The final day of Cabin-Con is mostly just a clean-up. We need to be out by 11am, which leaves us with a small amount of time to game after we eat breakfast, pack our stuff, and leave the place in good condition. Last year, we managed to squeeze in 3 games of My City by Reiner Knizia in this time frame. This year, we learned a new game and finished the weekend off with a classic card game.
Explorers by Phil Walker Harding is a flip and write game about traversing the countryside and accumulating sets of resources. Each turn, the active player flips a card depicting two terrain types and chooses one of the sides for themselves. They cross off three squares of the selected terrain type. The other players can choose to either cross off three squares of the other terrain type, or two squares of the same terrain that the active player choose. Players can cross off a square anywhere on the board, provided it’s touching an existing square, and crossing off icons on the board will award you with various benefits.
There are keys and temples on each section of the board, to cross off a temple, you first need to cross off a key. The value of crossing off a temple decreases depending on how many players pillaged the temple before you. Carrots, fish and apples act as a set collection each round, the horses give you a bonus wild X for the turn you cross the horse off, and the maps allow you to take the active players’ selection with no drawback. The village tiles also give you points based on how many adjacent squares you manage to cross off. Finally, emeralds will give you a point every turn, from the turn that you cross it off.
There are a lot of short term goals in Explorers, which can be a lot of fun. Do you beeline for a temple, hoping to be there first, or is it more valuable to collect a full set of food before the round ends? Making players choose between multiple goals is really fun, and the game has an incredible amount of variability. There are 8 terrain tiles, which can be rotated in any orientation, the food, villages, emerald, and temples have different scoring styles if you flip each of the components, and all the unused terrain tiles offer bonus scoring elements as well! Speaking of the components, the boards are colourful, thick, and glossy, making it very easy to cross off squares, and wipe clean at the end. All around a great production.
Explorers somewhat reminds me of Cartographers, which is great because I love Cartographers. It’s obviously quite a different game when you drill down into the details, but it still evokes the same feelings. If you enjoy Cartographers, but dislike having players place negative points onto your sheet (an aspect I adore), perhaps Explorers will be more up your alley.
6 Nimmit! by Wolfgang Kramer Is a little card game that was gifted into our board game family. We played it online during the pandemic, and Bigfoot put it into his BGG wish list. Someone local reached out and offered it to him for free! Such generosity.
In 6 Nimmit, the goal is not to get points. The first player to hit 66 points triggers the end of the game, then, the player with the lowest score is the winner. The game starts with 4 cards placed on the table, and 10 cards in each player’s hand. Simultaneously, all players play a card, then, in numerical order, they’re placed into each of the rows. They’re not freely placed, however, they simply slot in next to the card they’re closest to in ascending order. Should a card slide into the 6th slot, the player who played that card must take all the cards in that row as their score, and their card becomes the 1st card in that row.
I’m perpetually amazed at how much tension and excitement can be achieved by a card game. The reveal as all players flip their played cards, the gasp as someone sneaks into a row you didn’t expect and the anguish when you’re forced to take a row with a dozen points or more is just delicious.
There was a lot of thought and talk that went into planning this year’s Cabin-Con, and while the dust has barely settled, I’m reflecting on this year’s experience and deciding how we’ll want to change for next year’s event. As I said in my Day 1 post, the original impetus for Cabin-Con was to give us the opportunity to play all those big games we love, but couldn’t get played during our regular Wednesday game nights. We flung ourselves into this event, acquiring Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated with the sole intention of playing it back to back to back. Bigfoot had also recently received his Anachrony: Infinity Box, and Oath, both highly anticipated games at the time. You can read about our experiences in detail here, but what ended up happening was on the first day, we arrived, and played a few small games, Arboretum, Lost Cities: Rivals, and Cartographers, before breaking out A Feast for Odin after dinner. The next day, we played Clank Legacy from 10am until 5pm, making our way through 4 whole games before tapping out. Starting at 8pm that night, we unboxed Anachrony and literally spent 2 hours just sorting the pieces and learning how to play the game. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t filled with despair when the first turn was being taken around 11pm. The next day started with Oath, which ended up being a full 5 hours to endure one play through. Two players were duking it out back and forth in a war of attrition to decide the victor, while the other two players were having a miserable time, unable to get any kind of footing to do anything meaningful. That afternoon we tried My City and enjoyed it quite a bit. Finally, that evening we just played a bunch of small games that we already knew, including The Crew, Vikings, QE, Azul, and Project L.
Upon reflection of Cabin-Con 2021, we agreed that while we were glad about some of those big experiences, but we all agreed that the most joy came from just playing a bunch of shorter games. This lead us to set up Cabin-Con 2022 the way we did, parcelling out 4 equal blocks of time, where each of us could pick whatever game we wanted to play. Then the rest of the time was for ‘open gaming’, shorter games that didn’t need any extensive rules teaching, and a firm NO UNPUNCHED GAMES policy.
Cabin-Con 2022 came and went without a hitch. It functioned like a well oiled machine, the four of us all knew what to expect and slipped into our roles easily. Some part of me feels like the experience was dulled compared to last year, but that’s probably just because it wasn’t new. We knew what to expect, and we knew what we wanted. Each day we played games from 9am to midnight with only a short break for dinner and a campfire each evening. Leading up to the weekend, I was nearly vibrating with excitement, but during the con there was a calm air around us. Maybe we over-plannned the weekend, because we knew the games we were going to play well in advance. The weekend had a ‘business as usual’ vibe. There were no real surprises, no unexpected hits, just, great game after great game. While that doesn’t sound like a bad thing, I personally missed the excitement of discovering a whole new game.
What I didn’t expect what just how exhausted I was when I got home after the weekend! A lot of great and heavy games were played, and because there was very little rule teaching or punching games, it was just hit after hit to my poor feeble brain. 23 plays of 21 different games is no small feat. 1,760 minutes (or 29.33 hours) of actual game play time leaves a mind over-worked and soggy. As far as the winner of Cabin-con 2022 goes, Bigfoot won an impressive 10 games (Barenpark, Beyond the Sun, Cartographers, Karuba, Gaia Project, 7 Wonders, Glen More II, Twice as Clever, Race for the Galaxy and Explorers), Otter claimed victory over 5 games (Sagrada, Gaia Project, Scythe, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, and 6 Nimmit), I won 4 games (Arboretum, Karuba, Eclipse, and Food Chain Magnate), and Bear won a solitary game right at the end of the weekend (Race for the Galaxy). In case you’re thinking that my math is off, 5 games had no winners (Pandemic: The Cure, So Clover, The Crew x2, and Bullet⭐). Fortunately, while I do track plays and scores, none of us really put stock into who wins or loses the most. There are no trophies to be won here.
So what’s next? What might change for Cabin-con 2023? It’s hard to beat the raw efficiency we achieved this year, and playing great games that we already knew how to play means that there were a lot less negative feelings (Oath, I’m looking at you) or despair (starting Anachrony at 11pm was a bit of a mistake). That said, I somewhat lament the original reason for Cabin-con, which was to play games that we otherwise wouldn’t choose to play on our regular Wednesday game night. The vast majority of the games we played over this weekend, we’d opt to play during our regular game days. By contrast, we haven’t touched Anachrony since last year, despite all of us expressing interest in returning to the game. I suspect next year we’ll relax on the “No new games” policy just a little bit. Perhaps we’ll bring along more dexterity games, as those were notably absent. In the end, we all had fun, and I can’t wait to return in 2023