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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 2011

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 had to miss couple of cons early in the year, but managed to visit Ropecon and stay overnight at Helcon (or Lautapelaamaan, as it is called now).

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.

Exploring Africa

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.

Rats in Italy

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.

Mr. Ship, meet mr. Wrecking Ball - Version 2

Children’s games

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.

Arvaa kumpi voitti

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.

Casino boss

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.

Portobello Market

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)

Fives:

  • 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)

Lining up

Year metric

  • 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.

Oops!

H-index

My H-index for this year is 11. All-time H-index is 26, two up from last year.

Gaming Year 2010

Gaming year 2009 wasn’t terrific, but 2010 was. By numbers alone, I played a lot more games than last year. However, the biggest reason 2010 will go down in history as a good board game year was Nooa. I played well over hundred games with Nooa — actually, I played with Nooa about as much … Continue reading Gaming Year 2010

Goal for 2011

I’m working on the gaming year 2010 report (it’s a long one, this year, so don’t expect it any time soon), which brings me to 2011. I’ve got a goal set up for 2011: I’m finally going to get that Golden Image Uploader badge at BoardGameGeek. Getting the badge requires 100 pictures, each with at … Continue reading Goal for 2011

Update on recent games

I’ve been seriously busy writing my book and this blog is one of the things that has suffered. So, here’s a bit of an overview on recent gaming so you don’t feel all lonely and deserted here. I’ve played lots of kid’s games with Nooa. Das magische Labyrinth and Click Clack, mostly. I printed out … Continue reading Update on recent games