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Sunday, April 11, 2004

I'm Off to the Gathering
I won a $5 SnG on Absolute yesterday. At this rate the goal of doubling my buy-in there definitely seems do-able.

Cheap Thrills is going on hiatus this week, as B and I head to Columbus, Ohio, for the 15th annual Gathering of Friends. No, we are not Quakers. The Gathering is a game convention--sort of (more on this below). There will be some poker during the event--at least one NL Hold'Em tourney is scheduled--so I'll report on that when I get back.

To explain the Gathering I must first explain my other main hobby besides poker, which is board games. Actually I just think of myself as a gamer, with poker currently my favorite game. Anyway, the board games I'm into are kind of a niche thing. I'm talking about games like Settlers of Catan, El Grande, Union Pacific, and Puerto Rico. These games are more popular in Germany and the rest of Europe than they are in the United States, so some people who play them call them German board games or European board games (although those terms are problematic because many of the games are designed and published by Americans). But the idea is that, as board games, they are different from what most Americans are used to. They generally have more strategy, more player interaction, and less dice-rolling than the games most of us grew up playing (e.g., Monopoly and Risk). I don't play any poker on Tuesday night because that's the night that my weekly board game group meets. I know it sounds geeky, but these games really are good and through them I've made some really great gamer friends.

I'm very interested in the similarities and differences between poker and other great games, but that's a topic for another post. If you're interested in the kind of games I'm talking about, check out About.com's page on the subject, or Funagain Games, which sells them, or finally Board Game Geek, which is a huge database devoted to them.

Back to the Gathering. The Gathering is hosted by game designer Alan Moon, who won the prestigious Spiel de Jahres--the German award for Game of the Year--in 1998 for his game Elfenland (although his railroad game Union Pacific is more highly regarded by most gamers). He started hosting the Gathering back in 1990. Then it was simply Alan and 22 of his friends getting together for a few days to play games. Over the years it has grown to a week-long event with 200+ attendees, but it still remains an invite-only gathering of Alan's friends, and friends of his friends. Among gamers I know, the event is jokingly referred to as a gathering of "board gaming glitterati."

This will be the first Gathering for B and me (I was suprised and delighted when the friend who hosts my weekly board game group told me he had asked Alan to put us on the invite list). While I've been focusing a lot of poker and poker blogging this week, I've also been getting really excited about playing all the newest European board games and meeting some of the most interesting people within our hobby.

As I said, there is a NL Hold'Em tourney on the Gathering schedule, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's a few side games and spontaneous mini-tourneys as well. I'm certainly not the only gamer to have gotten hooked on poker.

Til next Sunday, this is JD, signing off.

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