The second-annual Friendship Con

My friends and I decided to host a second-annual Friendship Con last week, and I had so much fun. It was nice seeing friends who moved away from Phoenix and those friends I haven’t seen since last year’s event.

We played a lot of games, though sadly we didn’t get through all the games on our uber ambitious list. There were a couple sleepless nights for me (I am so not a morning person, and, not gonna lie, it was rough getting somewhere by 8:30 a.m.), but in the end, I got some good gaming in with fun folks!

Our bag of swag came in this pretty cool duffel bag.
Our bag of swag came in this pretty cool duffel bag.

We started Day 1 with an awesome bag of swag, which was personalized for each player! Prior to the con, we all picked which symbol we liked for Cthulhu Wars (which also made up the design for our T-shirts this year, shown at the top of this post. Yep, we love T-shirts!). I chose the red sign for the Black Goat faction, so my swag bag was a duffel bag with a Black Goat patch, and inside were glass tumblers with the same etched design, a set of 6 coasters with Battlestar Galactica characters, Above and Below, a personalized character for Arkham Horror and a Friendship Con II T-shirt. So frakkin’ awesome!

I always love playing Battlestar Galactica. And I hope every time that I'm human!
I always love playing Battlestar Galactica. And I hope every time that I’m human!

After we finished ooohing and ahhing over our swag bags, we got down to business. We started the con with a game we were all familiar with, and one of my super favorites, Battlestar Galactica! After what looked like defeat for the humans — with all 3 humans brigged! — we managed to overcome the cylons and gain victory!

Somehow all 3 humans got brigged. But against all odds, we persevered and beat the Cylons!
Somehow all 3 humans got brigged. But against all odds, we persevered and beat the Cylons!

Next up was Mare Nostrum. This was my first time playing this game, but I’ve played Fief by the same board game company, Academy Games. My friend had the deluxe edition with the poker chips — they were a nice touch! The game is an economic-building, set-collecting, area control in which you’re trying to build Wonders or recruit Leaders. The first one to his a specific number in either wins the game. Alas, I did not win the game.

These poker chips for Mare Nostrum are pretty cool!
These poker chips for Mare Nostrum are pretty cool! Each faction also has its own set of minis.

Next up was Hansa Teutonica. One of my other close friends just got a copy of this, and we’ve been playing a lot recently. I enjoy having various options on what to spend your action points on, and I like the mechanic that as you progress on various tracks, you gain more skills. And my favorite part of this game is strategically placing yourself in the way of others so that they can bump you and you can gain a benefit from getting bumped. Great game! I ended up winning this game. Woohoo!

I forgot to take a photo later in the game when more pieces were on the board. Don't let the bland board fool you; it's a great game!
I forgot to take a photo later in the game when more pieces were on the board. Don’t let the bland board fool you; it’s a great game!

Lastly, we closed out Day 1 with an oldie but goodie: Agricola. It’s seriously been years since I’ve played this game (I usually bust out Caverna or Le Havre instead when itching for a heavy Uwe Rosenberg game), but this game holds a special place in my gaming heart as it was one of the first heavier games I played. I managed to fill up every single space on my board, but it wasn’t enough to win.

I used up every single square on my player board, but it still wasn't enough for the win. More sheep!
I used up every single square on my player board, but it still wasn’t enough for the win.

For Day 2, I ended up hosting that day. We agreed that the host for each day would take care of breakfast. Lunch and dinner were already pre-determined by the schedule folks had been working on.

I made egg "patties" for breakfast sandwiches for the gang. It was easy to mass produce by popping them into the oven.
I made egg “patties” for breakfast sandwiches for the gang. It was easy to mass produce by popping them into the oven.

This is totally unrelated to gaming, but I bought a whoopie pie pan to mass produce egg “patties” to make egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwiches. They were a hit! I also toasted up a sheet of tater tots.

Here's a gratuitous shot of golden crispy tater tots. Nom nom nom ...
Here’s a gratuitous shot of golden crispy tater tots. Nom nom nom …

We started games with Fury of Dracula. This is one of those 1 vs. all games in the same vein of Spectre Ops. Thankfully, I was not Dracula, as it totally would’ve been so stressful. We are hunters traveling through Europe trying to find Dracula before his influence (and minions) spread. This game is supposed to last at most 3 hours, but it went on for much, much longer. There were a couple moments where we right there with Dracula, but he managed to slip away, and us hunters made one crucial and costly mistake in one round by miscounting the cards and failing to see where he could be. Alas.

It was so hard finding Dracula! That guy is quite wily!
It was so hard finding Dracula! That guy is quite wily!

By now, we were so behind on our schedule that we skipped Terra Mystica, and instead of playing Concordia, we decided to jump ahead to Manhattan Project instead. This was a neat game of worker-placement in which you’re trying to build bombs and gain victory points.

This was my first time playing the Manhattan Project.
This was my first time playing the Manhattan Project.

You spend workers of specific types to gain yellow cake, move up the plutonium or uranium track, and develop aircraft and tech to pump out resources and blow up bombs. I also liked that you can spend money on the espionage track to be able to use other people’s buildings. I thought the artwork was cute and colorful, which seems odd for a game about weapons of mass destruction.

You spend your workers on building you own, and if you have espionage, you can use other people's buildings as well.
You spend your workers on building you own, and if you have espionage, you can use other people’s buildings as well.

We then settled into some light gaming post-dinner time, with a couple rounds of Codenames and a couple games of The Grizzled.  I finally got to use my awesome Grizzled playing mat, but even that didn’t help us win the war. Womp womp.

I got this cool Grizzled player mat as swag from BGG Con last year.
I got this cool Grizzled player mat as swag from BGG Con last year.

Day 3 was by far the hardest. We played just one game: Twilight Imperium. And the game went on for 12 hours. I seriously thought we can get the game finished in less time than last year (when we took altogether 11 hours), but that didn’t happen.

Beware of this box! A very long game sits inside it.
Beware of this box! A very long game sits inside it.

I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why this game lasted so much longer, especially since we all know how to more or less play this game after last year. We just introduced an expansion and some new characters, but the gyst of the game is pretty much the same.

The red army marches forward! I was doing so well for like 6 hours.
The red army marches forward to Mecator Rex! I was doing so well for like 6-8 hours.

I was doing pretty well for three-fourths of the game, marching my red army forward and conquering Mecator Rex (the center hex), and then things went downhill for me. I ended up tying for second place. I would totally play this game next time, but would print out copies of the Strategy Tiles so that everybody would know what each tile’s secondary action is. There’s also a lot of AP in this game, which would be remedied by having some sort of timer. Yes, I’m officially that person because even in my longest turns, I came nowhere near the amount of time spent by others deciding what to do. We finished TI around midnight, which made for a very late Day 3 and much quicker turnaround for Day 4.

The epic, massive game that is Twilight Imperium.
The epic, massive game that is Twilight Imperium. You can see I lost ground in the middle.

Day 4 was going to be Cthulhu, all day err day! A sixth person joined us that Saturday, so we started gaming with a 6-player Cthulhu Wars. They had shelled out big bucks for the expansion factions, which were pretty awesome. The quality of this board game is top-notch — as it should be! It is by  no means a cheap game.

The purple guys are a faction in the expansion. Such cool figures!
The purple guys are a faction in the expansion. Such cool figures!

I got to play the purple baddies, the Opener of the Way, which had a really cool power in which you can take gates with you! I also particularly enjoyed real gates that you can plop onto the board when somebody takes that action.

You can really see the "miniatures" on this board in relation to how big they are.
You can really see the “miniatures” on this board in relation to how big they are.

Next up was Arkham Horror, which is the game that united us all in the first place. We decided to play with 2 expansions, the Kingsport and Innsmouth boards, with Hypnos as a Guardian. My friends also created custom characters for us, and mine was the Dutchess from the Doctor Who universe. She also came with a Tardis! Pretty freaking sweet. The Tardis made it easy to maneuver around the board and hide from bad mythos effects.

My personalized Dutchess character came with some cool items, among them two Tardis keys.
My personalized Dutchess character came with some cool items, among them two Tardis keys.

We know we were doomed when we randomly picked Chaugnar Faugn again as the Great Old One we were facing. He annihilated us last year, and we were hopeful that we can beat him in the rematch. Sadly, on the first turn, 4 of the 6 investigators immediately became cursed, which pretty much doomed us for the game. Monsters kept getting sucked into the vortex at Innsmouth and in just one hour (which was the time it took for rules explanation and setup), we were killed. Wow, it was so brutal! We are experienced Arkham players and never had we been crushed that bad so quickly.

That vortex sucked in more monsters, which then filled up the doom track on this board and causing us the game.
That vortex sucked in more monsters, which then filled up the doom track on this board, and we lost the game.

Lastly, I played a quick game of Wurfel Bohnanza, which is a quick dice game of Bohnanza. And then I had to go because of a prior commitment but by then this was Saturday evening. We took some group photos and said my final goodbyes. Four days came and went so quickly, but we got a lot of gaming in! Until next time …

Bohnanza, the dice game! The bean artwork is always so cute.
Bohnanza, the dice game! The bean artwork always makes me laugh.
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