Tuesday, January 02, 2007

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!


ekted said...

Good list of games. The one I'll comment on is Maharaja. The first couple of times I played it, it was ok, but I thought it might go down over time. After a recent playing, it went up a whole point for me. After see how much you can do with your roles/actions, how much you can mess with other players' plans, and how much the changing turn order (even within a turn) matters, it's become something I really am looking forward to play again. If you don' tlike it after one playing, try again. :)

mikey said...

It's funny, Maharaja was the first game that I thought of commenting upon when I read this list. I really enjoyed the interaction between players as described by ekted. It is also a very pretty game, which helps.

But the more I play (and it was very popular with my group for a while) the less I enjoy it. It seems to have become very dry and I certainly plan to avoid it in the future. Of course my excellent condition copy is available for trade/sale!

Stewart Woods said...

Hey John,

Hope this year works out a little better than the last. WRT you desire to play more SdJ winners - Had you noticed that PBrennan has Café International and Heimlich & Co. for sale:



Maria said...

Half the time playing games, Half the time agonising over women - and how much blogging?????

Friendless said...

Actually there was much more blogging about women than about games (but not on this blog). This year I want being unable to find opponents to be the most stressful thing in my life.