Monday, January 25, 2010

Nickels and Dimes, 2009

Well, the last quarter of 2009 was pretty rough. I have a ton of posts I'm going to put up (yes, really), but I wanted to start with something a little more fun.

A big hobby of mine that I rarely mention here is playing board games. It's a niche hobby that grows every year, and one that I'm very excited about. I won't go into more detail here, because the three people who read this blog already know all about it.

Anyway, one of the things people in our hobby like to do is review the games they've played in the last year. This is similar to a movie review site's Top Ten Films of the year list, except here we list how often we played particular games, hoping this reflects how much we like a game. "Nickels" are the ones I've played at least five times, "Dimes" at least ten.

You may have noticed the widget on the right side that shows "Recently Played" games. That comes from, a board game site that allows me to log all of my plays. So, let's get on with it, shall we?

With 22 plays (just short of a quarter), Ingenious - or, as we call it, Einfach Genial. Specifically, the Travel Edition. This is an abstract tile laying game that I really like. This was one of the last major games that took a while to come out in an English version, which is why I still prefer to call it by the German title.

The main game plays from two to four players. Each plays hexagonal, domino-type tiles with colors and shapes on them. You get points for how long a line of the same shape you can make.
The travel edition is strictly two-player. The board is a smaller, plastic grid that allows the pieces to snap in. I bought this game when I went to Oktoberfest in Munich in 2006. I introduced it to a friend of mine on the trip, and I was stunned by how much he took to it and how often we played it in biergartens during the day.

So, if it's such an old game, why is it my most played game this year? Simple. My wife loves it. She is generally a good sport about my gaming habit. She enjoys the games I teach her, but for the most part she just doesn't get into it the same way I do. This one, however, is one of the exceptions. It became an almost weekly ritual to play a best-of-three tournament of this over Sunday breakfast. To be honest, I can't remember if I logged the games individually, or just one for each session. Either way, that's a lot of games.

Fortunately, we have both burned out on it a little, so it hasn't been played as much in the second half of the year.

Next up, with 20 plays, is Dominion. This one is a much newer game, released in 2008. Looking at last year's stats, I had only six plays, which I know is due to only having first played it in late November.

This is a great little card game that offers amazing variability and interesting strategy choices every time you play. Also, once everyone is familiar with the game, it can be played quite quickly. Almost every time this is played, we play it at least twice.

This game is on a lot of people's "Most Played" list, and I expect that to be the case for a while yet. It has spawned two expansions so far (both of which can also be played independently), and I'm sure more are to come. Many people play so often that they've put each card in an individual sleeve, much like baseball card collectors. I can see how this would prolong the life of the cards, but for me, give me that good old tactical feel of regular cards.

My last "dime" this year is Backgammon, with 11 plays. I won't bother adding a picture of this well-known classic. Again, I have to attribute this one to my wife. Those 11 plays are actually down from last year (16). However, they also represent sessions, rather than actual games. Karen and I play first to five series, using the doubling cube, and playing for a quarter a point.

Overall, I think I'm ahead in Backgammon because she relies too much on lucky rolls. However, we're pretty even on Genial.

My nickels this year are not very impressive. Last year, I had five different titles just at nine plays. This year, I only have eight total in all my nickels. This makes me sad, especially when you see what they are. However, I would like to believe that this means I've played a lot more different titles this year, and not as many repeats. I certainly hope that's the case.

10 Days in Africa - 8 plays
42 - 7 plays
Harry's Grand Slam Baseball - 6 plays
GiftTrap - 6 plays
Scrabble - 6 plays
Travel Blokus - 6 plays
Hey! That's My Fish - 5 plays
Kakerlaken Poker - 5 plays

As you can see, a lot of two-player games and many "lighter" games. These are not really my preferred games. But as I try to introduce new people to these games, I'm often put in the position of teaching simpler, family-friendly, casual games.

Fortunately, I do have a regular game group which allows me to get in some of the more heavier, "meatier" games I enjoy. Well, sometimes.

Once I figure out how to gather some of my other stats, I'll add them up here. I'm not really sure how many games I've played total, or how many unique titles I played.

UPDATE: Well, I figured out my other stats by the old fashioned method of "counting and arithmetic," as my friend Peter said. I had 354 plays of 173 unique titles. That's not bad. There were 101 games I played just once, and 40 games I played twice, which seems pretty good.


Mark Johnson said...

I'm with you, Greg--no card sleeves for Dominion. I guess I could be a *little* worried about some cards showing more wear than others, but really I consider wear to be the sign of a good game!

So 42 is still big in Texas, at least your home, huh?

Gregarius said...

I was very surprised that 42 was that high on my list. It's still pretty popular in different parts of Texas, but I think the main reason it got several plays this year was nostalgia.

My wife and I played a couple of games with my folks, I played some with old college buddies, and I taught a member of my game group because he'd always wanted to learn.


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