Saturday afternoon/evening at the Gathering

The room is really filling up now.  Feels like 150-200 total, so about half of the group is here. 

The name tags finally made it. I’m yellow badged this year.


The first game after lunch was a card game. I can’t talk about nor take a picture of it. Nice guys in green jackets taught us the rules. A big guy with green hair got much enjoyment chuckling at my poor play.

More later when I’m able to write about it.


Next was the new Carl Chudyk game from Stronghold, Bear Valley. Here’s my character card. I always choose yellow when available.



The board is made up of cards that form a river thru bear Valley. . You play cards with paths on them and then move your marker along the paths.

Each player has special unique abilities.

Here’s our board near the end of the the game.
It only took ten minutes.

Next, we gave the new Mattel DE prototype, Sail Away.

In the game, we collect resources to fill ships. Each ship needs certain resources which are collected from the central islands. Each island has five resources on it, but they are not distributed until all the spots are collected.

Ships sail when they have the correct goods and then you get a special action as a reward. The game ends when a player has sailed 5 ships. Then, player with the most points wins.

It’s a nice family game, in the complexity level of current SdJ contenders. The game could be made more strategic or cutthroat based on the pirate cards. I’d play it again, and I look forward to seeing it at Essen 2016.

Following that, we built arks to save animals in the new Eggert/Stronghold release in Animals on Board.


Here is my ark at the start.


There is a market, starts at ten faceup and one facedown. On your turn, you split any group and take a food or buy a group and pay one food per tile in the group

Once someone buys a group, everyone else gets one more action – either buy or split. Then the market is brought back up to ten face up and one facedown and the game continues.

You collect animals until have at least ten animals. Then you score. You throw out any pairs (because Noah has an exclusive contract on pairs) and the rest score. Singles score their number, sets of three or more score five each.

Game takes maybe twenty minutes. My score was 32.

The new cooperative deduction game from Zman was next, Beyond Baker Street where the team tries to solve the mystery before Holmes.


Information is shared in hanabi fashion, where lead cards are held good side out. There are three different types of evidence: motive, opportunity, suspect. We can learn about our cards like Hanabi. Once we know enough, we could try to confirm that information by playing cards to the board.


There is also a fourth column that you discard into that you have to reach an exact count as well. So, you could think of this as a Hanabi variant. There are six different scenario cards that changes the difficulty. There are lots of character cards that give some special abilities that help differentiate it as well.


Then finally before dinner, the Cacao Chocolatl expansion. We played with all four modules from the start.
Huts give you special actions. They can be purchased at the end of your turn. You do not lose any victory points though, you keep the scoring but get to take special actions once you know the Hut.

There is a map tile that gives you more tiles to choose from

Now you can make chocolate which sells for more


And finally you can now move backwards on the water track to gain four Cacao.

The modules can be added in any combination. We played all together and it might have been to much all at once. Though my initial impression of each module is positive,just too much all together for a first game.

Dinner was a mixed affair. My favorite sub place now has a new owner, and now it’s a Spanish food / pizza / sub place. I ended still getting my usual order of the stinger – a sub that’s like a Mashup of a cheesesteak and a buffalo finger sandwich. I’d never heard of it prior to coming to WNY, but they’re all over here.


They also have an intriguing general tso’s pizza on offer. I was not brave enough to try it though. Maybe tomorrow.


About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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8 Responses to Saturday afternoon/evening at the Gathering

  1. ericwedens says:

    That beyond Baker Street looks great. But do the cards have info of them you need to read? Or is it just color and number you need to see from across the table? Is it just logical deduction or is there really a mystery to solve?

    • Dale Yu says:

      There are four target numbers to hit exactly. Three are suit specific, one not. You have to deduce the number and suit in the turn limit and then play them to the board in the right places.

    • RMBLees says:

      There is text on the character cards. There is flavour text on all the other cards that allow experienced players to role-play solving the mystery.

  2. You goofed twice on Animals on Board: (1) You take three animals at random, keep one, then place the other two in the center of the table, after which you fill the pool based on the number of players. (2) After all but one player has taken a group (not after the first player has taken a group), everyone else gets a single action before refilling the pool.

    • Dale Yu says:

      Interesting. I’ll have to actually read the rules. For now, I’ll blame Dan Blum for teaching us incorrectly on point #2. We did point #1 ok, I just glazed over that in my haste to blog while trying to play at the same time

      • Dan Blum says:

        We played it correctly. It just happened that in most rounds the second player wanted to take a group right after the first player did.

  3. Did Cacao: Chocolatl come in a box that fit both the base game & expansion? Do you know if ZMan picked it up for North America?

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