Ring Side Report-Grand Con Day One

GrandCon is a new convention in Grand Rapids Michigan.  I’ve been here for about 12 hours (including sleeping), let’s give this the run down on my thoughts so far.


RegistrationGrandCon is run by a quality group of people who know what they’re doing.  They have made an interesting choice that, had I understood what I was doing, would have made things a little less troublesome.  When you register for the con, you have to create individual accounts and pay for all your stuff individually.  I don’t like this because I can’t buy my wife and I our stuff together, but it tracks what events each person attends.  Had I known, this would not be a problem, but when I got there, I got put in the problem line.  They staff was quick to help me get through my woes and my wife and I got our badges pretty quickly.  Keep this in mind if you go in the future.  I see the logic, but I don’t like the end results of not being able to buy multiple event tickets at once.  Every con has something a little different.  This is not a deal breaker by any means, but keep this in mind.


The Location-GrandCon takes place at the beautiful campus of Calvin College at the Prince Convention Center.  This place is amazing.  Also, the con price for rooms is ~$80 bucks. That is phenominal!  Rooms are GIANT.  Flat screen TV, FREE WIFI, walk in giant showers, and a couch.  Beds a good.  I’m pretty happy.  We’re a little out from the rest of Grand Rapids, and the roads to get here are a bit confusing, but I think it was well worth it.


Gaming-My wife and I walked around, saw one of our friends, and hopped into a game of “Trains.”  Its great to see a thriving dropin gaming community.  Makes me happy.  This place has the GenCon game library.  The room with the library is full to the gills, but I love seeing gamers gaming and making new friends.  Lots of RPGs on the schedule and lots of board games.  No digital, but I’m not a digitial gaming con guy.  At the rate this FIRST YEAR con is going, I expect them to top GenCon in a few years based on the line-up of guests alone….


Guests-I’ve never been much of a panal person (takes away from the gaming time!), but this place has an amazing guest line up.  Go check their line up on their website.  Its pretty impressive for a  non-estabilshed con to get this many headliners to show up and be at this con.


Ok, that was the general.  Let’s do a mini review of a game I played-“Trains” by AEG.



Playtime-30-60 minutes.  (Even a first time game!)

Style-Deck building, terrain control, and world development

Basics-In this game you play different groups developing the train routs in Japan. That sounds boring, but its is far from it.  Players get a deck of cards that are money, lay tracks, and build station.  Stations get you point, laying tracks build from across the board, and money is used to pay for the tracks and new cards.  The deck is very much like Dominion, except the terrain control element makes the focus different.  You can get point cards in your deck, but the real focus is building your cross country rail lines to new stations.  The limiting factor for the game is every time you build, you generate waste that goes into the discard pile and slows you down.  That helps prevent the run away victor problem and makes you think about how you play.  As a turn you can buy/use cards/build rail/build station all at the same time and are not limited by the number of action you can perform or you can discard waste.  You can see the learning process AEG went through from seeing “Dominion” and making “Thunderstone and Thunderstone Advance” and it pays off in a well designed game.  The game we played in had little inter personal fighting, but that may change with different cards and different maps.  A really interesting fact is in this game you basically play alone.  Others build stuff and  you can build to it for points, but its not like in “Dominion” or “Thunderstone” where others can add stuff to your deck.  In this game you play your cubes (rails) pretty much without the other plays interference or objection.

Thoughts-OK AEG, you’re getting money.  This game played quick, was easy to learn, and was a game my wife will play again.  It didn’t have the “Dominion” problem of there is only one way to win or the problem of the person who’s played the most times will win.  I won my first game, the teacher was close behind, and my wife was hot on our heels.  No tooth and nail, drag out fights for my first game at this con, no stress, just playing my own game.  You will get a full review so as the game is only $60 at my local game store.

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