Dale Yu: I’ve finally played something else after Uluru x 4. Avanti (from Zoch) is a very interesting race game. We had the usual rules snafu at the start concerning turn order, but we managed to fix it by the third round out of five that we played. The game is all about position with an interesting leapfrog mechanism to help stragglers catch up. I tend to like most games by Heinz Meister, and this is no different. One thing which came up in our game that I hope not to see again – the player in last place was very far in last place due to some unlucky card plays and card draws. I hope that this doesn’t happen in most games of Avanti, as it can be really frustrating to be completely out of a game only because of bad card draws.
Rick Thornquist: One of the highlights of the Gathering is playing so many new games. These include games that either have been recently released, or are about to be released, or are planned for Essen. Many publishers and designers bring their newest creations and there’s sometimes the added bonus of being taught the game by the designer.
Another added bonus is the experience of all the gamers here. Sometime when I would see an interesting game, I could just hold it up and get nods of approval from any gamers in the vicinity (or, sometimes, like this morning, eye-rolling disapproval).
Dale Yu: Wow, i’m glad that people are willing to teach new games. There is never a guarantee that youre getting a correct set of rules, but it’s always faster that reading the rules yourself and trying to learn that way. So far the number of new games here isn’t bad, from my seat here I see: Strasbourg, Burgund, Pantheon, Avanti, Monte Cristo, Uluru, new prototypes from CGE, Eggertspiele, 2F, Fragor as well as many games not yet signed.
Rick Thornquist: Jay Tummelson of Rio Grande Games waltzed into the Gathering this morning with a pile of new games. I grabbed The Heavens of Olympus and, not finding anyone around who had played it, corralled a group together and started reading the rules. Three points about this game: 1) The box says it’s for ages 13 and up. That’s rubbish. It’s a fairly normal medium-weight game that should have been marked as 10 and up. 2) The rules are hilariously verbose. Every rule is explained is excruciating detail. Normally I would laud this sort of thing, but I think the rules writer went a little overboard here. 3) The card deck doesn’t fit into the well in the box insert (though this is only of concern to someone fixated with box inserts, like me). In the end, I found the game fitting into the ‘pretty good’ category. It’s not that innovative, but it works fine.
Dale Yu: a few more notes… Jay Tummelson came by with a copy of the Japanese anime version of Dominion. It looks sweet… Jay also reports that Cornucopia will arrive here by Monday or Tuesday… Well, at least the first few copies. Worldwide release is still slated for “May-ish”. Stephen Buonocore showed us the first production copy of Confusion – the first ten copies off the line were sent here to Niagara Falls. The urea resin pieces are awesome. I’ll try to upload some pictures later. There is also a lot of good buzz about Airlines Europe too. And as usual, come about 11pm, Tichu and Werewolf dominate the gameroom. And…. Interesting fact, i just found out that Rick Thornquist’s real name is Eric… Because his parents thought that Rick was a diminutive for Eric. Those wacky Canadians.
Rick Thornquist: Yes folks, it’s true – my real name is Eric. My parents didn’t realize that Rick was short for Richard and not for Eric. So the only reason I’m called Rick is because my parents are idiots!
Valerie Putman: I’ve played 5 new games so far (in order of preference): Uluru, Avanti, Pergamon, Mines of Zavindor, and Der Pate.
Uluru is a speed puzzle game, which I love, love, love. This one is slightly different than other speed puzzle games because you are racing against a timer, not each other. If one player thinks they have a perfect solution to a round, this doesn’t keep everyone else from trying. Basically, you have 8 birds that need to be placed around an island. Unfortunately, each round they have very specific preferences about where they do and don’t want to sit. You must try to make as many of them happy as possible (with -1 point for each time you fail) before the 45 second timer runs out. There is a wide range to the levels of difficulty that you can choose to play and solitaire play is possible. OK, some will say that it is already solitaire, even if there are other people playing. I don’t mind some multi-player solitaire so I don’t care. Loved it!
Avanti is a neat new twist to a racing game. Very fun. We had one player who got hosed and I want to play it again to make sure that isn’t a common occurrence, but this is definitely one I’m likely to pick up. Loved it.
Pergamon was new to me. It was a neat little “auction” and “set collection” game. I can see this one as a contender for the SdJ.
Mines of Zavindor was also new to me (though not so new to many of you, I’m sure). It was fun but I did very poorly and I just think it’s not my cup of tea.
Der Pate is a game I picked up at Essen, but just never got around to playing because I didn’t have an official rules translation. Armed with 2 different unofficial rules translations from the Geek and knowing there would be enough German-speakers at the Gathering to help out, I finally got this one to the table. The first half of the game was kind of tedious because we were looking up rules nearly every turn. (There are many icons on the game boards that might help prevent this, but we just couldn’t seem to keep them straight.) By the second half of the game it was moving a little more smoothly and I can say that there might be a good game in there. I’ll need to play it a few more times to really make up my mind.
I also made a trip across the Rainbow Bridge to see the falls. Sadly it started to rain *and* my camera battery died just as I started to take a few pictures. Luckily phones these days are surprisingly good back-up cameras and the rain was never more than a sprinkle. I wish I could say that I’ll have better luck another day this week, but the forecast looks like rain just about every day. Good thing I have a few games I’d like to try!
Dale Yu: More of the OG writers are trickling in – at the end of the night, at least 5 more made their first appearance in the gameroom… Hopefully we’ll get a few more notes on games from them for the blog! Not sure how many games I’ll get played on Sunday – gotta make a run to the airport, do a bit of sightseeing and maybe hit one of the casinos for a bit!
Well, first i’m gonna try to post pics from the iPad. Not sure if this is gonna work…
1. Valerie and Vlaada Chavtil trying out Uluru
2. The sweet pieces in the new version of Confusion by Stronghold Games
3. The board setup in Confusion
4. My tourist shot for the day