My Thirteenth Gathering of Friends
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Purely from a game playing perspective, I had a very fine week. The new titles didn't stand out, but I played a bunch of good prototypes and a batch of old favorites. And, as always, I got to see a bunch of friends, which really is what keeps me coming back.

But it was a week where a number of friends, both present and absent, were dealing with various heartaches. This definitely made it easy to appreciate my blessings, but also put a damper on the week.

While the list below is about the games, the week itself was about the people. Oddly, I found myself playing with fewer different people; it just wasn't a driving concern. And my biggest regret was not taking the time to sit and talk with various folks - there was no game I didn't play that I'm concerned I missed, even Small World which I suspect I'll enjoy.
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1. Board Game: Riddles & Riches [Average Rating:4.90 Overall Rank:13837]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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No, I didn't play Riddles & Riches; I only played in once, in 1997. As my very first play at my very first Gathering. With three other first time attendees - Dan Blum, Dave Andrews, and Frank DiLorenzo. Dan, Dave, and I have been every year since - and actually play in a common group outside of the Gathering as well. I thought Frank had been every year, but he actually did miss once, at least according to Bruce.

The folks who first started attending in 1997 have been a fairly consistent group, on the whole. Bryan Bowe, like Frank, has only missed once. Terry Egan has been every year. Paul Evans has been every year in spite of having to travel a lot further than the rest of us. Mark Noseworthy hasn't missed. Ricardo Sedan has missed just twice. Jay Tummelson was only absent once.
 
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2. Board Game: Demo Derby: Saturday Night at the Track [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:11155]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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I ran a Gathering math trade for the second time this year, netting 119 trades. Not up to the level of the BGG.con math trade, but a very respectable total in my book.

In addition to Saturday Night at the Demolition Derby, I received:

Majority
Hamstern (spare copy, perhaps for work)
Chamelequin
Star Force Terra #1
Tribun
Netzwerk (not the Morisi one)
Garibaldi
and a Heroscape expansion for my older son
 
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3. Board Game: Finca [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:538]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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The first game I played at the 20th Gathering - and the only game I played on the day I arrived - was Finca. It's a pleasant enough game, but doesn't really stand out for me. I played it a second time, not so much to be sure as simply because a table wanted to be taught.
 
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4. Board Game: 1846: The Race for the Midwest [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:553]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Saturday morning, Jim McDanold had just 2.5 hours, but as always was interested in an 18xx game. So Jim, Joe Rushanan, and I played 1846 - in just 2 hours. Nice, close game, too.
 
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5. Board Game: Maori [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1659]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Next to hit the table was this cute, but fly-away light tile laying game. Pleasant enough - I wouldn't object to it - but I also can't imagine suggesting it.
 
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6. Board Game: FITS [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1275]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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A very clever Tetris-inspired abstract, with some nice Knizia touches. A good game, but exactly the type I've found I don't need to own, even though I'm happy to play them.
 
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7. Board Game: Bombay [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2119]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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This was the next game I sat down to. There's not much to it - over a whole game, players will accomplish fewer than 10 real things - but it's not difficult to play a three player game in 15 minutes, and 10 minutes should be possible; even with 5, the game shouldn't go on for more a half hour.
 
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8. Board Game: Keltis: Der Weg der Steine Mitbringspiel [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:2280]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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I haven't generally been impressed by the Mitbringspiel series, but this one I like. I still need to play Keltis sometime to compare it to, but those who've played both tended to prefer this.
 
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9. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:2204]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Generally I try for a nice mix of new games, familiar games, and unpublished prototypes (or pre-production games).

In 2009, I played 23 new games, 23 familiar games, and 22 unpublished games.
 
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10. Board Game: Duck Dealer [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:3470]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Unfortunately, this wasn't a game in the tradition of Indonesia - which I do really enjoy - but instead in the tradition of Splotter's other games, which I find have interesting ideas but don't quite work for me. Or, in this case, don't work at all for me - what the game tries to do is great, but it fails in just about every way, at least for me.
 
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11. Board Game: Alea Iacta Est [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1250]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Of all the new published games, this is the only one I intend to purchase. (And with Keltis Mitbringspiel, the only one I expect to own at the end of 2009.) It's a dice game with a different feel to it, and a nice little theme which I expect is tied in reasonably but we missed out on without English rules.
 
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12. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:50]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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While I'm not playing Race as much any more, I did get in three plays in Columbus - and would have managed a fourth if not for the shortest 25 minute wait for a table I've ever seen.
 
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13. Board Game: Africa [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:3428]
 
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Sunday started with an old favorite - and a shift away from trying new games that never really reversed.
 
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14. Board Game: Traders of Osaka [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:945]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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While the game has been a favorite of mine for a while, I hadn't played the Z-man edition. I have to say - they did a _really_ nice job with it. Excellent game.
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15. Board Game: 1861: The Railways of the Russian Empire [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:1734]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Amazingly enough, I played twice - and I've played three times in 2009. One of my favorites in the series - 2038 is my favorite, and 1846, 1861, and 18EU are close behind.
 
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16. Board Game: Steel Driver [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:961]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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This game works for me. It's short, but player's actions do directly impact their performance, and there are interesting things to do throughout the game. One of 10 games now on my five and dime list for 2009.
 
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17. Board Game: Automobile [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:323]
 
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Since it's not published yet, I'll just say - the theme is great, and is well implemented.
 
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18. Board Game: Snow Tails [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:605]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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My second play of the game did nothing to make me regret trading for a copy. In spite of how little I generally like race games...
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19. Board Game: Clue: The Great Museum Caper [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1642]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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This was requested, and I was pleased to play it again. It's light, and a little silly, but definitely fun.
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20. Board Game: Finito! [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3313]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Yet another perfectly pleasant game I'm happy to play but don't need to own. Slowly but surely I'm getting better about not cycling such games through my collection...
 
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21. Board Game: Piece o' Cake [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1472]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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I taught this - interestingly, on a corrected set. I'm sure it's just a matter of having played the wrong set more, but I think I like the oddities it causes...
 
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22. Board Game: Big Boss [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:2610]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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This is the first year in which I've played Big Boss twice since 2002. As poorly as my first game went, this one went well - or close enough for government work, at least.
 
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23. Board Game: Factory Fun [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:872]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Joe Rushanan was looking for something that didn't feel like a typical German game, so we pulled out Factory Fun. With only three players, we each took 14 machine parts, for a bit of variety.
 
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24. Board Game: Time Agent [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:3929]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Tuesday I only managed to play six games - but they included 1861, Outpost, and Time Agent. (Rather than give a game-by-game review, I've only listed each game once.)

I got to play the Veneb, and was crushed - I misjudged the timing, and didn't reverse the Veneb philosophy in time; that wouldn't have been enough, but it would have made things closer. Great game.
 
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25. Board Game: Outpost [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1563]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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I really enjoy Outpost, and particularly enjoyed this play. I tried a water path, missed out on the Outposts, and still managed to finish second. OK, I had a water+person on turn one, so it wasn't that impressive. I do need to go for a pure Titanium strategy again...
 
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