Having managed 10 plays of 10 games by mid-autumn in 2016, and by the summer of 2017 (final tally, 23 games played 10+ times), I decided to step up the challenge slightly for 2018.
For those doing the ‘official’ 10×10 challenge on Boardgame Geek, there are 2 basic ways to play it – normal, which is what I’ve done for the last couple of years (although I don’t actually log plays on BGG), and hardcore.
Whereas with the normal challenge, you play games, then write down what you played, hardcore requires you to name 10 games in advance, then play them ten times – if you are organised, and only finalise your list part-way into the year, then only plays after the list is confirmed can count.
I thought that this was quite an interesting way to think about the future, and decided to do it.
Arkham LCG and Zombicide were the first and probably the easiest to put on the list – if I don’t play these 10 times, something seismic will have changed. I decided to keep “Zombicide” as a single, cover-all term – it’s definitely possible that I’ll manage 10 plays of Black Plague and 10 of Green Horde, but chances are, I’ll end up mixing a lot of the stuff together.
We’d just finished February in our Pandemic Legacy Season 1 campaign when New Year rolled around, so barring a premature death (don’t even know if that’s a thing that can happen), that’s got at least another 10 games left in it, and to follow, we have Pandemic Legacy Season 2. I was slightly concerned that it might be seen as a con to count these as 2 separate entries, so ultimately decided to just list them once – Assuming I managed ten sessions of each, it should be fairly safe to have this ticking 1 box, whichever way you measure it.
Lord of the Rings LCG has been steadily dwindling over the past few years, but I’m still pretty confident that it will get to the table 10 times. Aeon’s End hasn’t had quite as much table-time as I thought it might since we got the expansions, but it should still manage 10 without too much difficulty.
Legendary is always a perennial favourite, and Massive Darkness has only just finished the core box play-through, leaving much left to explore, including the new Ratlings I got for Christmas.
Elder Sign has been one of the steadiest games of 2017, and with a new expansion due in early 2018 , this should be another fairly easy 10.
How to round out the list was a bit of a puzzle – Eldritch Horror was a plausible candidate but committing to play a 2 ½ hour game 10+ times seemed risky. Dice Masters, L5R and Runewars are all too dependant on getting out of the house and finding opponents.
In the end I went for Mansions of Madness as my 10th – there are still a couple of scenarios we’ve never beaten, plus 1 we haven’t tried yet, and 2 which are DLC and I haven’t shelled out the necessary fiver.
The last entry on the list was a late(ish) addition when I decided to only count Pandemic Legacy once. Gloomhaven will probably be slow and steady rather than a sudden rush of plays, but I think we’ll comfortably have plenty more than 10 by the time the year is out.
So, the final list looks like this:
Arkham Horror LCG
Mansions of Madness
Although I’m only getting round to posting this now, I had finalised the list by the time New Year rolled around, meaning I’ve already clocked up 8 counting plays towards 100 needed.
I’ll continue doing my monthly updates in 2018, but will give a special mention to how these 10 are faring.
July wasn’t really a month for ticking off many boxes or reaching new gaming milestones (although I did get my all-time H-Index up to 18) but I’d say it was fun nonetheless.
A big-ish clearout saw me back in to positive figures for the year money-wise, as I got rid of a selection of games that hadn’t been played much in years, along with Star Wars Destiny, and some Dice Masters cards Rare enough to have a cash value. As I said back when I reviewed Destiny for Games Quest, I really like the mechanics and concepts in the game, but the price-point is just too high, and with the ongoing arrival of new sets (FFG are already starting to release spoilers for the 3rd wave, when I only got to about half of the cards in the 1st set), it basically becomes pay-to-win: I decided to get out ahead whilst I still could.
For Dice Masters, I’m basically restricted to a monthly event at the FLGS, and have missed the last 2 of those. I’ve decided to hold on to the bulk of my collection for when my son is old enough to play, but that’s probably 5+ years away and I wanted to get the balance sheet to a place where I didn’t have columns of red glaring back at me every time I looked at it in the meantime.
July was also a good month for spreadsheets – I’ve been moving gradually away from just counting sessions of games to trying to count hours (a tricky task when you’re trying to use a formula rather than timing every session with a stop-watch [which would be an even trickier task when a single game can be interrupted multiple times by a single baby]), and a long spell of dead time in front the computer meant that I managed to get a new sheet sorted to monitor this for me – no huge surprises with what it threw up, but some pleasing graphs and charts nonetheless.
In terms of what got played, July saw fresh life being breathed into old favourites as I made it to Lord of the Rings night at the FLGS for the first time in a while, completed the Dunwich Legacy cycle for Arkham, and we continued our slow trek across the sands of Egypt Osirian in Pathfinder Mummy’s Mask. In more recent acquisitions, Aeon’s End got dusted off after a couple of months hiatus, Mansions of Madness saw some play now that the Investigators have all returned from the painting table, and we managed a few more hours of Runebound, which were enjoyable enough, but definitely whet our appetites for the upcoming fully-cooperative expansions.
However, it wasn’t just the old – I finally managed to get my teeth into a small pile of review games that had been sitting around for a while, with several run-outs for Arcadia Quest, Battle for Greyport, and Gloom of Kilforth. All of these were deemed worthy enough to keep around for a while (the PvP combat may eventually see Arcadia Quest moved on, but as killing-each-other games go, it’s a really good fun one). Battle for Greyport is remarkably enjoyable once you’ve managed to get your head around it, and Gloom of Kilforth is probably the best-looking game I own, even if the rulebook is awful. Speaking of awful rulebooks, I also picked up Robinson Crusoe in trade, which was a game I’d had on my radar for a fair while, simply on account of it being so highly ranked and supporting solo/co-op play. I’ve not had it long enough to form a considered opinion yet (played once, thought I was doing ok, then winter came and I died), but I’m certainly not regretting the trade.
In terms of new, new stuff, July was the arrival time for a whole heap of stuff for the world (or at least the UK) at large: Near and Far (the follow-up to last year’s Above and Below) an X-Men big box, which got me more excited about Legendary than I had been for a while, a new expansion for Eldritch Horror, and Lovecraft Letter (Love Letter becoming the latest game to get the inevitable Cthulhu treatment) all arrived on my doorstep. In light of that fairly epic haul, missing out on Sword and Sorcery really wasn’t too bad.
That new expansion to make Runebound fully Cooperative, and the long awaited Massive Darkness have both been sighted in the wild, but I’ve not managed to catch a glimpse myself (Runebound conspicuous by its absence on this side of the pond, Massive Darkness I now have a tracking number…) – in fact, none of my outstanding Kickstarters have landed yet (I have potentially have anywhere up to 6 due to drop between August and October), but the delay may well be for the best, as I try to clear some space (mental and physical) for them.
Although July still fell short of the 60s and 70s of the early months of the year, there was a definite pick up from the low, low numbers of June, and I think 50 counts as a good number for the near future. Obviously there’s a bit of an issue with an ever-growing number of titles competing for a shrinking number of hours, but I’m hoping that we’re not too far away from getting the boy a proper bed-time, which should free up some evenings once again (you can laugh at me in a few months’ time when he still refuses to go to sleep.)
I also started looking at how this year’s gaming compares with that of previous years. The top 10 most-played games this year only account for 56% of my time, compared with 66% last year, and 88% the year before (in fact, in 2015 it was 70% of time just on the top 3).
Overall, 2017 is definitely the broadest year so far: looking at the number of games played, played 2+ times, 5+ times, 10+ times and 20+ times, I’m ahead of 2015 in every category, and although I’m still behind 2016, with 5 whole months to go, I expect to catch-up in a lot of those categories.
Looking at hours and percentages rather than sessions gives an interesting perspective, confirming that nothing is dominating like the last few years, although Zombicide is still going strong.
Playing what exactly?
Thematically this was a very strong month for Fantasy, although Arkham Horror did a good job of holding up the Lovecraft banner, almost single-handedly for much of the month before the rest of the franchise piled in in the last week or so to make up the numbers. Mechanically, the good-old cooperative adventuring (survive the monsters, complete the quest, save the world) was the primary order of the day, with only very slight variations in theme.
July was also the month where I decided to stop and properly look at the categories I’d created for dividing up the aim of the games I play. Ever since I first started trying to do this, I’ve been aware of a certain unhelpful vagueness with solve the mystery/complete the quest/save the world/survive the monsters more-or-less bleeding into each other to the point where the distinctions aren’t that helpful.
Revisiting it, I decided to pull out the key element: most Mythos games are about solving a mystery: there probably are monsters to be fought, but that’s not why they’re there – Eldritch Horror was the only one I put under “save the world” in recognition of its epic scale, along with all the Pandemic titles, and other reality-as-we-know-it-is-at-stake sort of games.
“Survive the Monsters” became simply “Survive” which allows it to include Robinson Crusoe, but generally this category is for things where the peril has come to you, whether that’s a horde of Zombies, or an enemy army.
I also took all the table-top RPGs and a few similar-feel games out of “Complete the Quest” and put them into “Explore” in an attempt to reflect the open-world, lack of long-term objective nature of things. Complete the Quest remains a bit of a catch-all, but hopefully it’s a bit more coherent now, with the idea of a group having their own mission, something they set out to accomplish beyond simply surviving, but which might not (at least immediately) lead to the end of the world if they fail. This covers things like Pathfinder, but also things like Descent. It’s also where I’ve put all things Lord of the Rings, because it’s very rare that an LotR scenario will be a direct confrontation with Sauron to destroy the One Ring, generally, things are much more low-key and small-scale
In the final analysis, the only place I’ve left games in 2 categories are the ones with hidden traitor mechanics, where “find the traitor” still exists on my spreadsheet as a secondary mechanic (and the traitor’s victory condition is ignored). Ultimately, categorisation is still subjective, but it certainly feels a lot neater now.
Whilst it’s pleasing to have things measured and labelled more neatly, the bottom line is that a fair amount of gaming happened in July, and most it was enjoyable and felt worthwhile. Aside from keeping an eye on what I’m spending, that always has to be the ultimate measure for gaming and, as things stand, I think I can be fairly content.
Without even realising it, I’d been making reference to something resembling an H-Index for a while, when doing my monthly updates on the 10 of 10 challenge.
If you want to read the full explanation, you can do so over on the original blog, but broadly speaking, an H-index looks at N games played N times – so if you’ve played 3 games 3 times (or more), your H-Index is 3. It’s a measuring system that works in squares, so if you had 100 games played 3 times, or 3 games played 100 times, you’d still only have an H-Index of 3, until a 4th game reached 4 plays.
As I said, I’d used what was essentially an H-Index in tracking the 10 of 10 challenge through its early stages, because there was generally more of interest to say about 6 of 6 (for example) than “still 3 games at 10, no others have got there yet” but I was a bit uncertain last year what to track after I reached 10 of 10 – did I go for 11 of 11? Or did I just keep track of 10s?
I like the H-Index model, and will use it going forward – I’m currently at 11 for 2017, as even though 13 games have been played 10 or more times, several are still sat on 10 or 11.
Looking back over the years I’ve kept records, I was able to put together lists for 2015, 2016, 2017 (so far) and “all time”(since Christmas 2014) – this was what I got.
2015 – H7
Pathfinder ACG, Lord of the Rings LCG, Dice Masters, Marvel Legendary, Game of Thrones LCG (2nd Ed), Machi Koro, Mapominoes
2016 – H13
Zombicide: Black Plague, Pathfinder, Lord of the Rings LCG, Dice Masters, Marvel Legendary, Game of Thrones LCG (2nd Ed), Mansions of Madness, Arkham Horror LCG, Elder Sign, Zombie Dice, Legendary Encounters Firefly, Beyond Baker Street, Dominion
2017 – H11
Lord of the Rings LCG, Arkham Horror LCG, Pathfinder ACG, Zombicide: Black Plague, Elder Sign, Dice Masters, Aeon’s End, Dominion, Marvel Legendary, Eldritch Horror, Dungeon Time
All-Time – H17
Pathfinder ACG, Lord of the Rings LCG, Dice Masters, Marvel Legendary, Zombicide: Black Plague, Game of Thrones LCG (2nd Ed), Arkham Horror LCG, Elder Sign, Dominion, Mansions of Madness, Mapominoes, Machi Koro, Beyond Baker Street, Zombie Dice, Aeon’s End, Star Wars Destiny, Yggdrasil
All-time: How we got there
The guy who wrote the blog article has also tracked the intervals between moving up a level on the H-index – this was a bit more awkward to extract the numbers for, but eventually I got to something that looked a bit like this…
After the first 3, this follows a fairly steady, mostly linear progression, albeit with a few bumps here and there – it seems fairly common for there to be a long period without an increase, then going up 2 levels in fairly short order.
21 games total have appeared on the all-time H-list, with some coming in at lower levels then ducking out again, whilst others have been firmly entrenched for the duration. This is the full list, with the games in Red being ones that have previously appeared but have dipped out.
AGoT, Arkham LCG, Bananagrams, Beyond Baker Street, Boggle, Coup, Curse of the Black Dice, Dice Masters, Dobble, Dominion, Elder Sign, Legendary, LotR, Machi Koro, Mansions of Madness, Mapominoes, Pathfinder, Pit, Star Wars Destiny, Yggdrasil, Zombicide, Zombie Dice
Of these, Curse of the Black Dice and Destiny have both gone, whilst Pit and Coup are languishing on 6 and 7 plays respectively. Boggle is probably the only one that could realistically hope to re-enter the H-index in the future (although the shaking at the start is a bit noisy if the baby’s napping…)
The plays of these 17 games account for 74% of all sessions logged
Fortunately, there are plenty of other games either already just short of 18 plays, or due to land in the future that I hope will keep this ticking along – I’ll keep revisiting it as I go…
The 2017 list is slightly harder to organise chronologically with only monthly data: reaching H-5 in January tends to lump everything together somewhat!
The 11 games currently on the list account for 53% of the year’s gaming, so just over half,
This follows a much more standard distribution curve, rising sharply at the start, where a game only needs playing once or twice, then levelling off over time. Interestingly, these games only account for 52% of all sessions logged so far this year, which suggest a fair few other games hovering just outside the top.
Only 12 different games so far have counted towards this index of 11, with Destiny being the exception that dropped off the edge – I’ve given up on the rather punishing Destiny release schedule (coupled with a very high price-point), but I’m optimistic that Mansions of Madness and/or Runewars will make it up to 12 for the year sometime soon.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about time: about hours of gaming rather than sessions, as a more useful measure of how much a game gets played. Using the approximate session-lengths I’ve estimated for most of my games, it seems that 10 games have clocked up 10 hours so far in 2017: Zombicide, Eldritch Horror, Arkham LCG, Aeon’s End, Elder Sign, Mansions of Madness, LotR LCG, Runewars Miniatures, Pathfinder, Legendary. – I don’t imagine it will take all that long to add another couple to this list, but much beyond 12 or 13 is likely to be difficult.
Going all the way back to Christmas 2014, I can get to 14 games played for 14+ hours – Pathfinder, Zombicide, LotR LCG, Dice Masters, Legendary, Mansions of Madness, Eldritch Horror, Arkham LCG, Game of Thrones LCG, Elder Sign, Machi Koro, Yggdrasil, Aeon’s End, Dominion – I can see myself getting up to 15 fairly shortly, but beyond that it’s likely to be a struggle (to pick one example sitting just outside the 14-hour mark, 2 hours of Mapominoes is quite a lot of games)
Hopefully some of you are still awake (you should have guessed this was coming when I published a mostly-pictures article earlier in the week), and will be back to join me next time. I’ll have the July re-cap at the beginning of August, but if you’re lucky I might manage another proper article before then too…