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Gathering Part 3 of All the Games!

Steph Hodge
United States
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Well, it's no Ginkgopolis...

Hia Everyone!

Time for Part 3 of The Gathering of Friends!

Find Part 1 here: Gathering Part 1 of All the Games

Find Part 2 here: Gathering Part 2 of All the Games!


KeyForge: Call of the Archons has been a hit with many people and it was time I saw what this game was about. New to me!

This is not a game I figured I would like, and The Gathering is a perfect place for me to try games like this. Keyforge is a 2-player competitive game where players have their own unique deck of cards. The catch with this game is that every deck of cards is totally unique. Each package will be all-encompassing for anyone to play. You can't customize your deck in any way - you get what you get. Of course, the base game will have the same base decks of cards, but every pack you buy afterward will be a unique experience.

The game is pretty straightforward. You have a hand of cards and you will place heroes into a line up in front of you that will stay there until they are killed off by the opponent. Your goal is to gather lots of aember and forge 3 keys before your opponent does.

I really hated this game in the first 3 turns. But I wanted to give it a fair shot and we were able to finish the whole game. There are some extra rules for those who really get into the game, or you can give a handicap to players who have a stronger deck since that is inevitable.

Around mid-game I was hating it less as I was piecing together what I should be doing. I think the saving grace for Keyforge is being limited to selecting only 1 out of your 3 factions to use each turn. That is truly THE interesting part of Keyforge. When you pick one faction, then you can activate all the heroes in your line up and play all of that faction's cards into play, otherwise, you can't! You might have an amazing line up of heroes but no matching types in hand, so you'll probably have to choose a different faction to use that round.

Yah I ended up losing horribly. I do think I managed to forge 2 keys though. Michael crushed it. I was just happy it was over. I ended up not hating it, but I still don't find it compelling enough to buy it or really even to play again. It was fine though. Not really my cup of tea.


Still on the hunt to learn more games and I found Herbaceous Sprouts. New to me!

I quite enjoyed Herbaceous in the past, which got me interested in this follow-up game that involves dice! The dice game gives me a similar feeling to the card game but without the same sense of urgency.

Herbaceous Sprouts is a set collecting, dice drafting game. At the start of each round, cards are placed in a drafting row. Dice are rolled and placed on each card. You will select one of the cards, then take whatever actions the card allows you to take. Finally, you will try to fill up the flower beds before the other players do.

It is all very relaxing and easy to play. With Herbaceous, there was a lot of pressure to pot my plants first and get those big points. I didn't really have that tense feeling in this game. Yes, you want to get to plant first, but you don't have a whole lot of control, since turn order matters most with the dice you get to draft. This game also felt a bit longer to me and lackluster. Beautiful production with amazing art, but it didn't grab me.

The scores were close. Mike Y won this game with 33, Michael had 31, and I had 28. Mike Y said it was his least favorite game that he learned that con. He said he still enjoyed learning and playing with us though.

I would be fine to play it again, but I don't think I am the target audience for this game.


In an effort to make Mike Y happy with an exciting roll n write, I taught him how to play Twice As Clever.

He said he didn't like roll n writes so much, so perhaps it was a poor choice. Regardless, we played, and he had a decent time. He did admit that this was his new favorite roll n write out of like 3 titles. Hey, I will take it!

I got to play this game a couple of times at the con, and I ended up winning both of the games we played. I feel pretty special, but I have played WAY too much on the app - so I have a leg up on the competition. When we taught Luke how to play, he was really excited about this game. We all had pretty high scores in the mid 200s. The pic below - that is not bad!

I love this game each and every time I play it. It ended up being my game of the month for April. LOVE IT! It could possibly be my favorite roll n write of all time. So happy to play this game whenever!


Last year I had the pleasure of playing the expansion for Keyper in prototype form. I wrote about it here: CLICK HERE! This year I wanted to play again! Richard Breese and I went head to head using this new expansion to be. Not much has changed since then so we basically just got to playing.

I can't even recall the last time I played Keyper, it was months ago! I figured I would lose wicked bad.

During our play, I discovered that there was no rule about selling sea creatures from the ship. So I gave some suggestions to Richard as to how I thought it should work. He agreed, and we gave it a try.

As it turns out, I had a crazy amount of in-game scoring because I was shipping left and right for bonus points (my favorite strategy). I had over 100 points, and Richard barely had any. So I started to wonder if my sea creature suggestion was overpowered.

I thought for sure I absolutely crushed him, but Richard had a TON of end-game points. Still, I barely won, 185 to 178, which is wicked close and leads me to believe that what I thought might be OP wasn't really all that OP.

We got some insanely high scores. Though, I don't know what a good score might be using this expansion. In the base game, it is usually like 120 or something.

It is always a great pleasure to play a game with Richard, and it's even better when I can beat him at his own game! I hope he can release the expansion by Essen this year!


As you have read, I got to play a bunch of roll n writes during this con, and Boomerang was a surprise hit for me. New to me!

We played 4 players and Nicole was kind enough to teach us. She particularly likes it as she is from Australia, which was cool to learn.

Boomerang combines 2 of my favorite mechanics: drafting and marking my player board with a writing utensil (aka draft n write). I LOVE DRAFTING CARDS! Why haven't these 2 mechanics been combined until now?? I duno, but I love it.

In Boomerang, you are trying to fill in tourist sites on your board and gain bonus points for completing territories first. Each card you draft shows a location in Australia. Cards might also display activites, wildlife, and collections. There is a lot to try and collect each round, but you want to try and focus too.

I wasn't able to get many bonus points for completing the territories first and I wasn't doing very well with the set collections either. Michael absolutely ran away with this game and scored a whopping 153 points. I was second with 124. I knew I wouldn't win, but I thought I would at least be close enough to throw stones (or a boomerang) at the winner. Nope, not even close.

Boomerang is an all-around wicked clever game and I had an amazing time playing. I have to play this game again soon! I loved it!



Makes me so sad that I can't tell you about how awesome this new game is - hopefully coming soon!!! It is just AWESOME! I can't wait till I can tell you more!

Oh! Wait! I CAN tell you something about it!

Spoiler (click to reveal)
It was so good, I had to play it twice.


I finally got to play a game I have had on my unplayed shelf for a while now. It's called Bukiet. New to me!

Not gonna lie, I bought it for the colors! So pretty! heart Luke from Portal Games joined in for a 3 player game with me and Michael. It was handy to have Luke at the table since the game was in Polish and Luke knows Polish! We did find a Polish-to-Spanish-to-English translation that we could use for most of the rules though.

Bukiet is a really simple dice drafting game where players are trying to fulfill bouquet orders for customers. If I draft a 4 yellow die then I can circle a group of 4 yellow flowers. Whites are wild and count as any color.

Customers are happy only if they get the right number and color of flowers. If you circle the wrong color flower or too few flowers, you will make the customer unhappy for -1 point for each mistake (I would be happy to have a bunch of different colored flowers, but I guess I'm not their target customer!). If you have the most unhappy customers then you will get hit with even more negative points, though if you have the least you will gain points.

Your goal is to be the fastest to circle all of a type of flower. The faster you are, the more points you get. You also want to complete flower beds for bonus points. Michael ended up winning our game with 27 points. Luke and I were nowhere near that!

Bukiet seems really simple, and I am not sure there is that much to it. I know I can play it with the family though since the rules are very easy to understand. I still love all the colors and I would be happy to play again.


Luke was interested in showing me and Michael how to play ArtSee. New to me!

Turns out I played this game in a really early prototype phase and it has changed considerably.

In Artsee, you are controlling an art gallery and you are trying to get visitors into your gallery to see all the lovely art. Each time it is your turn, you will play a card to create a gallery or expand an existing gallery. Other players will get a bonus if they have a matching color gallery. The card you play will have a left or right arrow which will look in the direction of the arrow and score for artwork of the matching color. It might be pointing to one of your own galleries or to a neighboring player's gallery.

It is a pretty easy game to pick up and play. There is no limit to the number of galleries you can have. I ran into the problem that I was trying to focus too much on expanding one gallery and other players were benefiting from my card selection and even leeching off of my nice deluxified gallery for lots of points. Other players were playing a lot more wisely and not helping me in the slightest.

I super lost this game because I wasn't playing hateful enough. Michael and Luke actually tied for the win. I was much further back so I don't recall if there was a tiebreaker winner.

It was a cute game and the art is lovely. I would gladly play this one again.


Late one night I managed to round up some players for a game of History of the World.

The more I play it, the more I love it! And I finally got in a game with Joe R! He is always one of the hardest people to get to play a game with. Michael and Derek were both learning this game. Poor Derek had some bad allergies, but he was looking a little broken by the end of it. Always such a good sport though.

It was a bit slow going, and apparently, I am not a great explainer for this game. *shrug* I tried! I am really bad with the theme when explaining this game, so perhaps Joe should have taught it.

At the start of the game, I teased Joe about always losing, so of course, he had to go and win the game! Ohhh man he had an epic final turn. I thought Derek would come out of nowhere and just take us all down, but he didn't really get the best final round. He had it rough the first few rounds but had a really great come back in round 4 taking over the map.

All in all, it was a REALLY close game. Joe had 149, Michael had 147, I had 141, and Derek had 137. That is wicked close. It could have been anyone's game. On the plus side, I think everyone had a great time playing.

Here I am, thinking if this needs to be in my #top10 somewhere. It is THAT GOOD.


In an effort to play an average of 5 new games per day, I needed to play a couple of fast, new games, so Michael and I played a quick game of Push It. New to me!

Riley had been bringing this around to game day, and I duno why, but I missed out on playing it. That has been haunting me ever since! What the heck, Riley!?

Push It is a super fast dex game where you just need the discs and some table space. Each player has 2 discs, and they are trying to get the closest shot to the center push it disc. You get one point if you are the closest and a bonus point if you have both of your discs closer. I think it was first to 5 points wins? Or that's how we played it.

Boom! I crushed this game. I don't even think Michael scored any points. It was a skunk! Maybe I have been playing too much Crokinole. Anyway, I can see the appeal to this game. Bring it to dinner and play while waiting on food or just casually anywhere. It didn't do much for me in terms of dex games. I would always choose to play a number of other dex games over this one, but for portable games, this works well. I could easily play it again.


Dan had another game to show me called Meander. New to me!

This is a puzzle type game where you are creating a board that marbles will travel on. Each turn, you will draw and place a tile on the board trying to create pathways that work well for you and screw over the other player. Ideally, your path will make the marbles land on the other side in a scoring position. But there are dead ends and spaces where they can land that won't score you points.

I am apparently very good at this game. I was making perfect paths and ruining Dan's paths. He was not doing that to me, but he probably thought he was. All of my marbles made it to the other side with no problems! I think Dan only scored 2 out of 5.

It was a cute game and I could easily play this one again. It was harmless. I don't think it was that exciting but I enjoyed my time!


Saturday got eaten up with a lot of Flea Market time. You can see in the final haul picture (at the bottom of this blog post) that I might have gotten too many games! On the plus side, that should keep me busy for a while.

Eventually, we got to play some games, and Michael read the rules to Würfelwurst. New to me!

This is a silly little push your luck dice rolling game. On your turn, you will roll all the dice. The black dice have numbers (and one sausage) and the white dice have animals. You will keep one or more dice and then roll the rest again. Each time you roll, you must keep at least one die. You will score the number of ONE type of animal multiplied by the lowest number on your black dice. The sausages count as a 1, but if you roll all sausages, they count as a 7!! Here's the catch: you can score each of your animals only once.

Anyway, it is a cute push your luck game. Probably best with 2 players since it is a game where everyone playing will just be watching the active player. I dislike games like that since there is just a bunch of downtime and nothing I do will really affect the other players.

Michael ended up winning this game since he had a few killer rolls. It was cute though and I would be happy to play again. I won't be looking for the chance to, however.


Dan had a new party game called Hintegers. New to me!

I think there were 6 of us playing this game. The more people playing, the more fun you will have, definitely! The goal of the game is really simple: you are trying to get rid of your hand of numbered cards first. Your cards are numbered 1-10. The active player is given a choice of categories. They will select one of their cards and will give a one-word clue that relates to their number. Everyone else will choose one of their cards that hopefully matches the clue giver. Whoever matches the active player will get to discard their cards (along with the active player if at least one person guessed correctly).

Example category: Movies. I would play the number 4 card and give the clue "Fantastic". Likely that clue is too easy, because you ideally want only one other person to match your card.

I am simply terrible at this game. Not only am I bad at trivia stuff, I am also bad at math. Not entirely true, but I don't have a lot of math trivia knowledge. There is room to be clever though. I was trying to be clever with my clues, but I was more confusing than clever. I tried and I had fun, and that's what counts!

Dan won this game. I think I managed to guess 3 clues correctly, but I was in far worse shape than many people! It was a cute game and I could play again. This game is just another reminder that I swim with smart people.


We had 5 players, and Megaland was on my list to try out. New to me!

I figured this would be a mixed bag for me, and I wasn't wrong. I really enjoy push your luck games like Diamant, but they tend to outstay their welcome. This has a similar problem, or maybe our play just went too long.

I can't help myself but push too hard, so I just ultimately fail. I managed to increase my life a lot, but that doesn't get you any points. You have to build up your card engine and generate points that way, and to do that you have to leave the adventure with lots of goodies for rewards before you die. Yah, I never left the adventure soon enough and would always be defeated by the monsters.

Erik was the only sensible one in the game and would often leave the adventure early and collect the few rewards he had. Yah - that is the sign of a real winner. He absolutely crushed us. I am nearly sure I had no points at the end of the game.

It was a cute game and I like that it is available at Target. I would have LOVED this game growing up, and it makes me super happy that kids can get into gaming playing games like this. I can't say this is one I would want to play a lot, but I would be happy to play it again.


In an effort to learn some more games, I spotted a 2018 Essen release that I was interested in trying called The Tales of Ki-pataw. New to me!

I am always interested in learning Japanese games and this one looked crazy cute. Scott joined me and Michael for a 3 player game.

Not knowing much of anything about this game, I knew Scott would appreciate playing as the Capybara character. So super cute, and under almost any other circumstances I would want to play that character. However, there was a photographer girl, so I HAD to play as her.

Tales is a simple pick-up-and-deliver game where you are running around the board trying to complete goals and contracts and race to the finish. Each player will have their own objectives to complete and whoever can do that first will win. There are alternate end conditions if you partner well with other players and manage to complete it together. I think there is a bit of time traveling happening in this game, and there is a LOT of back story if you are into all that.

There are also elements of deck building that are happening here. You are using a deck of cards to move around the board and complete contracts with cards.

My goal was to visit the places and take some pics and get back to the train station. But I was a very slow, very cold, very hungry, lost little girl, and with such a small hand of cards, I found it very difficult to move around. Scott was a ravenous Capybara and wanted all the food, and he was moving really fast after he ate! His goal was to basically visit all of the locations and eat a lot. Michael was moving very quickly too. He was a time traveller from the future, and his goal was to find the most perfect eggs to eat.

Michael went straight for his objectives. I was trying to work with Scott to pull off a cooperative victory, but we kept getting in each other's way.

It was a cute game and with a few more turns I know Scott and I could have won. But Michael swept in and overtook us for the win.

There are different ways to play the game with more advanced variants, I think. I would be interested to see what the game offers. It was a cute game and pretty interesting. I love the artwork, of course.


The ice cream social was happening, and it was time for a Filler game. New to me!

Filler is a clever title, but might get lost in conversation, or perhaps easily remembered, hard to say!

This is a super light card game about filling up some pastries! All of the cards have a time stamp and players will select one card to determine the turn order. The earliest card gets to go first. There is a line up of cards each round and players will take turns filling the pastry orders. You will use cards from your hand as ingredients to take pastries from the line up of cards. What is interesting is that, when you take a card, it goes into your hand so you can immediately use it next round for filling ingredients.

You play round after round until the deck of cards is depleted. If you have no cards in your hand then you have to spend your whole turn taking all of your cards back into your hand. A lot of the cards will have end game scoring points and there are set collection bonuses to look for as well. In the end, you just add up your points.

We played a 2 player game and it was super cute. I had some killer turns which got me the win. There were a few cards that allowed you to fill another pastry order, which gave me more cards, which gave me more bonus actions. It all worked out very well for me.

I found this game to be very charming. It is light and easy to play. I like the unique starting hands and the different time stamps. It is really cute and I could play this anytime.


There was a game I noticed at the last minute that I had to play called Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale. New to me!

I didn't know much about it other than I had to play it. It is a roll n write (flip n write) game about creating a map! There are monsters that will come attacking your lands, but you are trying to map out your land the best you can to score the most points.

There are 4 scoring cards that will give everyone goals to work toward in the game. There are 4 seasons, and each season, two scoring cards will be used, so each card will be scored twice during the game (a la Isle of Skye).

Cards are pulled one at a time and players will have to draw that shape on their map. Some cards will give multiple options. Players will use the scoring card goals as a guide to place the shapes in specific spots on the map.

Each season, a monster will be shuffled into the mix. If a monster card is drawn then everyone has to pass their map to another player who will draw that monster shape on the board in the most inconvenient spot they can find in hopes that the player will take a lot of negative points or screw up their positioning for other scorings. The monster is then discarded from the game.

Each card will have a value printed on it. Once the value of the revealed cards reaches a target value, the season will be over and scoring will happen. Then the next season begins with another monster shuffled in. The person with the most points at the end of the 4th season is the winner!

I love me some multi-player solitaire games like this where really any number of people can be playing. No wonder it was a huge hit for me. I think we ended up playing this game with 6 people. I got to name my map and draw a sigil and create a cartographer name. All these things should involve colors and rainbows and apparently waffles.

We had a pretty nice game and we only ever saw one monster card show up. I ended up losing a bunch of points from that monster but I still did pretty well. There were some good points to be had from scoring complete vertical and horizontal lines, so I was working on that most of the game. I guess that ended up being a winning strategy since I managed to knock it out of the park with a 143 score. I think I left everyone else in the dust around the 120 mark. Maybe I just know how to make maps.

I simply can't wait to play this game again! I am in love! I will have to use colored pencils next time. How pretty my maps will be! I can see it now! Love love love this game!


One final quick game before we called it a night! We felt we couldn't go wrong with Quick!Quick!Quick!. New to me!

The speed is literally in the title - QUICK. It took longer to read and try to understand the rules than it did to play. Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too many rules for a speed tile laying game.

In Quick!Quick!Quick!, you are trying to rescue people from a disaster by placing tiles in a grid. You have to make sure all of the requirements are being met for the tiles you are placing. There is a lot going on and a lot of wishy-washy rules about storing unused tiles and small bonus tiles.

We played it, and I think I won, but I am not sure anyone really won. It was definitely not quick, or even quick enough to have "quick" 3 times in the title. I can't say I had any fun playing this one. Perhaps I should have called it a night after Cartographers.

Anyway, it was one more game to learn, which made it an even 50 New To Me games for the convention. #goalsweremet


It was such an excellent con and so many wonderful games were played and wonderful people I got to play them with. One of the best weeks of the year! Loved it!


New to the Collection:
Instead of listing everything, here is a pic!
Highlights include:
The Quacks of Quedlinburg
Dungeon Academy

Thanks for following along!

Happy Gaming!!!


I made a FB group for the blog if you are on there and want to chat up some games! Check it out!

All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way.
Thank you.
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