So, we are come to the start of a new year. I did my wrap for 2011 with a run down of what I thought were the five best games although, sadly, I wasn’t able to play two of the big-name contenders Eclipse and Mage Knight that were released right at the end of the year and which might have altered my list somewhat. But I thought it might still be interesting to have a quick look at some numbers regarding the games I’ve played this last year, and what I hope to have lined up for 2012.
Aside from work, I was consigned to “baby jail”, a term that I first heard in Micheal Barnes’s article last week and which describes the situation perfectly, for most of last year. Mine don’t sleep, you see. But I didn’t make it out for an evening until June, and since then I’ve been lucky to get out once a month. Thankfully for most of the year there have been people at work to play games with to help make up the shortfall but of our little club, one of them left for pastures new, and the other reproduced and decided, rather selfishly, to spend his lunch hours going home to his wife and son rather than play games. So that left only me and another gamer, who’s very keen but maddeningly inconsistent, and getting him pinned down to play is a bit like herding cats. But I’ve bought Claustrophobia for he and I to play and I’m looking forward to that. So aside from those as are suitable for PBEM, this has been the year of short games. I see no escape from baby jail in the near future, and it’s doubly infuriating because there are now not one but two reasonably sized board gaming clubs in my home town that I could go, as well as playing with my friends and colleagues, if only I could get out!
Given the restrictions I’ve been under, I don’t think I’ve done too badly to have played a third of the 100-odd games I own at least once in that time. And according to my extended stats page that translates into a “usage” of 53% - a rather vague approximation of how much playability I’ve managed to extract from the potential play time of my collection.
I don’t really like to list top games as it’s so subjective. But using those extended stats what I can, and will do is list the games I’ve spent most time playing. Again, there’s an unfair advantage to games that can be played via e-mail as they’re so much easier to get played so I divide this list into two, one for games that I’ve played mainly face to face, and the other for ones I’ve played electronically and merge the two to make alternate entries. So here, by approximate total play hours (meaning longer games count for more) are my all-time top 20:
#01 Twilight Struggle (non-mover as compared with 2010)
#02 Arkham Horror (non-mover)
#03 Titan (non-mover)
#04 Wrath of Ashardalon / Castle Ravenloft (new entry)
#05 Through the Ages (+4)
#06 Twilight Imperium (+5)
#07 Memoir ‘44 (-2)
#08 Dungeonquest (+7, GW edition)
#09 Hammer of the Scots (+1)
#10 Battlestar Galactica (-3)
#11 Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage (+3)
#12 Napoleon’s Triumph (+8)
#13 Return of the Heroes (-9)
#14 Attika (+2)
#15 Richard III (+7)
#16 Settlers of Catan (+2)
#17 Phantom Leader (new entry)
#18 Labyrinth: The War on Terror (new entry)
#19 Caracssonne (-2)
#20 Fury of Dracula (-9, GW edition)
What’s to take from that list? Well, it’s all-time play time so it’s hardly surprising the top few don’t move. The biggest new entry is the D&D adventure system games which I felt fair to stick together as they’re so similar and because some plays used both sets - but that should still be testament as to how muich I love those games and why Wrath of Ashardalon got game of the year from me for 2011. Of the other notable movers, Dungeonquest and Richard III benefited from my need for short games while the stock of Napoleon’s Triumph only improves every time I play. Return of the Heroes deserves to tank as it’s simply not that good - it was fun solo for a while but I see no replay value in it except as a curiosity for the kids when they’re older, while Fury of Dracula suffers because no-one else I know seems to like the original edition.
So much for 2011. One thing I think I could really do with doing is looking a lot less at my stats page. It’s interesting reading, but I don’t like the way that learning how the numbers are calculated influences my choice of games to play. I really need, especially with my limited time, to just play whatever I feel like playing.
That said one thing I’ve been wanting to do for years is to try and clear the backlog of unplayed games in my collection. They seem so wasteful, and yet I can’t bring myself to ditch them without at least giving them a chance so see what they’re like. I started the year with 25 of the buggers and at least I’ve begun as I mean to go on by making my first game of the year one of the unplayed ones: the Avalon Hill edition of Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign. And very impressed I was too. I hope they all turn out to be that good.
But realistically I’m not going to clear them all this year, not while I can’t get out and about. So for the time being I’m trying to resist temptation and not collect any more that aren’t going to get played just because they might go out of print or be at bargain-basement prices. So no Eclipse for the time being, and probably no TF22 ever as it’ll see out before I get the chance to obtain it.
Finally, my writing. As some of you already know I’ve been lucky enough to be offered a slot on www.NoHighScores.com writing, for now, about board games and iOS games. That’ll be a time sink for sure, but a very worthy one, and I feel honoured to have been offered the opportunity. It may mean that from time to time I feel the need to copy my worth fellow staffers Ken & Micheal and offer you a piece about what I’ve been watching, reading, playing and listening to and a link to the main game piece but, hopefully, not too often. In recompense I hope I can be a little bit more forward about my duty as the supposed editor here, and actually make some decisions when they come up instead of discussing ideas and then letting them drift as I too often do. I hope I make the right ones, and carry on making this such a great place to write, read and enjoy companionship.