Long overdue…here is a recap of this year’s GTF. Three plus days of gaming with about 20 friends at Cumberland Falls State Park in southern Kentucky. It’s our 8th year running the event and the 6 of us that started this gaming weekend still have a great time.
Over the years, the weekend has spread out – we now start on Wednesday.
What?!? You’re playing that? With LUKE?!? – Age of Steam
This was the first time I’d played AoS. Luke taught Dan, Sean and I how to play. We started this close to midnight on Wednesday. Maybe not the best time to learn a brain-burner like this! We played the South America map and it ran into the wee hours of Thursday morning. I did well through the middle of the game but faded at the end, unable to keep pace with Luke’s network. Having played several games of Railroad Tycoon, I really wanted to understand the differences and why fans of each game are so divided over their preference for one or the other. WOW! Small differences between the 2 games produce a large difference in feel and playstyle between each game. I like RT but after playing AoS, I can say that I truly enjoyed it also. I can see AoS doing well at our game nights, especially with Bob at the table. Tough decisions, unforgiving economy – great stuff!
The Russians are coming…the Russians are coming! — Twilight Struggle
I picked up the reprent this fall and had not yet had an opportunity to play. I’d read the rule a few times. Tim had played and was interested in playing at GTF. We played early in the day on Friday. I played the Soviets and Tim, the Americans. Most of the game, Tim had the advantage on victory points but due to unfortunate rolling during one game round, Tim spent almost the entire game round stuck in my “Quagmire” pitching card after card from his hand and unable to do anything on his turn. This was a big reason why I was able pull out a victory at the very end of the game. This is a wonderful game, tense throughout and does a superb job of feeling like you are in the middle of the Cold War. Jeff and I are planning to play TS this weekend.
The 4 in 1 Kramer “round-robin”
Luke, Troy, Kieron and I spent Friday afternoon in a simultaneous play of Java, Tikal, Torres and Mexica. We each started at a different game, took our turn and moved to the next game. We completed Java and were about 2/3’s finished with the others when Kieron had to leave for another commitment. We didn’t finish the other games but the idea worked well with these Kramer games because of the action point based turns where the other players didn’t need to be at the game when you took your turn. With 4 players that were very familiar with the rules, you could easily finish all four in 2 to 2.5 hours. I’d like to try this again.
Late Saturday, Luke, Chris, Kieron and I sat down to learn/play Tichu. I enjoyed Tichu tremendously and will need to pick up a copy to play with Jill and her parents. Not a trick-taking game, per se, but capturing certain cards count for points and you are trying to be the first or second player to empty their hand of cards. Tichu led to breaking open the copy of Null and Void I brought back from Essen for Luke. I like this one but it is a strange trick taking game. After Null and Void, we went on to play Geschenkt (No Thanks!), Beat the Buzzard (Raj), Crazy Derby (Trendy) and Nicht die Bohne. All-in-all, a sweet way to spend a couple of hours at GTF playing a blur of card games that need only 15-30 minutes to finish.
I taught Through the Ages to Chris, Tim and Luke on Saturday. We played the advanced game and spent most of the afternoon at it. Tim and Luke particularly liked it and have since picked up copies of their own (and then found out that CBG is considering a 2nd printing – ouch!). We misplayed a couple of things (mainly misinterpreting the additional workers on a couple of colony cards as additional civil actions) that seriously unbalanced our play.
Other games I taught or help explain during the weekend: Ticket to Ride: Europe, Caylus, 24/7, Die Baumeister von Arkadia, Yspahan and Thurn & Taxis. Yspahan and Thurn & Taxis were especially well received at GTF. I heard positive remarks for both from a number of people.
A couple of lightning fast fillers brought by Luke – Bounce It In! and The Payoff Machine.
5-player Werewolf was a big hit this year. I didn’t play any but something in the neighborhood of 30 games were played! We also had a small, 8 player booster draft Magic tournament.
Friday’s cookout with burgers supplied by Troy and his parents was the usual hit. We also had some sponsorship from some online retailers (Boulder Games, GameSurplus and Time Well Spent) in the form of gift certificates that were part of Saturday’s auction (using our very own GeekBucks! — printed each year by Kieron and distributed to game winners throughout the weekend).
If there was a downer for the weekend, it was TI3. It had been a long time since I’d run a game of Twilight Imperium but I wanted to see how well running a big game at GTF would work. We had some rough spots to say the least. The number of players changed, it was the first play for several individuals and some had other games they’d committed to later in the day. TI3 is a long game regardless of how well you know how to play but it is hard not to spend a couple of hours on each of the first couple of turns when you are learning because there is so much going on and so many possible things to do. It is rather overwhelming. We did not finish the game — it really wasn’t possible. We completed 2 game turns and had spent somewhere between 6 and 8 hours explaining and playing the first 2 turns (approximately 6 to 10 individual turns for each player). For this to be successful at a future GTF, it must be played with experienced players, especially if it turns out to be a 6 to 8 player game (we had 7 and only 3 had played before!).
To help with that, Josh and I’ve talked about 4 player sessions during the year to keep the game smaller and shorter and use these sessions to bring new players up to speed on the game. Don’t know if we’ll try a massive TI3 at next year’s GTF but we intend to be better prepared.
Wrap it up already!
As you can tell, another great GTF has come and gone. I was able to log plays on about 30 different games even with monster games of TI3, Twilight Struggle and Through the Ages occurring. The weather was a little cooler this year. We were there a week earlier than usual because the cottages were booked for our normal weekend by the time we made our reservations. Still, another great event and I look forward to seeing everyone again next year!
Oh, and one of the (bad) side effects of GTF is that I usually buy a few games afterwards. And this year is no different. I picked up several card games that I thought would work well with our family. In particular, Crazy Derby. I also picked up Circus Flohcati (not played at GTF but one led to the other). Both have gone over well already. Marvel Heroes was also at GTF and I heard mixed things about it but decided to give it a try because this looked like just the thing to play with my boys. Picked it up from GameSurplus (I landed one of the gift certificates in the auction). Tristan and I have played the 2 player game and had a blast. Will come back with a report once we’ve had more time with the game.