Tuesday 22 January 2013

my 2012

Fancy Charts

The dark blue dashed line (total games played) uses the scale on the right axis, the rest use the scale on the left axis.

My total games played has dropped (dark blue), because compared to 2010 and 2011, I played significantly fewer games against computer AI's. The numbers in 2010 were boosted by vs-AI plays of Race for the Galaxy and Dominion, and in 2011 by 7 Wonders and Brawl. I played fewer new games (yellow). My dimes have gone up a little while fives, others and singles have all dropped. However it is not because I was particularly successful in trying to play fewer different games but play each game more to appreciate it better. My dime games are mostly short games, solo games, vs-AI games and iOS games, i.e. they get played more quite easily anyway. Not all are games that I consciously wanted to spend more time exploring. For the first time the number of distinct games played (pink) has fallen. Maybe that is telling me I should further reduce buying games.

Similar chart, but only vs-human plays are counted. Total plays has increased instead, because many 2011 plays were vs-AI. No info for 2010 and before though, so I'm not sure how 2010 and 2011 compare.

Years with an "h" are vs-human-only numbers. Comparing 2012 and 2012h, you can see many dime games are vs-AI plays.

Percentage view.

Game plays count. The difference between 2011 and 2011h is huge, but the difference between 2012 and 2012h is smaller.

Percentage view.

19 games acquired, some bought, some received as gifts. This was the first time I didn't self-make a game. I failed to meet my quota of 18 games (or is it 20?) or fewer per year. I blame Right Games from Russia for sending me more free games than I expected. :-)

Games Played

This year I decided to do something a little different with my gameplay statistics. Instead of just looking at them from a fives and dimes perspective, which favours short games because it is easy to get them played, I want to take into account how much time I spent on each game. So in addition to number of plays, I also sorted my games played in 2012 by total time spent. I use my own estimations for game length, and not the data at BGG.

Here are the games I played in 2012, sorted by number of plays. Where there are two numbers, the first number is the total number of plays, and the second number is the number of plays against computer opponents (AI's).

  1. Ascension (77,29) - On iOS. I surprised myself. I didn't expect to enjoy Ascension so much. At first I thought it was just that the iOS implementation was so slick. Then by the time I expected the novelty would have worn off, I still continued to play, and play, and play. I have explored the strategies, and I don't think there is much more additional depth to be discovered anymore, but I still play. I play in async mode, mostly against Han. I play daily and in a leisurely manner. I did not expected this game to become a daily habit.


  2. Summoner Wars (46,7) - On iOS, and most games were against Han too. I keep losing! I probably win 10% of the games I play against him. Possibly less. It's not really the kind of game I would fall in love with, but I enjoy it well enough to be playing almost daily too, starting a new match right after finishing the previous one. I like playing the Jungle Elves faction the most - very mobile, very nimble. I enjoy the Fallen Kingdom too. Now I'm playing a custom Cloak deck, and they are quite fun. I find that I like factions with quirky powers or offensive tendencies.

    Summoner Wars

  3. Ticket To Ride (35,19) - Mostly played on iOS, both against humans (wife and daughter) and AI's.
  4. Brawl (22,22) - On iOS.
  5. Tigris & Euphrates (20,19) - On iOS. These were played earlier in the year. I have not played for quite a while.
  6. Friday (18) - It has been an enjoyable and rewarding journey learning and exploring this solo game.
  7. Spot It (17) - With the children.
  8. Town Center (16) - Mostly the solo version. After a while, I lost interest in the solo game because it felt like a solved puzzle. I've come up with a blueprint that scores very well if I am reasonably lucky with my cube draws. After that I became tired of trying to further improve it.
  9. Halli Galli (15) - With the children.
  10. Roll Through The Ages (15) - Solo games on iOS.
  11. Uno (13) - With the children.
  12. For The Win (12) - With older daughter Shee Yun (7) mostly.
  13. Hacienda (10,10) - On iOS against AI's. The interface is done well enough, but the AI's are mediocre, and the app sometimes crashed on me.
  14. Nightfall (10,2) - On iOS.
  15. Dragonheart (9) - A pleasant discovery on BGA. Quick 2-player-only card game with bluffing, risk taking and hand management.
  16. Risk Legacy (8)
  17. Le Havre (7,2) - On iOS.
  18. Race for the Galaxy (7)
  19. A Few Acres of Snow (5) - First played in 2011, but many plays were in early 2012. I like this a lot. Too bad its reputation is tarnished by the allegedly unstoppable strategy. I try not to pay attention to that strategy, so that I don't consciously avoid it or apply it. That works for me.
  20. Blue Moon (5) - I forgot I had played this. This is a very good game and is very rewarding if you spend time to learn the decks. I still have not played the last three expansions. I have the complete set.
  21. Finito! (5,5) - On the internet.
  22. Mage Knight (5)
  23. Maori (5)
  24. Twister (5)
  25. Antiquity (4)
  26. Confetti (4)
  27. Fauna (4)
  28. Gosu (4)
  29. Innovation (4)
  30. Ora et Labora (4)
  31. Ra (4,4)
  32. Ticket to Ride Europe (4)
  33. Viva Topo! (4)
  34. Web of Power: Card Game (4,4)
  35. Yomi (4)
  36. A la carte (3)
  37. Agricola (3)
  38. Captain Clueless (3)
  39. Famiglia (3)
  40. Glory to Rome (3)
  41. Hamsterrolle (3)
  42. Hive (3)
  43. Indonesian Finger Game (3)
  44. Mamma Mia (3)
  45. Monopoly (3)
  46. Puerto Rico (3)
  47. Seasons (3)
  48. Space Alert (3)
  49. The Bottle Imp (3)
  50. The Kids of Carcassonne (3)
  51. Zooloretto (3)
  52. 10 days in Asia (2)
  53. Confucius (2)
  54. Dixit (2)
  55. Dungeon Petz (2)
  56. DVONN (2)
  57. Fast Flowing Forest Fellers (2)
  58. Haggis (2)
  59. Kakerlaken-Poker (2)
  60. Lost Cities (2)
  61. Mondo (2)
  62. Ninjato (2)
  63. Rommel in the Desert (2)
  64. San Juan (2,2)
  65. Sekigahara (2)
  66. Shinobi (2)
  67. Stone Age (2)
  68. Tammany Hall (2)
  69. The Great Zimbabwe (2)
  70. Thebes (2)
  71. Ticket To Ride Asia (2)
  72. Tournay (2)
  73. Troyes (2)
  74. Tsuro (2)
  75. Ubongo (2)
  76. Zombie! Run for your lives! (2)
  77. 1955: The War of Espionage (1)
  78. 1989: Dawn of Freedom (1)
  79. 51st State (1)
  80. 7 Wonders (1)
  81. After the Flood (1)
  82. Age of Steam (1)
  83. Apples to Apples (1)
  84. Ares Project (1)
  85. At the Gates of Loyang (1)
  86. Automobile (1)
  87. Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition (1)
  88. Axis & Allies Europe 1940 (1,1)
  89. Axis & Allies Global 1940 (1)
  90. Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 (1,1)
  91. Bamboleo (1)
  92. Black Sheep (1)
  93. Blokus (1)
  94. Café International (1,1)
  95. Carcassonne (1)
  96. Carnival (1)
  97. Cave Evil (1)
  98. Cavum (1)
  99. Caylus (1)
  100. Checkers (1)
  101. CO2 (1)
  102. Coloretto (1)
  103. Dawn Under (1)
  104. Diamant (1)
  105. Dominant Species The Card Game (1)
  106. Dominion (1,1)
  107. Escape: The Curse of the Temple (1)
  108. Evolution (1)
  109. FITS (1)
  110. Flash Point (1)
  111. Forbidden Island (1)
  112. Get Bit (1)
  113. Gu Ji Ba (1)
  114. Hawaii (1)
  115. In the Year of the Dragon (1)
  116. Indonesia (1)
  117. Ingenious (1)
  118. Jungle Speed (1)
  119. Kahuna (1)
  120. Keltis (1)
  121. Kids of Catan (1)
  122. Memory (1)
  123. Mow (1)
  124. MR1: Jack the Ripper (1)
  125. MR3: Jekyll & Hyde (1)
  126. Mundus Novus (1)
  127. Neuroshima Hex (1)
  128. Omen: A Reign of War (1)
  129. Pack & Stack (1)
  130. Power Grid (1)
  131. Quoridor (1,1)
  132. Santiago (1)
  133. Snap (1)
  134. Sole Mio (1)
  135. Successors (1)
  136. Sunrise City (1)
  137. Taj Mahal (1)
  138. Takenoko (1)
  139. Through the Ages (1)
  140. Tikal (1,1)
  141. Toss Your Cookies (1)
  142. Tower of Babel (1)
  143. Triumvirate (1)
  144. Ticket To Ride Switzerland (1,1)
  145. Twilight Struggle (1)
  146. Ubongo Extreme (1)
  147. Undermining (1)
  148. Urban Sprawl (1)
  149. Vanuatu (1)
  150. VivaJava (1)
  151. Wasabi (1)

Here's the same list, but sorted by how much time is spent playing each game. I'll call this my half and quarter list - paying special attention to games that I've played 12 hours or more and 6 hours or more. Or perhaps it would be better to do 24hrs and 12hrs? The first number is the number of plays, and the second number the time spent in hours. This list will favour longer games.

  1. Ascension (77, 38.5hrs) - Still #1 on the list, because of how many times I've played it.
  2. Ticket To Ride (35, 35.0hrs) - 1 hour per game is what I estimate for playing the physical copy. Most of my plays were actually on iOS, i.e. much much quicker.
  3. Summoner Wars (46, 23.0hrs)
  4. Tigris & Euphrates (20, 20.0hrs)
  5. Mage Knight (5, 15.0hrs) - Now we see something jump to a much higher position compared to the previous list. .
  6. Axis & Allies Global 1940 (1, 15.0hrs) - This was a PBEM game started in Nov 2012, and it ended in Jan 2013.
  7. Town Center (16, 12.0hrs)
  8. Risk Legacy (8, 12.0hrs)
  9. Antiquity (4, 12.0hrs) - I am quite pleased to have played this against Michelle four times. Nowadays it's not easy to convince her to sit down to learn a new game. She enjoyed it and won many games, while I enjoyed trying out the different patron saints.


  10. Le Havre (7, 10.5hrs) - I like this game, and am happy that I've managed to play it this many times, thanks to the iOS version. Mostly played with Han and Allen. I prefer playing this face-to-face than via async mode, because in async mode, it takes quite long between turns (OK, maybe I should blame Allen rather than async mode :-P ), and sometimes by the time my turn comes around, I have forgotten what I was planning to do. In Le Havre you need to have a consistent strategy.

    Le Havre

  11. Nightfall (10, 10.0hrs)
  12. Hacienda (10, 10.0hrs)
  13. Friday (18, 9.0hrs)
  14. A Few Acres of Snow (5, 7.5hrs)
  15. Ora et Labora (4, 6.0hrs)
  16. Monopoly (3, 6.0hrs) - Gosh... of all games... Monopoly made it to the quarter (of a day) / 6hr mark.
  17. Halli Galli (15, 5.0hrs)
  18. Roll Through The Ages (15, 5.0hrs)
  19. Rommel in the Desert (2, 5.0hrs)
  20. Agricola (3, 4.5hrs)
  21. Ticket To Ride Europe (4, 4.0hrs)
  22. Sekigahara (2, 4.0hrs)
  23. The Great Zimbabwe (2, 4.0hrs)
  24. Indonesia (1, 4.0hrs)
  25. Axis & Allies Europe 1940 (1, 4.0hrs)
  26. Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 (1, 4.0hrs)
  27. Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition (1, 4.0hrs)
  28. Puerto Rico (3, 3.8hrs)
  29. Race for the Galaxy (7, 3.5hrs)
  30. Maori (5, 3.3hrs)
  31. Dungeon Petz (2, 3.3hrs)
  32. For The Win (12, 3.0hrs)
  33. Innovation (4, 3.0hrs)
  34. Fauna (4, 3.0hrs)
  35. Seasons (3, 3.0hrs)
  36. Tammany Hall (2, 3.0hrs)
  37. Confucius (2, 3.0hrs)
  38. Troyes (2, 3.0hrs)
  39. Successors (1, 3.0hrs)
  40. Twilight Struggle (1, 3.0hrs)
  41. CO2 (1, 3.0hrs)
  42. Ra (4, 2.7hrs)
  43. Thebes (2, 2.5hrs)
  44. Urban Sprawl (1, 2.5hrs)
  45. Dragonheart (9, 2.3hrs)
  46. Glory to Rome (3, 2.3hrs)
  47. A la carte (3, 2.3hrs)
  48. Yomi (4, 2.0hrs)
  49. Gosu (4, 2.0hrs)
  50. Zooloretto (3, 2.0hrs)
  51. Ninjato (2, 2.0hrs)
  52. Tournay (2, 2.0hrs)
  53. Stone Age (2, 2.0hrs)
  54. Caylus (1, 2.0hrs)
  55. After the Flood (1, 2.0hrs)
  56. 1989: Dawn of Freedom (1, 2.0hrs)
  57. Through the Ages (1, 2.0hrs)
  58. Brawl (22, 1.8hrs)
  59. The Bottle Imp (3, 1.5hrs)
  60. Space Alert (3, 1.5hrs)
  61. Mamma Mia (3, 1.5hrs)
  62. Ticket To Ride Asia (2, 1.5hrs)
  63. Power Grid (1, 1.5hrs)
  64. Age of Steam (1, 1.5hrs)
  65. Taj Mahal (1, 1.5hrs)
  66. Cavum (1, 1.5hrs)
  67. Hawaii (1, 1.5hrs)
  68. Vanuatu (1, 1.5hrs)
  69. Automobile (1, 1.5hrs)
  70. VivaJava (1, 1.5hrs)
  71. Spot It (17, 1.4hrs)
  72. Viva Topo! (4, 1.3hrs)
  73. Web of Power: Card Game (4, 1.3hrs)
  74. Fast Flowing Forest Fellers (2, 1.3hrs)
  75. Blue Moon (5, 1.3hrs)
  76. Captain Clueless (3, 1.3hrs)
  77. At the Gates of Loyang (1, 1.3hrs)
  78. Dixit (2, 1.2hrs)
  79. Uno (13, 1.1hrs)
  80. Confetti (4, 1.0hrs)
  81. Famiglia (3, 1.0hrs)
  82. Hive (3, 1.0hrs)
  83. Haggis (2, 1.0hrs)
  84. Mondo (2, 1.0hrs)
  85. San Juan (2, 1.0hrs)
  86. Ares Project (1, 1.0hrs)
  87. Cave Evil (1, 1.0hrs)
  88. Flash Point (1, 1.0hrs)
  89. Sunrise City (1, 1.0hrs)
  90. 51st State (1, 1.0hrs)
  91. In the Year of the Dragon (1, 1.0hrs)
  92. Mundus Novus (1, 1.0hrs)
  93. Tikal (1, 1.0hrs)
  94. Twister (5, 0.8hrs)
  95. Finito! (5, 0.8hrs)
  96. Kakerlaken-Poker (2, 0.8hrs)
  97. Shinobi (2, 0.8hrs)
  98. The Kids of Carcassonne (3, 0.8hrs)
  99. Hamsterrolle (3, 0.8hrs)
  100. Undermining (1, 0.8hrs)
  101. Tower of Babel (1, 0.8hrs)
  102. Santiago (1, 0.8hrs)
  103. Ticket To Ride Switzerland (1, 0.8hrs)
  104. Forbidden Island (1, 0.8hrs)
  105. Ubongo (2, 0.7hrs)
  106. Zombie! Run for your lives! (2, 0.7hrs)
  107. 10 days in Asia (2, 0.7hrs)
  108. Dominion (1, 0.7hrs)
  109. Carcassonne (1, 0.7hrs)
  110. Ubongo Extreme (1, 0.7hrs)
  111. Apples to Apples (1, 0.7hrs)
  112. Takenoko (1, 0.7hrs)
  113. 1955: The War of Espionage (1, 0.7hrs)
  114. Wasabi (1, 0.6hrs)
  115. DVONN (2, 0.5hrs)
  116. Tsuro (2, 0.5hrs)
  117. Lost Cities (2, 0.5hrs)
  118. Carnival (1, 0.5hrs)
  119. Kids of Catan (1, 0.5hrs)
  120. Pack & Stack (1, 0.5hrs)
  121. 7 Wonders (1, 0.5hrs)
  122. Omen: A Reign of War (1, 0.5hrs)
  123. Ingenious (1, 0.5hrs)
  124. Mow (1, 0.5hrs)
  125. Black Sheep (1, 0.5hrs)
  126. MR3: Jekyll & Hyde (1, 0.5hrs)
  127. Keltis (1, 0.5hrs)
  128. Kahuna (1, 0.5hrs)
  129. Triumvirate (1, 0.5hrs)
  130. Dominant Species The Card Game (1, 0.5hrs)
  131. Evolution (1, 0.5hrs)
  132. Dawn Under (1, 0.5hrs)
  133. Neuroshima Hex (1, 0.5hrs)
  134. Café International (1, 0.5hrs)
  135. MR1: Jack the Ripper (1, 0.4hrs)
  136. Jungle Speed (1, 0.4hrs)
  137. Quoridor (1, 0.3hrs)
  138. FITS (1, 0.3hrs)
  139. Coloretto (1, 0.3hrs)
  140. Get Bit (1, 0.3hrs)
  141. Diamant (1, 0.3hrs)
  142. Sole Mio (1, 0.3hrs)
  143. Blokus (1, 0.3hrs)
  144. Bamboleo (1, 0.3hrs)
  145. Escape: The Curse of the Temple (1, 0.3hrs)
  146. Toss Your Cookies (1, 0.3hrs)
  147. Checkers (1, 0.2hrs)
  148. Memory (1, 0.2hrs)
  149. Indonesian Finger Game (3, 0.2hrs)
  150. Gu Ji Ba (1, 0.1hrs)
  151. Snap (1, 0.1hrs)

New To Me

60 new-to-me games in 2012. That's fewer than both 2010 and 2011. Quite a number of them are games played with the children during family outings to Meeples Cafe. Just look at those family and children games bunched together below. In brackets are dates first played followed by number of plays in 2012.

  1. Risk Legacy (1 Jan, 8) - A good start to the new year - having the determination to do repeat plays of the same game. This game certainly needs repeat plays preferably with the same group of players to bring out the story.

    Risk: Legacy

  2. Carnival (6 Jan, 1)
  3. Captain Clueless (8 Jan, 3)
  4. Pack & Stack (8 Jan, 1)
  5. Ares Project (19 Jan, 1)
  6. Ninjato (20 Jan, 2) - I expected a boring worker placement Eurogame, but it turned out to be more fun than I expected. Sending out your ninjas to execute a theft or robbery is always exciting. I love saying "GONG!" when an elite guard unexpectedly turns up to fight the ninja, much to the dismay of the ninja's owner.


  7. Mage Knight (1 Feb, 5) - A fantasy themed game where you don't need to roll dice all the time. There is deck-building and hand management. Many actions are deterministic, or the risk and rewards can be calculated, so there is a lot of planning as opposed to just following your heart.
  8. Yomi (3 Feb, 4)
  9. Cave Evil (10 Feb, 1)
  10. Undermining (24 Feb, 1)
  11. Quoridor (10 Mar, 1)
  12. Mow (11 Mar, 1)
  13. Black Sheep (11 Mar, 1)
  14. Jungle Speed (11 Mar, 1)
  15. Mondo (11 Mar, 2)
  16. Ora et Labora (23 Mar, 4)
  17. Flash Point (6 Apr, 1)
  18. Tournay (27 Apr, 2)
  19. Sekigahara (4 May, 2) - For me, one of the most memorable games in 2012. No dice. Some luck in card draws, but the role of cards is primarily creating hidden information. Cards in this game allow bluffing and double-guessing. Creating randomness is secondary. Deciding to fight or to avoid battle is tense. You can see what cards you hold, you can try to remember what cards your opponent has used or discarded, but you can never be sure what cards he is holding. Even after committing to a battle, the simple card play during battle is tense. Which units do you commit? Are you prepared to lose them? All this is delivered in a thematic and beautiful package. Maybe I should buy this. Even though Allen has a copy, buying a copy is a show of support to this great design. Also just in case Allen's copy gets stolen by aliens.

    Sekigahara: the Unification of Japan

  20. Confucius (7 May, 2)
  21. Sunrise City (11 May, 1)
  22. Dragonheart (19 May, 9)
  23. Gosu (22 May, 4)
  24. Ticket To Ride Asia (25 May, 2)
  25. Triumvirate (22 Jun, 1)
  26. Get Bit (6 Jul, 1)
  27. Mundus Novus (6 Jul, 1)
  28. For The Win (15 Jul, 12)
  29. Cavum (27 Jul, 1) - One of the games that I marked as "buy if quota for 2012 not exceeded". Unfortunately I did exceed my game-buying quota. So, maybe if I don't bust the 2013 quota... I find this game a little different from the common Euro fare nowadays. There is a significant spatial element. There is careful planning required. There are opportunities to block others and to protect yourself. The board situation can change significantly from round to round. The review that intrigued me said that this was a very open game, like a wide canvas for your to freely plot your own strategy. I find it quite true.


  30. Ascension (16 Aug, 82)
  31. Tsuro (22 Aug, 2)
  32. Hamsterrolle (22 Aug, 3)
  33. Fauna (22 Aug, 4)
  34. Hawaii (24 Aug, 1) - This is one game where my opinion is the opposite of most players. It rubbed me the wrong way because to me it encapsulated the "yet another Euro" feeling. I recognise the meaningful decision-making, the finely tuned balance, the player interaction and the variability. However to me it felt like a beautiful machine with no soul.
  35. Town Center (24 Aug, 16)
  36. Dominant Species The Card Game (7 Sep, 1)
  37. Vanuatu (7 Sep, 1) - In contrast with Hawaii, Vanuatu gave me feelings. And it's not just that deliciously painful action selection mechanism. The whole package jives and creates a convincing setting. Maybe it is also the excellent artwork that helps to draw me in.


  38. Friday (13 Sep, 18)
  39. 1989: Dawn of Freedom (14 Sep, 1) - Interesting reenactment of the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. Quite good. Many similarities to Twilight Struggle. One of the added elements, power struggles, is quite exciting, like battles in the classic Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage. I still have no idea why Allen bought this despite not liking Twilight Struggle. There's something about GMT Games and him...
  40. Zombie! Run for your lives! (16 Sep, 2)
  41. Confetti (16 Sep, 4)
  42. Shinobi (21 Sep, 2)
  43. Finito! (23 Sep, 5)
  44. Web of Power: Card Game (27 Sep, 4)
  45. Axis & Allies Europe 1940 (29 Sep, 1) - Played against the AI using TripleA, which is not a good way to evaluate this game.
  46. Rommel in the Desert (5 Oct, 2) - Finally, I managed to get this played. It's new ground for me, my previous block game experiences being limited to simpler block games like Hammer of the Scots. Digesting the rules was challenging. My concise reference sheet had to span more than one page. I like how there are many considerations behind each action. How far are you willing to risk having your supply line cut off? Do you make an aggressive move and try to cut your opponent's supply line? Does your opponent have enough real supply cards to make a strong counter-attack? Is your opponent bluffing when he makes a bold advance? Should you sacrifice your position by withdrawing or should you stand firm and battle it out? I have only played a simple scenario. Much more to explore in the more complex ones.

    Rommel in the Desert

  47. Urban Sprawl (12 Oct, 1)
  48. Seasons (19 Oct, 3)
  49. Forbidden Island (26 Oct, 1)
  50. Ubongo Extreme (26 Oct, 1)
  51. Bamboleo (26 Oct, 1)
  52. Escape: The Curse of the Temple (26 Oct, 1)
  53. Toss Your Cookies (26 Oct, 1)
  54. Apples to Apples (26 Oct, 1)
  55. The Great Zimbabwe (26 Oct, 2) - Another memorable game. I have only played it twice, and need to play more to further explore the strategies. Like many Splotter games, the game is unforgiving, and you need to know what you're doing to be able to fully enjoy the game. Only when everyone is familiar with the game you can take counter-measures against others' strategies. In this the game is very interactive.

    The Great Zimbabwe

  56. CO2 (2 Nov, 1)
  57. VivaJava (16 Nov, 1)
  58. Takenoko (16 Nov, 1)
  59. 1955: The War of Espionage (25 Nov, 1)

Games Acquired

  1. Dungeon Petz - I like it more than Dungeon Lords probably partly because the blind bidding is not as brutal. In both games you do have some control and some information to help you decide how to bid, but I think in Dungeon Petz mistakes are punished less severely. Other than this central blind bidding mechanism, I also enjoy the overall theme of running a pet monster shop and caring for pet monsters.

    Dungeon Petz

  2. Ora et Labora
  3. Antiquity
  4. The Great Zimbabwe - I couldn't sleep well until I decided to buy a copy, despite knowing that Allen had already ordered a copy and I could always find an opportunity to play it. Now I have a new justification (*cough* excuse) for buying games - I buy a game to support the designers and to show support for excellence in game design.
  5. Friday
  6. Fauna
  7. Rommel in the Desert
  8. Paths of Glory - Unplayed. I had hoped to play this during my long break from work in the first half of 2012, but it didn't work out. I did read the rules and make a rule summary. I should have put more effort in scheduling a session before I started work again. This being a full day game, it will be challenging to schedule a session.

    The next six are expansions.

  9. Le Havre: Grand Hameau - I must admit I bought this due to completist reasons. I do like the base game. And it's just a small expansion.
  10. Power Grid: Robot - Not necessary unless you often have only 2 or 3 players and need to boost player count.
  11. 7 Wonders Leaders
  12. Ticket to Ride: Asia
  13. Age of Steam Expansion: Alabama Railways, Antebellum Louisiana & Four Corners - I bought these Age of Steam expansions because they contain 2P-specific scenarios, and I wanted to play them against Michelle. I only managed to play Alabama Railways so far. It was good. It made Age of Steam work for two.
  14. Age of Steam Expansion: 1867 Georgia Reconstruction, South Carolina & Oklahoma Land Rush

    The last five are review copies and gifts. I usually decline review copies because I am not spending enough time playing the games I want to play, but I enjoyed Evolution enough to be interested in its expansion.

  15. Shinobi - A simple yet clever secret identity card game. A pleasant surprise.


  16. Evolution: Time To Fly - It is still fun to make weird superspecies, even though the best strategy in this game seems to be just focusing on one or two such superspecies.
  17. Confetti
  18. Zombie! Run for Your Lives!
  19. For The Win

So, if I don't count expansions and gifts, I only bought 8 games, which is much lower than my quota of 18 per year.

I keep telling myself this year after year.

Other Thoughts on Specific Games

  • Favourite new-to-me-in-2012 game: Sekigahara, without a doubt.
  • Unexpected and pleasant discoveries in 2012: Dragonheart, Shinobi.
  • Other memorable new-to-me games in 2012: Cavum, Vanuatu, The Great Zimbabwe, Rommel in the Desert
  • Games I like but did not play in 2012: This list is just too long and depressing to display fully. Some games that I miss include Lord of the Rings, Axis & Allies: Guadalcanal, The Princes of Florence, Age of Empires III, First Train to Nuremberg and Brass.
  • I'm glad to have explored these in 2012: Antiquity, A Few Acres of Snow, Successors

    A Few Acres of Snow

  • I'm glad to have played these old favourites: Puerto Rico, Age of Steam, Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition, Through the Ages, Indonesia, Automobile.

    Age of Steam: Alabama Railways

My 2012

In 2012 I started playing boardgames heavily on my iPhone. Ascension and Summoner Wars have become daily routines. All this started when Allen got an iPad. Han, who was on an overseas job posting for most of 2012, had always been playing boardgames on his iPad regularly, but we never started playing together on the iOS platform. The three of us just played face-to-face games until Han went on his overseas assignment. When Allen got his iPad, we thought it would be nice for the three of us to play regularly again on the iOS platform. In addition to Ascension and Summoner Wars, we also played Le Havre and Nightfall.

My interest in watching out for new games and reading about them continued to wane. I don't get withdrawal symptoms anymore when BGG is down for maintenance. My Google Reader subscription list sometimes feels like a chore than something I look forward to. I do "mark as read" quite often now. I continue to strive for quality over quantity - I want to play games I already like more, and I'm prepared to pass on good new games, even excellent ones.

In 2012, my wife Michelle had 78 plays (about half of 2011), of 40 distinct games. She is less interested in boardgames now, but I'm happy to have played quite a few games of Antiquity with her. I need to be picky in introducing new games to her. She is not a patient new game learner. Her most played games in 2012 were Ticket to Ride (8 according to my log, but I'm sure she played many more than that on the iPad vs AI's) and Race for the Galaxy (7). Most time spent was on Antiquity (12hrs). Older daughter Shee Yun (7 years old) had 121 plays (about the same as 2011), of 44 distinct games (increased), and most played games were For the Win (11), Uno (10), and Ticket to Ride (10 according to my log, but again I'm sure it's actually much higher). Younger daughter Chen Rui (6 years old) had 113 plays (higher than 2011), of 28 distinct games (same as 2011), and most played games were Uno (15), Spot It (14), and Halli Galli (8). I think she played quite a bit of Ticket to Ride on the iPad too. This iOS purchase was well worth the money!

I did a few family outings to Meeples Cafe in 2012, where we tried out many new games. The children enjoyed these outings. It's a good way to spend time with the family. We get to play games that we don't own.

With the family at Meeples Cafe.

I have been playing at OTK (Boardgamecafe.net) more. One of my two regular kakis (fellow gamers) Han was overseas for most of 2012. Allen and I played at Allen's place if we wanted to play 2-player games, and we went to OTK if we wanted to play in a bigger group. Sometimes we arranged virtual sessions with Han, mostly playing at BoardGameArena.

I wrote 95 posts at this blog in 2012, slightly lower than 2011. First time in 5 years that I fell below 100. I used to be always a little over 100. But I hope my personal boardgaming journey is still interesting and relevant to my visitors. Here are some posts in 2012 that I like:

As the new year begins, I look forward to another good year of boardgaming and blogging, and also the now reset quota for buying games. :-) Mmmmhhh... Cavum...

End note: Only after I've done up the fancy charts and statistics I realise some numbers are slightly off. Oops... But I'm too lazy to go back to fix and redo everything, since the impact is not big. This post has taken enough time already. I just hope your first reaction upon seeing it is not TL;DR...

Sunday 6 January 2013

miscellaneous and photos

Children and Agricola

In November I played a few games of Agricola with my children, Shee Yun, 7, and Chen Rui, then 5. They enjoyed doing "farm things", but the strategies eluded them. They didn't know how to plan ahead. The stack of food tokens on the Fishing space always tempted them. They lived for the next round of feeding (harvest), and didn't properly develop their crop farming or animal husbandry. I guess they were not quite ready for Agricola yet. Only a crazy gamer dad would ask his children at such ages to play Agricola. However the girls did enjoy the games, just that I had to guide them now and then. Chen Rui bluntly said to me: I don't know what I want to do. Indeed there are so many different actions to pick from in Agricola. No wonder she felt overwhelmed. Surprisingly the children sat through our 1.5-hour 3-player game with no problem at all. I think it is because they felt engaged all the time.

I tried to help them survive by avoiding actions that I think were urgent to them. I tried to point out strategies when I saw them getting into trouble. Unfortunately Chen Rui still ended up with one begging card. But maybe I should be thankful that it was only one.

There is definitely a charm in Agricola, despite the constant pressure to feed your family. The children didn't "get" the game, but they enjoyed it.

Examples in rulebooks

Do you read them? I'm usually too lazy to read them, but they can be quite useful in illustrating concepts that are difficult to explain in words only. I tend to feel that the main text should already cover every rule, so examples are just extra / optional material. I guess I do sometimes read them when I don't understand what the main text is saying, but more often than not I skip them. The result is sometimes I misinterpret some rules. Having played so many different games, it is easy to slip into a smart Alec mode and think that you know it all.


26 Nov 2012. I played The Bottle Imp with Chung and Ben in Hong Kong. They are old friends and I only get to meet them once every two or three (or more) years, and what do we do? We play games! Most normal people will think we are nuts. I taught them the game, and I really enjoyed this session. We played many hands, using the target score of 200. It was fun to refresh myself on the tactics and the tricks in this game, and it was fun to see how Chung and Ben picked up the strategies. This really is a very clever trick-taking game. Once you know the game better, understanding your starting hand becomes very interesting. You already plan your general strategy for the round based on your starting hand, what cards your opponents have passed to you, and what cards you have passed to them at the start of the round. A wonderful 3-player game.

Both of them beat me soundly in the end. How embarrassing.

Dec 2012. I bought Cafe International on iOS. An old game, but a good one. This is an older generation Eurogame, published in 1989. It seems there has been a shift in the Eurogame style between then and now. Back then Eurogames were simpler, but still have much strategy and clever decision making. They were succinct and lean. Now the popular Eurogames seem to be more complex and have more moving parts, but I'm not sure whether strategy-wise they are that much richer. I may be biased by nostalgia. If a game like Cafe International, Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne is released today, it may not attract much attention and I may not even be interested to read about them at all. Eurogamers (including me) have shifted their preference to more complex designs, so the complex designs are the ones getting the buzz nowadays. Medium- and light-weight games don't get much limelight. E.g. the recent Qin from Reiner Knizia is of similar complexity to Samurai and Through the Desert, but it is getting much less attention. I guess it is also because of the huge increase in the number of games being released that it is hard for any new game to stand out among its peers.

The iOS version of Cafe International seems to be a mix of Cafe International the board game and Cafe International the card game. When tables get filled up, the table and guests are removed and a new table is drawn. I still think Cafe International is a clever and fun game. Playing it is like catching up with an old friend.

21 Dec 2012. Allen alerted me about Haggis on iOS. He said I should go buy it...

... because my blog is quoted on the app page. Woo hoo! I'm famous! (yes, I still get excited over such things, which means I am not famous) It says: Hiew's Boardgame Blog - "Fans of traditional card games definitely should give Haggis a try."

25 Dec 2012. It has been a long time since I last played Through the Ages, one of the few games I rate a 10. I played with Michelle on Christmas Day, and it was wonderful. Slightly rusty, but I did not lose my touch, at least not much. The Game Designer (a.k.a. Sid Meier) and Computer combo scored me a ton of points. However I miscalculated and failed to complete a wonder at game end.

I bought San Juan on the iOS when it was on sale during the Christmas period. The implementation is good, and the AI's seem decent enough. I have not played many games yet, so I have yet to decide whether the AI's are strong enough. I've won both the games I played. Han, Allen and I were hoping to play this online, but it turns out there is no async mode. We have to be online at the same time to play. That is disappointing.

Since I play Ascension (on my iPhone) more or less every day now, I bought both the expansions. I like them. Many interesting card powers. This is one particularly fun combo that I managed to make with one of the new cards.

This is the Dream Machine construct. In Ascension, constructs are cards that you play in a tableau area in front of you and their powers are active every round, as opposed to normal cards which you play and use for one turn and then they get discarded to wait for the next reshuffle. The Dream Machine doesn't seem like much at first glance, despite the high cost of $7. It lets you return another Mechana construct you have in play to your hand, so that you can play it again if you want to. In this recent game I played, I realised how powerful the Dream Machine can be if paired up with other Mechana Constructs that take effect when being played.

I had the Personal Wormhole construct in this game. I kept using Dream Machine to take Personal Wormhole back into my hand, and then I played Personal Wormhole again to banish (remove permanently) a card in my discard pile or hand. This helped me cull my deck almost every turn, as opposed to those culling cards (with the banish ability) which I could use once per run through my deck.

Later on I had the Burrower Mark II construct played as well. This construct let me draw a card whenever I played it or another Mechana construct. Combined with the Dream Machine, it meant I could draw an extra card every turn.

I won this game, but it was quite close. Of my 10 starting cards, I had culled 7. Only 3 Apprentice cards left (rightmost).

Thursday 3 January 2013

2011 games eagerness ranking

Here is a list of games published in 2011 (that's not a typo, I do mean 2011) which I have played, ranked by how eager I am to play them right now. Force-ranking games like this is a challenging exercise, but it is also insightful and sometimes I surprise myself.

    Keen to play

  1. Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan - A tense card-driven block game, with simple and mostly text-free cards. It has bluffing, planning, and hand management. No dice. Whether you win or lose a battle is dependent on what cards you and your opponent are holding. However deciding whether to battle, which battle to fight first, whether to withdraw, when to play which card, which unit to commit to battle, all will determine the outcome of the battle.
  2. A Few Acres of Snow - Deck-building not for the sake for deck-building. This is the deck-building mechanism supporting a game of conflict and development, and in this game it is a very appropriate mechanism. It's deck-building with a purpose, a context. But enough about deck-building. This is a game about the French-Indian War and how unwieldy it is for the British and the French to conduct warfare and develop their colonies. The two sides play very differently. The game is very thematic.
  3. Dungeon Petz - Buying pet monsters, taking care of them, and timing to sell them to the right customers to gain the most prestige for your pet shop. So many things to juggle, so many things to do. You need to guess how desperate others are in competing for the various pets, pet food, equipment etc in order to decide how you want to allocate your imps to compete.

    Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan

    A Few Acres of Snow

    Happy to play

  4. Vanuatu - The unforgiving action selection mechanism is the only new (I think) mechanism and it is the single most talked about aspect of the game. However I also find the game to be well put together, to have good mechanism-theme coherence, and to offer plenty of player interaction. The whole package is a fine design. It is not just one nifty mechanism.
  5. Mage Knight: The Board Game - Fantasy themed game, but you don't roll dice all the time to determine the success or failure of your actions. The game allows you to plan ahead a lot. You decide how to best use you hand of cards, and many card abilities are deterministic. You can calculate the results. I'm not a particular fan of the fantasy setting (but I don't mind it). I like the game because of how strategic it is and how you grow your character to achieve more and more.
  6. Ora et Labora - A building-powers and cube-production / cube-conversion engine-building game, the end goal being to score the most points. It has the Le Havre feel - many different industries to pick from and thus many different ways to score points. I have only played a handful of games and have not really explored it enough.
  7. Ninjato - From reading the rulebook it seemed like another worker-placement, multiple-ways-to-score-points Eurogame. But I liked it better than I expected. I think I like the risk taking. You train up your ninja and gather what you need to steal or to rob treasures. You need to balance between how much preparation to do and how much risk you are willing to take. Every mission is an adventure. It's nail-biting to find out whether a treasure is more heavily guarded than expected. It is tense when deciding whether to risk going for the next treasure in the house.
  8. Friday - Solo deck-building game which is quite challenging. Needs a few plays to get the hang of it. Definitely worth the effort spent. Difficulty level can be increased as required. Quite fun to explore the strategies.
  9. Mondo - Real-time puzzle-like game, not unlike Galaxy Trucker, but more suitable as a family game.




  10. Omen: A Reign of War - Not sure how this got here. My plays of this 2-player conflict card game were quite positive. Plenty of opportunities for clever use of card powers. I never had a bad session, but somehow I'm not so keen to play this again. Maybe I've just forgotten how much fun it is and need a refresher.
  11. Power Grid: The First Sparks - Streamlined version of Power Grid with a different theme. Nice, but it didn't feel very necessary. Probably more suitable for people who don't like the maths in Power Grid. I don't mind the maths in Power Grid.
  12. Takenoko - Pleasant gameplay, beautiful components, but nothing really pulls me back.
  13. Mundus Novus - Card game. Fun with set collection. Some special abilities thrown in. Not bad, best with a bigger group.
  14. Nightfall - I'm starting to find the colour matching for card chaining tedious. A game with 3P or more sometimes boils down to keeping a low profile and letting others fight one another.
  15. Urban Sprawl - Area majority games usually don't click with me.
  16. Flash Point: Fire Rescue - A cooperative game. A theme that people can easily relate to, but gameplay doesn't have a hook for me. It's "another OK game" to me.
  17. JAB: Realtime Boxing - Frantic real-time 2P game that requires quick pattern recognition and deliberate manoeuvring. Not as fast and furious as I had expected. You need to think a lot and think fast.
  18. The Ares Project - The basic turn structure is simple, but I find that the game is bogged down by the many special abilities. The factions are certainly very different and unique. I wish the game were a bit more streamlined. If I can get more plays in and get to know the factions better I will probably like this better. So maybe I'm the problem, not the game.
  19. Yomi - Card game about 1 vs 1 fighting, using a rock-paper-scissors mechanism. It's much more than just rock-paper-scissors, but this core mechanism makes me a little uncomfortable.
  20. Risk Legacy - The idea of permanently damaging, customising and evolving your copy the game is interesting and fun, but it's still just playing Risk. I'd play it with my buddies, but it's not something I seek out.
  21. Cave Evil - Squad-based combat game. Now that I think about it, it has some similarities to Summoner Wars.
  22. Airline Europe - Area majority is a big part of it.
  23. Undermining - Nothing wrong, but not very memorable either.

    Flash Point: Fire Rescue

    Rather not play

  24. Hawaii - I recognise the solid mechanisms and the game balance, but to me it encapsulates the soulless, mechanical Euro. I don't want to play solid mechanisms. I want to play a game.
  25. 1955: The War of Espionage - This tug-of-war can become a boring stalemate, especially in the late game.
  26. Carnival - Roll dice and use their powers to collect sets of cards. Simple; short-term tactical.



These are not ranked. Just some quick thoughts.

  1. 7 Wonders: Leaders - A decent expansion, but I have not played much of it because I have not been playing 7 Wonders much. So I have not invested further in other expansions.
  2. Ascension: Return of the Fallen - Bought on iOS. Good to have more variety in the cards, now that I am playing Ascension so regularly. Some new concepts added, and they are simple and fun.
  3. Ascension: Storm of Souls - Ditto.
  4. Ticket to Ride: Asia - Have not yet played the Team Asia map, which I suspect will be the more interesting map. The Legendary Asia map is OK. More variety. Small twists added.
  5. Innovation: Echoes of the Past - Some new concepts added. Play this only after you're familiar with the base game, so as not to overwhelm yourself. It's nice to have increased breadth, but not absolutely necessary. I am thinking of getting this, but I have not been playing Innovation much lately.
  6. Power Grid: The Robots - Makes the 2P (and maybe 3P) games more interesting. It's a useful tool if you are often short on players. Otherwise not necessary.
  7. Nightfall: Martial Law - I'd say it's more of the same, i.e. good if you like the base game. Only a few small additions to rules.
  8. Evolution: Time to Fly - More animal abilities, generally a little more complex. You only need this expansion if you have already played a lot of the base game and feel like adding some variety.

Innovation: Echoes of the Past

Not Played

Some of the better known games published in 2011 that I have not played.

  1. Eclipse - Sorry, please don't take away my gamer badge. I would definitely like to try it if I get a chance, but I'm not eager enough to seek it out proactively. It's a multiplayer development and conflict game, executed beautifully. The "multiplayer conflict game" part doesn't particularly entice me because there are many such games around. I guess "smooth and streamlined execution" is not big enough a lure.
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
  3. Mansions of Madness
  4. Quarriors
  5. King of Tokyo
  6. Elder Sign
  7. Eminent Domain
  8. Space Empires 4X - Han's copy is on my shelf. Maybe we'll get to play it soon, when he is back from his long overseas work assignment.
  9. The Castles of Burgundy - Stefan Feld's games usually don't click with me, but this one may work.
  10. Star Trek: Fleet Captains
  11. Kingdom Builder - Chong Sean said this plays much better than it sounds from reading the rules. Maybe I will try this when I get the chance.
  12. Village
  13. Discworld: Ankh-Morpork - Allen has a copy, but our unplayed list is long. I've recently started reading some Discworld novels, and they are fun.
  14. Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame
  15. Trajan - Stefan Feld design that I suspect I won't like. (sorry)
  16. Battleship Galaxies - It sounded fun, but the buzz seemed to have quickly evaporated after the game release.
  17. Blood Bowl: Team Manager - The Card Game
  18. Panic Station
  19. Letters from Whitechapel
  20. Dominion: Cornucopia - My many plays of the computer version of Dominion in 2011 made me appreciate the game. However after that burst of plays against the AI's, I abruptly stopped, and didn't pursue further playing against humans. So I have no tried this expansion or the next one.
  21. Dominion: Hinterlands
  22. No Retreat! The Russian Front
  23. Fighting Formations
  24. Core Worlds
  25. Belfort - "Worker placement" is a dirty word to me now, despite the fact that there are some worker placement games that I like.
  26. Conquest of Nerath
  27. Lancaster
  28. Star Trek: Expeditions - Knizia cooperative game.
  29. Olympos
  30. Last Will - I followed this game for quite some time, but after a while, it didn't seem all that unique other than the background story of trying to deplete your small fortune as quickly as possible.
  31. Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas - Beautiful game, but the buzz seemed to die out quite quickly. What happened to this game?
  32. Glenn Drover's Empires: The Age of Discovery - Builder Expansion - I should play the base game more. I quite like it.
  33. Walnut Grove
  34. Quebec
  35. Pergamon
  36. Strasbourg - Jeff recommends this.
  37. The New Era - An improved version of 51st State. I enjoy the older game well enough, but have not been playing it intensively enough to feel like getting the improved version.
  38. Bios: Megafauna - If I had more time and fewer other games to play, I might invest in one of these Sierra Madre games which are very well researched and thematic.
  39. The Road to Canterbury - Allen has a copy. It's in our unplayed list. I haven't even read the rules yet.
  40. Singapore
  41. Coney Island - Because of how much I like China, I read up a little on this newer game by Michael Schacht. Didn't seem to be a lot to it, but then I think his games need to be played to get the real feel. The simplicity in the rules can be misleading.