Sunday 31 December 2023

my 2023

When I started this blog in 2007, I was still a salaryman. Boardgames was purely a hobby. Blogging was about capturing memories and sharing stories. Now I have left full-time employment and I am self-employed. For many years I have always considered boardgames as just a hobby. However now it has evolved to be also part of work, part of business. Tell me 10 years ago, I wouldn't have believed it. 

Designing and publishing games, starting with Dancing Queen in 2022, is just one part of it. It is not my main business. My full-time work is leadership training. I have now incorporated boardgames into my training programmes. It creates a different, memorable experience for my attendees. By engaging my attendees using giant boardgames, I convey lessons about leadership, communication and organisation culture in an impactful and memorable manner. This year, I started using Pandemic in my training programmes, and it has been very well received. This made me appreciate even more the beauty of the design. Every time I conduct a Pandemic session, there is someone who comes up to me to ask where they can buy a copy of the game. I am now planning to develop a third giant boardgame to be used for training. I have not yet decided whether to design my own or to use an existing game. My first giant boardgame was my own design.  

Giant version of Pandemic

Often when a hobby becomes work, it becomes no longer fun. I am grateful that this hasn't yet happened to me. I greatly enjoy my work and the boardgame aspects of it. 

In 2023 I played more games than 2022. That surprised me. I had thought I played less in 2023 because I have been busy with work. My records tell me otherwise. The games I have played the most of is Race for the Galaxy, which I play against AI's on the iPad. The next two are Star Realms and Ascension, both played on my phone. These three games contributed the most to the numbers, so by looking at the total number of games played, it's hard to tell whether I've played more games in person. I think I have attended fewer gaming sessions in 2023. Thankfully I still find that I have tried many new games. Of the games I have played for the first time in 2023, one that pleasantly surprised me was SCOUT

In recent years I tend to like games which bring something new to the table. I like seeing innovation and new ideas. Something I've never seen before. This is why I like trying games from Japan. They often have some crazy or nifty ideas. I enjoyed this year's Spiel des Jahres winner - Challengers! I think it is a breath of fresh air. 

Whale Riders doesn't have completely new ideas, but it is an elegant and polished design. Quite simple, yet strategic. It reminds me of the classics from the 90's and 00's.  

Faiyum's card market management aspect is a little like Power Grid. It has a deck-building element. What I like most about it is how the players have interdependencies. They are relying on one another despite being competitors trying to outdo one another in front of the Pharaoh. You have to watch what your opponents are doing and adjust your plans accordingly. No man is an island. You are part of the builders ecosystem. I like how organic the game is. 

In 2023 I tried a few popular games, but I didn't enjoy them as much as most gamers. Okay, unpopular opinion coming. I didn't like Ark Nova or Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. Both are in the BGG top 10. Barrage didn't work for me either, and it's BGG top 50. Weather Machine is another popular game that didn't click with me. I didn't enjoy these games because I felt they didn't bring anything new to the table. I felt like I was playing just another game I had played before, with a different setting. 


Games which I found interesting and fresh include Yokai Septet and Cat in the Box. I admire these designs because they offer some innovation. I get to experience something different. To be completely honest, I don't love them. They please me intellectually but do not captivate me on a more emotional level. Still, I admire and like them, and prefer them over many other better known games. 

I enjoyed Horseless Carriage from Splotter. It very much has their signature - unforgiving and unapologetic. Not as strong as Food Chain Magnate or Indonesia, but I'm happy to own it. I need to play more. 

I'm still working my way through Ticket To Ride: Legacy. So far so good. I shall only comment after I have completed it. It's going to be in 2024. 

In 2023 I spent much time on game design and publishing. I am spending more time creating, and less time consuming. It's a different way of enjoying the boardgame hobby. I thought I must be playing fewer games this year compared to last year, and I was surprised the numbers tell me otherwise. I thought I had fewer gaming sessions, because I spent more time on designing, prototyping and playtesting. I participated in two boardgame events, Any Games and BOXCON

The Cili Padi Games banner first appeared at Any Games

Games I showed off at BOXCON (mostly prototypes)

For the first time in my life I was on national television, and it was thanks to boardgames. I was interviewed about boardgames and parenting (in Chinese). 

My 2023 game publishing project is Snow White and the Eleven Dwarfs. This is a very different game from Dancing Queen. Dancing Queen is a 2-player-only game. Despite being a microgame, it is not actually a simple game. It is tricky to learn. It is unusual. It can be difficult for non-gamers to learn by themselves. I imagine only experienced gamers will be able to quickly appreciate the nuances. Snow White is a game that needs at least 7 players, and it supports up to 18. It is a much simpler game, and casual gamers can pick it up easily. It is the kind of game you play at parties and gatherings. 

I had hoped to release the game in December, but the progress was slower than I had hoped. It was the main project I have been working on this year, but it will be out only early 2024. 

Happy New Year 2024, and Happy Gaming! 


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