November 21, 2011

Bark before Zog!!! - BGG.Con 2011

Got back from BGG.Con yesterday where Susie sweetly picked me up. Had a really nice time although didn't play very many Essen games. On Friday played Poseidon's Kingdom, Hawaii and Dungeon Petz and did enjoy all of them - probably all about 7s.

I am posting though mostly about Hanabi and the Puzzle Hunt. Finally got to play my copy of Hanabi and ended up playing 7 or 8 times and really enjoying, even more than I expected - rating for now is a 9. Many of the games were a bit frustrating as a person didn't do what one thought they should (me included) and then often discussion ensued sometimes interfering with the play - this was fine with me as I was more interested in why things went wrong than in what our final score would be but bothered others. Anyway, I'd definitely like to play this more with a strong consistent group using conventions. This isn't available online is it?

For the puzzle hunt, Peter and I again teamed up and Sean joined us again and then we added Jason and David to round out the team. The hunt this year was run by Ken, rather than the usual team of Dave & Aaron. Puzzles this year were probably not quite as interesting and lacking in the wonderful whimsy factor I think many of Aaron's puzzles have, but were still for the most part very enjoyable and I certainly had a great time. Part of that was definitely due to the format, which I thought worked just GREAT so am going to detail it as I think elements of it could very smartly be reused by others.

Hunt Format:

1) Teams assigned to one of seven starting locations and once you left a location you would not return. Answers checked at your current location. Teams rotate through the locations so from location N you go to (N + 1 mod 7). This avoided the clog of teams all turning in answers at one spot and just generally greatly reduced crowding issues. Did of course require more staffing.

2) Hunt final score was determined as the time you turn in the final answers minus one minute for every bonus point you have. Thus if you took 120 minutes but had 30 bonus minutes, you would be treated as taking 90 minutes.

3) At each location, 5 puzzles of value 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 (15 total). To leave a location you must score at least 10 points but can solve more and extras (points at location minus 10) are treated as bonus points. This was the best thing to me. No single puzzle can be a roadblock - can only get stuck if there are two puzzles you can't solve at a single location. Also allows for variety of puzzle difficulty with total sense - if you have a fun but super-easy puzzle you can use it fine. And finally there is an interesting choice to be made once you get to 10 points. Lets say we have 11 and the 4 point puzzle not yet solved - do we think we can solve it in 3 minutes or so? If so, we should stay; if not move on now. Interesting decision every time we came to it and we went both ways at various stations.

4) Expensive but available and unlimited hints. Hints for any puzzle cost 5 points but you started with 10 points (-10 minutes from final time if didn't use) and could actually go negative. They were thus a horrible idea for competitive teams to use but made it so that weaker teams could use what they needed to get past the 10 point barrier in each room and move on to see the other puzzles when they got frustrated at a given station.

There was also a minor bonus puzzle at each location and a meta-bonus. We ended up being the second team to turn in our final answers by 9 minutes but had 12 more bonus points than the first team so won by 3 minutes.

Oh, the title of this post! Jason was generally acting as our team runner and doing most of the turn-ins (and you could also check answers). We were working on a puzzle called "You can count on it" where the answer was three letters long and we had the right idea with it but hadn't quite gotten the answer and weren't sure anyway of some things. Jason had checked one answer (Bit) for it and Peter was on the phone with him and telling him that he should try Dog and they obviously had a bad connection so Peter was saying "Dog as in Woof Woof, Fido" and I think even another example. I was even joking with Peter that he should start barking as I thought (very wrongly as it turned out) the triple indicating of Dog was over the top. Well, Jason tried an answer and reported it was wrong so we said just turn it in anyway (we had 10 points without this) so we could move on and he did. Well, we had to wait for him to bring the new puzzles and Dog really seemed like it should be right, both based on the title and an actual possible solution, so we asked him when he got back if he had submitted it and he said "Oh no, I thought you said 'Zog'" which we all laughed about (and joked about after), at the same time telling him it was fine. Cost us three points/minutes and Jason felt bad (and went back to try to get the points but they refused, quite reasonably) but it was very amusing. Very glad didn't cost us winning. Would not have bothered me but Jason would have felt awful about it.

Also played three friends' separate but thematically very similar prototypes and liked all three. Congratulations also to Sean and Alex for winning the Tichu tournament. They were my pick to win both last year and this (I played both years but with two different partners who aren't nearly as experienced as I am) and this year they met my expectations ;) .

Had a really good time with friends, old and new, both playing and eating (including two excellent outings to Hard Eight). Particular thanks to Stephanie for grabbing me for a couple of meals and for Deduce or Die and sorry we didn't get in a Hanabi game. Again, is it playable online anywhere?

Posted by aarondf at 02:55 PM | Events | Comments (0)