While I’m unable to go this year, I have recently been a speaker at a career day at Laurel High School in Maryland. I received an e-mail from Mr. Darrell Williams on behalf of Alliance Seminars, a group that provides speakers for such activities. If your group works through this organization and you’d like to have me in to speak, please contact me.
I’m going to make comments on specific games I played that I liked, but here’s a brief listing. The authoritative source on all things Eurogaming is of course BoardgameGeek, so take a look there for more info.
Played and liked: Antike (Eggert-Spiele), Augsburg 1520 (Alea), Commands and Colors: Ancients (GMT), Fiji (2F-Spiele), Hart an der Grenze (Kosmos), John Silver (Eggert-Spiele), Ostia (Phalanx), Thurn und Taxis (Hans im Glück), Ticket to Ride: Märklin (Days of Wonder).
Played and could take or leave: Aquädukt (Schmidt), Aton (Queen), California (Abacus), Cash & Guns (Z-Man), Cleopatra and the Society of Architects (Days of Wonder), Euphrates & Tigris card game (Hans im Glück), Jericho (Abacus), Mission Planete Rouge (Asmodée).
Played and didn’t like much: Diabolo (Amigo), Dolmengötter (Eggert-Spiele), Mauerbauer (Hans im Glück), Um Krone und Kragen (Amigo).
Special category: Caylus (Ystari) – I went from intense dislike to merely dislike. This is the trendy “gamer’s game” pick of Eurogamer cognoscenti. Enjoy it; I played it once and despised it as too many things going on with no sense of what to do. The second play was better but clearly the same sort of problem for me. I think I’ve had about all of the Caylus I’m going to play; like Knizia’s Samurai and the completely baffling Paris, Paris it’s a game I’m not interested in wasting time on again.
Favorite games of the Gathering:
- Thurn and Taxis for lightweight strategy; it’s about the level of Web of Power, and worth having on the shelf. There’s some strategy, but there’s also some luck in what cards come up.
- Hart an der Grenze for the components: your “suitcase” is a little metal box – it would be a far less cute game without it, but it’s the sort of game you want to pick up when Adam Spielt has a closeout sale, since those boxes make the game expensive.
- Augsburg 1520 for involved strategy. It’s fairly short and there is some luck (what bidding cards you get, what favors get put on the table), but it’ll be a good game to play with the Puerto Rico and Taj Mahal crowd.
- John Silver for pure fun. There’s so little to it: a deck of cards and a layout with little stand-up characters. There are three things you can acquire: coins, black scrolls, and apples. Coins go to you; black scrolls go to you but are a penalty; and coins pass to the person on your left. So the idea is to acquire coins, drop black marks on others, and place apples with the person on your right. It’s not complex, but there’s some depth – and if you play it you’ll want to play it again.
More as I have time.
I’ve spent the last few days (since leaving the Gathering of Friends in Ohio) with Eric Raymond, the guy whose picture would appear in the dictionary next to the word “hacker”. We’ve tried out Richard Borg’s excellent Commands and Colors: Ancients and the new Alan Moon Ticket To Ride game (themed around Märklin HO trains). Today we sat down to play one of my all-time favorites, Avalon Hill’s Merchant of Venus, a late 1980s gem about trading commodities on a randomly set up board.
So. I beat him. A couple of turns more and he would have won (first time with a complex game that most Eurogamers would sniff at as too fiddly) but I won, damn it.
I believe I get the credit for introducing Eric to Puerto Rico among other games; so as long as he plays things that I’m good at that he never tries, I should be all right.
This evening we’re working to put together some notes for a tactical space combat simulation based on my own novels, about which I expect to say more when I have more to say.