Monday, December 31, 2018

The Games of 2018

With just a few hours left in 2018, I am going to go ahead and write up my "Games of 2018" post. Should anything change before midnight tonight, I'll quietly come in and edit the details. This is the third post in this series, the other two being 2016 and 2017.

Let's start with the numbers for the year. In 2018, I played 103 different games across a total of 548 plays. That's significantly more plays than last year (505) over about the same number of games (104). While my scholarly h-index barely crept up from 12 to 13, my games h-index rocketed from 15 to 20. My h-index for the year was 11, and here are the 11 games that I have played 11 or more times in 2018:

  • Gloomhaven (55)
  • Stuffed Fables (23)
  • Thunderstone Quest (22)
  • Go Nuts for Donuts (20)
  • Rhino Hero Super Battle (19)
  • B√§renpark (16)
  • Camel Up (16)
  • Champions of Midgard (12)
  • Carcassonne (11)
  • Clank! (11)
  • Rising Sun (11)

Summer 2018 was the Summer of Gloomhaven. My oldest son and I had a great time playing this BoardGameGeek chart-topper. I shared my painted base characters back in March, and I have also painted almost all the rest of the characters—all those we have unlocked. I'll make a spoilerful post about those once they are complete. The 55 plays are not all full-length games: some were short defeats. I remember one of the earlier scenarios was a terrible match for our characters, and we had several false starts on it. The last time we played was over the Summer break, and we haven't had the game to the table since. I was hoping we might finish the campaign over the Winter Break, but other activity has taken precedence; I have favored playing games that incorporate more people rather than just the two of us with Gloomhaven.

Stuffed Fables was a family Christmas gift in 2017. I shared my painted minis in June, and this is one I have played with my three older boys. The third son is particularly tickled to be involved in this kind of "big kids game" I think. We have really enjoyed it, and the several times, the writing has made us laugh aloud. We have one story left to go before finishing the book. Tracking plays of Stuffed Fables is actually a bit of tricky business. I decided to track each page as a play, following along the idea of each attempt at a Gloomhaven scenario being a play. One might argue that I should have counted "sessions" of Stuffed Fables. Yet, only once has one of our sessions been an entire story; usually we do a few pages and then store our stuff in baggies for another day.

Thunderstone Quest was a recent arrival via their second Kickstarter, as I described in my post about the painted minis. We have enjoyed this immensely, and I have taught it to a few friends. It and Clank! are easily my two favorite deckbuilding games in this genre, combining Dominion-style deckbuilding with some spatial puzzles. The number of plays of this game and of Champions of Midgard correspond to my second son's rising up into the next tier of complexity; these are joined by Runebound, which he only recently learned but we've played a lot of these past weeks. He still struggles with some of the more complex interactions—and even more so with sitting still for longer games—but overall I've been surprised with how well he manages the games. Like any 8-year-old, he will sometimes get tunnel vision on a plan and not roll with the punches, but I think this is something that games will help him learn to do better.

Rhino Hero Super Battle, Carcassonne, and Camel Up are joined by Go Nuts for Donuts as games that anyone in the family can play, and so most of my plays of these are with the younger two boys.

The notable thing about Rising Sun getting to the table eleven times is that many of those were with friends rather than family. Almost all my gaming is with my family, and I love playing games with them. Having them here probably makes me a bit lazy about reaching out to my friends to have them over. However, I had a small group of friends who really caught on to Rising Sun and came over for several game nights this summer. I feel really good about that and need to keep that up.

A few notable games of 2018 did not make the cut into the top 11. I bought Charterstone as a family Christmas gift, and my two older sons, my wife, and I are four games into the campaign. We have been enjoying that, and I look forward to seeing where the game goes next. My third son received Ticket to Ride: First Journey last year for Christmas and we played that quite a bit. A few weeks ago, he graduated to Ticket to Ride, which we played five times together, before I taught him Ticket to Ride: Europe, which I think is the far superior game. We have now played Europe five times as well, and he asks pretty much every day to play it again. The kid loves trains.

Looking at the list of games I only played once this past year, it makes me wonder if I should be even more aggressive about getting rid of games. I remember my wife sharing a story with me about a collector who got rid of all but 10 games, and that he was happier with the ten he really loved than the many he rarely played. My brother also recently tried a thought experiment of what games library he would build with just $250. To me, the answer is clear: two copies of Mage Knight: The Board Game, Ultimate Edition.

Each year, I've written a little about tabletop RPG in this post, and once again, I was able to do a very little bit of RPG gaming, but not much. I ran two sessions of Index Card RPG during the year. One was a game with my three older boys, themed around the "Magic Sword" fantasy realm that my second son spent many years imagining. I actually haven't heard him say much about it, even in the months leading up to our summertime session, but for a long time all of his imaginary play revolved around a world of knights, dark magic, and dragons. My third son particularly enjoyed the session I think, and he regularly asks to play Magic Sword, but I haven't made the time to spin up new adventures for them. The other session was a challenging design for a big family vacation. With some help from the ICRPG community, I designed an adventure that would scale to a variable number of players. As it turned out, only my two older boys and their older cousins were interested, so I had a manageable table of four. I think the session was a great success in many ways, and it was a good way to spend some time with my niece and nephew.

As has been my custom, let me wrap up by looking at the games that comprise my overall h-index of 20:

  • Gloomhaven (55)
  • Animal Upon Animal (54)
  • Crokinole (47)
  • Carcassonne (36)
  • Camel Up (35)
  • Rhino Hero: Super Battle (35)
  • Labyrinth (31)
  • Clank! (29)
  • Terror in Meeple City (29)
  • Runebound (Third Edition) (28)
  • Dumpster Diver (23)
  • Race for the Galaxy (23)
  • Red7 (23)
  • Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus (23)
  • Stuffed Fables (23)
  • Thunderstone Quest (22)
  • 4 First Games (21)
  • Flash Duel (21)
  • Go Nuts for Donuts (20)
  • Samurai Spirit (20)
This was the year that Gloomhaven overtook Animal Upon Animal. I feel like has to be a milestone in the growth of my family, that a heavy fantasy strategy game overtakes a light HABA game. 

Thanks for reading. I hope 2018 was a good year of gaming for you as well. Here's to a happy and playful 2019!

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