New Year's Gaming Resolutions for 2014
Over the past several weeks, I've been thinking about possible gaming goals and some of the challenges that have been posted recently. This geeklist examines the various resolutions I am undertaking and includes my reflections on the games they involve.
I feel like I've been drifting away from the Cult of the New for the past few years (there is actually some data to support that hunch, too), and have been wanting to explore games more fully. Most of my gaming takes place with a weekly game group that meets on Mondays, whose regulars include myself, Qtinuum, jonjacobmoon, richforpresident and noon, with occasional visits from dooz, fargus9 and tweetlebeetle. Since we started up this incarnation of the group in November of 2012, we've tried to dig up games we felt that we haven't explored enough and revisit them more thoroughly, often on consecutive weeks.
Near the end of 2013, I rechristened the game night that I host on Thursdays as ObscEuros Game Night. My goal is to play obscure games from my collection - and follow it with a more popular game by the same designer (when possible). Obscure is a relative term - mostly I'm thinking of games that have been unplayed or underplayed by my gaming circle.
I've been wanting to write more thorough reviews, but really feel like I can do this best after a reasonable amount of experience with the game. In the summer of 2011, when I was really getting into Sun, Sea & Sand, I thought about launching a review series where I would review a game after having played it 15 times, but never got that off the ground.
I usually try to comment on games I've played several times. I sort my comments by the number of times I've played the game, and then look for gaps starting with the most plays. I've made about 325 worthwhile comments, and have a bit of a backlog on games that need a comment or an update.
Given that background, here are my ambitious gaming resolutions for 2014, which are outlined in detail below:
Begin milomilo122's 100 Play Challenge
Attempt some variation of SilvaShado's 2014 Challenge: Play 10 Games 10 Times Each, while achieving an H-index in double-digits for 2014
Increase my all time H-index from 24 to 28
Write a review for at least 4 games that I have played at least 15 times
Increase my Friendless Metric from -197 to -99 (or better) through playing and purging
Increase the number of my quality comments on games to 350
Rekindle the upkeep of the Boardgames: Featuring ... geeklist
Play and log a game each day in 2014 and log my 5000th play
Build up my game idea to the playtest stage (thanks to Malaiser for the reminder/idea)
Much of this reflection on gaming started in November when my friend Kevin (Qtinuum) pointed out the 100 Play Challenge that milomilo122 started up in May of 2012. If you are not familiar with the challenge, the goal is to play the same game 100 times, record each play, and write comments about your developing understanding after each play or session. There is no time limit on completing the challenge. As I started thinking about taking on this challenge, I looked at the games which I had already played 100 times.
The only games that I have logged 100 times (as of 1/1/14) are:
Race for the Galaxy (108)
I log plays of a base game with its expansion as a play of the expansion only, so as not to inflate my plays. These totals, therefore, are totals for the base game and expansion, in case you are checking my math. I'm also confident that I have played the following games at least 100 times, although most of the plays were before I started logging plays on BGG: Catan, Tarot, and the Ticket to Ride family.
These games fall into a couple of categories: Card games that can be played multiple times in one sitting (Innovation, Race for the Galaxy, Dominion and Tarot); lighter family games that I played frequently when first getting into the hobby (Catan and Ticket to Ride); and Agricola, which received a bunch of fanboy play when it first came out and then became the two-player game of choice for my wife.
I really like the idea of in-depth exploration of a game, but I'm not sure I want to commit to further investigation of a game that I've already played over 100 times. That leaves me with the option of committing to a game that I haven't played much, which also seems awkward. Although I enjoy all of the card games listed above, I can't imagine choosing a new card game for exploration - there have been too many that were popular with friends that just didn't interest me (Ascension: Deckbuilding Game, Thunderstone and Android: Netrunner to name a few). The one game that I am considering for this challenge is Caverna: The Cave Farmers, since my wife and I are both big fans of Agricola and there are clear similarities between the games. Although Caverna: The Cave Farmers doesn't promise the same staying power that the cards in Agricola provide, the chance to get into it shortly after its release may allow me to get in some extra plays with other Portland gamers while the game is still 'hot'. The next entry will focus on my experience with Caverna: The Cave Farmers.
I've been intrigued by SilvaShado's 2014 Challenge: Play 10 Games 10 Times Each, but feel that the constraints don't match my gaming goals perfectly.
Her goal of playing 10 games 10 times each is the same as achieving an H-index of 10 for the year, which I would like to try to shoot for. I've achieved an H-index of 10 twice in the the past 7 years without ever focusing on it. One other year, my H-index was 9 by July, but I never got to 10. Here are my yearly rundowns since 2007:
and here's a list of games I have played at least 10 times in a calendar year:
1960: The Making of the President
Commands & Colors: Ancients
Harry Potter Trading Card Game
Hey, That's My Fish!
Race for the Galaxy
Sun, Sea & Sand
Take it Easy!
Downfall of Pompeii
Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
and a link to a geeklist of My yearly fives and dimes
The problem is, I'm sure I could pick a list of 10 games that I could play 10 times in 2014, but it would include the likes of Innovation and Dominion, which would be akin to saying that my goal is to drink 10 glasses of water in 2014 and wear matching socks 10 times, both of which are going to happen in any case. I'd rather shoot for a loftier goal of getting games to the table that I'd like to explore deeply (which is the real intent of the challenge). The problem is, playing 10 deep games 10 times each is quite a commitment. If my Monday game group chose to do this, that would take up 100 of our plays - pretty much our entire gaming year, since we usually play two meaty games per week, plus an occasional filler. We want more flexibility than that.
I might be able to get close to the goal with the additional gaming that I do through hosting or weekend gaming, but the twist is that Sarah is challenging people to identify those 10 games before the start of the gaming year. I don't think I can identify which games will click with my gaming group(s) in advance, and I don't want to make safe bets in order to do so. Last spring, we never would have guessed that De Vulgari Eloquentia would become one of our favorite games, getting 6 plays during the remainder of the year.
So I think I will go with a hybrid, reducing the number of meaty game plays by about half while still shooting for the H-index score of 10 with other games. I will choose 7 meaty games to play 7 times each, and do the 10 x 10 with games that are easier to get to the table.
Here are my games for the 10x10 challenge:
Caverna: The Cave Farmers
Sun, Sea & Sand
Piece o' Cake
and my list for my personal 7x7 games challenge:
Tigris & Euphrates
De Vulgari Eloquentia
Age of Steam
While I'm at it, why not set a 3x3 goal of three games that I will have to fight to get to the table three times:
Wallenstein (first edition)
and a list of items I would love to get played this year, even if just once:
The H-index is the number, n, of games that you have played n times. As of January 1, I have played 23 games at least 24 times, so my H-index is 23. Once I play a 24th game 24 times, my H-index will climb to 24. My goal for this year is to increase my H-index to 28. Here is a list of my current top 50 most played games (including ties at the end):
1. 287 Agricola
2. 68 Innovation
3. 68 Race for the Galaxy
4. 45 Tichu
5. 41 Dominion
6. 38 For Sale
7. 38 Hive
8. 37 Cheeky Monkey
9. 37 Factory Fun
10. 35 Alhambra
11. 33 Roma
12. 32 7 Wonders
13. 31 Dominion: Intrigue
14. 30 Perquackey
15. 27 Coloretto
16. 26 Innovation: Figures in the Sand
17. 26 Liar's Dice
18. 26 PitchCar
19. 25 Harry Potter Trading Card Game
20. 25 In the Year of the Dragon
21. 25 Innovation: Echoes of the Past
22. 24 Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War
23. 24 Ticket to Ride
24. 23 Bohnanza
25. 23 Citadels
26. 23 Incan Gold
27. 22 Macao
28. 21 Animalia
29. 21 Attika
30. 21 Downfall of Pompeii
31. 21 Sun, Sea & Sand
32. 20 Ingenious
33. 20 Die Sieben Siegel
34. 19 Galaxy Trucker
35. 19 Puerto Rico
36. 19 Settlers of Catan
37. 19 Vegas Showdown
38. 19 YINSH
39. 18 At the Gates of Loyang
40. 18 San Juan
41. 18 Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
42. 17 Dominion: Prosperity
43. 17 Le Havre
44. 17 Last Will
45. 17 Piece o' Cake
46. 17 Pueblo
47. 16 10 Days in Africa
48. 16 Agricola: Farmers of the Moor
49. 16 Commands & Colors: Ancients
50. 16 Domaine
51. 16 Dominion: Alchemy
52. 16 Ra
53. 16 Sticheln
54. 16 Vikings
Completing Animalia, Sun, Sea & Sand, Piece o' Cake and Last Will from my 10x10 challenge list will put all four of those games at or above 27. Ticket to Ride will get played three or four times during the year with family. It will be interesting to see what other games rise naturally to the brink, and which ones need a concerted effort. The fewest total plays that I could get to 28 in is 52, but I'm guessing it will take quite a few more, since some games that are close are unlikely to get played frequently.
This year I would like to write some reflections on games that I have experience with, and that could use a thorough review/strategy guide. I feel a little funny writing a strategy guide for a game, because that seems like I think I'm an expert. I will probably just post my articles as reviews with a strategic bent, but I guess I can make the final decision after I write them. I arbitrarily chose 15 plays as a minimum before I start writing, because I want the article to reflect a reasonably strong familiarity with the possible options for play. Obviously this won't be exhaustive, but should allow for more insight than I would have after playing only a handful of times. I want to get a few more plays of each in 2014 before I start writing, so I'm up to speed with each game. My goal is to write at least one per quarter.
The top titles that I am considering for review (with current number of plays in parentheses):
Sun, Sea & Sand (21)
Kunst Stücke (1)
Several of these would require more play, but they are all games I really enjoy and that I think are underrated and deserving of more attention.