Dale Yu: Gathering of Friends 2018 Recap day 4

Sunday morning… Rain was falling…. Well, of the frozen variety. The slush was still coming down, making me forget that I should have already been at least three weeks into Spring. But, it’s 70 and fluorescent in the ballroom, so I headed downstairs for more games!

By this point, I had already played many of the new games with I was hoping to see. I had heard that Race for the New Found Land from Z-Man wouldn’t be there until Tuesday (after I would be leaving), so I’ll have to table that one for another day.

As I wandered into the room, the first person I ran into was William Attia, and he had a copy of Caylus under his arm.  I figured he was just trying to gain revenge on me from last year when I actually managed to defeat William in a game; and I figured that Caylus would be his home-field advantage.

To my delight, he actually had a prototype in development, tentatively called “Caylus 2018”.  I doubt that this will be the final name of the game…  Anyways, the game is most definitely still a work in progress, and any/all of the things I’ll describe below are subject to change.    The goal, accoring to William, was to update Caylus – the grandfather of all worker placement games – and add new ideas which have come about since the original design.

Much of the game felt familiar. (If you’re unfamiliar with the original, this won’t make much sense, and the TL,DR point here is: the new Caylus is a great worker placement game that you should try).  The map still showed the wandering path from the gate to the castle.  There were plenty of spaces along the way which were filled in with building tiles built by the players.  There was still a provost which determined which buildings were active.

There were also a number of differences.  First, the game doesn’t use money.  You have cubes, workers and VPs.  That’s it.  When you use someone else’s building, that person simply gets a VP.  You no longer have to pay coins to place workers – instead, the workers themselves are the currency.  There is no favor track on the board; now, when you earn a favor, you simply get the benefit immediately, and there is no need to track them.  Same goes for the building of additions to the castle.  Simply immediate points/bonuses.

The last, and perhaps, biggest twist are the addition of character cards.  In our 4p game, each player started with one character card, and there were three more available to be taken as the game went on.  Each of these cards has a unique special power on them, which only the holder of the card can use.  The cards can be stolen from other players as part of getting a favor bonus.

In the end, it was a great blend of a familiar framework from the original with some interesting decision choices made by the streamlining of the rules as well as the new character cards.  I’m not sure if there is room in my game collection for both, but this might actually fire the original for me.  I’ll definitely have this one high on my list at SPIEL 2018, and I’m looking forward to seeing which changes from the designer/developer end up sticking in the final product.

I also like this one a lot because I could never beat William at the original (nor Caylus Magna Carta).  Here, my red disc reigns victorious!

Next up was a game that was plucked out of Aldie’s jacket pocket.  Illusion and The Mind were constant companions.  I know that Aldie loves the Mind, and his group was playing it constantly – as well as reports of an epic round in Dark Mode where all the cards had been played correctly – FACE DOWN!  But, that still wasn’t enough to make me play it again.

Instead, we got out Illusion which is a sweet party game from the same designer.  In this game, there is a deck of cards which is filled with geometric or text filled patterns in the four gaming colors.  The game itself is kinda like Liar’s Dice but in a visual setting.

There is a scoring deck of 12 cards, each with a colored arrow on it.  A card is flipped up from the deck to start a round, and then the active player looks at the next face up card on the deck and he has to guesstimate by sight alone whether this card has a higher or lower percentage of the color in question on it – then, he slides that card into place along the line of face up cards.  The next player either calls Bullsh!t (on the entire line) or has to himself place the new face up card on the deck in the correct place in the line.

The back of each card has a chart which tells you what percentage of the card is made up of each of the four colors.  You’re only interested in the color on the scoring card, and you see whether the cards are in fact in correct order.  If there is a mistake, the player who called it wins the round.   If the cards are all correct, the previous player in turn order wins the round.  The winner takes the arrow card, and the first player to collect three cards wins the game.

The game is seriously simple, and I was well into my first game in under a minute – John P had to tell me the rules and then show me two examples with the cards that he had in hand.  It’s a fun game which can really be played by anyone.   This became the second Warsch game that I arranged an order for before leaving Niagara Falls.

We were still in the coloring mood, and Dan took the opportunity to foist Colortopia on us – he had just ordered this from the Funagain.com clearance sale.  In this game, players each get a set of six double sided cards, and the game is a ten round race where you must get your six cards in order to match the pattern on a puzzle card that is flipped up at the start of the round.  It was fine enough, but it definitely suffered from the usual puzzle game syndrome – that being when one player is slightly better at the solving, he ends up winning almost every round.  I came in first or second in 9 of the 10 rounds, which needless to say, pretty much made the game non-competitive.

Stamp graffiti was then nominated – I hadn’t played this one in a few years.  Here, one player makes a codeword, and then the other artists each draw lines found on a card to try to convey that word to the guesser.  When all the artists are done, the guesser guesses.  If the right answer is given, all players but the cluegiver get a point.  If the guesser fails, the clue giver then gets one chance to add to the picture, and then if the guesser can get the right answer, the guesser and the cluegiver get a point.  That’s all there is to it.

So… in the first round, this is the picture that I had to guess on…

I honestly thought they were going for AT-AT family or maybe Hoth.  Silly me! The correct answer here was “crocodile”.

After that experience, time to get back to some new games.  After a two day delay in getting the correct cards for Coimbra to the show, this new Eggertspiele game was finally ready to be played.   There is a lot going on here, and it’s a fairly meaty Eurogame (as you would expect from the Eggert label).  Though a somewhat complex set of steps, you are drafting dice to the place in different areas where you will take turns (based on the die roll) of influencing different important personages of Coimbra.  Each of these people has a special action/ability/VP bonus at the bottom of the their card, and you’ll get the bonus of that person for the rest of the game.

One of the big things to do here is to manage your standing on four different tracks – this can affect your income in the two different currencies in the game, can help you score VPs and can also affect your movement on the map of the city which is found in the center of the board.

There are special game-end scoring bonuses which can be purchased, and at the end of the game, these are combined with the points scored over the course of the game, points for your standing in each of the four skill tracks, points on the cards that you have purchased over the four rounds of the game and some consolation points for resources left over at the end of the game.

Yes, I know that is not really enough to tell you how to play, but this game was complex enough that I really couldn’t do it justice trying to explain it from memory.  It took us about 2 hours to play our first 4p game, and it’s one of those games where the first 3 rounds felt like they took about an hour and then the final round and scoring tabulations took up the second hour.  The final round takes much longer as you have so many more moving parts to take into account with your turns, and each of those turns has a much more significant bearing on your final score.

It’s defintiely a game that I want to play again, and one I will likely need to play 4 or 5 times to get a full grasp on what my options are in the game.

After the fairly chewy game of Coimbra, I was looking for something lighter to play.  I was standing near Steph, and as usual, she was looking for something with a rainbow cover.

We found Bumuntu, a new animal tile game from WizKids.  In this game, there is a board covered with animal tiles, each of the animals gives you a special movement ability if you start your turn on that space.  If you move off of an animal tile on your turn, you will collect that tile as well.  There is a second scoring chart which shows the end game scoring for each of the animal species.  During the course of the game, you might collect special dark shaded tiles which will allow you to modify the order of the scoring tiles.

You will score points for your tiles based on the scoring chart, and there are a few other bonus scorings based on some other symbols found on the tiles.  This one is still in prototype form, so it’s hard to comment more on it – not knowing what the final rules will be.

Then, with only ten minutes left before dinner, we tried a Japanese auction game called Bon Voyage.  I would say we played it, but it might be more apt to say that the game played us.  It’s a bunch of in-the-fist auctions with your standing in that auction determining how many chips you had to pay to the bank.  The most interesting thing about this one for me was the name of the publisher, COLON ARC.   You can read into that whatever you want.

Dinner was a local Mexican place that I go to almost every year. It’s hard to pass up Fajitas served in a grilled half pineapple.  First you get the yummy dinner, and then you can cut up the bowl for dessert.

When we returned, we were talking about some of the old games that folks had brought to try to sell at the flea market.  We decided to give Nur Peanuts one last go-round to make sure that it was flea market worthy.  I’d be surprised if this went for more than a dollar.  I really don’t know what we saw in it back in 2001, because I remember loving this game.  But, man, I couldn’t get the game to end fast enough on this final play of it for me.

I was then asked to teach The Reef to some folks and then A Column of Fire – one of the Kosmos releases from SPIEL 2017 which I really like.  I was about to go to bed when the nice guys from CMON came over with a prototype of Gizmos – a game that I had been waiting for three days to try!  It’s designed by Phil Walker-Harding, a name which usually signals that I’m going to love the game.

So, sleep had to wait for a bit, and we got to try out the game.  At its core, Gizmos is an engine building game.  Over the course of the game, you will buy cards (gizmos) to add to your lab, and each of these cards comes with a special action on them.  Hopefully, you will get cards whose actions stack on each other leading to cascades of great actions when triggered.

The big gimmick here is the marble dispenser.  The resources in the game are four colored marbles, and there is a dispenser here which allows you to choose from a market of six visible marbles as well as being able to dip your hand into the top to draw out random marbles.

Early on, turns move quite fast as you only get a single action (well, and then whatever chained bonus actions found on your gizmos).  As the game progresses, it would not be uncommon for someone to buy a card and place it in his lab.  However, since it was a red building, that allows him to draw any marble from the market.  He chooses a blue marble.  he also has gizmos that say that each time he draws a blue marble, he gets to pick one random one from the dispenser.  He also gets to choose another marble from the visible row.  He chooses a yellow one this time, but this choice also allows him to draw another random marble.

The game continues until one player has either built 16 total cards or four of the highest level card.  At that point, the game ends and players count up their points (mostly found on the cards themselves).

Lots of gaming fun here in 30-40 minutes, and the marble dispenser is sure to be an eyecatching piece on the game table.  I’m hoping that CMON is able to meet their GenCon 2018 timeframe for this, because I’m desperately wanting a copy for my game collection already.

But, that will have to wait for another day. Time for sleep, and blissfully, all the dancing teenagers have already left town, so I should be able to sleep in!

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor

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.
This entry was posted in Convention Report, Gathering of Friends. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Dale Yu: Gathering of Friends 2018 Recap day 4

  1. Dale wrote: “As the game progresses, it would not be uncommon for someone to buy a card and place it in his lab. However, since it was a red building, that allows him to draw any marble from the market. He chooses a blue marble. he also has gizmos that say that each time he draws a blue marble, he gets to pick one random one from the dispenser. He also gets to choose another marble from the visible row. He chooses a yellow one this time, but this choice also allows him to draw another random marble.”

    Afraid this is not the correct way to play, Dale, as the abilities don’t chain that way. If you pick a marble as part of a File or Build bonus, that doesn’t activate your Pick bonus abilities; those activate only when you take a Pick action on your turn. Things combo a lot in Gizmos, but not that much!

    • Dale Yu says:

      Eric, it would a great continuation of a grand tradition to learn a game completely wrong at the Gathering – and this may be the case here. We were taught the game by one of the CMON guys, and in my second game, I was chatting with Eric Lang and PWH himself, and neither corrected us as we did these chained actions. Of course, they might have been so distracted by my witty commentary that they simply weren’t paying attention to our game.

    • Ori Avtalion says:

      My understanding is that it DOES chain that way. The bottom of the “List of Effects” sheet shows precisely such a chain reaction. It specifically shows Heather building a yellow gizmo, then activating a “build blue or yellow -> pick” effect of a second gizmo to pick a yellow energy, which then activates a “pick yellow -> random energy draw” effect of a third gizmo.

      The only restrictions are that you can’t activate a card twice in a chain reaction, and that you can’t apply the effect of the card you just built

  2. Brian Leet says:

    I specifically asked about and was authorized to do exactly such a chain during my play as well. So, I’m of the impression that it was legal.

  3. @mangozoid says:

    There must be something about Sundays that makes people feel more lackadaisical, because this is how I felt on the Sunday at AireCon — I stuck mainly to simple, ‘easy’ and relatively light games on that day, and all around me people seem to be doing the same… your report is full of these sort of games, by the looks of it (excl. Coimbra of course!)

    That fajita-in-a-pineapple just looks so damn scrumptious, btw! That and Gizmos! were surely the highlight of this report for me… lol

    Talking of Gizmos! (sorry, it feels like it just should have an exclamation mark after it!), I am always particularly interested in reading about new designs and prototypes, and am starting a personal crusade (of sorts) to try and get a Protospiele-style event organised for here in the UK — I believe every Convention should have a ‘prototype track’ or at least a room dedicated to start-ups and prototypes, and am trying to encourage everyone I contact to get in touch with their local Con organiser (or the organisers of the next Con they attend) and ask them if they have a dedicated prototype track or area as part of the convention… I’d really like to make this a ‘thing’ because it’ll pave the way for more Protospiele-type events across the gaming community…

  4. Ori Avtalion says:

    Dale, I posted a thread on BGG with your Caylus report, and linked here. I hope you don’t mind.
    People are very wary about the changes. :)


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