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The top games I played in 2011 (organized by the amount of time I spent playing them)

Mike Hulsebus
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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The best review you can give a game is spending time playing it!

It’s time once again for my yearly audit of all my logged plays this year. I’m interested to compare this to last year and also to check in with the games that I wanted to play more.

Here are this year’s most-played games.

1) Dominion (115 plays | 28.8 hours)
Interestingly enough, I logged more plays of Dominion than last year (115 vs 108) but logged far less time playing (28.8hrs vs 56 hrs). This can be attributed to the bulk of my plays happening online with my brother where we could play a full game in about 10 to 15 minutes. I'm glad to be able to play online: I only bought Cornucopia after playing and enjoying it. Hopefully the forthcoming digital release will be playable on the PC.

2) Mansions of Madness (9 plays | 27 hours)
This was a game that I originally wasn’t going to buy, but once I got a chance to play it, it was clear that this was a game for me and, most importantly, that it was different enough from Arkham Horror to warrant owning both. I still think there is a lot of replay value here so I’m holding off on buying the expansion.

3) Battlestar Galactica (7 plays | 19.3 hours)
I will never turn down a game of Battlestar Galactica if we have the time. I will also never choose to be Boomer.

4) Power Grid (12 plays | 18 hours)
On last year's list, I identified this as a game that I wanted to play more to see what I thought of it since, at the time, I had only played it once and didn’t even play a full game. I wrote, “I suspect that repeated plays may just show me that this isn’t the game for me” and “Currently, I’m rereading the rules and basically seeing if I can convince myself that it would be easy to teach,.and that my wife would like it.”

As it turns out, this is a game that my wife, Karen, really likes (It’s her #4 game) and one that I like too, so we play it when we can manage to find the time once our one-year-old daughter Violet has gone to bed. We like this game for its replayability and how each game is different every time. And yes, we do enjoy this game as a 2 player game.

5) Arkham Horror (5 plays | 17.5hrs)
Arkham Horror has gone down in the rankings this year (last year it was my #2 most played game by time), but not because I have played Arkham Horror less: we logged 5 plays this year and 5 plays last year. I think that this is indicative of the fact that I am playing my favorite games more often when something I spent almost 17.5 hours playing is my #5 most played)

6) 7 Wonders (23 plays | 11.5 hours)
I’m surprised this made it all the way up to the #6, but those "we have 30 minutes, what should we play" sessions start to add up over time. I’m really happy to see that, even after all these plays, that there isn’t an “always-do-this” kind of strategy.

7) The Resistance (19 plays | 9.5 hours)
The Resistance is my new-to-me game of the year for 2011. I have played this with over 20 different people (not all at once—across multiple plays) and this has always gone over well. For its versatility, fun, and let’s-play-it-again-ness, this was a great purchase.

8) Flash Point: Fire Rescue (12 plays | 9 hours)
Yes, this is more random than Pandemic, but I like this game better than Pandemic. This was definitely in the running for my new game of the year, but I felt like it was too new to get the title. I really like all of the boards available to me, and I like how there is still a lot of strategy to the game since you can play the game of probabilities. We’re still figuring out the best strategy to win. Amazing that it made it all the way up to number 8 even though it came out in late November.

9) Forbidden Island (17 plays | 8.5 hours)
Still going strong. Whenever I’m recommending games to people, this is usually one I recommend (unless they already own Pandemic).

10) Time's Up (8 plays | 8 hours)
There is no better silly party game than I’ve found than Time’s Up.

11) What's My Word (7 plays | 7 hours)
I still have yet to beat my wife at this. This game is a great game for my wife because she likes word puzzles and logic/deduction puzzles and this has elements of both. I’m going to win this someday if I can quit ruining my best games by making mistakes.

12) Pandemic (9 plays | 6.8 hours)
Most of these plays came from a string of “we have to play this until we beat this” plays. It took 9 plays to finally win and when we did win, it was a landslide.

13) The Drawing Game (aka Eat Poop You Cat) (6 plays | 6 hours)
This is still more of an activity than a game, but it never fails to entertain.

14) No Thanks! (15 plays | 5 hours)
A simple card game that has plenty of meaningful decisions. It’s the only filler game that I rate a 10 since it’s absolutely perfect at what it does.

15) Scrabble (6 plays | 4.5 hours)
I’m normally not really a fan of Scrabble (I blame 2 letter words) and the game can be frustrating when you and your opponent have accidentally locked down the board so that the only place to play off of is a J. Still, once we got Scrabble on our phones and could play games just by passing it back and forth, the game got more fun and neither of us takes it too seriously.

16) Space Alert (13 plays | 4.3 hours )
This game continues to be a winner. We still only win like maybe 1 in 4 games, but we still have a fun time trying. I would like to see the wizardry necessary to win the expansion’s difficulties.

17) Nuns on the Run (4 plays | 4 hours)
When we want to change up the pace, this game comes up. I still have a lot to learn about playing the adult nuns.

18) Magic the Gathering (10 plays | 3.3 hours)
It will be a sad year when I don’t get any Magic the Gathering plays in. These players were mostly from one free tournament event and from a few games against my brother. I miss the world of tournament Magic, but it is too expensive. I still enjoy following the spoiler feeds to see what new things they do with Magic every year

19) A five-way tie of games I played for 3 hours a piece

Panic Station – I want to play this again now that my main group has gotten past the learning game (2 hrs). Haters really like to hate on this game, but I like it overall and look forward to when we can get done with a game in 30-45 minutes. Still, I’m actually tempted to use the pieces from the game and make my own completely new ruleset.

Galaxy Trucker – This would see a lot more play if I could play with 5 players, but I don’t want to overcomplicate the explanation process with all those extra tiles

Cloud 9 – A game that is easy to pull out with gamers and non gamers. I still like push your luck games. I’m happy to see this up here.

Dice Town – Needs to see more play

Ticket to Ride – Another game that my wife usually beats me at. Almost all of my Ticket to Ride games are 2 player games

King of Tokyo – I’ve had fun with this even though I still haven’t had the opportunity to play it with the max number of players.

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Games that I hope to see played more in 2012
Agricola – This is pretty much guaranteed to be one my most-played games next year. I think I’ve already got 3-4 plays in of this in January alone and at 1-2 hours a play, this will quickly climb the charts.

Innovation – I really like this as two player game. I don’t know how balanced the cards may be, but I like how you feel like you still have a chance to come from behind, even if you’re far in the back of the pack.

Cosmic Encounter – I’ve gotten in one 6 player game of this and look forward to seeing how differently this plays when we all have different powers.

Also I hope to spend more time in 2012 further narrowing down my collection (see my article for why)

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Games that I said wanted to play more of last year

Alien Frontiers: Successful. I liked the game more after repeated plays but not enough to keep it, especially once I realized that I would always rather play Agricola over this and so I sold it.

Nuns on the Run: Success: made it up to #17 most played!

Power Grid: Made it all the way up to #4!

Small World: I got a play in which was fun, but I realized that there are always games I play over this, so I’m going to sell this as well. With all the two regular expansions and the out of print Necromancer Island, I suspect this should sell well.

Betrayal at House on the Hill: Unsuccessful (1 play), but I hope to play more this year

Diplomacy: Unsuccessful (0 plays). Someday I will play you again, Diplomacy

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Falling off of last year's top 10 list are
Carcassonne which I still like, but just haven't played as much recently and
Race for the Galaxy which, while I liked the game, took too long to explain and required too much investment up front if we just wanted to play a game. I sold my copy.

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Finally, if you want to see all of my data, you can check out the spreadsheet here: http://tinyurl.com/mikehulsebusgamesplayed2011
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