Dale Yu: So far, one game played all day prior to Dinner – a fun game of Tichu with Alan Moon as my partner. Managed to stay out until 3am last night playing games and talking with Donald X., so slept in this morning. Then, since this was the first day without rain in the forecast, I headed out to be a tourist. My walking partner, Anne C., and I walked for about 3 hours – checked out the falls from both countries and froze out butts off. Though it’s not rainy, it’s still about 40 degrees and super windy. While we were out, we saw about 30 other GoF’ers seeing the sights too given the sparcity of pleasant weather this week.
Last night, I had the chance to play a prototype of Donald’s that was quite intriguing. It should hopefully be signed to a deal in the coming weeks with one of the major German publishers, and Donald is hoping for an Essen 2011 release. Interestingly enough, it is not a deck-builder, and it has a lot of potential. I’ll talk about this more once I am able to do so.
got cutoff midstream there when Dale had to run with the ipad. Was about to continue with Tues. morning when i started with the Fragor prototype. A watery fish based game using the core Antics mechanic to build a coral reef this time instead of an ant hill. A bit lighter than Antics but not by much and a bit more vicious with a roving shark. Uses dice in a new interesting and very eye catching way. Afterwards was Poseidon, a solid game but not my cup of tea, and seems to have turn order issues that are a bit random.
third came another Chvatil prototype, this time an adventure game, a la Runebound or Prophecy. Exploring, spells, artifacts, monsters… the works. ….
Valerie Putman: Since others have already mentioned the games I’ve been playing, I’ll simply give some quick opinions, OG style.
Love it: Uluru, Airlines Europe, new Friedemann Friese game that Dale will talk about as soon as he is allowed, new Czech Games Edition game that Tom Rosen is going to review as soon as he is allowed.
Like it: Secret of Monte Cristo, die Burgen von Burgund, Asara, Pergamon, Pantheon, Bits, Firenze, and Avanti.
Neutral: Discovering India, Mondo, Strasbourg
Not For Me: Train of Thought, Escape from Aliens in Outer Space
Greg Schloesser: For the past eight years or so I’ve been organizing a Gathering
basketball outing on Thursdays. Basketball is my favorite sport to play, and the only sport in which I have a modicum of ability. The local Boys and Girls club donated the use of their gym, so thirteen of us enjoyed 2 1/2 hours of spirited basketball. Great exercise, competition and fellowship, and a much-needed break from the gaming table. Fortunately, there were no injuries.
I also finally made my way into the mammoth casino located directly across the street from the casino. I don’t like to gamble and I don’t enjoy the casino atmosphere, so the only lure was the numerous restaurants located in the facility. We ate at the buffet, which was decent, but over-priced and crowded.
I did play a few more games on Thursday:
Pastiche — 2nd playing at Gathering, but I’ve now played six or so times. I really enjoy this game, but I continue to be one step behind my opponents. This time, I was one card short of reaching the magic 35 points, which an opponent promptly did immediately afterwards. Sigh. Fun game with a nice theme and Bazaar-like mechanisms.
Tikal II – 1st playing at Gathering, 4th play overall. While the game is not as deep as its father (Tikal), it is still an entertaining game that is suitable for both gamers and family. There are numerous decisions, but they are not as taxing or agonizing as Tikal. Further, it doesn’t use the action point mechanism, so the game plays in a faster time frame. I like it and rate it a 7.
Bits – 1st playing. The sequel to the popular Fits. This time, you
have to arrange the rectangular pieces into specified patterns in
order to score points. Other than that, the game plays in a similar fashion as Fits. I enjoy Fits, and this was more of the same, and for me, not as good as the original. Others, however, are saying they like this version more. I see no reason to have both of them in my collection. My rating is a 6.5.
Fun Fair — 1st playing. Peter Eggert of Eggertspiele was urging me to play this light, silly game. It is actually a string of short
games strung together under the theme of a visit to a theme park. The games are fast, light and sometimes silly fun. Nothing serious at all, and I don’t think it will have much staying power at all. One or two playings is enough. My rating is a 5.
7 Wonders – 1st playing at Gathering, probably two dozen plays
overall. If this doesn’t win the Spiel des Jahre, it is a crime. I
know some are saying the SdJ jury won’t give the award to a card game two years in a row. If that factors into their decision, shame on them. The game is very creative, fast and fun and is filled with lots of decisions. Some are taxing, while some are quick, and since most folks are familiar with the game, it usally plays in 30 minutes or so. We’ll be playing this one for years and years. My rating is an 8.
On Friday morning, I opted to enjoy the magnificence of Niagara Falls by enjoying a walk around Goat Island. This is the island that splits the falls, and there are some fantastic views. I descended the elevators to the Gorge walkways, which are not fully constructed for the season. This gets you close to the falls and a bit wet.
The Opinionated Gamers gathered for a nice lunch and discussed various matters pertaining to the website. Thanks to Dale Yu for all of the work he does on this project.
Here are the games I played on Friday:
– 1 Playing. An Essen offering from the folks at Japon Brand. Light, fun game of selecting passengers and getting them on the various buses. Nice filler, as it plays in about 20 – 30 minutes. This would make for a pleasant family game that can be played by even fairly young children. Nothing I need to own, but still a pleasant affair. Rating: 6.
– 1 Playing. This is the latest design from Vlaada Suchy, the creative Czech designer who brought us numerous games, including League of Six. The theme is certainly original: your rich uncle has died, leaving a group of nephews his millions. He was a bit of a tight-wad during his life, so his instructions to his nephews was to have a wonderful time and spend all his money. The object is to lead a lavish lifestyle and be the first to spend the money you inherited. This is a nice engine-building game that has some interesting choices and plays fairly quickly (an hour or so). I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to its publication in October. Rating: 7.5.
TRAIN OF THOUGHT
– 1 Playing. Absolutely the worst game I played at the Gathering. String together three words — with one being mandatory based on a card draw and die roll — and try to get your fellow players to name the word listed on your card. Continue this until someone gets it. Repeat. Boring and not much fun. Rating: 2.
SECRETS OF MONTE CHRISTO
– 1 Playing. We missed one critical rule on our first scoring round, so abandoned the game about midway through. I was enjoying the turn order mechanism, which uses marbles and is quite creative and unique. I think we’ll see this mechanism used again in numerous games in the future. Sadly, the rest of the game appeared to be a bit pedestrian and similar to many other games. I do hope to play a full game to make a better assessment.
MANSION OF MADNESS
– 1 Playing. This is not my style of game, but I am a sucker for haunted houses and horror-themed games. Plus, the theme borrows much from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos. So, I couldn’t resist. Frank Branham is enamored with the game, and did a great job of leading us through the horror-filled halls of the creepy old mansion. It was pretty much what I expected: move, explore, fight monsters, take damage and try to survive. There are some neat twists on the genre, and it was a fun experience. It wouldn’t be a game I play often, but would probably make an appearance once a year or so at Halloween. My rating: 6.
SUN AND SEA
– 1 Playing. The Essen offering from Cwali. This is one of the better games released by Cwali in the past few years. Lure tourists to your resort, expanding the resort in hopes of extending their visit. Interesting game that requires proper planning and some timing. I enjoyed it. Rating: 6.5.
Dale Yu: Played two prototypes yesterday – both of which I’m allowed to talk about… which is nice, as both of them are vying for my favorite game of the convention thus far. First is Last Will – a new Vladmir Suchy game produced by CGE. According to Petr Murmak, it’s slated for an Essen release. It’s an engine building game which has the same theme/premise of the movie Brewster’s Millions. Quite a lot of fun. Some of the cards are still being tweaked, but the core of the game is a lot of fun! The second prototype which I loved was Friedemann’s new Friday game. This is a Robinson Crusoe themed solo deckbuilder game (Get the connection?). It’s quite a challenging game, and I have yet to score a positive score, but it’s a lot of fun! It was in constant play today as this was the only day of the Gathering this week that FF was going to work on it. If you’re interested in this game, the current rules and components are available on FF’s Friday blog – which I believe can be found somewhere on the 2F site. The release of this game is unclear at this time.
Well, that’s probably it for the daily updates from the Gathering… The Prize Table is tonight and then it’ll be time to say our goodbyes. Most folks leave either Saturday night or Sunday morning, and I fall into that category as well. I know that I’ll try to write up some sort of recap once I’m home (as will many of the other OG writers), so you’ll certainly hear more about the games and activities of the Gathering in the coming weeks.