Manorcon XXX – AAR

Manorcon has been and gone for another year. 3 days of gaming, totalling 30 hours of gaming, spread across 17 different games.

Just in case you were wondering, this is what I played…

Friday – Day 1 (2pm – 12.30am)

As a quick start to the weekend, whilst we were waiting for people to arrive, I brought out this classic game – in a new ‘pocket’ edition which I bought from the UK Games Expo this year.  A lovely edition with fantastic tactile pieces and all the expansion creatures. Everybody loves Hive, right? Apparently not.

Continuing the ease into the weekend, we continued with a game of Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. I like this game more very time I play it.  Area control with a ‘do unto others before they do unto you’ approach. Chaotic fun. Vimes won, which is unusual (it wasn’t me)

I finally got to play a game of Tobago. This is a treasure-hunting-deduction-race game, sort of like uber-Mastermind on steroids with an all-terrain vehicle. Quite a light game again, but quite fun and some stunningly good bits.

I came second by 1 point.

Next up was a full 5-Player game of Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga. This is a favourite at Manorcon, although the 5 player game does take a while. Huge fun game though, with lots of gorgeous bits – such a shame that you cannot get hold of this edition anymore.

Came second to Owen (something which became a recurrent theme over the weekend). Also good to meet up with Simon Wilcox for this one and other games during the weekend.

The last game of the day was a new one, at least to me – Village – which won the Kennerspiel des Jahre this year and looked to be one of the games of the convention (in the fact that everyone was playing it)

It’s a worker placement game, which is one of my favourite mechanics, so I was quite bemused that I didn’t find myself liking it more than I did. It’s a perfectly fine game, but for some reason it really didn’t inspire me.

I won, BTW.

Saturday. Day 2 (8.30am – 11pm)

The second day of the convention dawned bright and early, and found me looking to play a game to avoid playing Dune.

After a false start, we ended up playing Kingsburg, a worker placement/resource gathering game where you use dice as your workers. A lovely mechanic, which I believe was part of the inspiration for Saga.

Really good game, this one – lost horribly though.

Next up was our second game of Discworld: Ankh-Morpork – mainly because Simon hadn’t played it before. I actually won this game playing as Lord Ventinari – quite pleased with that, as I thought it was quite hard.

Our third game of the day was an attempt to play a light game for a mate’s non-gamer partner. Not sure if it worked.

Great Fire of London is a cracking little ‘screw your neighbour’ game, and this one played out unlike any we’ve previously played. The entire left hand side of the board was destroyed, while most of the property in the centre and right was untouched. I lost horribly, but it was fun to watch the chaos.

After all that, we needed something quick, so played a game of Steeplechase – a bluffing race game which we picked up at UK Games Expo. A great little game, and when played with 7 or 8 it really brings out the ‘messing with your head’ style of gameplay.

Into the evening, and we played one of my favourite games – Pillars of the Earth. I really like this game, but it certainly helps that you know this game. It was my second time playing, and my early lead was overtaken in the later rounds by a couple of guys who had played the game on several occasions, and I ended up last. Still a great time though.

Saturday evening seems a long time before 7 Wonders hit the table for the first time. It was the most popular game last year, and I really love its simple yet addictive mechanics. A different game every time you play – wonderful (excuse the pun)

At this point, some of the guys wimped out and went home, leaving three of us to carry on playing, so I decided to bring out a couple of games that Dave & Owen hadn’t played before. Roll Through the Ages is a dice rolling Civ game. A nice dice rolling game with some lovely bits (especially the crib-style wooden scoring boards), which is fun but does have the danger of outstaying its welcome. Just about finishes before it does though. 

The last game of the day was Death Angel: The Card Game. This is a co-op game based on Space Hulk, and I love it. Apparently, learning the game and then getting complete hosed is not a universally enjoyable experience, so I think I was the only one that enjoyed this as we got buried under a pile of aliens.

Maybe I’ll be playing this solo in future.

Sunday – Day 3 – (9am – 4.30pm)

Day 3 of the Con saw most of us starting to feel the pace a little (tired, head hurting due to number of different rules flying around).

So, we started with a nice light game of Age of Industry! This is one of my favourite Martin Wallace economic games, but I think this is very much a marmite game (as we discovered).

We also played the Japan map, which makes for a VERY different (and very quick) game. The eventual winner (Owen) won with a mere 9 VPs, whilst two of us (yes, I was one) ended up with negative VPs due to being unable to pay off loans.  

Next up was a game I had been looking forward to all weekend – Target Earth. This game is based on the old Microprose computer game hit XCOM: UFO Defense, which is still one of my all time favourite games. So, I loved it. The game has some lovely artwork, and follows the XCOM theme pretty well – you have to defend the earth from alien invasion whilst attempting to research better equipment and keep the world powers supporting your cause and not defecting to the aliens.

It’s a co-op game, but it is insanely difficult. We got to the end of turn 4 with all our defensive capability destroyed and one of our bases severely damaged, and we knew we would lose the following turn, so gave up. It was very much a learning game – we made some basic mistakes in turn 1, but now that we know the mechanics, I think this game has a lot of gameplay in it. It’s very luck-based though (very dice orientated in both Diplomacy and Combat) so you can do nothing ‘wrong’ and get completely hosed. As long as you know that, you can accept it.

As I said, I loved it – not sure that anyone else did.

The final game of the weekend was World Without End – the sequel to Pillars of the Earth, and played with the same 4 players. Another great game, but I again came last. I was never in this one, and just seemed to get stomped on right from the start of turn 1.

Lovely game, lovely board, lovely players, horrible experience.

So, there you have it – all about Manorcon for another year. This is one of the highlights of the year for me, gaming wise. 3 days of solid gaming is always going to be good – but it does get hard work towards the end (must be getting old!)

I still didn’t get to play everything I wanted – Shogun, Perikles, Byzantium  and Steam all remain unplayed. There is always next year… 

Thanks to everyone who played with us this year or who came over to say ‘Hi’ – Simon, Rowan and Neil especially.

8 Comments on Manorcon XXX – AAR

  1. Would make a worthy Meeple episode . . . ?

  2. I for one, love love love Death Angel! If people do get hosed on regular occasions, like I often do, solo or multiplayer, I have devised a very simple house rule to make it just a tiny bit easier. Still a massive challenge, and it does still make it a challenge, but ditch the rule stopping you playing the same action card twice in a row. Like I say, doesn’t make it instantly easy, but will give you a better chance. I tend to use this little change with people who haven’t played it before.

    • That’s a good point.
      I realised what I should have done was to play the ‘single player’ set-up, so each of us was only controlling a single pair of marines, rather than throwing is in to the deep end with the 3-player game.
      Also, I’ve just bought the Deathwing expansion, so I’m hoping that the mighty Dark Angels can show the Blood Angels a thing or two about how to play the game.

      • I picked up the first two a while back, before i could find them in a FLGS this side of the pond, so i had to pay to get them shipped form the sates. It was well worth it, but until my job situation improves, I will have to enjoy the next expansion vicariously through you.

      • OK, I’ll keep you posted. The Tyranids look scary.

      • I love Death Angel as well. Completely different game to Space Hulk of course but for a cardgame I think they really cleverly kept the theme. I got all the expansions now but only played with the first Space Marines expansion so far (the one that adds the Chaplain and the Cyclone missile launcher guy I think). One of our regulars thought they were overpowered compared to the other marines, I don’t know.

        The Tyranids pack indeed seems to make the game even harder. I have yet to play it but as Neil said, it looks scary.

        As for the general difficulty – we basically played since the release of the game (which was two years ago or something?) and I think we won twice. I like it though and, at least to me, there’s a very cinematic feel to everything that happens in the game. Good stuff.

  3. Hey, Neil, great to have met up and played some games with you and Dave (and a few others).

    A great couple of days. I hope to catch up same time next year and show you how to play Fire of London again 🙂

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