Friday, April 26, 2002

Gathering Report, part IV

While I may write more later on the Gathering, I wanted to wrap up
here with comments on other new games, "old" games, the prize table,
and non-gaming stuff at the Gathering.

color=f8f0ff>Goldland, Cairo,

None of these really impressed me a lot, but they weren't bad.
Goldland in particular a lot of people liked, though it wasn't to my
taste. I like the idea of exploration games, and many of the
mechanics seemed appealing, but the whole thing just didn't gel for
me. I'll give it another play sometime, but it's not high on my list.

Cairo I really wanted to like. It's a flicking influence game. Some
combination of lack of skill and monotonous play really left me
unimpressed though. Lumberjack, I also wanted to like, but it ended
up feeling rather dry. Oh well.

The only game I played which I'd actively warn people away from is "A
Dog's Life". Stay away from this one. I have so many other ways I'd
rather spend my time.

color=f8f0ff>Great New-to-me Games

I played a lot of games that I'd never played before but have been out
for a while. In the truly "great" category were Code 777 and Frisch
Fisch. I also substantially enjoyed Haste Worte? (not entirely new to
me), M, Elchfest, Entdecker, Guesstures, Pig Pong, and Tabula Rasa.

I was expecting to like Code 777, since I am in general a big fan of
deduction games, and this has a reputation for being one of the best.
I was not disappointed. This game is much like "What's That on My
Head?", but with colors and a different distribution of numbers. The
result is outstanding.

Frisch Fisch, I had heard nothing about, but was described as a "brain
burner", which I often find a positive attribute in games. This
Friedemann Friesse game has some very nice mechanics. Simple tile
laying impacts where roads will be built according to a simple set of
rules (all roads must be contiguous and all buildings must be adjacent
to at least one road). Placing a building in one place may cause
several road tiles to get placed elsewhere. The somewhat
collaborative puzzle solving of everyone trying to determine if any
new road segments are built as the result of a person's play was very

Sadly, both of these games (Code 777 and Frisch Fisch) are out of
print and hard to find. If anyone knows where I can get one for a
reasonable price, please
let me know.

I don't have a lot to say about the other games, but I feel like
saying something, so here's a sentance or two on each. "Haste Worte?"
is one of the best word games I've played in a while, but you need to
make your own cards. M is a great absract tile laying game I wish I
had discovered earlier. Elchfest is surprisingly fun. Guesstures is
not that novel of an idea (speed charades), but the timer device is
awesome! Pig Pong is exhausting. Tabula Rasa was a lot of fun and
very interesting, despite me being unimpressed after reading the

color=f8f0ff>Prize Table

I got very lucky with the prize table. The basic idea of the
Gathering Prize Table is that all attendees bring at least one (good)
game for the prize table, many bring more, or bring some "ok" games in
addition to one or more good ones. On the final Saturday, prizes are
given out. First, winners of tournaments from the previous year which
occured after the prize table ceremony, followed by tournaments
winners from this year, followed by randomly selected people. Then,
the process repeats, more or less until all the prizes are gone.

I didn't compete in any of the game tournaments this year and my team
didn't win the Treasure Hunt (which was a lot of fun, see below).
This year Alan decided to have a "target tournament", however. The
idea of this tournament is that some some number of people are
"targets". They keep track of all the people they play with. The
winner of the target tournament is the person who plays with the most
targets. I came in as first runner-up in the target tournament (23
out of 28 targets), so I got an early pick off the prizetable, for
which I took Funkenschlag, since I had heard such good things about it
and had just recently been very impressed by one of his previous games
(Frisch Fisch).

My wife was called randomly very early and took Members Only. On my
second pick I got Schocko & Co. In later picks I got a handful of
other games. In the end, I got 3 out of my top 6 picks and was very

color=f8f0ff>Non-boardgame stuff

Obviously, thoe point of the Gathering is to spend time with people
and play board games. Further, most of the "spend time with people"
is done by playing board games, however, there is some other stuff
that goes on.

In the "almost boardgames" category was the Treasure Hunt. This is a
puzzle hunt style event usually run by Aaron Weissblum, run this year
by he and Brian Hanechak. The hunt was a blast. Basically, there
were four puzzles to solve, but you had no clues to the puzzles. The
puzzles could be bought with "game bucks", which could be obtained by
solving other puzzles or by playing game shows. Overall, a very fun

Other folks went off to an amusement park for a day, and there's also
the photo safari, in which teams take a variety of amusing photos in
an attempt to get the most points. I think some people even went and
played golf.

The other regular activity of the event was eating out. A lot of
people got groceries and occasionally ate at the hotel or in their
rooms, but sometimes you need to get out. There's a strip mall
cluster in Columbus with perhaps as many as two dozen restaurants,
ranging from reasonably nice to very fancy. Ruth's Chris Steakhoue
was yummy, but given the price I've certainly had better steak. The
surprise hit to me was "Red Robin" a very kid friendly burger joint
that was very good and reasonably priced. It's a shame we don't have
these out here.

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