It’s been over three years since the last Arizona Game Fair. The previous one had been scheduled for March 2020, but we all know what happened two years ago. This year, the Arizona Game Fair came back in full force, and it was just awesome to see so many familiar faces again in person!
The convention was held on March 10-13, 2022, but I ended up attending just that Friday through Sunday. The previous week, I had been at Dice Tower West and was unable to take that many days off again. Nonetheless, I got lots of gaming in — old games and new ones!
An Arizona convention wouldn’t be complete without a game of Sidereal Confluence. I dusted off my giant tweezers to run a 7P game of space trading and bartering on Friday morning. I love this game so much, even if I never do well in it! It’s the perfect con game, where a large group of folks can dedicate a few hours respectfully yelling at each other.
After the game, I took a break for lunch and then played a series of shorter games while waiting for friends to finish up their game. First up was No Thanks! Always a fun filler and a quick teach!
Next up was Favelas, a game I’ve always wanted to play. This cute tile-laying game is based on the iconic buildings in Rio de Janeiro. You’re stacking tiles onto your player board and each round, you score for the color majorities, which are dictated by dice rolled at the start of each round. During your turn though, you can also increase or decrease the pips on a die so that one color can be more or less valuable during scoring. So colorful and puzzly!
Then I taught a game of Seikatsu. I just adore the components of this game! My version, and the Arizona Game Fair library version, has these acrylic poker chips that are used during this tile-laying game. I heard that newer editions aren’t like this? You draw chips from a bag and place it onto the center board. You can either score groups of birds now, or score sets of flowers at the end of the game, based on your perspective from the garden. This visual mechanism to the game is pretty clever!
I then learned a solitaire game called Orchard. What a neat game! I normally don’t play solo games but I liked playing this. It’s a good quick game to play if you’re waiting for someone at a bar or restaurant, and it’s about the size of a deck of playing cards. In Orchard, you’re laying 9 down cards and overlapping them in order to grow your fruit harvest, and you have mini dice to keep track of your crop size. The game comes with 18 cards, so after you finish your quick 10-minute game, you’re all set to play another with the 9 other cards you separated out.
The next game I played was Khora. Khora is a civilization-building game set in ancient Greece whose main action turn is similar to that of Twilight Imperium 4 or Puerto Rico. You pick two action tiles to play, and they resolve in the order of the actions, and you spend the whole game working to increase military, economy and culture. Also, the player boards in this game were top-notch.
I then played Match Me! This co-op game was so much fun! Players are given an identical hand of cards that are essentially color swatches. Each player is given one category on their turn and gives players a clue so that they can play one of their color cards that they think best matches the clue. As the round continues, players are left with fewer cards, making it harder to give a good clue! For example, if the category was fast food, the clue giver would say McDonald’s, and hopefully everyone will play the yellow color face down.
We ended Friday night of the convention with a game of Squaring Circleville, a game I had also played at Dice Tower West.
Again, I love the historical background of Squaring Circleville, and I enjoy teaching it to folks — especially those who love the rondel mechanism! It’s so satisfying putting the giant cardboard pieces out to show which sections are upgraded.
We started Saturday with a game of Dune: Imperium. I’m enjoying this game more and more with each play. I’m not a huge fan of deckbuilders in general, but this game is the perfect blend of that and worker placement. The game ramps up with each round and it clocks in at under two hours.
I then learned Era: Medieval Age, which is an interesting twist on a roll and write. Instead of filling out player boards, you’re using the dice rolls to build out your little kingdom. I enjoyed the puzzle aspect of this, while the resource management for building things and not get attacked. My only complaint was that the player board was a bright yellow and hard to see the different phases and symbols on it.
We then played a 5P game of Macaron. This cute trick-taking game involves two types of betting — both on the number of bids you think you’ll take as well as which suit, or flavor, is trump. You can also win tricks using some of the cards’ special abilities. Definitely a must-have for fans of trick-taking games. Made me want to get some macarons after the game!
After dinner, I played a game of Vivid Memories, which I didn’t enjoy. We pored through the rulebook on the spot, and it felt like the most important mechanism of this game was just an afterthought based on how the rulebook was written. The game, while gorgeous, is essentially a drafting game where you’re trying to collect memory cards and fragments in order to thread them on your player board and score. I think the rulebook should’ve stressed the importance of threading more, instead of the drafting, because by the time we realized how the game was supposed to play, we were halfway through round 2. And the game only goes to 3 rounds.
We ended Saturday night with a game of Dog Lover. I love the artwork on this one, and it’s quickly becoming my go-to 30-45 minute game at the last few gaming events I’ve been to! Who can say no to these doggies?
Sunday morning was for Clinic! This was the game I was hoping to play at this convention, and I was so happy that Brian was able to teach it to me! In Clinic, players are building a medical clinic, which requires building rooms; hiring doctors, nurses and orderlies, and getting patients — all the while making sure everyone has a parking space! And the more efficient your clinic is, meaning fewer steps each person has to take to get treated, the better it will be for your bottom line! I also like the spatial element to this game when you’re building rooms, as you can build up and out.
While I was helping clean up Clinic, two ladies came by and asked if I was Filipino. And I said yes. They then got super excited about seeing another Filipino lady, and immediately called over another Filipino lady so that we could take a group photo. It just warmed my heart that they got so excited over seeing another person like them at a convention, and just reminds me how important representation is in these gaming spaces. We all got to know each other a bit and exchanged information to schedule a game day sometime!
I then played Juicy Fruits, a darling fruit-drafting with chunky wooden pieces! In this game, you’re collecting fruit pieces to fulfill orders and build buildings.
It reminds me of those childhood puzzle games where you’re moving number pieces to put them back in order, but in this game, you’re moving fruit tiles on your player board, and the farther they move, the more pieces of fruit you collect. Then you can trade your fruit in to fulfill orders or buy buildings for victory points. As you fulfill your orders, your player board opens up and the game can really escalate quickly to the end condition.
The last game I played at Arizona Game Fair was Long Shot: The Dice Game. It’s also roll-and-write game where you use your dice rolls to fill out your player sheet to buy horses, place bets, influence race movement and use special abilities. And on each roll, at least one horse will move, so you can strategically purchase the horse, or even bet on it. It’s such a riot!
And that concludes all the gaming I did at Arizona Game Fair. Thanks for having me! The convention was so chill, and, while it got really busy on Saturday afternoon, there was always a place to game and people to game with. I can’t describe how awesome it felt to do some nonstop convention gaming again, though I don’t recommend doing back to back conventions! As much as I will deny it, I am not a young person anymore! But it does inspire me to attend more conventions this year. Let’s see where 2022 takes us!