Last year I chose not to attend the Gathering due to the birth of my twins, but this year I was ‘allowed’ to go, though only from Friday to Monday…so I had to make the most of it!
I flew into London, Ontario so that Sen and I could drive down to Niagara Falls together. We got there late afternoon and we realized that it was the first time we’ve ever been there on the first Friday as it was fairly quiet. With no publishers in sight, we got to have fun and just play games!
We played Deception from Grey Fox Games with Jon Gilmour and a growing group of participants as we played it 4 times in a row. It’s a really fun game that mixes Mysterium with Werewolf. I got to play Azul from Next Move Games with Eric Lang, which was great as I hadn’t had a chance to play this one yet! It’s fun and thinky and a dash of screw you in there. Then Rodney Smith showed up and we played The Mind a few times. This game is super interesting! It’s like The Game, but with no talking! Then we played Deja Vu – and it got crazy as we all fought for the various pieces. We’re not sure if the fighting aspect is in the rules, but I’m sure that’s how I’ll want to play it from now on! I managed to crush everyone as I’m pretty good at speed games.
We started our Saturday off with a pitch to Maple Games. We were pitching a game that we recently got back from a publisher that allowed their time to elapse. It’s a 1 vs. many, hidden movement game and it was fun to play this game again. Daryl from Maple Games wants to sign this one asap! He was already familiar with the game because he actually worked at IDW Games as a developer when we first submitted this game, and even back then he was a champion for our game.
Then I saw Peter and Phillip from Eggertspiele and they were free so I showed them In The Hall of the Mountain King designed by Graeme Jahns and myself. They both really enjoyed it and thought it might be a bit too easy for an Eggertspiele game and a bit too hard for a Plan B game, but they liked it enough to seek out Sophie and Martin from Plan B to play it right then. We played it again and it was confirmed that it was indeed to complicated for a Plan B game, so then Sophie left it with Peter to determine if it was good enough for Eggertspiele.
Since we had the attention of Martin from Pretzel, Sen and I showed him all of our expansion cities for Junk Art. It’s always interesting playing and pitching to Martin as he has an amazing brain that can find the most fun and most unique aspects to any game. He liked most of our cities and gave us direction on how to proceed.
By now it was time for our annual tradition where a bunch of us head out to have some yummy wings at Duffs, and then we go to a movie! Usually we try to see a horror movie and this year A Quiet Place just opened, so it was perfect timing. We all seemed to really enjoy the movie even if we had qualms with some of the world building.
When we got back to the hotel, we played more games, like another round of The Mind and then we got to try the prototype of Roll Through the Ages: Medieval Age. This game had tons of pieces that snapped into a grid as you built out your city and we all really enjoyed it! I’m not allowed to show any pics of that one yet though. Then Sen and I fooled around with an alpha prototype of a game based on the comic Mind MGMT and while there were some interesting elements, there wasn’t enough there yet to know what to do next. Bah!
Sunday, or as we might end up calling it from now on – Zevday, was jam packed full of Zev-y goodness. Before getting into our day of Zev, I was able to re-pitch FANimals to Helaina from Kid’s Table Board Games. I had pitched this to her at GenCon last year, received some feedback and changed the core mechanics because of it. She really seemed to like the changes and asked to keep he copy and for me to send a copy of the new cards. Done and done!
Then we started our Zevday with our Godzilla game. This is a game we had signed with Toy Vault, who had the license to Godzilla through Toho at the time. Unfortunately Warner Brothers came in and purchased Toho and that made getting the rights a lot more complicated for some reason. So Toy Vault was fine with us pitching the game to another publisher, and knowing that Wizkids has a lot of experience with licenses and also that Zev is a huge Godzilla fan, we all knew this was an important pitch!
The pitch couldn’t have went better as I played this 1 vs. 1 card game against Zev and was about to decimate him, when he pulled out some surprises and came away with the win! He really loved the game and said he’d do it if he can get the license! Huzzah!
Then we showed him our hidden movement game to Zev and he really liked that one as well. 2 for 2! We all went for lunch and then afterwards I showed him a game designed by Don Kirkby and myself called War of the Words. It’s a game about trying to communicate with aliens via all sorts of mini word games. He really liked this one too! He said he’d like to test it with more people but really wants to do it! Wow – 3 for 3! We finished up by pitching In the Hall of the Mountain King and this was the only one that didn’t fit with him or the Wizkids brand. OK, 3 for 4 is not too shabby!
We then finished our Zevday by playing Tichu with him and Stefan Brunelle but are sad to report that we couldn’t repeat our victory from last year! It’s the cards I tells ya – the cards!!
I then found Nathan McNair and Jon Gilmour to show them Skirmishes, a game I designed with Shad Miller. I was excited about this pitch because this game seemed like a good match for this publisher. JF Gagne from Panda joined in as my wing man and we played a 4 player game. The biggest challenge to this pitch was that we were within the last few days for the Dinosaur Island Kickstarter so both Jon and Nathan were preoccupied throughout the pitch. That didn’t seem to matter too much because Nathan showered quite a bit of praise on the game. Sometimes you can never tell if a publisher really likes a game you’re showing them or not, but when they continue to find new things to praise about the game, then I feel pretty confident that they liked it! They took the game back with them to test further!
I started the day with Sen as we fooled around with our new alpha prototype game that’s set in the Junk Art family and is all about dropping frames in order to score points. It’s still early in development but when Martin from Pretzel saw it, he got very excited and wants to make it his 2020 Pretzel game! Nice!
Then I had a pitch session with Huch! as I wanted to show them FANimals and we played through it twice as we tweaked a rule that made the second game a lot more interesting. It was fun to play with them as well as William Attia (who has a revised Caylus coming out soon!). Then I showed them In the Hall of the Mountain King and we had quite the epic game! Ben really loved it and Britta said she wanted to play it again – which Ben says is always a good sign! Since it was the last day for me at the Gathering, I gave my copy to Huch to take back as Eggertspiele said they really liked it but are going to pass. All of the publishers were interested in our next step with the game – which was to make one central mountain that all players play onto, instead of each player having their own mountain.
Next up was my pitch to Eric Lang from CMON. I showed Skirmishes to him as it seemed to be the kind of game they make. Eric spent a bit of time to explain the new direction that he wants to take CMON and this game no longer fits within what they’re looking for. He liked In the Hall of the Mountain King a bit more but still not a perfect fit. Sometimes rejection can be ok when you get knowledge of the kind of games a publisher wants instead.
We were able to flag down Scott from Renegade and quickly showed him our sales sheets for our games as he didn’t have tons of time. We were able to chat about a game he signed of ours awhile ago and what the future of it will be…which is still uncertain, unfortunately.
Our last pitch was with Tony from USAopoly. While we didn’t have a lot of time, he did express interest in trying some of our games later. He also let us know about a project he’s working on and asked if we’d be interested in bidding on it. Once we knew more about it – we jumped at the chance! We’re very excited about it (and can’t say any more yet)!
And that was all the time I had at the Gathering this year. Sen and I drove back to London late that night so that I could get up 3 hours later and get to the London airport for a 6am flight back to Vancouver.
Oddly enough, that didn’t stop the action on my game at the Gathering! Fabio from CSE Games was there midweek and brought the game Sigils that was designed by Shad Miller and myself to show around. This game was signed last year but he still likes getting it out to show it around and generate interest.
Throughout the time that I was there, I had talked up In the Hall of the Mountain King to Helaina a bunch and she wanted to try it, but we couldn’t get our paths to cross again. Fortunately Sen was returning the following weekend and he coaxed the prototype away from Britta and Ben in order to show it to Helaina. They played it and everyone seemed to really enjoy it! She now wants a copy for herself too! Sweet!
So that’s about it. My short, but whirlwind adventure at the Gathering this year. I didn’t get to play many other games or prototypes – though I did get to see the new 7 Wonders expansion: Armada being played and understand how it works. Looks really cool as this expansion tries to make you care about players other than your direct neighbours.
It’s a lot of work leading up to the Gathering, so I’d like to thank all the playtesters that helped get our games to where they needed to be, and now it’s a lot of work after the Gathering, working on feedback we received!