Just a quick plug for the 2020 Edition of the Top 100 People's Choice for Two, which I failed to notice last year.
Here are my picks, done pretty quickly on PubMeeple. I wanted to pick games that I *prefer* to play with two than other counts rather than just games I love that *can* be played with two.
1 Innovation - I only play with more than 2 with the team rules
2 Cribbage - ultimate 'couch game' with Sarah
3 Baseball Highlights 2045 - tournaments are great but they're just a series of 2p match-ups
4 Wir sind das Volk - need to get back on the online plays
5 Race for the Galaxy - great with 3 too but 2p advanced is the vast bulk of my plays
6 Elements/Khmer - just a brilliant microgame
7 Twilight Struggle - only suffers from being so long, the tension is unmatched
8 Mandala - a recent favourite that deserves to be in this company
9 Haggis - modern but feels traditional and classic
10 Scrabble - will always bring back memories of my grannies
11 Aton - great tension from multiple victory conditions
12 Crokinole - another that's also excellent with 2 teams
13 Hanamikoji - painful choices every turn!
14 Azul - 2p really ramps up the hate-drafting that this game is so good at
15 Battle Line - my preferred Knizia 2p colours and numbers game
16 Throne & the Grail - excellent quick drafting game
17 Metropolys - the one where I differ most from consensus on player count but I adore this with 2
18 Circle the Wagons - so much in 18 cards
19 Iron Curtain - and likewise - the best distillation of Twilight Struggle
20 Blue Moon - wish I could spend more time with this
QWERTYmartin's Unabridged Insights On Play
Archive for collection
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Over on his blog, John posts his response to an earlier challenge set by Demetri and Cindy: The Milk Crate ChallengeQuote:She was thinking about how efficiently she could pack games into a single uniform container for folks with limited space, or people who travel a lot. Eventually she settled on this:Seems like a fun challenge, so here's my effort. I used an IKEA fold-out box with very similar dimensions. You can also think of this as the 'one Kallax shelf' challenge!
The humble milk crate. Cheap, durable, readily available. Ours were 16.5" long, 13.5" wide, and 10.5" tall. You'll likely see them offered in various sizes and that's fine. The fun is in trying to make it work. The rules of the challenge are as follows if you'd like to try it for yourself:
- The boxes must fit in the crate.
Otherwise what's the point? Sliiiight peeking above the plastic is permissible, but piling additional boxes on top that would fall out easily is not.
- Games must be packed in their ORIGINAL boxes.
We both love our Quivers, but that's a topic for another day. This also means you may not shove boxes within other, less efficient boxes.
- Include a broad range of genres.
Imagine you were bringing this box to a retreat or gathering of some kind. People there may enjoy all sorts of experiences. Provide variety.
- Pick games you actually like.
To some this may contradict the above, but don't pick games you wouldn't actually play.
Tigris & Euphrates
Because, you know, Knizia.
Race for the Galaxy (plus one expansion, all in an expansion box, sue me)
Innovation (annoying that I don't have the small-box version!)
Quite a bit of meat in small boxes here.
Cribbage (deck of cards plus board)
Eggs of Ostrich
These decks of cards can be used for countless other games too!
Perudo (and the dice will come in handy too)
There's a little bit of recency bias (The Crew, Senators, Mandala) and if Babylonia wasn't so damn big it would have gone in too!
That's 27 games in total, and they'd keep me busy for a long time. What would yours look like?
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A very pleasant introduction to The Rose King on yucata.de last night with
racked up my 1000th game rating, after about 13 years of logging them. I also hit 6666 logged plays.
I'm pleased to see that about 2000 of my plays have gone on games that I've played 50 or more times, and a bit under 500 on games I've only played once.
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- Decade retrospectives are all the rage right now, so here's mine: Qwertymartin's decade in games. I've tried to make it at least as much about the players as the games.
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In 2020, I'm aiming to stick to a rule of no game purchases except those funded by trading or selling and old game. I hope this will make me really consider each purchase because I know I have to get rid of something first. I'd like it to also prompt me to get more out of all those games I already own, both those I love but don't play enough any more and those that have gone underplayed.
To help keep me honest/add a bit of competition, Sam, the other main game-buyer in our group is playing along with me. He's already got 30 unplayed games to catch up on (I only have three) and he's tracking those in a new blog: The Great Unplayed
I'll also be updating my progress in my annual geeklist: Games acquired in 2020 and the excuses I used, which will hopefully be a lot shorter than usual!
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Read mine! My Top 20 Obscure Games (games I love with fewer than 500 ratings on BGG)
Read Charlie's! My Top 20 Obscure Games (games I love with fewer than 500 ratings on BGG) - two years on
Make your own!
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In October 2013, I posted Qwertymartin's top 60 games after 6 years in the hobby, 550 different games played and about 3000 plays. It was also timed just after I left my old gaming scene in London (and the wonderful but vast LoB) behind and just before I found the fantastic small group I've met with weekly in Bristol ever since.
In the nearly five years since those stats have increased to 5500 plays of 850 games and I thought it was time to revisit the list to see what's changed.
The first thing I checked was how much I've played the games I picked as my favourites in the five subsequent years. To my shame, I've played less than half (28) of them 5 or more times! I'm not sure I can really claim a game to still be a favourite if I'm playing it less than once a year. On the plus side, the 8 games I have played 25+ times since the list are all ones I rate 10 - enduring classics for sure.
Next I looked at what I've been playing instead - the games that have come along since 2013 that I've played a lot. Of my 30 most played games since that list, 20 were new to me during that period.
Looking through the two lists, I picked out the ones that I'd say are definitely in my top games now. I ended up with 24 from the old list and 16 from the new ones, which seems like a decent balance - in both periods a 'favourite' comes along roughly once every 20 games I learn.
I'm not going to attempt to rank them within the 40, but rather roughly categorise them by how they fit into the time I have for gaming.
These are games that are incredibly simple to learn (not much more than a minute of teaching) and often support 6+ players. They get played at the beginning and end of games night (we split up in between) and with non-gamer friends and family.
6 nimmt! - just as much of a standby with my Bristol group as it was at LoB
Love Letter - harbinger of the microgame revolution and still the best
For Sale - played on my very first night at LoB, still played today
Kakerlakenpoker (Royal) - brilliantly fun bluffing and reading game in either version
Perudo - the ultimate pub game?
Spot it! - doesn't get simpler than this and rarely more joyful either
Pairs - stick or twist? Just so addictive and I've only really played a couple of games the deck offers
Fuji Flush - reigning opener/closer for the past 18 months
Eggs of Ostrich - the essence of doublethink
The Mind - newest new entry and the most innovative game in years
Games night card games
Multiplayer card games with a little more heft than the above, often traditional-ish.
Tichu - love partnerships, love the twists and turns
Biblios - along with For Sale one of my most enduring fillers
Hanabi - like The Mind, it showed me a whole new dynamic
Mamma Mia! - Uwe's masterpiece
Stick 'Em - there are a whole bunch of tricktakers I could have included but this is the best and I could play most of the others with it anyway!
Abluxxen - Kramer cracker
Lunchtime 2p games
I get quite a few opportunities for short 2p games, either at home with my wife or at lunchtimes with my friend Joe. These are the games that fit that weight/length slot perfectly.
Innovation - endlessly inventive and it's great in 2v2 partnership mode too
Race for the Galaxy - don't play it that much these days but it's earned its place
Cribbage - 'our game' for me and my wife
Haggis - I'd played but didn't include it in 2013 but it's a brilliant modern traditional design
Jump Drive - made RFTG something my wife wanted to play
Khmer - delicious mind games
Hanamikoji - tough decisions worthy of Knizia
Games night 'tapas'
The bread and butter of games night - interactive and simple 30-60 min games.
Kingdom Builder - has the variety to replace any number of midweight Euros
Ra - the best of Knizia's brilliant auctions
Winner's Circle - and his raucous racing and betting gem
Ticket to Ride - the ultimate gateway and my wife's favourite game - the expansions mix it up nicely too
Polterfass - I've got doublethink covered - Khmer for 2, Eggs for 3, Polterfass for 4, 6 nimmt for more!
Azul - fires all the many draft-from-the-middle-for-your-individual-board games with its ruthless interaction
Impulse - I love the frameworks Chudyk provides to allow the players to be creative
Codenames - creativity is the key here too - coming up with a good clue is just so satisfying
Games that I love to play best with specific groups, usually at the twice-yearly LoBsterCon.
Tigris & Euphrates - will always be my favourite game
Cosmic Encounter - stellar with a group of mates
Baseball Highlights: 2045 - brilliant 2p, even better in a tournament
If I'm going to learn a complex ruleset it needs to be justified by history and narrative, not just bells and whistles for the sake of it. I have few opportunities to play these games and they benefit massively from repeat play so I really don't need many.
Pax Porfiriana - could be included in Eastbourne classics too. The only Eklund I come back to.
Twilight Struggle - I don't have a window to play this at the moment but it's the tensest game I've ever played
Brass - the only game to get let off not being played in the last 5 years. I did have a spectacular run of online games during that time though.
Wir sind das Volk! - fascinating simulation of a non-military conflict.
Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD - current darling, played once a month for the past year. Long may it continue.
Scrabble - will always have a place in my heart for its status in family occasions and many games with my much-missed grannies.
So what's changed since last time? There are even more ultra-light, ultra-short games than there were then. I really appreciate a design that knows exactly what it wants to do and eliminates everything else. My standard games night features 5-6 games averaging 30-45 mins. I also still have a few heavy games to devote repeat plays with specific groups to, but the middle has been pretty much hollowed out. There are almost no 60-120 min medium-heavy Euros any more.
It'll be interesting to come back to this in another 5 years and see what I got wrong and which new games have popped up to take their place.
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Sorry for lack of content in recent months, life got busy!
Regular subscribers may be interested in the geeklist I put together of my top 60 games.
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I'm sure most of us have an image of the type of gamer we are (or want to be), be it Eurogamer, Ameritrasher, wargamer or 18XX nut. But that doesn't always match up with the games we actually play. So what to do the games I played in 2012 tell me about me as a gamer?
First of all, there was a lot of gaming. I logged 676 plays totalling an estimated play time of a little shy of 500 hours. This was significantly up on 2011's 524 plays, mainly due to three major gaming events. I attended both of London on Board's away weekends in Eastbourne and went to my first Essen.
I'm very lucky with my gaming setup. London on Board meets more times than I could possibly attend while remaining married, and essentially allows me to try any game I want without having to buy it. What's more, I've become good friends with a lot of the members and so there are many 'extra-curricular' gaming events too.
So what of breadth vs depth, something I wrote about a lot this year? Well, my plays comprised 218 distinct games, 117 of them new to me. That's certainly broad, though the 30 new-to-me games I tried at Essen explain most of the increase on last year's 80. There was some depth too though. I had 13 dimes (up from 6 last year) and 20 nickels, and maintained last year's average of a little over 3 plays per distinct game.
I'll look at the games that I did manage to play a lot, despite the many temptations, and see what they might tell me about the kind of gamer I am. Here are my top 20 played games in 2012, together with their playtime, BGG weight (FWIW) and subdomain.
* My top 5 of 2011 all remain in my top 10 of 2012. They each have a context that help them get played a lot.
Cribbage - go-to game for me and my wife
6 Nimmt/Category 5 - default closer at London on Board
Perudo - regular choice for the pub with friends
Innovation - ever-present in my sessions with my main 2p opponent
Kingdom Builder - fits in well in all contexts - with Sarah, with my 2p opponent, at LoB, with non-gamer friends and family...
The rest of my 2012 top 10 is made up of my favourite new-to-me games (Love Letter, Hanabi, Pax Porfiriana, Coup) and my all-time top game (Tigris) making a pleasing resurgence.
* These games are short! Only two crack the hour-barrier. Of course there is some selection bias, as it takes less time to play short games multiple times. But where I feel I differ from a lot of BGGers is that I'm totally happy with a games session made up of a series of short games and don't see them as 'fillers' around a main event.
* These games are light! More than half have a BGG weight of less than 2. To some extent this is a corollary of the above, but again I have more fun playing a bunch of 'light' games than one overcomplex one. They have to be the right kind of light though...
* BGG subdomains are pretty silly. My most common category is 'family games' but I have done almost no gaming with families this year. And when are we going to get a subdomain for card games? At least half of the games above would fit there better than they do in their current subdomain.
So based on that playlist, how would I describe myself as a gamer? I used to call myself a Eurogamer, but I don't think that's accurate any more. Partly it's me that's changed and partly the meaning of the term. Being a Eurogamer in 2012 meant you probably liked worker placement, resource conversion, fairly complex rules and two-hour+ play times. I've had plenty of chances to play all of the big new Euro releases of the year and I'm just not interested.
But I don't think 'family gamer' is a great epithet either. 'Fun for kids and adults' implies not just simplicity (which I crave) but also a lack of depth and a certain gentleness, where I prefer my games brutal and sweary.
Samo Gosaric had a great thread (go read it now) recently in which he tried to carve out a new niche for 'low overhead high interaction' games that are neither modern Euros nor theme-heavy Ameritrash. And wow, that's my taste to a tee. I already talked about the light rules burden, and many of the games above also share an element of psychology - bluffing and reading other players. I'm fortunate in that a lot of the friends I've made at LoB love this kind of game too, even if we don't have a name for it.
There were a few objections to his post and a few suggestions for suitable names. First of all, there was the 'why do we need labels anyway' crowd. Well, because they're useful both for finding games you might enjoy and gamers with similar tastes. It would be much easier for me to get recommendations for games to try if there was a concise, well-known term for these games and gamers.
Someone suggested 'social gamers' and the social aspect of these games is certainly important. But I think this term also comes with a certain connotation of not taking games seriously and just playing them to pass the time, much as a 'social drinker' probably isn't a wine connoisseur. Samo came up with 'people-first' but I feel that's too freighted with the idea that other types of gamers don't care about people. And then it quickly became apparent that people were using his new category to mean several different things anyway. So, I don't know, work in progress
Anyway, just a few thoughts about a fantastic year of gaming. Happy New Year to one and all!
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