Kai and Ginny attend Geekway to the West 2017

As you probably know by now, I love board games and this year my wife and I attended our first Geekway to the West in St. Louis. What you are about to read is a summary of the games we played over the course of three days.


Carcassonne: Star Wars

I am a fan of the original Carcassonne and thought that the addition of the Star Wars theme and battle mechanic would be a welcome addition to both franchises. Sadly, however, this is just a basic re-skin. Granted, when Ginny and I played, we didn’t get to a situation where we could employ the battle mechanic, but we just felt that after one play it was enough. We got bored pretty quickly and will stick with the original.

Mice & Mystics

I’ve been wanting to play this one for a while. Ginny and I did the basic setup for Chapter 1 of the story, but found some of the rules to be a little overwhelming at first. We were about to pack it up, but two other people wanted to play it as well and we tried again. After getting into it, the rules were easier to follow and understand. I really had fun with this game. It’s a good introduction to some of the D&D elements that many gamers are familiar with. Sadly, we were not successful in reaching the goal of Chapter 1, but I enjoyed it enough to where I would like to add this to our library.


This was a pleasant surprise for the both of us. This is a two player information abstract game that takes place on a 5×5 board in which you each have 5 pieces. The goals are to either capture the opposing player’s monk or moving your own monk into the opposite side’s starting space. With multiple ways to play and move, this does require players to think a few moves ahead. While not as involved as chess, this does have the same feel. We liked it so much, we purchased it.


This was a quick pirate-themed card game in which the object is that the first player to 21 wins. Cards can be played as an action or used as treasure. Each card has a point value for treasure and action text which can be used to sabotage your opponents or even wipe the entire board. The game went too quick for us when the both of us tried it. I think with more players (it can play up to 5) the games can get more fun.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

With Ginny being a hardcore HP fan, she really wanted to play this. We had another person join us in this cooperative deck builder, but felt that the game went too quick. The game is divided into school years based on the novels and the movies. Your job is to protect Hogwarts from villains by consolidating your defenses and gaining influence. We guess that as the years progress that there would be more resources to be added, but overall (for me, at least) the game was rather lackluster. Plus, I’m not a fan of deck builders to begin with.


This was a game that another attendee brought with them and it did look interesting. All but one of us has never played it before and the one who did kept repeating some explanations over and over again. By the time he was done, I had no desire to play it, but I soldiered on. This is an area control/influence game with worker placement and resource management mechanics as well. Your position at the start of each turn will determine how well you fare. Too early and you don’t gain as much prestige. Too late and you risk the other players stealing the best opportunities. Overall, I thought this was an “ok” game, but started to burn us out on worker placement games. Not something I would be excited about playing again.


Terraforming Mars

This is the game I have been wanting to play for months. Due to it being sold out as well as out of print, copies were hard to come by. Ginny and I were setting up a round of 51st State when two other attendees starting setting this game up. We asked if they wanted any additional players and 51st State would have to wait. This game is fantastic! The object is that you are running a corporation and you are wanting to…wait for it…terraform Mars! You draft cards and collect resources to plant forests, build cities and raise the oxygen and temperature so the red planet can become habitable. This game lives up to the hype and proves why it is a popular game. All it took for me was playing it once and I want it very badly added to my library. It’s supposed to be getting a third printing next month (along with an expansion), so I will have to wait.

51st State: Master Set

This was another game that has been recommended to me by a few of my friends and it looked interesting enough to where I wanted to play it. In this game, the world as we know it is gone. There is no government. No army. No civilization. The United States has collapsed and new powers finally try to take control by attempting to establish a new order, try to control others and create a new 51st State. This is a card drafting game in which you control one of the four factions trying to build the new country. Players put new locations into play, hire leaders, and send people to work in buildings to gain resources and new skills. You an also sabotage other players to make sure they can’t succeed. We played with two of our friends, but I was a bit disappointed. There was too much down time between turns and I felt that hurt the gameplay. I was told that once you know the cards it gets better, but this is fallen down on my list. I may give it another chance, but not anytime soon.

Between Two Cities

You and the other players take on the role of city planners who have been charged to redesign two cities. In this partner-driven tile-drafting game, you and the person to both your left and right discuss options when tiles are revealed. Which tile would suit which city? I enjoyed this game a little bit. We had the yet-to-be released “Capitals” expansion available to us, but we opted not to use it. One of the game’s authors even stopped by and offered to show us how to play. I wouldn’t say “no” to playing it again, but it’s not a high priority.

Potion Explosion

This one looked really interesting. Basically, it’s an analog version of the popular “match 3” games on mobile devices. You collect marbles to act as ingredients to a potion that can do a specific task. I thought the concept was neat, but it’s not one of my favorites. Kudos for trying.


The second city builder we played and by now I was getting irritable because it was getting late. This did affect my mood on how I felt the game, so I think I need to play it again before I really give it an honest appraisal.


No gaming as we skipped this day to attend the graduation celebration of Ginny’s nephew.


The Big Book of Madness

I first saw this game at a game shop in KC and it looked interesting. We were joined by our friends and gave it a go. The game looked fun once we got started, but the luck of the cards was not in our favor as we couldn’t stop the monster in time. It’s something that I do need to play again before making a final decision on adding this to our library.


This was a fun, quick game that would be good for any “warm ups” needed before the BIG game. In this game, your are to grow the largest cultures you can in your petri dish and sabotage the work of others by pushing their microbe populations above their limit, causing them to explode. A neat thing is that the microbes look like little meeples. I want to play this again a few more times.

Metal Minds

Our friend won this game at the con and we started to play it. Sadly, I was already burned out and grumpy and was on edge. This card game has elements of Magic: The Gathering in it and this, in my opinion, was what ruined it all for me. I absolutely LOATHE Magic and other CCGs. I think the others saw I wasn’t in the best of moods, so we stopped playing before it got started. Apologies to the other players. This is one I will not be trying again.

Ginny ended up buying:

7 Wonders: Duel

Antoine Bauza’s “7 Wonders” gets a two-player make over. As with its parent game, you go through three ages to acquire cards that provide resources or advance their military or scientific development in order to develop a civilization and complete wonders. Rather than draft cards simultaneously from hands of cards, players will take cards from a  display of face-down and face-up cards arranged at the start of an age. With each age, the layout will change. The cards can be used like they are in the original game, but this time each player has four wonders to attempt to complete in order to gain special abilities. Since only seven can be built, one player will get the short end of the stick. We like this variant of 7 Wonders and can see us playing it repeatedly. We also picked up the “Pantheon” expansion, but have yet to play with it included.

There you have it! Our trip to Geekway to the West 2017! Can’t wait to go back next year and try the new to us games.