Today’s post, a recap of this weekend’s ProtoZone at the Congress of Gamers,  is written by Darrell Louder. (Much Thanks to Darrell and TC PettyIII for taking the reigns of this event onsite.)

This past Saturday morning (October 6, 2012) a Congress of Gamers was held in a little senior center Rockville, Maryland. Unpub was there with the Big Blue Noodle for an Unpub: ProtoZone.

Designers Kevin Kulp, Alex Strang, Brad Smoley, Darrell Louder, TC Petty III, and Paul Owen were there at the start to let the good times roll!

The first game hit the table, that game was MOVIE PLOTZ by Alex Strang. Sadly, I did not get to participate in this play session, but from the laughter and general hoopla the game was causing it looked like a lot of fun, and therefore I felt the sting of jealousy that I could not join in on the game about making a movie about a Dog (played by a carpenter squirrel) who wore his Sister as a sweater, but then she got kidnapped and the dog hired James Bond to rescue her from the clutches of the Taliban, who were stationed in the Roman Colosseum- which was moved to Afghanistan and converted to an Alien Spaceship (by the Afghans), and also was the secret hideout of an alien army who was addicting to reality TV and feared dogs. Yeah, that sounds crazy, but who wouldn’t see that movie?! So, I can’t give my feedback on this, but Paul Owen can (and has) in his blog here.

The first game that I got to play was Paul Owen’s newest prototype EAST INDIA COMPANY.  EIC has you portraying ships from around the world, working for the East India Trading Company. You sail around the world purchasing goods and then delivering them to other remote locations. All this while battling pirates, debt, an ever-changing supply and demand, and the European Bank. The game was setup at 10:15 and from the first turn to the last- an adventure.   I freaking loved it. Paul knows he has the time issue to tackle, as well as a few minor balance issues- truly all TINY, TINY fixes. I don’t throw high praise around to just anything. The last prototype I threw high marks to was VivaJava, and we all know how that turned out. This game, EAST INDIA COMPANY, is by far the best prototype I have played since VivaJava. If this title isn’t on your radar- it better be, seriously. If you are a publisher looking for an amazingly smooth & heavy Euro, a publisher who doesn’t skimp on design or component quality, then you need to turn your focus to EAST INDIA COMPANY. Seriously, I want that game in the worst way… maybe if Paul reads this he’ll send me a PnP.

People began to play Josh Tempkin’s DEATH DICE RALLY and Alex Strang’s DIAMIND NINJAS. Sadly, like with MOVIE PLOTZ, I wasn’t able to play either game, but we’ll be following both games to see how they evolve and where you can get your next chance to play both of them! DEATH DICE RALLY will be available on October 27th at Games and Stuff in Glen Burnie, MD!

COMPOUNDED (the 2013 release from Dice Hate Me Games), designed by yours truly,  was setup for a 5-player game with Brad Smoley, Paul Owen, Josh Tempkin, Alex Strang, and Kevin Kulp. Now, Paul & Josh both played COMPOUNDED a year earlier at the previous Congress of Gamers. The game has gone through many, many changes since then and is a MUCH better game in every way possible. The game lasted about 80 minutes, including instruction, and went incredibly well.  COMPOUNDED hit the table 2 more times throughout the weekend, and both of those game plays were also very positive.

PHOBOS, by desginer Brad Smoley, hit the table next. This is a tile laying, area control, and slight resource management game about mining Mars. You play ‘mission control’ and you send up robots to traverse the tunnels and depths of the red planet in search for alien gems. You choose 3 actions to perform during your turn and they range from playing a tile (from your hand of 3), moving a robot, deploying a robot, buying VP, and more. I played this with  Josh Tempkin, Paul Owen and designer Brad Smoley.  If you are a tile laying lover, than PHOBOS is a game you should watch for. It’s a bit like Carcassonne but with cool robots, money management and did I mention cool robots? I’ll certainly keep an eye on this one, as this kind of game is right up my wife’s ally.

That’s pretty much what happened on Saturday, but it’s a 2 day event!  If you want to know what happened on Sunday,  you’ll have to stay tuned for part 2.

 More photos from the Congress of Gamers Unpub: ProtoZone!