and find a large chain of trades. I got rid of a lot of things that weren’t seeing any play time and grabbed some new things, such as Endeavor, which I was very excited about getting. Being able to trade a game I’m not playing for one I will is awesome (and since all the trades are made at Unity itself, there’s not even any shipping involved).
I also managed to sell some other games before Unity, again through an auction list on Boardgame Geek. (And I increased my monetary take by losing on all the items I bid on in the auction except one!)
So, with all that done even before the day arrived, Unity already was a success! Saturday could only make it even better!
Matt and I headed out to Boston at 7:30 in the morning, picking up Eric (and coffee and donuts) along the way and got there around 9:30 or so. We met up with others in our group and picked out our first game to try, Alea Iacta Est, a dice game Eric had been interested in.
This was a fast-paced, fun game with a lot of character and cute theme. Not one I’d buy, but I’d be up for it if someone else brought it out to play. I ended up winning — my only victory for the day.
We finished that by 11:30, and I had to run to go teach a game. People can volunteer to run “teaching games” at Unity so that folks can be guaranteed a chance to learn a game they’re curious about. I had a full house of five waiting to learn Small World, so I busted out my copy and started teaching. The group picked it up quickly (it’s pretty easy to teach and learn) and got into the spirit right away, hammering at each other and talking trash. Erica, at the right in the photo below, won, and three of the players said they planned on buying the game.
After that I ran into Kiri, who was looking for a game, and I found a copy of Ad Astra, a game I’ve been dying to try out. Kiri was up for it, we found three other players, and we dove in.
This is a Settlers of Catan-like resource development game, but with a lot of neat things added on that reduce the randomness and increase the strategy. I was really pleased with it and am probably going to end up buying it.
It was now 3:30 and I was due to teach another game. There had been a list on BGG where people could say what they were bringing, ask others to bring things, and arrange games with other players. Someone requested the game Steam, and said they were interested in learning it. As I’m a big fan of the game, I offered to run a teaching game at 3:30.
I found five people wanting to learn the game (one of them being one of the Ad Astra players) and I taught them how to play. In these teaching games I usually don’t play myself, so that the players are all on equal footing and I can help them out without any problems. In Steam there’s also the advantage that I could take care of some of the bookkeeping in the game, letting them instead focus on the action on the board. They all took to it pretty well and enjoyed it, and I was glad to have given the game some new fans.
I took a little time to finish up the trade and sales stuff I had to do. I had given people my cell phone number to contact me with but forgot to bring the actual phone with me. Luckily, I was able to find everyone and give them games or money. (One person I bought a game from on BGG has the musician Laurie Anderson as her avatar. I found myself scouring the room to Laurie Anderson as though she herself was the person I was looking for. I managed to find the person despite this dumbness on my part.)
There’s a place on the room called the “quick start area”. If you want to play a game and need players, you head over to it and hold up the game. After I found Laur–er, Carol, I was walking past this area and saw someone holding up Tobago, one I was dying to try, so I got in on that game.
This is a great little game. You drive SUVs around an island looking for buried treasure, the location of which is gradually revealed by clue cards that narrow down where it could be located. It’s then a race to pick up the treasure and fight the other players for the contents of each chest. There are two CURSES that can be found in the chests that majorly screw with the player who finds them and GUESS WHO FOUND BOTH. Between that and my near-fatal surfing accident I’m wondering if this tiki idol is lucky after all.
In the middle of Tobago the others came to see if I was up for some dinner, but out game was in the middle, so I told them to go ahead without me. To be honest, I was more interested in playing more games than losing time at a restaurant. But by the time Tobago ended I found myself more than peckish and instead refueled myself with chicken quesadillas and Jack Daniels lemonade at the hotel bar.
They got back as I was finishing up and we all headed back upstairs. Normally I play a lot of stuff at Unity with my friends, but this time I had more or less gone off by myself after the first game, so it was cool to meet back up at this point. We found a copy of Hansa Teutonica, which had gotten a lot of notice at last year’s big boardgame show in Essen, Germany, so we gave it a try.
Maybe it was the terrible rulebook. Maybe I was tired, still a little hungry, and had just had a big ol’ glass of whiskey. Hansa Teutonica seemed to be exactly the type of game I’ve become tired of, pushing bits of wood around a board to achieve some vaguely-defined purpose. None of us were overly thrilled with it, though we did enjoy this bit from the rules:
With only about 45 minutes until they would throw us out at midnight, we squeeeeezed one more game out, which was Experiment, one of the things I had traded for.
None of us were crazy about it, but honestly by that point we were all kind of worn out. We packed up our stuff and headed back to the untamed wilds of Western Massachusetts, dreaming of what we would get in the inevitable upcoming game order.
We all had a great time and played some great stuff. And even with that exhaustive account I still haven’t mentioned:
- Seeing Curtis and Michelle, folks we had gamed with until they moved away for work. They came back for this event and it was great to see them again, though I didn’t get to play anything with them.
- Comics creator and boardgame developer Jason Lutes (Berlin, Jar of Fools) was there and did a favor for me! More on that later.
- The scads of games there I wish I’d been able to play: Dungeon Lords, Thunderstone, Campaign Manager, Factory Manager, Carson City…Unity needs to be two days!