The Games We Play: PunMan Goes to Geekway

Geekway to the West is a 4-day Board Game Convention held in St. Louis around the middle of May.   This year I got to go for my second time in three years.  I logged in playing 16 amazing games over a three day span (I didn't stay Sunday).  I wanted to give a quick rundown on the games, along with a few good stories.


Forbidden Stars -  Shouldn't have started with this one.  Very complicated.  Ended up stopping early.

XCOM: The Board Game - Neat cooperative game controlled by an app.  Dug this one, would like to play it again.

Medieval Academy - Dull card drafting game where you are trying to be ahead of everyone else on a number of tracks.

Boomtown Bandits - My biggest surprise.  Western Themed game where you are trying to rob different locations.  You roll dice in place of gunfights.

Good Cop, Bad Cop - Fun, quick little hidden role deduction game.

Viticulture - Incredible worker placement game about building a winery.  Love this game.

Commissioned - Cooperative game where you play one of the apostles spreading the gospel throughout the Mediterranean.  Much better than you'd imagine a Bible game to be.


Twilight Imperium - Supersized complex 4x game (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate).  We played 6 hours and didn't finish.

Mysterium - Dixit meets Clue.  One player is the ghost trying to give the other players clues as to whodunit.

Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia - A touch of dark humor surrounds this worker placement game.

Codenames - Party style game where two teams compete to see who can find their agents (with clues given by the spymaster) first.

Spyfall - Party style game where most of the players are trying to find the spy, and the spy's trying to figure out just where he is.

Scythe - Favorite game of the con.  Not yet released.  Another 4x ish game set in alternate universe 1920's Europe.  Incredibly intricate with neat components and interesting mechanics.

Tsuro - Simple game about staying on a path longer than your opponents.


La Granja - A mix of Agricola and Stefen Feld.  You're a farmer looking to create the best farm.  Neatest part is the cards which each have four possible purposes.

Blood Rage - War, confrontational game set in the last days of humanity in Norse Mythology.  Fun albeit imbalanced.


Scythe was the most sought after game of Geekway.  The kickstarter was last fall and it's due to be out this summer.  They were giving away one copy in the Play and Win contest.  However, EVERYONE wanted to play this game.  There was a sign up sheet, and it's only by the grace of my friend getting there early on Thursday that we got on the list high enough to get a chance to play.  The bummer is that the friend who got us on the list, didn't get to actually play the game.  Highlight of the game was the main creator of the game (Jamey Stegmaier) coming by to ask how we liked the game and if we had any questions.

The game plays on a set map, there's five factions that all have a specific starting space.  The map is a hex grid and the hexes have different resources like wood, metal, oil and food.  There's also villages that help you produce more workers.  You have a character piece that can engage in battle, visit the factory (which gives you some extra abilities) and have encounters (which give you a choice between three different benefits.)  There are also mechs that you can deploy that also help in battle and carry workers to different locations.  The action is dictated by the player boards, all of which are different for each player.  (All players have the same actions though, it's just different how they work together).  The board is split into 4 sections, each section with a top action and a bottom action.  The top typically give some benefit, whereas the bottom allows to you to a special action using one of the four resources.  The goal is to end the game with the most money.  The game ends when someone has played 6 stars on the accomplishment board.  There are several different ways to get a star, including winning combat, completing an objective, achieving maximum popularity or power, and deploying all your mechs, among others.

Now, it could be all the hype.  This game has been pretty hyped up for a while, ever since the box art was released.  So there are some pretty high expectations.  However, I loved playing this game and have not been able to stop thinking about it since.  The world created here is really cool, and the mechanics of the game all work together in such an intricate way.  I want to play all the different factions and I even want to try the solo player automa version.  I'm kicking myself for not backing the Kickstarter campaign, as all of the Collector's Editions are sold out.  I'll take the base version at this point.  I'm even considering doing the print and play to get to play it sooner (yes, there is a free print and play version linked on the Stonemaier website).  I predict that this game will be on many "Best of 2016" board gaming lists.

One other quick funny story happened when we were playiing Spyfall.  In the game, there is one spy, and the rest of the players have a card with the name of a location.  The spy is trying to figure out the location, the others are trying to find the spy.  This is done by asking questions.  My friend asked me the first question in one game, "How did you get here?"  I answered "I drove." He immediately called me out as the spy because the location was the Holy Crusades.

The con was a great time of board games, friends, and fun.  The Play and Win gave us motivation to try lots of new games, and everyone was super friendly, especially the people who came and taught us Twilight Imperium and Scythe.

If you haven't been to a gaming con, I highly recommend them.  If you're in ST. Louis (Rhu) I definitely recommend Geekway, and get your tickets early.  There's also the ever popular Gen Con in Indy, Origins in Ohio, BGG.Con in Dallas, and many many others.

What have YOU been playing lately?

My GeekwayTop 10:

  1. Scythe
  2. Viticulture
  3. La Granja
  4. Boomtown Bandits
  5. Mysterium
  6. Blood Rage
  7. Euphoria
  8. XCOM
  9. Commissioned
  10. Good Cop Bad Cop

10 thoughts on “The Games We Play: PunMan Goes to Geekway”

  1. Mentioned this in the CoC, but my excitement for Scythe is such that I downloaded and printed out the print-and-play version of it so that I can play it until the real thing comes out.

  2. A 4-day convention? Why don't they hold this in the winter when God intended board games to be played? 😛

    I only have two strategy board games: Richthofen's War, and Starship Trooper. Of all the board games I played in college, I think Divine Right is still a big favorite.

  3. I should forward this to my brother. He might actually fit in to the basement in general, but this in particular would be right up his alley.

  4. I love Mysterium. That is one of my favorite games.

    The last board game I played was Food Chain Magnate, which I played twice in short succession. I generally lean more towards co-op games, but this is fun. It's a challenging game, and it's awesome, even if it's very "heavy." I just wish it weren't so expensive haha.

    I'm hoping to finally get to play Star Wars: Rebellion soon. It's a huge time sink, and my friend and I haven't had time to do it, but I cannot wait to play it.

    As with the rest of the last year, I spend most of my free time playing Splatoon. I've been tooling around with using other weapons and it's pretty damn fun.

  5. I've been playing Ori and the Blind Forest on my XB1, and it's crazy beautiful. It's a metroidvania-style puzzle platformer, which has been a genre I've been more drawn to as my video game availability gets hacked into smaller chunks (often coming in the small bit of time after 11, but before I get too tired to continue, which is usually about a half hour - just long enough to complete a chunk).

    For a large portion of the game, it's hovered on that sweet spot between giving the player a lot of cool abilities without going overboard and giving them so many that it becomes an unclear mess. I think the scales might be tipping now, but I think the game is nearly over, so that's probably fine. I've enjoyed my time with it quite a bit so far.

    That said, I think I'm ready to give XCom another shot, and Fallout 4 is waiting in the wings, too.

    1. I need to go back and finish this! Seeing that you've been playing it has been making me think it's time to do so.

      Sometime this summer, Axiom Verge will be hitting the Xbone, I highly recommend it whenever it drops. It's a very, very, very Metroid-heavy metroidvania that was all developed by one guy. It's awesome.

    2. The sweetest, most incredible complex word ever created out of gaming: Metroidvania.

      I love this style of game, but I just have been out of the video game mode for so long, I don't know if I'd go back.

      1. I love the style, but they have a tendency to fall prey to a couple of problems:

        1) They assume that the player wants nothing handed to them, and give them no direction of what to do next for the main storyline. I don't mind if there are hidden little fun parts of the game that are accessible much after ("oh! maybe I could hit this wall with the ice beam?" after having walked by the wall several times at random. The wall breaks, and a easter egg is found), but if they're too integrated into the main storyline of the game, it slows things to an awful crawl ("okay, which of the ten million or so walls to I have to hit with the demolition glove in order to rescue the hostage that I need to progress to the next boss?") and takes a person out of the storyline.

        Ori is very, very good about not falling into this trap.

        2) They give the player so many abilities that it begins to overcomplicate and muddy the gameplay.

        Ori is pretty good on this front, as well.

  6. I just got Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 for my birthday, and it is absolutely crazy.

    My sister and I really like Pandemic in general, and have played the base game extensively, but the legacy version really ramps up the complexity and planning needed. We've only played January, and we're really enjoying it. I got my sister the On the Brink expansion, as well, which is also quite fun.

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