Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Games This Month

I haven't done a whole lot of gaming this month (i.e. not as much as I want to) for a couple of reasons. Firstly, my personal game slave Scrabblette was away, and secondly, Scrabblette came home again. Scrabblette is one of my favourite opponents, but when she got back from being away for almost a month we had a backlog of movies to watch, presents to play with, a dog to dogsit, and so on. In particular I haven't played many new games this month, but that's also quite deliberate - I already have a lot of games that I like, and I'd just like to play them a lot more. As I've only played 4 new games I can give each of them a quick review.

Curses - Curses is perhaps the stupidest party game I've ever played. It has a lot of competition, e.g. The Dancing Egg Game. In Curses, each player is given curse cards requiring that they behave in some manner, such as they have to talk like a pirate, or they can't bend their elbows, or they have to wave their hands around whenever they speak. If a player fails to do any of the things required by their curse cards they can be called out as a curse breaker, at which point they lose the curse. When they've lost three curses they're eliminated from the game. The funny part comes when they have to talk like a pirate and not bend their elbows and wave their hands around when they speak ALL AT THE SAME TIME. It can be hard work, and if you play with kids like I do it can be fairly merciless. Add to those curses a requirement that whenever you're touched you have to say a nursery rhyme (in a voice like a pirate), and add kids who keep poking you, and you've got a challenging game. It is of course, kinda funny, and the kids loved it, but I'd prefer something a lot more cerebral.

Glory to Rome - This is a card game somewhat like San Juan on steroids, where each card can be used as raw materials, a building, or a character. The objective is to build enough buildings that you can steal enough raw materials to become the richest player. It's a pretty clever design, and I enjoyed the basic game. I haven't played the advanced game yet, where the buildings have special powers, but it seems there'd be a lot to keep up with. Although I liked the game I wasn't so impressed with the components, so I hope a bigger publisher picks it up. It definitely has depth and deserves a lot of play.

Slam Dunk Card Game - I would normally avoid children's card games, but this was designed by Knizia so it's worth a look. A guess it's a combination of Ra and Snap. Only Reiner could make it work. Essentially there are some donut cards which are worth points in particular combinations. Some are just worth negative points. One player lays cards down, and the others may slap their hand down on the table at any time to get the cards that have been laid. At the end of the game players calculate their points from the cards they've collected, and whoever has the most points wins. It's not so interesting, but I would play it with kids.

Der Schwarm - This is a German game based on the book by Frank Schatzing (which he wrote in German). I don't really understand the plot so well, but it seems there's something (called The Swarm) growing in the ocean which can change ocean currents and possess sea creatures. Players play research expeditions competing to find out the most about this swarm. The swarm is meanwhile eating their ships, attacking them with sea creatures, and generally being difficult. In our sole play we misplayed a rule which made it a bit too easy, but we liked it anyway. Players gather their actions by a Vikings-like auction, then execute those actions one by one. There's some cool player interaction as you see what actions other players have gathered and prepare to defend against them. Exploring the swarm is something of a connection game, and there are ships, whales and a giant crab which are remiscent of Escape From Atlantis. The kid and I enjoyed it, and we went out the next day and bought the novel (in English). It's almost 900 pages so I'd love to see the kid read it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Most Played Designers, 2009 Edition

Lacxox's geeklist ( reminded me of the articles I wrote a couple of years ago about how many plays were recorded for each designer for the users pf the stats. I realised that now I have the plays in a database, an updated version of those numbers is no more than an SQL query away. In case I forget, here's the query:

select, sum(p.quantity) from designers d, plays p, games g, gameDesigners gd where = g.bggid and d.bggid = gd.designerId and g.bggid = gd.gameId group by d.bggid order by 2 desc
So that's ALL plays recorded by my 600+ users (including plays of expansions). What are the answers?

  1. Reiner Knizia 69673 plays - an average of 117 plays per user
  2. Alan Moon 26208 plays
  3. Wolfgang Kramer 20931
  4. Thomas Lehmann 17086 - holy dooley, I bet they're mostly Race
  5. Klaus-Jurgen Wrede 16975
  6. Andreas Seyfarth 15938
  7. Richard Garfield 15481
  8. Klaus Teuber 14935
  9. Richard Borg 13120
  10. Michael Schacht 13104
  11. Uwe Rosenberg 13103
  12. Bruno Faidutti 11843
  13. Friedemann Friese 10283
  14. Donald X. Vaccarino 8877 - the new sensation, it's all Dominion!
  15. Stefan Dorra 8430
  16. Martin Wallace 8404
  17. Aaron Weissblum 7992
  18. Brunot Cathala 7625
  19. Dirk Henn 6615
  20. Michael Kiesling 6469
  21. Rudiger Dorn 6282
  22. Sid Sackson 6249
  23. Bernd Brunnhofer 6109
  24. Franz-Benno Delonge 5965
  25. Stefan Feld 5963
I've left out Uncredited (2nd place) and Michael Tummelhofer (practically identical to Brunnhofer). Here's a quick list of the next guys: Burm, Gimmler, van Ness, Colovini, Daviau, Hostettler, Cassasola Merkle, Tavitian, Cornett, Maublanc, Yianni, van Moorsel. I like this list much better than Tom Vasel's list of allegedly great designers I've never heard of.

Now, what if I do this: (which are the most played games)
select, sum(p.quantity) from plays p, games g where = g.bggid group by g.bggid order by 2 desc

Let's go till we find something I haven't played :-).
  1. Race for the Galaxy 13103
  2. Magic 11023
  3. Dominion 8878 (Donald X. Was 8877 above, the database must have been updated)
  4. Lost Cities 7480
  5. Carcassonne 7324
  6. Ticket to Ride 6451
  7. San Juan 5984
  8. Settlers 5935
  9. Puerto Rico 5846
  10. Power Grid 5560
  11. Agricola 5521
  12. St Pete 4580
  13. Ingenious 4429
  14. Tichu 4387
  15. No Thanks! 4375
  16. Diamant 4313
  17. Ra 4280
  18. Hive 4049
  19. Loopin' Louie 4003
  20. For Sale 3956
  21. Crokinole 3856
  22. Bohnanza 3735
  23. Pandemic 3714
  24. Category 5 3690
  25. Coloretto 3544
  26. Liar's Dice 3521
  27. Go 3387
  28. Hey! That's My Fish! 3360
  29. Tigris & Euphrates 3340
  30. Can't Stop 3335
  31. Memoir '44 3220
  32. Notre Dame 3217
I haven't played Notre Dame, and don't really need to.

Friendless Metric Planning

We had a Critical Mass day of games today. I played Crokinole, Vikings, Fairy Tale, Fist of Dragonstones, La Citta, TransAmerica and Buyword. But that is not what this article is about.

I realised while I was playing Vikings that it's a great game that I should eventually play 10 times. Actually, if I had fewer games I could see it easily getting to 30, but lets' not get ahead of ourselves. Remember that the Friendless Metric is calculated like this: count how many games you've played 10 or more times, and call that number n. Then figure out how many times you've played your nth least-played game. That's your Friendless Metric. Mine is currently at 1, and I'd like to get it to 2. To achieve that, I need to increase n by 39, or play 39 games so that they increase to 2 plays (or else dispose of them). Let's say I do half of each, which games would be the ones that get to 10 plays? Last year I increased my number of games played 10 times by 25, so 20 would be a reasonable number for this year.

OK, so Vikings is one of them. It's currently at 5 plays. My opponents are still falling for the fishermen trap, so I need to educate them. Then I need to start playing with the special tiles. I couldn't ever be bothered playing with the auction variant - too much time wasted for negative amounts of enjoyment.

Rheinlander is currently at 9 plays, and I like it a lot, so I'd expect it to hit 10 this year. It's a 45 minute multi-player war-sort-of game. That's about how long that sort of game needs to be.

Tri-virsity and Ticket to Ride are at 9 plays each, and Scrabblette likes both of them, so I suppose they'll be played during the year. Scrabblette also likes Carrom (8 plays), Attika (8 plays) and Alexandros (7 plays) so it shouldn't be pushing the friendship too far to get each of those to 10 plays.

Cathedral, Igel Argern and Xe Queo! are at 9 plays each, but don't get played so often. Gecko3D and his kids will probably play Igel Argern, and I'll probably be able to convince Uncle Scott to play Cathedral and Xe Queo! Xe Queo! hasn't been played for a long time though. It's a very quick 2 player game, so it doesn't really fit in often at games meets, the kid is over it, and it's not Scrabblette's sort of game at all.

I'm up to 10, but it's getting a little more difficult. I cart a lot of games to games meets, but often end up playing other people's games. Maybe 1 in 5 games I take to a meeting gets played, and it's often the latest thing rather than an old favourite. For example, I played Stone Age 5 times last year without really trying, because other people wanted to. I would have preferred St Petersburg.

I played Africa 7 times last year because I pushed it on a lot of people. That's because I really like it! Not everybody else did. But it's easy to explain and quite quick, so I can probably get it played another 3 times this year. Rumis is currently at 9 plays, and one more seems practical.

What about Kris Burm games? Several are already over 10 plays. I would like to play GIPF much more, but it's not on and I've used up a lot of my potential plays with Scrabblette and Uncle Scott already. ZERTZ is currently at 8 plays, so I hope I can find 2 more plays of that this year.

A week or two ago CyberKev and his wife Dr Annalog came over and played Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper with me. Dr Annalog likes card games, so maybe if I play my cards right I will get one more play of Mystery Rummy: Rue Morgue this year. Scrabblette is not so keen on card games though.

Now we're getting into the really difficult territory - games that require 5 or more plays. I've left out some games, such as Lord of the Rings and Shadows Over Camelot which are at 7 or 8 plays, but I can't really predict when I'm going to play them next. Scrabblette doesn't go for the thick themes, but they sometimes happen when playing with other groups. They may get to 10 plays this year, but I'm not betting on it.

Now, wishful thinking territory. Upwords is at 5 plays. I really like Upwords. All I need to do is invite Miss Jane over for dinner every week, and I'm sure I'll be able to arrange it. Scrabblette sometimes plays Upwords as well.

Ingenious Travel Edition is at 4 plays. Scrabblette likes this, but will there be 6 opportunities to play it? Last year we played 2 games while waiting in restaurants, and I think 2 games on the tilt train. Opportunities like that don't come along every year.

Kogworks is also at 4 plays. The kid says he likes it, but it's hard to get to game with him these days, what with Habbo and iTunes and skating and being too cool for Dad. At least he still likes Pandemic. Uncle Scott may have to be my Kogworks victim, or maybe his boy young Benny.

Asterix and Obelix is only at 3 plays. It's a very light and simple card game, but it deserves more than 3 plays. I think I've almost booked Scrabblette for the entire year. Maybe the kid. Maybe Benny. Maybe I can make new friends.

Finally, Hacienda. I like Hacienda a lot, but I've only played it 3 times. I want to understand it better. I might be able to get Scrabblette to play, but it's more the sort of game that gets played at games meets. 7 plays in a year at games meets would be a lot though. Still, I fancy my chances better with something lightish like Hacienda than with Key Harvest or something hefty.

Goodness. This seems like a tough target. I have some playing to do.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Year's Ambitions

Here's my New Year's gaming ambitions:
  • get my number of games played 0 times down to 25.
  • get my number of games played once down to 40.
  • get my utilisation up to 55%.
  • get my Friendless metric to 2.
I have non-gaming ambitions as well, but you'll all just laugh if I tell you whom I want to have sex with.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Numbers are in for 2008

Well, 2008 has ended (for me) and my final games played stats have been generated. I referred back to this article many times during the year, so I've decided to do it again this year.

There are 400 games in this collection. The BGG average rating for this collection is 6.58.

Your average rating for this collection is 6.90.

On average you have played each of these games 6.17 times.

Your Friendless metric is 1 (77 games played 10+ times, 41 games never played)

Your continuous Friendless metric is 3.19 which corresponds to an average utilisation of 52.06%

Compared to the old image, we can see a few things. I had 359 games then, I have 400 now. I've traded away at least 30 during the year, so I acquired about 70 (that's lower than previous years!). Despite that, my utilisation has increased from 47.33% to 52.06%. It was higher a month or so ago, but the Maths Trade in November and the arrival of new Gigamic titles at the FLGS caused a late drop. My ambition for the year was to raise that number to 55%.

My other ambition was to decrease my number of games played 0 times to 25, and my number of games played once to 40, and that didn't happen either. I really tried! I gave games to Lifeline, I gave games to friends and family, I brought out loads of obscure unpopular titles and forced them on people. I'll readopt that ambition for this year as well - I still may not succeed, but it does keep me thinking about what to do with that dirty little corner of the collection. And of course I expect to acquire fewer new games this year, which should make life easier.

Over the last year my average rating for games I've played has increased - this can be seen by inspection of that column in the Plays By Month table on my stats page. That's a good trend, and suggests that I'm doing something right. I don't have a clear idea of what else I can do at the moment... other than turning Scrabblette into a game slave. Now THAT's an idea.