Before I had kids, I used to invite friends to gaming weekends in my summer house in Faxe Ladeplads, Denmark. With the kids growing older, I picked up the tradition again last year. This year I organised a gaming retreat in Tranås, Sweden, approximately half way between Stockholm and Copenhagen.
During the pandemic I discovered a great location for the event: An old rail keepers house with a magnificent view of Lake Sommen, a large common area with large tables, a cosy sitting room with a fireplace, and beds for 12 persons. The new location allowed me to invite more people and to invite friends from Stockholm as well.
Games were played with lots of time to catch up on life in between. Several of us brought and tabled games under development which were rewarded with extended post game feedback. Buffalo hunting tribes, time travelling wizards, engine building cowboys, you name it, we played it. Ending a long day of gaming in the hot tub gazing at stars and talking about life wasn't too bad either. A few personal highlights follows.
Clemency is my story game about convicted felons who are commuted after decades in prison. The players create and share stories about reconnecting with people and society. The players build their characters from quotes from people interviewed one year after their release.
Four of us played and I'm very happy with the experience it created. Poignant quotes that steer you away from the cliches and a documentary style where the audience is to fill in the gaps and draw their own conclusions. To what extend is it reasonable to say that individuals are responsible for their own actions and should be locked up for 20+ years?
Rurik: Dawn of Kyiv
I bought Rurik: Dawn of Kyiv during the pandemic and finally got it to the table. I bought it for the flavour without reading up on rules & reviews, then a few weeks ago I watched a play through video and got excited to play it: Rurik: Dawn of Kyiv is an area control game with an auction mechanic for buying actions. It's the auction mechanic that elevates the game from just another dudes-on-a-map game: You plan four or five actions ahead by placing workers on the strategy board, competing against the other players to get the best actions but also in the order you need them.
There is just enough flavour in leader characters and hidden agendas to colour each game. I was very pleased how easy it was to pick up and play the game from just watching a walkthrough and otherwise playing straight from the rulebook. Definitely a game to play again.
Advice for next time: Don't place your initial dudes in Kyiv.
The Grizzled is a coop game with heavy story flavour about surviving the trenches of WWI. We got hold of the beautify anniversary edition and played the first few chapters. The full game takes you through the entire war up until armistice. The Grizzled is a puzzle game more than a story game if you play to win, but there are many cues to drag you into the theme. Each chapter begins with an opening text that gradually takes you into the horrors of the trench warfare. I particularly enjoy the small speeches where the tokens have individual cues and with very useful in game effects.