Nine years ago, my friend Troy decided he didn’t get the chance to play board games enough. And so, for his birthday, he wanted to get a bunch of us together and play board games all day. And so was born the first TroyCon, when we gathered early on a Sunday morning and played games until the wee hours. In the years since, our gaming has become more regular, but TroyCon has remained a yearly tradition, now spanning two days and a lot more people. One day we gather at Sci-Fi City for a come-one come-all game day, the next we meet at a friend’s house for a more intimate gathering. If sixteen people playing three different games at once can be called intimate.
We started Saturday with Biblios, a quick and simple card game that’s essentially a cross between a drafting game and an auction game. The first half of the game, you draw cards from a deck and decide which one to keep, which one to save for the coming auction, and which ones to let the other players pick from. You’re collecting these cards to form sets, with whoever has the most of each type of card scoring victory points. Those points are represented by dice, which can have their values raised or lowered by other cards in the deck, so you’re trying to both grab cards that have a high value and making sure that value stays high. Then the auction starts, where you can bid with gold (also represented by cards) to gain more cards. Once that’s done, you compare who has the most of what, assign the dice, and the highest total wins. It was pretty easy to learn, and, considering I won, even easier to play. But it feels just the right weight and length for what it is, and is definitely a neat piece of filler or, in this case, an appetizer.
Our group had grown by then, which ushered in a now traditional game of 7 Wonders. This time we played with the Babel expansion. In addition to the usual civilization building, this expansion adds the Tower of Babel at the center of the table. You can spend your turn contributing to the tower, but rather than just affecting you or your immediate neighbors, these tiles affect the entire table. They can make military victories worth less points, levy a tax on certain types of buildings, make things free to build, you name it; all things that are great for you, but often just as good for your opponents. And as more tiles get played, older ones get covered up and no longer affect the game. It’s an interesting wrinkle, one we didn’t fully grasp as it was our first time with it. I ended up tying for first place this time, but since I tied with someone named Ricardo, I’m going to call it a win for all things Richard, making me 2-0 on the day.
We had some time to kill while some other games finished, so we got in a quick game of Welcome to the Dungeon. This is take-that game where the idea is to make someone else go into the titular dungeon, and to make it as dangerous as possible. The players share a character representing one of the classic fantasy archetypes, complete with armor, weapons, spells, all the things a good dungeon delver needs. You draw card from the dungeon deck, look at the monster it represents, and decide if you want to send it into the dungeon or remove it. But if you remove it, you also have to remove a piece of gear from the adventurer. So you make the dungeon slightly less scary, but you also make the adventurer slightly less capable of dealing with it. Which can be bad, because if you’re the last player to pass in the round, you get to take that adventurer into the dungeon and fight whatever your friends put into it with whatever you have left. So if you’re not careful, that magic sword you took away trying to screw over your buddy may turn out to be what you needed to kill the monster that you just ran into. This isn’t a deep game by any means, but it’s a fun, agonizing bit of deception and backstabbing that I also won, meaning I am clearly not to be trusted.
Day One of TroyCon for me wrapped up with a big game of Cosmic Encounter. This is one of Troy’s favorite games, so of course it was going to get played, and we had seven players trying to connive, bribe and coerce their way to a win. And this is where my luck ran out. Even though I was ahead for a good chunk of the game (along with three or four other players), and very nearly convinced someone to share the win with me, in the end, Troy got a birthday gift and won the game.
Knowing I had another full day of gaming ahead of me, I called it quits, but the playing went on for a few more hours without me. You can’t keep good gamers down. Tomorrow, I’ll have the tale of Sunday, which didn’t have nearly as many victories for me, but definitely just as much fun.