My third convention in three weeks in three different countries took me to Gilwice, Poland for PortalKon. PortalKon is a convention for Portal fans to come, play some games and check out what the plan is for Portal over the next 6 months.
What exactly is PortalKon?
The convention is mostly for the Polish speaking fans of Portal, but Ignacy invited the whole world as since I am part of said world, I decided to go even though I don’t speak a single word of Polish.
What Happens There?
PortalKon starts with a keynote address where Ignacy goes through all of the releases for the next six months. During this event Ignacy talked about Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot, Tides of Time, the Atlanteans expansion and a whole lot of Polish market releases including Bomb Squad, Ninja Taisen, Istanbul and others. During and after the keynote people were playing games in the main room. There was a Neuroshima Hex tournament and a bunch of games that you could play. If you didn’t know how to play the game, it was no problem at all, because the guys at Portal would come and teach you. The highlight of the convention for most people was probably the chance to play Rattle, Battle, Tides of Time and the Atlanteans faction for Imperial Settlers.
This is a big part of PortalKon, where Ignacy announces what will be releasing in the next 6 months or so and while the presentation was geared mostly towards the Polish market, Ignacy filled me in on some news for the English market. Of course for Gen Con, Portal will be releasing Tides of Time, Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot and the Atlanteans faction for Imperial Settlers. Additionally Ignacy announced the next three factions for Neuroshima Hex 3.0 that will be released in the near future. They are: Steel Police, Dancer and Mephisto. A new announcement, for me, was the re-release of Convoy; a two-player card game set in the Neuroshima universe. In addition to that, Stronghold second edition will be released at Essen 2015.
What did I do?
You might have been turned off by the fact that I said it was primarily for Polish speaking people, but while that is the case, I still had a great time. Throughout the day I got the chance to play Neuroshima Hex 3.0, Tides of Time, Ninja Taisen, Rattle, Battle, Kryptos (a non-Portal game that they sell in their webstore.), Imperial Settlers and Zenith. It worked out nicely that two other English-speaking guys traveled from Belgium and Germany so we stuck together the whole day.
In case you don’t know about any of the aforementioned games, let me tell you a little more about a few of them:
Neuroshima Hex 3.0
I got to play the cardboard version of this game for the first time and after playing it, I bought everything that they had in English because it is very good. NH is a tactical abstract battle game where each person controls a different faction from a future post-apocalyptic setting. Each player has a base which they are trying to defend while destroying their opponent’s base as well. Each turn involves drawing three tiles, discarding one and then deciding to play zero, one or both of them to the board. The troops have different abilities and each faction plays differently. In addition to the multi-player aspect of the game, it also comes with 55 puzzles that are to be played solitaire. These puzzles are a great way to learn the rules while learning strategy as well. I have just started attempting them and will be doing them periodically on Periscope so feel free to follow me and watch a puzzle some time.
Right now there are four factions in the box and three additional factions (Uranopolis, Mississippi and Doomsday Machine) available for purchase. The Doomsday Machine faction is not usable in a tournament setting, but if that doesn’t matter to you, it provides another army to play and explore. Also available at the Portal webstore are free PDFs giving some background into the world of Neuroshima.
Tides of Time
A microgame from Portal? That is what I initially thought when I heard about this game, but because of Portal’s pedigree I had no problem giving it a shot. The game is simple in play, but surprisingly deep for an 18 card game. The game consists of three rounds of card drafting. Each player selects one card, then passes the remaining cards to their opponent and reveals the card they chose. Each card has a different ability that, when the requirements are fulfilled, will help you score at the end of each round. After each player has five cards in their display the first round is over and scoring begins. If you met the requirements of the cards, for example, a majority of crowns (one of the suits for the cards) then you get a specific amount of points determined by the card. Then once the scoring ends you secretly decide one of those cards to keep and one to discard. Both players then reveal simultaneously, draw two cards and round two begins. Round two and three are identical to round one except that you will have six and seven cards, respectively, in your display at the end. Tides of Time is a quick-playing, affordable game that you can carry with you on trips and play just about anywhere. Oh and the art is absolutely gorgeous.
Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot
One of the big releases for Portal this year is definitely Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot. Contrary to last year’s imperial Settlers, this is not a very strategic game. Sure there is some strategy, but mostly this is just pure fun. This is a perfect game for boardgamers to take home to their family and play together, even if they aren’t big into boardgames. Essentially Rattle, Battle is a pirate game where you battle each other in the open seas for the right to take home loot and get points. You do this by chucking a whole lot of dice into the box and comparing whose dice (ships) allows them to destroy a pirate with their cannons or with their strength and size (number on die). Once you have the loot the round ends and you can trade in loot for ship or crew upgrades. All of the upgrades will allow you to be better at fighting and looting. One of the coolest things about the game (other than throwing a bunch of dice into the lid) are the different scenarios that determines what kind of ships you will be facing. My favorites were the ones that are called “crazy.” The crazy tasks were tasks that made you do things outside of the norm for the game. Again…it was just fun. If you aren’t sure about this game, I would say give it a shot and see if you can have fun. I’m pretty sure you will.
Imperial Settlers: The Atlanteans
The Atlantean faction shakes up your brain as you have to play Imperial Settlers similarly, yet different at the same time. The Atlanteans do not score any points from their Faction buildings so you have to build up scoring opportunities using the new resource of technology. The technology resource allows you to gain more resources or points for the building on which it is placed. It essentially makes the building, with the added technology, more efficient at doing its job. Since the common buildings are the ones that are producing the points for this faction, the other players need to keep an eye on what buildings to raze (the Atlanteans get more defense tokens to help balance this). With the Atlanteans also comes cards for each other existing faction that can be used to add technology to their society as well. I really enjoyed being the technologically advanced Barbarians.
I had a blast getting the chance to play all of these games and I didn’t leave disappointed by any of them. PortalKon was a success for me and if you get a chance to attend one, I would recommend doing so. The whole Portal crew is great and they will help you out with whatever you need.
Oh and one final thing, Ignacy tweeted out a picture of work that he is doing on Legacy: The Testament of Duke DeCrecy. I got to play it as well…and it’s also really good.