PaneraCon IV Recap – We went so Euro, I speak German!
So, PaneraCon IV happened. You know, PaneraCon! Wait, you don’t know PaneraCon? Well, let me tell you about what PaneraCon is and give you a recap of the latest convention and the games played!
PaneraCon started as an idea I had to get together with fellow gamers I had met at Origins in Columbus. I live in Northeast Ohio and the other two players live in the Columbus area. I scouted out the “midpoint” between us and found a conveniently located Panera Bread. It made perfect sense. Lots of big table space, and accessible food? win-win!
We’ve held four PaneraCon events now. We usually meet once a month. We start at around 10 am after some initial chit chat and catching up, have a break for lunch, and finally end the day with some dinner before parting ways.
One of the best things I enjoy about PaneraCon is that we’re all like-minded gamers with similar tastes and it’s become the perfect place for us to bring games that we don’t get the chance to play with our other local gaming groups.
PaneraCon IV was heavily Euro focused. We played Love Letter, Egizia, The Speicherstadt, Troyes, and the historical closing game of the Con, King of Tokyo. Here are some random and hopefully brief thoughts!
Love Letter – I’ll admit. I bought Love Letter solely on the buzz. It was all the rage and was hard to find copies available for purchase. I finally got the chance to play it recently for the first time, and have played it 4 times since and it’s been a real hit with gamers and non-gamers alike. It’s deceptively simple with a surprising amount of depth for a 16 card game consisting mainly of having a single card in your hand, draw another card, discard one of those cards and do what it says. Since it’s a game with multiple relatively quick playing rounds, it’s been really fun to watch people start off scratching their heads then a couple rounds later, jonesing to get into the next round.
Egizia – When I first got into this hobby a few years ago, I went over the deep end. GeekList auctions on BGG were my crack, meth, and marijuana all wrapped in one. I was bidding on games left and right, games I’d never touched or barely heard of. If it had a relatively high BGG rank, then I was all for buying it. Egizia was one of those games. I’ve had it for years, never been punched. I’ve tried a couple times to unload it. I’m glad I didn’t. This ended up being THE brain burner of PaneraCon IV, taking up a solid two hours of play time.
The main conceit of Egizia is the available actions along the Nile river. You can place your boat at any unclaimed spot along the Nile, but you can never place a boat upstream from your farthest boat (with exceptions from special cards). This leads to the challenge of jumping ahead to get that card that you really want vs. playing it safe and working your way to it more slowly risking that someone else will snatch it out from under you. I really enjoyed getting to play this one finally.
The Speicherstadt – Out of the five games we played, I’d say this one was the most Euro of the bunch. You play as a warehouse manager trying to cheaply acquire and store goods while preparing for the chance of fire. I don’t quite understand why these warehouses keep catching on fire.
Anywho, this is another deceptively simple game. You get three workers to place above a series of cards indicating your interest in buying said card. The cost of the card is based on how many workers are vying for it, and the cost decreases as people pass on purchasing it. Money is extremely tight, and the interest-driven cost leads to some really unique tactics. For example, I wound up putting workers on cards I didn’t really want, trying to sneak in and be the last one to grab the card I really wanted.
This was my second favorite game of the day. And probably the most contentious game of the day as well. You have to be willing to piss off your friends if you want to play this game well.
Troyes – Hey, you guys! Remember how I talked about buying games based on buzz and/or rating on BGG? Guess what?? This is another one of those games! Ok, truth be told, I knew a bit more about this game before I picked it up. The unique way it uses dice really drew me in. This game was my top game of the con.
I can’t really do this game justice with my brief/stream of consciousness/scattershot style. What you can do is based on the values of dice you roll, as well as dice you buy from other players. If you use high enough valued dice, you get the benefit of taking the associated action multiple times at once. Your standard euro trope of “So much I want to do, but not enough time and resources!” is compounded by events which must be dealt with and if not completely neutralized, will continue to disrupt the state of the game.
By this point in the day, we were F R I E D fried. We didn’t get through all the games we had hoped to (I personally wished we had had the time/mental ability to play Spyrium and Bruges) so we decided it was time to bring the games to a close with the unofficially official final game of PaneraCon, King of Tokyo. KoT is one of those games that I have still yet to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy playing it. It’s fits well as a nice cooldown game to bring things to a close.
I’m really pleased with what PaneraCon has become. It’s a really great way to spend a Saturday, and is well worth the hour and a half one way drive to attend. I’m even considering expanding PaneraCon to the West and East to include some other con friends in other locations. I haven’t decided, if they end up happening, if I’ll call them PaneraCon East/West or maybe PaneraCon Beta/Gamma. We’ll see. At this rate, I’m going to run out of Saturdays each month to do other things besides game. But honestly, there are much worse problems to have 🙂
While Panera has a fine selection of food, Cheddars has become the unofficially official dinner establishment of the con. Home of great meals like, my personal favorite, Chicken and Waffles. One gripe I have with them regarding their Chicken and Waffles is the almost instinctive follow-up question the server asks you when they bring you your plate of delicious golden fried chicken tenders over sweet waffles. “Should I bring you some more syrup?” YES, Mr Judgy McJudgypants! If you didn’t give me such a small bowl of it in the first place, and YES! I’m a Fatty Fatterson and want to drizzle more sugar liquid atop my pile of unhealthy foods!
As was discovered today, and shown above, Cheddars is also home to the “Vegetable Plate”. The “Vegetable Plate” consists of a salad or soup and…wait for it…FOUR SIDES. The best part of the “Vegetable Plate”? There are NO RESTRICTIONS on whether your four sides consist of vegetables! In theory, you could have french fries, mashed potatoes, a loaded baked potato, and red beans and rice on your “Vegetable Plate”