Game I played at the 2008 GCOM Retreat
Bradley Keen
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Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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Last Weekend I attended the Games Club of Maryland (GCOM) Gaming Retreat at the Weinberg Center, located at Camp Frettred in Reisterstown, Maryland. The retreat was only open to supporting members of the Games Club of Maryland, but included an entire day of gaming and a catered breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Considering that yearly membership dues are only $20, this was a great deal, and I happily paid to become a member. Rooms at the Center were also available for rent, and many supporting members paid to stay over Friday and Saturday night.


The Weinberg center was gorgeous. In the front of the hall was a gas fireplace, which lent a very cozy ambiance to the room. There was plenty of space for gaming and many tables were setup. My only complaint is that the large ceiling and low lighting made it difficult to play (see) some games and produced quite a bit of glare when playing games with deck protectors. (Agricla...for example). HOWEVER, this is such a minor point that it is not even worth a mention given the amount of fun I had at the event.

Fifty one gamers attended the event, with each member bringing along games to add to the significant library already carted along by Keith Levy. I had an excellent time at this event, everyone was very friendly, and it ran very smoothly. If GCOM holds this again next year, I will be sure to make some of my friends pony up the membership dues and I would love to stay overnight in one of the rooms.

Many thanks to GCOM for hosting this event and to Eric Haas, GCOM's "official" photographer, for posting the pictures he took of the event. The provided link will give you a snapshot of the fun that will be had next year at this retreat!!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/erichaas/sets/72157603763922293...

For more information on Games Club of Maryland sponsored events, visit:
http://www.gamesclubofmd.org/

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1. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Discovery [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1645]
Bradley Keen
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I arrived about 30 minutes before the official start time and was warmly greeted by club president Keith Levy, who got me started in this Carcassonne variant. I ended up tying for first place in the game, but I have to admit that I was somewhat mystified by the scoring mechanism for most of the game. However, I did enjoy the added necessity of scoring your territory instead of adding an additional meeple to the board. While this decision was pretty straightforward throughout most of the game, it did add to the end game tensions. I am not sure if I like this more than the original, and I still enjoy the two player Carcassonne: The Castle, but this was a great way to start the day.
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2. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:16]
Bradley Keen
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I regretted passing up Agricola at EuroQuest in November and I knew that I needed to make up for that mistake ASAP. Thus, I asked Keith to send out a request for someone to bring a copy to the Retreat. Special thanks to Michelle Zentis for bringing here pasted up copy of the game!! The game lasted for about 2.5 hours with 5 players, including teaching time. I did not win the game, but I managed to stay close to the other players who had never played the game before. Michelle, however, ended with a resounding lead. So, what did I think about the game? Well, I liked it, but I didn't fall head over heels in love with the game. Perhaps I expected too much combo fun to arise from the occupation cards. My hand of cards did not work very well together, or perhaps I was still too green a farmer to understand how they should have worked together. I will obviously allow for that possibility. I would like to play the game again, and I look forward to the opportunity to study the cards and to see what other strategies I can employ. It was funny, in my first game, I focused on upgrading my house, taking perhaps too many occupations, and maintaining a fed but growing family. I did not end up with a horde of animals and thus had no need for multiple pastures. As such, I ended up building one HUGE (12 pieces of wood) fence enclosing 9 sections of land, all to hold one lone sheep.
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3. Board Game: Hamburgum [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:688]
Bradley Keen
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After lunch, I started up a game of Hamburgum with Paul Marshall (damarsh) and another individual who was a pleasure to game with but, sadly, I forgot his name. This was the first in a series of games that I played with Paul, and I look forward to meeting up with him at future GCOM events. I was not sure what to expect from Hamburgum. I own Antike and it is one of my favorite games. I also have had fun playing Imperial, but not enough to consider it one of my favorites, nor do I see any reason to add it to my collection. Both games are unique, but I just didn't like it enough to warrant the purchase. After playing Hamburgum, I was very impressed. This was partly due to the individuals that I played it with. The game almost felt like speed chess, and we all took our turns relatively quickly. I do not consider myself a poor player, and I am always thinking about my turns, but I do my thinking while other people are taking their turns. Everyone seemed to employ this tactic as well and we completed the game in a little over an hour. The length was perfect, the game was great fun, and I would love to add this one to my collection.
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4. Board Game: Key Harvest [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1310]
Bradley Keen
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Next up was Key Harvest. Sadly, I did not enjoy this game as much. We all experienced a lot of downtime as constantly changing board conditions limited our ability to think through our turns ahead of time. Richard Breese, also, by definition seem to employ analysis paralysis through the pick x of x actions in your turn mechanic. The one good note that I pulled from this playing was that, while I enjoy playing Reef Encounter online, I highly doubt that I would enjoy it in real time play.
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5. Board Game: Genesis [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:3370]
Bradley Keen
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After dinner, I sat down for another game with Paul and another person whose name I again forget. (Sorry). I had never played Genesis before but Paul described it as a quick and easy Knitzia tile laying game. He was right. We had a good time playing the game and while the tactics of the game seemed very straightforward at first, many different options and neat moves revealed themselves as the game progressed. I don't think that I would buy this game, but it was enjoyable and I could easily see playing it as a quick filler to open/close a gaming session.
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6. Board Game: Blockers! [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1370]
Bradley Keen
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I finished off the evening with a game of Blockers!. Paul initially proposed the game was a 2 player game, but we were joined by a third before he had finished teaching. I was not very impressed with this game. The game felt very luck driven, but I could be wrong, as Paul easily came in first, and he has played the game before. I could be convinced to give the game another go, but, in the language of the rating system, I would not suggest a game.
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