Like Sean, I just recent spent some great quality time gaming at the Gathering of Friends. Because I pop home to Toronto between weekends, I don’t get quite the solid block of gaming many others do – and this year I ended up playing far less prototypes, strangely! So my highlights are a bit of a mix of late stage prototypes, games I’m late to trying but enjoyed, and games not out here yet but that I am super into! Numbers-wise, I sat down to play 48 times, 34 unique titles of which 15 were new to me!
Duelosaur Island – This was finishing up on Kickstarter the day I tried it, and it was VERY tempting to back. This is a great port of Dinosaur Island to a scaled back, 2 player experience, by Ian Moss. Still has some great dice rolling, and some drafting of those and cards are a big part of the build-up; but now the building up of your park is done with duel-use cards rather than a map. I can’t wait to see the finished product with Kwanchai Moriya’s art – and maybe if I start having more opportunities to play just 2p games I’ll pick it up in the future.
Clans of Caledonia – I had seen this briefly at BGGcon on the hot games tables, but never had the opportunity to play while there. It hasn’t popped up a lot around the gaming nights I’ve been at since BGGcon, so when our pal Jeff from Panda Game Manufacturers was setting it up, I grabbed last spot to try it out. What a fabulous farm/area building economic euro, with spots of trading and variable player powers. It has been described to me as “Scottish Terra Mystica” and I can certainly see the comparisons. I loved the spatial element of getting workers and resources grouped out onto the board, and building up resources to trade in for contracts – it had a touch of The Voyages of Marco Polo in that way. This new-to-me game hooked me, and I can’t wait to get it in front of me again.
Rajas of the Ganges – Yet another Inka and Marcus Brand hit, a Huch!/R&R Games joint publication, and overall a solid mid-weight Euro. Worker placement, dice use and a dash of tile laying form a mighty meal of strategy to be the first to cross your money and point markers on their respective tracks to end the game. I’m surprised I missed this one when it first hit shelves; I have to admit that I was slightly put off by the theme, being somewhat pasted on (Kat on the Five By goes into this much better than I can in a few words) – it’s not perfect, and I’d love to see more development on it in that regard. But it’s going to be added to my collection so I can sink my teeth into it more.
Decrytpo – It was interesting for me, after seeing various iterations of Codenames hitting the Gathering tables in the last few years, to see Decrypto out being played so frequently. I had enormous fun getting to sit down and play this at maximum capacity a number of times – and seeing large groups doing the same. You can read more about the game in Sean’s review, safe to say it was my fave party game of the con.
Istanbul the Dice Game – Not new to me, but it was exciting for me because I got to introduce it to a number of people who enjoyed it, AND get a used copy at the flea market. Yes, I couldn’t wait until the AEG release closer to summer. Because dang, this is an amazing port of the original and it was fabulous for me to be able to grasp it enough to teach and share it. I always love having someone passionate about a favourite game of theirs share with me, so it was nice to give back that feeling to others.
Of course this little selection wasn’t all that grabbed my fancy. I heard fantastic buzz about two games in particular that I just couldn’t find the time to play – Glen More 2 and Detective. It sounds like the development on the former has enhanced the original – and it was already great! – and the latter just sounds like an amazing gameplay experience similar to the vibe of Time Stories and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. The one prototype I played that I can’t even talk about but am so excited for is a new Matt Leacock dice prototype – seriously, can’t even show you a photo! But I’m interested to see where it develops from the round of playtesting that was done at the Gathering. And last of all, honorable mentions for games I loved enormously over the days I was gaming: The Mind, Coimbra, Ganz Schon Clever, the Medici card game, and Gizmos.
Another great con of gaming under the belt – it leaves me excited for what will be coming out or developed the rest of the year, as well as digging in to make the effort to replay a number of the new to me games and fully appreciate my initial experiences and impressions.