International Table Top Day 2015, or, Christmas for Nerds

As a kid, I lay awake at night on Christmas Eve, breathless with excitement about Christmas morning. Now, I lie awake at night on International Table Top Day Eve. I’m not kidding. I had my t-shirt picked out a week in advance, at least. (It was this Deadpool/Star Wars/Van Gogh mashup, if you’re curious.) I plagued my husband daily for input about what games we should take. (In the end, we took a big Ikea bag full of games, and only played one of them. The others all belonged to the people we played with.) When the day arrived, I was up with the sun, did all the pet chores myself, and was ready to go with plenty of time to get bagels before descending upon our FLGS by the 9 AM opening time. And so the 14 hours of gaming began!

Castle Panic with The Wizard’s Tower and Dark Titan expansions
The first thing we did when we got there was buy the new Dark Titan expansion. We sat down to read the rules, and had two curious onlookers who wanted to play by the time we were done. We decided upon a set-up recommended in the Dark Titan booklet. This removed a ton of monsters from the game, to make up for the monsters of increased difficulty, and even removed the imps (from The Wizard’s Tower) entirely.

With four players, the game occasionally got a little tense, but we never came anywhere close to losing. I should note that we did have our two Any Color Hero promo cards, which are dead useful. I think in the future, we’ll use more of the monsters – hell, maybe all of them – to make it more challenging. Next time, we will also have the advantage of the Table Top Day promo tower, which deals two damage to a monster that hits it. (I didn’t score that until later in the day.) What I really need are some 3D-printed walls and towers like these! (Out of curiosity, I got a quote from one of the 3D printers on that web site, just out of curiosity, and they want just over $20. I didn’t know anything about the cost of 3D components, but I thought it would be more expensive. These are probably in my future, after all!)

Carcassonne with River II; Hills and Sheep; Builders and Traders; and Die Klöster expansions
There’s nothing like a good Carc game with a few expansions. The sheer number of expansions keeps the gameplay fresh for those of us who play a lot, which I do. We did a 6-player game, full of experienced players, so it all moved smoothly and was generally very satisfying, and not only because I won. I had one of the huge Frankencities I always seem to build, which was a gamble, because it had a cathedral, so I had a lot to lose if I didn’t complete it. We had a lovely sprawl by the end, and a nasty surprise for one player who hadn’t noticed a connection made between two fields late in the game, which deprived him of all his farm points.

Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension
As we waited for people to get back from lunch so we could play Dead of Winter, a new friend invited us to sit down to a 4-player game of Gravwell. We had never played, nor even heard of, if I’m honest, this game. As promised, it was quick, and very easy to pick up. There was a little strategy and a lot of luck to it, since I had no idea what the others were going to put down in the coming round. I won, but through no great skill. I got lucky and got a good catapulting in my final round that set me out of orbit and free to take the skies back. It was fun, and I’d play it again as a filler if someone else wanted to, but it’s not on my wish list.

Dead of Winter with extra special Table Top Day Felicia Day promo     I’d been wanting to play this game since I saw it recently on Tabletop, so when a couple we’d been playing with said they had it, and that they had gotten the much sought-after Felicia Day expansion, my ears perked right up. We did a 6-player game, which is actually one more player than indicated, but it worked just fine. The owners of the game taught the rest of us in the course of set-up, and it was surprisingly easy to grasp. I should mention at this point that I am terrible at being the traitor in games. Ask me to lie about whether or not I ate two grapes in the produce department, and I’m cool as a cucumber. Ask me to play an entire game, which I’ve never played before, pretending to support the other players but really stabbing them in the back, preferably without them realizing they’re being stabbed? Not so much. Most of them were pretty sure I was the traitor about halfway into the game, but personal win conditions others had made enough people suspicious that I didn’t get exiled until the last two rounds. I didn’t manage to get my win conditions, because I lost my hand of cards when I was exiled, and I needed them to meet my goals, but my consolation is that they didn’t win, either. They just barely lost by failing to keep one location barricaded that they needed to barricade to win. The game was super fun, even with the stress of being the traitor, and I really look forward to playing again as soon as possible. It’s out of print at the moment, but as of this writing, Cardhaus has some).

Betrayal at House on the Hill
And then we were on to another traitor game, but this time, it wasn’t me! This was also one I’d seen on Tabletop (Part 1 and Part 2, but never played before. We played a 6-player game. The Haunting came when we had already explored a fair amount of the house, which made it a good deal easier to beat the monster than it might have been. The win condition was that we had to exorcise it from certain rooms and with certain items six times. The player working with the monster didn’t know exactly what we had to do, nor how to block us, so he just had to keep attacking whomever he could while we went about our business. We won after having lost only one non-traitor. I really enjoyed the mechanics of exploring the house, and racing against an unseen clock to do as much as possible before the Haunting. This is another one I look forward to exploring further.

Machi Koro with Harbor expansion

I got Machi Koro last Fall, and played it a few times as 2-player and 4-player games. I enjoyed it, but others in my groups thought it went beyond light and into the “too easy” realm, at least for an all-adult cast. It’s true that in the original set, there wasn’t enough variety to keep the game fresh, and there was at least one way to break the game a little for others. I’d heard on the Dice Tower podcast (#347) that Eric Summerer thought the Harbor expansion greatly improved the game, so I was eager to try. We’d all been playing for about 10-11 hours at this point, so something light to get our strength back up seemed indicated. The difference really was remarkable. The extra buildings certainly added depth, and the random drawing of available buildings made strategy a little more complex and brought some inter-player tension into the game. I enjoyed the expanded game much more than the original, and now own the expansion. I’m looking forward to the second expansion, Millionaire’s Row, coming out this Summer.

The Castles of Mad King Ludwig

I’d been playing games for about 12 hours when this one was suggested, so you’ll excuse me if I emitted a slight squee. I’d been wanting to play this game for at least a year, and there it was, on the table before my blurry eyes. We played this one 3-player, and it was just a delight. It was a fairly relaxed game, because we were all exhausted. I was just enjoying getting to explore the tiles and see how I could fit them together, and how I could try to pursue some of my victory goals. I got a few things strung together that met either our community or my personal victory conditions, and picked up some points that way, but in the end, lost by one point to the owner of the game. The experience was fantastic, and this game is now at the top of my wish list.

And then, it was over. The last components were neatly boxed and it was time to go. It was a little after closing time, and there was still a surprising amount going on, as the store owner was allowing everyone to finish what games they’d already started, but we were no longer of that fraternity. We bid a sleepy, but hearty, farewell to the new friends we’d made, and shuffled contentedly out to the car. Nearly 14 hours, 7 games, 4 new friends, and one amazing day to cherish for a long time – I’m putting this one in the Win column.


About Suzanna

Suzanna's passions are gaming, dogs, and writing. She also loves reading, travel, and cranberry juice. Above all else, she would have it be said that she is compassionate, funny, and too clever by half.
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3 Responses to International Table Top Day 2015, or, Christmas for Nerds

  1. Sounds like such a fantastic day!!!!

  2. geoffbottone says:

    It pleases me that you are updating again. All of these games look great!

  3. Lane Foster says:

    It was a great day!

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