Well, so here we go. I'm stepping into some very large shoes, considering the mass of daily blog entries Horace and Frannie have accumulated.
And what a way to start! With a puzzle devoted to its very own self, WORD GAMES, the letters of which are included in the circles. I wondered when I filled in SCRABBLE in the NW, whether Mr. Hilger was going to be very self-referential, by putting high-value Scrabble letters into the circles. Instead, we are treated to a hodgepodge of different kinds of word games, including TABOO, a party game; HANGMAN, a way to pass the time with your children while waiting in the airport; JOTTO, a game I've never played, but which seems to be Mastermind with 5-letter words; GHOST, another game I've never played, where players add letters to a growing fragment, trying not to complete a word; PROBE, a hangman variant; and ANAGRAMS, a classic game dating back to the time of Jane Austen, if I'm not mistaken. Or maybe it was just in a movie based on a Jane Austen book. I enjoyed the theme very much, even if the category is a little fluid.
I had visions of a very rapid finish when the NW filled quickly... or so it seemed. 4A: Grass for cordage (ESPARTO) threw me for a loop. That's a word I've never come across before. And then in the middle of the east, we get 24D: Realm of Garfield (CATDOM). I have to call foul on this one. I just don't believe this is a real word, and I don't see how it implies a "realm" just because it ends in -dom. I'll also note 32A: Tend to another spill (REMOP) as being a poor entry. 23D: Bulblike plant part (CORM) was another unrecognized word. So anyway, things obviously slowed down for a while.
On the positive side, we have 10D: Bring up on charges (ARRAIGN), 44D: Clientele (PATRONS), and 41A: What to do when dealt a flush (STANDPAT). And I know Horace would be sad to miss 2D: Hic, ____, hoc (HAEC).
Nothing terribly misleading about the clues. I'd say overall I enjoyed the puzzle. Looking forward to the next 10 days of crosswording! Good travels to my hosts.