Wednesday 25 February 2015

my family's top tens

In 2012, I asked two of my gaming buddies to make our top ten lists simultaneously. It was an interesting exercise for me, because despite gaming together regularly, we never really discussed what kind of games we liked and we never gave much thought to what our top ten games were. I recently thought why not do this with my family. Maybe that would bring out some interesting findings (at least to me). And it did. I didn't ask them to write any essay on what kind of games they like. I just asked for their list of top ten games. So the thoughts below are mine, not theirs.


When I asked my wife Michelle about her top ten games, her immediate response was "those simple card games". We used to play many games in the past, but she has been less active in the past few years. Many of the games on her list are games we used to play a lot of in the past. She didn't rank them. From my records, she has played 278 different games, which surprised her when I told her so.

  • Race for the Galaxy / Roll for the Galaxy - She combines these two into one entry. They feel similar enough to her. Roll for the Galaxy is new and we have only started playing it this year. We have played a ton of Race for the Galaxy in the past, using the advanced 2-player rules.
    Race for the Galaxy

  • Through the Ages - Another game which we have played a lot of. Almost all my games of Through the Ages and Race for the Galaxy are played as 2-player games against Michelle. If you ask me to play these with others, it would feel weird. I am too used to playing only with her. I am quite sure despite our many plays, we have not explored the full strategic space because we are limited to what only the two of us can think of. We don't read strategy articles on the net. We don't play these games with others so no new ideas are injected into our gameplay. I think we have also established some unwritten rules, or conventions, and we may not even be consciously aware of some of these because we have become too comfortable with them.
  • Mystery Rummy #1: Jack the Ripper - A rummy-like card game for 2 to 4 players, but I think it's best with two. It's a game we can play on auto-pilot.

    Mystery Rummy #1: Jack the Ripper

  • Carcassonne - Our first spouse game. However we did play this with many of our friends in Taiwan. It was a big hit with them.
  • Agricola - There was a period when we played this heavily.
  • Ticket To Ride and games in the series, but not including the card game (which I own) or the dice game (which I don't).
  • At the Gates of Loyang - I was a little surprised by this entry. It must be the cute components...
    At the Gates of Loyang

  • Power Grid - 2-players is far from the best way to play, but we've done quite a few 2-player games. I own many expansions, and I'm glad I've played every single one at least once.
  • Mystery Rummy #4: Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld
  • Hacienda

Shee Yun

Elder daughter Shee Yun is 9, and has played 127 different games. There are four cooperative games on her list. I wonder whether she really does like them, or I just happen to have introduced many such games to her.

  1. Escape - We played a lot of this last year.

  2. Forbidden Island - I don't own this. Our plays were at Meeples Cafe.
  3. Love Letter
  4. Machi Koro - I should consider getting a copy. We are still playing the copy Allen lent us.
  5. Samurai Spirit - She only played this for the first time recently.
  6. Robinson Crusoe - She has played a few times, but it has been a while since we last played.
  7. Zombie! Run for your lives! - I was surprised by this. Perhaps it was because I didn't like this much, so I didn't expect it to turn up on her list.
  8. Cloud 9 - Also played at Meeples Cafe.
  9. Tales of the Arabian Nights - We have not played this for a long time. She says she wants to play again.
  10. At the Gates of Loyang - When she was much younger I invented simplified rules to play it with her. Now that she is older, we can use the proper rules.

Chen Rui

Younger daughter Chen Rui is 8, and has played 107 different games.

  1. Machi Koro - This is probably the children's favourite game this year.
    Machi Koro

  2. Mat Goceng - I quite like it, but too bad my regular kakis (fellow players) don't fancy it.
  3. Dixit - Our copy at home was a birthday present for her.
  4. Love Letter - During the Chinese New Year break I persuaded my mother to play with us. I said it was quality time with her grandchildren. She was reluctant and said our games were too complex, but I managed to convince her to try it out. We had great fun and quite a few hilarious moments.
  5. Pickomino
  6. Uno
  7. Pandemic: The Cure - Chen Rui played this for the first time this year. I didn't expect this to be on her list. I thought she found the rules explanation and the gameplay too long, too complex, and boring. She seemed impatient when we played.
  8. Samurai Spirit - I was rather surprised by this too, especially when it beat the next two entries, which I know she likes. I had thought she wasn't particularly interested in this game.
  9. Spot It - She has played quite many games of Spot It.
  10. Chicken Cha Cha Cha - She often asks for this, but I wonder whether she is starting to outgrow it.

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