Critical Hits: A year in board gaming: Logging which games I played most
There’s a certain degree of nerdiness required to be someone who writes a board game review column, but today we’re going to ratchet up the nerd level a few clicks. Over the past year, I’ve logged every single board and card game that I played.
So yes, if you’ve read this column regularly, you probably know what games I think are good or bad, but when it comes down to it, these are the games that I spent the most time playing this year. We’ll also look at the mass-market games that I play the most, and I’ll talk about games I wish I played more.
This list spans games played from Feb. 28, 2010 to Feb. 27, 2011. I took my logged number of plays and multiplied it by the average number of minutes the game takes as reported over on BoardGameGeek, with a few modifications where I thought the numbers were off (no game of Boggle takes 10 minutes to play: it has a three minute timer). So, without further ado, here are my top 10 games that I spent the most time playing. You can read more about each of these games by checking out my full reviews.
Also, realizing that many of my readers may have families, I wanted to make a top 10 list of what family games I play the most. Family game is a pretty vague term. I could, for example, have easily left Dominion on the top of the list, but I figured I've extolled the greatness of Dominion enough in this column and that I would pick games that markedly 100 percent family-ish.
Numbers in front of the games refer to their overall position on the master list. I haven't reviewed all of these games yet, but I've linked the ones that I have.
4. No Thanks (14.7 hours | 44 plays)
6. Forbidden Island (9 hours | 18 plays)
9. Carcassonne (6.7 hours | 16 plays)
13. Spy Game (4.5 hours | 9 plays)
14. Finca (4.5 hours | 6 plays)
15. Bohnanza (3.0 hours | 4 plays)
18. 10 Days in Europe (2.7 hours | 16 plays)
19. Saboteur (2.5 hours | 5 plays)
21. Blokus (2.3 hours | 7 plays)
22. Dixit (2.3 hours | 3 plays)
And finally, there are games I’ve played this year that I hope to get to play more in the year to follow. Here are some games that I would love to see rise in the rankings.
Small World (11th place: 6 hours | 4 plays) Despite what I expected to happen after my first play of Small World, I like this game more each time I play it. I still don’t think of this as a family game like some people do, nor do I think it’s a game I would pull out with non-gamers again due to its length. However, Small World is a game that I think gets better as you start to discover the strategies of the game — which I don’t think really happens until play two or three: there is so much more to the game than just recognizing which race and power combinations are best.
Betrayal at House on the Hill (18th place: 3 hours | 3 plays) I’ve only played three scenarios of the 50 provided in the scenario book. My box is full of monsters and tokens, and I’m really curious to see what each of them do once they get put in the haunted mansion. Having so many different scenarios makes it so that the game feels different every time (without having to take the time for everyone to learn a new game).
Alien Frontiers (21st place: 2.5 hours | 2 plays) I’m still not sure how what I feel about this game (which is why there hasn’t been a review yet). This is a combination worker placement/dice-rolling game where players are able to place their workers (dice) based what each die reads. Alien Frontiers is currently all the rage among the board game crowd, with its first printing selling out quickly and the second printing (due in April) in high demand. After my first play of the game, I thought it had too much downtime, but it went much quicker on my second play, and I may be starting to warm up to it.
Nuns on the Run (33rd place: 2 hours | 2 plays) This is a really fun game, and it’s a shame that I haven’t gotten to play it more. Like I mentioned in the original review, it’s somewhat hard to bring to the table since asking rules clarifications during the game might give away someone’s hiding space, but once people I know learn the rules, I’ll be more likely to pull this out. I enjoy playing this as a two player game, so that’s always an option too.
Power Grid (46th place: 90 minutes | 1 play) This is another game that I’m on the fence about. Unlike Alien Frontiers, I suspect that repeated plays may just show me that this isn’t the game for me, but in the meantime, I really like the idea of this game and all the systems that it has in motion. In time I may understand enough of the strategy to remember that I usually don’t auction games. This is an auction/resource management game where players are trying to build power plants and supply power to cities across a map. Currently, I’m rereading the rules and basically seeing if I can convince myself that it would be easy to teach and my wife would like it. I look forward to actually playing again sometime in the future to figure out my thoughts on it.
Diplomacy (tied for 102nd: 0 minutes | 0 plays) I haven’t played a game of Diplomacy in probably eight years, but it left such an impression on me that I traded for a copy a few months ago. Diplomacy is a negotiation game that requires exactly seven players to play properly and takes more than four hours to play. This is a game that players get so into that people explaining the game often have to remind players that everyone is entering the game as friends and you should make sure that everyone leaves the game as friends. In my particular game eight years ago, I made it to the final years of the game and was poised to share victory, only to be perfectly stabbed in the back so that my “ally” could win by herself. It was awesome.