An update from October on the 2016 Gaming Challenges
3 of 6
3 more games disappeared from the unplayed list in October, 2 of them waving goodbye for good.
Lord of the Rings
Lord of the Rings was possibly the first cooperative Board game, certainly an early example of the genre, from back in the year 2000. For its historic value, it is a fairly important landmark, but the game itself felt very dated: the gameplay doesn’t really offer anything that exciting, and I was never a big fan of the visuals: identical plastic Hobbits in different gaudy colours of plastic, and lots of John Howe illustrations that look lovely in landscape paintings but just feels a bit flat as game art (there was also a miniature plastic Barad-Dur, the same height as the Hobbits, iirc.) I shipped this out in what ended up being a fairly traumatic and somewhat unproductive Maths trade. I can only hope it found a better home elsewhere.
Mystery of the Abbey
The other game to go was Mystery of the Abbey. A sort of Cluedo crossed with Guess Who, and a light Medieval Monks theme over the top. It was an entertaining enough thing to play, but there were various elements which just weren’t that clear, including the timing of rounds, and the way that information was passed between players. Ultimately, it never seemed that likely to make it back to the table.
This one at least was in good nick, and hopefully worth a bit, although the murky nature of the Maths trade makes it slightly hard to determine what went in exchange for what. I believe it was for a copy of Eldritch Horror, which has already been played (we lost horribly) and will be hitting the table again, as soon as we get a few spare hours.
The only game from the unplayed list to actually hit the table was Alhambra. Alhambra is a game I like, but it’s always struggled for table time (more on why exactly coming soon in another article).
I enjoyed the game we played, and wouldn’t mind playing again soon, but don’t know how practical this will actually be (it depends who else we have around for gaming), so I think this one remains on thin ice for its long-term survival.
Right now, I’m down to 3 games that haven’t been played this year or last, and 6 that got played in 2015, but have been quiet since. Of the 3 that are nearing a 2-year drought, one is Trivial Pursuit, which can generally be brought to the table at Christmas if I really want to, which leaves 2 others needing a serious look at (1 has been offered up for sale and in the aforementioned Maths trade, but didn’t go).
For the happier of the gaming challenges – the “playing lots” one, it’s possible to look at things with a slightly more positive spin. Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, Dominion, and Elder Sign became the 12th 13th and 14th games to reach ten plays.
As I mentioned back in August, Dominion is a game I’m quite a fan of, although it’s slightly less of a favourite for my wife, which has led in the past to it being played in short blitzes until she got fed up with it, and it disappeared back onto the shelf for another year. Both the fact that it’s made it to ten, and the fact that it did so by being played in 3 different months were pleasing on this score.
Reign of Cthulhu is a really interesting game: somehow Pandemic and yet not Pandemic at the same time. I can’t think of 2 other games so similar where I see value in keeping and continuing to play both (that said, with the wave of novelty that has carried Reign of Cthulhu to 10, Classic Pandemic has found itself becalmed on 9 plays, unsure whether it will make it to 10 by New Year).
Elder Sign is a game that’s really grown on me this year. I played it a few times back in the spring, mostly because it was manageable solo, and needed to be taken off of the un-played list. I then played it some more when I picked up the latest expansion to review for Games Quest. It’s been a good time for all things Lovecraft in our house over recent months (Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition, the aforementioned Pandemic Cthulhu, this, and most recently Eldritch Horror, all whilst I eagerly await the arrival of the Arkham Horror LCG), I think having a bit more invested into the thematic side has been key in this one reaching double-figures.
A New Century
This month also saw a notable landmark being passed by Marvel Legendary, for which I clocked up my 100th play since I first discovered it back in July 2015. Since then it’s hit the table at least once per month in every month bar one (April 2016) until it finally made it to 100 plays.
Legendary is a true monster of a game – we’ve picked up all the expansions (except the Fantastic Four, which is out of print, presumably until Marvel and Fox resolve whateverexactly the dispute they’ve been having over rights is) and it now needs 4 separate boxes to hold all the content, with another expansion expected for Reviewing any day now.
The fact that Legendary is both a deckbuilder and (mostly) a co-op game probably goes some way to explain why Dominion has had a quieter year or so than in the past (and why I won’t be getting the recently released Dominion 2nd Edition upgrade packs, there are few games that suffer more from the short-term perspective employed in my cost/value spreadsheet). The fact that it’s Marvel is a definite positive, as the last few years have been big for comic-reading (me) and MCU watching (my wife as well). The only other Marvel game I own is Dice Masters, which she is definitely not a fan of, so there aren’t really any thematic competitors. It’s probably the best semi-co-op I’ve played, and it has so many options for scaling in terms of player-count and difficulty that I can play it solo, with my wife, or as part of a group anywhere up to 5.
It’s still a long way behind the “Big 3” (Pathfinder ACG, Lord of the Rings LCG, Dice Masters), which all have more than 200 recorded plays in the past 2 years, but it feels like a worthy addition to the 100 club. I don’t doubt that Zombicide will be joining it in time (currently on 83 plays since I acquired it in March), but after that it’s a long way down, especially as I recently sold my collection of the Game of Thrones LCG, dooming it to sit on 60 plays forever.
The Final Stretch
Obviously, the big challenge for the remainder of the year, is to get those last 3 games played, and then try to finish off the other 6 to prevent the formation of a new “unplayed” list. Overall, with the year 5/6ths done, 2016 has been a good time for gaming, and I think these challenges show that well.