Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Singin' The Gathering Blues

With the odd & diverse audience of this blog (or perhaps I could simply refer to the audience of "aka pastor guy" as odd), there's no way I'm able to do this next post without a truckload of footnoting. Apologies to those out there who live in the tiny insular world of the boardgaming subculture.

Anyway, with that less-than-interesting introduction, this is my annual Pity Party week, as I realize that yet another Gathering of Friends [1] has gone by without me attending. As the posts & blogs & reports & pictures come rolling in, I can feel a sad, blue wave pull at my emotions, like a mental riptide dragging me off to sea. (After typing this sentence, my Internal Editor told me to lighten up.)

It's actually been worse since I attended the Gathering in 2002... now I know what I'm missing. Interestingly enough, it's not primarily the new games. (OK, a lot of it is the new games. Or the odd games, those treats from the collections of Sheila Davis [2], Joe Huber [3], Frank "Moo" Branham [4] and others.) What I really miss is time with close friends like Greg Schloesser [5], Ted Cheatham [6] & Craig Berg [7] (anyone up for a game of Das Storrisches Muli?!)... or the delightfully Danish humor of Mik Swellov [8]... or the gruff & off-color outside/fluffy teddy bear inside of Derk "Boardgame Geek" Solko [9]. (I fully realize I'm leaving lots of people out, up to and including the host of the shindig, the venerable Alan R. Moon [10], but this is a blog, not a novel.)

In many cases, I'll get to see these folks again this summer at Gulf Games [11], but it's still semi-miserable to think about all the fun they had without me.

OK, should I preach on evy, jealousy or covetousness this week? Sigh.

  1. The Gathering of Friends is an invitation-only boardgaming event held each spring, hosted by Alan Moon (see below). Over 250 people gather in a hotel/covention center for 8 days to play board & card games, primarily "designer" games. It also is a major "meet-up" event for game designers & game companies.
  2. Sheila Davis is an extraordinarily avid game collector from Colorado, whose collection has over 10,000 games in it. I bring her collection up whenever Shari begins to worry about how many games (roughly 700) I own. Sheila also runs a yearly Battle Cattle miniatures event that was one of the highlights of my only Gathering experience.
  3. Joe Huber is a good friend and designer of two published games (and many other unpublished ones): Scream Machine, which I playtested, and Ice Cream, which I did not. They're both very good little games, btw.
  4. Frank Branham is a game designer who shares my love of odd & wonderful children's games, even Frank & I make an odd pair when we're hanging out together. I'm a huge fan of his nearly published space combat game, as well as his insanely difficult trick-taking partnership brain-burner, Dia de los Muertos/Four Dragons.
  5. Greg Schloesser doesn't actually design games. He just plays them... a lot of them. And writes about them. He's a one-man force for boardgaming, as he heads up the IGA (a "designer" game award) as well as running Gulf Games (see below) and keeping up the Westbank Gamers website. He's moving to Tennessee soon, which also gives me the blues, as I used to live there!
  6. Ted Cheatham is a game designer as well (some good news coming on that front soon) but I know him best as the crazy, wonderful guy who got me introduced to a number of the major players in the hobby - and thought enough of me to invite me to the second Gulf Games. Ted's friendship goes beyond the gaming table - he's likely to give you the shirt off his back.
  7. Craig Berg, otherwise known as "Invisible Craig", is not only a good gaming friend, but a guy I'd like to grow up and be like. I love his kids, I love his wife (though not as much as I love mine), I love his sense of humor, and someday, if I'm very well behaved and pay attention, I'll be able to tell a funny story as well as he can.
  8. Mik Swellov runs this nifty little website called Brett & Board, that used to be the place to go for gaming news, until the uppity Canadian got involved and made Mik's life easier. My best memory of Mik involves playing a game he didn't like (Cairo), laughing & joking and continually asking, "Why am I playing this game?"
  9. Derk Solko really is a teddy bear. Really. Only a teddy bear that wouldn't be allowed on network TV. (Actually, I've wondered if Derk & I would make an interesting The Amazing Race team... Salty & Sweet, "The Pastor & The Anti-Pastor". He he he...) Anyway, Derk's gaming claim to fame (besides being my friend) is that he runs BoardGameGeek with Aldie.
  10. Alan Moon is the host/creator of The Gathering of Friends - but he's also a "big deal" game designer, with two Spiel des Jahres (German Game of the Year) wins to his credit for Elfenland and Ticket To Ride. Despite him being quite kind to me (up to and including a Gathering invite back in the mid-90's), Alan & I have never played a game together.
  11. Gulf Games is a family-oriented invitation-only gaming event to which I have the privilege of being one of the "early adopters". It's like a twice-yearly family reunion with people you love and games you enjoy... one of the toughest things about moving west was moving away from many of these folks. Thankfully, I'm headed back to Gulf Games this summer...

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