A year of gaming: a newb's Top 10 Experiences
Morgan
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I joined BGG just over a year ago now, but didn't really get a chance to "get into" games until I returned from a work trip in May 2014 and made my first fateful purchase - Android: Netrunner.

Confused, surprised and more than a little addicted, many more titles have since fallen victim to a steady stream of what used to be called "savings" but have since become "investments". (Albeit they could only be considered wildly speculative investments at best, unless you take into account the many hours of time "invested" exploring the hobby - that is priceless )

I wanted to create a list that encapsulated the best experiences I've had while sharing gaming moments with friends, family and Scotch Whisky. While this list undoubtedly represents a narrow and shallow sliver of a view into a vast and deep realm I'm hoping it'll strike a chord with a few people, and at the very least it'll serve as a reminder to me of a few things that happened to me in the last 12 months.

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Experiences of my first year of board gaming:
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1. Board Game: Android: Netrunner [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:41]
Morgan
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An MtG player from the 90's.
A lover of complex strategy games with variable player powers.
An avid reader of old Sci-Fi novels.
A collector at heart.

Where does such a person begin in this hobby?

Plunge straight into another Richard Garfield game, inarguably more complex than his first, asymmetric!?, thematically satisfying in a way that few games are and with an ongoing metagame shift that is brought about by fulfilling the desire to collect.

I have introduced this game to a number of my friends and it has clicked with almost all of them, we now have a healthy group of runners vying against corps every week to be the first to score seven agenda points or die trying.
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2. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:217]
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Now for something completely different

Love Letter is not really my kind of game... but it does things that not many other games I have do: it is small, simple and most importantly it is not at all intimidating. Pull the golden draw-string on the red velvet bag and draw out exactly twenty cards (four of which are player aids) and thirteen small wooden "tokens of affection" referred to as letters, kisses or... otherwise... depending on your audience. Explain the rules in less than a minute and then: Play.

The thing is - you can play this game with anyone, almost anywhere. It's no gamer's game but I've played this all over: in an airplane, in a hotel lobby, in a restaurant, in a pub. People often ask what it is you're playing, I usually reply: "It's a game about trying to sleep with a Princess" adding a few extra words when I'm losing "and she's one stuck up broad!".
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3. Board Game: Hanabi [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:277]
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And now I find myself repeating... myself. Another game that is not really my kind of game and yet it's given me a number of great experiences.

Hanabi represents that perfect kind of co-operative game: one in which you only know what is in everyone else's hands but don't know what's in your own hand. Wait, what? That doesn't sound right!?

Hanabi is such a fun game to deal out: you start dealing the cards and remind everyone not to pick them up until you're finished, you wish everyone the best of luck and hope that this will be 'legendary, everyone left speechless, stars in their eyes' and remind everyone not to pick up the cards til you're finished, then you finish dealing up the cards, pick them up and show them to everyone. Gives the rules explanation you gave at the start a new meaning

Hanabi is elegance in design; it's a very different kind of experience to Love Letter - mechanics are vastly different with bluffing being replaced by memory and no-so-subtle innuendo - but it still remains an approachable, non-gamer's game that you can share with almost anyone.
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4. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:55]
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When you find your kind of game, you know it. Or at least you think you do until you find another kind of game that you also consider your kind of game and then you start to doubt whether you ever found your kind of game in the first place. I mean, am I a one kind of game man? Or can I share my love of games around between different genres? Is there enough time? Is there enough ability to "invest"? Is there enough space in my cupboard?

These are all questions that Dominant Species raised the first time I played this game. In fact, Dominant Species has a tendency to raise questions, lots of questions, keep the rule book handy.

Nevertheless, as soon as I started playing this game I knew I was a fan of area control and my three games of Dominant Species thus far have constituted a marvelous twelve hours of gaming; I can't wait for the next time it hits the table with my more serious gamer friends.
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5. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:138] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
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Leveraging my interest in Area Control games but turning down the difficulty dial to very low, Carcassonne is a game that has been very well received by everyone to which I've introduced Meeples.

This is a simple, beautiful game about building the French city of Carcassonne and surrounds and then filling it with inhabitants including indiscriminate robbers, greedy knights, selfish farmers and drunken monks. Regardless of whether you win or lose, it's always fun to pour over the map you've communally created at the game's conclusion and point out where everyone has road blocked each other and how this completely ruined what could have been a well organised, beautiful piece of countryside and reduced it to a litter of dead-ends, half-finished cities and incomplete monasteries. It's nice, it's really nice.

As a strategy game, Carcassonne really shines at lower player counts (2 or 3) and with a couple of expansions, but using only base rules (and sometimes without farmers) it's a great game to share with new players and works well at any player count, never outstaying its welcome. I think I've only once not had an immediate repeat play.
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6. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:307]
Morgan
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In a quest to find the ultimate board game partner you want someone who is smart, funny, attractive, laughs at your jokes and most importantly, someone who is always there to game with you. This is tough, particularly that final one.

Enter solo gaming.

Now you can just hang around with someone who doesn't have any of those desirable characteristics at all - and even smells a little funny - but who is always there to game with. That's right: YOU!

Friday was my first little foray into the world of Solo gaming and, while it has grown a little predictable after more than a dozen plays, just like any good gateway drug it allowed me to transition to harder substances without becoming too disoriented.
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7. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:105]
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My second dip into solo gaming went a little deeper than my first. In fact, I still haven't quite found the bottom of this one, and that's without even exploring the online deck building community or any of the saga expansions or even printing all of the custom made scenarios here on BGG.

Now, I understand this game is about 50% meta (i.e. deck-building) and 50% gameplay (and 50% card-collecting??) and this could definitely put some folks off - but there are so many interesting decisions to make in both parts of this game that I always enjoy myself when I get these cards out.

My favourite experience with this game: opening up a new pack and browsing through the player cards, seeing what new cards I can add to my current decks or what new decks I can have with my current cards and then playing the scenario without looking beyond the first side of the first Quest Card. surprise

As I delve further into this game, it continually makes me believe that the best is yet to come. That, and... maybe I should pick up some stocks in FFG??
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8. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:18]
Morgan
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So I own a complete version of Magic Realm. Since receiving it nearly twenty years ago it has been through at least four moves, two floods and multiple component checks but has so far completely avoided accumulating even a single play through. That manual.

Buying Mage Knight, wait no, PLAYING Mage Knight was something of a redemption for me. This is a single player epic - D&D powered by a multi-directional deck-builder - with an interesting decision to make every turn. You begin each lengthy campaign as a mere apprentice but end each as a City conquering beast! angry

As for the manual - it literally walks you through the game, couldn't be easier.

The best experience I've had playing this game (sadly?) is playing it with someone else. Crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you and hearing the lamentations of their women is just not as fun alone. Can't wait to hit this up PvP!
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9. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:8]
Morgan
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This is a game that I've been searching for for a while. A perfect information, area control Euro where the only variable in the game is each player's decisions. Terra Mystica has just the right depth, length and variety of options to turn it into one of those games that I would really like to get to know and know well.

I think my favourite game so far has been when I played the Cultists and was forced to spend the beginning of the game desperately coercing each player into leeching power from me; they all resisted stoically until the lure of greater and greater power eventually caused the Witches to crack. Out opened the floodgates of power and the suddenly the Cultists were well on their way to securing the favour of the gods devil

Great game.
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10. Family: BoardGameGeek
Morgan
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Which finally brings me to BGG, the community/resource from which I've drawn countless threads of advice since beginning my gaming experience 12 months ago (or maybe 13, depends on how you count!)

And yet there are still so many unanswered questions:
Is this just the honeymoon of my gaming life?
Will I ever love another (10) game(s) as strongly as I loved my first (10)?
Will I go through a dirty Ameritrasher phase and emerge a gamer who has a better appreciation for all four corners of the board gaming sphere?
Am I going to be bitter when the next Terra Mystica arrives and scoff at yet another perfect information area control cube pushing Eurolame?

So many future questions that I am bound to have which I'm sure will be discussed, answered, discussed some more, re-asked, re-answered, re-discussed and finally put to bed before waking up to a year old resurrection on a thread somewhere here on The Geek zombie
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