Friday, 1 January 2010

my 2009

I did a my 2008 post one year ago, and it was interesting to go back to read that (at least for me). In 2008, three games more-or-less established themselves as the default go-to game when my wife Michelle and I had some time to play. Through the Ages for long games, Agricola for medium-length games, and Race for the Galaxy for short games. In 2009, no new game displaced these three. Pandemic did become a staple, for gameplay length between Agricola and Race for the Galaxy. That said, there were some new-to-me games in 2009 that I quite like.

Let's start with the fancy stats and diagrams.

Overall statistics.

Dashed line uses the right dashed axis. That's the total plays. I didn't play as many games as last year, but I'm pretty happy with 500+. Number of distinct games continues to grow, but looking at the numbers of new games played every year, you can probably guess I have many played-once games. Indeed the "singles" line confirms that. Every year there are more games that I play only once.

Number of distinct games played, and the breakdown into fives, dimes, others (i.e. played 2 to 4 times), and singles.

Same data, but looking at percentages.

Plays in 2009, with the breakdown of how many are of dimes, fives, etc. Most played game in 2009 was by far Race for the Galaxy, i.e. same as in 2008.

Percentage view. This graph seems to shout "You only need those 11 (dimes) games in your collection, and you'd still be enjoying more than half of the plays!" But of course things are not that straight-forward. There were many games played only a few times, or even just once, that I enjoyed immensely.

Game purchases. "Acquired games" includes games bought, gifts, free games, etc. Everything except self made games.

Other miscellaneous thoughts:

Favourites - None in particular among new-to-me games played in 2009. Le Havre and Automobile come close. I enjoy the long-term planning in Le Havre, I like how it is more open to different strategies, and I like how it tells the story of a developing port city. Automobile is tight and tense. Very limited actions, and you need to plan carefully. Competition is fierce. The game is almost all open information, making it a little prone to analysis paralysis, but the only hidden bit (market demand) gives a lot of (good) anxiety and can cause lots of cheers and/or groans.

Le Havre


Likes - I like Indonesia, even though I have only played it once, and it was a 2-player game, probably the worst way to play. It's a long and complex economic game. Dungeon Lords has been great in my first 2 plays. I definitely want to play more. It's such a nail-biter. Struggle of Empires was published (and bought) in 2004. It is a good area majority game with lots of options. The dice add some randomness, but there are many things that you can (or at least you feel you can) do to mitigate luck. And wars are expensive. Euro-war-game.

Rare and good - Games that I didn't or won't get to play often, but are very enjoyable when I do play. I actually played Space Hulk (1st edition) 3 times in 2009. That's more than many other games. I don't own the game, but now that Han (whose copy it is) is back in town, we plan to play all 6 scenarios that come with the game. Axis & Allies Anniversary edition is long and good. Not that much longer than A&A Revised (2004), and has many improvements over it. Warriors of God is also quite long - nice sweep-of-history game. But it should move faster now that I've played it. I think the most important aspects of Civilization are the trading and the technological advancement. Negotiation and diplomacy are important. Watching disasters shake the world up is fun. Just try not to get too attached to your people. Fortress America was great Ameritrashy fun. I think I should try to arrange a game of Samurai Swords.

Fortress America


Medium likes - I am a little surprised with my number of plays of Keltis and Wasabi. Both are enjoyable although not anything earth shattering or deeply immersive. Just light and good fun. I'm going to get the Keltis expansion.

Surprises - Container seemed so dry from reading the rules. When I played it (a 5P game - I think the ideal number), I realised the rules are just the framework which allows the player interaction to come through. An economic game which is all about the group mentality and how the group creates and runs the in-game economy. This, my friends, (pregnant pause) is player interaction. Formula D is probably the only race game that I truly like. I generally dislike race games. I enjoyed making race car sounds when I played. And this was at a public venue (Carcasean boardgame cafe). There is a lot of excitement in the risk taking (which gear to use) and in the die-rolling. The World Cup Game is simple, quick and flavourful. Good for non-gamer football (soccer) fans. Before playing Airships I had expected yet-another-similar-dice-game, where you roll dice and try to do something useful with them, and often you can reroll / freeze some dice. But in Airships the decision making is before you roll the dice. There is some medium to longer term planning you need to do.


Disappointments - None in particular. Not that I didn't dislike any new-to-me games, just that for such games I didn't have high expectations in the first place.

Classics revisited - It's always good to revisit older good games. Many hobby gamers are guilty of buying too many games and only playing each game a few times. Often game depths are not sufficiently explored - opportunities wasted. I played Traumfabrik again and enjoyed it a lot. Thinking about it made me decide not to buy the recently published Basket Boss. They are quite different, but somehow they give me a similar feeling (admittedly that's from only reading the rules of the latter). I played Hammer of the Scots again, and thinking about that made me decide not to buy Richard III. I think owning the former is sufficient. I should spend my self-imposed game-buying quota on something more different. Puerto Rico, still enjoyable, despite being the 2P variant. I played more games of Lord of the Rings in 2009 than in 2008. Most are with the Battlefields expansion. It is tough.

I didn't play this?!! - Power Grid. I thought I was a big fan. I own so many expansions too. I've stopped buying expansions until I can play the existing expansions more. I love Princes of Florence too, but sadly 0 plays in 2009. I like Die Macher a lot, but this is a long one.

Surprised that I played this many - I knew I had played many games of Through the Ages, but I didn't realise this many. 2nd most played game of the year! I was a little surprised with the number of plays of Keltis and Wasabi too. They passed the 5-plays-in-first-year-of-purchase test with flying colours.


And now the long list of all games played in 2009. New-to-me games in 2009 have an asterisk.

1. Race for the Galaxy - 115
2. Through the Ages - 31
3. Pandemic - 28
4. Agricola - 22
5. Dominion - 22
6. Bonnie and Clyde* - 21
7. Keltis* - 20
8. Blue Moon - 19
9. Wasabi* - 17
10. Le Havre* - 12
11. Secret Mission* - 10

12. Twister - 9
13. Ra: the dice game* - 8
14. Loopin' Louie - 8
15. Automobile* - 8
16. Lord of the Rings - 8
17. LOTR Confrontation - 7
18. Roll Through The Ages* - 7
19. Galaxy Trucker - 7
20. Gulo Gulo - 7
21. TTR Switzerland - 7
22. Metropolys - 6

23. Blokus 3D - 4
24. Carcassonne - 4
25. Monopoly Deal* - 4
26. TTR Nordic Countries - 4
27. Blokus Duo - 4
28. Um Reifenbreite* - 4
29. A Game of Thrones LCG* - 4
30. Space Hulk* - 3
31. Rabbit Hunt* - 3
32. Lightning: Midway - 3
33. Space Alert* - 3
34. Villa Paletti - 3
35. 10 days in Asia - 3
36. Elasund - 3
37. Attika - 2
38. Brass - 2
39. Thebes - 2
40. Hive - 2
41. Dawn Under - 2
42. Axis & Allies Revised - 2
43. Risk: Star Wars Original Trilogy Edition* - 2
44. Magic the Gathering - 2
45. Civilization* - 2
46. Scotland Yard* - 2
47. Waterloo* - 2
48. Kakerlaken-Poker* - 2
49. Dungeon Lords* - 2
50. Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition* - 2
51. 7 Ages* - 2
52. Louis XIV - 1
53. Age of Steam - 1
54. Tikal - 1
55. Downfall of Pompeii* - 1
56. Witch's Brew* - 1
57. Titan* - 1
58. Puerto Rico - 1
59. Risk: Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition* - 1
60. Caylus - 1
61. TTR Card Game - 1
62. Mag Blast - 1
63. Fortress America* - 1
64. Indonesia* - 1
65. New York Chase* - 1
66. Arkadia* - 1
67. Container* - 1
68. Fuzzy Tiger* - 1
69. That's Life - 1
70. Minion Hunter* - 1
71. China - 1
72. Ticket to Ride - 1
73. Modern Art - 1
74. Cartagena II* - 1
75. Red November* - 1
76. Castellers* - 1
77. Age of Empires III - 1
78. Mamma Mia - 1
79. Taj Mahal - 1
80. Perikles* - 1
81. Tempus* - 1
82. Colosseum* - 1
83. Battlestar Galactica* - 1
84. Minnie's Garden Game* - 1
85. In the Year of the Dragon - 1
86. Monopoly Express - 1
87. Amun-Re - 1
88. MR1: Jack the Ripper - 1
89. Tribune - 1
90. Manoeuvre* - 1
91. Notre Dame - 1
92. Chateau Roquefort* - 1
93. Formula D* - 1
94. Big Kini* - 1
95. Chaos Isle: Zombie Deck* - 1
96. The World Cup Game* - 1
97. Cosmic Encounter* - 1
98. Traumfabrik - 1
99. Warriors of God* - 1
100. TTR Europe - 1
101. For Sale - 1
102. Yspahan - 1
103. Wyatt Earp - 1
104. Hammer of the Scots - 1
105. Snow Tails* - 1
106. Byzantium - 1
107. Kakerlaken-Suppe* - 1
108. Chicago Express* - 1
109. Fresh Fish* - 1
110. Diamonds Club* - 1
111. Struggle of Empires* - 1
112. Airships* - 1
113. 2 de Mayo* - 1
114. Dou4Di4Zhu3 - 1
115. Middle-Earth Quest* - 1
116. Hacienda - 1
117. Risk Express - 1


Frank Conradie said...

Great set of stats Hiew! You inspired me to do a quick check of my own plays, and I lagged quite a bit behind you - only 401 plays for me.

I am incredibly envious of your 31 plays of Through the Ages. It is probably my favorite game, but I only get to play it now and then with one of my friends. One of my new year's resolutions is to get my wife to play this with me - wish me luck ;-)

Hiew Chok Sien said...

When I play Through the Ages with my wife, I effectively play a variant game. My wife doesn't like conflict, so I always play "nice". We have all the Aggression and War cards in play, but I secretly make it a rule not to use them, because I know she doesn't like them and almost never uses them. She only uses them once in a blue moon when she is very desperate. However military is still important, for colonies and events.

My wife is sometimes more keen to play TtA than I am. I think it's because there are so many things to do, and it's fun to see your civilisation grow.

Anonymous said...

hi, i just bumped into your blog while searching for Axis and Allies. I am trying to buy the game but still can't find it, even at Toybox. Would you be able to point me to a place that sells it? thanks in advance.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

In Malaysia I know Comics Corner used to sell it. Not sure whether they have it currently though. My Axis & Allies games were all bought overseas or ordered from overseas.

Anonymous said...

hi, thanks a lot for your reply. from where would you recommend to buy the set online? do you face any problems in the customs? many thanks in advance for your advice.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

I recommend German Games Company, a Canadian online store. Search Google. I buy from Canada and not USA because US Postal Service doesn't have surface mail anymore, so shipping is expensive. I used to buy from Timewellspent (US), which has good service.

Whether you get taxed by customs depends on your luck. If you get taxed, the games can be quite expensive. Try to buy < USD200 (including value of games, shipping costs and other costs). If amount is not too big your chances are better. Just be prepared there is always a risk.

Alternatively you can try to ask some local online retailers to see whether they can help you do a special order, together with their next shipment batch. Try Toybox or Squark Games.

hdoong said...

hi, thanks again for your reply. i tried toybox but it is not available and a search at squark games also returns that the game is not available (and they don't have a phone number that I can call and their e-mail form doesn't work... lol).

is axis and allies an old game and no one is stocking them anymore? i have just bought a copy of tide of iron from borders and playing it and wanted to explore other board games. it is hard to find board game players in my circle although we play a lot of Go.

thanks again for your kind help.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

I don't think Toybox or Squark currently stocks Axis & Allies. You can try Squark's Facebook page:

Toybox's contact details (email and phone) are on their map, at their website.

There has been many versions of Axis & Allies and the franchise is still going strong. The current version is called Axis & Allies 1942, which was released last year. You can look for details at

Chong Sean said...

I have a new copy of A&A 50th anniversary edition and also got a friend want to sell his 2nd hand revised edition...

Anonymous said...

Hi there Hiew, what do you think about Agricola vs LeHarve, some people said that LeHarve is better than agricola as it fix certain aspects? Is this really a big issue with agricola as I will be playing it with children (10yrs) and teens and building a farm seems nicer building a harbour.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

I enjoy both Agricola and Le Havre a lot, but I'm not sure these are suitable for children. These are both gamer games. Comparing the two, I think Agricola will be more interesting and more easily understood by children, because of the theme.

One "problem" some people have with Agricola is that you are more or less forced to take care of food, because the penalty for not having enough food at harvest time is very severe. That kind of reduces your flexibility. You always need to worry about food. In Le Havre the penalty is much less severe. I don't really have an issue with this myself. To me, it's a feature.