Thursday 31 December 2020

my 2020

Looking back at 2020... okay that doesn't sound like an appealing idea. Indeed it has been an unusual year, all over the world. For me personally it has been a year with some big changes. I took a very different career path. I wrote a book. There has been, and there still is, much uncertainty. Amidst such uncertainty, boardgames (or any hobby) can be a soothing balm. A moment of escape. A quite solace. We still need to face new challenges every day, and sometimes things don't turn out the way we hope. Having a hobby which gives us some respite is good, maybe necessary even. Spending time with friends and family helps remind us of what's important in our lives. Not that we want to run away from our problems. Taking a break can help. Sometimes we gain new perspectives. Sometimes an unexpected idea presents itself. 

In 2020, I played 57 different games. I had about 300 plays in total. Both these numbers are lower than 2019, but not by much. What dropped significantly was the number of new games played - only 20 this year. This was the lowest since I got into the hobby in a serious way in 2004. The number of boardgame sessions I joined plummeted, and so did the opportunities to try new games. I don't buy many new games. For quite a few years most new games I played were friends' games and not my own. The number of games purchased this year was also a new low - just four! 

I wonder whether boardgame publishers are doing better due to the pandemic. Since many people are stuck at home, are they buying more boardgames to play at home? Or are people buying more computer games? If people are stuck at home with their families, maybe family games are doing better than heavy gamer games. Hardcore gamers probably play more with friends than with family, and need to attend meetups to play. 

I had three dimes in 2020. In addition to the evergreens Ascension and Star Realms, Race for the Galaxy made a come-back, because I have been playing the iPad version against AI's. The app is well-made, and the AI's are decent opponents. 

The four games I bought in 2020 are Bus, Ticket to Ride: London, Ticket to Ride: Japan and Baseball Highlights 2045. Bus because Splotter. London and Japan because both places have special meaning to my family. Michelle used to live in London, near Elephant & Castle, which is featured on the game map. As a family we have visited Japan and enjoyed our trip immensely. I bought Baseball Highlights 2045 because it is by Mike Fitzgerald, who designed the Mystery Rummy series, which I enjoyed. 

I only had a handful of new-to-me games this year, and none particularly stood out. What was a little different from past years was I managed to bring out more of my own older games. Often as boardgame hobbyists we are so busy going after the new and shiny, we neglect our own games gathering dust at home. This year, it has been a pleasure revisiting some of my own games I had not played for some time. Boardgames is not always about pursuing new novelties. This year I also managed to play some good and more recent games which I had missed previously, like Nippon, The Voyages of Marco Polo, and Vinhos. Due to the pandemic, I had fewer opportunities to play face-to-face with other gamers, so I played some games online, and these were available. 

New-to-me games in 2020: 

  1. Bus
  2. Keyflower
  3. Madeira
  4. Exit: The Game - The Mysterious Museum
  5. Exit: The Game - The Sinister Mansion
  6. Exit: The Game - Dead Man on the Orient Express
  7. Ticket To Ride: London 
  8. Nippon
  9. Endeavor: Age of Sail
  10. Pax Transhumanity
  11. Ticket To Ride: Japan 
  12. Age of Steam: Argentina
  13. Kuih Muih
  14. Crystal Palace
  15. Vinhos
  16. Gettysburg
  17. The Voyages of Marco Polo
  18. AIEOU
  19. The Crew
  20. Baseball Highlights 2045

I am designing my own game now. I started this late 2019. I have been playing boardgames for many years, and this was not the first time I dabbled in designing a game myself. Prior to this I had tried doing this at least twice, but these previous attempts eventually petered out and came to nought. For a long time I just stuck to enjoying playing, and did not contemplate making my own game. I was happy enough that way. This time I decided to go for it again because I wanted to create something I could call my own. It is a vanity project. I am doing it for fun and I'm not trying to make a lot of money from it. It's about enjoying the process, and creating something that others will have fun with too. 

I intend to go all the way with this one, likely self publishing it. I want to see the physical game in my hands. I have created a prototype and I have done some playtesting with different groups. More playtesting is needed. I'm in no hurry. I want to do this properly. The working title of the game is F My Life. It is a game about questionable life decisions. It's a little cheeky and has some dark humour. 

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