Sunday, April 01, 2007

Gathering Report - Day 1 (March 31)

Today Becky and I headed out to the Gathering of Friends in Columbus, Ohio. This annual chance to see good friends and play good games is a highlight of the change from winter to spring for us every year. As I know there is interest out there, I will try writing about it this year.

The first travel day is always tough. Our time line looked like this:
Friday night - finish packing and preparation
4:30 A.M. - get up, stumble through morning routine and drive to airport
5:50 A.M. - get stuck behind forty exchange students who don't understand English trying to get through security
6:15 A.M. - run up to gate as they are calling our names over loudspeaker for final boarding
10:30 A.M. - after a transfer (involving two shuttle rides) in D.C., arrive in Columbus and get rental car
10:45 A.M. - remember where Bob Evans is and head there for breakfast before trying to check in (last year we waited for a long time for check-in and it was a big frustration).
Noon - Bob Evans was slow, but satisfied we had back to check in. No rooms will be ready until 3:00. At least this year we are ready for this and head down to game.

First two games of Gathering:

Wizard - Brian, Becky, Ravindra and Ted played. It was my first time with this game, and I think I would just assume play Oh Hell! with a standard deck of cards. Still a good way to start getting our tired minds up to speed.

Imperial - David, Mario, Leo, Joe, Ravindra and Brian played this one. I really love the rondel mechanism in Antike and so this game looked intriguing. Overall, I would say this game is more satisfying, if a bit deeper and longer than Antike. It has a similar feel to Acquire, where you want to build a power up, not for its own sake, but rather for the profit it gains you. We had a hard fought game, and I'd love to try this title a second time.

By now our room was ready and Becky was already upstairs napping. I went up to catch some shut-eye myself. We followed with dinner, and then back to the game room.

Emerald - I taught this clever little game to Jake, David, and Kory. Becky joined us for the play and trounced the group. I mostly know this game from the very good BSW implementation, but the game play does give some interesting decisions and set up fun situations.

Battlelore - Jennifer was kind enough to give me an orientation to this game. I am familiar with the Command and Colors games and the little rules cards included in this version make learning the small changes a snap. Another great job from Days of Wonder. I was enjoying the little figures too much to remember to take a picture.

The Gothic Game - Next I ran into Frank Branham and tried goading him into some sort of questing/dungeon crawl game. He declined, but we settled on him giving Charlie, Adam and I an introduction to this obscure title about running around a typically macabre castle trying to be the last one left alive. Among other great features is the ability to become a vampire and try to run around catching and draining the other players. Not a wonderful game system, but amusing for an occasional play.

Showmanager - Finally I wandered over to a table of folks chatting and ended up 'roped' into a game of Showmanager. Actually, for theme alone I prefer this version to Atlantic Star, and it is a great little design that I'll almost always want to play. Tery, David, Charlie, Zev and Buzz were my opponents as we attempted to put on the best shows in the right cities. I relearned the lesson that if you have changed your mind about which show to do next twice before putting on your first are destined for failure. I didn't notice that standing up and using the camera seems a great way to find out your opponent's hand until I just uploaded the picture. I'll need to see if I can put that to some use.

That's it for now. Next post tomorrow.


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