Friday, January 02, 2015

2014: The Year in Board Games!

This is one of my favourite posts of the year: my overly involved, ridiculously exhaustive account of the meta-game of playing board games in the past year. I have been doing Years in Review for as long as I have been blogging (well, kind of...I have had a spotty record over the years of actually writing them), but it has only been in the past four years that I have consistently looked at board gaming. In 2011, I combined it with video games, but starting in 2012, I have thoroughly enjoyed delivering a treatise of several thousand words about board games despite the fact that I know very few people who read this post will actually understand or enjoy the content herein. So be ye warned: this is the post of a board game enthusiast; it might serve as a gateway to greater things for some readers, but some readers will find the whole thing confusing and unsettling (not unintentionally kind of like how some people see complex board games). For those who choose to read on, enjoy, and I'll see you at the table in 2015.

Games played

I ended up with 204 total plays this year, which was up 33% from 150 the year before, despite an abysmal September/October (11 plays total, which I suppose is to be expected upon moving to a new province and starting a new job.) Here are some of the games I played in 2014, with numbers of plays in parentheses.

Most played games in 2014: 4T. Anomia / Lords of Waterdeep / Flash Point: Fire Rescue (8); 3. Hanabi (9); 2. 7 Wonders (11); 1. King of Tokyo (14)

All-time favourites by games played: 5. Agricola (16); 4. Dominion (19); 3T. Race for the Galaxy and King of Tokyo (22); 2. Pandemic (27); 1. 7 Wonders (47)

New games played this year: Anomia; Attika; Bora Bora; Camel Up; Eminent Domain; Five Tribes; Flash Point: Fire Rescue; Glass Road; Gloom; Gravwell; Hanabi; Hive; Impulse; In the Year of the Dragon; Istanbul; King of New York; Macao; Notre Dame; Ora et Labora; Pot O' Gold; Ra; RARRR!!; Roma; Sentinels of the Multiverse; Splendor; Spyrium; Star Realms; Stone Age; Takenoko; Terra Mystica; Trains; Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar; Zooloretto (33!)

Additions to my repertoire of playable games: Anomia; Camel Up; Eminent Domain; Flash Point: Fire Rescue; Gravwell; Hanabi; In the Year of the Dragon; Notre Dame; Pot O' Gold; Ra; Splendor; Spyrium; Star Realms; Takenoko; Zooloretto (15)

Games I want to play

Despite the fact that I played 33 new games this past year, I still have 162 items on my list to play on BGG: 139 games and 23 expansions. I would have to play 3 new games a week and not encounter any other new games to play through them all. So that's not going to happen - but I'm going to make it my goal to play enough new games

Of those 162, 25 are either already in my collection or will be soon when they arrive from Kickstarter. I should be able to play those soon.

Of my previous Top 20 lists to play, it's interesting that I still have games left from each year on my "want to play" list: 3 from 2011; 11 from 2012; and 12 from 2013. Not all of those games are still on the top of my list to play, but one has remained constant: the 2011 GAMES magazine Game of the Year, Jump Gate. I'm sure that four years of anticipation will mean that the experience of finally playing it will be underwhelming, but I'm setting it apart this year from my top games to play list.

Top 30 games to play: AquaSphere; Belfort; Biblios; Bruges; Castles of Mad King Ludwig; Caverna: The Cave Farmers; Concept; Core Worlds; Coup; Fields of Arle; Glen More; Haggis; Hawaii; Keyflower; La Isla; Lewis & Clark; Machi Koro; Mascarade; Morels; New Dawn; Pandemic: Contagion; Pandemic: The Cure; Paperback; Patchwork; Roll for the Galaxy; Russian Railroads; Snake Oil; Suburbia; Temporum; Trajan

Ten games I really want to play again (ie. a second time): Bora Bora; Five Tribes; Glass Road; Impulse; Istanbul; Macao; Ora et Labora; Stone Age; Twilight Struggle; Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar

Changes to my collection

My collection changed more in the past twelve months than it ever had. I cleared out over 40 items from my collection - many of which were card games I had purchased at thrift stores for cheap - and used many of those items in sales and trades to acquire the 37 new games and expansions I picked up this year. It also helped that I was planning to move 1,800 km and that I didn't want to take all of those games with me. Last year I made it a goal to get rid of games, but I'm not sure I can do the same this year, though there might be a few that make their way out sooner or later.

Games and expansions acquired in the 4th quarter of 2014: Among the Stars: Stretch Rewards 2014 (KS); Bang: Gold Rush; Drop Site; Flash Point: Fire Rescue - Honor & Duty (KS); In the Year of the Dragon: The Great Wall and the Super Events; The Resistance: Hidden Agenda and Hostile Intent (KS); Splendor; Village.

Notable games liquidated in 2014: Barons; Curses!; Dominion and Hinterlands expansion; Last Will; Loaded Questions (with exp.); Lord of the Rings Risk, Monopoly, and Stratego; Monopoly City; Power Grid (with 2 expansions); Scattergories; Sequence; Settlers of Catan; Telestrations

Games acquired in 2014: Alhambra: Big Box (KS); Anomia; Anomia: Party Edition; Burgoo (KS); The Castles of Burgundy; Coin Age (KS); Council of Verona (KS); El Grande: Decennial Edition; Firefly: Out to the Black; Fleet; Fresco: Big Box (KS); Galaxy Trucker: Anniversary Edition; Glass Road; Hanabi; In the Year of the Dragon (+ expansion); Jaipur; Killer Bunnies and the Conquest for the Magic Carrot; Kingdom Builder: Big Box (KS); Lords of Waterdeep; Notre Dame (with New Persons expansion); Province (KS); Ra; RARRR!!; Spyrium; Star Realms; This Town Ain't Big Enough for the 2-4 of Us (KS) (26, including 4 microgames)

Expansions acquired in 2014: Among the Stars: Stretch Rewards 2014 (KS); Bang: A Fistful of Cards; Bang: Gold Rush; Carcassonne: Hills & Sheep; Flash Point: Fire Rescue - Honor & Duty (KS); Le Havre: Le Grand Hameau; King of Tokyo: Power Up; King of Tokyo: Promos; Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport; Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts; The Resistance: Hidden Agenda and Hostile Intent (KS) (11+ a few more included with the base games)

Mini-expansions acquired in 2014: Alhambra: Magical Buildings; Among the Stars: Hythian & Wiss; Coloretto: The Extra Cards & The Limit Cards; Dixit: one card; Star Realms: Promo Sets One & Two; Village: Customer 1+2 (10)

Kickstarters/pre-orders still in transit: Antidote (KS edition); Eggs and Empires (+ exp.); Eminent Domain: Microcosm; Fidelitas (KS); Fleet: Arctic Bounty (+7 other mini-expansions); Harbour (KS); Knee Jerk (KS); Mine All Mine! (KS); Scoville (KS); Space Junk (KS).

After this very active year of refining my collection, I'm actually left with a fairly short wish list. I only have 61 items on my wish list, of which: a dozen are random mini-expansions that I would like to have at some point; a dozen are games I'm thinking about or would maybe like to have; another ten or so are expansions I would probably buy at some point. That leaves just under half of the list that are items that I am actively seeking out; they break into two main categories:

Top 10 games I would buy: Biblios; Gravwell; Haggis; Hive Pocket; Impulse; Jump Gate; Roll for the Galaxy; Stone Age; Takenoko; Temporum

Top 10 Expansions to purchase: Dixit: Daydreams, Odyssey, Origins, Quest; Galaxy Trucker: Latest Models; Innovation: Figures in the Sand; King of Tokyo: Halloween; Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs. Imperium; Star Realms: Crisis (4 boosters that equal one expansion); Ticket to Ride Europe: 1912

And, just to finish off, six games that are not currently on my wishlist, but that I would probably buy anyway: Bruges; Core Worlds; La Isla; Morels; Pandemic: The Cure; Patchwork.

Board Gaming Goals

Last year (the end of 2013) was the first time I had set really concrete goals. I found it to be useful to guide my experience of board gaming during the year, so I'm going to set some new goals for 2015; but first, a brief evaluation of the goals from this past year.

Evaluating the 2014 goals:
1. 300 total plays: I hit 204, only 100 short of my goal. Big miss.
2. "Nickel and Dime" my collection: Of the 104 games with which I ended the year, only 11 qualified for at least 5 plays. Another big miss.
3. Clear out (at least) 10 games from my collection: Almost 40 games out the door. Check!
4. Add a dozen quality games to my collection: I added at least 20, so check!
5. Increase my "repertoire" of playable games by fifteen: 15 exactly, with a few more that will lock in with another play or two. Check!
6. Play all of the games on my Top 20 to play list: I played 8 of the 20 from last year's list. Miss.
7. Blog more about board games: Well, I wrote a couple of extra posts earlier in the year, but I'm going to call this one a failure, despite the lack of specificity in the target. Miss.
8. Design a board game. Check!

So that means I accomplished half of my goals for the year, which I am happy with, particularly as my progress has helped shape my goals for 2015.

Board Gaming Goals for 2015:
Goal #1: 240 total plays for the year, an average of 20 per month. The highest I've ever done is 232 in 2012, so this would be a personal record, even if it is a little more modest than my goal this past year.
Goal #2: Add 15 more games to my repertoire in 2015.
Goal #3: Play all of the games in my collection at least once this year. (After all, if I don't play them in a calendar year, it's probably time to clear them out for new games to take their place.)
Goal #4: Play Jump Gate. It has been on my list for four years; it's time to finally cross it off.
Goal #5: Complete a 10x10 Challenge. This means that you play 10 games 10 times each; it's a movement on BoardGameGeek to get players to really dig into games rather than always shuffling to the next item (which is an awfully common problem for board gamers). I'm choosing 10 longer games from my collection, since I know I will easily log 10 plays of games like 7 Wonders, King of Tokyo, or Splendor throughout the year. My 10x10 for 2015 includes: Agricola; Among the Stars; Cosmic Encounter; Glass Road; Innovation; Le Havre; Puerto Rico; Race for the Galaxy; Scoville; and Village. Bonus: I would really like to play a combined 10 plays of the Feld games I own (Castles of Burgundy, In the Year of the Dragon, and Notre Dame).
Goal #6: Play 20 games from my top 30 games to play.
Goal #7: Acquire six quality games in 2015 (other than already processed Kickstarters or preorders).
Goal #8: Make three new "gaming friends"; this, after all, should be a social enterprise.
Goal #9: Blog once a month about board games, in addition to my quarterly updates.
Goal #10: Get my game (Pot O' Gold) finished and published!

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