Board Games Overview
As I remarked elsewhere, 2016 proved to be a year of transition, as a whole host of changes from 2015 reared their heads and threw my life into a bit of turmoil. I wasn’t the only one affected either; with friends getting busier and entering new life stages, it became difficult to coordinate some free time with any sort of regularity. All that meant that while I got to game, it was less than I had expected and there were long stretches of time where I didn’t get to game at all.
In looking at my handy dandy BG Stats app, March, April, June, and November were months that were particularly devoid of board gaming. Nevertheless, I’m hoping 2017 marks a change in that trend. And based on the amount of gaming I’ve had in January, it’s already seen quite an increase in gaming.
So how did gaming go over last year? Well, I managed 86 plays of 26 unique games. Based on those plays, I managed to eke out a win% of 43% while my girlfriend-turned-fiancee-turned-wife managed to win 42% of the time (note that some of those games were coop, so that explains a bit why those numbers look that way). My top 10 games (or actually 11 due to ties) played were as follows: Sushi Go, Codenames, Schotten Totten, Food Chain Magnate, 6 nimmt!, Star Wars Imperial Assault, Race for the Galaxy, Patchwork, Splendor, Galaxy Trucker, and Tigris and Euphrates.
The 10 Most-Played Board Games Commentary
In looking at the stats, I managed to get 9 games of Sushi Go completed. In general, my list would have a lot of smaller games on the list because appetizer games are much easier to get to the table and they’re also much easier to teach. Sushi Go succeeds especially in the latter, though the fast gameplay and cute artwork definitely make it an easier sell for gamers new to the drafting mechanic.
And when I say easy to teach, Codenames definitely makes that list. Tell people it’s like Taboo or Catchphrase with some minor tweaks and most people pick up on it pretty quickly. The collaborative nature of the game makes it a pretty good party game where teams are involved and watching a team get a 4-card clue is pretty gratifying.
Schotten Totten is a pretty recent acquisition, but it got a lot of plays because my wife loooooves that game. I really cannot explain why that game meshes so well with her. As far as we’ve found out, she does have a knack for beating me at games that involve numbers and colors. It’s like she’s able to calculate probabilities on the fly, placing the cards in the right spots that would yield the best effect while leaving me in a swirl of analysis paralysis. It’s a fun game though!
Food Chain Magnate
This is the first heavy game to plop on the list and I’m actually surprised it’s this high with 5 plays. I know that during the year, I’ve been pushing this game pretty heavily on my business school friends and many of them have taken a liking to it. They make jokes about the org charts, talk about how fickle the consumers are, try to make statements against competing based on cost vs. value, and have a grand old time making sure their supply chain can keep up with demand. The only drawback is that teaching it can be a pain in talking through what each employee does and milestone benefits. But more people in my gaming circles have been exposed to the game to where we can play the full game now. Of the games I started playing last year, this has been the biggest revelation and it’s succeeded in hitting my top 5 favorite games list. There’s still a lot more game to explore too!
6 nimmt! also falls into the realm of easy to teach games that people can really enjoy. This game usually hits the table when I’m playing with a group of international friends who don’t want to sit through and read copious amounts of English (like Codenames) to be able to play. Pretty much exclusively used in parties.
Star Wars Imperial Assault
Oh man, remember when I wrote posts about my group’s adventures in Star Wars Imperial Assault? Yeah, that didn’t last long. Individuals within that group just got busy that it became difficult to find a regular time to meet. I mean, yeah, I’d like to be able to finish the campaign, but if I do so, it’d have to be with another group. Another thing to doom its chances is that my wife is pretty meh about playing it, so I’d have to find other people to play this with.
Race for the Galaxy
This is a game that’s exclusively played by me, my brother, and my brother’s roommate. I find that unless people are really into gaming, this one’s a tough sell since the mechanics of picking a card to represent and action to take, sharing in other people’s actions, and figuring out what all those symbols means gives this game a really steep learning curve. That’s made it really difficult to get to the table and god forbid teaching. I’d only play this with people who know the game or ask me to teach them. Otherwise, no bueno.
Our first exposure to Patchwork came when we were in a game store and was fascinated by its Tetris-like nature and designer Uwe Rosenberg’s amazing ability to pace a game really nicely. A delightful game that’s good for couples.
A mutual friend of ours/business school classmate introduced my wife and I to Splendor. This is a game that I’m not too rushed to add to my collection, though I might want to someday because it does the whole set collection/engine-building mechanic really well. Also, like many games on this list, it’s pretty easy to teach and there’s enough planning in making your actions as efficient as possible to keep my attention. It helps that I’ve far from mastered the game though trying some weird strategies like I have lately have made it a fun experience.
The game I introduce to people to show them how different board games can be. Usually a comedically demoralizing experience for them, but the grim specter of doom generally has them wanting to give it a go to see if they can somehow survive… this time. I think going into 2017, I’ll try to push for more plays of the Starship Enterprise layout to maximize the anguish and hilarity.
Tigris and Euphrates
Very surprised this even made the list because it can be annoying to explain (invasions vs. wars and what those fountains do and how to claim those medallions). However, I really enjoy this game for its tension and cutthroat nature. Sometimes, it can be a bit much if a few wars go awry and you wind up being on the outside looking in, but it’s fun as you try to come up with layouts that are easily defensible and try to drink up from those point fountains.