Sunday, April 8, 2007

Hot at the Gathering

In past years, I've posted about what the "hot games" (even if my
opinion didn't line up) were at the Gathering. Here's my list of what
I perceived as having a lot of people talking about it and playing it.

Notre Dame. Almost universally, when I asked people "What have
you played and loved?", this was the first response. There were
several copies at the event which meant it was easy to get a chance to
play, and there were often multiple copies in play. That said, there
were people who weren't totally impressed, and the buzz around this
one wasn't of the magnitude of Power Grid a few years ago, and
certainly not of Puerto Rico, back in 2002.

Descent. This was a bit of a surprise, since it's so different
from most of the other games played at the Gathering. But, this got
played a great deal, often with 2 or 3 games going simultaneously. I
heard some went as long as 8 (!) hours. I played twice, neither over
3 hours, and both were a lot of fun.

Race for the Galaxy. This didn't get as much play, because
there were only two prototypes, but most who played it liked it a lot,
and everyone I spoke to thought the art was stunning.

Wikinger. This got a lot of play, with reasonably positive
reactions. I heard from several people that the advanced version is
better, which I did not try.

Caylus Magna Carta. There was only one copy (maybe 2?), but it
was almost universally positively received with most of the comments
similar to mine.

Pillars of the Earth. This got a lot of play and was generally
quite well received, but it was almost never at the very top of
people's lists of top games they played.

Through the Ages. I didn't get to play this, but it saw a fair
amount of play, and the reactions from those who did seemed to be
extremely positive in general. At least a couple people declared it
their favorite game ever.

Zooloretto. This got a lot of play at the beginning, and some
continued play later, and was well liked, but not by everyone.

Thurn und Taxis Expansion. This also got a lot of play
throughout the week and was often on people's "top lists".

Colosseum. There was one copy of this and it got played a lot,
and was well liked in general, but it also seemed to rairely make it
near the top of people's lists. A lot of the comments around this
seemed to express roughly, "it deserves a few more tries before I have
a final opinion".

Arkadia. This didn't get played much at all until late in the
Gathering, when both the copies there were often continuously in play.
Most people liked it and several said it was among the best.

Objet Trouves. Another "showed up late" hit, this party game
got a lot of play in the last few days and was mostly well liked by
those who played.

A few other games that had reasonably positive buzz, but of lower overall magnitude: Huang Di, Phonecia, Quirkle, Animalia. I'm sure there were others that I didn't play that got some positive buzz, but I don't recall them now.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Buy, Maybe, No Buy

Of the new-to-me (and mostly new-since-Essen) games I've played, I
broke them down into three categories: Buy, Maybe and No. Within
maybe there's some more likely than others. Several of the "No"
games are quite good, just not for me.


  • Race for the Galaxy: I can hardly wait
  • Caylus Magna Carta: For me, standard Caylus will be completely obsolete
  • Notre Dame: Good to see Alea "back on track"
  • Friedemann's auction prototype: Can't say more
  • Baumeister von Arkadia: A surprise hit


  • Capes & Cowls: Fun, I love the theme, almost certainly will get it
  • Volle Wolle: Yet another entertaining Zoch dice game. Probably worth it.
  • Colloseum: Probably. But not definitely.
  • Thurn & Taxis For Power & Glory: Probably, but I'm not sure I play enough T&T to make this worthwhile.
  • Pillars of the Earth: 3 or 4 years ago, this would have been a definite yes, probably a buy still
  • Tumblin Dice: probably too large/expensive, but fun
  • Huang Di: probably not a buy for me, but it's interesting and fun
  • Truffel Schnuffel: Cute kids game from Haba, but if I bought everything with that description, I'd be overrun
  • Sakkara: Interesting, but broken without a rules fix, could be quite good with a fix
  • Zooloretto: Fun, but maybe not enough to justify the shelf space


  • Wikinger: For me, it didn't hang together well enough
  • Guatemala Cafe: Left me cold
  • Portobello Market: Short, not interesting enough.
  • Sudoku Challenge: Some game there, but not enough
  • Dragon Parade: Cute, but nothing striking.
  • Jetzt schlagt's 13: Mundane.
  • Stonehenge: I'd like to play the other three games, but the two I tried weren't "enough".
  • Nomads of Arabia: I didn't feel like there were enough choices

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Newly played at the Gathering, Brief Comments, Tuesday

Some quick impressions of games played...

Guatemala Cafe: Not bad, but didn't impress me. Somehow reminded me of Santiago, which I also wasn't so fond of, but that may be superficial.

Notre Dame: Has that "great" feeling. It will take a few more plays to be sure, but midway through the first turn it's got that feeling. Interesting options, engaging. It's got a little bit of multi-player-solitaire quality, but if you (like me) don't think that's so bad, this is really worth a try.

Animalia: Oh what a shame this isn't generally available. The art is spectacular and the game is a really good filler.

Wikinger: Didn't do it for me. A lot of people seem to like it more than I do. A bit to calculating without enough fun.

Thurn & Taxis: For Power and Glory: Not so much an expansion as a different (but similar) game that can be played with many of the same components. If you like standard T&T, you'll probably like this, but it's different enough to feel like a distinct game, even if they have many similarities.

Caylus Magna Carta: All of the good parts of Caylus, without all of the length. This is great.

Portobello Market: It's short. It's not bad, but it's not especially interesting either.

Nomads of Arabia: I didn't find many interesting choices and it's a lot of dice rolling, and not in the good way.

Settlers of Catan Dice Game: Cute, good dice game, but if I want to play a Yahtzee-like game, I'll probably stick to To Court A King or Kniffel Duell (Cosmic Cows).

Race for the Galaxy: This is still outstanding. The proofs of the art for the production version are jaw-droppingly good.

FF auction prototype: I can't say much more than that I played a really good Friedemann Friese light auction prototype.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Friedemann charms a 2-year-old

I took my daugther down to the gaming area to say hi to some people
and introduced her to Friedemann Friese, the famous green-haired game
designer. She was a bit cautious at first, but was clearly fascinated.

When I took her back up to the room, she told my wife: "I saw
Friedemann with his green hair. I was a little bit scared, but I
wanted to play his game."

The next morning, when we went downstairs again, he wasn't around and
she asked, "Where is Friedemann with his green hair?" Finally, this
morning when we went downstairs, he was there and she declared,
"There's Friedemann all the way over there. Let's go over there."

So, I've started lobbying Friedemann to design a children's game. :)

Gathering 2007, appetizer

For the first few days of the Gathering, we're here in Columbus with
the kids, doing fun local things and not so much gaming. Soon, the
kids will visit Grams and I'll do a lot of gaming. So, a quick review
of non-gaming and the small number of games I've played:


COSI: The Columbus children's/science museum is great for kids. Highly recommended.

Graeter's: Delicious Ice Cream, highly recommended for children and adults.

Polaris: Every chain store and restaurant in existence gathered
into one place. Mimi's Cafe is pretty good.

Columbus Zoo: Headed there today.


Colloseum: Good, maybe very good. Definitely worth trying, and
better than Cleopatra (DoW's previous Spring release).

Zooloretto: Much bigger box, somewhat more fun, otherwise very Coloretto-like.

Jetzt schlagt's 13: OK late-night filler fare.