Gaming Year 2017

In 2016 I tried 133 new games. That, I felt, was too much, and in 2017, a move was made to correct that. 17% of my plays were spent trying new games, and it felt too much.

In 2017, I tried just 67 new games. The total number of plays was also slightly reduced, mostly as a function of playing less shorter children’s games. Overall I’m quite satisfied with the raw numbers.

I created another Top 100 list.

I also got together with a bunch of Finnish board game bloggers and created a new board game award called Pelaajien valinta, Players’ Choice. Our first winners were Flamme Rouge for the best family game of the year and Agricola for the best strategy game of the year. We also gave the award for the best board game good deed, which went to Taverna, the first Finnish board game cafe.

Our instant message group has also been a great thing and a constant source of good board game banter for the last half of the year, which has been great.

Moderation

I decided to go for moderation in my game acquisitions. That was a partial success. The first half of the year was very good; I bought just a few games. In September, things got a turn for worse, and I ended up spending over 1,000 euros in game purchases.

However, I also sold games for more than 1,000 euros, so the end result is not that bad. Also, the turnover is somewhat boosted by the three extra copies of Dawn of Peacemakers I had to back in order to make sure the campaign was a success. I was able to sell those games immediately, balancing it out.

All said and done, I ended up buying 35 titles and selling 71.

Kickstarter-wise, I backed a few projects. In 2016, I backed 19 projects, so there the reduction was successful. I participated in four campaigns: I got a bunch of Monikers expansions, the new edition of Brass (and I already have a buyer for my old copy), Root and Dawn of PeacemakersRoot is pretty much the only wild card: I knew what I was getting in Monikers and Brass, and got a preview copy of Dawn of Peacemakers to try out before making the decision.

I also avoided getting review copies of games and only asked for games I really wanted. Many reviews were made with the games available at the local board game cafe.

But moderation is difficult, when you’re faced with the barrage of interesting games. That is something I will continue practising in 2018.

As part of the process to focus on good old games, I started a fifty by fifty challenge, in which I attempt to play fifty games fifty times. Seven new titles made that list in 2017, compared to just one in 2016.

Good new games (2016–2017)

A Feast for Odin was a big one for me this year. It took some effort and some patience to get a copy, but I did get mine in May, and oh yes, it was worth the wait. It immediately shot to the top of my top 100 list. It is really very good, and I love the challenges of handling your workers, filling out your board with items and so on. I’ve only played it once multiplayer, and have mostly played two-player games with my son.

Yokohama I ended up backing due to Hisashi Hayashi‘s reputation and good buzz from people who had played earlier editions. I ponied up the money for the deluxified edition, which was a great idea: the game turned out to be very good and the deluxified edition looks splendid compared to the retail edition. I like this game a lot: it does lots of good things and is refreshing change from the usual worker placement fare.

Dawn of Peacemakers offered the thriller of the year. Not the game, though, but the Kickstarter campaign. 48 hours before the end it seemed unlikely to succeed, and in the end it was really close. For a moment I was in for seven copies, but managed to drop my pledge to just four copies before the campaign ended. I fortunately found buyers for the three extra copies pretty much immediately. Quite the thriller! And yeah, the game is good, too. My review sums up my feelings, and I’m really looking forward to August when we can play this for real.

Nusfjord is a new Uwe Rosenberg worker placement game with a cool Norwegian theme (outside the all male panel of the elders). This is a much simpler game than A Feast for Odin, somewhere on the same scale as Glass Road. That means the game is quite playable even with five players, which is great. The more I’ve played this game, the more I’ve enjoyed the challenge it provides.

Sidereal Confluence is a trading game in space, with highly asymmetrical player powers creating lots of opportunities to trade. The player count goes from four to nine, and since it’s all mostly simultaneous, it plays in two hours or less with all player counts. It’s a huge hog for table space with larger counts, though.  I’ve only played this once so far, but even based on that I’m ready to say it’s one of the best games of the year.

Escape rooms were a thing this year. I finally got around to try one, and was hooked on the first go (largely because we did so well, escaping in pretty much a record time). I also tried out couple of escape room board games: Unlock! is good and the free games are very much worth printing out. Escape the Room: Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor is a bit easy but well done. EXIT: The Game is my favourite series, though, these I like the best.

Good older games I haven’t played before

A Few Acres of Snow may be a flawed game, but it’s still good entertainment and a fresh take on deck-building. The rules updates should fix the broken parts anyway. I’ve played this couple of times, mostly against my son who isn’t really into the warfare part of the game yet, and I’ve love to give this one a go against an adult opponent.

Mombasa was something I had to check out after Great Western Trail, and once I’d played it, I had to buy it (so much for moderation). But it is a splendid, solid game, highly recommended for the fans of the heavy euro game.

Pax Pamir was part of my interest in the works of Cole Wehrle (my Cole Wehrle interview was by far the most-read article on this blog this year), sparked by John Company which hasn’t arrived yet. So far Pax Pamir is the best one: lots of really clever stuff in this game, with an interesting setting and lots of good ideas.

Children’s games

Here’s a list of games that we played at least five times. It’s interesting to see how the games change year after year.

Hero Realms was my son’s favourite game for the most of the year. We ended up playing more than 60 rounds. That’s pretty solid return on investment.

Santorini was also pretty solid: we played it a lot for couple of months, until it hit about 50 plays, and my interest in it waned.

Love Letter is still the most popular family game in our family. It just doesn’t get stale at all.

Coconuts was skipped in 2016, now I made some effort to play it again, and guess what? It’s still very addictive and very entertaining.

Fashion Show still got lots of plays. Those plays are super fast, so it’s something I can play with my daughter to keep her happy.

Afrikan tähti still gets played almost every time we visit the grandparents.

Innovation got on the rotation when I made the effort of translating it to Finnish. This got the attention from my son, and we played the game about ten times. Fun fact: he can win the game if he gets to spam Agriculture. Otherwise, it’s likely I’ll win.

Ty Beanie Boo’s Friends Game is a game for toddlers my daughter found at a library, loaned and then we played it ten times. Fortunately it was then returned to the library, never to be seen again.

Joylings is a terrible game, a combination of Top Trumps and roll-and-move, with cutesy horses. This is definitely something I only do for my daughter.

Klack! is a reaction test game, and mercifully short one.

Europa Tour used to be a thing with me and my son, but we haven’t played it in a while. My daughter has picked it up, though, and requests it occasionally. She still isn’t very good in it, though; this seems like such a random game, but I still win a lot.

The Mysteries of Peking is another game we play at the grandparents. It’s a harmless roll and move mystery, and I can clearly see why it captivates the kids so much. It’s pretty well done for what it is.

Da ist der Wurm drin is not really a game, just a roll-and-move raffle. But it’s pretty fun for something like that.

Super Rhino keeps entertaining, it’s such a fun little dexterity game. People have been hyping up the new Super Battle version, but I’m not sure if I’m interested in that.

The Magic Labyrinth still works, it’s one of the better memory games.

Tumbling Tower is a Jenga variant, and the kids played a ton of it while at a summer cabin that was somewhat low on entertainment.

Dungeon Rush is a speed game, and I’m a bit lukewarm on it. It’s pretty good in the genre, but the genre just isn’t doing much for me these days. This is somewhat problematic as a family game because of the skill differences.

Guess Who? was a Christmas gift for my daughter. I’m sure this will see lots of play. It’s not very painful, and the new edition is somewhat developed from the one I played as a kid: the characters are on a sheet which can be replaced. The sheets are double-sided, with animals on the other side, and you can print out new sheets to increase replay value.

Little Prince: Make Me a Planet is one of my daughter’s favourite games. We play two-player games only, so the meanness in the game doesn’t really come up. It might be a problem.

Games I’ve kept on enjoying

Tigris & Euphrates made a nice comeback. I got a copy from a math trade, as I wanted my son to be able to experience this classic. It was really fun to get back to this game after so many years. This is one of Reiner’s finest, no doubt about that.

Mechs vs Minions eventually got almost 20 plays. I’ve now played all the campaign scenarios and haven’t really returned to the game since. My son has played this a little, and I still have the game. It was well worth buying.

Terraforming Mars has turned out to be a fine game. I managed to buy a copy in March after long wait, and played it almost ten times. That’s pretty good, as the game hasn’t really sparked in my game group: there are some folks who just don’t like it. It’s a bit on the long side, I agree, which is why I rather like it as a two-player game and without the Corporate Era stuff. But the length is part of the charm: this is a tableau builder that doesn’t end too early.

South African Railroads was on a break for couple of years, but I played it couple of times this year. It’s a good one, one of the better Winsome games. Unfortunately it’s not available anymore. I did a new map for it, trying to learn a bit of graphic design.

The Great Zimbabwe made a comeback after many years of not playing the game. My son turned out to be a fan. It’s a curious two-player game, plays really really fast. I also played my second play of Duck Dealer: the first was one 2010 when the game was released. It’s still a good game.

The not-so-good, the disappointing and the plain bad

Near and Far was a pretty game, but we played it couple of times and decided to pass it along. It just isn’t very interesting, and I’ve learnt now that outside few exceptions, campaign games are not my thing.

Savage Planet: The Fate of the Fantos was on Kickstarter and was interesting enough that I made a print-n-play copy. After all, the game leaned heavily on Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, one of my favourite CCGs and had pretty cool art. Too bad it was awful, and none of my friends wanted to ever see it again.

Arkham Horror was a great math trade catch: I got a fine copy for two euros. We played it once, figured out the game is absolute garbage, and I sold it for 40 euros. So can’t say I’m disappointed, really, the game was pretty much as awful as I expected it to be.

Cat Tower looked like a fun thing, but wasn’t actually at all fun to play.

BONK also looks like it’s fun, but it was a bit too fast and furious.

Mountains of Madness has a really cool idea, but doesn’t really work as a game, I think. Too heavy for a party game, too bizarre for a strategy game. I’m glad I gave it a go, but no, there’s no need to revisit those mountains.

Where are they now

Pandemic Legacy Season 1. We’ve yet to finish the first season, and I’m pretty sure we never will. It just wasn’t all that interesting; I don’t like Pandemic and while I think the Legacy stuff is a nice added layer of interesting stuff on top of it, it still is Pandemic under all that.

The Colonists has failed to hit the table at all. It’s just too big, and I have so few opportunities for big, heavy two-player games.

Blue Moon fell out of fashion. Time will tell if that was a disturbance caused by Hero Realms, or a permanent change. Same happened to Burgle Bros., which I don’t really miss.

Fives and dimes

Dimes

  1. Hero Realms (66)
  2. Santorini (53)
  3. Love Letter (21)
  4. Coconuts (18)
  5. Mechs vs Minions (17)
  6. Fashion Show (15)
  7. Afrikan tähti (11)
  8. Joylings (10)
  9. Innovation (10)
  10. Ty Friends (10)

Fives

  1. Halli Klack (9)
  2. Kingdom Builder (8)
  3. Splendor (8)
  4. Terraforming Mars (8)
  5. Tzaar (8)
  6. Europa Tour (8)
  7. The Mysteries of Peking (8)
  8. Unlock! (7)
  9. Da ist der Wurm drin (7)
  10. Tumbling Tower (6)
  11. Super Rhino (6)
  12. Century: Spice Road (6)
  13. Dungeon Rush (6)
  14. Fugitive (6)
  15. Nusfjord (6)
  16. Dawn of Peacemakers (6)
  17. Majesty (6)
  18. Guess Who (6)
  19. The Magic Labyrinth (6)
  20. A Feast for Odin (5)
  21. Concordia (5)
  22. Little Prince: Build Me a Planet (5)
  23. Tokaido (5)
  24. Gnomi (5)
  25. Imagine (5)

Year metric

  1. Battle Line (Schotten-Totten) (16/17)
  2. San Juan (14/14)
  3. Attika (13/15)
  4. Dominion (10/10)
  5. Carcassonne (13/17)
  6. Ta Yü (12/15)
  7. Memory (9/9)
  8. Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (12/16)
  9. Animal upon Animal (9/10)
  10. Samarkand: Routes to Riches (8/8)
  11. Innovation (8/8)
  12. Schildkrötenrennen (8/8)

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 San Juan fourteen 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.

H-index

My H-index for this year is 10 (10 last year). My total H-index is 40, up three points from last year.

Gaming Year 2014

Another good year, can’t complaing. 2013 was good, and 2014 improved upon that.

We bought a house this year and moved in, and that meant I got a bookshelf in my office I could use for games. With most of my games visible there, my son’s interest was piqued, and we ended up trying lots of different games. I’d say this year we really made the move to playing “real” games.

My daughter also continues being a bright little spark. I’m still playing more childish games with her, but at the same time she’s a real fiend when it comes to Ghost Blitz.

We repeated Ropecon with my son, and the experience turned out even better than last year. That is certainly going to be a tradition. Lautapelaamaan was another obvious spot on the con circuit, and I also visited Junacon in Turku.

In 2015, I’ll unfortunately miss both Ropecon and Lautapelaamaan.

For weekly games, I still had my Thursday group. I had to miss quite a few sessions there, but I mind less than before, as I can get better replacement gaming with my son than before.

Good new games (2013–2014)

Coconuts is a silly game of shooting coconuts in baskets with monkey catapults. It also works very, very well. Shooting is a very good balance between skill and luck. My daughter is pretty good at this. I got the game in October, and we got 50 plays out of it by the end of the year. That’s pretty wild, and while the biggest heat is already out, I can see this hitting hundred plays in a year or two – it’s just so much fun.

Splendor was a big hit, especially among non-gamers. It wasn’t a huge hit with gamers, but every non-gamer has enjoyed it. I lifted the game at the top of my annual Christmas recommendations list, it’s so universally good. Short, sweet and looks pretty. I’ve played this quite a bit with my son.

Abluxxen was one of the more popular fillers and generally quite well received. I like this quite a bit, and carry it with me constantly in my card game box. It’s somewhat unlike other games – not a trick-taking game, not a climbing game, but some kind of shedding game.

Subdivision failed quite generally, but was a success with my son. We’ve enjoyed this relaxed city-building game. It plays fast, and offers a nice little puzzle. No interaction, really, but we don’t mind.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig was the more popular Bezier game: this has been universally enjoyed. (Except all the whiny people at BGG; there has been tons of rather pointless complaining about the components, and I’ve found that endlessly boring.) And why not, as this is an excellent game. The theme is fun, and the mechanisms are interesting. Ted Alspach has done a good job here, creating a game similar, but different enough from Suburbia.

Lewis & Clark was a bit of a surprise move. Someone dumped a big load of games at the Finnish board game society forums, and I bought a few. I got this, as my son likes explorers and I thought this might work with him. It was a good choice, as he has enjoyed the game a lot. One of his highlights this year must’ve been the time he managed to beat me, he was so excited. I like this quite a bit.

Super Rhino was a funny little game. I saw a photo of the game, and decided I must have this little dexterity gem. I bought several copies from German Amazon for ~6 euros per copy, and had zero trouble unloading the extra copies. This is a fun little game, though my kids didn’t love it.

Qwixx: Das Kartenspiel is a card-game version of Qwixx, similar but not the same. It’s not quite elegant as the dice game, but I found the game fascinating enough and enjoyed it for 11 plays during the year. Well worth playing.

For the Crown mixes Chess and Dominion. The mixture is interesting, and I’d like to explore it further. Too bad it doesn’t really fit my gaming profile, being a demanding two-player game. I don’t play those much, but if I did, I’d play For the Crown.

North Wind has quite preposterous cardboard ships. Very cool. The game underneath the components is not bad at all. I enjoyed it for a while with my son, but it kind of fizzed out after four plays. We’ll see if it gets back, or gets sold. Both are possible.

Jungle Rumble is a Taiwanese mixture of Agricola-like worker placement and farming and Puerto Rico -like action selection. With cute kittens. Fun, and a nice little curiosity.

Good older games I haven’t played before

Parade has been on my list of games to play for a long time. I finally got around trying this with the Badger Deck I got, and then I bought the actual game, because it looks so nice.

Stich-Meister has been a part of my collection for couple of years now, and I finally got around creating paste-ups for the cards so we could actually play it. It turned out great. Ok, some rounds are a bit bland, if the rules don’t offer anything exciting, but sometimes the rounds are outright hilarious. This has been a fairly popular filler for us.

Samarkand was an impulse buy, mostly because Eric Brosius recommended the game. I’m a huge fan of the later Samarkand, and wanted to see how it was done 30 years earlier. Also, I don’t have many games from 1980, my year of birth, so that’s a good reason as well… and indeed, this turned out to be a pretty good game. Not quite as good as the other Samarkand, but good nevertheless.

Ark of the Covenant was a thrift store find by my friend’s wife. Couple of euros for this… not bad. I haven’t played lots of Carcassonne off-shoots, but I hear this is one of the best, and it’s easy to agree. It’s good. It also made me want to get my hands on The City and The Castle, as I’ve heard really nice things about those two as well.

Rallyman has hovered around my radar for a while, so when a friend sold his copy, I grabbed it (the same friend later sold his Wii U, which I also grabbed – what a good friend). I’m a big racing fan when it comes to video games – it’s pretty much my favourite genre – so it’s nice to have a racing board game. I’m not a huge fan of racing board games, actually, but Rallyman is nice; it’s such a unique game. Also, being Finnish, rally driving has some special meaning for me.

A pile of Skyline dice #boardgame #boardgames

A post shared by Mikko Saari (@mikkosaari) on

Children’s games

Here’s a list of all children’s games that we played at least five times. It’s interesting to see how the games change year after year. Some classics remain, some turn out to be less popular, in the end. The situations and the ages matter. I’ve had fewer chances to play games with just my son, we’ve had to include my daughter as well, which has changed the games a bit.

Das magische Labyrinth is my daughter’s favourite game right now, so no wonder it got almost 30 plays this year. It’s a good game, too, one I also enjoy playing. We use one house rule: instead of rolling the die, we just move three steps every turn. I don’t think the randomness from the die adds to the game.

Fleeting Foxes got over 20 plays, mostly requested by my daughter. And why not? This is a cute Haba game. It’s simple roll-and-move, but with a good twist: one player at the time rolls dice for everybody, assigning the dice one at the time. There’s some luck and some evaluation of probabilities involved.

Memory, usually in the form of Tatu ja Patu muistipeli, got lots of plays. I still usually beat the kids in this one, but they’ve got better. (Yes, I said exactly the same thing a year ago.)

Don’t Rock the Boat got lots of plays, because one play takes just one or two minutes. It’s not a good game; closer details are below, on the list of disappointments…

The Magic Tower was the 2013 Kinderspiel des Jahres winner. It’s a cute game, and works really well as a two-player game (it’s actually a two-player game, no matter how many players are involved). The plot – a boy rescues princess – could use some modernisation, but kids enjoy it, and I find it quite non-offensive. The princess that jumps out of the castle is a fun component.

Das kleine Gespenst still sees regular play, but has gone down in popularity – last year it topped this list with almost 30 plays. Now we’ve moved on to the Magic Labyrinth… But this still sees play, as my daughter likes the game. As memory games come, this is a good one.

Schildkrötenrennen is one of the staple family games for our family, one of the games my wife enjoys playing as well.

Da ist der Wurm drin is still the best brainless roll-and-move game in the house. It’s quite non-offensive and still sees play.

Geistertreppe is played occasionally with me and the kids. Nobody asks for this regularly, but this usually gets eventually pulled out during longer board game sessions.

Ghost Blitz is still one of my daughter’s favourite games, and one where she can beat me. We still use relaxed rules where the mistakes are not penalized and while I chide my daughter when she grabs many things, we play a relaxed game – and while I win too, it’s always a tight race and often she wins.

Animal upon Animal is like Geistertreppe, it usually sees play as a part of a longer sessions.

Indigo is still one of my favourite family games I can play with both children. We usually play three-player games.

Klack! is still asked for. I still don’t enjoy this.

Die kleinen Drachenritter was a bigger hit last year. This year, I actually traded it away – the more I played, the less I liked it, like I said a year ago. Last year, I hit the limit.

Taki is a souvenir from my trip to Israel, an Israeli Uno variant by Haim Shafir, but while the game is somewhat daft, I quite like the graphic design of the cards, and I enjoy playing this with the children. I see it as a part of my daughter’s education to make her a card game player like my son already is.

Halli Galli was introduced this year, and played couple of times. My daughter likes the idea and requests the game, but while she counts pretty well, she can’t handle the counting necessary for Halli Galli, at least not fast enough, and the games tend to end up in tears.

Troll Trail was way too simple for our kids, so we gave it away to some friends, who got more mileage out of it, as their kids are couple of years younger than ours.

Marrakech got surprisingly few plays, just six. It’s one of my favourite whole family games, and I would’ve guessed we got more plays of it, but no.

Bunte Runde is a game I always enjoy playing, but it’s not very popular.

Colorpop got the five plays required to make it to this list. The biggest enthusiasm has run out, but we always enjoy it when we play the game.

La Boca reached five plays, too. I quite like it, and it works well with a mixed group of children and adults, and takes five or six players quite well while working well with three players. There’s a reason enough to keep the game in my collection, especially as it’s actually quite fun to play.

La Cucaracha didn’t become a huge hit last year, but got some regular play. Perhaps it’s a tad too chaotic and fast-paced to be enjoyed regularly.

The Amazing Pop-up Princess #boardgame

A post shared by Mikko Saari (@mikkosaari) on

Games I’ve kept on enjoying

Agricola was one of the highlights of the year. I like the game, but haven’t really played it a lot, because it’s a big, heavy box, and I don’t like playing with four or five players, as the games take too long. Also, most people prefer using the cards, which I don’t like. Then, after our move, my son noticed the game on my game shelves, and we played it, and it was a hit. My son really likes it. We even moved on to the Farmers of the Moor. This has been some of the best gaming during the whole year.

Europa Tour was a cheap impulse purchase; I thought it might work well with my son. It did, we played it quite a bit during the first half of the year. Then it got a bit overrun by other games. But it’s a fun, mellow game, particularly for two players.

Machi Koro was one of me and my son’s favourite games earlier this year, but like Europa Tour, wasn’t so hot once we got access to my whole game collection and we started playing a wider selection of games.

Suburbia remains one of my favourite games. It, too, got on my local rotation, when my son wanted to try it after playing Subdivision. Despite the text in the buildings, my son can play this with me, as all the buildings are public and open.

The City has been one of my favourite fillers for years now (I’ve been waiting for it to hit 100 plays; it made it to 50 plays last year), but really got wings this year when I made my own version of the game, with the cards in Finnish and with local landmarks on them. I could play that version with my son, who seemed promising, consider the way he enjoys San Juan.

Lost Valley is an old game I owned and played back in 2005. Eventually I traded it away, but now I got it back in the same trade as Lewis & Clark, knowing that my son might be interested in it. He was – it’s one of the games he requests every now and then. It’s still not one of my favourites, but I’m more than glad to play it every now and then with my son.

Walnut Grove, or Light Agricola, as we call it, is like Lost Valley: I think it’s ok, but my son likes it. I had played it twice (or once, as my first play was far enough from the actual rules) before, but now it got a new life.

San Juan is one of those games I really like, but rarely play. However, now that I went and translated the cards in Finnish, I can play it with my son, who quite likes it. Oh, and talking about luck involved in the game: we’ve played nine times, and he hasn’t won the game once. I also got a Finnish version of Puerto Rico in a trade, and we’ve tried that couple of times. Not so great as a two-player game, but it’s quite passable for our use, and it has been fun to get back to that old classic.

Cargo and prisoners in Nord Kapp #boardgame #boardgames

A post shared by Mikko Saari (@mikkosaari) on

The not-so-good, the disappointing and the plain bad

Clinic was the worst disappointment of the year. It seemed like such an interesting game, but it turned out such a mess that I couldn’t finish the one game I started. The rules were awful, the game overly complicated and a huge pain to explain. It just can’t be good enough to be worth the effort.

Joylings combines a rather frustrating roll and move game to Top Trumps, and is about cute horses. Fortunately my daughter isn’t too keen on horses.

Hotel Tycoon is a new version of the old classic Hotel. The rules haven’t, unfortunately, changed. I have, as the game was so awful I can’t see how I’ve enjoyed it before at all.

S-Evolution had a promising idea: trick-taking meets civ-building. Too bad the game doesn’t really work at all.

Don’t Rock the Boat seemed like a fun little dexterity filler, but no; either it’s really difficult, as in the boat tips after second or third move, or way too easy, as in you can play all your penguins to the boat without any problems. All it takes is one broken strategy…

Where Art Thou Romeo? was a good reminder that a small number of components doesn’t, by itself, make a good game.

Mont Saint Michel is a very good-looking Drei Magier game. Too bad the game under all that decoration isn’t particularly impressive.

Sailor penguin acrobatics (Don't Rock the Boat) #boardgame #boardgames

A post shared by Mikko Saari (@mikkosaari) on

Where are they now

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-building Game is gone, pretty much. Just one play in 2014, with two plays for Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Deck-building Game. These got stuck in my son’s closet, and we’ve had so many other games to play.

Continental Divide was played once, but that isn’t a huge surprise.

Qwixx didn’t become a regular filler, but that’s partly because the card game overran it a bit. Still, doing fine in the very crowded space for fillers.

A Study in Emerald is gone, sold away. Too heavy. I hear Martin Wallace is planning a much easier version of the game; that I might be interested in, but we’ll see.

Russian Railroads got couple of plays, then I sold it away. Not my cup of tea.

Coup is gone, unfortunately no plays at all. Our Thursday meetings have suffered from lack of players, and Coup requires more than we usually have.

Ab in die Tonne sees semi-regular play as a family game.

Carcassonne: South Seas was played exactly once, but I think my son has played this a bit more with his friends (or alone). It’s in his closet, so out of sight, out of mind.

Augustus didn’t do quite as well as I expected. Turns out it isn’t something I’d end up suggesting in most situations.

London I almost sold, but decided to keep. After that, I played it once and found it still interesting enough.

EuroRails didn’t see much play, as expected, but two plays is quite enough, and it certainly is a keeper.

New York Central is really hard to get on the table, but I still like it.

Australian Railways is just as hard to get on the table as any other game in the family. I bought Railroad Tycoon as well; good luck with that…

Realms of Wonder #boardgames

A post shared by Mikko Saari (@mikkosaari) on

Fives and dimes

Again, last year I had a slightly longer list, thanks to a wider variety of children’s games played. This list is still very good. Having Coconuts reach 50 plays in just three months is amazing.

Dimes

  1. Coconuts (50)
  2. Splendor (32)
  3. Das magische Labyrinth (28)
  4. Fleeting Foxes (23)
  5. Europa Tour (22)
  6. The City (22)
  7. Memory (18)
  8. Machi Koro (16)
  9. Super Rhino (15)
  10. Subdivision (15)
  11. Don’t Rock the Boat (15)
  12. Magic Tower (15)
  13. Linko! (14)
  14. Die kleine Gespenst (14)
  15. Schildkrötenrennen (13)
  16. Da ist der Wurm drin (12)
  17. Ghost Blitz (11)
  18. Geistertreppe (11)
  19. Parade (11)
  20. Animal upon Animal (11)
  21. Qwixx: Das Kartenspiel (11)
  22. Castles of Mad King Ludwig (10)
  23. Agricola (10)

Fives

  1. Indigo (9)
  2. King of Tokyo (9)
  3. Klack (9)
  4. San Juan (9)
  5. Lost Cities (8)
  6. Dragonheart (8)
  7. Timeline (8)
  8. Die kleine Drachenritter (8)
  9. Suburbia (8)
  10. Halli Galli (7)
  11. Stich-Meister (7)
  12. Taki (7)
  13. Love Letter (7)
  14. Lewis & Clark (6)
  15. The Troll Trail (6)
  16. Lost Valley (6)
  17. Bunte Runde (6)
  18. Marrakech (6)
  19. Dominion (6)
  20. Skyline (5)
  21. Colorpop (5)
  22. Candy Chaser (5)
  23. Speed Cups (5)
  24. Innovation (5)
  25. La Boca (5)
  26. La Cucaracha (5)
  27. Tarock (5)

Large temples in Tikal #boardgame #boardgames

A post shared by Mikko Saari (@mikkosaari) on

Year metric

    1. Battle Line (Schotten-Totten) (13/14)
    2. San Juan (11/11)
    3. Attika (10/12)
    4. Ta Yü (10/12)
    5. Age of Steam (10/12) *
    6. Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (10/13)
    7. Villa Paletti (10/13)
    8. Dominion (7/7)
    9. Settlers of Catan Junior (7/7)
    10. Animal upon Animal (7/7)

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 San Juan eleven 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.

H-index

My H-index for this year is 14 (13 last year); I played two games on purpose to push it to 14. My total H-index is 33, four up from last year.

Last year I said “30 is pretty much guaranteed to happen, reaching 31 next year is going to be more tricky” – well, I could’ve reached 34 with just couple of well-chosen plays. So, next year 34 is guaranteed, but how much more than that, depends on whether there are new heavy hitters like Coconuts.

Gaming Year 2013

2013 was a very good year of board games, just like 2012 was before it.

My kids and I have continued to play lots of games. My son is now seven and half, and can play quite complicated games. My daughter, soon five, is also a bright little gamer, and much less prone to throwing fits over lost games.

I’ve continued my weekly Thursday evening game nights. The circus school games I enjoyed last year didn’t work out quite so well this Fall, though. I visited Ropecon, but didn’t play that many games, as I made the trip with my son this year, to introduce him to some proper geek culture, and I also made trips to Lautapelaamaan and JunaCon.

Photography is one thing that did suffer, I didn’t take much photos of games outside the few pictures I had to take for reviews of games that didn’t have good photos available.

Good new games (2012–2013)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-building Game was a big hit. Not with my friends – we played once, and that’s it – but with my son. He’s a bit of a Lord of the Rings fan, and I guessed he’d like the game. I translated the cards so he could play, and off we went – and ended up playing over 20 games. Later in the year we switched to Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Deck-building Game, but it wasn’t quite as big a hit.

Suburbia was a 2012 game in my mind, but looks like I first played it Jan 3rd this year. I clocked in more than ten games. It’s a great game, just the kind of building game I like. The expansion, Suburbia Inc., arrived late this year and I’ve only managed two games so far, but I liked it. The iOS version made it this year as well, and I’ve enjoyed that one as well, and I sure wish the real game played that fast…

Machi Koro was the odd Japanese gem of the year. It was a late arrival, I only heard of it after Essen. I got to play it in Lautapelaamaan con, and then I had to order the game from Japan and I also did a Finnish DIY version of it. Result? More than ten games in less than two months. My son likes this, and I like it a lot as well, either the base game or with the expansion.

Continental Divide was the one game in the Winsome Games Essen set I didn’t expect to be interested in, but it turned out to be the best of the set. We played it four times within less than two months. Well, it hasn’t seen the tables since August, but I’m sure we’ll return to it at some point. It’s a fascinating game.

Qwixx was an impulse purchase from the local game store; I was buying something else, card sleeves most likely, and saw the game for 10 euros. I had heard good things about it, so I decided to buy it – and now I’ve played it twenty times, and it’s one of my favourite fillers at the moment.

A Study in Emerald was a Kickstarter purchase, and the most successful one I’ve been involved with. Sure, there were some trouble with this, but I got the game and it’s good. It’s very fascinating. It’s a bit on the complicated side to explain, so it would benefit from having repeat plays, so we’ll see how much play it does get, but I do like it.

Indigo is quite unremarkable game, really, but I bought it on a whim, thinking it might be a good game to play with the kids, and I wasn’t wrong. It’s very pleasant to play and looks good. It’s similar to Metro, but I think it’s better.

Russian Railroads only got one play, but this one sure looks like a good worker placement game. We’ll see how much play this’ll actually get, but at least it’s a good game and doesn’t take too long; that was my main worry about this.

Coup is cool. Not universally loved, and looks like this is the 2013 game Tuomo hates and I like (The Great Zimbabwe held that honour in 2012). With five or six players, this is an excellent filler. We also played The Resistance: Avalon, which in my opinion is much superior to the original game.

Ab in die Tonne is the third game by that title. It’s quite luck-heavy, but it has nice wooden components and it works wonders as a family game.

Carcassonne: South Seas was something I wouldn’t have bought myself, but I’m glad I got it. It turned out quite an entertaining Carcassonne variant, one my son likes, and I like it as well. The new scoring mechanism is a refreshing change.

Augustus sounded pretty good based on the Lautapeliopas review, and I got it in a trade. That was a good move: this turned out to be a pretty good filler that works with a wide array of player counts. I’ve just had some extraordinary trouble playing with the correct rules, for such a light game…

Thin Blue Line
Playing Texas & Pacific in JunaCon 2014.

Good older games I haven’t played before

London was a trade acquisition. My friend got it from the Treefrog subscription, but I never played it, for some reason or another. It was interesting enough to trade for, and it turned out to be quite good. Nothing I couldn’t live without, sure, but well worth exploring a bit.

EuroRails was my introduction to crayon rails. I’ve always dismissed the series as boring and overly long, but looks like I was wrong. Eric Brosius got me to try EuroRails, and it turned out the series is very much my cup of tea: I like building track and moving cargo around. It’s basically a solitaire race, with very little interaction, but when has that been a problem? The game isn’t too long, either, if you keep the player count down. Ok, I didn’t play this many times, and most of the times I played with my son, who is not quite old enough to actually play the game, but still – I was very glad to discover the world of crayon rails, and once my son gets few years older, I think this might become a staple game in our household.

New York Central is an older Winsome title I got to play in JunaCon. Even though we had too many players – the game does not shine with five – I was able to see there’s a good game in it. I also knew getting to play it with the Winsome edition would be tricky. So, I ended up doing a DIY edition, which turned out great. Of course, when I design something myself, it’s guaranteed to match my taste, so of course I love it… But yeah, I’ve since managed to play it some more, with the three players it needs to shine. It’s a really good game and it’s a shame no publisher has picked it up. It’s one of those games where you really have to play it once to figure it out, and then you’re ready to roll.

Australian Railways was another old Winsome I got to the table. This one is in the Age of Steam family tree, and pretty good too – probably the best title in the Early Railways series. I like it, but like Age of Steam, this is a bit difficult to get on the table.

Smaug and Bilbo
Smaug and Bilbo from the Hobbit board game.

Children’s games

Here’s a list of all children’s games that we played at least five times. It’s interesting to see how the games change year after year. Some classics remain, some turn out to be less popular, in the end. The situations and the ages matter. I’ve had fewer chances to play games with just my son, we’ve had to include my daughter as well, which has changed the games a bit.

Das kleine Gespenst took the first spot on the list with almost 40 plays. It used to be my daughter’s favourite game, but I think that honor belongs to Ghost Blitz now. My son doesn’t play this as much anymore, so I don’t think this game will be at the top of the list next year.

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings Deck-Building Game isn’t a children’s game, but it was my second most played game with the kids.

Fleeting Foxes got over 20 plays, mostly requested by my daughter. And why not? This is a cute Haba game. It’s simple roll-and-move, but with a good twist: one player at the time rolls dice for everybody, assigning the dice one at the time. There’s some luck and some evaluation of probabilities involved.

Memory, usually in the form of Tatu ja Patu muistipeli, got lots of plays. I still usually beat the kids in this one, but they’ve got better.

Ghost Blitz is my daughter’s new favourite. We have the 2.0 as well, but my daughter always requests “the Old Blitz”. It has been great to see how she has progressed with the game. She used to be pretty slow with the game – sometimes she’d grab the easiest cards, but not always. We practised the game a bit, and now she’s better than my son and can almost compete with me. She’s improved a lot, and that fills me with pride.

Colorpop is a fun, simple game the kids ask for every now and then. I’m still not perfectly sure if this is a game of skill or a game of luck…

Gulo Gulo keeps getting requested by my daughter, and I still like to play it.

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation was my son’s favourite game for a while, until it got a bit eclipsed by other games.

Richard Scarry’s Busytown won the Finnish Game of the Year award a while ago, and for a good reason, it seems, as it keeps on getting plays. As far as family co-ops go, it’s pretty high on my lists as well.

Animal upon Animal has progressed from being a toy to being a game, my daughter requests this every now and then.

Indigo was mentioned before; it belongs here on this list.

Trans Europe+ got a new life with my son. He likes the game, and actually does quite well in it. My opinion of the game certainly improved, I used to hate Trans America. Why, I’m not so sure anymore, as the game is actually very good family game: simple, easy and fun. I do prefer the Europe version, if only for the more familiar map.

Da ist der Wurm drin got almost as many plays as it did last year; it remains a favourite and at least tolerable for all family. As far as brainless roll-and-move games are considered, this is one of the best.

Klack! gets requests every now and then. I’m not a huge fan, because this is a speed game where I’ll either dominate or play bad on purpose.

Geistertreppe missed the list last year, but is back now, now that we have three able players. My daughter asks for the game occasionally.

Die kleinen Drachenritter tops the list of new childrens games I got as a review copy – so our family gaming is not particularly focused on new games. This is a fun stacking game, if a bit prone to accidents when somebody bumps the game. It’s also perhaps a bit on the easy side, and could use some added difficulty. The more I play, the less I seem to like this.

Schildkrötenrennen gets plays every now and then, now that my daughter likes to play it. We still play with open cards.

Ab in die Tonne is a fun family game. It doesn’t offer much for gamers, but as a family game with children and non-gamers, it’s a simple, fun game.

Marrakech works fairly well with both my son and my daughter, and I like it – that’s a winner in my books.

La Boca got most of its plays with the kids. It works pretty well, and the kids usually manage to get decent scores, maybe with little help. The semi co-op aspect of the game works well.

Looping Louie isn’t quite as good a children’s game as I expected, but it’s passable. Mostly my daughter likes to play with it.

Kraken-Alarm is a decent memory game with outstanding components. Not a great game, but the gimmick still works two years after I first got the game, so that’s something.

Erzähl doch mal… is a good game, but I find it a bit heavy to play. I think it’s a very educational game: it teaches story-telling and requires constant attention to what other players are saying. I, however, usually want to play lighter games with the kids.

Bunte Runde is a small favourite of mine, this I always enjoy playing.

La Cucaracha features an electronic cockroach robot which runs on the board. Sold! The bug (a Hexbug Nano toy) is sufficiently random to make the game work. Just skip the die, and the game flows much better. For chaotic fun, this is good.

Meka Dragon and Kraken
Meka Dragon and Kraken from King of Tokyo, which was published in Finnish in 2013.

Games I’ve kept on enjoying

Love Letter was a surprise hit in 2012 and got ten plays in 2013. It still is a favourite filler of mine. I’m waiting for my kids to grow up a bit so I can play this with them. My daughter should like the princess theme. At the moment, keeping cards secret is still too much of a challenge.

The City is still far from the 100 plays I expected, but 15 plays is not bad.

Timeline was one of my most-played games, though mostly for 16 games played on one sitting at the circus school. My son likes it, and I’ve done two custom card sets for him (Finnish history and small set for history of games). That’s fun, and I think I’ll do some more sets for him.

Las Vegas was familiar to me from Lautapelaamaan 2012, where I tried it and then forgot about it. However, I did ask for a review copy when the game was published in Finnish in 2013, and it turned out a wise choice: it’s actually exactly the kind of game I like. Quick, easy, yet clever. I can play this with the children, or with seasoned gamers.

King of Tokyo was never really my cup of tea, but thanks to the new Finnish edition (which I translated), I ended up playing it five times in 2013, and I expect it to see even more play, as it turned out to be a decent game to play with the kids.

Suburbia borough
A borough in Suburbia. Suburbia was without a doubt one of the highlights of 2013.

The not-so-good, the disappointing and the plain bad

Super Farmer, Rapelli and the Finnish Game of the Year awards were a big disappointment. Only the adult category winner, Qin, is any good. Rapelli is barely a game, even though it looks nice. Super Farmer would’ve been a decent children’s game winner, but I’m expecting more from family games. This was a horrible game, die-rolling with awful, frustrating elements added.

Nations was a bit of disappointment. I was expecting a game that would fix the things that were wrong in Through the Ages, but instead I got the same problems in a different box.

Super Farmer bits
The awful, awful Super Farmer at least has nice bits.

Fives and dimes

Last year I had a slightly longer list, thanks to a wider variety of children’s games, I think. I’m not at all unhappy with this list, though.

Dimes

  1. Das kleine Gespenst (37)
  2. Timeline (34)
  3. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game (27)
  4. Memory (22)
  5. Fleeting Foxes (22)
  6. Ghost Blitz (19)
  7. Qwixx (19)
  8. The City (15)
  9. Gulo Gulo (14)
  10. Colorpop (14)
  11. Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (13)
  12. Coup (13)
  13. Oregon (13)
  14. Richard Scarry’s Busytown: Eye Found It! (12)
  15. Suburbia (11)
  16. Machi Koro (11)
  17. Animal Upon Animal (11)
  18. Indigo (11)
  19. Trans Europa+ (10)
  20. Da ist der Wurm drin (10)
  21. Love Letter (10)

Fives

  1. Geistertreppe (9)
  2. Die kleinen Drachenritter (9)
  3. Klack! (9)
  4. Schildkroetenrennen (9)
  5. Ab in die Tonne (8)
  6. Las Vegas (7)
  7. Marrakech (7)
  8. Dominion (7)
  9. King of Tokyo (7)
  10. Carcassonne: South Seas (6)
  11. Bunte Runde (6)
  12. Erzählt doch mal… (6)
  13. Qin (6)
  14. La Boca (6)
  15. Dragonheart (6)
  16. Kraken-Alarm (6)
  17. Looping Louie (6)
  18. Battle Line (5)
  19. New York Central (5)
  20. London (5)
  21. Augustus (5)
  22. La Cucaracha (5)
  23. The Resistance: Avalon (5)
Pharaoh Code dice
The dice from Pharaoh Code (that was a fun game, but something I knew I just wouldn’t be able to play with anybody).

Year metric

  1. Battle Line (12/13)
  2. San Juan (10/10)
  3. Age of Steam (10/11) *
  4. Attika (9/11) *
  5. Ta Yü (9/11) *
  6. Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (9/12)
  7. Villa Paletti (9/12)
  8. Settlers of Catan Junior (6/6)
  9. Animal Upon Animal (6/6)
  10. Dominion (6/6)
  11. Preußische Ostbahn (6/6)

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 San Juan ten years ago and have played it every year since that. With Battle Line and Age of Steam I’ve missed a year. I didn’t play games marked with an asterisk this year.

Monkey up close
Monkeys from Bananas, a somewhat ho-hum abstract memory game.

H-index

My H-index for this year is 13 (9 last year). My total H-index is 29, two up from last year. 30 is pretty much guaranteed to happen, reaching 31 next year is going to be more tricky.

Gaming Year 2012

Another year gone. Good years keep on rolling – I rather enjoyed 2011, and have no complaints about 2012. My kids continued to be good playing company. My son is now six and half, and is ready for some proper family games. I started introducing him to card games, as well, and that worked well. … Continue reading Gaming Year 2012

Metrics and games

Interesting new thing to calculate: the number of games played at least five times. This is interesting, of course, because I’m on top of the list when you look at the Finnish Board Game Society folks. I’ve long ago dropped from the top of the rating race, but on this list I shine. Lovely metric, … Continue reading Metrics and games

Baker Street Irregulars

Refering, of course, to the irregularity of these blog posts. By the way – if you haven’t seen the new Sherlock tv series yet, go and watch. It’s excellent. Here’s some highlights since Ropecon: Dominant Species: The Card Game. This game wasn’t helped a bit by the fact that we had six players. The game … Continue reading Baker Street Irregulars