When I crunched the numbers at the end of last year, I discovered that I hadn’t played 26 of the games in my collection at any point in 2015. Accordingly, I decided to set myself a challenge for 2016: play as many as possible, and for those which go a second year just sat in the box, accept that the time has come to move them on.
Around the same time as I was setting this challenge to go for a broad spread of games, I also saw a challenge posted on Board Game Geek to play at least 10 games at least 10 times over the year. To an extent, these challenges seem to be pulling in opposite directions, but I thought I’d give them a go anyway. I intend to post periodic updates over the year.
10 of 10
The ten of ten challenge was an interesting one. My game-plays tend to be heavily focused, so I knew that getting 10 play-throughs of some games in would be child’s play. That said, last year, there were only 7 that got played ten times, and going down to the game at number 10 in the “most played” I run into a game that was only played 5 times, so I’d need to double the count.
Rather than simply monitor how many games have made it to ten play-throughs, I decided to go for a sliding scale: play one once, then two twice, and so on.
For this challenge, January has been a case of so far, so normal. I’ve comfortably made it to five games played five times: equally, if you’d asked me a couple of months ago, which would be the top five most-played games, these would have been my predictions: Pathfinder ACG, Lord of the Rings LCG, Dice Masters, Marvel Legendary, and Game of Thrones LCG.
Pathfinder has been a major feature of our table for about 18 months, but it took a hit just before Christmas, as we ran into the brutal final adventure of Wrath of the Righteous which crushed our spirits somewhat. Thankfully, we’ve now returned to the original AP, with some new characters and cards from the Class Decks, and are having fun again.
Lord of the Rings LCG has been around for several years now, and doesn’t generally get as much play-time as it used to. However, January saw me locked in a battle to the death with the stupidly difficult Battle of Carn Dum quest – I eventually beat it, but it took me 20 attempts!!
We’ve managed to build up a good little Dice Masters community locally: we have a monthly tournament on the first Sunday, plus periodic mid-week games, so again, getting plenty of games of this in wasn’t too difficult.
Legendary is another firm favourite in our house: the fiddly nature of the set-up means it doesn’t get quite as much play as it might, but it still comfortably made it to five, and I have no doubt that it will be on the list on ten once we get there.
Game of Thrones LCG was initially supposed to be a summer release last year, but only reached non Gen-Con folk in October. It got played a lot in the first month, then faded as daily life got in the way, not making it out at all in November, and only twice in December. It’s been good to play this again in the New Year – we had our first tournament locally, and went on a mini-road trip to a nearby Store Championship an hour or so up the road.
On the whole, 5 of 5 feels like a good start. I did briefly wonder whether having got “half-way” already meant that the challenge was too easy to be worth bothering with, but on reflection, it feels like the jump to double the number of play-counts and double the number of games will get exponentially trickier.
In terms of upcoming releases for the remainder of the year, most things I’m actively looking forward to will fall under the umbrella of one of the five games above. That said, the Kickstarter for Apocrypha should be with us by the summer, and hopefully the Numenera card-game before year’s end, both of which I’d hope would have enough about them to make it to ten. That leaves at least 3 games which either need to rise from lower totals last year, or appear from an as-yet-unknown corner. I’ll keep you updated.
Of the 26 games on the unplayed list, 2 made it to the table in January. Lord of the Rings the Dice Game, and Shadows Over Camelot.
Lord of the Rings
LotR the dice game is a bit of a funny one. It’s a semi-cooperative game, that takes a lot of mechanics from Quarriors (so also a lot of similarities with Dice Masters). I commented a while ago on my Lord of the Rings blog about issues around the semi-coop nature, and it also suffers from the fact that the rulebook appears to have been written in the Black Speech, then run through Google translate.
We played this a couple of times: on each occasion, we went for the fully co-operative version. It’s certainly not a bad game, but overall the structure feels a little bit narrow: most of what happens is dictated by the dice, and the only real decision you have is whether to recruit a dice each turn, and what dice you can afford to be corrupted. The lack of an option to re-roll dice removes a lot of the decision-making compared with Dice Masters (the closest game that I’m familiar with), and if you are playing co-operatively, spending glory to avoid corruption is a bit of a no-brainer.
I’d still like to give this game another try with larger groups, and we’ll definitely keep hold of it, but I can’t see it breaking into our pile of very regular games.
Shadows Over Camelot
Shadows is a fairly light game from Days of Wonder, that plays well with large groups. Essentially, the players represent King Arthur and his Knights going on quests, and generally trying to stem the tide of evil – however, there may be traitors in the midst.
We got together for an evening to play through this with 6 of us, all of whom had played it several times before, albeit not for a year. Unfortunately, we forgot one of the key rules, which skewed the game, making it a lot easier (the games rules allow players to spend life points to take 2 actions instead of the standard 1 on their turn, but it must be a different action – we had repeated instances of people taking two the same, which allowed a much greater amount of quest-completion than would otherwise be the case.
The game seemed to go down well, and be fairly good fun for all concerned. Having drawn the “traitor” card, I had fairly little scope, as things were never sufficiently in the balance to give me an opportunity to influence things subtly. If we have another big get-together, this one way well return to the table, but where we have groups of four or fewer, there are other games I prefer.
Straight numbers suggest I’m already slightly behind the curve with this particular challenge: 2 per month would take me to 24 out of 26 games played by year-end. That said, some of the games unplayed from last year are a trickier proposition than others – Anything that can be played by 1 or 2 in less than an hour is likely to have its day in the sun. Anything requiring more time and/or people may have to fight to make it out of the cupboard.
As an aside, after all the discussion that has been stirred up by Pandemic Legacy in recent times, I decided to start keeping a particular eye on how often we play Pandemic – just to get a feel for where we are in comparison to the “limited” lifespan of the Legacy version. In January, this hit the table twice: once using standard rules (although with roles and special actions from the On The Brink expansion) and once using the Virulent Strain Epidemic cards.
Overall, if I don’t manage to complete any of these challenges, there’s not a great deal that I’ve really lost out of it all. I certainly don’t want to force myself to play games I no longer have an interest in, just top justify not getting rid of them.
I’d be curious to know what sort of gaming challenges everyone else has set themselves for 2016. Is it about playing the things you already have more often, about a particular achievement in a specific game, trying as many new games as possible, or jsut having fun with what you’re already doing?