Chris’s Trip to the Gathering of Friends: Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday

I wrote about my first couple of days at The Gathering, and this is the next installment in that series. Whereas my first post discussed specific games, this post is primarily commentary about what seems popular and some other random musings.

The easiest way to get or latest new and thoughts is to follow us on Twitter at @OpinionatedGmrs (or just look at the panel on the right of our home page). Social media isn’t widely used at the event, but some folks are posting thoughts using the #GoF2019 hashtag.

What games are people playing?

I think it’s probably safe to say that Roll ‘n Writes are the hot genre of the 30th Gathering of Friends. I’ve seen more of them played than I anticipated, and I knew they’d be hot. I’ve gotten in on the fun, playing nearly a dozen different games in my five days here.

Among published games, here are a few of the exceptionally popular newer games (meaning they were published after Essen 2018):

Silver & Gold — the “flip & write” game from NSV and Phil Walker-Harding — seems to be earning quite a bit of praise. It is certainly one of the highlights of the convention for me. Like many of Phil’s games, it is pleasant and really satisfying to play. I believe this game is already out in Germany.

Dizzlewhich Brandon reviewed recently — is another roll and write that seems to be going over well. I’ve seen a few different groups playing it, and they all seem to be praising it for its interactivity.

Res Arcana — designed by Tom Lehmann and published by Sand Castle Games —seems popular and has been recommended by convention goers. It is a combo-licious engine-building game with a fantasy theme. I got to play it tonight, and this game is worth the hype. I expect this to be a big hit in the coming weeks.

Hadara – designed by Benjamin Schwer and published by Hans im Gluck / Z-Man — is a light engine-building game that is well-produced, fast-paced, and highly engaging. It features a card-drafting mechanic unlike anything I’ve seen before. I don’t know if it is out yet, but it should be available soon if not. It is getting a ton of table time at GoF.

Many of the Essen 2018 games are also getting a lot of play. For the most part it is the games that were hot back at Essen, but the small card game Krass Kariert seems to have unexpectedly caught on among convention goers. Just One is also really popular, as it was last year, and that is in part because it is a phenomenal game, and in part because we got it in our welcome bags.

Among older games, the most-played game seems to be Tichu — I’ve seen more Tichu games than I did the last two-years — and a good chunk of convention goers (including myself) go play Werewolf every night.

Prototypes abound. There even seem to be more than the last couple of years. Among the most played (that I know I can write about) are Silver (Bezier Games), High Rise (Formal Ferret), the Belratti redo (Repos Productions), Faultier (2F/Stronghold), Letter Jam (CGE), and several others. I’ll do a prototype wrap up in my final post.

Toronto might just be the best city in North America for gaming…

On Monday, I took a day trip to Toronto with the always-amazing Dorris and Chad Roberts.

I’m a frequent traveler, and I game wherever I go. But I’ve never been to a gaming city quite as good as Toronto. Not only is there an active game scene there, but two of the game stores — 401 Games and Board Game Bliss — are remarkable.

401 Games, which is close to downtown, is truly a model for the friendly local game store: they’ve got a helpful staff, a great selection, a library and playing area, and they’re in a cool part of town. It’s well-curated and well-run, and I had a blast visiting there. (The picture above is of me at 401.)

Board Game Bliss was perfect for finding rarer games, and I had tremendous fun sorting through their stacks of games. They have a good selection from around the world, and I picked up some unusual treasures that I hadn’t seen before, such as a miniature version of the trick-taking game Claim, the German deluxe version of Hanabi, and some Noch Mal expansions.

We went to Snakes & Lattes to end the day, playing a game from their library. I’ve been to a couple of board game cafes, and I loved Snakes & Lattes: they have a good library, the food was excellent, and the place had a good vibe.

That’s it for tonight! I’ll post follow up thoughts on Saturday/Sunday, including my annual predictions about what will be hot at Gen Con/Essen.

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