A great experience at Metatopia

Metatopia was a great convention located at the Hyatt Regency in Morristown, NJ. This is a convention for game designers to playtest their games they are developing. I went there as a player and not as a designer. I wanted to learn how it is done. I took many different seminars, played many games that are still in development, and met many people who are up and coming designers and those involved with the industry.

My main reason to go was to play the many games at Metatopia. Now bear in mind, these games are still in development by independent game designers. I wasn't playing with finished manufactured products. I was playing with cards printed from their office printer glued to a stiffer paper placed in card sleeves. Boards were hand drawn or printed and glued to a stiff board.  Components were cannabalized from other games. I will list them from my favorites to least favorites.

Black Wave Rescue

This was my favorite game of the weekend and also the last as the convention ended Sunday late afternoon. It was presented by Smirk and Dagger. The designer took a dice tower design and incorporated as the primary engine.

Basically it's an oil rig that is leaking oil and causing a natural disaster. Each player took a part as different rescuers with different abilities and we used colored wooden boats as our game pieces. The black dice represented oil leak and would be rolled through the tower and end up among the 4 quadrants of the board. Not only do we have to pushback or clean up the oil, but we had to save the sea life. Thee was a sense of urgency as the oil keeps leaking at the end of each turn and we have to do our parts to prevent 6 columns of 3 dice (oil) to occur and to prevent 3 members of the same species or each member of all species to be contaminated. 

It had the urgency and some similar concepts of the game Pandemic and it was a race against time before we would be overwhelmed by the oil spill. We lost when there were 6 columns of 3 dice. I would love to play it again. The mechanics was tight and we said not to change it in our critique. We gave some critiques how the final product should be designed cosmetically and to improve the dice tower itself as it was a little warped and too expensive with so many parts.


This game Hero is a 4X game. Explore, exploit, expand and execute. This game has a map of lands in which we explore and conquer. Our actions are based on the tiles we remove from a bag and place on our own player board called scrolls. Each tile has symbols on top to let us move, recruit (collect tiles on a land), replenish our tiles, and liberate a territory from a warlord or player. Each land is ruled by one of six warlords and each requires different icons that are on the bottom of the tiles we have to take over their land. We an also conquer land from other players to by attacking them with tiles. It is little complicated to explain everything. It was very similar to Twilight Imperium except more simplified and playable within an hour.

This is our individual player mat called a scroll with tiles.

Clear the Decks

Clear the Decks is a cooperative tactical game where each player has a ship with 3 cannons that is attacking a larger enemy ship. The enemy ship has 2 to 4 sections and each section has a deck of cards made up of parts of the ship, crew, and their own cannons. You would have to destroy each card of a deck with a cannon and an ammunition card. You can only use a cannon every other turn so don't use all three cannons in one turn. Try to deplete the decks down until the last card which is a leaking hull on all the sections. I played against a 3 section ship. The game creator and I played together.  I liked this game as well and I was hard pressed to rate Hero slightly better than this.

Check out the website as the game creator Chris Pinyan will have a Kickstarter campaign for the game once his artists finished all the art and design.

Conquest of the New World

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the game. "Conquest of the New World" presented by Larry Bogucki. This is a Historical worker placement about conquering and settling colonies in the Caribbean in the mid 1600s. Players choose 2 of 7 different actions each turn to try to settle and develop colonies in the Caribbean. Player's can develop their colonies in a number of different ways, by building Towns, Forts and Farms, as well as a number of other upgrades. The game ends when one player controls 6 colonies and builds a capital city.

I played Great Britain and I kept taxing my population so I can have lots of money because I had two objectives. One was to have the highest tax rate and if there was a tie, I would need to have the most money. The other was building a farm, wharf, and saw mill on the same colored colony. This was a solid worker placement game where we had tasks on our individual player mats and can't use the same action twice in the same turn so I had to really think out my moves.

The only problem I felt is that in order to activate the end game, a player had to have 6 colonies and to convert a city into a capital city. There was no urgency to pay an expensive cost to convert a city into a capital city. I didn't want to do it as I needed my money and I can see I wasn't going to win. Finally at freaking 12:30 am someone finally built the capital city but only because he was tired and the game needed to end. He did win though. LOL.

Top Secret From Essen

"Top Secret From Essen" by Stronghold Games, a leading publisher in the hobby game industry, is just back from the Spiel in Essen Germany! Stronghold Games which published great games like Terraforming Mars brought some games from a trip to Germany.

We all were sworn to secrecy so I can't reveal what I played. I almost missed playing the game since I came 8 minutes late because I woke up late and underestimated the time to drive 40 minutes and parked the car in the garage, and searched where they heck they were located in the hotel. Fortunately a nice man who worked for StrongHold Games gave up his seat for me and just explained the game to us. 

All I can say it involved an engine building mechanic where we take tokens to generate things in the first round and to have fights in the next round. It was an OK game with inconsistent colors like the blues did not match up causing some confusion.

Adventures in Neverland

"Adventures in Neverland" by Jellybean Games; presented by Peter Hayward. Play as Peter Pan, Wendy Darling, Captain Hook, Tiger Lily, or Tinkerbell, adventuring around Neverland and completing quests! With a unique follow-the-leader mechanic and plenty of unique, character-based goal cards, this thematic game is full of excitement, intrigue, stories, and magic. A player playing a character had to complete 3 stories to win the game.

The board was the map of Neverland and was well done. I played Captain Hook and I almost completed the 3 stories needed to win the game before the designer stopped the game for feedback. This was the least favorite game because it was all over the place and most definitely needed to be streamlined and play tested some more times before their Kickstarter campaign next year. The designer was literally writing on cards while we were playing the game and had to wait at parts for him to give his hand written cards to proceed.

There was definitely some balance issues with the stories that each character had to accomplish. I felt each of my stories were fairly easy while each of the stories of others were a lot harder. I almost had my third story done and most of the others were still on their first.

I liked the theme of Peter Pan and I just felt the game had too many extraneous parts and bits of unnecessary randomness like an unnecessary deck of cards  that simply did things like wound everyone for no reason.

I will talk about the seminars in a couples days and more about my experiences.

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