AireCon 2020 – Sunday 15th March

Day 3 of AireCon, in Harrogate…

What do I know, eh?  Having spent the last two days writing about the fact that I thought attendance figures at this year’s AireCon would be affected by the current Coronavirus situation, along comes a Tweet from Mark himself…


Ah well… I did also say yesterday that I thought Sunday might be crazy busy for the first part of the day but would likely tail off early, and that’s certainly how it felt, so we’ll find out soon enough if I was right on that front, at least… lol

Sunday is always a much shorter day, too, and this year saw the stands and demo stalls closing at 4pm, and the entire venue shutting down at 6pm, which made for an earlier evening than originally expected for some, I think!

I did manage to squeeze several more games of Aliens Ate My Planet! in today, although one of them was probably a tighter squeeze than the rest given we had 5 people around the table at the time!  More praise for the fast-flowing mechanics and gameplay balance isn’t something I’m going to shy away from, of course, so that was good news, too!


Yes, I did play other games, too, y’know?

Like several others, I opted to pack my demo stand up just a bit earlier today, which at least gave me enough time to wander over to the PlaytestUK area and try a couple of games from other designers… having walked several miles in the shoes of these folk (and still walking those miles, in truth) —that’s to say: lots of people just wandering straight past their demos without giving them so much as a second glance, never mind stopping to chat and actually give the designers a chance— I genuinely wanted to sit down and try their games and offer my tuppence-worth on their efforts.

Exponential is a tile-laying game evidently still at a very early stage of development, and I don’t think I’m being too unkind if I say the designer needs to return to the drawing board for a rethink and a reskin: the board needed shrinking, the special actions to be more equally distributed, and the scoring itself was mind-blowingly off-kilter (to put it mildly). Thankfully, these are all things that can be easily fixed, but having a theme to tie everything together is a much tougher proposition, and although the clue might be in the name here, any exponential scoring system is going to cause a headache when it comes to balancing player options, frankly!

By way of contrast, Not So Fast! was a welcome surprise: a 20-25-minute filler that has players trying to raise money to buy off the Mayor of Marple City (who is as crooked as they come btw), the core concept sees players laying claim to loot cards found at various locations and then hoping no-one else has an operative in the vicinity that can steal the loot away from them. Tight hand management and a constantly changing selective process (which location cards do I need to have operatives in, and which can I afford to let go?) means you’re always waiting to see what cards other players are discarding, but also gambling on getting ‘freebies’ on the back of other players running out of cards to contest you (in which case they can only draw cards for their turn). Trust me, it plays really well, is as tight and taut as you want it to be, yet strangely satisfying and more importantly, actually a lot of fun, too. I wish Greg and Fern the best o’ luck with it!

I ended the day with a couple of chilled out gems, including Tranquility (twice), and FlickFleet… the latter against one of the designers, no less, but years of Subbuteo practice during a misspent youth finally paid off, it seems… lol

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Tranquility is a beautiful game that’s similar to The Mind in that players are trying to place numbered cards (1-80) into 36 spaces by assessing their potential placement value against the need to ensure there are enough gaps between cards to give everybody else a chance of placing theirs in the right places, too. The key thing here, though, is that it’s another game in which players cannot talk to each other except in one particular circumstance, and to cut a long story short I really did like this one, and particularly loved the minimalistic artwork and colour palette. Gorgeous!

A final quick thanks to Mark Cooke and the rest of the AireCon crew for putting on yet another great weekend event: Thank you, and may all your meeples be the colours you like to play!



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