Monday, July 01, 2013

Expanding my horizons (Q2 board games update)

I have had an interesting couple of months of gaming. My collection has probably changed more in the past three months than it has in any one three-month period in the past two years, and it's definitely for the better. My plays, while low, have been very interesting, and I have expanded my horizons rather significantly in some ways. I have started to reconnect with board games again recently, and I am encouraged by the relationships I am developing as a result. And perhaps most unexpectedly, I have found myself thinking about how to post about board gaming more as my voice develops in the subject, and I have wondered how to share this hobby with others, particularly those who do not already share it. These kind of posts are great if you're already in the know, but they do not make a great intro to the world of board gaming; I hope to rectify this oversight and to start writing more about different topics in board gaming as I think about them. Anyway, here are my reflections on my past three months of board gaming.

Changes to my collection: My mantra over the past three months has been two-fold: addition by subtraction; and delayed gratification. Between sales, gifts, and trades, I have excised sixteen games from my shelves, most of which were games I would never really have played anyway. It has felt unreasonably good to have my shelves cleared and to be able to be happier as a whole with my collection, not having a lot of the games I don't and won't play hanging around. I have not added many games directly, as I bought two new expansions for 7 Wonders (Leaders and the Wonder Pack) and two thrift games (Apples to Apples Kids and Zèrtz) that are now in my collection. Hence, addition by subtraction: I get to focus more on the games I own by alleviating myself of the extras. The "delayed gratification" part comes in two ways: I have about $60 in credit to use as a result of that subtraction process; and I have ordered four games through Kickstarter that I will not receive until November: Among the Stars; Council of Verona; Eminent Domain; Flash Point: Fire Rescue. I'm sure my shelves will be full again as soon as I get them, and I know each game will add something different to my collection to make it even better.

Games played: My plays were a lot lower over the past few months - only 38 in total, which is about half of what I played in the same time period last year (73), but marginally less than my plays in the first quarter of this year (41). 7 Wonders was the only game that I played more than twice (at four times), and I had a lot of first and second plays. I got in plays of most of my favourites, but I definitely did more branching out in the past three months than I have in the past.
My twelve first plays of this quarter included: 1812: The Invasion of Canada; Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small; Android: Netrunner; Barons; The Castles of Burgundy; Chaos in the Old World; Euphoria (print & play version); King of Tokyo; Munchkin; Small World; Village; Wits & Wagers. With the five first plays from the first quarter included (At the Gates of Loyang; Eclipse; Egizia; Lords of Waterdeep; Lost Cities), that makes 17 first plays for the year. Of those 17, five are definite keepers (Castles of Burgundy, King of Tokyo, Lords of Waterdeep, Lost Cities, and Village), eight I need to play more to decide if they stick or not, and the others are one-offs (tried them, probably would not ever feel the need to play them again).
Still, if most of those eight hold up after a few more plays, I'm at a two-thirds success rate without any negative gaming experiences, as most of the games I would not play again are due to style more than anything.

Favourite games right now: The stalwarts Pandemic, 7 Wonders, Saint Petersburg, and Glory to Rome are there as always, but I'm also really excited about The Castles of Burgundy, King of Tokyo, Cosmic Encounter, Power Grid, and Race for the Galaxy as of late. I also need to play more Innovation and Agricola soon. I'm really looking forward to more plays of Caylus, Village, Egizia, Eclipse, El Grande, and Le Havre. So there are a lot of games I'm enjoying, as always.

Games to play:
From my refined list of fifteen games to play in the last three quarters of the year, I played three: Android: Netrunner; The Castles of Burgundy; and Village. But I have realized over the past quarter that my "want to play" list is shifting constantly as I try and play new games that I don't think I can even evaluate my progress on this list on an annual rate anymore; it has to be quarterly at this point. So I'm just looking at the next three months and the games I most want to try in those months. I have a list of twenty again, and it is significantly different than my list was just three months ago. Although I do not think there is any way I'll actually play all of those games, I think I need to include them all here for future reference.
Two of my Kickstarted games - Eminent Domain and Flash Point: Fire Rescue - were on my "top to play" list, so they will wait for the last quarter of the year (but I'll still keep them here in my top twenty right now anyway). The other eighteen games that make up that top twenty are: Augustus; Core Worlds; Dominion: Guilds (an expansion, but it still counts); For Sale; Fresco; Hansa Teutonica; Hawaii; In The Year of the Dragon; Jump Gate; Last Will; Love Letter; Ora et Labora; Ra; Stone Age; Tigris & Euphrates; Twilight Struggle; Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar; and Zooloretto. (Jump Gate and Zooloretto have been on this list the longest, by the way.) There are ten other games that intrigue me that I will be researching more in the next quarter, maybe even playing if I can track down a copy to enjoy: Belfort; Copycat; Glen More; Morels; Notre Dame; Seasons; Terra Mystica; Troyes; and Tournay. And then there are a few upcoming games that have not yet been released, including: Bora Bora; Bruges; Forbidden Desert; Glass Road; Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts; Roll for the Galaxy; and The Palaces of Carrara.

The next big development in the gaming world will be the announcement of the Spiel des Jahres in one week. My prediction is Augustus for the SdJ and Bruges for the Kennerspiel (the gamers' game), just to put it out there. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next week - and what hits the table in the meantime.

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