Sunday, January 28, 2007

New Games Played On Holiday

So here's why I've been so quiet since Scrabblette got back: we've been on holiday. We went down to the Blue Mountains to Euroka Homestead for a week with some other gamers. Not to say that Scrabblette is a gamer, but she can approximate one when she needs to. We did a couple of trips into Sydney to visit friends and do some of the tourist things including seeing an exceedingly dull exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Luckily, I played several new games during the week.

Flaschenteufel - this is a nasty little card game where one player gets screwed each hand. It's fun to plan for it to not be you. I think with experience it would be excellent.

Expedition - ho hum and double ho hum. This game reminds me a lot of Australia which I really don't like. Luckily the theme doesn't suck anywhere near so bad. I dislike both of them because some players can have long turns and get heaps of stuff, often leaving other players to have a boring turn and get nothing. Maybe that's because those players have skill, but maybe it's just because the games suck? Anyway, I wasn't excited by it at all.

- I'd heard good things about this so I was keen to try it, and as we went through the rules it sounded exciting. Soon I realised it sucked. My fundamental problem is that if 1s are trumps I can have a blue 1 and not be allowed to play it on a blue trick. I know why, I know it's the rules, it just sucks. If I wanted to play a game where some trumps changed suit I'd play 500.

Phoenix - I played half a game of Phoenix and quite liked it. I'll have to buy my own copy and play some more.

Carcassonne - Hunters and Gatherers- I like the idea of a different Carcassonne with nicer tiles, but as I played it I realised that the different tiles just made the board look busy and the bonus mechanism, although it encouraged people to complete forests, wasn't very exciting most of the time. The game seems to be a bit more complex than the original with not many advantages to compensate. Ho hum.

Mystery Rummy: Murders in the Rue Morgue - Not really a new game, as the kid and his mum and I have played this many times. However it was new to play 4 players which made the game a very interesting partnership game. We played against our usual Tichu opponents, and I liked it a lot.

Elefantenparade - I like the theme of this game, I liked the simplicity, but it has really failed to deliver both times I've played it. The first time I got by the world's biggest ever kingmaker move, and the second time we got stuck in analysis paralysis trying to figure out how to prevent people from winning. Scrabblette suggested playing in two teams of two so that you can validly choose to help your partner and avoid kingmaking. I hope to try that.

Take it Easy - This is a weird little game which is half solitaire puzzle and half solitaire puzzle. Umm, let's add that up. I don't know if it's actually very interesting.

My Word! - This is the sort of word game I'm very good at. Everyone else played for second place. That means I like it a lot but will rarely get it to the table.

The Battle of Lanka - Scrabblette brought me this from India. It's a simple card game and I was worried that it might not work at all. We played three games with CyberKev and Mrs CyberKev. The first two games were won after one turn when the first player felt they'd got lucky with the deal and were in a strong enough position to win. In both cases they were right. We then decided that it should be compulsory to play all the way through the deck, which rule change caused us to play the game we thought the designer probably wanted to design. It was OK - nothing super, but an interesting experience.

Maharaja: Palace Building in India - I've been looking forward to playing this for a while, but I was amazed as I heard the rules that you could do so little on a turn. It didn't seem right to me. It turned out that the rules work OK but I can't add 12 and 2 and managed to screw up my first turn. I struggled to find a strategy based on screwing up your first turn and lost interest as the players who were doing well took their time making moves. I'd like to play again, but maybe just with Scrabblette for a while. She liked and beat me in the 4 player game.

That's all the new games I played while on holiday, but some other things happened on the way back home. There's a shop called Mal's Toy Store on the highway in Taree so of course we pulled over and had a look. They had a copy of Batik for a good price, which my FLGS has not so far supplied, so I bought that. I was going to buy 50c worth of lollies but the nice lady gave them to me. Then she mentioned she hadn't learned Tantrix so she couldn't sell it, so I showed her how to play the solitaire version.

Later in the day we stopped at The Big Banana. There's a puzzle shop next door, so we took a look. I found two games I'd never heard of called Landlord and Spin and Trap, and it turns out that BGG hadn't heard of them either. So I bought them for $A30 each. Scrabblette and I tried to play Landlord while eating a banana split but we didn't really understand the rules and have to try it again with our improved understanding. At the same shop Scrabblette bought a word game called Snatch which leaves an opening for some pretty appalling double entendres which I won't go into here.

I had a good session of Batik with BIL this evening, and although it's not a brilliant game it works OK. It LOOKS beautiful. I love Gigamic games - I have 3 now and plan to acquire more. After watching BIL and I play, 6yo nephew demanded a game and played against Scrabblette... he kicked her butt. He's a gamer, that lad, you mark my words.

Anyway, that's most of the gaming news from the holidays. Maybe I could tell you the story about... nah, if I even tell you what the story's about Scrabblette will... er, better not say that either.

And We're Back (In So Many Ways)

Scrabblette and I are back home again after a week of debauchery in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. When I say debauchery, I mean we played a lot of games. I'll post more on this later, right now I am logging games played. By the way, the stats are running again.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Trimming the Fat

As part of the campaign to (a) make my game collection reflect what I actually play, and (b) make room in the study for all the games Scrabblette brought back, I have put a whole bunch of games up for trade. There's nothing really spectacular there (in my opinion) but it's at least a start at paring down the collection. Once I've disposed of some of these, even if it's by donating them to a thrift store, I'll take a look at some of the other things that won't get played. Potential traders please note that I'm in Australia and postage costs are very significant to overseas destinations.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Scrabblette's Home!

This is just a quick post to let Scrabblette's relatives know that she is back home safe and sound and tired. She's been fed and showered and will sleep as soon as she calls her mum!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Wish List Retrospective

In February last year I posted an article called Top of the Wish List about what games I was hoping to acquire. Here's what really happened:

I really did get: PitchCar (with the expansion), Arkham Horror, Saboteur, ZERTZ, Gobblet, Travel Blokus.

I no longer intend to get: Zombies!!! 4 - The End (I want Zombies 2e instead), For Sale (I'm tired of it), Fairy Tale (the kid wasn't interested).

I haven't yet got: Havoc: the Hundred Years War (exclusive to funagain, where I don't shop), History's Mysteries Card Game (can't find it).

The current top of my wish list is: 7 Runebound expansions, Ta Yü, Maharaja: Palace Building in India, Waldschattenspiel, Taluva, Fiji, Portable Adventures: Lair of the Rat-King, Zombies!!! Second Edition, Skybridge, Urland, Taj Mahal, Memoir '44 - Pacific Theater, Hey! That's My Fish!, and the Doom expansion. I guess I won't end up getting all of those, but at the moment I can't choose which to leave out.

Has It Got Legs?

In the five and dime discussions on spielfrieks someone asked posters of five and dime lists to comment on whether they thought the games "had legs", i.e. would they maintain their number of plays this year. That's an interesting question, so I'm going to go through my five and dimes and answer it. Get a cup of coffee, we could be here for a while.

Ca$h'n Gun$ (20 plays) - Will probably get to 10 plays again as it's a favourite of medium-sized kids and I know a few of those.

PitchCar (18 plays) - May get to 10 plays as I carry it around in the car for those times when I discover myself in a social situation with lots of non-gamers. Won't be played as much as it was last year.

Quoridor (17 plays) - Will get to 10 plays again this year as it's quick. I have a lot of 2 player abstracts, but most of my family are potential opponents.

Werewolf (17 plays) - Will probably get to 10 plays as it's popular at larger gaming gatherings where we often play a couple of games.

Liar's Dice (15 plays) - Will certainly get to 10 plays because it often comes out at the end of the night at Critical Mass.

Lost Cities (14 plays) - May not even make it to 5 plays this year as both of the women I played against last year are no longer gaming with me, and I'm not sure that it's Scrabblette's style. Personally, I would rather play Battle Line.

Nacht der Magier (13 plays) - Will probably make it to 5 plays but not to 10. This year it was a novelty and I will try to bring it out whenever I can this year. However I do want to get Waldschattenspiel which will compete for table time.

Gobblet (13 plays) - Will make it to 10 plays again this year as I am not finished with it yet and have plenty of opponents.

Cartagena (13 plays) - I expect this will only get to 5 plays this year. I played a lot early last year and got a bit burnt out, but it's such an easy game to explain that I'll probably teach it a few more times this year. My 6yo nephew likes it.

Coloretto (12 plays) - I still like this game but it's hard to get people to play it regularly. Maybe only 5 plays this year.

Coda (11 plays) - One that CyberKev often suggests and that I always agree with. Will get at least 5 plays.

Scrabble (11 plays) - Definitely on the Dime list again this year. I've played 3 games already.

Poison (10 plays) - Will not get to 10 plays again this year and almost certainly will not get to 5. There are other games I'd rather play and I'll probably stop carrying it around for a while.

Ingenious (10 plays) - Will not get 10 plays again this year unless Scrabblette likes it. Most of my plays last year were solitaire and I'm past that now.

Diamant (9 plays) - Will almost certainly get 10 plays this year. In fact I'll probably put it in the non-gamer's box which lives in the car. It's so easy to teach and quite a lot of fun so it's easy to get it played.

Poison Pot (9 plays) - Won't get to even 5 plays this year unless I can convince Scrabblette to play against me. I like it but almost nobody else does.

Cloud 9 (8 plays) - Will probably get to 5 plays again this year as the kids like it. Diamant will compete with it.

No Thanks! (8 plays) - I won't volunteer to play this very many times this year, but I suspect I will on occasion. Maybe not even 5 times though.

Once Upon a Time (8 plays) - I bought my niece the Dark Tales expansion for Christmas so we will play Once Upon a Time a few times this year.

Saboteur (7 plays) - Another good game for large groups. Maybe not 7 plays, but 5 is perfectly feasible.

Ra (7 plays) - Another that I won't volunteer to play but probably will anyway. Yes, it is my favourite auction game, but I hate auction games!

ZÈRTZ (7 plays) - A definite yes - I want to play this game at least 10 times this year, and I have a number of suitable opponents.

TAMSK (7 plays) - I'm not so keen on TAMSK, but not so unkeen that I won't play it. Hey, was that a triple negative?! If I bring it out a couple of times it will get to 5 or 10 plays easily.

For Sale (7 plays) - Probably won't get to 5 plays this year, I find it a bit boring.

Tichu (7 plays) - Considering that we were playing this once a week and Scrabblette likes it, this might become my most played game of 2007. Maybe we'll get sick of it, who knows?

Puerto Rico (7 plays) - The BGG #1 was a game I desperately wanted to play this year, and finally did. I even had a streak where I won 3 games in a row. But now it's almost a case of been there, done that, and I don't need to play it so many times this year. I think knowing that it's possible to play better than I do stresses me.

Commands & Colors: Ancients (7 plays) - I enjoy Ancients a lot and would like to play many more times this year. On the other hand, my opponent Arnold Horshack and I both now have BattleLore which will compete for table time. I'm hoping we can make time for both.

Chrononauts (7 plays) - This got played a few times last year because it was a Christmas present to the kid. When we tried to play it with serious gamers it became quite monotonous, and unless someone requests it it won't be played again this year.

Cathedral (6 plays) - Scrabblette gave me a copy of this for Christmas so it will be played quite a bit this year. It only takes 5 minutes, after all.

Bohnanza (6 plays) - The big year for Bohnanza was 2005, so 6 plays in 2006 were mostly incidental. I used to play with my sister, BIL, and my ex, which is unlikely to happen again, but we might be able to convince Scrabblette to play and Bohnanza will be back on the table again. If so, it might compete with Frank's Zoo and Mystery Rummy for table time.

DVONN (6 plays) - Another two player abstract which I like and have opponents for.

Tongiaki (6 plays) - This is fairly popular at Critical Mass and I've taught it a few other times, so I expect it will see 5 plays again this year.

Frank's Zoo (6 plays) - I mostly played this with CyberKev, but I also taught sister, BIL and ex and they liked it. I hope I can find time to play it a few times this year.

The Great Balloon Race (6 plays) - 6yo nephew's copy is still in the mail from Germany, so when it arrives we'll have to play it a few times. I expect it will get to 5 plays again this year.

Nodwick: The Card Game (5 plays) - This game is popular with medium-sized kids, but I'd probably teach them Ca$h'n'Gun$ first, so it will be struggling for plays. Probably won't get to 5 plays in 2007.

Pick Picknic (5 plays) - 6yo nephew has this and I like it, but whether we'll get to play it 5 times is another matter. I expect not.

Gang of Four (5 plays) - This game is very much in the same space as Frank's Zoo and Tichu and isn't as good as either of those, so I don't think it will see much play this year.

GIPF (5 plays) - Scrabblette likes this, and so do I, so it will see a bit of play for sure, probably more than last year. After all, we've got to do something in bed on Sunday morning, don't we?

San Juan (5 plays) - I bought this in 2005, so the 5 plays in 2006 were as many as I could manage to scrape up without particularly much enthusiasm. I'd like to maintain that number this year, but I expect I won't.

China Moon (5 plays) - I like China Moon a lot but it does have some flaws which means I'll struggle to get it to the table. I'd be surprised if it made 5 plays again.

Xe Queo! (5 plays) - I like this game a lot, and it's easy to teach, so I'll cart it around and try to play it with all and sundry. That means it will probably be played about 5 times.

Scopa (5 plays) - This is an Italian card game that I played only with a lady I was seeing during the year. It wasn't anywhere near as interesting as the lady, so I suspect I won't be playing it again this year.

Rumis (5 plays) - I have an unopened copy of this, and it won't stay that way very long. I think the kids will like this. I can see it being played 5 times this year.

Give Me the Brain! (5 plays) - This game comes out occasionally and will probably continue to do so, but maybe not 5 times in 2007.

Gulo Gulo (5 plays) - This is a great game for little kids, but there are not so many of those in my life at the moment, so it might not see much play in 2007. Maybe if I take up smoking dope it might see some use.

Bamboleo (5 plays) - I bought myself and my sister the kleeblatt edition for Christmas, so it will be played a few times. Maybe even as many as 10.

Igel Ärgern (5 plays) - I like this cute and simple game but not everybody shares my enthusiasm. It will get to 5 plays if I push it, but I suspect I won't. However I'll probably carry it around and it will be played a couple of times.

PÜNCT (5 plays) - I haven't really explored this one yet, and I'd like to. The kid and BIL like it, so I suspect I'll find time for 5 plays in 2007.

Carcassonne (5 plays) - Carc is not a game I go out of my way to play, but other people really do like it. As the kids seem to like it, I suspect I won't be able to avoid it in 2007 and it will see 5 plays again.

Hamsterrolle (5 plays) - Only 5 plays of this beautiful game... what a shame! I expect it will see about the same number in 2007 unless I sell it to Mikey for $5.

Queen's Necklace (5 plays) - This was bought as a back-up Christmas present for my niece last year due to the very unreliable internet store we have here in Australia. I ended up playing it myself. I don't see a need to play it again.

Carrom (5 plays) - Scrabblette is good at this, and I have ambitions to beat her, so we should play it a bit this year. I'd like to see it played regularly which would push it over 10 plays.

Make 'n' Break (5 plays) - This is pretty popular with the kids, so it should see a bit of play this year. I expect 5 plays.

Of course, as I learned last year, you never can tell what's going to happen next.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I went along to Scrabble club again this evening to get in some practice just in case Scrabblette ever comes home and wants to play. Also, the people at Scrabble club are very nice and friendly people, unlike some other clubs I have joined (nothing related to board games).

First game was against M. She was playing tournament rules, I was playing social rules. I got off to a flying start playing QUOTE for 48 points after she traded in 6 tiles as her first play. I then played ROUNDLET for 63, FARM for 34 and JAW for 26. I managed a second bonus playing STONING on a triple word score for 86, and I was maintaining my big lead. M played well, making fascinating words such as SCRAW, ABA, REC and OE, but the final score was 435 to me and 323 to her.

Next game was against V, the self-proclaimed nice one. I can't disagree, in case she reads this. Unlike my charmed rack in the first game, this one was difficult. I suffered from a surfeit of As and Us. V apparently didn't have much better luck as both of our scores were low. My favourite words I played in this game were VOITURE (12 points), ZO (50 points) and EOUI (4 points, but better than exchanging tiles). Words that V played that I should remember were CAIN, PARD and SIM. By the way, DROID is not a valid Scrabble word. I led for the first half of this game, but when I played EOUI V played HARK for 54 points, and passed me. Final scores were 309 to me, 319 to V.

The final game was against K. I should mention that club games are played in 50 minutes, so I play 3 games and have a cup of tea in less time than it takes to play Caylus. I really enjoy playing at that velocity. The game against K was both tortuous and torturous. The board never really opened up, and it was always a struggle finding a space to play in. It's quite impressive that Scrabble games always manage to terminate, as sometimes it's really hard work. Anyway, I rushed to a lead playing CAPED (32), ORNERY (27), MAVEN (30) and JAR (36), but then got stuck with a rack full of vowels and consonants that didn't quite match, along with a blank. I was determined to make some good use of the blank. At one stage I had VAG_TIS and I looked to see if I could make VAGINITIS anywhere. No such luck. I realised on the way home that STARVING was an option as well. 8 letter words are hard to get down. I gave up and played VEG to see if I could get some better letters. Two turns later I was able to play STIRING for 62 points giving me enough of a lead to hold K off till the end of the game. Final scores were 344 to me, 316 to him.

I'd like to graduate to tournament play, but I love looking in the dictionary too much. It does seem unfair to claim a victory when playing by softer rules. I at least have a moral obligation to learn the two letter words. I think I'd better download a program and start playing against the computer. Watch out. Scrabblette!

My Love Affair With Train Games

Long-term readers may remember my heretical article where I mentioned that I didn't like Ticket to Ride, nor train games in general. So my love affair with train games is somewhat like my love affair with my ex-wife, except she had the good grace to leave me. (I sound like an Australian liberal DW Tripp, don't I?) Let's just say that although we're on speaking terms, relationships between train games and I are strained.

That is not to say I'm no good at them. The last time I played Ticket to Ride: Europe, I won. The last time I played Ticket to Ride I played the "ignore tickets buy long routes" strategy and came second. The time I played Union Pacific I won. Then I discovered that I don't mind Metro at all, and after losing my first game I won the second. (But I don't think Metro is really a train game.)

Over the Christmas-New Year period I played a few more train games, mostly as part of the BGG Top 50 project. The first was Railroad Tycoon. Despite advice from generalpf to go northeast, my tycoon card said I should become the rail baron of Chicago. So I did that. Because I wasn't stressed about winning I managed to get by with only one share for the entire game, and my 8 points for routes out of Chicago and my 6 point advantage for having no shares just got me the win.

Later on it was time to play Ticket to Ride: Marklin. I don't know why, but I didn't mind this one so much. I definitely liked the 4+ wilds - they seem to make it a bit easier to get the cards you need for a long route. I didn't mind the passenger mechanic, although I often complain about that sort of thing feeling tacked on. And I did like the proper sized cards. I won this one as well, for no obvious reason.

That same night we played Metro again, and I played nasty and was unstoppable and won easily. Much later that night, we played it again, and several people took it upon themselves to prevent me from winning for a third time in a row. All good things must come to an end.

The big black cloud on the horizon is Age of Steam, which I haven't played yet but is ranked #10 at BoardGameGeek. It looks really serious. And long and boring. I don't much want to play it. I'll probably win.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dimes for 2006, Except You Know I Wouldn't Do it the Normal Way

My nickel and dime list is on boardgamegeek. You can go look at it there if you want. What I'd like to talk about today is the designers for whom I scored at least 10 plays in 2006. There are actually 29 of them, so I won't even mention all of them, just the ones who made an impression on me.

Reiner Knizia (20 games, 68 plays) - Reiner is the king of designers, and it's almost impossible to avoid playinghis games. He was my #1 designer last year and probably will be this year as well. Having said that though, I'm becoming less enchanted with many of his games. Ingenious, Poison and Ra saw a lot of play this year, but I need a rest from them. Some of his other games such as E&T, Through the Desert, Battle Line and Rheinlander need to be played more this year. I'd like to play Amun-Re, but I don't mind if I miss out on Medici and Modern Art. In any case, RK has designed such a variety of games that there'll always be something for me to play.

Richard Borg (8 games, 32 plays) - I'm not sure it's fair that Borg gets credit for Bluff - did he really invent it? I heard it was a game played by pirates in the 17th century! Nevertheless, the Command & Colors system will keep him in my list of top designers and I still like playing Wyatt Earp.

Bruno Faidutti (10 games, 32 plays) - There are many of Bruno's games that I like a lot and would like to play more - Castle, Citadels, Mystery of the Abbey, China Moon for a start. There are also a few others I don't mind. With luck, he'll see more play this year.

Kris Burm (6 games, 32 plays) - I missed out on my ambition to get the whole GIPF Project onto my nickel list last year, but if I liked YINSH a bit more I might have tried harder. However I expect ZERTZ, GIPF, DVONN and PUNCT to be played quite a few times this year. Last year I bought ZERTZ on the exact day my wife told me she was leaving me (in March) and as a result didn't get to play it until about July or August. I expect I won't have that problem again this year!

Wolfgang Kramer (10 games, 22 plays) - As the numbers might suggest, Kramer has designed a lot of games but I don't come back to play them regularly. Of those that I've played I really only like Tikal, Torres and Celtica, so I'd struggle to call him one of my favourite designers. However I like Tikal and Torres A LOT, so I'd like to try Mexica and Java this year.

Doris & Frank (6 games, 17 plays) - Doris and Frank produce consistently good games, and although it took me a while to warm to Frank's Zoo I'm finally getting used to shedding games. This pair is almost on my automatic must-have list, if only to see what the hedgehogs are up to this time.

Klaus Teuber (7 games, 10 plays) - What this says to me is that I don't play Settlers of Catan enough. I'd also like to get Hoity Toity to the table more often, but I seem to be the only person who thinks that it's a game of skill.

The question that strikes me at the end of this list is: Where's Friedemann? I like Funny Friends and Fearsome Floors, so where is he? Fearsome Floors - 4 plays; Funny Friends - 3 plays; Fische Fluppen Frikadellen - 1 play. I don't much like Power Grid, and he's not a hugely prolific designer, so he misses out. This year I hope to acquire Fiji and Formidable Foes, so maybe they will pump his numbers up. And I really should play FFF some more, after I bought 3 copies of it.

That's all for now. I wonder what gems these guys will produce for me this year?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I Can't Wait for Scrabblette to Come Home

Because frankly, as good as CyberKev is at Rheinlander, I don't want to play Footsies with him.

Scrabblette is STILL overseas visiting family. How many families does she have? Doesn't she know I need someone to organise my life so that the game-playing and the housework happen in sensible proportions? Actually, yes, she does know all those things and we're constantly in touch and she'll be home soon. I'm looking forward to it and I've been thinking of games I'd like to play with her when she gets back.

I know what you're thinking, but no, this is not one of those horrible double entendre articles that make you alternately snigger and grimace. I'll do one of those later if I can figure out how to write it without offending my audience. This is a serious list. Scrabblette has decided that her favourite types of games are word games and abstracts. They're two of my favourites as well, but I also like deduction games, dexterity games and whatever that type is that includes Tikal, Domaine, Rheinlander, Bridges of Shangri-La, Tigris & Euphrates and Trias. But still, I have a lot of word and abstract games to play with her.

Through the Desert - Besides being a beautiful game, this is quite a lot like Go but without the intensity.

Taj Mahal - I haven't played this yet, but of the two Indian themed games in the BGG Top 50 this seems to be the lighter. Also, the little taj mahals look really nice. Maybe not Scrabblette's type of game, but I think she'll like the theme.

Hey, That's My Fish - This is the highest ranked abstract game that I don't own, which is good incentive to buy it. As well as playing it with Scrabblette, the kids might like it.

Scrabble - I have to confess that we haven't actually gotten around to playing this yet. We've played Scrabble Cards and several other word games, but not this one.

ZERTZ - We played GIPF once and she seemed to enjoy it, and ZERTZ is probably just as good. Furthermore it doesn't have a board, in fact everything is made of Bakelite, so we could play this at the beach or in a park or in any number of romantic places. Besides, I'm really itching to play it again.

Tigris and Euphrates - Gentlemen, now you see just how attractive this woman is :-). Yes, there are some women out there who will play E&T, and I'm yet to see whether Scrabblette is one of them, but I have a kinky fantasy where she enjoys playing this. You have to admit that's pretty kinky. If she doesn't like it I'll try to play it with my brother-in-law, although he's a bit hairy.

Now, I know what you're all thinking. What about Lost Cities? I have had good experiences with Lost Cities in the past, but I think Scrabblette is more capable than that. We'll see when she gets back, in 222 hours.

New Year's Ambitions

Wow, what a year last year was! Let's be blunt: what a fuck up! I spent half my time playing games and the other half agonising over women. This year I'd like to focus on just one woman and a whole heap of games. I'll be happier, the kid will be happier, the dog's always happy. She loves everyone.

Last year I recorded 793 plays of 267 different games, 198 of which were new to me. That's almost 4 new games each week. Goodness! I played 60-something percent of the games in my collection. Given that I've only played 78% of them ever, that wasn't bad, but it's a number I hope to improve this year one way or the other. My collection needs to be cleaned up.

I've invented the "Friendless" metric which I've added to the Quick Stats table on my extended stats. This metric recognises that geeks will always have games that they haven't played, and have favourites that they've played a lot, but that of course we'd like to have the good ones in our collection and dump the ones that just won't be played. To calculate the Friendless metric, you look at your collection and order the games by descending number of plays. For each game at the beginning that you have at least 10 plays of, you're forgiven one at the end that you have the lowest number of plays of. You then take the number of plays of your least-played game remaining, and that's your Friendless number. My ambition for 2007 is to increase that number to at least 1. After that I'll see where I can take it.

This metric rewards:
  • playing games you regularly play
  • playing the unplayed games in your collection
  • getting rid of games you'll never play
and consequently, having a collection which will actually be used.

BTW, why 10 plays? Well for the games I've played 10 times I feel I know the game well and could teach it and have probably received value for money for my purchase. Also, it has more digits than 9.

On the other hand, it's my duty as a loud-mouth (erm, enthusiastic and frequent commentator) to know whereof I speak. Therefore my second ambition is to play more of the BoardGameGeek Top 50. This ambition has recently been boosted by CyberKev sharing it with me, and we've played a couple of them over the last week (more on that below). I'd also like to play more of the Spiel des Jahre winners. That's why those numbers have been added to the Quick Stats as well.

That's all the ambitions I can think of at the moment. I won't include one about buying games because I think if I can successfully manipulate the Friendless metric my game buying will match my game playing and so will suit my lifestyle.

Now, onto the Top 50 games. I spent most of last year having played 26 or so of the Top 50. The ones I hadn't played were games I thought I wouldn't like or else hadn't had the opportunity to play. In the last couple of weeks CyberKev has organised for us to play a few of them so I'd like to comment on the reality compared to what I expected.

Caylus - as mentioned in an earlier article, I found this one pretty complicated. I thought there was too much stuff in it. I'd play it again, but I'd definitely weight the time I was going to spend against the chance to play several other games. I rate it a 6.

BattleLore - my first play, against the kid, was disappointing. I think playing against Arnold Horshack or the Evil Count von Walduck would be more rewarding. I currently rate it an 8, but that may improve.

Railroad Tycoon - I was so glad when I played this game that "shares" were to be sold and not bought. I really don't get off on US railroads games at all, and I didn't like the auction for first place - to me, auctions are scary hard work things and should be replaced with a different mechanic wherever possible. Having said that though, I didn't mind Railroad Tycoon too much and it's conceivable I could play it again one day. However it was even longer than Caylus and it's not particularly likely I'd have nothing better to do. I rate it a 5.

Go - I did play this years ago, and even went to a Go club a couple of times. I never really got past the "learner" stage, and would have to play against someone at my level to enjoy the game regularly. My recent game reminded me what a beautiful game it is, and if I happen to find the right opponent I will play this regularly. I rate it 7.5.

Twilight Imperium 3 - I blogged about this earlier. Apart from the broken rules and massively long play time, it was OK. I rate it a 4.

Ticket to Ride Märklin - Another train game, but refreshingly on a German map rather than an American one. That really does matter to me. I thought the cards were better and the passenger mechanic worked well. I won by a long way which is maybe why I rated it as high as a 6.

Overall I find that my expectations of a game are generally met, though I liked
Ticket to Ride Märklin more than I expected. BattleLore I liked less than I expected, but I still have faith in it. Other games in the Top 50 that I'm looking forward to playing (along with my preconceived opinions) are:
  • Die Macher - long, but I might like it.
  • Wallenstein - long and aggressive, but let's see.
  • Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage - I'm in favour of the theme but it sounds long.
  • Taj Mahal - looking forward to this.
  • Hammer of the Scots - looking forward to this as well.
  • Crokinole - hard to get in Australia! Probably similar to Carrom which I already have.
  • Amun-Re - I once played half a game and it was OK.
  • A Game of Thrones - maybe too backstabby for me but I loved the books.
  • Dune - I'd like to see how it goes. If I don't like it I'll trade away my copy.
  • Roads and Boats - 4 hours with lots of bits! It had better be good!
  • Maharaja: Palace Building in India - looking forward to this as well.
Finally, a comment on this blog. I never thought I'd keep it up. I've got no idea why I have. It's satisfying to get feedback on things I write, and I guess it at least lets my friends and relatives know that yes, he does play all those weird games he buys. Just wait till you see what happens in 2007!