I became more sympathetic to the people with the rolling luggage at Origins after I started down the boardgame path. The simple reality is that if you’re carrying more than one full sized boardgame, you’re going to be hard pressed to find an efficient solution for carrying them. This became apparent after I picked up Ascension and the other awesome boardgame of the con (more on that in a second) and I tried to carry both around. My backpack was no use, and while I made use of my Reddoxx CPA Briefcase (which is freaking immense) one day, it was sufficiently full that there was no room for additional purchases.
So, with that in mind, I’m willing to change my stance on rolling luggage at conventions. You still need to steer clear of crowded areas (like the dealers room) with it, but if you are board-game or wargame focused, I concede the necessity. However, I offer an important caveat – don’t overload them. If you’re using a clever arrangement of bungie cords to try to hold two stacks of games side-by-side then you’re asking for trouble. One game is going to come loose, and then it’s all going to go to hell. Unless you are literally stocking a booth, stick to a single stack.
All of this also has reminded me of the importance of after-market repackaging, which is a really fancy way of saying “Putting a game in a smaller box”. I love that games are getting these great organizing trays, but that’s only really used to me if I play the game at home. If I ever want to take the game anywhere (like a convention or a friend’s house) then it’s worth my while to try to compress it down into something more portable. A few game-makers have caught onto this. The ascension bundle I got came with a box for just this purchase, and I know that AEG makes the boxes for it’s game expansions with compact storage in mind.
Which comes to the other great find of the convention, Seven Wonders. This is a development game that feels a bit like the slimmed down love child of Civilization and Race for the Galaxy, which puts it precisely in my sweet spot. Still, as I mentioned regarding Ascension, merely being a good game is not enough anymore, and 7W delivered on two particular vectors.
The first is that it’s fast. Gameplay is listed as a half hour, and even with learning, our first games were done in under 40 minutes. Fast is a big deal for me, and would probably have been enough, but it was driven home by the second point: That time doesn’t change as you add more players. It’s just as fast (or nearly so) with 7 people as it is with 3 (technically, it also supports 2, but I haven’t tried the 2 player rules yet). This is accomplished by changing the deck size based on the number of people, which in turn keeps the number of turns constant. Since turns are simultaneous, the only thing that really slows down play is that guy who takes forever to make decisions. Sadly, there is only so much you can do about that, except perhaps keep playing until he feels comfortable enough to play fast.
Setup and breakdown could be a little more efficient, and to be totally frank, will probably be helped by shifting it to a custom box, but that’s a small detail. Apparently the first expansion is about to hit the market (Asmodee had them at Origins, but weren’t selling them when I talked to them) but there’s some worry it’s going to change the game too drastically. I’m willing to hold out and see before picking it up.
Anyway, it was a good purchase, and you can apparently get it for as little as $35, which is a good price. at $40 I felt ok with it, though at $50 I might have hesitated. Your yardstick may vary of course, but if you get a chance, it’s worth a play.