Hey hey. BGG Con 2019 wrapped up a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to get my thoughts on the event written down before they slip away…
I was not planning on attending BGG Con this year but Tasty Minstrel Games reached out and asked if I would come help them and I couldn’t refuse. TMG was the first publisher I ever worked a convention for and I will always be grateful to them for my start (if you’re interested in my first-ever professional convention experience check out this post). In exchange for my help they paid for my airfare and provided a badge and room share. They also offered to send me a copy of each game I demoed for them at the show. In exchange I ran demos and transacted sales in their booth during exhibit hall hours. I showed off a couple of roll and writes (Big Dig, Rolled West), a simple but cute little drafting game (Solar Draft), a couple of their hot new games (Aristocracy and The Dawn of Mankind), and a game that comes out next year (Chrono Corsairs). Personally, I most enjoyed Big Dig, a simple, quick-to-learn, quick-to-play little roll and write in which players race to complete goals by using drafted polynomial shapes to cross out spaces, making paths on their individual player boards. I was not particularly good at this one – there is a bit of a spacial aspect to it and I do not excel at such things – but it is fun and interesting nonetheless.
During my time off at the event I explored the exhibit hall, trying out new games like Ticket to Ride Japan, Rail Pass (I purchased a copy of this one), and Black Angel. Browsing the booths at this show was a little disappointing, there weren’t a ton of exhibitors and those that were there are a little sleepy, in my opinion. This is a smaller show but some of the glam and wonder offered at larger shows was missing. I always enjoy looking through the BGG merch store though and this year was no exception. I purchased a few promos and upgrades, as well as a t-shirt for my husband and a really nice thermos for myself. I love upgrading games in our collection and being able to pull our hobby into other areas of our lives. Fun Again Games set up in a separate section of the convention center and brought in imported and rare games. I enjoyed seeing games I had never heard of and was thrilled to find a Scooby Doo licensed copy of the classic game Clue – and for just $15!
I also got to play a few games with friends (old and new) – Clank!, Time’s Up, and Dragon Castle – and several new-to-me games – Die Crew (incredible game, my favorite of the entire convention), Letter Jam (I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected), 10 Days in Africa (I liked this one!), Olympus (challenging but seemingly quite solid), Strange Vending Machine (definitely strange! but fun and silly too), Papillon (which I have wanted to try for quite a long while), Tussie Mussie (lovely artwork), We’re Doomed (not my favorite), Tapestry (meh), and a few unpublished prototypes.
I had an absolute blast playing Die Crew. Its a cooperative, limited communication, trick taking game; normally these are some of my least favorite mechanisms but this game is magical – it perfectly blends together mechanics and theme in a fun, tense, and memorable experience. Sessions last 20 minutes or less but we played game after game, and when we finally forced ourselves to quit playing (only to get some sleep, it was after 2 am!) almost 3 hours had past. I am so looking forward to playing this game again and can’t wait to show it to friends and family.
I went to dinner each night with friends and we explored the culinary delights of Dallas, usually walking to restaurants in lovely weather. Afterwards we would play games we had bought or brought, prototypes of games they were considering publishing, and games from BGG’s vast library (over 4,000 titles! Pictured below).
Attendees were fun and friendly and I made new friends and “crashed” several games, meeting even more new folks. I was so pleased when Shawn Stankewich, one of the designers behind AEG’s smash-hit Point Salad, stopped by my booth to introduce himself and thank me and the guys at Crank It Up for this video.
I also got to meet Matt Leacock, the designer of Pandemic, Forbidden Island, and others. Matt was playtesting a prototype with a group of enthusiastic players in one of the open play spaces and, after he had wrapped up, I introduced myself. It was pretty neat to meet such a well-known designer and he was friendly and gracious.
While browsing BGG forums about the convention before it started I stumbled across an ad for someone interested in sharing a ride to the convention from the airport; our planes were landing at about the same time and so I reached out and connected with the rideshare-seeker and we agreed to meet at the airport and ride over to the convention together. I did a little digging and discovered there was a FLGS (friendly local game store) on our route; I asked if they would be interested in stopping there on our way and they agreed. We dropped into Common Ground Games and I was thrilled with our side quest. Read more about that adventure here. It just happened that we were also able to catch a ride back to the airport together on Sunday. It was nice to split the cost of transportation and meet a new friend too.
The rideshare experience was illustrative of my entire BGG Con experience this year – I had to step outside of my comfort zone a bit but by doing so I met some wonderful people and had a great time. I recommend BGG Con, especially if you are looking to play lots of library games and are social enough to approach new people.
More info and future con dates here: https://boardgamegeek.com/
If you would like to see more pictures from this trip, or from any of my travels, follow me on Instagram at @sarahmtrager