Utah’s Largest Board Game Convention
SaltCon 2019 wrapped up more than a month ago and yes, I am just now writing my recap. Well, better late than never.
This year marked the 10th anniversary of SaltCon, and it certainly was the biggest and best by far. This event has come a long way since the first year I attended, back when it was up on the University of Utah campus. One room, some tables, a few sponsors, but still a lot of fun.
This year also marked the second year in a row that I have been able to attend alongside my good friend, Trent Howell of The Board Game Family. Always such a pleasure to play alongside him and his many friends.
So what is SaltCon all about? I had a chance to sit down with Dale Gifford, one of the organizers, to find out more about this year’s event, and here are some of the highlights:
- Over 2,000 game loving maniacs attended
- 458 events
- Board game library with over 1,850 games
- Over 40 exhibitors
- Flea market
- Math trade
- Play-to-win games
- 22 RPG tables
- Figure painting
- Panel discussions
- Artemis room
- Onvoy Regional Championships (nine rounds)
- The Ion Award finals
That is a busy three days right there!
So what does it take to put on this size of convention? Well, Dale said there are six organizers, seven coordinators, four volunteer coordinators, and seventy volunteers (yep, you read that right: seven-zero). I can’t even imagine the number of man hours before and during this event. And it all ran smooth as butter.
When I asked about the future of the event, Dale mentioned that they are planning on staying at the Davis Conference Center for the foreseeable future, as there is plenty of room to grow, which is what they plan to do.
In addition to the main event, SaltCon also hosts two other conventions, one in the summer and one at the end of summer…in case you don’t have enough gaming options between now and next March.
Nathan from Gamelyn Games was there showing off their latest Kickstarter–Tiny Epic Tactics–and the soon-to-be released Tiny Epic Mechs. Both games are part of the Tiny Epic series, and both look amazing.
They also officially released Heroes of Land, Air & Sea on April 1st, but did not have any copies on hand.
When asked what is coming up in 2019, Nathan said there are a couple more Tiny Epic games and some bigger box games as well.
Mayday Games had their full line out and on display for the event. Their big news was the re-print of Crokinole in March.
Red Raven Games
I got to chat with Ryan Laukat for a brief moment and found out that they are planning on a Kickstarter for Sleeping Gods in August and an Ancient World release in June.
Eagle Gryphon Games
Just coming off their Age of Steam Kickstarter, Eagle Gryphon was planning their launch of On Mars (which happened yesterday). They will also be releasing Escape Plan in April and the Scarlet Pimpernel at the end of March (which was future-tense when I obtained this information).
One of the highlights of the weekend for me was running into Tim Fowers and being invited to playtest a new Burgle Bros game. There was no working title and no release information available, but I can tell you that if you love Burgle Bros, you need to be excited!
Ginger Snap Games
Ginger Snap Games was there showing off their Kickstarter game Ignite. It went live on April 2 and you can see our review HERE.
Another fun moment was sitting down with Tom Sheppard from Torresh Games and chatting with him about his upcoming projects. We got to play Serpent’s Head while we talked, which will be his next Kickstarter.
They finished up Djinn of the High Desert not too long ago and expect to fulfill it in April. After Serpent’s Head, they have Negative Space lined up for later in 2019.
Binary Cocca has a lot going on right now, including Wet Blanket which just finished on Kickstarter, Slamorama! coming to Kickstarter in April, Straightforward and Kofre’s Curse hitting Kickstarter later this year.
NSKN has a Dice Settlers expansion coming out this year, a reprint of Teotihuacan: City of Gods, and the release of Little Monsters and Black Skull Island. Not sure if those are going the Kickstarter routes.
Daft Concepts, typically known for awesome laser-cut gaming accessories, like the 10×10 challenge board and the 3D Burgle Bros board, will be releasing Ogre Sandwich this year. I had a chance to play this one and it is a fun little dexterity game for the whole family.
There were so many other exhibitors that I didn’t get a chance to talk to including several vendors selling everything from jewelry to miniatures to games, games, and more games.
I had the opportunity to play several games including some new ones and some new-to-me ones.
This is a light strategy game where you are placing your tokens on the main board based on cards in your hand. You can cover up your opponents tiles which decrease theirs and increases yours, but watch out, because they can do the same. Ultimately, you are trying to have the most tokens on the board at the end of the game.
Lords of Vegas from Mayfair Games
From BGG: “You and your opponents represent powerful developers in a burgeoning Nevada city. You will earn money and prestige by building the biggest and most profitable casinos on “The Strip,” the town’s backbone of dust and sin. You start with nothing but parking lots and dreams, but from there you build, sprawl, reorganize and gamble your way to victory. Score the most points investing in the most profitable development companies and putting the best bosses in control of the richest casinos. Put your dollars on the line…It’s time to roll!”
As I said above this was one of the new-to-me games of the weekend. It reminded me of a mix between Monopoly and Acquire.
This game surprised me a little; I liked it more than I thought I would. There is a lot of cut throat and luck, but if you are into that, it should be enjoyable for you.
The Mind from NSV
This was a surprise for me. I had heard a lot about it but didn’t think I would like it. The Mind is a light social deduction game where players are trying to layout a sequence of number cards (from their hand) without talking. It was fun to watch who would hold out the longest and who would fold and the disasters that would follow.
Barenpark from Lookout Games
From BGG: “Bärenpark takes you into the world of bears, challenging you to build your own bear park. Would you like another polar bear enclosure or rather a koala* house? The park visitors are sure to get hungry on their tour through the park, so build them places to eat! Whatever your choices are, make sure you get the next building permit and use your land wisely!”
This is a great tile laying game where you are trying to make a bear park using tiles of different shapes and sizes that cover up symbols on your board that ultimately give you the selection of your next tile(s).
Architects of the West Kingdom from Garphill and Renegade Game Studio
Archetects is a worker-placement game where players are trying to build up the kingdom and gain the respect of the king. The cool mechanic here is that your workers stay on the board, multiplying the action effect until they are thrown in jail by another player. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, since this is how you will get your workers back.
It is a great game for those who enjoy worker placement games and the art style of Mihajlo Dimitrievski (from other titles like Villages of Valeria, Dice Settlers, Raiders of the North Sea, and all the expansions and spin offs).
Gingerbread House from Lookout Games
From BGG: “In Gingerbread House, you place domino-like tiles in a 3 by 3 grid, covering symbols that provide you with four different types of gingerbread and special actions. Tiles may also be placed on existing types of tiles, forming a 3D structure in front of you. Covering two of the same symbol is extremely valuable as it provides a bonus gingerbread or action. Victory points are awarded for building the tallest structure, completing orders by discarding sets of gingerbread, as well as being the quickest to achieve certain conditions. In the end, the player with the most victory points wins.”
The cool twist with this tile-laying game is that you are not just laying tiles out but you are also building them up. As you lay new tiles on top of old you will gain special actions to allow you to do cooler things.
Wildlands from Osprey Games
Wildlands is a miniatures skirmish game where players use multi-use cards to move, attack, and defend. Each player has their own deck of cards with powers that are unique to their faction. Players are trying to obtain their gems that have been randomly placed on the board while trying to keep their opponents from doing the same.
I really enjoyed the dual-use cards when I saw it in Dawn: Rise of the Occulites and I love it here. Oh yeah, the miniatures are also amazing! Players who love skirmish games and don’t mind the price tag will love Wildlands!
Champions of Midgard from Gray Fox Games
From BGG: “Champions of Midgard is a middleweight, Viking-themed, worker placement game with dice rolling in which players are leaders of Viking clans who have traveled to an embattled Viking harbor town to help defend it against the threat of trolls, draugr, and other mythological Norse beasts. By defeating these epic creatures, players gain glory and the favor of the gods. When the game ends, the player who has earned the most glory earns the title of Jarl and is recognized as a champion of Midgard!”
There is a ton of hype around this game and I can see why. I love the worker-placement aspect and the way you use dice for your units. Don’t become to attached to your warriors though; they don’t stick around long.
Spell Smashers from Renegade Game Studios
Spell Smashers is a super fun word game that breaks from the norm and combines with a fantasy theme, similar to Dungeon Scroll.
Players use letters from their hand to create words that will score a certain attack value used to destroy monsters. Players will also be able to go to town to gain new letters, items, and other valuable potions to help them along their way.
If you like word games like Paperback, Werewords, Letter Tycoon, and Scrabble, you will want to check this one out.
Ogre Sandwich from Daft Concepts
Ogre Sandwich is a dice rolling, set collecting, dexterity game where players are taking ingredients for their sandwich (like squirrels, snails, rats, cheese, tomatoes, etc…) and carefully adding them to their bread without knocking the whole sandwich down. The player with the most complete sandwich with the best ingredients at the end wins!
Burgle Bros. Prototype from Fowers Games
The original Burgle Bros. is a cooperative game for 1-4 players. Each player takes on the role of a member of a crew trying to pull off a heist. Each member of the crew has his or her own special action to help the team accomplish their missions. In the new version that Tim is working on, players are still individual members of a crew; however, there are a few subtle changes to how they gain gear and deal with their surrounding.
Without giving too much away, just know that fans of the original will want to check this version out.
Dinosaur Tea Party from Restoration Games
From BGG: “Dinosaur Tea Party is a game of pure deduction for 3-5 homo sapiens. Each player takes a card corresponding to one of the dino guests. Players take turns asking each other questions or guessing their dinosaur’s name. If someone guesses your name, draw a new card. The first player to guess three names wins.”
From what I hear, this game is taken from Whosit?, a 1976 Parker Brothers game. It totally reminds me of Guess Who and makes a great family game for those families with younger players.
From BGG: “In Topiary, players try to position their visitors on the outer edge of a beautiful topiary garden in order to give them the best view possible. Visitors can see the closest topiary sculpture to them and any behind that, in the same sight line, that are larger. You can score bonus points for visitors who see multiple topiary sculptures of the same type.”
I have mixed feelings about this game. For me there was a “take-that” element that I was not expecting. And if you read any of my other reviews you will know I don’t mind take that as long as it is implied upfront.
Each player is working on creating spectacular vistas for their visitors by placing trees, bushes, and other items along their view path. But watch out, as your opponent may want to block your visitor’s view just for the fun of it.
Mysterium from Libellud
Mysterium is a cooperative game where one player take on the role of a ghost and the other players take on the role of mediums with the goal of solving an old mystery in seven hours or less. Imagine Clue but cooperative and with a ghost helping. 😀
The really cool thing here is that the ghost can’t talk. They just pass each player a picture clue to help them solve the different parts to the mystery. Now imagine Dixit.
I played with a huge group and we had a ton of fun. I had some really hard clues and was not able to figure things out in time. Luckily, I was not the only one.
Passing Through Petra from Renegade Game Studios
From BGG: “In Passing Through Petra, you are a powerful citizen growing your settlement and your reputation. As caravans pass through the canyons, you’ll welcome traders into your market and facilitate trade with those looking to get their hands on valuable wares. Use these transactions to spread your influence and gain unique benefits to grow your economic engine. Spread your influence the quickest to become the most powerful leader in Petra!”
This game is amazing! From the cool-looking board to the unique use of mechanics, this game is solid top to bottom.
The main mechanic of the game is the center town square where you move your meeple in a direction to indicate which action you will perform for the round. What is cool about this is that after a couple rounds you will be forced to choose a different action as you bump up against the boundary and can no longer move in that direction. This forces you to take an action you may not have wanted to.
The main goal of the game is to collect merchants from the Siq in order to perform trades which will allow you to place favor in the trade houses. The first player to place all their favor wins!
You can see our full write up on this one HERE.
Raiders of the North Sea from Garphill and Renegade Game Studio
From BGG: “As Viking warriors, players seek to impress the Chieftain by raiding unsuspecting settlements. Players will need to assemble a crew, collect provisions and journey north to plunder gold, iron and livestock. There is glory to be found in battle, even at the hands of the Valkyrie. So gather your warriors, it’s raiding season!”
We played this game the day after we played Champions of Midgard, and although they are vastly different, the games do have a similar feel. They are both worker placement viking games where you are collecting resources to help your raiding efforts in order to gain glory. For my money, I enjoy this title more as I feel it has just a little bit more going on, although I do like the dice combat in Champions.
I suggest you try them both if you are on the fence.
The Quacks of Quedlinburg from North Star Games
The Quacks of Quedlinburg is a crazy title for a game and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Well, it turns out that players are crazy doctors trying to make crazy potions.
From BGG: “Each player has their own bag of ingredient chips. During each round, they simultaneously draw chips and add them to their pot. The higher the face value of the drawn chip, the further it is placed in the swirling pattern. Push your luck as far as you can, but if you add too many cherry bombs, your pot explodes!
At the end of each round, players gain victory points and also coins to spend on new ingredients to add to their bags. But players with exploded pots must choose points or coins — not both! The player with the most victory points at the end of nine rounds wins the game.”
I really liked the push-your-luck element in this game. It was new and refreshing in the way it was used. There were ways to mitigate the press-your-luck, however the stress factor was still there.
Mommy, can I do it again? Yep, I am ready to go back. I had a blast meeting new people, hanging out with old friends, and playing a lot of games. All the activities to participate in are just icing on the cake.
If you are in the Rocky Mountain region or just want to come to an amazing game convention, this is a great one to hit!
A quick walk through of the event. Enjoy!
SaltCon Summer 2019 – May 31 – June 1, 2019
- RPG room
- Hot games
- Game swap room
- Live flea market
- Scheduled tables
SaltCon End of Summer 2019: August 30 – 31, 2019
SaltCon 2020: March 5 – 8, 2020
About the Author:
Dane Trimble – Owner
Dane is an Advertising Manager for a national magazine by day and a husband, father of four, and board gamer by night (and mornings). He has a passion for board games and believes board games help bring families closer together while providing kids a unique way to learn many diverse skills. And he thinks they are down right fun!!!
See Dane’s reviews HERE.