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Pressing Nose on the Glass: Views on the Gathering of Friends
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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I've never been to the infamous Gathering of Friends (GoF) and it's highly unlikely I'll attend in the future. Not only because I don't expect an invite at some point, but more because the timing in the year is pretty rough and being gone from the family for a week to play games isn't something I'll likely be doing. I do enjoy the lists that follow the event.

I realize historically many can only produce sour grapes at even the mere mention of GoF. Admittedly, it's tempting to do so. However, I decided to take a bit higher ground and another twist on it: pressing my nose against the glass and taking a look inside from the outside. To that end, I've compiled the comments from GoF lists so far and decided to post my reactions to the GoF reactions. There's certainly a few new games revealed. What's the group-think of GoF?
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1. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:72]
A. B. West
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Beech Grove
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"A good game but nothing we have not seen before one way or another and the theme is very thin."
"I still enjoy this pure Euro."
"Everyone loves this one"

Sounds like most GoF folks liked it. I have played this one and very much enjoyed it as well. At the time I did compare it to Endeavor (a game I very much enjoy), but the similarities are superficial upon further reflection. Although I don't see myself buying this one, it's one smartly designed game. I'd welcome another play just to admire it.
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2. Board Game: Colonia [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1432]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"The game is overproduced due to the large size of the gameboard. I liked it but not enough to buy it."
"The game is dry and a bit longish"
"liked generally better in the US than in Germany."

Sounds like GoF gave it a thumbs down. But the Spiel guys loved it in a recent podcast. A friend at work really enjoyed his first play, but then later had lackluster plays. For me, I'd love to give it a go. It's pretty for certain. Like Cuba, it's a complex machine of a game. I've read enough about it to know I'd probably enjoy it.
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3. Board Game: Asteroyds [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1604]
 
A. B. West
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Beech Grove
Indiana
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"a bit too random for my taste."
"I love this game"
"Robo Rally that's fun!"

GoF gave it pretty high marks I guess. Hard to tell (the glass is blurry on this one). For me, I'm not going to get it. I'd play it I suppose. I'm not a big fan of Robo Rally and this game seems terribly close to that central mechanic. I've learned I don't enjoy programming turns (I'm looking at you, Himalaya!) and then watching chaos unfold.
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4. Board Game: Shipyard [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:331]
A. B. West
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Beech Grove
Indiana
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"This is a good game but it causes analysis paralysis"
"way better than the buzz I read led me to believe"

GoF is foggy on this one too. Probably didn't see much play given the age of the game - most had probably played it before or were looking for newer things. Shipyard is something I've read quite a bit about and enjoyed Tom Vasel's detailed review. I'd definitely play a game if it was put out for me. The theme doesn't strike me as terribly interesting. And I'm not going to jump out and buy it. Definitely a try first.
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5. Board Game: Peloponnes [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:458]
A. B. West
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Beech Grove
Indiana
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"The game is nothing really new and the theme again is kind of pasted onto the game."
"Eh. It's ok"
"Love this game of minimizing disasters."
"feels sort of bland"
"A great game that plays in 45-60 minutes."

GoF gave this one pretty much thumbs down (3 out of 5). It's odd that it was seeing so much play there - this one is clearly been out for awhile. Or maybe there's a new publisher in play? In any event, I looked at this one very briefly when it first appeared, but didn't strike me as something of interest. As always, would still welcome a play.
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6. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:19]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"Nice for fans of drafting games."
"I'll definitely be looking for the released version."
"very popular through out the week... Sorry, can't say more"
"will compete for the Spiel des Jahre and perhaps the IGA in 2010"
"Clearly the best game at the Gathering."

Yes, the first darling of the GoFers. They loved it. They make it out to be Fairy Tale meets Race for the Galaxy - two games I dislike as it so happens. Or maybe it was like Dominion. Who can tell? There's only the smoldering mystery remaining.
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7. Board Game: Rattus [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:539]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"A good but somewhat random game"
"quite a bit of fun playing"

Hmm. Very hard to say what GoF thought. Perhaps it didn't see much play which is a shame - this looks like a lesser known designer. Z-Man is picking it up. I've never really looked at this one much. Theme somehow doesn't seem too interesting. The last rat filled game I played was Notre Dame which wasn't to my liking (and couldn't get anyone in my gaming circle to even give it a try). So I'm not seeking this one out.
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8. Board Game: VeloCity [Average Rating:5.84 Overall Rank:6756]
A. B. West
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Beech Grove
Indiana
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"A pleasant family/gamer game."
"I can see this one being considered for the SdJ"

GoFers say it's award bound. Interesting. Never heard of this one before. I generally like to consider "family" games for my family - who happens to enjoy a bit lighter, easier fare. But the description of this game seems really dull. The theme is dull. And the sliver of images just don't intrigue me.
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9. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:1526]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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Unpublished Prototype (Friedemann Friese)
"Can't say anything about it"
"We played it"
"Great choices and a nice 20-30 minute length."

GoF is famous for being coy and there's no exception here. Friedemann is a really fun, friendly fellow - and I have a fairly favorable feeling for his work. Good to know he's still flinging fun.
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10. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:1526]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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Unpublished Prototype (Kris Gould)
"This was probably my favorite prototype."

GoF - these type of comments are not helpful. So who knows? Actually, I'd never heard of Kris Gould before. Turns out he's the designer of Jet Set - a game I've nearly played twice now, but in actuality haven't played at all. I do enjoy hearing about new designers getting out there among them. You go, Kris!
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11. Board Game: Wars of the Roses: Lancaster vs. York [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:512]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"there's this cool thing about being semi-allied with the player opposite you."
"not sure it's my kind of game"

GoF is mixed. Maybe another case of a game not seeing alot of play. Or maybe this one takes more than a few minutes to finish. I do recall this being reviewed in detail on a podcast. Was it Doug Garrett? Can't remember. Anyhow, when I heard that review, it sounded great. And now I'm reminded of it. So I'd like to give it a go. Not jumping to a buy status just yet.
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12. Board Game: Glen More [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:193]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"felt like the action selection from Shipyard, plus the building aspect of Alhambra."
"Nice little game."
"solid game play"
"enjoyed my one playing"
"A pleasant enough experience"

GoF liked it. I've never heard of it. In any event, the fact it involves sheep, tiles that look a heckuvalot like Caylus and a "unique" turn mechanism, it's probably going to get lost in the vast sea of games for me. I'll need to put forth an effort to even remember this in the next weeks and months. Maybe some reviews will remind me.
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13. Board Game: Titania [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:3034]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"there's no real game here."
"Not really much to the game, play a card and pick up resources or build."
"lots of options and strong player interaction"

I feel the hate of GoF (with the noted exception). Never heard of this one either. Looks like it's getting slammed coming out of the gate and I always hate to see that. Every game deserves a day in the sun if only for the effort of designing, producing and publishing the thing. Game work is hard work too! It looks pretty. Maybe my family would like it. I dunno. I'll probably forget about it - another sad causality of too many games screaming for attention.
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14. Board Game: The Speicherstadt [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:396]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"Was this game playtested?"
"Worker placement and resource collection"
"Simple, elegant and fun to play - Stefan Feld does it again"
"didn't seem to contain enough 'oomph'"
"That third play was my last ever as a result."
"would have liked to tried it with fewer players."

Yeow. GoF unleashes the hate. For me, pressing the nose against the glass, I can't even make out what this game is. It looks like every other game - so why the hate? Stefan Feld is hit (Year of the Dragon) or miss (Notre Dame) for me. Guess I'll wait and see if this one can blow past the early bad press.
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15. Board Game: Egizia [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:179]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"A real game here."
"Very interesting and one of my favorites."
"looking forward to playing more later this year."

The second darling of the GoFers. Never heard of it. So very little is available if you can't read German. I did run a translate on the rules available (Google Translate) - but in the end, it was a lousy translation. I'm a fan of Stone Age to which this was compared. Heck, I dunno. Not sure I want to go to Egypt again and build things. Yikes - I sound like a tired, old gamer. Need to shake that off!
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16. Board Game: Macao [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:154]
 
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"Another game in the dice management craze of late"
"I'm not 100% sold on this game"
"entertaining with some interesting choices"
"nice mix of chaos and planning"

GoF mixed again. Lots of lukewarmness out there in Ohio. I've heard quite a bit about this one. Honestly, it seems too thinky for me. I don't like looking way ahead while playing. I'll admit it's a cute use of dice, but that's not enough for me to seek this one out.
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17. Board Game: Age of Industry [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:248]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"The game is still fiddly and I don't find it as intense as with Brass."
"Not sure who this game is for"

GoF doesn't like dumbing Brass down. I've never played Brass. Maybe this is good for me? I'm a pretty big fan of Steam and isn't that a dumbed down Age of Steam? I think it is. I am finding I like simple games more and more. There's that old cranky gamer again. Get out of my yard, you kids!
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18. Board Game: Mystery Express [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1046]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"Not for me."
"the first of my bad games"

GoF gave it thumbs down. I've read alot about this one - Days of Wonder made a pretty big splash with their announcement. But wow - it was a risky play in my book. Making essentially a more complicated Clue isn't what I'd call a sure bet with gamers. But with the mass market - maybe. Was that the idea? Then you're gunning to take on Parker Brothers? Hmm. Anyhow, not a game I'm going to play.
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19. Board Game: Fresco [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:172]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"I'd be happy to play this again but feel no burning desire to own it."
"very pleasantly surprised"
"a very pleasant surprise"

GoF was surprised by this one? Odd. I'd read alot about this one for some time now. It always looked pretty good and sounds like it is. I'd have to play it first - and just might buy without a play. It's the lovely concept and colorful bits that perfectly fit for the theme.
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20. Board Game: Seeland [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:949]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"Very light tile placement game. Attractive board."
"doesn't contain anything that will capture the attention of dedicated gamers"
"liked it for what it is - light family fare"

GoF gave this a wave and almost a backhanded compliment. Never heard of it before. Nice production values from the pictures (nose still pressed against the glass). Maybe I'll go read the rules now.
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21. Board Game: Samarkand: Routes to Riches [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:835]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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"I just didn't feel like there was much tension."
"nothing terribly engaging"
"Dry and somewhat interesting."
"A bit on the abstract side but a decent gamers game."

GoF says really bad. Yeah, I know it sounds rather lukewarm - but that sounds bad. Never heard of this one either. It doesn't look like anything I'd want to play. Ender has a review up. I need to check that out. Ender is like talking to a really decent sales clerk in a game store. Always very informative and let's you look inside the box.
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22. Board Game: Telestrations [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:189]
A. B. West
United States
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Indiana
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"the best party game to be released"
"this is a game I won't be getting"

GoF can't tell us for sure, but this sure sounds like Eat Poop You Cat. I'm honestly not surprised GoF tries out party games. Hey, you're gaming for a week - you need some time to decompress. Some cheese with your wine. Cleanse the pallet. Nothing wrong with that. But there are so few party games I can tolerate. Now when a party is running, I'm somehow more inclined to give it a go. EPYC seems like a real hoot and I've laughed aloud at the results here on BGG. Makes me want to play it with family at some point.
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