10 years, 5000 plays... and a lot of friends!
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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I've been involved in this hobby for just over 10 years and just logged my 5000th play! Rather than a statistical analysis of the hundreds of games I've played and rated, I thought this was a good excuse to celebrate the people I've met and the places I've gone as a result.
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1. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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In March 2007 I was staying over with my friend Fred following an interview for a job in London. He suggested a board game, which I was amenable to, having always enjoyed games. Out came Carcassonne, which I'd never seen before, and I was hugely impressed. He recommended a (now defunct) games shop near the British Museum and I headed down there on my way home the next day to pick up my own copy. I was bewildered and intrigued by the huge array of games on display. A seed had been planted...
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2. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:15]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Friends in Bristol (where I lived at the time) were keen on game playing and took to Carcassonne when I introduced them to it too. They bought Settlers of Catan shortly after which we were all massively impressed by. By now I'd found BGG and seen Puerto Rico at the top of the rankings. Next time I was in London I grabbed a copy and we played it a ton.

I got the job in London so couldn't play with them regularly any more but started setting up nights with my flatmate and old friends.
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3. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:28]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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It was at this point that my game buying really started to take off... I was still mainly guided by the BGG rankings and I made an account on BGG at the start of 2008 when I had a Power Grid rules question to ask! My flatmate Alex and I burned through literally hundreds of plays of Race for the Galaxy too - this was before my wife (to be) had moved over from the US!
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4. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:45]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Visiting the friends in Bristol who I'd shared my early experiences with, I played their recently-acquired Caylus and discovered that I didn't like *all* highly-ranked games gulp This was the first one that definitely exceeded Sarah's tolerance for rules-learning too
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5. Board Game: Paperclip Railways: London on Board [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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My desire to play games was starting to exceed my friends' capacity to play them so I googled for games clubs in London. A few options came up but I decided London on Board looked the friendliest.

At that time it had a couple of hundred members, of which about 20 showed up at the weekly meetups in a pub basement. I had a great time and became a regular attendee, allowing me to try out lots of games without having to buy them all and to make a lot of great friends.

The club grew and grew and grew. As it stands, it'll soon hit 10,000 members, and has meetups with waiting lists almost every day of the week!



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6. Board Game: Radio Star [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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When my good friend Paul (sorp222, centre of above pic) stepped down as organiser of LoB, I volunteered to take over. The turnover of new players was so huge by then that we brought in a rota of 'hosts' to ensure people got into a game and had a good time.

As organiser of a big club I ended up fielding media enquiries as the buzz around modern boardgames grew. I provided beginner recommendations for a Christmas issue of Ideal Home magazine and was interviewed twice on BBC radio, including an hour-long chat show on BBC London.


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7. Board Game: The BoardGameGeek Game [Average Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:4165]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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And as all this was happening I'd got more and more involved with the BGG community too. In 2011, I was invited to a newly formed 'geek chat league' division - the Meatballs. Sounded like fun and 6 years on I'm still having a great time chatting with my friends there.



I also set up the 'new to you a year ago' geeklists which still seem popular and run a few instalments of the 'voice of experience' reviews contest. Both emphasise my desire to try not be all-consumed by the cult of the new! My blog hasn't been as prolific as I'd like but I'm glad to have kicked off a few really interesting discussions there. Oh, and I got to be Geek of the Week, which was a huge honour! (thanks Ben)
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8. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:70]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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I also got to know my tastes better and one designer in particular soon stood out. Reiner Knizia is responsible for more than 10% of all my plays and Tigris & Euphrates will always be my desert-island game.
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9. Board Game: POD [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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I'm not a big podcast listener (or video watcher; I prefer my information written). But I've had a great time contributing to a few podcasts - LoB's own Royal Society of Gamers before it petered out, an episode of Mark Johnson's lovely Boardgames to Go and above all Geof Gambill's Long View. I think I'm up to five or six episodes and it's always been a pleasure chatting to Geof even though I've not had the chance to meet him face to face.
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10. Board Game: Buddy Hop [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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I have been fortunate enough to meet up with several of my geekbuddies from GCLs and elsewhere though. My wife is from Cincinnati, so we visit quite frequently. For the last several times I've managed to meet up with Jimmy (Butterfly0038) for games and a chat, and one year he hosted a great get-together for 6 of us, affectionately known as the 'gathering of bastards'. I've also been able to host Tom (tjshields) and DJ (Hawkeye77) on their trips to the UK and showed them some of the sights (and beers). Tom and I shared a 3-day hike through the Welsh countryside playing Baseball Highlights and an unforgettable game of Cribbage along our way.


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11. Board Game: ESSEN [Average Rating:6.12 Overall Rank:10582]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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In 2012 I made my only pilgrimage so far to Essen accompanied by a whole bunch of my LoBster mates. Spending a day in the hotel sharing our new purchases was the highlight of the fair, and it's also where I first played the inestimable Pax Porfiriana! It's the game I'm probably most associated with on BGG and Phil Eklund gave me the opportunity to contribute to the rulebook for the revised edition. The closeness between designers and players is another wonderful thing about this hobby.
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12. Board Game: Lobster and Turtle [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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But the only convention I return to time and again is the amazing LoBsterCon in Eastbourne. It's grown in stature recently (as has everything LoB related) but it's still a cosy affair - 120-or-so gamers ensconced in a beachfront hotel for a long weekend. So many happy memories, gaming and otherwise.



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13. Board Game: Destination Bristol [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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...and since 2013 it's been the main way I catch up with all my LoB friends. We relocated back to Bristol then and leaving LoB behind was my biggest worry about the move.

BGG to the rescue again though! I'd been in touch with Joe Berger (arnodestang) to buy a lovely Pax Porfiriana playmat he'd designed and dropped him a line to say I was moving to his city. He invited me along to his weekly group and it's now a fixture of my Tuesday nights. Gaming with a regular small group (about a dozen of us, of which 6-10 generally show up on a given night) is very different from LoB but both have their advantages. It was an absolutely brilliant way of making new friends in Bristol, several of whom even live in my neighbourhood.
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14. Board Game: Family Business [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:2405]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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For me, board gaming has been a wonderfully social hobby. I have friends around the world I would call on when I'm in their area (and expect them to do the same in mine). And I've drawn my family and friends in too. Sarah doesn't play as much as she used to but we'll always enjoy a game of Cribbage and hopefully my one-year-old daughter will be up for some games in years to come!



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