The Final Tally

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Okay, so I’m sure you’re all pretty sick of hearing about my self-imposed “targets” for this year using John Farrell’s stats system as a guide. But here’s the final update and I’ve chosen to bury it in the dead space between Christmas and New Year so that not too many people have to read it and if you’re not interested you can just walk on by. Move along. Nothing to see here.

The big question as far as I’m concerned is: did I make it? And the answer is yes - my principal goal was to increase my utilisation to over 50% and I did it, although not by as much as I’d hoped. The final figure at time of writing was about 54% so really it’s a bit of a last-minute scrape through the finishing posts. The simple reason for this was that I ended up getting in more new games this year than I’d planned. As regards Johns’ slightly obscure personal metric for measuring overall plays my goal was to get a value of 1, and I’ve managed to get 2.

Aside from the minor niggle of the relatively small margin by which I met my goals, the one statistic with which I’m not happy is my total number of unplayed games: sixteen, or nearly a quarter of my total collection. That seems a lot for someone who now has a regular weekly game slot, plus time spent playing online and the occasional late-night weekend session. The trouble seems to be that it’s very easy to acquire a game and then not play it for a while, and once that happens the inspiration to play wears off and it gets pushed further and further down the pecking order. To be sure some of those games, like the now-legendary holder of the title of longest time owned and still unplayed in my collection, A Game of Thrones, don’t get table time because of issues with getting sufficient players and/or time to play the game. But others have only pretty poor excuses. I’ve avoided Kremlin and after picking it up because even though the rules look simple, they’re also very procedural and I can’t be bothered with the inevitable slow pace that will result in the first ever game. Bootleggers has a similar drag factor but bigger because it’s a longer game and is even more procedural. I simply can’t be bothered trying to convince the Eurogamers in my group of the charms of some of my older Ameritrash and wargames like The Great Khan Games and The Waterloo Campaign so they don’t come out because I’m convinced that whatever I think they’ll go down with the group like lead balloons. I’m not sure what to do with some of these games: I’d like to play them but I have no ideas as to how to overcome the inertia. Suggestions welcome - or perhaps I should just sell them.

The biggest plus side of this whole excercise has been that I’ve really gotten down and cleared the chaff out of my game collection. Old games that I’m never likely to play again. New games that I bought on a whim that are never likely to see the table (and thankfully there were relatively few of those). My biggest single coup was giving over a bunch of my more ancient games to an old friend to play with his kids. There were a couple of semi-valuable games in there, including a copy of 2nd edition Talisman, which he probably doesn’t know are worth anything but that’s fine. I’d rather know someone was enjoying those games than they were sitting in storage with a collector somewhere.

The other cool thing that’s happened is that I made a point of dragging out and repeatedly playing some very good games in my collection that wouldn’t otherwise have seen a lot of play because no online version exists. The three biggest beneficiaries here were the old GW edition of The Fury of Dracula, the old Alea edition of Traders of Genoa and the Avalon Hill game Nexus Ops. The latter two have gone down slightly in my esimtation as a result of all this exposure: Fury of Dracula, I’ve discovered can be unsatisfyingly random and short in a significant minority of sessions while repeat plays of Genoa have demonstrated that it’s not as open-ended as it first appears because players can estimate the exact values of trades quite easily with a bit of experience. Both are still good, however, and the stock of Nexus Ops has in fact risen in my household over several plays as the game has clearly demonstrated it has a bit more depth and quite a lot more replay value than it first appears.

The downside of this years’ gaming has undoubtedly been a tendency to stop playing games once they’ve “made the grade” of about ten plays. That means I’ve not played some of my favourite games as much as I’d like because I’ve moved them aside to make way for lesser-played games to increase the stats. The big casualty here has been Imperial which, as my favourite Euro, you’d have thought would be a shoe-in for playing with a group of Eurogamers. But it’s not come out once in the entire years because I’d already played it more than ten times. This is just silly, and what’s worrying me is that this whole stats-following thing has become such a habit that I’ll find it hard to get out of that pattern of thinking.

The answer to this, surely, is to set myself another goal. So I’m going to: I want to try and get as many games into the 25+ plays column of Johns’ graphs as I can. I’m inventing my own “metric” just like John’s “friendless metric” but which counts 1 for each game at 25+ plays instead of 10+ and -1 for each unplayed game, with the final score being the number of plays of the last remaining game on the list has had, and I want to try and get this up to about five. That’s a tough goal and one which will almost certainly take me more than a year to get but that’s a good thing: perhaps it’ll mean I focus less on the numbers and more on having fun, playing my favorite games. I’ll try and maintain my 50% utiliation ratio of course and it should go up over time but perhaps best of all, without a fixed time-limit for this particular goal I can stop boring you lot by writing columns about it.

There’s another good reason why I’m reluctant to put another time-limited goal up. Turns out that 2010 is going to be largely a gaming write-off for me. The reason? We’re expecting another baby in April! And frankly, I’ll take that trade off, and more, any day of the week! Of course that also means I'm going to have a lot less free time for writing game columns so sad to say, from January I'm going to be shifting to a bi-weekly column and trying to keep that up. It's a temporary hiatus, and I hope to be back to a weekly slot before the end of next year.

Have a good New Year. Be sure not to drink too little.

Matt Thrower


Matt is the founder of Fortress: Ameritrash. He is also a regular columnist for Board Game News.

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Matt has been writing about tabletop games professional since 2012, blogging since 2006 and playing them since he could talk.


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