Time for more con memories...
I have found that, with board games, first impressions can be completely wrong. It often takes multiple plays to figure out the hidden depths and flaws of a game. I think you can generally get a sense of those aspects but it takes some actual play time to make sure.
And conventions? Oh, they can make for the worst first impressions :P
To be fair, that’s kind of the idea. You are in a strange place that is designed for sensory overload. It’s an overwhelming experience. If someone handed you a brick and told you that throwing bricks through windows was the awesome new game of the year, you’d believe it for a moment. Hopefully a moment that doesn’t involve property damage.
Demos in the exhibit hall are probably the most extreme example. There’s a time limit since more potential customers need to see the game and the salesfolks just want to show you the highlights. Lots of pressure and as many awkward bits filed off as possible. I don’t blame the folks selling you stuff. That’s their job.
But two games that I now actively dislike were really amazing experiences for me the first time I played them. Grave Robbers from Outer Space (which I now dislike more Munchkin which is saying something) and Zombies!!! were games I played at some of my first conventions and they thrilled and chilled me.
In someone’s living, though, they fell apart.
Fortunately, somehow, despite being a game bigger who had a tendency to buy everything in sight, I never actually got a copy of either of those games. I did end up with a lot of bologna that wasn’t that great during my first few cons, though.
I do wonder how game sales are doing this year with no live conventions. I have a feeling that Kickstarter is helping make upheaval difference.