9 Days, 8 Nights


I'm back from The Gathering of Friends, a gaming event in Columbus for about 230 people. Last year I noticed a dramatic change in my Gathering experience, as I spent more time just schmoozing with people than I did playing games. A friend who hadn't been to the past few Gatherings remarked that this one felt "less intense" to him-- so perhaps this is a more sweeping trend and not localized to just me. I played a lot of Tichu and poker, and fairly little else outside of the tournaments and a handful of new games (although I never even played the big attraction, Reiner Knizia's latest Amun-Re). This is consistent with the general ambivalence about games I've been feeling for the past year. At our weekly game sessions, I'm rarely the one to push us into a particular game anymore. I'm content to just hang with everyone and schmooze. So it was this week, as I drifted from table to table to chat and shrugged off many attempts to get me to join games.

That relaxed attitude carried over into tournaments. I played in all the team events but only a few individual ones (Medici, Puerto Rico, Lost Cities, Ra), and paradoxically had my best tournament showing yet with four wins (Haste Worte, Password, Treasure Hunt, Lost Cities). I also picked up a free lifetime pass to the Gathering during the prize ceremony by correctly identifying the first game Alan Moon had the idea for.

Six people from my game group were also in attendance this year, five for the first time, and it was fun to have them there and see the experience through their eyes.

Many thanks to Alan Moon for running the event.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Zombie, already in progress.


Dude, I think you're getting old. :-)

I'd be curious to know a bit more about what Alan's first game idea was and how this year's Treasure Hunt went.

I also want to know if there were many people who went for staaaaaacks and didn't (or didn't have their champion) manage to carry them the whole distance.

Alan's first game idea was for Mush.

The treasure hunt went quite well. My team was assembled pretty haphazardly. Dave Arnott and I like to do this together, and beyond that we had no idea who we'd play with. We wound up taking David Sidore, Michael Roberts, Mark Engelberg, and Mike Selinker. Next year it will probably be a completely different set of people. The hunt was themed on Clue, and you had to determine who did it where with what. There were about 20 puzzles, I think-- 5 each providing room, weapon, and suspect information and the rest offering points. Points could be spent to buy hints and would break ties in the case of multiple correct answers. As it turned out, our team was the only one to give a correct answer so points were irrelevant. The reason for all the incorrect answers was that the suspect info boiled down to a pair of statements from each suspect. Two of the suspects always told the truth, two always lied, and two told one truth and one falsehood. You just didn't know which was which. Since some statements were compound, figuring that out was tricky. In fact, we initially had a different answer until Mark checked our logic and discovered a contradiction.

It was timed almost perfectly. We turned in our answer with 5 minutes to spare. Another 15 minutes and I think a number of other teams would have had the correct answer. At least one such team had more points than we did (although we solved all the puzzles), so in the end we were quite satisfied with the timing. =)

The hunt ran smoothly, the puzzles were generally fun and of appropriate difficulty (harder than Aaron's puzzles, but not too hard), but if I never see another scavenge-data-from-a-few-dozen-different-board-games puzzle, I'll be quite happy.

I think there were only about 3 failed stack attempts, with around 10 stacks available. There was remarkably little in the way of true crap on the prize table this year. There was also not much at the top end either, so it balances out. Back in the day, the prize table used to be loaded with older stuff that was obscure or hard to find. Now I guess that stuff winds up on EBay, and the prize table gets shrinkwrapped new games instead. =(

You had Mike Selinker on your team? Mike Selinker who writes for Games magazine? Mike Selinker who helped co-write the hunt-style round at the 2000 World Puzzle Championship? See bottom of http://www.mathpuzzle.com/WPC2000.html . Wow. Now /that's/ a Treasure Hunt team.

Thanks for the write-up - very cool.

I'm curious to try to get a bit more of the feel of the prize ceremony. Did you know Mush was the answer and pick it straight away, or did you have to try a few guesses first?

Looking forward to the next TGR. It's only a shame you've decided to let it wait until after your WWTBAM? appearance!

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