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QWERTYmartin's Unabridged Insights On Play

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Q4 2016 review

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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A quick look at what I've been playing and buying this quarter, and a comparison to last year.

Total plays: 48 (2015 had 149, 2014 had 123, 2013 had 99)

Distinct games: 38 (2015 had 64, 2014 had 60, 2013 had 43)

New-to-me games: 19 (15 in 2015, 21 in 2014, 11 in 2013)

Dimes: 0 (3 in 2015, 0 in 2014, 1 in 2013)

Nickels: 0 (3 in 2015, 6 in 2014, 3 in 2013)

Another lean patch bolstered by games with my nephew and a session with Jimmy over the Christmas break.

And now a look at the collection.

Acquired: 8 - IOTA, Rolling America, Codenames: Deep Undercover, Eggs of Ostrich, High Treason: The Trial of Louis Riel, Fresh Fish, HMS Dolores, Fuji Flush

Removed: 0

Owned: 167 (excluding expansions - up from 159 at end Q3)

Unplayed: 3 - Codenames: Deep Undercover, IOTA, High Treason: The Trial of Louis Riel

Christmas gifts, a couple of post-Essen orders and US sales saw the collection grow to what I think is its highest ever. I need to make good on my purging plans this year.

Best new-to-me: Fresh Fish seemed unique and intriguing but I'm not sure how easily it will be to get it played.

New 10s: none
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Mon Jan 2, 2017 3:21 pm
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New to me FIVE years ago

Martin G
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Geeklist posted! New to you FIVE years ago 2016 => Has it stood the test of time?

I'm going to use a little web app I wrote to look at how much subsequent play the games I learned in 2011 have got, starting with the ones that have been played every year since.

Played in all five subsequent years

Kingdom Builder (11/32/15/21/3/2)
I only played Kingdom Builder for the first time in December but was instantly smitten and racked up a bunch of plays with my family over Christmas. It was a firm favourite throughout the next three years and I reviewed the base game and the first two expansions, each of which nicely extended the replayability. Plays dropped off in 2015 and 2016 (but my plays of everything dropped off in 2016) but I've just ordered Marshlands and I'm hoping that will inspire a fresh flush of plays next year.

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork (8/7/3/1/1/1)
This one has experienced a common pattern for my collection of a gradual drop-off to one play a year. I always enjoy it when I do play it though - it can be random and unfair, but it does a great job of evoking the humour of the Discworld.

Played in four subsequent years

Perudo: (44/16/7/1/1/0)
I'd played this years before I was logging plays on BGG, but the rash of plays in 2011 and 2012 were almost all at the pub with my wife and a couple of good friends. But we moved away, they split up and it's only hit the table sporadically since then. There's a lot of competition in the bluffing category these days, but I still think this is a true classic.

Oregon (2/7/1/1/1/0) - a Christmas present in 2011 and I was utterly trounced on my first couple of plays. I then started to figure out how it worked and enjoyed it more, though the extent to which a good player will crush a new one made some of the later plays less satisfying.

(Nearly) Dime and done

A Few Acres of Snow - Wallace has a worrying knack of designing games that I'm initially obsessed with but then burn out hard (Brass and the above Ankh-Morpork are the only real stayers for me). I worried from my first play that the static nature of the card market would allow optimal strategies to emerge, and shortly after the Halifax Hammer proved me right.

Month by month new-to-me picks

January: Mr. Jack Pocket - a passing fancy but it doesn't look like anything else endured from this month either
February: Tammany Hall - a game I admire greatly but find so intense and draining that I rarely push to get it played. Lords of Vegas has probably overtaken it due to the enthusiasm of my current group for it.
March: Jacynth - I never really found anything to play with my Decktet that I loved. This was another disappointing month for new games.
April: En Garde - ...and another.
May: Nefertiti - I eventually acquired a copy of this and rather enjoy it. This month was also notable for me calling King of Tokyo 'not a very well-designed game'. Twenty plays later, it's safe to say I was wrong.
June: Taluva - I don't like this game much now and I didn't even like it much at the time. I definitely should have picked Raj - simplicity itself and great fun with it.
July: Lords of Scotland - a nice little special-powers card game that eventually faded away. Reiner Knizia's Decathlon is still an entertaining diversion from time to time.
August: Lost Valley - I really enjoy this and eventually acquired the new version but haven't played it as much as I'd like.
September: Chronicle - I picked this ahead of Ankh-Morpork, which was a mistake, though I do still like it.
October: Show Manager - yet another pleasant midweight Euro that hasn't become a regular.
November: Die Sieben Siegel - still a favoured tricktaker with a twist, whatever its current name may be. Possibly should have given the nod to the wonderfully dickish Mexica though.
December: Kingdom Builder - I was also raving about Vanuatu after my first play, but by the time my copy finally arrived, it wasn't my type of game any more.

End of year top ten at the time (not ordered)

Kingdom Builder
Discworld: Ankh-Morpork
A Few Acres of Snow
Vanuatu
Lords of Scotland
Tammany Hall
Lords of Vegas
Die Sieben Siegel
Chronicle
Tribune: Primus Inter Pares - the only one not already mentioned. It was too fiddly and didn't get played again after 2011.

All in all, this feels like a year I fell out of love with playing new games (with a few notable exceptions). Spoiler alert though: 2012 proved to be quite different!
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Sat Dec 24, 2016 9:08 pm
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Q3 2016 review

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Just a quick look at what I've been playing and buying so far this year, and a comparison to last year.

Total plays: 41 (2015 had 169, 2014 had 100, 2013 had 199)

Distinct games: 29 (2015 had 67, 2014 had 54, 2013 had 74)

New-to-me games: 9 (2015 had 15, 2014 had 18, 2013 had 27)

Dimes: 0 (4 in 2015, 0 in 2014, 4 in 2013)

Nickels: 0 (4 in 2015, 5 in 2014, 3 in 2013)

Gaming continues to be somewhat restricted! The only significant session was with Jimmy (Butterfly0038) while visiting Sarah's family in Cincinnati.

And now a look at the collection.

Acquired: 3 (6 in 2015, 5 in 2014, 4 in 2013) - Team Play, Evolution: The Beginning, Qwixx

Removed: 0

Owned: 159 (excluding expansions - up 3 from Q2)

Unplayed: 0

Pretty reasonable - a couple of acquisitions from Target while visiting the US.

Best new-to-me: Team Play is a really nice simple set-collection partnership game for 4 or 6.

New 10s: 0
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Sat Oct 1, 2016 10:26 am
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Q2 2016 review

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Just a quick look at what I've been playing and buying so far this year, and a comparison to last year.

Total plays: 39 (2015 had 184, 2014 had 169, 2013 had 204)

Distinct games: 25 (2015 had 73, 2014 had 69, 2013 had 105)

New-to-me games: 8 (2015 had 27, 2014 had 17, 2013 had 31)

Dimes: 0 (3 in 2015, 2 in 2014, 2 in 2013)

Nickels: 0 (5 in 2015, 4 in 2014, 5 in 2013)

Hmm, kind of looks like a major change happened in my life doesn't it! The new normal is aiming to host once a month, popping round to the nearest-by gamers if they're hosting and occasional lunchtime games with Joe.

And now a look at the collection.

Acquired: 7 (4 in 2015, 7 in 2014, 5 in 2013) - My Very First Games: Animal upon Animal (a kind gift), Origin, Librium, The Ravens of Thri Sahashri, Imhotep, Lost Legacy: Hyakunen Senso to Ryu no Miko, Lost Legacy: Binbo Tantei to Inbo no Shiro

Removed: 1 (Simply Ingenious)

Owned: 156 (excluding expansions - up from 150 Q1)

Unplayed: 1 (Effie isn't quite ready for My Very First Games: Animal upon Animal yet!)

I've noticed a slightly worrying tendency to compensate for lack of opportunities to play games with increased appetite for purchasing them. Need to watch that!

Best new-to-me: it was a really good quarter actually. Ravens of Thri Sahashri, 13 Days, Imhotep, Medina and Origin were all excellent.

New 10s: 0
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Fri Jul 1, 2016 8:00 am
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Voice of Experience 4 is launched!

Martin G
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Bristol
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And while I'm blogging again...

Voice of Experience Reviews Contest 2016: Prizes!
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Wed Jun 1, 2016 2:01 pm
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New to me May 2016

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Those who follow my posts here know that I'm pretty hard to please. But this month I played four games for the first time and was highly impressed by all of them. If they live up to the promise they showed on the first play, all could become firm favourites.

The Ravens of Thri Sahashri - 1 play

If there's one thing that's likely to impress me these days, it's uniqueness. Having played over 700 games in the past few years, it's very rare that I come across a game that makes me think 'ooh, I've never seen this before'. The Ravens of Thri Sahashri is one such game.

It's an asymmetric 2p-only co-op in which one player represents Ren, a Japanese courtesan who has fallen into a coma, and the other her friend Feth, who is trying to help save Ren's memories from being devoured by metaphorical ravens.

If that wasn't unusual enough, the mechanics feel very fresh too. One touchstone is the silent and subtle hint-giving of Hanabi. But Ravens adds an interesting spatial element atop that, with Feth tiling and overlapping cards to construct a kind of 'brain map'.

Osprey Games have quickly become a real publisher to watch for me. They combine excellent taste in their choice of games to reprint with production values that live up to that.


13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis - 1 play

I'm a huge fan of modern-day historical/political themes so my ears pricked up when I first read about 13 Days, even if I was a little sceptical of the 'Twilight Struggle in 45 minutes' tag. In reality, the comparison to Twilight Struggle ends with the borrowed event card/ops points mechanism (and why not borrow such a brilliant mechanic?) and the game stands on its own merits.

The designers have done a great job of evoking the theme not just through the event cards and historical notes, but also through the dynamics of the game. The crisis was all about brinksmanship, neither side wanting to back down, but neither really wanting to start an all-out war. The game's Defcon rules capture this perfectly -- indeed, I spent more of my game worrying about how to avoid triggering holocaust than I did about beating my opponent.

A game it reminds me of a little mechanically-speaking is Aton, with its multiple area-majority arenas, periodic scoring and abrupt sudden-death conditions. But 13 Days adds a satisfying layer of theme that Aton lacks, inspiring my recent geeklist: "Little histories" - real-world themes in sub-hour games


Medina (second edition) - 1 play

When I think of classic Euros (rather than the modern 'heavy' brand), I think of simple rules, colourful themes and high interaction. Medina, which I've been wanting to try for years, is a classic example, and it confirms Dorra as one of my favourite designers.

Essentially, this is a multi-dimensional game of chicken. The longer you wait to claim a building, the bigger and better it gets, but how long before someone else jumps in ahead of you? All the mechanisms interact delightfully, with lots of potential dick-moves and some lovely emergent collusion in the placement of the road.

And it looks stunning too! My only criticism is that most of the mechanisms added to the second edition seem superfluous, or even to detract from the core tension of the game. I may try to pick up a first edition.


Imhotep - 1 play

Just when I was thinking no one makes them like Medina any more, here is the hot-off-the-presses Imhotep, very much in that classic Euro mold.

The rules are a breeze to teach, with a very Knizian structure of 'take turns to choose one of four simple actions'. And all of the players' attention is directed towards the central board area - there's absolutely no individual complexity as a barrier to interaction.

Like Medina, it's about timing, occasional collusion and frequent screwage. And it has another feature I love - variable setup with 2 sides to choose from for each of the 5 scoring areas. (this also makes it eminently expandable).

I think Codenames will deservedly win the SdJ this year. But Imhotep is certainly deserving of its nomination.
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Wed Jun 1, 2016 11:44 am
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Q1 2016 review

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Just a quick look at what I've been playing and buying so far this year, and a comparison to last year.

Total plays: 96 (2015 had 142, 2014 had 205, 2013 had 140)

Distinct games: 59 (2015 had 48, 2014 had 67, 2013 had 56)

New-to-me games: 14 (2015 had 17, 2014 had 14, 2013 had 21)

Dimes: 3 (3 in 2015, 3 in 2014, 3 in 2013) - Push It (11)

Nickels: 2 (2 in 2015, 8 in 2014, 4 in 2013) - Pairs (8), Onirim (5)

Everything was ticking along normally until the first week of March, when gaming came to a screaming (literally!) halt with the arrival of my baby daughter! I did have a last hurrah of a gaming weekend with some of my best LoBster mates.

And now a look at the collection.

Acquired: 3 (6 in 2015, 6 in 2014, 7 in 2013) - Push It, Deadwood Studios USA (found on a wall!), Diamonds

Removed: 2 (Deadwood Studios USA and Quacksalbe just as soon as I get around to posting them!)

Owned: 150 (excluding expansions - up from 149 at end 2015)

Unplayed: 0 (I'm counting my play of Members Only as a play of Glenn's Gallery!)

Best new-to-me: Push It - brilliantly simple and well-made go-anywhere flicking game.

New 10s: none
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Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:18 pm
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New to me FIVE years ago

Martin G
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Bristol
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I just put up the second annual 'new to you five years ago' geeklist. Here's my entry:

Played in all five subsequent years

Cribbage (45/21/17/14/7/10)
OK, it's never quite recaptured the more-than-weekly play of its first flush, but it's still the first game that Sarah and I reach for when we want to play to relax. In my review, I explained how for me it wonderfully combines the traditional and the modern. It also provided one of my unforgettable gaming moments of this year, when at a country pub midway through a multi-day walk, Tom and I cut the three of diamonds from the deck six freaking hands in a row. One of those very few games that I know I will be playing until I die.

Innovation (5/24/13/1/9/6)
In 2010, I'd only played other people's copies and only 4p. That was enough to intrigue but not convince me. But at Christmas in the US I picked up my own copy and it became a huge hit for me and my regular 2p opponent of the time. Plays fell away a little when Pax Porfiriana took over that slot and later when I moved away from London - the 9 plays in 2014 were all in one weekend when Matt came to visit Bristol. But it's still one of my very favourite games; and another of my top ten gaming highlights this year was my first ever play of the 2v2 partnership mode.

Metropolys (11/3/1/1/1/1)
I'm sorry to see this one has reduced to a drip-feed. I always enjoy its clever hybrid of spatial planning and trick-taker-like bidding.

7 Wonders (8/7/4/1/1/1)
Interesting to see a game in this slot that I don't really like that much. It's a testament to 7 Wonders power as a lowest-common-denominator choice: few people's favourite, but rarely raises a strong objection either. That plus its wide variety of play-counts keeps it coming to the table.

Played in four subsequent years
I'd say all of these have stood the test of time despite a missing year. In roughly descending order:

Twilight Struggle (2/5/1/3/1/0) - very sad to see this tense classic dislodged from my plays just as it's been dislodged from the BGG #1 spot. It has faced some tough competition from Wir sind das Volk, as well as the loss of my gaming partner mentioned under Innovation. But I'm convinced it's not gone for good.

Haggis (1/6/1/0/3/4) - I seem to remember being a little unmoved by my first play (it wasn't Tichu!) but still got my own copy. It then dropped off the radar for a while but has made a resurgence. Its differences from Tichu are what make it great, and it's clearly designed by someone who appreciates what is wonderful about traditional card games.

Condottiere (1/2/12/1/0/1) - a burst of plays followed my acquisition of the superior Eurogames edition. It needs a group that understands the dynamic though - it's not about the cards you're dealt, it's about who you make fight with who.

Beowulf: The Legend (6/5/2/0/1/1) - a maligned but wonderful Knizia auction game from after his golden period. The theme is brilliantly evoked not by event cards and flavour text but through the bragging and risk-taking of the auction.

Carcassonne: The Castle (2/6/0/1/1/2) - and Knizia's 2p spin on Carcassonne is my favourite too, and another game that my wife holds in high esteem.

Traders of Carthage (5/3/0/1/1/1) - one of those games for which the strategy eludes me, which only makes me more intrigued.

I'm the Boss! (6/4/3/0/1/1) - and I'm terrible at this one too, but have a better idea of why. Raucous real-time fun, best with a full table of six.

Dime and done

Campaign Manager 2008 - my most hotly-anticipated game of the year ended up being my biggest disappointment. I explained the reasons why here: 10 points after 10 plays: why I’m mostly done with CM2008

Month by month new-to-me picks
My picks for each month have some odd inclusions and some odd omissions - but I guess that could be due to clumping as well as retrospective re-evaluation.

January: Twilight Struggle - see above
February: San Marco - I tired of this and should have picked Condottiere.
March: RoboRally - I love this game, but many hate it and so my plays have been few.
April: China - a clever area control game that I like but don't love. Why didn't I pick Cribbage?!
May: Innovation - see above
June: Blue Moon - another game that makes me miss Matt. I never got to play this as much as I think it deserves.
July: Quoridor - must have been a slow month.
August: Leaping Lemmings - and another!
September: Metropolys - see above
October: Blue Moon City - wow, I seem to have been going through a real area-majority phase this year! This one's still good, but I should have picked Haggis.
November: Alien Frontiers - another that has faded from the roster without much regret.
December: I'm the Boss! - see above

End of year top ten

1. Twilight Struggle
2. Cribbage
3. Metropolys
4. König von Siam
5. Beowulf: The Legend
6. I'm the Boss!
7. Power Struggle
8. RoboRally
9. Blue Moon City
10. Blue Moon

The circumstances described above provide some explanation for the omission of Innovation. Otherwise, I did a good job with the top three.

The top ten also features a couple of games not mentioned as yet: Konig von Siam and Power Struggle. Both are brilliant subversions of standard Euro tropes (and yet more area majority!) but that means both are also opaque, difficult to teach and hard to play with a mixed-ability group. That's added up to a disappointing 9 plays for each. I should at least try to get them both dimed this year.
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Sun Jan 3, 2016 4:10 pm
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Q4 2015 review

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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A quick look at what I've been playing and buying this quarter, and a comparison to last year.

Total plays: 149 (2014 had 123, 2013 had 99)

Distinct games: 64 (2014 had 60, 2013 had 43)

New-to-me games: 15 (21 in 2014, 11 in 2013)

Dimes: 3 (0 in 2014, 1 in 2013) - Codenames (17), Pairs (17), Baseball Highlights: 2045 (12)

Nickels: 3 (6 in 2014, 3 in 2013) - Castellion (8), 6 nimmt! (5), Beasty Bar (5)

The main event was three days away with the LoBsters in Eastbourne.

And now a look at the collection.

Acquired: 5 - G.Nome, Pax Pamir, Neanderthal, Twilight, Castellion (plus RFTG and TTR expansions)

Removed: 10 - Bison, Cards Against Humanity, Indigo, Shear Panic, Zooloretto, Klunker, Pala, Court of the Medici, Trump Tricks Game, On The Cards

Owned: 149 (excluding expansions - down from 154 at end Q3)

Unplayed: 2 - Glenn's Gallery, Neanderthal

A couple of gifts, a longstanding order from Sierra Madre and a very cheap tricktaker came in, but a minor purge meant the collection only grew by a net 5 games in 2015. It's also now handsomely housed in a new shelving unit under the stairs.

Best new-to-me: Ponzi Scheme only had one play but showed a lot of promise.

New 10s: none
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Fri Jan 1, 2016 8:52 pm
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Q3 2015 review

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Just a quick look at what I've been playing and buying so far this year, and a comparison to last year.

Total plays: 169 (2014 had 100, 2013 had 199)

Distinct games: 67 (2014 had 54, 2013 had 74)

New-to-me games: 15 (2014 had 18, 2013 had 27)

Dimes: 4 (0 in 2014, 4 in 2013) - Codenames (20), Pairs (20), Baseball Highlights: 2045 (16), Neue Spiele im alten Rom (10)

Nickels: 4 (5 in 2014, 3 in 2013) - Love Letter (6), Cribbage (5), In a Bind (5), Elements (5).

Nothing out of the ordinary here, but nice to see the new-to-me games down a bit. What the stats don't reveal is two great visits from geekbuddies from the US - Tom Shields and Cole Wehrle - and a weekend with LoBster friends.

And now a look at the collection.

Acquired: 6 (5 in 2014, 4 in 2013) - Blockers!, Baseball Highlights: 2045, In a Bind, Neue Spiele im alten Rom, Safranito, Codenames

Removed: 0

Owned: 154 (excluding expansions - up 6 from Q3)

Unplayed: 2 - Bison: Thunder on the Prairie, Glenn's Gallery

The collection swelled a bit as a few orders arrived. I don't really regret any of them, but I think the time has come for a purge. Especially as we're going to need the spare room for something else from next March...

I got Four Dragons played and enjoyed it, but it might become yet another of my underplayed tricktakers. One day I will play Bison!

Best new-to-me: Codenames has been a huge amount of fun. Neue Spiele in Alten Rom is great too, but since it's a compilation of 14 Knizia games, that's a bit of an unfair advantage

New 10s: Baseball Highlights, from nowhere, sealed by some hilarious plays with Tom in a tent in Wales and great 3p and 4p tournaments with the LoBsters.
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Fri Oct 2, 2015 8:50 am
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