Fifty by Fifty by Mikko Saari
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Let's start by quoting Brian Bankler:

"And I'm a fan of the "H-Index" metric. (Your "H-index" is X games you've played at least X times. So if you've played 10 games 10+ times, but haven't played 11 games 11+ times, your H-index is 10).

After years of playing lots of games a few times, I've been playing a few games many times. So, my new goal is to try and get an H=index of FIFTY. I'm giving myself until I'm fifty, which is over a half-decade away."

Count me in as a fan of H-index, so let's give this challenge a go. I'm 37 this year, so I still have 13 years left to reach H-index 50 by the time I'm 50 – shouldn't be tricky - especially as I'm halfway there already, with 25 games with 50+ plays when I started this Geeklist.

This is the Brian's list that inspired me:
The "Fifty By Fifty" Project
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1. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 13.8.2002

I have exact dates for all the games on the list. There may be other games that would be on the list (couple of CCGs, for example), but I'm only counting those where I have records. That includes just about everything I've played in the 21st century.

Carcassonne was a big thing in the prehistoric times - about half of the games are in the hazy period of where I have records, but not exact records. But I remember it was a big thing; I got the game fairly soon after it arrived, and I still have the original German first edition copy I bought from Adam-Spielt. That used to be the place where we bought games cheaper than in Finland.

Carcassonne spent couple of years in decline, I only played it couple of times between 2003 and 2010. Now it's back again. The iOS version brought it back for me, and that's the way I mostly play basic Carcassonne these days.
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2. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:293]
Mikko Saari
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Made fifty: 25.10.2002

I'm counting single round as a play, so a fairly common three-round game counts as three plays. Counting up to three rounds per play, this would probably still be on the list.

This was one of those games that were big in 2000–2003, and hasn't really seen all that much play since then. I'm not a huge fan; I find this generally enjoyable, but there are tons of other two-player games I find even more enjoyable.

I've played the four-player variant once in 2003, and I thought that was a smart game. Haven't played it since, though.
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3. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:123]
Mikko Saari
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Made fifty: 16.10.2003 (in 16 months)

This is the first game on the list where I have the exact date for the first game.

I started playing Go in 2003 when I was working at the university library, interning as part of my studies. When at work, I was constantly connected (I didn't have full-time Internet access at home at that point, just dial-up), and a bit bored, so I ended up playing email games (the PBW stuff didn't exist much at that point) on Richard's PBeM Server (which apparently still exists; at least the web site does, and it looks exactly the same as in 2003)

I've documented some of it in my blog in August 2002: http://www.mikkosgameblog.com/2002/08/summer-of-abstract-gam...

I'm counting only face-to-face and real-time online play against humans. I've played hundreds and hundreds of PBW games, there are several going on every day.

And no, I'm not any good at this... On Little Golem, where I play these days, I'm ranked 13k, which is where I ended up pretty quickly after I started playing. Haven't studied much, either, so I'm not complaining.
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4. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:16]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 17.12.2005 (in 3.7 years)

I've only played 14 games since Puerto Rico made fifty. That is mostly because of BrettSpielWelt, where a fairly large share of these games have been played (30 plays in 2002 alone!).

I've only played this five times in the 2010s, and four of those have been two-player games with my son.

But Puerto Rico was a big thing back in the day, and I still wouldn't say no to a game. I still own a copy; I've sold my original copy, but I've got the shiny new Finnish second edition game. Doesn't see much play, but hey, one day I'll get back to it, one day...
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5. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:229]
Mikko Saari
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Made fifty: 14.2.2006 (in 21 months)

A big reason for Puerto Rico's decline was San Juan. At the time I thought San Juan offered much better bang for buck, and a more interesting game in a more compact time frame.

I still think this is the case, I do prefer San Juan to Puerto Rico.

Some relevant blog posts:

"I did get to play San Juan after all! Gameblogger was kind enough to teach me the rules — it’s an easy game, if you already know Puerto Rico. In return, she did get probably one of her easier victories… I lost dramatically, but I didn’t quite figure out what my buildings did (I didn’t want to spend too much time reading the translations). I didn’t have a clue what I did, but at least now I know how the game works. It’s card-driven economy is very interesting.

Hopefully, I’ll get a copy of the game next week so I can explore it further. Anyway, looks like San Juan is solidly on my to-get list (it’s not to-buy-list, because I’m trying to be cheap)."
http://www.mikkosgameblog.com/2004/05/san-juan-learning-expe...

"While Tommy was preparing meal (excellent fish and cream baked in oven), I introduced my most recent acquisition, San Juan to the other guys. I won the game pretty hands down thanks to my superior experience, but they seemed to like it a lot. That’s, of course, no surprise, because it’s a wonderful game. It was my first game with a real set, and I found the game a pleasure to play. What’s best, the cards fit in the box with sleeves on and I didn’t even have to remove the insert!"
http://www.mikkosgameblog.com/2004/05/weekend-gaming-session...

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6. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:180]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 10.8.2006 (in 6 years)

I still remember my first game of Battle Line. It was in LiStraKon game event in Helsinki. Juho Snellman (the guy behind the Terra Mystica online game) taught me the game and I was utterly confused and didn't like it.

Obviously that was because the tactics cards were involved. Fortunately I did get back into it, as the game is one of my long-time favourites now, and one of the oldest games still in my collection. I've played it almost every year since then, I've only missed a game in 2007.
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7. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
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Made fifty: 31.12.2009 (in 14 months)

Dominion had a good run for couple of years, starting from 2009. I've never really stopped playing it, but it has dwindled down a lot. Other deck-building games bypassed it: Star Realms and Dale of Merchants, mostly.

Why? Dominion grew too big and heavy, that's one thing... It's a ton of cards, takes lots of space and is fairly impossible to carry to game meetings.

I still enjoy playing, but other games are just so much more practical. Less setup, less cleanup, swifter play, more interesting game mechanics... Dominion is a bit of an old dinosaur. I've certainly stopped being interested in new expansions, which used to be must-buy. The latest one I have is Guilds, and I haven't played it much.

(There's a four-year gap between Battle Line and Dominion. Why? Well, it's simple. My son was born in June 2006, then my daughter in January 2009. Those were quiet times: less face-to-face play, I'd already stopped playing in BSW, and before the mass of children's games – you'll see lots of those on the list soon.)
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8. Board Game: My First Carcassonne [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1198]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 8.6.2011 (in 18 months)

I used to play a lot of this with my son. I'm kinda bummed we never made it to 100 plays with this (we reached 89 plays), and I don't have the game anymore. This was lightning fast at best, there's one 10-game session in my records, and I don't think that took more than 40 minutes.

It's a charming game, with lots of luck and fairly light on actual, meaningful decision-making, but it sure feels more involved than it is. That is usually a very good thing in family games.
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9. Board Game: Oregon [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:994]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 7.5.2012 (in 228 days)

This was propelled to fifty games mostly by active playing on Yucata.de (I count Yucata games, if they are finished within couple of hours, ie. are almost real-time). I initially skipped Oregon as a boring family game, but fortunately ran into it and found out how great it is. Because it is, especially with two players.
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10. Board Game: Villa Paletti [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1401]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 28.5.2012 (in 9.6 years)

This one took almost ten years to make it to fifty plays - but it is not the longest period on this list. Villa Paletti had a nice run back in 2002, but got back into action for couple of years in 2010, when my son was four.

Now it's back in decline, but still gets played occasionally. I still have it, mostly because it's such an easy game to pull out when non-gamer kids are around to be entertained. I still think this is the best Jenga variant there is (and I never ever keep score according to the rules).
 
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11. Board Game: Das Kleine Gespenst [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:7382]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 18.5.2013 (in 6.7 years)

Now we're really getting into the kids games. This has almost made it to 100 plays, it has been such a popular game in our family. This was HUGE in 2013, hence the fifty, now it's already in decline.

We play this with a house rule: we promptly forget the cannonball part of the game, as that has always been a bit difficult for the kids, and focus on the memory aspect, where my kids beat me almost always.
 
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12. Board Game: Spooky Stairs [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:2171]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 9.6.2013 (in 8 years)

Remove the two outlier plays before the kids in 2005, and this game makes it to the fifty in 6.5 years. Well, not that fast, really. We played this quite a bit in 2011 (when my son was five) and quite a bit in 2014 (when my daughter was five), but it's fallen out since. I would suggest this is quite brilliant for five-year-olds.

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13. Board Game: Gulo Gulo [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:955]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 6.11.2013 (in 7.8 years)

Again, remove the outliers and the time to fifty plays drops to just four years. This was big in 2010–2011, when my son was 4 years old (with a smaller peak at 2013 when my daughter was 4 years old). At that age group, this is one of the best games there is, at least from the parent's point of view – I've always enjoyed playing this with the kids. Definitely a keeper in my collection, in case I need something to play with smaller kids (perhaps grandchildren, one day).
 
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14. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:419]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 30.3.2014 (in 11.4 years)

An early favourite, a big thing in 2003, then picked up by my son, a Lord of the Rings fan, in 2013. It fizzed out pretty quickly after 2013, but we've played it occasionally after that.

The Confrontation is such a short game and often played several times at one go, that's mostly the reason why it hit fifty.
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15. Board Game: Memory [Average Rating:4.72 Overall Rank:15415]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 5.7.2014 (in 4.7 years)

I'm pretty sure this made fifty by the time I was eight years old or so, but it also made fifty in the recorded history. Mostly 2013–2014, this one, I think these plays are mostly powered by my daughter. She's the bigger fan here. We still play, occasionally.

Our favourite has always been the Tatu and Patu Memory, which has nice, round cards and lovely art.
 
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16. Board Game: Fleeting Foxes [Average Rating:5.84 Overall Rank:11402]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 2.12.2014 (in 3.3 years)

Definitely powered by my daughter! We used to hang around at the circus school and play this a lot. This was big in 2013 and 2014, less so since. Just one play in 2016!

We've spent less time at the circus school, and if we are there, we've moved on to other games (some of which will appear later on this list). But I still like this, this is quite the charming little game, and quite fun for the adult as well.
 
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17. Board Game: The City [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1704]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 29.12.2014 (in 3.1 years)

We now interrupt the steady flow of children's games with something else.

I got my copy of The City in October 2012, it got into heavy rotation at that point and stayed there for couple of years. My son likes this, so it's likely to see further play, if I just remember to take it out and push it.

Now Jump Drive is out, and I'm not sure... but I guess I should at least give it a go, given how much I like The City.
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18. Board Game: Coconuts [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:753] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 30.12.2014 (in 88 days)

Fastest fifty on this list, by far: Coconut hit 40 plays in one month. It tapered out quickly afterwards, but during that couple of months at the end of 2014, we played a ton of this.

And why not! This is a brilliant dexterity game, just the right mixture of skill and luck. Hitting the buckets can be really satisfying.
 
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19. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:232]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 4.4.2015 (in 10.7 years)

One of the longest times to fifty in my records. This was a major hit in 2004–2006, a lot of it powered by BrettSpielWelt, then it went into decline and I tired of it.

I've played this just four times after 2006, and the third one of those in 2015 was the play number #50.

I wouldn't say no to a game of St. Petersburg, but nobody has been suggesting this in ages.
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20. Board Game: ZÈRTZ [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:481] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 23.8.2015 (in 13.1 years)

Here's the longest time to fifty plays in my records so far. 13 years! I started playing Zèrtz at the same time I started Go, and Go hit fifty in 2003. This one took a bit longer...

Zèrtz is a fine game, and I've enjoyed playing it a lot. It's, however, a difficult game, with some learning curve, and I just don't have many opportunities or interested opponents.

I've kept my copy, though, and my son got into these two years ago, hence the missing games to push this to fifty plays.
 
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21. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:215]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 18.9.2015 (in 2.9 years)

One of the faster... and the game on this list most likely to reach 200 plays first (even though Go is missing just 12 plays). Love Letter is played regularly, as it's my daughter's number one favourite game. I have to agree here: Love Letter is the best family game there is (for kids 6+ years). The fast play, simple rules, clever moves and absolutely gorgeous mix of luck and skill and the way the game feels more skilful than it actually is... Brilliant!

(I would've guessed this is one of the fastest games to reach 100 plays, but it isn't; Go and Oregon clocked hundred plays under one year, and even Lost Cities was faster than this.)
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22. Board Game: Ribbit [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1351]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 25.9.2015 (in 5.5 years)

This is one of the circus school games, and like Fleeting Foxes, this one is also in decline – I just don't tend to include this in the bag of games anymore.

It's still a fine game, one of Knizia's best, and I'm glad to own a copy - the Finnish edition tends to be something of a rarity these days.
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23. Board Game: The Magic Labyrinth [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:850]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 19.12.2015 (in 6.1 years)

Another circus school game, but this one is currently in active use, it recently returned into circulation. My daughter likes this memory game a lot. I agree - this is a pretty cool game. The invisible maze can sometimes be quite tricky.

This is another game we house rule every time: I removed the die from the game pretty early, as I just don't see it improving the game at all. In our games, you move up to three steps every time you move.
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24. Board Game: Blue Moon [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:884]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 25.1.2016 (in 10.2 years)

I collected Blue Moon when it came out. I think I got most of these for free, actually, I wrote game descriptions for the Lautapelit.fi online store and got rewarded in games. For a while, I always chose couple of Blue Moon decks.

This was a hard game to find opponents for, though, so I eventually got rid of it. Later on, Blue Moon Legends appeared, and I saw an opportunity. My son was eager to give it a go, and we've since played this a bit. Enough for the game to hit 50 plays, at least.
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25. Board Game: Ghost Blitz [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:885] [Average Rating:6.76 Unranked]
Mikko Saari
Finland
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Made fifty: 3.2.2017 (in 4.5 years)

Finally, the latest addition before publishing this Geeklist. Ghost Blitz is me and my daughter, the fifty plays don't include many without my daughter.

She's also fiendishly good in this. Well, she wasn't, to begin with, she was really good with the correct color matches but nothing else, but she was eager to learn, so we sat down and went through the cards, giving her time to think and to learn.

She became pretty good. I give her no slack, and our games are usually pretty close. She usually wins by few cards. If my son is involved, he'll get less than ten cards from the whole deck of 60.

We play with slightly easier rules, though - there's no penalty for false grabs.
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