SHUX 2022 Retrospective

Last weekend, for the first time in almost three years, I actually went to a game convention.

COVID really did put a damper on things.

SHUX is the Shut Up & Sit Down gaming convention held at the Convention Centre in my home town of Vancouver, British Columbia in October (or, this year, September 30 – October 2).

After almost three years, it was delightful to be in a huge hall and play a bunch of games with people again.

I’d forgotten how much I missed that!

The event itself was well-run as usual. With COVID still looming, proof of double vaccination was mandatory as were masks.

I have to give the volunteers credit: they were on top of this policy all of the time, at least as much as I could see. I saw a volunteer quietly and gently remind one of the attendees that eating wasn’t allowed other in the designated area and that they had to put their mask back on.

Of course, you could briefly take it off to have a sip of water. You can’t go all day without any kind of water or other beverage.

But no food in the gaming area, and masks on at all other times.

I appreciated that.

The games library was also very large so you didn’t have to bring your own games (though a bunch of them I played were brought by my friends).

I didn’t get to meet as many people as I would have liked, though I did meet Dan of Boardgame Feast fame.

An incredibly nice guy, we chatted a couple of times though never did get a game in.

Ultimately, this was a convention that just brought me back to the entire gaming world, spending a weekend playing a ton of games and seeing a few friends who I don’t see otherwise (hi Evan, Robin and Shawn!) and gaming with them.

I didn’t go to any of the scheduled shows, though I did check out the demo hall and even tried out a hockey game called Trick Shot.

It was a fun little game. I only played a few turns of it before I had to meet my friend for lunch, but I enjoyed it.

But really, you’re here to hear about the games, aren’t you?

So let’s get into those.

I played a whopping 15 (!) games on Friday. Not as many on Saturday and only two on Sunday, but it was definitely a quality weekend.

All of the “new” games will be detailed in my “New to Me: September” post (or for the few new Saturday games, the “New to Me: October” post next month), so I’ll only give a short summary of them here.

I got there bright and early on Friday morning and when the rest of my friends arrived, we sat down to a quick little flip and write game called Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama.

Except this one was rethemed with Pokemon.

It’s still a game I don’t care for at all (I talked about the original here), but one thing was hilarious.

Each round ends when the fourth yellow tile is drawn. You are supposed to keep all of the drawn tiles out of the bag so there are no repeats.

We forgot that!

“Why is everything ending so quickly?” we kept asking.

Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the sheets my friend created.

We next split into two groups of three and my group played a new game called Trekking Through History from Underdog Games, designed by Charlie Bink.

This is a game where you are time travelers trying to experience as many historical events as possible in three 12-hour days.

Players will be drafting historical events from a line of cards which will give them resources experiences to put on their experience board. If these cards are in chronological order, they will form one Trek, but if you take an earlier card, the first Trek is over and you are starting a new one.

You can score points for each Trek as well as in-game points based on connections you make on your experience board.

I enjoyed it, and I ended up playing it twice (once with one group and once with another later in the day).

After that, we tried a couple of rounds of The Crew: Mission Deep Sea, but they both ended very quickly because the math nerd of the group worked out that we couldn’t win after the first two tricks.

Next on the agenda was my friend’s brand new copy of John D. Clair’s new game from Alderac, Ready Set Bet.

He had pre-ordered it and picked it up at SHUX so it was unpunched and everything!

This is a game where players are betting on four horse races in real time!

If you’re the first to bet on Horse #5 to win, you won’t lose any money if he doesn’t win.

The bonus with this game compared to most other betting games is that you are betting tokens and getting payouts based on them, but you don’t actually lose all of the money you would have otherwise if you bet badly.

Some betting spaces don’t have any penalty if you bet and lose. Others have -1 or -2 or sometimes more.

But you’re not losing half your money!

The real-time horse race is either app-driven or one player can do it using dice rolls. For each roll, that horse moves forward one space. If you roll that number again, most horses will get bonus moves.

It was a lot of fun, but you probably need a reasonably quiet space to play it. It plays a bunch of people too, which is nice (up to 9 players).

We did fine at the convention, but if it would have been louder there, it might have been hard to hear the app or the caller.

Then came a game I’d never heard of, or if I had, only in passing.

Colt Super Express (designed by Cédric Lefebvre & Christophe Raimbault and published by Ludonaute Games) is an even faster version of the classic Colt Express, the train-robbing game with programmed movement.

This game is even faster because you’re not trying to loot the train, at least not as such.

You’re trying to eliminate the other players!

This can happen by shooting them off the train or possibly having them be in the last car at the end of a round (the last car is given to the player closest to it and it is worth money).

It was fun and very fast, which helped because it’s not that interesting overall.

Our play was good, though.

After grabbing a quick bite (teriyaki beef rice bowl) for lunch, another friend and I hooked up for two games of Blitzkrieg! Designed by Paolo Mori and published by PSC Games, this one says that you can play World War II in 20 minutes, and that’s pretty much the case.

Our games took 18 and 15 minutes and covered the entirety of the war from Europe to the Pacific.

It’s basically a bag-pulling game where you pull a unit out of your bag and decide which war theater to place it in.

Placing it usually gives you a bonus of some kind.

Finishing a line in a theater will give somebody points.

Once somebody has 25 points, the endgame is triggered and whoever has the most points wins.

This was a ton of fun and a great 2-player experience.

Sadly, I can’t say the same about our play of Unmatched: Battle of Legends (designed by Rob Daviau, Justin D. Jacobson and published by Restoration Games).

For some reason, we both just kind of bounced off of it and I’m not sure why.

I have the app (Early Access review is coming!) and enjoy it well enough.

For some reason, this play wasn’t as enjoyable.

This is a dueling game where two of four literary characters (at least in Volume 1) face off in a battle to the finish.

I played Sinbad and my friend played Alice (Alice in Wonderland) and we were playing cards to attack and try to kill each other.

I can definitely see possibilities in it.

I want to try it again.

After the second play of Trekking Through History, there was another new game!

Merchants of Dunhuang (designed by Gabriele Bubola and published by Mandoo Games) is a rondel set-collecting card game that was really quite interesting.

You’re moving the camel around the rondel to the next space (or paying coins to move further). You then take the good card at that location and can possibly take the action on the space.

You can put the goods card in your hand or in front of you. In front of you is the only place that will enable you to score points, though depending on how many majorities (having a higher number of goods of that number in front of you compared to other players) you have, you will be able to score cards from your hand as well.

It’s an interesting push-pull mechanism of where you want the cards to go.

You can also win automatically if somebody lets you get four majorities as well as having four different goods in your hand.

But I can’t see that happening unless everybody’s asleep.

I really enjoyed this one.

Are you sensing a trend?

Friday was the day of short but (mostly) fun games. I’m not sure any of them took more than 30 minutes to play.

Which continued as three of us got Scout (designed by Kei Kajino and published by Oink Games) out to the table.

I had previously played it with 5 players and we discovered during this play that you definitely need more than 3.

I talked about how to play it during the March “New to Me” games post.

I really liked this game a lot, but with 3 players it’s way too easy to bust.

If you play a sequence in front of you and the next player can’t play higher, they “scout” and take one of the cards in your sequence. Then the next player has a lower threshold to try and beat.

With three players, it’s very possible (it happened in two of our three rounds!) that this will happen early in the round.

I do really like this card game, though. I can see why it’s been nominated for awards.

It’s the perfect beginning or end of night game!

What to do after a neat card game?

How about a sprawling betting trivia game?

Wits & Wagers: It’s Vegas, Baby! is a different kind of Wits & Wagers, but only in one fashion.

It was designed by Dominic Crapuchettes and published by North Star Games.

In addition to earning money for betting on the answers to the trivia questions, whoever picked the closest answer to the question without going over gets an increasing number of chips.

In the first round, you get one chip, all the way up to the seventh round and seven chips.

It still has the classic game play where the question is something like “drawing in a straight line, how many miles can you draw with one graphite pencil before running out of graphite?” Players guess the answer, then the answers are put in order by increasing size.

Players then bet on which answer is the closest without going over. If you bet right, you get money! (or points in the original game, which I guess is another difference as you can bet money in addition to your betting chips).

We played twice while one of my friends was off trying to teach Ark Nova to some newbies and we had a raucous time. I even won the first game!

Then we went to a really interesting little card game called Gudetama: The Tricky Egg Card Game by Ben Eisner and Steve Ellis (published by Oni Games).

There was some confusion playing the game and it didn’t go over very well unfortunately. It was a bit tedious.

Basically, players have a hand of cards and are taking tricks (it’s a trick-taking game), but those don’t matter.

The only one that matters is the final trick. Whoever takes that trick gets points for the round…but points are bad.

The lowest score wins after somebody reaches 21 points.

It’s…very strange.

Then it was time for dinner, and one last game for the night.

We split into two groups of three and my trio’s game was Heaven & Ale (designed by Michael Kiesling and Andreas Schmidt and published by Eggertspiele).

I talked about my first play of it when I first played it in February 2018 and it burned my brain then.

Should I have played it late on a Friday night?

Sure!

I did terribly (16 points to the other players’ 57 & 53) but it was fun and it’s all about the experience of playing games with friends.

That’s the most important thing.

(Editor – “That’s what he always says when he loses”)

I do enjoy this game of monks making beer, and I think I may now kind of understand how to play it better (it’s kind of hard to play it worse!). I probably should play it sooner than 4 years from now, though.

The scoring system is really confusing, but it works and forces you to play in a balanced fashion.

And that was Friday!

I left around 9:45 pm and got home around 10:15 after a long uphill walk.

Very uphill…

Anyway, how about Saturday!

We started with a really quick game of one of our favourite fillers, Jump Drive!

You can see the review of it here, so let’s just say that this game is always a good way to start the day.

After that, the three of us decided on an old classic: The Castles of Burgundy.

Stefan Feld is a great designer and this game is always a hit. I have had a constant asynchronous game of it going on with two other friends for many years now.

I once again did badly, but I won Jump Drive so I was happy.

This is the original 2011 game, not the updated version from 2019 (and certainly not the deluxe version that just funded on Gamefound).

It’s always a fun game and I’m happy that it occasionally hits the table, in addition to my online games of it.

The first new game of the day was one of the latest hits from Bezier Games (this one designed by Moneyuki Yokouchi), the deluxe edition of Cat in the Box!

This is a really unique trick-taking game (I played a lot of those last weekend, actually) where the cards don’t have suits. You have to say what suits they are!

But be careful. If you can’t play a card because no suits with that number are available, you’ve caused a paradox and will lose points. That can cause a problem.

Each time you play a card into a trick, you have to declare what colour it is and follow suit if somebody else chose (for example) yellow.

You can say “I don’t have any Yellow” and play it as a different colour (including the red trump suit), but that can cause problems too. Because now you can never play yellow again. If you need to play yellow for some reason…

PARADOX!!!!!

It’s a neat concept, but I’ll explain a bit more about it in my “New to Me” post.

I really enjoyed this one.

After that, another new to me game came out: Finca. This one is designed by Wolfgang Sentker and Ralf zur Linde, published by Devil Dice Games.

This is another rondel game where you are gathering resources and trying to fulfill contracts.

You’re moving one of your workers around the rondel, collecting a bunch of the various crops depending on how many other workers are on it.

Or, if you have a donkey and enough of the resources, you can fulfill a contract instead.

Contracts give you points and also crop symbols toward majorities for end-game scoring as well.

It was a fun game, didn’t take too long and wasn’t bad at all.

Not sure I’ll ever play it again, but I wouldn’t actively avoid it.

After lunch, two of my friends and I played one of my all-time favourites, The Prodigals Club.

This game, designed by Vladimír Suchý and published by Czech Games Edition, is an amazing game that was #14 in my Top 25 games played of all time, 2022 edition earlier this year.

In this Victorian England game, you are trying to lower your political, social, and economic standing to as low of a level as you can get. You do that through card play trying to lose votes, piss your friends off, and get rid of as much money as you can.

This is a classic 2015 game for me and I’ve managed to play it twice this year!

I hadn’t played it since 2018 until a player earlier this year, so to get it to the table again was really neat.

After an aborted attempt to learn Nemo’s War (it looks cool but it was just too involved to try and pick up at a convention, and it looks to be best as a solo game anyway), we went on to Fantastic Factories (another favourite).

This one is #16 on my all-time favourites list, so it was good to get it to the table too.

It was designed by Joseph Z Chen and Justin Faulkner and is now published by Deep Water Games.

This is just an amazing dice rolling and engine-building game where you are using dice to collect resources and produce goods. The resources will help you build factories or other buildings that will make your engine even more efficient.

There is so much great stuff about this game. I should probably review it one of these days.

The last game of the night was also on my Top 25 list.

It was a Hall of Fame evening!

Space Base (designed by John D. Clair and published by Alderac again) is a game I reviewed a few years ago and it’s always been a favourite.

It’s another dice game where you’re rolling for resources and trying to build an engine, but this time other players can build off of your rolls and get their own stuff too.

You have a fleet of ships and each turn you can buy another ship to add to your fleet, deploying the ship you replaced.

The ships in your fleet give you resources on your turn. The deployed ships give you resources on other players’ turns.

It’s an amazing game!

Then it was time for a really long uphill walk home.

And time for Sunday!

I only played two games on Sunday, but that’s because one of them was really long.

Three-player Ark Nova (a game that probably would be in my Top 25 if I had played it before writing that series) was a winner. And so was I!

The game’s designed by Mathias Wigge and published by Capstone Games.

And it is freaking wonderful.

Even better was the playmat my friend had bought from Etsy that saves a ton of table space.

It is confusing at first, but once you’ve organized in your head where everything is, it really makes the game even better.

I love the photography on the cards, I like building my own zoo with animals and sponsorships that give you bonuses.

I just love this game.

And I won for the first time!

After lunch, it was time to close out SHUX with a new game that we sadly didn’t finish.

Epic Spell Wars: Annihilageddon is a deck-building game very reminiscent of Cryptozoic’s (the publisher) DC Comics Deckbuilding Game. In fact, they’re almost clones as far as mechanisms go.

The game is designed by Matt Hyra, Matt Dunn and Cory Jones.

Much like the card game it’s based on, this is definitely a NSFW game. Skip over the below image if you’re easily offended.

The cards are funny and they work really well together.

I’ll explain more about the game in the “new to me” post, but much like its predecessor, it just goes on a bit too long for what it gives you.

It was fun, though, and I’d like to try it again with a bit more emphasis on moving toward the end of the game.

With that, SHUX 2022 came to an end for me.

I’ve heard rumours that this might be the last one. Nothing’s been confirmed yet, but it would sadden me if that were the case.

The entire weekend was a blast. It was nice to get back into the whole convention thing, meeting people and just playing games for three days.

This is the only big con in the Pacific Northwest (not the only con, though, as I’m going to three more of them in the next 6 months). It draws designers and game companies from all over and it’s just a wonderful experience.

But if it goes away, it goes away.

It will be too bad, but we’ll have to make do.

I hope you enjoyed this game retrospective of my first con since the pandemic hit.

What do you think of these games? Any you’ve played? Any you want to play?

Let me know in the comments.

8 Comments on “SHUX 2022 Retrospective

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