2010 was a good year. Well, 2011 was even better. I played more games than on any year on my records. Quality matters, too, but I can control quality more than I can control quantity and if quantity is good, quality tends to be good as well.
I played lots of games with my son. My daughter, who is soon three, has started to become interested in games. We’ve played our first real games, and spent lots of time playing with games. Her favourites are Blokus, Kids from Catan and Kayanak.
I played lots of PBEM 18xx earlier this year. It was fun, but takes a bit too much time. It’s still nice to have that option. All in all I’d say my interest in 18xx has waned a bit. The games just take too much time. There’s a game or two running in every con, yet I had no interest in playing at Helcon, for example. I did play a game of 1865 in Ropecon, and kind of wish I hadn’t.
I’ve added some of my best board game photos taken in 2010.
Good new games (2010-2011)
South African Railroads. A new Winsome game, or actually a remake of an older Veld Railroads, which had the same game under more chrome. I had Veld Railroads, too, but sold it unplayed after SAR was published. This leaner remake has everything I need, I can’t see how adding more stuff would improve the game. It’s rather good as it is, a quite delightful game of small dividends and player-triggered dividend payouts that shorten the game. Players are given plenty of tools to work wonders in this game.
Dobble. Probably better known as Spot It! Lovely pattern-recognition game. May be difficult to get on table, as these kinds of games are polarizing, but I like it a lot.
Puzzle Strike. I’m intrigued by this game. It’s supposed to be the Better Dominion, but I’m not seeing that yet. Then again, I did play nine games and I’m still not sure what to think about this game. Looks like I need to play more. This may end up a keeper or in the trade pile, I’ll try to make up my mind until Ropecon next summer, but it sure is an interesting game and worth trying if you’re interested in deck-builders.
Rattus. Maybe a bit of a flash in a pan? We quickly played five games of this in May, then afterwards I only played this once. Still, it’s a fun game of bashing the other players. The Pied Piper expansion is fairly important, I think, as it gives the game a lot more variety, which is good.
Pantheon. Bernd Brunnhofer is a very reliable designer, who has done three very good games. Pantheon is the most recent, and a very good game. Good dose of luck, but also timing, strategy and opportunity. Mechanically the game is very solid and well-executed. This is something I’d like to explore further in 2012.
1865: Sardinia. The one face-to-face 18xx game I played this year. I also played a PBEM game. Not bad, not at all, lots of good ideas in this one. Might be interesting to try with just two players.
Ascending Empires. The idea here seemed crazy enough to be interesting: a 4X flicking game. First, though, the game didn’t fit on the tables of our regular meeting place (that has been fixed now by a change of venue) and then the first game took two hours… Well, the second game took just 60 minutes or so, which is much better. This game offers lots of promise, too bad the rules are a bit too vague for my tastes.
Eclipse. It’s been great fun to watch how successful Eclipse has been. It’s come a long way in a year or so, from November 2010 when I first played the prototype to now when the game is in BGG Top 100 and I have my own copy. It’s a very good game and overall one of the highlights in 2011.
Jishaku. I’m not sure what to think of this one. Not much of a game, but plays in couple of minutes and I did play it more than ten times, so it can’t be garbage. Not a keeper, but a fun filler with a nice gimmick.
Good older games I haven’t played before
Lamarckian poker. I finally took the effort to learn the rules to this classic. It was well worth it, as this is a great little filler. Very simple, uses standard playing cards, easy to teach if people know the Poker hands, and plays fast. It rarely takes more than five minutes to go through a pack. This is something everybody should know, just in case.
Stone Age. Another Brunnhofer game. This is my favourite worker placement game now. The dice work well here, you can take risks or play it safe. There’s several valid approaches to the game and the starvation strategy is an interesting twist to try. All in all very well done. I’ve left my copy at my mom’s place, because they love the game and I mostly play it with them, so I’ve been mostly playing this with experienced players — always a good idea.
Lords of Vegas. An interesting game with a theme of gambling and property development and game mechanics to match. In the long run this may be too luck-heavy, but as it is, I’m rather interested in the game right now.
Oregon. I had completely dismissed Oregon as a boring family game when it was published. I played it, and it turns out it’s a pretty good game! Family game, yes, but the game plays fast, 30-45 minutes, and has quite enough strategy and tactics in a simple, easy-to-teach package. All in all rather lovely game.
Cavum. Just one play, but it was very promising.
These are the children’s games we played most, in the order from most popular to least popular. All games mentioned here were played at least five times. There were over 30 games that didn’t reach five games and didn’t make it to the list.
Kids of Carcassonne. Nooa doesn’t fancy this, I said last year. This year we got over 50 plays out of this! Based on first half of the year, I was expecting reaching hundred plays, but the enthusiasm waned a bit. I remember a day when we played ten games in a row, at approximately three minutes per game. Fun. Nooa also likes the adult Carcassonne and I think we might be moving on from Kids of Carcassonne, but it has been a good ride and I definitely recommend this game.
Geistertreppe. Didn’t make the list last year, now 30 plays. Roll-and-move doesn’t get much better than this. Very entertaining little game, and plays fast. A bit poor with just two players, but we still enjoyed it a lot. This is a classic game for kids (the sequel, Geisterwäldchen, less so).
Villa Paletti. A hit last year, a bigger hit this year. The tower-building game is a classic, and this is more interesting than basic Jenga (which we also played).
Gulo Gulo. Last year’s number one hit game took a bit of a dive. Iain says this isn’t as good as people say… I still think it’s a very good game, but yeah. My daughter has shown some interest for this, though.
Click Clack. This is starting to feel a bit childish, then again I just played this for the first time with my daughter. So, there’s life for this game still.
Kraken-Alarm. Rather entertaining little memory game, with a really cool swinging wrecking ball that is used to capsize a boat. It’s a gimmick, but it’s a fun gimmick and the game works. Well, it can be a bit stale at times, but we still played more than ten games.
Forbidden Island. My son liked this one enough so we played about ten games. Well, I played and he gave some suggestions. Co-ops can be good with kids. I’m rather bored of the game myself, though.
Maskenball der Käfer. Simple co-op game. Pretty good for three-year-olds. My son (five) has asked for this occasionally, haven’t yet tried this with my daughter.
Settlers of Catan Junior. This continues to be popular.
Mouse Carousel. When did we play eleven games of this? Probably didn’t take many sessions. Not a bad memory game, actually.
Kayanak. Popular, though tends to encourage creative play as the rules are not pleasant to the kids. My son doesn’t like the dictatorship of the dice. My daughter loves to play with this game, too. Punching holes in paper and fishing for metal balls is just great fun…
Das magische Labyrinth. Still reasonably popular, and I enjoyed the game even more once we forgot the dice and just moved three steps each turn.
Kids from Catan. There’s hardly any game in the box, but the components are cool and my three-year-old daughter likes the game. What’s more to ask? I also paid the princely sum of four euros for the game. I’ll probably get rid of the game once the kids grow out of it, but so far I’m going to enjoy it with my daughter.
Das kleine Gespenst. Fun little memory game.
Mysteries of Peking. This is actually a fairly awful game, but I have fond memories of it from my childhood and my son loves it. We play it almost every time we’re at the inlaws (it’s my wife’s old copy).
Dawn Under. I’ve sold mine long time ago, but I borrowed my mother’s copy. We’ve played couple of games, not a bad game at all.
Schildkrötenrennen. I’d like to play more, but this is still a bit demanding for my son. Keeping his colour a secret, for example, is still a bit of a challenge.
Animal upon Animal – Balancing Bridge. The original didn’t make it to the list and this new version only barely. Not my son’s favourite games at the moment. I keep suggesting the original every now and then, but with little success.
Games I’ve kept on enjoying
String Railway. Still an excellent filler. Fortunately I’ve been able to avoid the most analytical players, as those sort of ruin the game. It’s just not precise enough for very exact play. You have to relax a bit. I also have the Transport sequel, which I’ve only played once, but it seems very promising too.
Nile DeLuxor. Nile was good, one of the hits in 2010, and the new DeLuxor version improves it. There’s a decent box, actually usable cards and more cards to improve the game with larger player counts. Nile is very good with two or three players and decent with four and six. Rather entertaining little filler.
Carcassonne. This old classic made a bit of a comeback, thanks to the excellent iPad Carcassonne. I’ve played it quite a bit, both against AIs and humans, and I’ve found that Carcassonne is actually a rather excellent game. It’s really well done and fun to play.
Innovation. Playing Innovation is tricky, but I still managed eight games, mostly two-player games with Hannu (who is just about the only person in my game group who likes the game).
SNCF. This got eight plays, not bad, but could be better, as it is a rather excellent little game. Now better known as Paris Connection, this is a rather elegant game of railroads and shares, but unfortunately nobody else seems to be as thrilled by it as I am. I need to push it a bit more as a filler; it stands a good chance, because the game is very player count flexible.
Samarkand. I still like it a lot. No sight of the expansion so far, but to be honest, I think I’m better off without it.
Bunte Runde. I finally got myself a copy of this charming little game. This could go under children’s games, but I also played this with adults. I think this is a lovely little abstract.
The not-so-good, the disappointing and the plain bad
The Enigma of Leonardo. This was pretty dreadful.
Excape. Knizia game, but very frustrating.
Roope-setä Liikemiespeli. The worst business game of the year.
Days of Steam. This was one of the worst disappointments. Well, I knew this might not be the hottest game, but still… it fell incredibly flat. The game has some real problems and it is pretty much unplayable until fixed. Too bad, I liked parts of it quite a bit.
Chunky Fighters. Kind of interesting, but eventually very tedious.
Fives and dimes
Longest list ever? Maybe. Dimes:
- Kids of Carcassonne (57)
- Geistertreppe (32)
- Villa Paletti (18)
- Dominion (17)
- Lamarckian Poker (16)
- String Railway (14)
- Gulo Gulo (13)
- Haselnussbande (13)
- Jishaku (13)
- Forbidden Island (12)
- 7 Wonders (12)
- Mouse Carousel (11)
- Nile DeLuxor (11)
- Kraken-Alarm (11)
- Dobble (10)
- Carneval (10)
- Settlers of Catan Junior (9)
- Stone Age (9)
- Puzzle Strike (9)
- Carcassonne (9)
- Innovation (8)
- SNCF (8)
- Bunte Runde (8)
- Kayanak (8)
- Kids from Catan (7)
- Samarkand (7)
- Dawn Under (7)
- Das kleine Gespenst (7)
- Das magische Labyrinth (7)
- Battle Line (6)
- Schildkrötenrennen (6)
- Terra Evolution (6)
- The Mysteries of Peking (6)
- Rattus (6)
- Repello (5)
- Principato (5)
- Jälkipeli (5)
- The Resistance (5)
- Geschenkt (5)
- Animal upon Animal – Balancing Bridge (5)
- Battle Line (10/11)
- Attika (9/9)
- Age of Steam (9/9
- San Juan (8/8)
- Ta Yü (8/9)
- Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (8/10)
- Ingenious * (7/8)
- Gang of Four (7/9)
- Tarock (5/5)
First number is the years I’ve played the game, second is the number of years since the first time I played. So, I first played Age of Steam eight years ago and have played it every year since that. With Battle Line I’ve missed a year. I didn’t play games marked with an asterisk this year.
My H-index for this year is 11. All-time H-index is 26, two up from last year.