I came back home Sunday after nine glorious days at Alan Moon’s Gathering of Friends. I’ve been going to the Gathering for a dozen years or so and they just keep getting better. The best part about it is that there are something like 150 people there that I’ve grown to know over the years, all of whom I’m delighted to chat with, game with, or just say hi to. Having that many people whom you like and who share your passion concentrated in such a small area is indescribably cool. I hope many of you get to experience similar things at the gaming conventions you attend.
My goal this year (in addition to my usual one of playing a bunch of recent releases and prototypes) was to try to play a lot of 2014 titles that I hadn’t had a chance to check out prior to this. I was able to accomplish this fairly well, so my games played list included a plethora of “new to me” designs. Too many to discuss in just one article, so I’ve decided to split up my report into four segments. I’ll start off today with a summary of what I played. I’ll follow that up with my impressions of the 2015 games I played, then the new 2014 titles, and finally some words about the prototypes I tried out.
So here are the fun facts about my 2015 Gathering of Friends experience:
- I played 62 different games 77 times.
- Of those 62 games, 19 of them are prototypes (12 of which will probably be published sometime this year).
- I played 8 different 2015 games and 20 games from 2014 which were new to me.
- Of the 38 non-party published games I played, only 5 of them were released before last year and there was only one game that came out earlier than 2009 (that one was the glorious Hare and Tortoise, which is just as terrific today as it was when it was published more than 40 years ago). I love older designs, but the Gathering is a wonderful opportunity to play new stuff and I took full advantage of that.
- I only played 8 games more than once and only 2 more than twice. I played Chvatil’s word game prototype (which is currently called Code Names, a title that will change) 8 times (I actually sat down to play it 4 times, but each time, I played it twice, once as the Clue Giver and once as the Guesser). I also played The Voyages of Marco Polo 3 times.
- Here are my favorites for the week. Of the new games (2015), the highlights were the aforementioned Marco Polo and Think Str8!, a deduction game by Leo Colovini(!) (I’ll be saying more about that highly unusual pairing in a future post). Of the new-to-me 2014 games, I liked The Staufer Dynasty, Quartermaster General, Patchwork, and Royals the best. And of the prototypes I expect to be released this year, my favorites were “Codenames” and two designs from Eggertspiele, Mombasa and Porta Nigra.
That’s the Bottom Line Up Front. I’ll try to get the next article in the series posted sometime in the next few days.