Saturday 3 January 2015

my 2014

2014 has just ended. It's always fun to look back at what I've played throughout the year, and remember the happy times spent with friends and family. I'm going to skip the long boring lists, stats and charts this time. Let's start with what I have played in 2014.

What I Played

I've had 763 plays of 132 distinct games. That's higher than the previous year. These are my fives and dimes.

  1. Ascension (483 plays in 2014) - Ascension, my LRT (train) game, has surpassed Race for the Galaxy to become my most played game, at 836 plays in total. I have 762 plays of Race for the Galaxy. The next is Dominion at a distant third - 314 plays. All my Ascension plays are on the iOS. I have not played the physical copy once. I own all the expansions on the iOS. The latest one, Realms Unraveled is quite interesting. I bought it only recently. Many crazy powerful cards. Also it contains cards which transform when specific conditions are met.

    Ascension with the Realms Unraveled expansion.

  2. Escape: The Curse of the Temple (18) - Most were played with Shee Yun (9). I bought it with its two expansions because younger daughter (Chen Rui, 8) asked for it, but in the end it was Shee Yun and I who played it the most. It's a good family activity. It can be quite challenging when you add in the more difficult modules.

    Escape: The Curse of the Temple

  3. PitchCar (12) - Another fun family game, and a dexterity game. Allen lent me his set, and it turned out to be pleasant surprise.


  4. Android: Netrunner (9) - I think I have more or less given up on it. It's a lifestyle game which takes commitment to truly enjoy. It's not something you can play casually, in my opinion. To quote Yoda, it's a "do or do not" thing - there is no "try". I still hold on to my base set and first expansion cycle, hoping for the day that I will jump back in. It would be rediscovering the game all over again.
  5. Loopin' Louie (9)
  6. Chicken Cha Cha Cha (8)
  7. Pickomino (8)
  8. Love Letter (8)
  9. Templar Intrigue (8) - All played in the same sitting. A game where you play the people. You need to be able to act, and you need to lie convincingly.
  10. Race for the Galaxy (7) - The new mechanisms in the Alien Artifacts expansion felt clunky, and I didn't like them. Maybe I should just play with the new cards but without the alien artifact module itself.
  11. Spot It (7)
  12. Mat Goceng (7)
  13. Uno (5)

Most of the games above are short games played with the children. Let's look at another way of measuring - by time spent:

  1. Ascension (483 plays, 241.5hrs)
  2. Robinson Crusoe (4 plays, 8hrs) - I quite like it. I still have not played all six scenarios in the base game.
  3. Paths of Glory (1 play, 8hrs) - Finally, I managed to get this played. It has been sitting on my shelf for a few years. Allen and I did not manage to complete the game, but we did manage to get about halfway. So we managed to get a good feel of this classic. It is a little daunting, especially because of the many rules exceptions. However the basic structure and rules are not very complex, and if you put some effort into understanding why the exceptions are there (they are all for historical reasons), it all makes good sense. I encourage anyone on the fence on this game to take the plunge. It is a rewarding experience.

    Paths of Glory, a classic wargame about World War I.

  4. Android: Netrunner (9 plays, 6.75hrs)
  5. Axis & Allies 1914 (1 play, 6hrs)
  6. Civilization (1 play, 5hrs) - It was good to bring this out again. We did a 5-player game. It was epic. Disasters abounded. We crashed and burned. But all in an epic manner.

    My fellow Civilization players who stayed up with me until 4:30am - Kareem, Jeff, Damien and Ivan.

  7. Escape: The Curse of the Temple (18 plays, 4.5hrs)
  8. Agricola (3 plays, 4.5hrs)
  9. PitchCar (12 plays, 4hrs)
  10. Glass Road (4 plays, 4hrs)
  11. A Brief History of the World (2 plays, 4hrs)
  12. Sekigahara (2 plays, 4hrs) - I finally won for the first time in forever. I love this game.
  13. Roads & Boats (1 play, 4hrs) - This has all the Splotter trademarks. If you like Splotter games, you'll like it. Do be warned that it is tedious. And it's strategic, and long, and unforgiving, and unapologetic.
  14. Indonesia (1 play, 4hrs) - Played on Sloth Ninja, 4 players. It took months to complete our game. I should play this face-to-face.
  15. Race for the Galaxy (7 plays, 3.5hrs)
  16. Mat Goceng (7 plays, 3.5hrs)
  17. Die Macher (1 play, 3.5hrs) - It was great to revisit this classic. I had hoped to do a full 5P game, but we only managed to do 4P. Still, it was a good session. I have been enjoying organising these longer, heavier and more fulfilling game sessions in 2014.

    Die Macher

  18. Le Havre (2 plays, 3hrs)
  19. Heroes of Normandie (2 plays, 3hrs)
  20. Age of Steam (2 plays, 3hrs)
  21. Wilderness War (1 play, 3hrs) - This was one of my record holders for longest unplayed game - about 10 years. The setting is a rarely used one in boardgames, and I find it quite interesting. It is a card-driven game, and it tells a good story.

    Wilderness War, about the French-Indian War - Britain and France fighting for supremacy in North America, prior to the birth of USA and Canada.

  22. Level 7 [Omega Protocol] (1 play, 3hrs) - This was a very memorable game session. We had a 4-vs-1 game. I was on the good guys' team. I didn't have to teach or manage the scenario as the game master, so I could sit back and enjoy the ride. And what a ride it was.

    Level 7 [Omega Protocol]

  23. Cuba Libre (1 play, 3hrs) - So much story and character in this game!

The One-Long-Game-A-Month Exercise

One thing I did in 2014 was to plan ahead to play one game which was hard to bring to the table every month. The game selected was not necessarily a very long one. I just compiled a list of games I wanted to play, which I had not played for a long time. Some games were difficult to bring out because they needed a specific player count and a long play time, i.e. something you needed to plan ahead for. Some games were difficult to arrange to play because of the rules complexity and the need to prepare beforehand. This exercise worked out quite well for me, and I managed to play quite a few games which I otherwise would not have played till now. I didn't manage to make it every single month, but I'm happy enough with the results. Here are the games I managed to play thanks to this conscious effort.

  1. Paths of Glory (first play)
  2. Roads & Boats (first play)
  3. Axis & Allies 1914 (first play)
  4. Wilderness War (first play)
  5. Francis Tresham's Civilization
  6. Die Macher
  7. Hammer of the Scots
  8. Axis & Allies Guadalcanal
  9. Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan

I had hoped to play again A Few Acres of Snow, Antiquity and a 5-player game of Age of Steam, but unfortunately these didn't work out. Here's hoping for 2015.

Game Acquisitions

Here are the games added to my collection in 2014. #1 to #8 are all gifts from Allen. Thanks, bro!

  1. Glory to Rome - This black box edition is a grail game and I am one lucky gamer.
  2. Plato 3000
  3. Templar Intrigue - A microgame.
  4. Coin Age - A microgame.
  5. Burgoo - A microgame.
  6. This Town Ain't Big Enough for the 2-4 of Us - A microgame. Yet to play.
  7. Town Center - Yet to play the expansion maps.
  8. Tooth & Nail: Factions - Yet to play.
  9. Mat Goceng - A review copy.
  10. Love Letter - A self-made copy with an Adventure Time theme. I had more fun with it than I expected. Good for playing with children.
  11. The Palaces of Carrara - A very decent Kramer / Kiesling game. Pacing is very important.
  12. Bottle Imp - This is an old game and a good trick-taking game. Just before the year ended, I decided I wanted a copy in my collection. This is the kind of game purchase that I want me to be doing. Don't impulse-buy. Don't get easily attracted to the new and shiny. Buy something that has stood the test of time, something that you still like after the novelty has worn off and the hype has died down. Good boy.
  13. Tragedy Looper - I quite enjoyed this. 1 play so far. A deduction game, and something very different. The anime / manga graphic style is not my thing, but the gameplay is good. This game set my heart racing. It can be very tense.
  14. Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifact - I bought it because I'm a fan of the series.
  15. Escape: The Curse of the Temple - I bought it because Chen Rui (8) asked for it.
  16. Escape: The Curse of the Temple, Quests expansion - Ditto.
  17. Escape: The Curse of the Temple, Illusions expansion - Ditto.
  18. Android Netrunner: Trace Amount - I wanted to complete expansion cycle 1.
  19. Android Netrunner: Cyber Exodus - Ditto.
  20. Android Netrunner: A Study in Static - Ditto.

I have considered buying Panamax. I quite like it. I still haven't made up my mind. Maybe I'll leave a quota slot for it in 2015. Another game I have thought about buying is A Few Acres of Snow. I do like it a lot. Mythotopia doesn't interest me because of the generic setting.

New-to-Me Games

  1. Paths of Glory (first played on 16 Feb)
  2. Love Letter (18 Feb)
  3. Okiya (28 Feb)
  4. Roads & Boats (7 Mar)
  5. Quarriors! (12 Mar) - Didn't like it.
  6. Nations (14 Mar) - A decent civ game which should not be compared to Through the Ages but unfortunately everyone is doing it.
  7. Axis & Allies 1914 (16 Mar) - Jeff and Heng thought this was the best in the series. I thought it was good, but didn't feel it was exceptional. We did have a great full-day session with it though.

    Axis & Allies 1914

  8. Napoleon (25 Mar) - An oldie, but a decent one.
  9. Shadow Hunters (28 Mar)
  10. A Brief History of the World (29 Mar)
  11. Wilderness War (4 Apr)
  12. Kashgar (11 Apr)
  13. UGO (11 Apr)
  14. Duel of Ages II (2 May)
  15. Cuba Libre (27 Jun)
  16. VivaJava: The Dice Game (18 Jul)
  17. Istanbul (18 Jul) - Didn't click with me.
  18. PitchCar (28 Jul)
  19. Plato 3000 (2 Aug)
  20. Heroes of Normandie (15 Aug)
  21. Wildcatters (22 Aug) - A game about the oil industry. It has character. The only pity is it heavily uses area majority, which is a mechanism I personally don't like. If you don't have an unusual dislike for area majority, check it out.
  22. The Palaces of Carrara (16 Sep)
  23. Las Vegas (16 Sep) - A fun and interactive game. Low to medium complexity. Very clever.
  24. Mord im Arosa (16 Sep)
  25. Terra Mystica (19 Sep) - Finally I understand why the fuss. It's a decent game.
  26. The Builders: Middle Ages (19 Sep)
  27. Take It Easy (21 Sep)
  28. Dragon Parade (21 Sep)
  29. Bananagrams (21 Sep)
  30. Level 7 [Omega Protocol] (26 Sep)
  31. Coin Age (28 Sep) - I still don't understand the fuss, and I'm now too lazy to bother.
  32. Mat Goceng (28 Sep) - I like this secret identity game from Indonesia. I think it works best with 4 or 5 players. Unfortunately it didn't click with the folks I usually game with.
  33. Templar Intrigue (3 Oct)
  34. Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy (16 Oct) - An enjoyable game in which you build a family tree.
  35. Impulse (17 Oct) - A Carl Chudyk design which warrants more exploration.
  36. Glass Road (24 Oct)
  37. Burgoo (26 Oct)
  38. El Gaucho (31 Oct)
  39. The Staufer Dynasty (7 Nov)
  40. Panamax (7 Nov) - A game I like a lot. Something different. Something not run-of-the-mill.
  41. Imperial Settlers (14 Nov) - I prefer the older, less pretty and less polished 51st State. I sound like a grumpy old man waving my walking stick and going, "Back in my days we had a proper 51st State!"
  42. Genji (5 Dec)
  43. Historia (12 Dec)
  44. Tragedy Looper (19 Dec)
  45. Eight-Minute Empire (19 Dec)

I don't have any clear favourites among these new-to-me games. Here are some that I like: Paths of Glory, Wilderness War, Panamax, Tragedy Looper, Roads & Boats.

Other Thoughts

I am glad to have revisited: Hammer of the Scots, Die Macher, Civilization, The Message: Emissary Crisis, En Garde, Axis & Allies Guadalcanal, Amun-Re.

I hope to revisit in 2015: Clash of Cultures, The Great Zimbabwe, Le Havre, Automobile, Brass, A Few Acres of Snow.

I have played quite a fair bit of Hearthstone on the iPad, but I don't count it as a boardgame, so I don't keep detailed records. I consider Hearthstone the first time that I have really got into a collectible card game. I have played a few hundred games I think. Being on the iPad and having such a wide player base make playing it very convenient. I quite like the game. I have now stopped, only booting it up once in a long while. It has been satisfying to get a little into the metagame level of a CCG. I'm not a strong player, reaching at most Level 17 or so (bottom level is Level 25), but I have had fun.

I Kickstarted the digital version of Twilight Struggle on the iOS, because one word - Playdek. Hopefully this will be delivered in Mar 2015.

I still mainly play at the open gaming sessions organised by Jeff and Wai Yan at, and at Allen's place (all those photos with a yellow tint). Sometimes I play at home with my children Shee Yun (9) and Chen Rui (8). In 2014, Shee Yun had 105 plays of 43 distinct games, both slightly lower than 2013. In addition to many rounds of Escape, we also played Robinson Crusoe together, which was fun. Her most played games were Escape, PitchCar and Love Letter. Chen Rui had 113 plays of 40 distinct games, both these were higher than 2013. Her most played games were PitchCar, Love Letter and Loopin' Louie. Her favourite games include Pickomino, Chicken Cha Cha Cha and Barbarossa (the clay-sculpting and guessing game, not some wargame on Operation Barbarossa).

My wife Michelle played much less in 2014 - 33 plays of 20 distinct games. Most played: Race for the Galaxy and Mat Goceng (because Chen Rui likes it and it needs a 4th player to be more fun). Michelle used to be my #1 gaming buddy, but has been gradually drifting away from boardgames. Her preferred pastime is reading.

I still spend much of my hobby time on blogging - 85 posts at this blog in 2014, and 81 posts at my Chinese boardgame blog. Some posts that I like:

I don't have anything profound or new to say for 2014. It has been a good year of gaming for me personally. In particular I am quite pleased with having planned for and managing to play a few classics and a few longer strategic games. I continue to fall behind in chasing after the latest releases, but I don't really mind. I don't worry about the ones that got away. You can't catch them all. It's not worth the effort when many excellent games are still sitting around waiting to be played. I still have not played Russian Railroads (DSP winner + IGA winner + KdJ recommended), which I do have some interest to try at least once. I do get plenty of opportunities to try out new games because of the friends I game with. I always have topics for my blog lined up, and I savour taking time to think about and to write about the games I play.

Here's wishing everyone a great 2015 ahead - with plenty of games to play, and plenty of friends to play them with.


Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for your blog, it's always interesting to follow :) May i add you to my Ascension's friend list ? (AshraamCPC)

Anonymous said...

Ashraam sry ^^'

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year. Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the detail and length of your posts. When I got into gaming in 2011 your's was one of the first blogs I found and I have followed ever since.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Thank you. I'm always happy to hear feedback and comments. One thing I have never tried to do is to write long posts. In fact I try to be succinct and to-the-point. I wonder whether I have not been unsuccessful at this, or I do have much meaningful or useful things to say. :-) Perhaps I tend to get carried away when I write.

Awab AlShwaikh said...

Keep going & writing