Friday, April 06, 2007

Gathering Ye Random Thoughts While Ye May

Apologies to Robert Herrick for the title... since I'm going to use it to refer to gathering my thoughts about The Gathering of Friends & other things, when he was probably writing poetry to convince young ladies to, well, um... "be not coy." (The poem is entitled "To The Virgins, To Make Much of Time" - you do the math.)

It's the week of The Gathering of Friends, which in the small pond that is the gaming world is a time when many of the big frogs have the opportunity to get together & play games. (In a previous post, I've chronicled my own invitation & yearly sadness at not getting to go, so we won't get into that right now.)

But I've gathered a few thoughts on the Gathering & the early reports coming out of Columbus, so here it goes:
  • Beware the negative buzz on "big" games - the year I attended, Goldland was getting lukewarm reviews because people were playing it with 5 players. (It's yet another one of those games that has components & rules for more players than it really needs.) The early "loser" in the bad buzz category looks like it will be Colosseum, which is just getting ready to be released by Days of Wonder. My advice: wait for a few more people to play it before you give this game of bread & circuses the thumbs down. (Interesting side note: Goldland & Colosseum are both designed by Wolfgang Kramer.)
  • Race for the Galaxy continues to gather buzz momentum... which is no surprise, as a number of folks I respect (Brian Bankler, Joe Huber, etc.) have been raving about it for a while now. I'm curious if I'll enjoy it since I really don't like San Juan.
  • Just in case I wasn't clear enough earlier, Goldland is a GREAT game for 2-3 players. It's a puzzle/logic game crossed with an exploration game and done up in classic Goldsieber style.
  • Game I'm most miffed I missed out on this year: Hour of Glory... esp. since I'd get to play it with my one of my favorite gamers, Frank Branham. (And I'll bet he has the minis painted, too... sigh.)

Other thoughts I've gathered that don't have anything to do with gaming:

  • The only thing keeping me from pulling my hair out (what little I have left) at the thought of Charla & Mirna staying in the Amazing Race and Sanjaya not even being in the bottom 3 on American Idol is the elimination of both Rocky & Lisi on Survivor. (Yes, I watch too much TV... we clearly established that last fall.)
  • I'm currently reading Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory graphic novels... Mr. Morrison is one trippy dude. (I'm about 1/2 way through the third volume - there's four of 'em - and I have no clue how this is going to all play out. Nice.)
  • It's Good Friday... take a minute and read the Gospel accounts of the death of Jesus. Whether you buy into Christianity or not, these events are watershed moments in world history. It'd be wise to check out the story from the source.

4 comments:

RevGuy said...

Thanks for sharing your observations on the games and the Gathering, Mark. I too think that Goldland is MUCH better with 2-3 than with a full 5.

I also heartily recommend "going to the source" of the Gospel accounts. Our church held a Good Friday service with nice long readings of John 19, Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. After reading those three chapters, a sermon is almost superfluous.

I thought I'd share with you something I wrote a while back. It's a "Choose Your Own Adventure" version of the Passion account. I call it the "Interactive Passion History". Check it out at http://iph.hislifefor.us.

Oh, and as long as I'm tooting my own horn here, try to track down my interactive fiction game where the player takes on the role of a Lutheran minister. It's called "Pastoral Pitfalls". :-)

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

A couple of comments:

1. Thanks for the kind words, Rev Guy... I need to check out your interactive fiction.

2. I finished Seven Soldiers of Victory - and was greatly disappointed by the ending. It's the classic problem of speculative (sci-fi/fantasy/conspiracy/graphic novel) fiction... it's much easier to set up some interesting premises & story ideas than it is to wrap them into a cohesive whole. Which makes Alan Moore's WATCHMEN and DC's CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS all the more amazing...

daveva said...

Spent Wednesday through Sunday at the Gathering. Saw Colisseum but didn't get a chance to play it. Loved Notre Dame and Pillars of the Earth.

Easter Sunday morning I got up early (early in Gathering Time means 8AM) and went to Broad Street Presbyterian Church in Columbus. Beautiful old gothic brick building with an incredible organ. The service was very inspiring, finishing with the entire congregation singing the Hallelujah Chorus in parts from the sheet music handed out by the ushers. I'm planning to go back to the Gathering next year, and if I stay through Saturday night I'll be back at Broad Street Church for Sunday morning worship.

Joe Huber said...

Beware the negative buzz on "big" games - the year I attended, Goldland was getting lukewarm reviews because people were playing it with 5 players.

Actually, I think this advice is just a particular form of the generic advice that the only way to know whether or not you will enjoy a game is to play it. But yes, at the Gathering games will often be played (1) with a non-ideal number of players, (2) with misunderstood rules, or both.

The early "loser" in the bad buzz category looks like it will be Colosseum, which is just getting ready to be released by Days of Wonder.

FWIW, I'm with the buzz on Colosseum - I didn't care for it, and have tried to make clear just why on BGG. (And, FWVLIW, I won.) But it's definitely _not_ horribly broken, or any such thing, and it's well worth seeking out so as to develop one's own opinion. I just found that both Traumfabrik and Bison did similar things, but more to my taste.

Race for the Galaxy continues to gather buzz momentum... which is no surprise, as a number of folks I respect (Brian Bankler, Joe Huber, etc.) have been raving about it for a while now. I'm curious if I'll enjoy it since I really don't like San Juan.

I'm not sure - I certainly like it significantly more than San Juan, but I couldn't venture a guess whether or not that will be the general reaction. It did grow on me over time, and IMHO fills a wonderful niche - a deep, fun game playable in 30 minutes. It's one of those games that, for many groups, will become a default openner/closer/filler, and get much more back-to-back(-to-back) play than most games.

Game I'm most miffed I missed out on this year: Hour of Glory... esp. since I'd get to play it with my one of my favorite gamers, Frank Branham.

Ah, but you say this only because you didn't get to see Hickory Dickory Dock, which was _designed_ by Frank...