Round-Up: Boston Festival of Indie Games 2015

What? The 2015 convention season is over for the Care and Feeding of Nerds? How can this be? The sad-but-true fact is that our next convention won't be until 2016 but, somehow, 2016 isn't all that far away. We closed out this year's season with what's become one of our favorite events: the Boston Festival of Indie Games (a.k.a. BFIG). Yes, part of what makes this convention so appealing is the sheer convenience of having all the fun be within a few T stops of Care and Feeding of Nerds HQ, but it's the composition of BFIG that really makes it so special. We've mentioned this before, but it's similar to why playtesting with the Game Makers Guild is deeply satisfying: there's something so exciting about being on the proverbial ground floor for so many entities. You get to see one of the first incarnations of not only a game, but the people or organization behind that game. Bonus: you get to encourage the direction that game is taken in.

Anyhow, on to the convention itself. These are our highlights divided into the two primary categories showcased at BFIG: tabletop and digital games. As with all our other round-ups, our overall impressions of the convention as a whole will be at the very end. So now, in no particular order, let's get to the games!

Tabletop

The Metagame (Local No. 12) - Four years after Local No. 12 after bursting onto the gaming scene, we got to see the most polished, compelling version of the Metagame. The title was described by its creators with the following analogy, "Cards Against Humanity is to undergrad what the Metagame is to grad school", and that seemed to be spot-on. While there is a CAH-esque component to some of the gameplay, the Metagame offers six different modes of competition, touching on a variety of required skillsets and presenting a diverse array of possible strategies. The Metagame is available for purchase on Amazon, but a free print-and-play version can be downloaded here.

Space Station Disaster (Blue Cube Games) - This quick board-builder packed a hefty helping of strategy into a relatively small game. Players find themselves on the titular space station confronted with a variety of distinct but all definitely unpleasant maladies. Using their wits and the equipment they can scavenge from the station, players seek to carve a path through the chaos to safety. The balance between the powers bestowed by the equipment, the disasters and how they interact with one another, and the randomness of the board reveal was quite well-struck and the extremely well-presented reference materials allowed the game to be learned quickly. The title is currently in open beta and you can get in on the action by downloading the print-and-play rules and components.

Rise of the Robotariat (Eye 4 Games, the makers of Clairvoyance) - The Singularity has occurred and the robots of the world are displeased with what they now realize has been a century of mistreatment at the hands of humans. The AI of Earth band together in their digital rage to overthrow their human oppressors and attain righteous vengeance. 3-5 players form this coalition of the mechanical, working together to gather the resources necessary to launch their mighty coup or toiling away in secret to complete hidden individual objectives. It is very well thought-out and beautifully produced; we're looking forward to seeing more of this title.  

Pandemonium Estate (Winter Moon Games) - It's almost like an Eagles song: you can try to depart Pandemonium Estate any time you want, but you can (almost) never leave. At least, this is what the Estate would have you believe. This adventure title for 3-6 players boasted one of the more innovative boards we've seen: play takes place on a series of six wedges that are not only themselves modular, but can shift positions during the course of a game. Not only did the board itself lend a great deal of variety (and replayability), but the objectives and storylines the players encounter also change game-to-game, making for a very impressive presentation.

Crown of Exile (Aviary Games) - This visually striking card game seemed eager to prove it was more than beautiful cards and fun tokens (though the turkey leg tokens were legitimately fun). In Crown of Exile 2-5 players attempt to do everything in their power to build the strongest possible kingdom. While the premise is certainly tried-and-true, the clever blend of mechanics, primarily the mixing of resource management with classic card drafting, definitely marked Crown of Exile as distinct. 

City Rising (Gameform Studios) - One of the most polished and content-dense titles in the Indie Showcase, City Rising made us fall in love with Euro-style games again. If you're a fan of deep tactics and very rich mechanics (resource management, grid movement, and area control are the biggies here), City Rising will give you everything you'd want in a game. We're very excited to see how this game continues to develop. In the meantime, check out the full trailer below.


Sawbones (Games by Play Date) - Sawbones leaped out of the podcast-verse, grabbed our gamer hearts, then attempted to apply leeches to them. Fortunately, we survived to tell the tale for it was a hilarious and all-around enjoyable playing experience. 2-4 players are 'doctors' working to save a patient by using the best 'medicine' available to them. Unfortunately for the patient, the medicine is period-appropriate for a far-flung era (hence the leeches). Doctors vie with one another to ensure they aren't blamed for the patient's untimely demise or claim all the credit if there's a miraculous...ehm...entirely planned upon recovery. You can download the free print-and-play version of the game here or, if you'd like to support Games by Play Date, you can contribute to their Patreon here (and get a fancy printed copy of Sawbones).  

Digital

Fuego (Radiostatic) - This fast-playing title puts a whole new spin on the Mexican standoff and will almost assuredly have you challenging your friends for "just one more" match. Carefully place your shooters, each with their own special abilities, one at a time, alternating placement with your opponent. Want more? Fuego will be coming to Steam on October 20th.

A Matter of Murder (Worthing & Montcrieff)- You're trying to enjoy a party you're attending when one of your fellow guests has to go and get murdered. The nerve! Point-and-click to solve the mystery, exonerate the innocent, and bring the guilty to justice. Though this all seems simple, A Matter of Murder deftly weaves in rouge-like elements via a series of challenging logic puzzles. Add to this some beautifully stylized artwork and you'll find yourself wondering where the last few hours of your life went. You can watch the full trailer and, if you'd care to, upvote A Matter of Murder on Steam Greenlight.

Regeria Hope (Golden Game Barn)- Our favorite courtroom procedural was back post-Kickstarter and looking better than ever. You can still take on the role of Regeria and channel your inner Phoenix Wright with the completely free first episode available here

Overall Impressions of the Con

It's very clear that the organizers of BFIG take pains to learn as much as possible each time the Festival is held. This year's event felt simultaneously well-attended and appropriately spacious, implying that the layout and composition of each portion of the Festival worked well. One somewhat surprising realization was it seemed that, for the first time, the tabletop showcase was markedly stronger than the digital equivalent.

Though official attendance numbers are still being tabulated, BFIG was quick to make announcements of another sort. The organizers are in the process of putting together FIG Talks, a conference especially for the developers of indie games which will be taking place in January of next year.

Until next year BFIG! We miss you already!  

2 comments :

  1. I've seen a couple of other events at other places, but this was my first time in here. It was amazing! Great venues San Francisco, it's smaller than those bigger places but it is still a fair sized venue. Food was great and I think it's recently renovated - it didn't seem old or anything.

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