I started using BGStats in late 2017 and made sure to enter every single play for 2018 so that we’d be able to dig into the data a bit for a post like this. Here goes!
2018 Year End Summary
4-player Game Nights
26 Plays / 8 Games
7 – Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 (our win rate: 57%)
6 – Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island (our win rate: 66%)
3 – Tobago
3 – Archipelago (Dan was the saboteur!)
3 – Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game (our win rate: 33%)
2 – Pandemic (our win rate: 100%)
1 – Roll Player
1 – Dungeon Petz
80% cooperative games (69.2% if you don’t include semi-cooperative Archipelago)
Win %’s among the players don’t really mean as much this year. Not enough data to provide a meaningful result.
This was a difficult year to get together. Everyone is very busy leading full and active lives. We had 25 game nights, which isn’t too bad all things considered. Roughly one game night every other week. I’ll take it!
Haller was right. Having a game night to look forward to to get me out of house project mode once in awhile is good for my mental health.
Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game landed with some mixed feelings. Some of us (me) latched onto the larger plot and lost focus on the small assignment we were tasked with. Result: we spent a lot of time failing the quizzes at the end of the missions. The way the website is setup, if you fail the quiz, you have to reset the case file and start over from square one, forcing a lot of data re-entry. This is a huge time sink for four men with very limited free time. We put this game on the side burner and jumped into Pandemic Legacy: Season 2, which has so far, in my opinion, a better rate of exchange on time vs. entertainment.
In general, despite the ever-present lure of new games, I think the four of us enjoy focusing our game nights on a single game, getting over the learning curve, digging into the deeper strategies, honing our gameplay, and developing some meta gameplay around the table. I’m convinced that this is where the real fun is, and continue to attempt to talk myself out of buying more new games. I’m at the point in my board gaming hobby where I’m starting to consider culling my collection to the games that offer the most fun for the cost in time and effort.
Continue resisting the urge to buy new games. (…but Brass: Birmingham tho!)
- I’ve already pledged for the reprint of Belfort with its expansions. (ETA August 2019)
- Glen More 2: Chronicles will come to Kickstarter in early 2019. I’ve regretted selling the original since the day it went out the door. A meaty game in a small box with a compact table presence that plays in 45 minutes and has whisky in it? I didn’t know how good it was until it was gone. (ETA Q4 2019?)
- Haller already added three big games to the mix anyway. Steampunk Rally is fantastic fun. Evolution: Climate has been on Collin and my radar for a year or two (but we resisted the urge to buy it!). Scythe looks perty (but I wonder if it’s going to feel like Clans of Caledonia?).
Math Trade or sell away some of my weaker games. Begin the cull!
Finish Pandemic Legacy: Season 2.
Get Dominant Species to the table. It’s time. I think they’re ready.
Carcassonne with Collin
- Collin 12%
- Steve 87% (ouch!)
We played several other games, but not enough times for them to matter data-wise.
Don’t drink more than 3 liters at the Biergarten ever again.
Schedule Biergarten Boardgaming 4 times per year (equinoxes and solstices).
Teach Collin some new tricks and see if I can up his win % this year.
Gaming as a Family (with my wife and our 6 year old son)
48 Plays / 15 Games
20 – The Magic Labyrinth
4 – Pharaoh’s Gulo Gulo
4 – Kingdomino
3 – Dragonwood
3 – Animal Upon Animal
2 – Tsuro
2 – Forbidden Desert
2 – Schotten Totten
2 – Rhino Hero: Super Battle
1 – Survive: Escape from Atlatis (sold it!)
1 – Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin (consumable game)
1 – Carcassonne
1 – Coconuts
1 – Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters
1 – Taluva
I’ve noticed Boden getting bored with longer games. Faster, shorter games with very clear victory conditions (as opposed to mathematical victory point tallies) seem to click with him. He “gets” racing to the Pharaoh’s treasure, or racing to collect all the wizard items, or being the person at the top of the skyscraper when it crashes. Shorter games fit our current life situation, too. There isn’t enough time lately for long game sessions.
The Magic Labyrinth and Pharaoh’s Gulo Gulo do a good job of keeping a level playing field among adults and children. Kingdomino is too shallow and simple for me, even though Carolyn has been beating me consistently. It feels like a streamlined, watered down Carcassonne. Where’s the meat? There is none. But it may prove to be a good game for Boden this year, especially as he grows in his math skills and can calculate his points as he plays. I’m looking forward to watching him evolve as a person.
I’d like to try to find a way to arrange things so that there is more time for playing together. It doesn’t always have to be boardgames. He and I have been enjoying building LEGOs together, and we started a new woodworking project (a treasure chest to hold his gem and mineral collection).
Schedule more time with my sons on the calendar as a necessary component of the home building project.
Gaming with my wife
7 Plays / 3 games 😦
3 – The Magic Labyrinth
3 – Kingdomino
1 – Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin
We have two young kids, two full-time jobs, we’re building a house, and she’s running a side business. Every spare ounce of everything is spent elsewhere. It’s been a taxing year for both of us and for the family as a whole. There are a lot of costs involved in building a house – money, time, energy, attention, spirit, emotion… we should try to make more time to play together. Balance the scales again. It would be the height of stupidity to finally complete the building of a house and then not have a family that wants to live together in it.
Of the games we played together, 2/3 were kid games, chosen simply because they’re fast and don’t require too much thought energy on our part, played at night after putting the boys to bed.
Schedule more time with my wife on the calendar as a necessary component of the home building project.
Try to play together more often.
Do what she wants to do more often.
2018 was a huge year for boardgaming, quantity-wise. A ridiculous number of new games were released – so many that it seems to have helped me not get so caught up in the hype cycles. I found myself choosing to skip a lot of game reviews where in the past I would just watch them all. I think the game reviewers are even starting to get burned out. Perhaps it’s my current reality where there isn’t enough time for more games. There isn’t enough time for the games I already own, so what’s the point in seeking out more? But there’s a general trend in the life of a boardgamer where you eventually stop buying more games, choose to focus on the great games you’ve found, delve deeper into them, and cull your collection. That’s pretty much where I’m at now.
I think I have finally talked myself out of Gloomhaven. I heard one description that seems to have sealed the coffin on that one for me. (paraphrasing) “It’s like Diablo III where you grind and grind and grind and kill the same kind of monster over and over and over again, get some loot, get a bit of story, level up your character a bit, and then it’s back in the dungeon again to grind some more. The monsters are generic. The dungeons all sorta look the same. The story happens in small bits and may never come to a conclusion.” I’ve gotten bored with this type of video game. I used to love Diablo II (pre-patch), but Diablo III was a dud for me. I think I loved the challenge of Diablo II more than anything. It was hard. You earned that loot by solving the puzzle of the boss fight. I love puzzles! The same can be said about my feelings for World of Warcraft. If it’s too easy, or there isn’t enough story propelling my movement in the game, I start to feel the grind. I made it through all of D3 without dying, on my first play of the game. Wat? I found the game too generous with rare and legendary loot. Legendary loot used to be an unobtainable dream! If you saw someone walking around with a full set, you stood in awe! I found the D3 story to be very rushed and wished for more immersion into the world. I’m not saying Gloomhaven is a D3 clone, or that it lacks puzzles. It actually looks like each scenario is another puzzle to solve, but as soon as someone made the comparison to Diablo, I was able to see the game from a different angle, and now it’s all I can see.
It probably doesn’t help that I’ve been watching Critical Role, a show where nerdy voice actors sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons, where it’s nearly all story and not so much about the lootz or the grind. Collin is obviously a huge D&D fan now, and Haller has been for ages. It’s very likely in my future to roll some dice and play in someone else’s story world. I think I’d rather play a game someone else is passionate about, and let that passion be infectious, than grind through a single board game that requires so much of everyone’s time. We already own many fun board games. Let’s play those and D&D.
Alright, so… to wrap this up I’ll pull a quote from the consistently fantastic series of Discworld novels, written by Terry Pratchett. I can’t get enough of these books… so. damn. good.
“All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”
REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
“So we can believe the big ones?”
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
“They’re not the same at all!”
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”
MY POINT EXACTLY.”
Happy new year, everyone.