For the past four years, I've been working on playing all of the games in my collection. The challenge has always been the number of unplayed games to play was the same as the last two digits of the year. So in 2015
it was 15, in 2016
it was 16, and last year
it was 17. Well this year I didn't start the year with enough games to do that! (I did however end up playing 26 previously unplayed games.) Instead I found a new challenge: Get Your Magic Number to 0
. Your magic number is the number of unplayed games. Through plays, trades, or donations, you have to get to 0. I also made that goal one of my New Year's Resolutions. Between the two, it kept me motivated and I was able to get there in November.
Today I'm going to do a quick recap of all of the games I had to play at the beginning of the year and those that I added throughout. There were three games that I traded without playing them so they weren't be featured in the list below. Those games were Mottainai, Nexus Ops, and Notre Dame.
Pharoah's Gulo Gulo
HABA re-implemented the children's game, Gulo Gulo, with a new Egyptian theme. The object of the game is to be the first played to get to the burial chamber and successfully complete two boulder grabs. The game is based around a bowl full of different color and sized wooden balls with a stick standing in them. Each turn, a player has to removed a specific colored ball to advance on the board. Kids have a great advantage at this game because their fingers are smaller, which makes grabbing for balls much easier. Grace really enjoys this one and has played it at least a dozen times.
Zertz is one of the games from the GIPF series, a collection of abstract games that is rather well regarded. The object of this game is to collect sets of multi colored balls. It's really smart and has neat components. I'd like to get more plays of this in because I really enjoyed my first go around.
Biblios Dice is the dice version of my second favorite game, Biblios. It's a dice drafting and auction game where players compete to score the most points by moving up on six different tracks. I need to get this back to the table a few more times before I make a decision on whether or not to keep this. I liked it after the first play, but my shelves are beyond full, so cuts need to be made.
Go Nuts for Donuts
What's been dubbed "The Donut Game" by Grace, Go Nuts for Donuts, is a set collection game that draws comparison to Sushi Go! for some reason. The latter is a far superior game IMO. However, because the kids seem to like this and it's a decent casual game that allows for higher player counts, it will likely stick around for the foreseeable future.
Castles of Mad King Ludwig
I solo'd Castles of Mad King Ludwig in an effort to learn the game before I teach it. Of course I still haven't brought this to the game group, but I'll try to change that soon. It's a neat puzzlish tile laying and auction game where players compete to build the best castle. In the solo version, you're aiming to score a certain number of points to see where you rank. Placement rules and various set collection bonuses and penalties make the game interesting but not so much that I needed to keep it.
Torres is an area control and action point allowance game by my favorite designer, Wolfgang Kramer. He won back to back SdJ (Game of the year) awards with Tikal and then this incredibly smart design. The theme is totally pasted on to this thinky abstract, but that doesn't bother me in the slightest. It wasn't eligible for my top 10 games list because I've only played it once so far, but I think with repeat plays that it has the potential make a big splash next year.
I played Smile at three players, which apparently is the worst player count. I still liked it but found it a bit lacking after some reflection. I plan on getting this to the table with 4 and possibly 5 soon to see if it has any sort of staying power. It has the makings of a great game, but this could be one that makes its way into a different person's collection.
Update: Before this list was posted, we played this at a player count of 4. It played about the same I think. The other players liked the art, but I don't think this is anywhere near as a good as No Thanks! so it's probably going to go.
I got Shakespeare because I thought the theme would be really attractive to Christine. We played it and she squeaked out a victory. We then played it at a player count of four and the game was equally as interesting. There is small expansion that adds a clever wrinkle that I think I'll pick up after the holidays since this one will likely stick around.
I bought this purely because it was a great deal. It's a light game that might go over well with the kids when they get older. It's main mechanics aren't ones I have with other games, so it definitely offers something different. The time track and pulling tokens from bags are both engaging and fun to play around with. I wasn't blown away by it, but I'm not ready to get rid of it either.
World's Fair 1893
I was quite impressed with this very light area control, set collection, and drafting game. World's Fair 1893 has a neat theme that incorporates mechanics, components, and printed history on the cards to try and make it as immersive as possible. As I said in my New Years Resolution update on this game, I don't see it going anywhere anytime soon.
Rise of Augustus
Rise of Augustus is essentially bingo for gamers. That phrase could turn a lot of people off, but it's an enjoyable game that scales well from 2 to 6 players and plays really fast. I want to play this more before I decide if it deserves a spot on our shelves.
Solstice: Fall of Empire
Grant Rodiek designs games that take classic mechanics and turn them on their head. His game, Solstice: Fall of Empire is no different. It's a drafting game where players are drafting hand that they have to then play on various planets. The kicker is you are drafting and playing cards that belong to your opponents. This makes for incredibly interesting and engaging game play. It's getting a re-implementation as, Imperius. I'm keeping this one for sure.
I was really excited about getting this SdJ nominee, but the amount of take-that in the game wasn't well received by the rest of the group. I said I'd keep in in my New Year's Resolution update, but that's not necessarily the case at this time. Unless I get a really great play in sometime soon, this will likely be on the way out.
Broom Service won the KdJ (Connoisseur game of the year) and it sounded like something interesting that the group may not like but I took a chance anyway. It went over like a lead ballon which caused me to trade it shortly after. It's a real shame because I thought it did some interesting things.
The Quest for El Dorado
This game was also a SdJ nominee and it was designed by probably the most well known game designer in the world, Reiner Knizia. It's a light deck building game that has players trying to make their way through the jungles of South America. The modular board and variants allow for quite a bit of replayability. We've played it at 2 and 4 players and enjoyed it at both.
Lost in R'lyeh
I've played this a couple of times with Ed and it's fine. The size of the cards bothers me and I think I'd much rather play Palace
because at least there is some tension with the face down cards.
Topiary plays quick and despite its cute art, it's very mean or can be. We played this at 4 and there was quite a bit of side eye and annoyed looks when other players cut off rows or columns to better their score. I like the puzzly nature and want to play this more often.
Scythe is one of the heavier games that I own and only have it because I won a copy in a contest. It's an area control/engine builder that was well produced and designed. It took a quite a bit of effort on my part to learn it in order to teach it, but I got compliments about how well I was able to do that. The box takes up so much space and I don't know how often it will get played, but I'm definitely keeping it.
Kingdom Builder is another SdJ winner and boy do I enjoy it. I have a bunch of the expansions, but the base game has so much replayability that I don't know when I'll get to them. Of the games that I've added to my collection recently, this one could easily make it to the top 10 and stay there for a while.
Cockroach Poker isn't like poker at all. It is a 100% bluffing game though. I didn't think our group would love it and they didn't, but we had some laughs and smiles as we played. It's a small box game that I'd love to play with my kids and/or other people who are more into its style. The art is cute and I like to watch people squirm with indecision so it stays for now.
VAST: The Crystal Caverns
VAST was probably one of, if not the most, anticipated games I've ever had. I watched it grow from nothing on the BGG design boards into it's current incredibly produced form. I've only played it once solo so we'll see what happens when I play with other people but it does a lot of fun things and I like the dungeon crawler aspect despite thinking I wasn't really into that kind of thing. I don't really enjoy playing solo games that much so if the group doesn't enjoy it, it may need to go on the trade block because it has value.
From the team that gave me my #9 ranked game, Circle the Wagons, comes the solo/co-op Sprawlopolis. I've played the game four times within the first weekend of getting it, twice solo and once at two and four players. Using the scoring mechanism from CTW gives this game TON of replayability. It's thinkier than one might expect from just 18 cards, but in the best way possible. The two games pair wonderfully together and will likely never leave my collection.
Wolfgang Kramer strikes again with Colosseum. This game of auctions, set collection, and trading left me with a bad taste in my mouth after the first play. It wasn't the game, it was the actions of other players. However, the game can create those actions so it's on the player to adjust if possible. After reflecting on what happened, I think I should have tried do something different when other players were clearly going after the same stuff. It was a lesson learned which is great after just the first play.
Coal Baron: The Great Card Game
Guess who's back, back again? Kramer and his buddy Kiesling brought Coal Baron: The Great Card game. It's a reimplementation of their worker placement game Coal Baron. This one has a really unique way of handling the workers as a hand of numbered cards. This game was yet another smart design by a couple of my favorite designers. There were some mixed feelings over this one by the group, but it's definitely good enough to stick around.
Grant doing Grant things with another interesting design. It's a small box game that is beautifully produced. I want to dive deep into this one but after the initial play with my group, that's going to be difficult. It's a bear to learn, but if I can find somebody who wants to really learn it, I think this could be a real gem in my collection.
Team K&K strike again with a lighter but still fun game about building towers. The worker placement mechanic that forces you to follow the color or use two workers is unique and an trick taking like spin. It plays quick and is very easy to teach.
I probably won't have another one of these posts again because my focus is now on curating my collection
down to the games I really want to play often. Are there any games on this list that you really enjoy? Any that you think don't deserve to stay on my shelves? Comment below!
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