Gaming Year 2016

2016 was a good year. Lots of games.

I made a new record for the number of new games tried. My previous record was 93 new games in 2011, but this year I reached 133 new games. This is a record that’s unlikely to be broken any time soon. I don’t really want to.

I’ve decided to aim for some moderation. In games this means I’ll stop buying new games. Not completely, I don’t think that’s possible, but still reducing the influx of new games a lot. I’m aiming for one game every two months, or something like that. I also set myself a goal of selling 100 games or expansions, and I’ve already gotten rid of almost 90 titles. Hooray for me.

Once again, I created a top 100 list.

Good new games (2015–2016)

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 was a must-try game, even though I don’t really like the basic Pandemic all that much. I played this two-player with my son, because I though that would be the easiest to arrange. It’s been an interesting ride, but at times quite the slow one. We started in January and did good pace for a while, then new games arrived and… well, the pace has been slower then. I’m fairly sure we’ll finish the game, and quite sure that we won’t play the Season 2.

I do like the Legacy element. It’s been interesting how things develop, and losing the games (which has happened a lot, especially lately) is better when it has consequences. As for other Legacy games, SeaFall doesn’t seem all that interesting or suitable for me. I’m following Charterstone with interest. We also played two scenarios of T.I.M.E Stories which was nice.

The Colonists is an epic game of infrastructure building. And by epic, I do mean Epic: the box is seriously big and full of components, and playing the full game can take hours and hours – we’re talking about 8–10 hours here. That’s quite impossible, of course, so I’ve so far played a small fraction of that. The full game is four eras, and I’ve played two-player games of eras 1–2, which takes about two hours. Even that is a decent game, and with experience you can start from era 2 and play eras 2–3, which should take 2–3 hours with two players.

So yeah, it’s epic. I have a feeling that this might fire Roads & Boats for me – the games are different, as R&B is a lot more about logistics, but both share the epic proportions, and The Colonists is more to my tastes, I think.

Honshu is a small masterpiece from a Finnish designer Kalle Malmioja. It started from an idea I also had: there’s a smaller game in Patchistory that’s more fun to play. Honshu uses the patching from that game, and just adds a simple card auction for distributing the cards (I like that; draft would’ve been the other obvious choice, and I prefer this).

It’s a simple game, yet quite enjoyable to play. It’s fun to puzzle the best way to patch the cards in to your map in order to score most points.

Arboretum was a bit of a hit earlier in the year, a clever card game where what you don’t play is often also quite critical. While the game mechanics are nothing like Battle Line, there’s something similar in the games, as in both games you’re running on limited hand size while your hand often gets a bit stuck with cards you really wouldn’t want to actually play. If you like clever card games, check this out.

Star Wars: Rebellion isn’t really anything at all I’d expect to enjoy, but I did. I bought the game because it’s a two-player game and my son is somewhat into Star Wars (we watched the original trilogy this year). This is a neat game, with cool components and fresh asymmetrical game play. There are things I don’t like, mostly the combat which is mostly annoying, but the main loop is entertaining for both sides in the conflict.

It’s quite possible this isn’t a permanent keeper and I think the overall 5th rank of all games in BGG is way over the top – this made the 44th rank on my own top 100 list – but if you’re looking for a large scale asymmetrical conflict game and happen to dig Star Wars, this is a catch.

Tokaido is notable, since my Collector’s Edition finally arrived, barely 18 months late. So is it any good? It is. Not universally loved, except for the components, as some feel the game is a bit bland, but I find it enjoyable. It’s a “helicopter game” (a new term for 2016!), ie. no matter what you do, you end up doing fine. But it is a beautiful, pleasant journey.

Oh My Goods! is a curious game. In theory I like it quite a bit, as it provides an interesting challenge of managing resources, but in practise it doesn’t always work perfectly. Sometimes the production chains just don’t run the way they should, and then the game doesn’t entertain quite as much. But I do find this game really intriguing.

Completto is a simple, humble little Rummy game. Draw a tile, place it in your row, toss the replaced tile away. The aim is to get a row of tiles in ascending order in front of you, and the catch is that the tiles start the play face down. This is simple, with pleasing components, and simple but addictive game play. I don’t expect this to be a major hit, but I quite like this.

Karuba is a solid family game, a variant of Take It Easy!, where all players get identical tiles and have to lay out routes and run explorers on the routes to score points. Very simple, fun and elegant, a top notch family game I think. Not quite as extraordinary as Love Letter, but still solid.

Monikers is hardly a new game, since it’s nothing but the public domain game of Celebrities in a nice box. But it is a very nice box, a large number of celebrities to guess, and while the celebrities are slightly too US-centric, the cards contain descriptions that make playing the game much easier even if you don’t know who the people are. This is one of my favourite party games.

Flamme Rouge is a solid game of cycling. I quite like this, the game jumped straight to the list of best racing games. It remains to be seen if that’s good enough to see play (my experience with Rallyman would suggest it isn’t). The card management is simple and fun, and the racing is exciting.

Great Western Trail was one of the hot heavier euro games in Essen 2016. I bought it and quite enjoyed it. It’s a big game, takes couple of hours and is initially a bit tough to teach, but once you figure it out, it sure works well. I’m looking forward to exploring the trail quite a bit in 2017.

Mechs vs Minions was something of an event in 2016. No wonder why: a huge 20-liter box full of goodies, for just 80 euros shipped to Finland. That’s a crazy price, thanks to the publisher Riot Games selling this only direct from their merch store. I’ve only managed one play so far, but the game seems quite solid under all the chrome. Very much worth buying, if you’re into co-ops, programming and chaos.

Hero Realms is the latest installment in the Realms series. A solid game, closer to Star Realms than Cthulhu Realms, with hints of Epic, though mostly in the art. This plays pretty much exactly like Star Realms, to be honest, so do I need both? Well I suppose I do, at least I can enjoy the variety since I’ve played maybe 500 games of Star Realms on iPad. My son likes this as well.

Trambahn is a delightful two-player card game, something of a Lost Cities killer for me. You build card sets of ascending values like in Lost Cities, but there’s more to the game. Add to this a nice art style and a cool old-fashioned railroad theme, and you’ve got a rather splendid little two-player game.

Colony isn’t completely new, as I playtested this in 2015 quite a bit. Now it’s here, in full printed glory, and I still like it. The dice manipulation, Dominion-like building of engine from a variable set of cards, it’s all great. Very enjoyable game.

Terraforming Mars left a very positive initial impression from my first play. Quadropolis is promising. Dokmus has potential. Solarius Mission is complicated, but fun.

Good older games I haven’t played before

Ora et Labora was one of the very best games this year. I completely missed it back in 2011, but now that I’ve been on an Uwe Rosenberg roll and there was the new edition and all, I decided to go for this, and I’m very glad I did: this is one of the best of Rosenberg’s games.

I enjoy sandboxes, that’s about it – Ora et Labora isn’t particularly stressful, there’s no need to feed anybody, just collect resources, process them into something else, build new ways to process resources, and if somebody takes the building you want, you can just go and visit them. Very pleasant.

Rails of New England got skipped back in 2010 when it first came out. I remember being interested in the game, but avoiding it for various reasons, like the long playing time (I was more allergic of that at the time). I got this in a math trade later, and had it in my collection for a while before playing.

Turns out this is a decent game. Sure, there are some dubious component decisions and the rulebook would require a lot of editing, and the board while pretty (it’s by Ryan Laukat, I just noticed) is quite inconvenient. But the game is fun! It’s good fun to develop your companies and businesses. There’s plenty to love in this game.

Deus clicked for me. I watched a video review for the game, thought it might be good and jumped at it when I saw a copy at a con. I wasn’t disappointed: this turned out to be a game to my liking.

Deus fits into a very comfortable timeframe, has interesting decisions, some very pleasant competition between players and looks nice. What else can you ask for in a game? I’m somewhat interested in the new Deus: Egypt expansion, but not overwhelmingly so.

Keyflower seemed like a game I might enjoy, so I plunged into it. It sure succeeds. It’s a bit fiddly and perhaps unnecessarily complicated at times, but it is quite charming and what’s best, scales brilliantly from two to six players. I’ve only played the extremes so far, and both ends seem to work quite well.

I also got Key to the City: London, because I generally think streamlining games is a good idea and the London theme is very good, but… I’m not sure. I’ve only managed to play this once, and there were things in it that I liked and things that I didn’t enjoy as much. Handling the sticks that build the connections, for example, was mostly painful. It may be this doesn’t quite reach the level of Keyflower.

Snake Oil charmed me at first play. I knew I had to make a copy, and I did. “Make” instead of “buy”, because I wanted a Finnish copy. I came up with a list of words, wrote some code that takes a list of words and prints out a bunch of card images with the words, and fed those to an online printing service. Expensive, but the result is fine and what’s best, the kids liked the game.

Caverna is something I’ve wanted to try. I found a copy in the local library, kept it for maybe nine months and managed couple of games in that time. I wouldn’t mind owning a copy, as this is good variety for Agricola. There’s lots of things to do, and it all feels quite different from Agricola.

Antike II is a good upgrade from the first version. I loved the first game, but it had some flaws and didn’t get much play time (one major reason was the unconvenient box size). I decided to give this new edition a go, since I got it cheap from an auction, and it fixes all the problems in the first edition (even the box size!). Hooray! It still could use some work (some of the art is lacking in resolution and quite ugly), but it is a clear improvement from the first edition.

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.

Love Letter remained the most popular game on this list. This year Love Letter crossed the 100 play threshold, we played over 30 times this year.

Blue Moon is something I used to play and collect couple of years ago. I thought getting back into it with my son might a good idea. I managed to score a copy of the Blue Moon Legends box which has all the sets in it, and we’ve played it a lot. My son likes the game, and I think it’s fine.

Fashion Show got lots of plays, mostly because it’s so lightning fast, just couple of minutes per round. My daughter loves this, but hopefully isn’t too keen on it in the future (or plays with her friends) – I wouldn’t miss this much.

Burgle Bros. is one of my son’s favourites. We’ve clocked in over ten plays of this co-op game. I don’t really care for it all that much, but I’ll play with him. We’ve managed to complete the heist couple of times, but most of the time, we lose.

Memory keeps getting plays.

Lost Legacy hasn’t overthrown Love Letter. I came to the conclusion that The Flying Garden isn’t all that thrilling, but The Starship is a pretty neat challenge.

Best Treehouse Ever got some serious praise and why not – it’s a decent drafting game for families. I’m not so sure of the scoring, but the game works decently with just two players, looks great and is a small box, so I’m not complaining.

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

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.

Loony Quest has a clever idea, but is mostly annoying, really. Were it up to me, this would be gone. I just don’t find the drawing all that interesting, and the kids get frustrated, because it’s difficult for them. Not a winner.

Trans Europa was a hit with my son in 2013, now it’s a hit with my daughter. I’m beginning to formulate a theory here – looks like this game works well with seven-year-olds.

Battle Sheep is a good filler. It has meaningful decisions and it’s quick to setup and over in minutes. I very much don’t need to own it, but if it’s available and there’s ten minutes to kill, it’s a good choice.

Little Prince: Build 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.

Flick ‘Em Up got six plays as we went through the scenario book with my son, but fortunately we haven’t returned to it. I like the flicking, sure, but I don’t like the DIY rules. The rules have tons of holes, there’s no FAQ, just endless rule question threads on BGG for you to parse your own rules. No thanks.

Super Rhino keeps entertaining, even though it doesn’t see as much play as it used to.

Schildkrötenrennen is still a classic.

Dixit made a comeback, when I reacquired the game (I had played it once when it was originally published). I thought it might make a decent family game and it does – it’s something we can play with the whole family, including my wife, so that’s great.

Muumi Viidakkoseikkailu is much better than your average Moomin game – they tend to suck. This is a neat little pattern recognition game. Probably won’t see much play in the future, but it got to five plays quickly.

Ghost Blitz still works well. It’s always a tough duel between me and my daughter. If my son participates, he’ll grab few cards during the game. He doesn’t have a chance in this game…

Games I’ve kept on enjoying

This department feels too empty to me. All the new-fangled games have taken over and the old favourites don’t see enough play. That is something I would like to rectify in 2017.

Dale of Merchants still sees play, with some boost from the new animalfolk of Dale of Merchants 2. It’s high on my list of favourite deck-builder games, along with the more traditional Realms games.

Stich-Meister is still in steady rotation as the default trick-taking game.

La Granja made it on the table couple of times, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. It’s a splendid game.

Quartermaster General continued getting occasional play, and I also got the two new games in the series. Victory or Death is interesting, but maybe not a keeper. I’m not sure. 1914 remains unplayed so far.

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

Twilight Struggle was one of the more significant games I hadn’t played, so when given a chance to play it, I jumped to the occasion. I can’t really say this was a disappointment: I got pretty much what I expected here, a well-made game that just isn’t my cup of tea.

I can see why people dig Twilight Struggle, as it is a well-made game of an interesting topic, but I don’t understand how this could’ve been the BGG #1 ranked game, it’s such a niche game. I have no need to play this tug-of-war again, but I’m glad I did.

Beasty Bar seems quite popular, but I found this queue manipulation game mostly too chaotic and frustrating. The art is nice, but I felt there was no control to anything that happened. Boring.

Kivi won the best party game of the year award in Finland. That’s pretty good for a game of silent contemplation for 2–4 players. This isn’t a terrible Yahtzee variant, but not a good one either. The biggest disappointment here is the best party game award, considering that Codenames was also nominated.

FTF: First to Find is a geocaching card game, which sounds pretty cool, but unfortunately it’s not fun to play, and doesn’t really feel like geocaching at all.

Exploding Kittens was something I had to give a go, when I saw it at the local board game cafe. It doesn’t surprise me at all that it’s a total dud. There just isn’t enough game to it, and the Oatmeal illustrations aren’t particularly funny or interesting. So, nothing to see here, move along.

Unusual Suspects doesn’t seem to contain a game in it. I admit I only saw it quickly, but it did seem quite silly.

Where are they now

Coconuts got just two plays in 2016; the initial buzz has worn down. Well, it still has over 60 plays, which I think is rather splendid value for a game like that, and I wouldn’t turn down a game of this.

The City got just couple of plays. Might be appropriate to try and get some more plays for this game. As it happens, this is finally getting an English release, though not a straight reprint but a modified version, as Jump Drive under the Race for the Galaxy umbrella. I’m not particularly thrilled about that myself, but I’m glad that the game is getting a reprint.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig saw steady play in 2015, but didn’t get a single play in 2016. Suburbia got one, hence I think it’s the better game (my top 100 list would agree, placing Castles at #31, while Suburbia is #5 – of course a game that high in the rankings should really see more play).

Lewis & Clark has been forgotten for some reason. I already got rid of my copy of Discoveries, which is a good game, but just doesn’t see play. We used to play this with my son, but new games have taken over. I should investigate whether my son still likes this or not. We’ve played ten games so far, most of them two years ago, and while this is a decent game, I wouldn’t mind too much if we moved on.

Kyoto Protocol dropped out of the filler rotation, as did Abluxxen. Might be about time to reintroduce them.

Nations: The Dice Game got just one play. This has fallen out of fashion, like so many games do. Time to drop the rating, a 7 is too much for a game I obviously don’t want to play.

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small didn’t get any plays whatsoever, despite steady play in 2015. I’m not sure why, but for some reason this doesn’t see any action. Le Havre: Inland Port has much lower rankings on BGG, but that one I actually want to play, and it does see play. It is a better game. This one… Well, I wouldn’t mind playing it, but clearly don’t actively want to, and since my son never wants to play this, it’s probably headed to the sale pile.

Fields of Arle and Agricola saw very little play. This is caused by two things: fewer opportunities to play games like that, and more competition for those opportunities. We enjoyed games of The ColonistsOra et LaboraStar Wars: Rebellion and many other new games instead.

The Voyages of Marco Polo was a disappointment. I liked it after my first play, bought it, played it once, then played some more on Yucata, and after every game enjoyed it less and less. I ended up selling the game.

I played very little 18xx this year: just one game of 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight.

Fives and dimes

Dimes

  1. Love Letter (39)
  2. Fashion Show (17)
  3. Blue Moon (17)
  4. Burgle Bros (13)
  5. Dale of Merchants (12)
  6. Memory (11)
  7. Best Treehouse Ever (10)
  8. Lost Legacy: Starship (10)
  9. Pandemic Legacy (season 1) (10)
  10. Arboretum (10)

Fives

  1. Little Prince: Build me a planet (9)
  2. Afrikan tähti (9)
  3. Trans Europa+ (9)
  4. Completto (9)
  5. Loony Quest (8)
  6. Europa Tour (8)
  7. T.I.M.E. Stories (8)
  8. Battle Sheep (8)
  9. Isle of Skye (7)
  10. Snake Oil (7)
  11. Stich-Meister (7)
  12. Flip City (7)
  13. Ghost Blitz (7)
  14. Träxx (6)
  15. Deus (6)
  16. A Fake Artist Goes to New York (6)
  17. Too Many Cinderellas (6)
  18. Flick ‘Em Up (6)
  19. Take It Easy XXL (6)
  20. The Networks (6)
  21. Oregon (6)
  22. 7 Wonders: Duel (5)
  23. Dale of Merchants 2 (5)
  24. Schildkrötenrennen (5)
  25. Honshu (5)
  26. Ice Cool (5)
  27. Muumi viidakkoseikkailu (5)
  28. Above and Below (5)
  29. Dixit (5)
  30. Qwinto (5)
  31. Cthulhu Realms (5)
  32. Star Realms (5)
  33. Super Rhino (5)
  34. Trambahn (5)
  35. Tokaido (5)

Year metric

  1. Battle Line (Schotten-Totten) (15/16)
  2. San Juan (13/13)
  3. Attika (12/14)
  4. Dominion (9/9)
  5. Carcassonne (12/16)
  6. Ta Yü (11/14)
  7. Age of Steam* (11/14)
  8. Memory (8/8)
  9. Villa Paletti* (11/15)
  10. Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation* (11/15)

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 10 (11 last year). My total H-index is 37, up one from last year.

38 is fairly easy to reach: it’ll take just one play of Europe Tour and Innovation and two games of Agricola.

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.

Suburbia, FrankenDie, Cardcassonne, Trivitria Up

This year has started well: I’ve played something every day. Yesterday was our weekly game night, and otherwise I’ve played with the kids.

  • Suburbia was very good. It’s a city-building game, where you have to create a snowball economy. Points are scored during the game and in the end from four public goals and one private goal. The tiles have strong interactions, and you can create ridiculous combos. For example, I had four airports which worked well together, pretty much guaranteeing my victory (hint: don’t let anybody do that). Fun game, though I can see there’s enough book-keeping and tracking small icons that not everybody is going to like this. Suggest, maybe even Enthusiastic.
  • Trivitria Up mixes dexterity with trivia. It’s not a particularly good trivia game or a particularly good dexterity game. 1+1 is significantly less than 2 in this case. Indifferent.
  • FrankenDie is a Frankenstein-themed party game, where dice are rolled and the goal is to count the number of similar dice and yell it out to collect that body part. Once you have a complete body, all you need is a lightning to strike. Clever idea, works pretty well, but requires more than three players. Indifferent.
  • Cardcassonne is an entertaining card game with some Carcassonne art. Nothing particularly wonderful, but not a bad game either, there’s some good tension to it. Indifferent.
  • Trans Europa is easy to play, but requires some basic reading – thus it’s pretty good for my six-year-old son, who had no trouble reading the city names. I was pretty surprised to lose the first three rounds hands down. I won the next two rounds and the whole game, since my losses were close affairs, but my son lost 12 points on one round. He’s pretty good, but sometimes gets bogged down on inefficient route selections. Also, on that bad luck round he had just about as difficult cards as possible. I had difficult cards, too, but his red city was on the right side and he built that part for me, making my task much easier. Suggest, especially now with my son.

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