Cabin-Con V: The Clever Subtitles are All Gone

Another Cabin-Con has come and gone. This is the fifth year where I head up to northern Wisconsin with some friends, sit down in a tiny cabin and play as many boardgames as possible until Sunday morning.

As a group we all look forward to this weekend, and with a full complement of five players we were set to have a great weekend of gaming. In the past we have brought A LOT of games, and we still did this year, but we tried to limit it a LITTLE. Each person only brought 4-5 games. This way we would hopefully play a few games multiple times. Less time spent teaching, more time spent playing! And it kind of worked!

Important note: I thought I took lots of pictures of everything we played. This was not the case. I took a few pictures and none of them are all that great. I have something to strive for next year I guess. 🙁


We arrived at the cabin late in the afternoon of Friday. It’s in northern Wisconsin, so it was cold. We unpacked, grabbed some drinks, and started picking games to shiver through as the cabin warmed up.

Broom Service – We started with something on the easier side. Broom Service is a fun game where everyone is playing witches trying to deliver potions to towers. The game has a fun action selection mechanic where at the beginning of each turn every player picks four actions they want to play. Then one player leads a card and decides if they will be brave or cowardly. If they choose to take the action and be cowardly they get to take the action immediately. If they want to be brave, which is a stronger version of the action, they have to wait and see what the other players do. Then around the table, any other players that picked the same action for that turn must play it as well, again choosing cowardly or brave. Only the last player to say brave gets to take the brave version of the action. So there’s a fun risk/reward to the game while you try to judge if you can pull off being greedy and brave, or just putter along being cowardly.

Rising Sun – Alright, time to get in to something heavier. We were all looking forward to playing Rising Sun this weekend. It had been awhile for all of us. This was definitely going to be one of the games we played multiple times this weekend. BUT, Brian forgot the board. We did not play Rising Sun this weekend. Thanks Brian.

Root – With Rising Sun out of the picture, we opted for something else with some conflict and played Root. I really like Root. Some in my gaming group do not, but thanks to reading the Redwall books as a kid, I am drawn to any game with woodland creatures killing each other. It had been a little while since I taught Root and everyone playing was new, so we had to go through the entire rules explanation. This always takes a while for Root. But we made it through it and had a good time with it. The Vagabond took the victory by allying with the birds and using them to fight for him. I haven’t seen that happen yet, which was pretty interesting.

Keyflower – Keyflower was up next. Keyflower has been a Cabin-con staple for a few years now and I never feel like I have a good grasp on how the game plays. Maybe I should make an effort to play it more than once a year. Keyflower’s big highlight for me is the auction mechanic. Hexagon tiles are laid out in the middle of the table and each player has a side of the hex that corresponds to them. To make a bid, you place a colored meeple on your side of the hex. Any future bids must be with meeples of the same color. It makes for some interesting decisions on how you use your workers throughout the game.

Space Base – I didn’t know much about Space Base going in to it, but it has a name that rhymes so it gets my interest. Space Base has a lot in common with Machi Koro, which is another game I’ve only played once. You roll dice and take actions based on the number that is rolled. Your opponents might get to do something based on your dice roll as well. As you take actions you gain money or points, using the money to buy better cards and points to win the game. It was a fun and relatively quick game where you try to build an engine and capitalize off of as many dice rolls as possible.


Keyforge – I was one of the first people awake so we played a quick game of Keyforge on Saturday morning. The game had just come out two days earlier so a few of us were pretty excited about playing it. I was fortunate to open up a four horsemen deck at a prerelease event the week before so I played that. The deck isn’t great. It’s very slow and the horsemen are basically all that’s good about it. Despite that, I really enjoy the gameplay and the fact that there is a card game that doesn’t make me deck build is a positive for me. I’ve really been enjoying it since as well.

The sound of our Keyforge tokens clinking on the table slowly woke Matt up. Matt didn’t feel good. Matt left early. Sorry Matt.

Keyflower – Once we were all awake we decided to start the day without learning anything new. It was working! We were actually going to play something a second time. Keyflower went well. One nice thing about playing games with a lot of interaction multiple times is that everyone is actually more likely to interact in more aggressive ways. There was lots of action grabbing and blocking in this game. Keyflower is definitely one that has held up well over the years.

Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition – Most years during CabinCon we play some sort of large scale space game. It’s sometimes been Eclipse, but really we all want it to be Twilight Imperium. Everyone in our group has played Twilight Imperium enough times to be more or less familiar with the rules. All we needed was a basic run-through and we were ready to go. Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition does a good job of streamlining a lot of the rough spots that were present in the third edition. We played the game for a good portion of the day. As always, it was an epic experience that left me looking forward to playing it again. In a year. Because it’s really hard to get Twilight Imperium to the table…

Root – Next we got Root out for a second time. With everyone knowing the rules, all it took was a little explanation of the individual faction abilities. This was the first time I’ve been able to play Root without explaining all the rules. It was a welcomed change. This was the first game I’ve played with the Lizard Cult. There have been a lot of complaints that they are underpowered, and right before we headed up to the cabin some rules tweaks were posted on BoardGameGeek. We incorporated these changes in to our game and the Lizards won. They play very differently from the other factions in the game and they were tough to keep under control.

Big boats doing big boring things

Container – After Root we broke out the new and overly large version of Container. This is maybe the most thematically opposite of any other game we had played so far. Container is very simple, but the player driven economy can make for some interesting choices. Container is just an easy-going game. Every player picked something to specialize in and used that to earn their money. In the end the game ended up pretty one sided. This is a game that I would love to spend more time understanding. Fortunately everyone I’ve played it with seems to really enjoy it. Despite the dull theme it provides an engaging experience.

Kemet – It was starting to get late now. We decided to pull out another game that has become a CabinCon regular, Kemet. Again this was something where we didn’t need much more than a quick refresh of the rules. Because fighting is one of the best ways to score points, Kemet is basically all combat all the time. We played with the Ta-Seti expansion from a couple of years ago which added the black pyramid powers. This expansion is a great addition to the game and I couldn’t imagine playing the game without them. We also used another part of the expansion that I haven’t used before, which changes how turn order is decided. The biggest issue with Kemet is that the person in last place gets to decide turn order, and going last is very strong. It also makes it difficult to win if you are in the lead before hitting the victory point threshold. The turn order piece of the expansion adds a quick bidding mechanic to the beginning of every turn and the winner gets to pick where they are in turn order. This lets the person leading in points plan for the turn-order bid and possibly end the game a little earlier. I’m not totally sold on it yet, but it didn’t change much about the game and because of it I won. I should point out that this is the first game that I had won the entire weekend so far. I generally don’t care about winning, but losing THAT much is a little depressing. After Kemet ended everyone was pretty much done. It was a long day with lots of excellent gaming.


Root (with the winter map) – We played one game with breakfast on Sunday morning before cleaning up and heading out. One more game of Root, very little rules overview and a new map! The backside of the Root board includes a winter map that randomizes how the clearings are arranged. It manages to feel very different from the standard board and is also much easier on the eyes. Every piece and token really pops off the board with a nice contrast. The only important thing about this game is that I won this one too! Two in a row! My otters pulled out a big last turn for the win!

We packed everything up and headed out shortly after. On the drive home, Tim and I were discussing Twilight Imperium and Root, and how it would be interesting to take the Vagabond role and put it in Twilight Imperium. We then spent the vast majority of the next two hours talking about ways to make it work. If it ends up going somewhere I’ll definitely post it here.

Back to reality

Cabin-Con remains one of the things I look forward to most each year. Almost any time I go on a vacation or weekend away I want to play games. For some reason, there’s something about being somewhere new and/or different that makes me want to shut myself inside and stare at a table for a few hours. Usually it doesn’t happen so having a weekend dedicated to one of the things I enjoy most is great. It’s become a pre-Thanksgiving tradition at this point and something I hope I can keep doing for another five years at least.