What I Played at the Gathering of Friends 2014
Nicole Hoye
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One weekend down, and I'm back in Toronto - this is what I've played so far, and I'll update after next weekend!

And now the Gathering is done for another year and my list is fully updated (I didn't add repeated plays for the second weekend, like Coconuts, Sushi Go, One Night Ultimate Werewolf tournament, Can't Stop tournament). What a fantastic time gaming. It was so wonderful to see familiar faces from last year (my first) and meet some excellent new folks this year. It's hard to be upset at having too many terrific gaming pals that I can't get to game with them all.

Until next year!!

{You can also read a little more & see some photos at my blog: parts 1, 2 & 3}
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1. Board Game: ebbes [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:4137]
Nicole Hoye
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A 5-round trick taking game with some interesting variable points-getting each round. It tended to be a little chaotic. Plus, I'm just rubbish at trick taking games, so I always feel like I'm floundering.
 
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2. Board Game: But Wait, There's More! [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:2918] [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked]
Nicole Hoye
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After playing a prototype at last year's GOF I was pleased to see mock-up cards for the upcoming Toy Vault printing of Jay & Sen's game! I've played it a couple of times and it's just as fun as it ever was. I can't wait to Kickstart this soon!
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3. Board Game: One Night Ultimate Werewolf [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:328] [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
Nicole Hoye
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Sat down on Friday night to play One Night Ultimate Werewolf with the Bezier games folks Ted & Toni, and a lovely large group of folks who didn't mind me joining last minute. I still dig this game so much, and it was fun to play with folks familiar with the game. The character chips were used during the discussion phase to claim/accuse roles, which I haven't seen before, and I quite liked that.

Also saw some new stuff, which I'm very excited about! I can't wait for Friday night's tournament.
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4. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:2360]
Nicole Hoye
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Played a prototype of CGE's app-assisted worker placement/deduction game "Alchemists" on Saturday. What a terrific, brain bending game! You're an apprentice alchemist deducing the properties of ingredients based on the potions they create together. The app generates new combinations for each time you play the game, increasing playability. Loved this, and want to try it again and see if I can logic it all out better.
 
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5. Board Game: Subdivision [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2324]
Nicole Hoye
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Coming out at Gen Con! In a similar vein to Suburbia, you're working on building up your city area (a pre-determined subdivision playmat in this instance) with tiles that will benefit each other from their placement. Ideally you want proximity to the main road on your playmat in order to score points for your building tiles, score points from schools, and have far reaching sidewalks to make the most points from an accessibility standpoint. Great stuff, simple to learn, quick playtime. A no-brainer to try if you like Suburbia.
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6. Board Game: The Battle at Kemble's Cascade [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1750]
Nicole Hoye
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Upcoming from Z-Man! A scrolling space battle game: you're working your way through a constantly changing space terrain as cards are discarded from the bottom row and refreshed on the top row to simulate movement through space.

Encountering enemy and other player's ships, asteroids, warp features, singularities & eventually the final Boss, you'll be trying to get ahead with your weapons and equipment to be strong enough to survive the run! I had a great time, and would love to play it again to see how my luck with power ups and equipment fares.
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7. Board Game: Blueprints [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:790]
Nicole Hoye
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So simple in design, but with enough going on to make it interesting and fun to play. You get a 'blueprint' for a structure to build with dice. Each round you take a die from a publicly available pool and play it to your structure behind your screen. Each type of die has different scoring benefits that will come into effect once everyone has 6 dice on their blueprint. Really solid, but unfortunately not great with 2 players.
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8. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:2903]
Nicole Hoye
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'PanicoBloc' (to be renamed for the English speaking market) is a real time emergency room team game, simulated through a series of mini games. It's hectic, mad and fun. Not sure when this will be released. Played it twice, thoroughly enjoyed it.
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9. Board Game: Strike A Pose [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:8155]
Nicole Hoye
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Charades on freeze-frame. One person randomly deals each other player a number - the number corresponds to a list of things within a category. For instance "Terrible Jobs", "Types of woodworking" etc. Each player looks at their number a "strikes a pose" to best represent it. The judge then takes a look at everyone's poses to try and determine who corresponds to which item on the list. Very light & fun, I could see this being a fun filler/casual game to have on the shelf.
 
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10. Board Game: Coconuts [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:814] [Average Rating:7.07 Unranked]
Nicole Hoye
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Look, what's not to love about catapulting tiny rubber coconuts from a monkey's hands? So much hilarity in our poor aim, and as much hilarity in our amazing/lucky aim! The most fun part is getting your coconut in an opponent's cup to steal. Muhhahahaha!
 
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11. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:675]
Nicole Hoye
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Can't Stop, won't stop, didn't stop. Won! Warming up for next weekend's tournament.
 
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12. Board Game: Trains [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:411] [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
Nicole Hoye
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I don't have any problems with deck building, and I'm always willing to give a new one a try. I really liked the role the board played in this game - it felt like it really gave some purpose to how you build your deck and gave a little more structure to the game. I wasn't quite sure of the strategy, so I think going back for multiple plays would be far more rewarding.
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13. Board Game: Splendor [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:131]
Nicole Hoye
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A simple resource-generation-for-points game, but I enjoyed the way it played out. I found the strategy surprisingly tough for such a simple game! It's a real struggle to get what you need to get ahead, especially in a 4 player game. Simple to learn (and teach). Not sure about the longevity of replayability.
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14. Board Game: Five Tribes [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:57]
Nicole Hoye
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Five Tribes is Bruno Cathala's newest, coming from Days of Wonder at Gen Con. This has been my favourite game of the convention so far. (Read Bruno's designer diary here: http://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/29101/designer-diary-five-...)

Taking a euro with an Arabian theme and giving it a fresh twist, this game relies on displacing workers already on the board, rather than each player placing their own workers. The strategy of moving these workers allows you to perform certain tasks, and all of these work toward the generation of points. I know this is an over simplified explanation of the game, and there's quite a lot more going on than just the worker displacement aspect, but that is the most important aspect. The rest of it is the devil in the details and the practicality of strategy.

I can't stop thinking about it, though! The prototype we played was pretty nice, but I'm looking forward to seeing what quality production Days of Wonder can do.
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15. Board Game: Pandemic: The Cure [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:298]
Nicole Hoye
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Matt Leacock has done such a great job at transferring the theme and general gist of gameplay from Pandemic the board game over to a very light and reasonably quick dice game. I'd say I would almost default to this game rather than regular Pandemic because it's done such a great job at porting everything over. Each role is well thought out, dice sides are distributed well for players and viruses, the team work is still at the forefront, and it's still brutally hard to stop the world from being enveloped in filthy sick germs. Whee!
 
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16. Board Game: Sushi Go! [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:385]
Nicole Hoye
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7 Wonders Light! Draft your cards! build up your tableau with combinations for points! be amazed at how cute cartoon sushi is! YAY! I need this.
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17. Board Game: Going, Going, GONE! [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3017]
Nicole Hoye
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It's criminal it took me so long to try this game. Madly tossing cubes in cups to bid in auctions is the best fun. Set collection is secondary fun. A great, easy to understand game with a lot of fun going on. I must get this.
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18. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition) [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:576]
Nicole Hoye
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I tried the new version of Ca$h 'n' Gun$ with the Repos folks, and I love it! There's some new stuff going on which I think really refreshed the gameplay for me. Each player now gets dealt a random special power to use once per round, there's also some new loot in addition to money (paintings, diamonds, and also med kits to heal up!). There's also a 'Boss' role that can be claimed as part of the loot, and it lets you tell a player to re-aim during the shooting phase. I really had fun, and I like the new character art way better!
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19. Board Game: Arboretum [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:270]
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I am not sure I grasped the concept of this well, as it was my last game at the end of the very long first weekend & I was tired. With some set collection, tableau building and hand management going on, there's a lot to think about. Adam described it as having elements of Lost Cities which I can see. I'll give it another try, because it is quite interesting - and it has pretty artwork.
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20. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:2360]
Nicole Hoye
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By a stroke of wonderful chance, I got to sit down with Ryan Sturm to play the prototype of his & Geoff Engelstein's Trading in the Mediterranean! A terrific combination of card trading and tableau building, and although I didn't do spectacularly well, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. It was a fairly easy game to learn, and after one round the 5 of us were rocketing through and having a great time trading resources, and also making bargains/threats thanks to some of the powers from our civilization card tableaus. I love what Ryan & Geoff have put together, and hope it can find a publisher soon.
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21. Board Game: Evolution [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:368]
Nicole Hoye
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North Star were demo-ing their upcoming Kickstarter title Evolution & I sat down on my second weekend to give it a try. It's quite a different pace for North Star, but I found it quite interesting.

Starting the game with a blank species slate, you play the game to build up that species with traits, and add new ones to your tableau. All players add to a communal food bank at the start of each turn, and then as the turn plays out you try and make sure all your species can be fed & survive, their population thrives, and that they aren't eaten by 'carnivore'-type species. Of course, if you *are* a 'carnivore'-type species, during the feeding round you try to pick off some population from other players' species.

It played fairly smoothly after the rules instruction, and once they clarify some of the writing in their rules/cards then I think this will be a solid game for folks looking for something light. Honestly, I'll sit down to play animal games any time!
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22. Board Game: New Haven [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:3794]
Nicole Hoye
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I had no idea about this game going in, but was pleasantly surprised with the play of it. I sat down with pals Tanya, Rich & Janna to play and had a great time.

Players share a resource board, which they build up during the game by placing tiles strategically to collect an optimum amount of resources on each of their turns. These resources are then spent immediately to place numbered tiles on your own player mat in order to try and fill up rows and columns for completion points.

The neat thing I like is that if you don't spend all of your resources, you then go around the board clockwise to see if anyone else can use them - sure, it benefits them - but ultimately it means if all of them area zeroed out, you'll be able to draw more of the numbered tiles at the end of your turn. This lets you have more choice each round on what you can play on your own mat.

A nice light game with a balance of strategy, luck & player interaction. Lovely!
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23. Board Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:94]
Nicole Hoye
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I got to sit down to a couple of plays of this upcoming Bezier title, and thoroughly enjoyed both. The aim of the game is to build up your castle with a variety of rooms to maximise your points by the end of the game.

Each room type has a straight up points reward for building it, but there are also bonus/negative points depending on where you place it in relation to other types of rooms in your castle. You then get points when you complete a type of room (closing in all of its entrances), which vary from type to type.

One aspect of the game I thought really added some challenge and fun was how the start player is able to organize the room tiles at the start of the round in order of price preference - and they get paid by the other players for what they purchase. This means there's a little player interaction where there otherwise wouldn't be, and adds some interesting balancing acts as far as money & what you can afford when it comes your turn to purchase.

This pushed all my fun buttons.I am itching to get the released version of this game! It'll be out at Essen.
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24. Board Game: Concept [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:636]
Nicole Hoye
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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I played a few rounds of this at the end of Friday night, and it was terrifically fun! (My favourite thing was sitting down and being asked if I knew how to play the game, and zinging "Well, I understand the basic CONCEPT! *WINK WINK*").

A party game of guessing - but instead of a charades type scenario, you have a board of icons/symbols/shapes/colours etc to use to explain the 'concept' of what you're trying to get the other players to guess. You are working with the person next to you, so you're never quite floundering on your own - but it can definitely lead to floundering with your partner, as there can be no discussion between you while you're throwing stuff out onto the board.

This will be a definite buy when I can get my hands on it.
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25. Board Game: Two Rooms and a Boom [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:787]
Nicole Hoye
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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I played a round of this social deduction game and was kinda flummoxed by it. I was a basic member of the red team, so there was really not a lot for me to do. Plus, the president and bomber both started in the other room - so there wasn't much we could do! I'd be interested in trying this again to see if there's some fun & depth to it after trying different roles, etc.
 
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