Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Nickels and Dimes

It appears that I had not nerded out quite enough in my recent escapades into revising my play history on BGG and revisiting my h-index, as I had another revelation this weekend as I examined my play history on BGG: I have just now passed 100 "nickels and dimes". That means that there are a hundred different board games that I have played at least five times since I started recording plays.

Aside from my most recently played nickel (Cacao), I was not intentional about making sure I played games a certain number of times; with that in mind, the division of plays among the hundred nickels and dimes worked out ridiculously evenly. As it turns out, I have played 25 games twenty or more times; another 25 games between ten and nineteen times; and another fifty games between five and nine times.

As usually happens when I encounter an interesting statistical milestone like this in my gaming, I decided that I would take this opportunity to reflect on some of my gaming history and nerd out with some statistics and analytics based on the information I discovered about my collection and the games I have played.

Collection Status


I currently own 84 out of those hundred games I have played at least five times, which makes a lot of sense; after all, I am far more likely to own the games I want to play and to play the games I own. I previously owned another eight titles, most of which saw a lot more play in my earlier years of gaming than in recent years; they're not terrible games by any means, but I just found games that accomplished the same goals in a way I liked a lot better - that "fired" these games, according to the parlance of BGG. (For example, Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King "fired" Alhambra for me, as it satisfies some of the same mechanics as a tile-laying game with an economic element.)

Previously Owned: Alhambra: Big Box; Among the Stars; Antidote; Bang!; [The Settlers of] Catan; Dominion; Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot; Thurn and Taxis (8)

That leaves only eight of the hundred that are not or have ever been part of my collection. Of those eight, two are legacy games I have played with friends and have no need to own myself (SeaFall and T.I.M.E Stories). Two are now on my wish list (Cacao and Can't Stop), and another two are games I often play with friends' children and that I could foresee adding to my own collection sometime to play with kids (Camel Up and Machi Koro).

One other game is on my "possible" wish list once I play it a few more times to see if it's really kid- and new-gamer-friendly (Magic Maze), leaving the only other game of the eight. That last game happens to also be the only game of the eight (and indeed the entire hundred) that I do not foresee playing ever again: Blood Bowl: Team Manager - The Card Game, which I played several times several years ago in short succession because we were play testing an expansion for the game. (As an aside, even though we finished the campaign for Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 and have no reason to play that particular edition again, I could see playing through it again at some point.)

Not owned or previously owned: Blood Bowl: Team Manager - The Card Game; Cacao; Camel Up; Can't Stop; Machi Koro; Magic Maze; SeaFall; T.I.M.E Stories (8)

What I find interesting as well is that that number of 84 games represents less than half of my total collection, which is currently at 193 games; that means that I own over a hundred games that I have not yet played as many as five times. I came up with a couple of reasons for that fact: first, I play more different games than I did in the past, so it takes longer for most games to make it to five plays. Second, I have not owned some games very long, so I have not had time to play them often (if at all). And finally, I often end up having to learn the games I own, which takes more time and energy than replaying games somewhat frequently - especially if there has been enough time since the previous play that I essentially have to relearn the game in order to play it again.


Percentage of Plays


As of the composition of this post, I have recorded 1,918 plays on BGG which are split among 439 different games, mostly since December 2010; I have since gone back and added ten plays before I started tracking my plays, but I only recorded games I knew I had played, along with the time or a rough estimate thereof. (This Geeklist contains other titles that might have made my list of nickels and dimes had I tracked those earlier plays).

Of my 1,918 plays, 1,356 are represented by the hundred games I have played five times or more. In addition to these hundred games, there are 22 games I played four times; 32 games thrice; 80 games twice; and another 206 once, for a total of 550 plays. (In comparison, my top sixteen games have been played a total of 515 times.) There are also an additional twelve plays of Unpublished Prototypes (including three of my own!) included in my total plays to make up the difference to 1,918.

These 1,356 plays can also be divided in an unexpectedly relatively even manner according to the relative number of plays recorded for different games. My top nine games (those with over 25 plays - a "quarter") have been played a total of 350 times; the next sixteen (between 20 and 25 plays) 353 times; the next twenty-five (between ten and nineteen plays) 332 times; and the next fifty (between five and nine plays) a total of 321 times.

Those numbers indicate a (rough) balance between games I have played in those different zones, although I do not think it is currently true that every four plays work out to have one from each of those groups. Many of the plays on the games I have played much more (ie. twenty times or more) came earlier in my play recording history, and I tend to play more new (and relatively new) games now, which makes a lot of sense; after all, even though I am playing more now overall, I am also spreading out my plays among a lot more games than I did six years ago.

Now, just for posterity's sake, here are the games that make up each of my current milestones, in order of how many plays I have recorded.

Quarters (25 plays or more)


1. 7 Wonders (69)
2. Pandemic (44)
3. King of Tokyo / Race for the Galaxy (42)
5. Splendor (37)
6. San Juan (34)
7. Carcassonne (29)
8. Hanabi (27)
9. Dominion (26)
10. Agricola / The Castles of Burgundy (25)

Dimes (between 10 and 24 plays)


12. Battle Line / Pot O' Gold (24)
14. Flash Point: Fire Rescue (23)
15. Innovation / Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (22)
17. Citadels / Fleet / The Game / Glory to Rome / Jaipur / Kingdom Builder: Big Box / Lords of Waterdeep / Star Realms (21)
25. Istanbul (20)
26. At the Gates of Loyang (18)
27. The Resistance (17)
28. Eminent Domain / Galaxy Trucker: Anniversary Edition (16)
30. Alhambra: Big Box / Codenames / OctoDice / Orléans / Saint Petersburg (15)
35. T.I.M.E Stories (14)
36. 7 Wonders Duel / Glass Road / Le Havre / Ticket to Ride: Europe / Tiny Epic Galaxies (13)
41. Dixit / Rook/ Village (12)
44. Biblios / The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game / Chrononauts / Forbidden Island / Patchwork (11)
49. Anomia / Viticulture (10)

Nickels (between five and nine plays)


51. Imperial Settlers / Lost Cities / Takenoko (9)
54. Between Two Cities / Cosmic Encounter / Coup / Dutch Blitz / Kingdomino / SeaFall / Sushi Go! / Tikal / Villages of Valeria (8)
63. Apples to Apples / BANG! / Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game / Bohnanza / Camel Up / Fresco: Big Box / Friday / Hive / Ingenious / Monkey / Pandemic: The Cure / Scoville / Tokaido (7)
76. Among the Stars / Harbour / Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King / Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot / Machi Koro / Thurn and Taxis (6)
82. Antidote / Cacao / Can't Stop / Catan / Caverna: The Cave Farmers / Coloretto / Eggs and Empires / Elysium / Five Crowns / El Grande Decennial Edition / The Grizzled / Hey, That's My Fish! / King of New York / Magic Maze / Oh My Goods! / Ra / Spyrium / Temporum / Things... (5)

Conclusion


I would not say that these are my hundred favourite games of all-time, but then again, these are the games I have chosen to play repeatedly over the years. I would say that almost all of them have ranked among my favourites at some point - even if just within their genre or their weight - or that they have at least held enough potential to consider being worth playing that many times.

I doubt that I will get rid of many of the 84 of those hundred that I do own, as only one or two are currently on my "evaluation" list (of games that might leave my collection), but I do think that there will be some shifts in the near future as other games I own are added to my list of nickels, as I own 34 of the 54 games I have played either three or four times, with another four on my wishlist. (I may even make it a goal next year that I have at least a nickel recorded on all my owned games.)

By the way, of the other sixteen games I have played three or four times but are not in my collection or on my wish list, eleven are games I previously owned, which leaves five games - Karuba, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game; Small World; Stone Age; and Through the Desert - as the outliers; of those five, I could see owning one (or maybe two) and probably playing all but Small World at least once again, as I am just really not a fan of that particular game.

The percentage drops with my twice-played games, as a total of 48 games of 80 are either on my wish list or in my collection, and much more at once played games, with only 35 of 206 either in my collection or on my wish list. I am somewhat surprised, actually, that still sixty per cent of the games I have played twice are either in my collection or on my wish list; I suppose that fact indicates that even a second play of a game is an indicator that I could enjoy the game enough to play it much more.

Still, I used to be more able to determine on one or two plays whether I would want to add a game to my collection, but I have found now that it is increasingly difficult for me to do so. I often find now that I am not able to make such a distinction until I have played a game three or four times, so it is possible that my wish list and my collection are growing more slowly now than they once had. It's not that I do not know if I like a game on my first or second play; it's more that it now often takes three or four plays to determine whether a game is unique enough to warrant a place on my shelf and whether I would actually choose to play that particular game over other options.

(As an aside, I am wondering whether I am reaching my limit in the size of my collection in terms of the number of different games I own and whether they actually get played on a semi-frequent basis - but that's a topic for a different post.)

It's kind of funny, actually, as I would say now that recording a nickel on a game is actually a mark of a game I really enjoy. With over six hundred different games in my repertoire - 439 played, another 137 on my "Want to Play" list, and another fifty or so games on my radar (a few other unplayed games in my collection, as well as a number of games on my "maybe to play sometime" list) - getting a game to the table even five times can be an accomplishment, and the very fact that I return to a game even those five times demonstrates my affinity for that game.

Again, it seems odd to measure playing board games as any kind of an accomplishment, but I am genuinely proud of the fact that I have both breadth and depth in my play history. I do consider the fact that I have played a hundred games at least five times - and that I have played fifty of those at least ten times - an accomplishment as a board gamer, and I look forward to adding more games to these ranks in the future.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

New Music September 2017: Mini-Reviews

It is becoming more and more rare that I will get really enthusiastic about music or new bands, but it seems to happen every so often that there is a sequence of new albums released in short succession by artists I know and have loved that serves to remind me how much I still enjoy music and the process of incorporating a new album into my rotation. (Like many Canadians, I have, of course, also been spending some time fondly listening to the Tragically Hip over the past few days after Gord Downie's passing.)

The last time this kind of quick intake of new content happened before this past September was a two-and-a-half month span from March 31 to June 16, 2015, when there were new albums from Death Cab for Cutie, Sufjan Stevens, Dustin Kensrue, Mumford and Sons, Florence + the Machine, Muse, mewithoutYou, Of Monsters and Men - and that list does not include the Alabama Shakes album that I have since discovered and loved. All but two of those nine albums have permanently entered my listening rotation to some degree at some point, and one or two have emerged as true favourites.

In this past September alone, there were nine albums that piqued my interest to varying degrees, as well as some new material from some Irish band I kind of like; some of these were albums I knew I had to purchase or at least listen to intensively right away, whereas others intrigued me more as a way to check in as to where that artist was at. I decided to give some of my initial thoughts on each of these collections of songs, so consider this a group of knee-jerk mini-reviews. I have ranked the albums not in terms of my opinion of the final quality of the album, as that may take a few months to determine, but in how much interest I had in listening to it and exploring it and contextualizing it over the past month and a half.

Mild to Moderate Interest


10. Jack Johnson - All the Light Above It Too - The laid-back folk-pop troubadour released his first album in four years to little fanfare, but it holds up in comparison to his previous efforts. I did not notice any tracks that really stood out on the first few listens, but it does provide a nice mellow accompaniment to life. There's not much else to say here; if you like Johnson's particular brand of mellow surf pop, this would be a valuable addition to your collection. As for me, I'll probably keep it on my mellow Spotify mix for awhile and see if it seeps further into my musical subconscious.

9. Macklemore - Gemini -
Macklemore might be one of my favourite musical guilty pleasures, so I was definitely curious about his new album. Gemini is definitely more relaxed than his previous efforts, but there are a few standout tracks once the album gets going after a bit of a slow start. By track four ("Willy Wonka"), Macklemore eases into his natural rapid-fire delivery, and the pace picks up significantly for about five tracks - starting with "Marmalade" - before levelling off over the final few songs at the end of the album.

Unlike its predecessor, This Unruly Mess I've Made, Gemini feels more personal than political, and I would say it seems more joyful than his last album. It's a shift a tone that not only seems to be more in keeping with his general outlook on life and music but that I think helps him make better music. This album feels more free and fun than the last one did, and I think that's part of what makes his music enjoyable. I'm not saying he shouldn't be political, but I think that he can be both menial and meaningful, and this album seems to strike a better balance.

I also found it fascinating that the album was bookended by almost explicitly religious songs, and that Macklemore name-checks his faith in God in a positive way several times. I'm not sure where he is at in regard to his beliefs, but I do find it interesting that there seems to be a wave of positive spirituality in hip-hop. I would be really interested to learn more of his faith journey and what it means for him to live out his faith, as he considers it to be, much as I would love to hear a similar conversation with Kendrick Lamar.

8. The National - Sleep Well Beast - I had first encountered The National a decade ago when their album Boxer was named one of the best albums of 2007 by pretty much everyone, as well as a couple of songs appearing on Chuck. I listened to Boxer a lot in those first couple of years, but my interest was only intermittently piqued by the band's subsequent two efforts, so when I heard that the band had a new album that continued the story of all of their albums, I figured it would be worth it to at least check in to see how far they had come. I enjoyed Sleep Well Beast well enough, but not enough to keep listening to it if it doesn't really grab me in the next couple of listens.

7. Derek Webb - Fingers Crossed - Webb has long been considered one of the lone "prophetic" voices who emerged from the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) industry in which he initially cut his teeth. Over the past fifteen years, he has moved increasingly away from the cliches and trite truisms of CCM, and this new album arguably cements his transition into a David Bazan-like figure in regard to the way he expresses his perspectives (if he had not already established that trajectory). It's a compelling album and one worth listening to if you, like me, are questioning some of the ways in which people (especially Evangelicals) interact with the rest of the world. This is definitely an album I want to spend some more time with.

High Interest


6. The Lone Bellow - Walk Into A Storm - Brooklyn-based folk-country minstrels The Lone Bellow were one of my favourite discoveries a few years back, as their debut album helped fill the gap left by the premature end of The Civil Wars. Their new album provides more of their established formula of intertwined three-part harmonies that are melancholy yet hopeful. I really enjoyed my first few listens, and I'm looking forward to spending more time with this album in the future.

5. The Killers - Wonderful Wonderful - The Killers also fall into that aforementioned category of "guilty pleasure" for me, though it really only applies to about a third of their work. I would say that each Killers album features a few (pardon the pun) killer tracks, a few listenable songs, and then a few curiosities that leave me mildly perplexed as to the reasons for their inclusion. It's a mix that means that they are a perfect "Greatest Hits" and arena rock band, rather than one known for their deep cuts.

So I was not surprised at all by Wonderful Wonderful and the fact that the songs on the album fell into those three general categories. "The Man" is one of the band's best bangers, and there are a few other standout tracks ("Tyson vs. Douglas", "Run for Cover", and "Rut"), but there are also a number of fairly mediocre tracks and a couple of songs that have melodies that I honestly cannot remember even after several listens. But honestly, "The Man" is so great that I don't even really care that the rest of the album is mostly passable, and The Killers remain near the top of my bucket list for arena shows to see.

Very High Interest


4. Stavesacre - MCMXCV - Back in the late 1990s, Christian music label Tooth and Nail was releasing anything and everything they could: pop punk, shoegazer, ambient poptronica, death metal, and what I think might have been their best artist, Stavesacre, a before-their-time post-grunge pre-post-hardcore band headed by Mark Salomon, one of the most enigmatic singers and lyricists of his generation.

Stavesacre was one of my favourite bands in those early years of exploring music, but I don't know that I really got as much as I could out of their music; after all, there was an aspect of the life experience expressed in their lyrics and even in the gravitas of Salomon's distinctive delivery that I don't think I could actually understand as a teenager. Still, "Gold and Silver" from their 1999 album Speakeasy remains one of my favourite songs of all time, and I constantly find myself coming back to their early music, since it still holds up almost two decades later.

So, with that praise in mind, you can imagine my sheer joy at adding new songs to that well-tested existing catalog. The only way this album could have gone wrong is if it didn't sound like Stavesacre anymore, but that is certainly not the case. More than any other album I can recall in recent memory, this album sounds like it belongs to a different time. MCMXCV ("1995" to match the band's starting date, natch) is a throwback to their early days, and it's like the band never stopped recording. There are some great songs here, and I am really excited to hear how these songs grow and change over the next few years.

3. Foo Fighters - Concrete and Gold - I wrote about my history with the Foos at length last November after watching Sonic Highways - the HBO documentary series about the recording of their last album which revitalized my interest in the band - so I am not going to rehash it here, except to say that Concrete and Gold is another typical Foo Fighters album, which is mostly a good thing. They continue to be the torch-holders for the ever-fading rock 'n roll scene, and they are trying harder than anyone else to keep dads everywhere rocking out.

The album as a whole is more political than many of their previous albums, but I think the best tracks on this album are the ones that have more direct application to current world conditions. There are a few relatively forgettable tracks peppered throughout the album - none of which are "bad", per se, and any of which are still far better than those by many other rock bands - but there are also a couple of absolutely killer tracks on this album that immediately stand out as Foo classics: "The Sky is a Neighbourhood"; "Run"; and "Dirty Water" among them.

As I was considering which previous Foo albums this album most resembled, I at first considered their 2007 release Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace, as it has a similarly mellow feel throughout most of the album. But as I have listened to it more and more, I have recognized the DNA of their 1997 album The Colour and the Shape (which is still arguably their best album to date) spliced throughout this album. I think the best way to describe Concrete and Gold, actually, is that it has the emotional youthful angst of Colour as filtered through the experience of Echoes. And like those releases, I will be really interested to see how these songs age both on their own and as a package, and I am inclined to guess that Concrete and Gold is actually one of those albums that will get better with time.

2. MuteMath - Play Dead - MuteMath has long been my standard answer to the question (particularly from other music fans) as to which of my favourite artists is continually underrated and takes the titles of "the band that you probably do not know but to whom you should be listening". I have been a fan of MuteMath since before their beginning (back in the days when some of their members were part of the electronica-funk-rap hybrid artist Earthsuit in the year 2000), and their live show remains one of the best I have ever seen.

The band has changed all of its members except for lead singer Paul Meany over the years, so it's arguable that the MuteMath who exists now is not really even the same band any more, but the continued leadership of Meany has resulted in a clear trajectory that has resulted in Play Dead, which is easily the band's most synth-heavy and yet its most mellow album since their eponymous debut over a decade ago.

I have to admit that it's taking some getting used to this new album, perhaps because MuteMath has consistently ranked among my favourite artists for a long time. I tend to prefer the band's up-tempo work, and this album does not seem to include the kinds of frenetic pulsating pushers that were featured on previous albums. There are a couple of points ("Break the Fever", in particular) when it seems like the album will pick up the pace, but it doesn't quite get there.

But I think it's important to value the albums that artists release, rather than ruminating on what I might have wanted to hear, so I am spending more time really listening to this album to try to understand and appreciate it - and I am. This is one of those albums that is really making more of an impression on me each time I listen to it, and I think it might actually emerge as one of my favourites of the year and possibly of the band, which is saying something. This is a very mature and accomplished record, and I am really enjoying spending time listening to it.

1. U2 - "The Blackout" and "You're The Best Thing About Me" (from the upcoming album Songs of Experience) - Perhaps this is cheating, since U2's album will not drop until December 1, but it should come as no surprise that my September was dominated by the new songs released by my favourite band. I already extemporized extensively about U2's new songs in a recent post, but what has really struck me in the weeks since - other than the fact that the media blitz has started three months before the release of the new album, possibly to rehabilitate their image after the bad taste left by the iTunes debacle of Songs of Innocence - is that I really love having a new U2 single getting airplay on the radio.

And even though I know that the band and their visuals have become a bit cliché over the past four (!) decades, I could not help but be moved by their latest video, which is essentially a love letter to New York (a city in which Bono keeps an apartment), but also to the idea of America, as demonstrated in the shots of the Statue of Liberty and the closing recitation of the famous inscription on Liberty Island. The band still seems as creatively vital as ever, and I can't wait to hear the rest of the album.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pan-nerd-a's Box

I was playing some games with a friend recently (surprise, surprise), and I pulled out one of my long-time favourites, San Juan, the card game version of the now-classic game Puerto Rico. I had been wanting to play it lately, and it was only after I picked it out to play that I realized that my inspiration was the unfortunate fact that San Juan and Puerto Rico have been in the news in recent weeks.

Just before we played what turned out to be an enjoyable round of the game, I was curious as to whether I had kept the scoresheets from previous rounds. I lifted the plastic insert out to see that I had in fact perfectly preserved my history of the game, as I had kept the scoresheets from every round that I had played since I acquired the game, including the span in which my wife won nine games in a row (!) when we first played it.

But I realized something else as I looked at the scores I had recorded: I had played the game far more than the 16 plays I had recorded on BoardGameGeek. I had, in, fact, played the game 33 times previously, and this was my 34th play, rather than my 17th. That change would vault San Juan from being tied for my 25th most played game to being my 5th most played game, which certainly seems more in line with my experience of the game.

In most of my earlier recordings of my plays on BGG, I did not include any details about scores, players, locations, or even the number of games played in one sitting for shorter games like San Juan. The BGG app I had at the time was not very effective - if at all - for recording such details, and I was just learning what kind of information I would want in the future, so I wasn't including most of that information in my plays. I do not often go into my BGG history to add or change details, but in this case, I knew I could easily go back and change the details of those plays because I had the scores in front of me.

So I was now left with a very nerdy dilemma, as I also knew that adding those plays into my history would also affect the progression of my board game H-index - the number of games I had played a particular number of times - which I had spent many nerdy hours tabulating and calculating back in June. Sure, I could add these newly discovered plays in for true accuracy, but then I would be opening up a Pandora's Box of nerdiness - a "Pan-nerd-a's Box", if you will. You can probably guess what happened next.

The Pan-nerd-ica opens


I spent the next hour and a half after that realization refiguring my H-index with the new information in order to determine how it changed: which games were on the list at each level, when games were added or dropped from the list, and how much earlier I would have achieved each level of my H-index as a result. There were a few changes to my revised H-index list: a couple of games entered or re-entered at different points; the dates shifted earlier at a few points; and one game - Saint Petersburg - no longer appeared on my H-index at any point.

But many of the qualitative observations I made in that exhaustive post at the end of June remain very similar. The games on my H-index still tend to be shorter, more accessible games that still have a significant strategic element, with a few fillers and a couple of more complex games thrown in for good measure. There was still a palpable shift in 2016 when I started paying attention to this metric and I started being more deliberate about playing the games that would advance my H-index. 

After making the adjustments with the re-evaluated plays of San Juan, it seemed as though I still had one other game to play once before achieving an H-index of 21, so I was happy that now my parallel H-index timelines had converged and that I could move forward in peace...until I had another realization: if I had done this mis-recording for San Juan, it was possible that I might have similarly mis-recorded my plays of other games. The Pan-nerd-a's Box creaked open a little further...

Standardizing my "plays"


I soon realized that most of my previously ignored plays were of simple two-player games with minimal set-up and quick and easy replay that tend to be incredibly easy to set up again after playing and quick to replay due to the lower player count. In part because the games are so short, I had figured at the time that it would be easier and perhaps more consistent with longer games to record just one play of the game even if there were multiple rounds of play, but I now realize that this adaptation was not consistent even within the shorter games, and sometimes even within the records of the same game.

At that point, I spent another hour and a half going through the history of my plays and working to standardize the whole list as much as I could, with the goal that my play history would all be recorded the same way after the process was complete. That meant that a "play" would be recorded as the period from set-up to scoring, whereas I had often previously included multiple games in one "play", as I had with San Juan.

In the end, aside from San Juan, about fifteen other games were affected by my re-evaluation of my plays. Most were only minimally changed, with games such as Blokus Duo, Eminent Domain: Microcosm, Friday, Hanabi, Hey, That's My Fish!, Jaipur, King of Tokyo, and Sushi Go! each having only a play or two added to each list. A number of other shorter but strategic games made some not insignificant jumps in play count as a result of these changes.

I added a few plays of Battle Line, which also affected the progression of my H-index. Hive and Lost Cities jumped several plays each. But even games that I only started playing last year, such as The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game, OctoDice, and Patchwork jumped anywhere between two and five plays due to even recent inconsistencies in my recording of plays.

Two of the three biggest jumps in play count also ultimately affected my H-index. Splendor jumped by six plays to retake its top five spot in my all-time rankings. Star Realms, which I thought had seemed low at only 14 recorded plays, jumped up seven plays to 21 to join the list. But the biggest jump came for The Game (2015), a fun filler that went from 11 to 21 to join my list, since most of my plays had included multiple games of the simple fifteen-minute card game.

(As an aside, it did not appear that 7 Wonders or Dominion - two of my most-played games in my first two years of recording plays - were affected by this disparity, which I found slightly surprising at first; then again, my early records do not include any I information beyond the game and the date, so it's possible that I still missed a play or two. I guess I can live with that, though, as I can only deal with the data I have. But I digress.)

Determining my "true" H-index


Of course, these further adjustments to the plays of these games mandated that I go back once again and re-evaluate my history to determine my true H-index even further than I had already calculated with the adjustments from San Juan, which then took another few hours. (I'm not sure what's more surprising: how much time this whole process took, or how little I noticed the time it took because I enjoyed it so much.)

After re-evaluating the aforementioned adjustments, there were a few more small alterations to my H-index; some of the dates were pushed back even a little earlier, a couple of games disappeared from the list at a couple of points, and I discovered that I had already achieved my H-index of 21 (as opposed to being one play short), thanks to newly counted plays of The Game, Jaipur, San Juan, and Star Realms. (They replaced Glory to Rome, Kingdom Builder, and Lords of Waterdeep on my list.)

I am now, with my newly figured H-index, currently only six plays short of achieving an H-index of 22, which was one of my board game goals for the year. With my adjusted totals, I now have eight games that have 21 plays each, so that goal will be easy to accomplish - as it seems that future H-index levels will be made easier thanks to these added plays.

The future of my H-index


At the point at which I wrote my previous post after my initial evaluation of my H-index (a discussion which has now been rendered obsolete by these new additions), I had also included a section in which I had identified eighty games as possible future entries into my H-index. Of those eighty games I had listed, four - as aforementioned, The Game, Jaipur, San Juan, and Star Realms - have already factored into my newly figured H-index, so I decided to redo this list as well.

I finalized a list of seventy games after removing a few and adding in a few games after the summer, so here are the games that I think are most likely to be added to my H-index at some point, listed according to their relative weight (party/social, filler, short strategy, family/strategy, and complex) and the likelihood of joining the list (very likely, somewhat likely, and possible). It should come as no surprise that I own all but eight games on this list, and seven of those are likely to be purchased as soon as I can manage.

Five games that will likely re-enter my H-index at some point: At the Gates of Loyang; Glory to Rome; Kingdom Builder; Lords of Waterdeep; The Resistance

Ten next most likely games to enter my H-index: 7 Wonders: Duel; The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game; Codenames; Eminent Domain; Istanbul; Kingdomino; OctoDice; Patchwork; Tiny Epic Galaxies; Villages of Valeria

Social/Party Games (10)

Very likely: Codenames; The Resistance (2)

Somewhat likely: Anomia; Coup; Dixit (3)

Possible: Apples to Apples; Codenames: Pictures; Dutch Blitz; Eggs and Empires; Get Bit! (5)

Filler/Light Games (15)

Very likely: Biblios; Ingenious; Lost Cities; Patchwork; Rook (5)

Somewhat likely: Hey, That's My Fish!; Hive; NMBR 9; Red7; Sushi Go! (5)

Possible: Can't Stop; Coloretto; Flip City; For Sale; Monkey (5)

Short Strategy Games (15)

Very likely: 7 Wonders: Duel; The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game; Eminent Domain; OctoDice; Tiny Epic Galaxies; Villages of Valeria (6)

Somewhat likely: Friday; The Grizzled; Harbour; Mottainai; Oh My Goods!; Paperback (6)

Possible: Century: Spice Road; Chrononauts; Samurai (3)

Family/Strategy Games (15)

Very likely: Istanbul (1)

Somewhat likely: Between Two Cities; Pandemic: The Cure; Saint Petersburg; Scoville; Ticket to Ride; Europe; Takenoko; Tokaido (7)

Possible: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small; Cacao; King of New York; Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King; Lanterns: The Harvest Festival; Machi Koro; Medieval Academy (7)

Complex Games (15)

Very likely: At the Gates of Loyang: Galaxy Trucker; Orléans (3)

Somewhat likely: Cosmic Encounter; Glass Road; Le Havre; Imperial Settlers; T.I.M.E Stories; Village; Viticulture (7)

Possible: Caverna: The Cave Farmers; Elysium; Macao; Notre Dame; Roll for the Galaxy (5)

Conclusion


I am now satisfied that my list of games played is much more in consistent throughout my recording history and more reflective of how much I have played certain games relative to one another. I don't think it really matters that I played some games several times in a sitting; what matters is how many times in total I have played each game, regardless of the circumstances and timing of those plays.

It's kind of ridiculous to realize that only two short years ago that I celebrated my thousandth play and wrote about it extensively here - and yes, I realize that my additions from this post have invalidated those findings, but I have decided that I am not going to go back and alter any previous updates or analytical posts about my plays.

I have decided now that I will not go back and rework my play history any further, as I am now much more settled with where things are at and confident that my play history is now standardized as much as it can be, so I am certain that any future milestones, such as 2000 plays (which is now squarely in my sights for early January or even late December at my current pace of playing games, thanks to these extra six dozen plays I just added in) or any future progressions of my H-index will be authentic at the time.

And so, to conclude, here is my updated list of my most played games, which now reflects my new play counts:

1. 7 Wonders (69)
2. Pandemic (44)
3. King of Tokyo / Race for the Galaxy (42)
5. Splendor (37)
6. San Juan (34)
7. Carcassonne (29)
8. Hanabi (27)
9. Dominion (26)
10. Agricola / The Castles of Burgundy (25)
12. Battle Line / Pot O' Gold (24)
14. Flash Point: Fire Rescue (23)
15. Innovation / Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (22)
17. Citadels / Fleet  / The Game / Glory to Rome / Jaipur / Kingdom Builder / Lords of Waterdeep / Star Realms (21)
25. Istanbul (19)
26. At the Gates of Loyang (18)
27. The Resistance (17)
28. Eminent Domain  / Galaxy Trucker (16)
30. Alhambra / Codenames / Saint Petersburg (15)

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Turner Games Q3 Update

It's funny how the season that in theory is the least busy in my schedule - ie. summer, when I am typically not actively employed - ends up being the busiest and the fullest time of the year in some respects. I would still consider it to be a successful few months of gaming, as I managed to play a lot of games between July 1 and September 30 - even after starting a new job at the end of August - although I did not achieve nearly as much as I wanted to on my game designs or in my writing about board game.

I did, however, write a couple of posts on the Regina Game Forge page in August about my progress (or lack thereof) on my designs: Arrested Development, which was about the emotional challenges of game design; and Time Stories, which was about having too much to do in design and too little time in which to do it. I am also quite excited about getting back into some design in the coming months. But for now, I'll take some time and review what happened over the past few months of board gaming.

Goals for 2017 - Update!


1. 400 plays during the year, including 30 plays in each month. I am still very much on track for this goal with 100 plays this quarter and 315 plays through 9 months for a projected total of 420 plays, which will likely be higher since the last quarter of the year tends to be very productive in terms of plays.

2. Play 100 new games during the year. I am just barely behind pace for the year with 72 new games played, although I have also played 12 new expansions as well. I think I can get this one done just on games alone, so I'm still going to try and push for this goal.

3. Play 20 of my Top 25 to PlayI have stalled out at 13 played from this list since the end of July, so I'm going to have to prioritize the five I know I could play (due to access), as well as finding a way to access two of the other seven. I think this might not happen after all, and I may have to be more strategic about my list next year.

4. Play 10 out of my 20 leftover Top to Play games. I have played only three from this list at this point, so I'm thinking I might not make this one - and then, of course, it looks like I will add a few more to this list at the end of the year, too.

5. Play 20 out of my Top 25 to Replay. I have replayed only two games from this list so far, so I'm guessing this one will not happen, even though I want it to.

6. Increase my h-index to 22. I came up just three plays short of 21 at the end of the quarter, so I should hit it very soon. It will only take another ten plays of certain games to hit 22 before the end of the year, so it is still very doable - as long as I prioritize playing those certain games.

7. Attend a convention. Here's hoping it happens this fall!

8. Publish Pot O' Gold. It's still in the works, but it's not going to happen this year.

9. Finish the prototype of First Past the Post. Accomplished in Q2 and redesigned in Q3.

10. Start a game design / review website. www.reginagameforge.ca went live on May 5, so this is accomplished!

Games Played


Games played this quarter from my Top 25 to play: Cottage Garden; Lorenzo il Magnifico (2)

Games played this quarter from previous "Top to Play" lists: Glen More (1)

Other games played this quarter from my "Want to Play" list: Animals on Board; Century: Spice Road; Chariot Race; Eight-Minute Empire; Eight-Minute Empire: Legends; Inis; Lords of Vegas; Mystic Vale; NMBR 9; Potion Explosion; Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age; Ulm; Vault Wars (13)

Other new games played this quarter: Can't Stop; Codenames Duet; Fabled Fruit; FUSE; Plato 3000; Time Pirates (6)

New expansions played this quarter from my "Want to Play" list: Kingdom Builder: Marshlands; Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion; Stone Age: The Expansion; Tiny Epic Galaxies: Beyond the Black (4)

Other new expansions played this quarter: None

New party/social games played this quarter: Codenames Duet (1)

New filler games played this quarter: Can't Stop; FUSE; NMBR 9; Plato 3000 (4)

New light strategy games played this quarter: Century: Spice Road; Eight-Minute Empire; Eight-Minute Empire: Legends; Fabled Fruit; Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age; Vault Wars (6)

New family games played this quarter: Animals on Board; Chariot Race; Cottage Garden; Lords of Vegas; Mystic Vale; Potion Explosion; Time Pirates (7)

New family strategy games played this quarter: Glen More; Inis; Ulm (3)

New complex games played this quarter: Lorenzo il Magnifico (1)

New mega-complex games played this quarter: N/A

Favourite new light/medium games played this quarter: Can't Stop; Century: Spice Road; Codenames Duet; Cottage Garden; NMBR 9

Favourite new strategy/complex games played this quarter: Glen More; Inis; Lorenzo il Magnifico

Games played most this quarter:
1. Kingdomino (7)
2. King of Tokyo (6)
3. Biblios (5)
4. Tiny Epic Galaxies (4)
5. Can't Stop / Oh My Goods! (3)

New games played repeatedly this quarter: Animals on Board; Can't Stop; Century: Spice Road; Inis; Mystic Vale; NMBR 9 (6)

Other games played repeatedly this quarter: The Castles of Burgundy; Codenames; Coloretto; Hanabi; Innovation; Istanbul; Race for the Galaxy; Samurai; Takenoko; Viticulture (8)

Games replayed from my Top 25 to Replay List this quarter: None

Other games replayed (for a second time) this quarter: Captain Sonar; Early American Chrononauts; Honshu; Kingdomino; Terraforming Mars (5)

Expansions replayed (for a second time) this quarter: None

New games to reach three plays this quarter: Alien Frontiers; Can't Stop; Kingdomino; Roll for the Galaxy; Samurai (5)

New nickels (five total plays) this quarter: Biblios; Coloretto; Kingdomino; Monkey; Oh My Goods!; Temporum (6)

New dimes (ten total plays) this quarter: Tiny Epic Galaxies; Viticulture (2)

New quarters (25 total plays) this quarter: The Castles of Burgundy; Hanabi (2)

Most plays this year:
1. Istanbul / Kingdomino (8)
2. Jaipur / King of Tokyo (7)
3. Carcassonne  / Pot O' Gold / / Villages of Valeria / Viticulture (6)
4. Biblios / Oh My Goods! / SeaFall / Splendor (5)
5. Fleet / Hanabi / Monkey / Pandemic: The Cure / Rook / Takenoko / Tiny Epic Galaxies (4)

All-time most plays as of the end of this quarter:
1. 7 Wonders (69)
2. Pandemic (44)
3. Race for the Galaxy (42)
4. King of Tokyo (41)
5. Splendor (31)
6. Carcassonne (29)
7. Dominion / Hanabi (26)
9. Agricola / The Castles of Burgundy (25)
11. Flash Point: Fire Rescue (23)
12. Innovation / Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 / Pot O' Gold (22)
15. Citadels / Fleet  / Kingdom Builder / Lords of Waterdeep (21)
17. Battle Line / Glory to Rome / Jaipur (20)
22. Istanbul (19)
23. At the Gates of Loyang (18)
24. The Resistance (17)
25. Eminent Domain / San Juan (16)
27. Alhambra / Codenames / Galaxy Trucker / Saint Petersburg (15)
31. Orléans / Star Realms / T.I.M.E Stories (14)

Want to play


Games added to my "Want to Play" list this quarter: Agra; Altiplano; Atlas: Enchanted Lands; Azul; Caverna: Cave vs. Cave; The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game; Clank! In! Space!; The Flow of History; The Gaia Project; Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle; Harvest; Indian Summer; Merlin; Monad; Montana; NMBR9; Nusfjord; Pandemic Legacy: Season 2; Pandemic: Rising Tide; Photosynthesis; Queendomino; Reworld; Transatlantic (23)

Party/social games added this quarter: None

Filler/light games added this quarter: NMBR9; Queendomino (2)

Light strategy games added this quarter: Atlas: Enchanted Lands; The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game; Harvest; Monad (4)

Family games added this quarter: Azul; Clank! In! Space!; Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle; Indian Summer; Pandemic: Rising Tide (5)

Family strategy games added this quarter: Caverna: Cave vs. Cave; Photosynthesis (2)

Complex games added this quarter: Agra; Altiplano; The Flow of History; The Gaia Project; Merlin; Montana; Nusfjord; Pandemic Legacy: Season 2; Reworld; Transatlantic (10)

Expansions added this quarter: Between Two Cities: Capitals; Cities of Splendor; Core Worlds: Revolution; Eminent Domain: Oblivion; Isle of Skye: Journeyman; Mottainai: Wutai Mountain; Oh My Goods!: Longsdale in Revolt; Oh My Goods!: Escape To Canyon Brook; The Fellowship of Marco Polo (9)

Games and expansions removed from my "Want to Play" list this quarter: Alea Iacta Est; Firefly: Out to the Black; Insidious Sevens; Liguria; London Markets; Nautilus Industries; Nippon; Sail Away; Seven7s; Signorie; Spyfall 2; Subdivision; Tower; Tyrants of the Underdark; Via Nebula; Wasabi!; What's He Building In There? (17)

Changes to my collection


Games acquired this quarter: Back to the Future: An Adventure Through Time; Concept; Eight-Minute Empire; Honshu; Innovation Deluxe; Kingdomino; Mahjong; Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Red; Mega Man Pixel Tactics: Orange; Monad; Quixo; Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age with Mediterranean Expansion; Samurai; Space Alert; Tides of Time; Tiny Epic Quest (17)

Large expansions acquired this quarter: Alien Frontiers: Factions; Alien Frontiers: Outer Belt; Innovation: Artifacts of History; Innovation: Cities of Destiny; Kingdom Builder: Marshlands; Lanterns: The Emperor's Gifts (6)

Promo (mini/small) expansions acquired this quarter: 7 Wonders: Leaders - Phryne (Alternate Art Promo); Alien Frontiers: 2017 Promo Pack, Expansion Packs #2-7, and Faction Packs #1-4; Codenames: Authors and Games; Core Worlds: Alternate Art Heroes; Core Worlds: The Stronghold; Finca: El Razul; Imperial Settlers - Aztecs Common Cards; Imperial Settlers - Ruins; Imperial Settlers - Storage Tiles; Isle of Skye: Adjacency Scrolls; Isle of Skye: Themenplattchen; Istanbul: Caravan Leader; King of Tokyo: Fish Market; Medieval Academy: Galanttry and Magic; Star Fluxx: Robo-Doc; Star Realms: Rescue Run; Terraforming Mars: Small Asteroid; Tiny Epic Quest: Quest for the Golden Mushrooms; Xenon Profiteer: Tactics and Profiteers (29)

Games and expansions liquidated from my collection this quarter: Bananagrams; Gone Viking!; Keyflower: Key Celeste (promo); Scrabble Slam!; That's Life!; Valley of the Kings (6)

Games, expansions, and promos pre-ordered (other than Kickstarter): Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 (Nov); Terraforming Mars with Hellas and Elysium and Venus Next expansions (Nov)

Kickstarters that arrived this quarter: Alien Frontiers: Factions, Outer Belt, 2017 Promo Pack, and 10 expansions; Innovation Deluxe; Tiny Epic Quest (3)

Kickstarters ordered this quarter (with target arrival date): Flash Point: Fire Rescue - Tragic Events (Nov); Mint Delivery and Mint Works (May); The Networks (May) and The Executives expansion (July); Star Realms: Frontiers (with 9 expansions) (Dec)

Kickstarters still on order from previous quarters (with expected arrival date): Hardback and Paperback expansion (Oct); Ladder 29 (Oct)

Games added to my wish list this quarter:The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game; Queendomino (2)

Expansions added to my wish list this quarter: 7 Wonders: Cities and Leaders Anniversary Packs; Eminent Domain: Oblivion; Isle of Skye: Journeyman; Oh My Goods!: Longsdale in Revolt (5)

Small (mini/promo) expansions added to my "Want in Trade" list this quarter: Imperial Settlers: Golden Route and Declaration of War; Orléans: Drawbridge; Thief's Market: Narrow Alleyway; Thief's Market: Purported Curse; Thief's Market: WUT (5)

Here's the updated shelfie for posterity:



In the Queue


This is a new section in which I am attempting to break down some of my yearly goals and to quantify and qualify some of the immediate goals of playing or replaying various games in my collection and from my lists. I hope this might make it easier to see my progress on some of those lists or goals (or lack thereof) and to see progress on a smaller level than on a yearly basis.

I am interested to see how/if this works to help motivate me and how it might change some of my intentions over the next quarter. Its presence may change very little, or it might change a lot; finding out is most of the fun. Either way, it gives me a few more lists, as well as some games to target over the next three months. In all cases, I have done my best to make the goals achievable by choosing games that are available in either my collection or the collections of others.

New games to play from my collection: Back to the Future: An Adventure Through Time; Incan Gold; Mega Man: Pixel Tactics; Monad; Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age; Space Alert; Tiny Epic Quest (7)

New expansions to play from my collection: Core Worlds: Revolution; Fresco: 8, 9, and 10; Galaxy Trucker: Another Big Expansion; Innovation: Artifacts of History; Innovation: Cities of Destiny; Innovation: Figures in the Sand (6)

Top ten games to pull off the shelf and replay: Cosmic Encounter; Eminent Domain; Le Havre: The Inland Port; Ora et Labora; The Princes of Florence; Ra; San Juan; Tides of Time; Tikal; The Voyages of Marco Polo

Top games to play: Burgle Bros.; Carson City; Caverna: Cave vs. Cave; CO2; Dungeon Petz; First Class; Kanban; Lisboa; Pandemic Iberia; Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu; Vinhos (11)

Top (non-owned) complex games to replay for a second time: Concordia; The Gallerist; La Granja; Grand Austria Hotel; Great Western Trail (5)

Top small/medium games to buy: Cacao; The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game; Codenames Duet; The Grizzled; Lanterns: The Harvest Festival; Queendomino (6)

Top large games to buy: Roll for the Galaxy (+ Ambition); Shakespeare (+ Backstage)

Top small expansions to buy: 7 Wonders: Leaders and Cities Anniversary Packs (2)

Top large expansions to buy: Between Two Cities: Capitals; Cacao: Chocolatl; Cities of Splendor; Imperial Settlers: Aztecs; Pandemic: The Cure - Experimental Meds (5)

Looking forward to Quarter 4


Essen/Spiel - Although I will not get to go to Germany for Spiel since it happens in October (at least as long as I'm a teacher), I still get to enjoy all of the buzz and new games that are released in time for the biggest gaming convention there is, even though many of them will not arrive on this side of the Atlantic until the new year.

Play With Your Food - The 24-hour board-game-a-thon that concludes our annual fundraiser for our local homeless shelter takes place on the third weekend of October. This will be my third year participating, but my first in which I will have a job to go back to after the weekend, so I'm interested to see how it goes.

Terraforming Mars with expansions - I have pre-ordered the base game as well as the current and upcoming expansions for one of my favourite new games of the past year, Terraforming Mars, so I am very excited to play Venus Next sometime in November!

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