Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Breakdown of 2000 Plays

Since Wednesday marked my 2000th recorded gameplay, I wanted to make a post detailing some of the games that got me to that point.  These have all been plays since 2007, so 6.5 years.  I've had ups and downs in terms of plays per year, but the average is around 300.

Without further adieu, my top 10 played games on the way to 2000.

#1 - Cosmic Encounter - 248 plays - 12.4%
The game I've played more than any other, though not lately.  I still love Cosmic and will never turn down an opportunity to play.

#2 - Dominion - 222 plays - 11.1%

#3 - Ticket to Ride - 87 plays - 4.35%
This counts all the different maps of Ticket to Ride.

#4 - Pandemic - 78 plays - 3.9%

#5 - Tsuro - 57 plays - 2.85%

#6 - Settlers of Catan - 56 plays - 2.8%
This includes Seafarers, Cities and Knights, Traders and Barbarians, as well as Star Trek.  Figured it was easier to just put them all together.

#7 - Incan Gold - 52 plays - 2.6%

#8 - King of Tokyo and Tiki Topple - 48 plays each - 2.4%

#10 - Battlestar Galactica - 46 plays - 2.3%

So 10 games account for 942 plays which is nearly half of all my game plays.  I've played 181 different games at least once. (after I eliminate different versions of Ticket to Ride, and other similar games) I've played 21 games at least 20 times, which I consider a good return on investment.

For me, the interesting thing will be to track the games I play that get me from 2000 to 2500 and/or 3000.

Let me leave you with this.
There are many games we love.  You can see some of mine on this list just based on how many times I play them.  We often get caught up in the newest games, but we should take the time to enjoy old favorites.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with playing new games, just don't forget about older ones.

What are some of your most played games?  Leave a comment please.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What Kind of Game Group?

I was listening to Dice Tower Podcast Episode 324 the other day, and there was a contributor, Barry, who was discussing the failings he had with his own game group.  In response, Tom and Eric each gave helpful advice for anyone running a game group.  The piece of advice that stuck with me boiled down to knowing your audience.  Simple things like not bringing Twilight Imperium 3 to a church game night, or a New Years Eve party, not bringing party games to a strategic gamers meeting.  The advice seems obvious at first, but I realized how many times I've messed that up, and seen others mess it up.

I am the lead organizer for a game group that meets in a card and comic shop.  As such, the typical patron isn't a hardcore boardgamer.  If they're a boardgamer at all, they're looking for something with a lot of theme, and relatively light - think Marvel Legendary, DC deckbuilding game, King of Tokyo, etc.  There's nothing wrong with these games, in fact there are many good games in this area, but I have to know my audience.  There are times I want to play something meatier, but I have to pick and choose.  Now, a lot of the regulars to gamenight are happy to try out just about anything, which is a great dynamic.  Still, I find myself bringing a lot of the same games each week.  At some point it becomes easier to play something everyone knows rather than teach something new.  The store environment lends itself to the lighter games, easy to teach, accommodates a good number of people.  There will always be room to try to add something new into the mix, even a deep Euro, but for the most part, the games played will be on the lighter side of things.

I also attend a bi-weekly gaming group that started out solely playing Settlers of Catan.  Now, I like Settlers, but I needed more variety, so I started bringing other games.  They didn't catch on at first, but eventually they did, and now Settlers hasn't even been opened up in 3 months.  It'll come back, but it's nice to have the variety.  The group perplexes me sometimes, because they like to keep things fairly light, yet there are several who really like Imperial which is a very deep game.  I think the group is willing to go for just about anything, and it's nice to have a game that pushes you from time to time, but you also have to have a comfort zone.  The great thing about this group is that it's growing, so hopefully we'll be splitting into multiple games so people can choose if they want something a little lighter or heavier.  All that to say, that group started as one where I thought along the lines of party games and light fillers like Incan Gold, For Sale, etc.  We still play those games, but we've also grown to love Resistance: Avalon, Article 27, and a whole slew of other games.  At this point I think I could bring just about any game to this group and they'd give it a go.

Know your audience.  If you're in a public place, and you want to get new people in, have games that will work for them.  If you really want to find the deep strategic gamers, they're out there too.  All kinds of game groups exist, because all kinds of different people like different styles and complexity levels of games.  It's important to know who you're looking to interact with and what kinds of games you want to play.  If you love strategy, you don't want to get stuck playing Munchkin or Wits and Wagers for the 20th time.  If you love party games, you don't want to be roped into Agricola or Puerto Rico.  There's nothing wrong with exploring new games, but don't torment yourself by repeatedly playing games you will never love just because other people do.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Resistance: Avalon Review

Resistance: Avalon
  • Designed by Don Eskridge
  • Published by Indie Boards and Cards
  • For 5-10 players, ages 13+
  • Playtime is around 20 minutes.
You are a knight of the round table who is attempting to go on quests and figure out who the traitors are.  Unless you're a traitor, in which case you are trying to fail quests and place blame on others.  Avalon is a game of deduction and bluffing.  Evil is around you, and your job is to figure it out before the kingdom is lost forever.

There will be a mix of traitors and loyal knights at the round table.  How many depends on the number of players, but typically it's one less than half the group.  At the start of the game, everyone is given a role card.  There are some generic loyal and traitor knights, but there are also some special characters which I'll discuss in a bit.  Once everyone looks at their card, a player will conduct the opening of the game by having everyone put their heads down and then traitors will look up and see each other.  Then they go back to sleep, but they place a thumb up in the center of the table.  At this point, Merlin(a good guy) wakes up and sees who all the evil players are, but no one sees him.  (Various other characters can add to this, but I won't discuss them here.)

Then the game begins.  The starting player nominates the number of players for the first quest (this varies based on player count) and all knights vote to approve or reject the team.  Since this is the round table, everyone has an equal voice and majority rules.  If a team is rejected, then the crown passes to the next player who nominates a new team.  If a team is approved, then those players go on a quest.

Typical roles for a 5 player game
On a quest, each player is given a Success and a Fail card.  If a player is loyal, they MUST play success.  If a player is a traitor, they have the option of playing success (deep cover) or playing a fail.  These cards are placed in the center and mixed up.  If there is even one fail, the quest fails.  The only way to succeed is if all cards are a success.  This continues until one side has won 3 quests.

At this point you're thinking that this sounds pretty simple, and that Merlin has a huge advantage.  Well, you're right on both counts.  The counter to Merlin is that at the end of the game, if the loyal knights are victorious, then the traitors have a chance to assassinate Merlin.  If they guess correctly, then they win instead.  The counter to the game being simple is that player interaction makes the game insanely messy and complicated in a good way.

Avalon is one of the, if not the best example of an interactive game.  Everyone knows a part of the puzzle.  Spies and Merlin know the whole thing, but they can't convey their knowledge without giving something away.  Every single action you perform in this game tells a little something about who you are.  Who you send on teams when you're the leader is vitally important, but so is the way you approve or reject teams.  Then there's the way you talk to other players.  There's a lot of group think, but you can never rely on it because you never know who's on your side.  I'm a very vocal player in this game, which is great when I'm Merlin or a spy, but terrible when I'm a normal good person.  Still, I have to be the same vocal person every time.  Because I'm very vocal, and because I'm a very logical thinker, I have a lot of persuasion power over people.  Someone once said I could convince a loyal knight that they were a traitor.  I don't think I can quite do that, but the idea is there.  I once gave a completely logical argument to Player A as to why I wasn't a spy and Player B was.  Player A believed me, and yes, you guessed it, I was a spy.  Those are the moments this game provides.

Avalon is reasonably themed.  I enjoy Arthurian lore, so the game is a fit for me.  This is a rethemed version, with additions, of The Resistance.  I bought the Resistance in 2012, and it fell flat.  It wasn't bad, but it just didn't grab anyone.  Avalon captured people's attention and imagination.  Having traitors in your midst provides tension to the game, but not so much that it makes people overly anxious.  I think the short playtime really helps with that balance.

Pile of components in the game.
A lot in a small box.
Very simple components here.  Everyone has an approve and reject token, there are loyalty cards, boards for the different player counts, and success/fail tokens to mark the results of past quests.  They're all solid and functional components.  I am noticing some wear on my approve and reject tokens, but that's not a huge issue.

Learning Curve
I think that almost anyone could learn this game with just the rules, but it probably takes a play to see how things work.  For some it may take more to feel comfortable enough with all that's going on, and to play all the different roles, before they really grasp the game.

I've already played 23 games in the 2 months or so that I've owned the game.  This almost always gets played at my biweekly Friday night gamenight, and we play at least 3 times.  I want to play this game even more than I already do.  There's something new every time I play, even when everyone has exactly the same roles they've already had.

Why I like Resistance: Avalon
This gives me a reason to flex my analytical muscle.  I love trying to figure out the puzzle.  It forces me to talk and organize things, but also to slide into the background at times.  I enjoy playing this game with any role, though Merlin is the most fun for me and loyal servant is the most challenging.

Why I don't like Resistance: Avalon
It really takes a group of people who are either comfortable with each other, or players who are willing to make wild accusations to keep the game interesting.  If everyone just does their own thing, the game can be boring.

All of the roles (From L to R, Top then Bottom)
Normal evil, Mordred, Assassin, Oberon, Morgana
Normal good x3, Percival, Merlin
If you couldn't tell from the above that I really really like this game, then you probably just skipped down here.  In all seriousness, this is a huge keeper for me, and it may do shocking things when my top games list comes out in January.

Some people call this a Werewolf/Mafia knockoff/clone/variant.  It's true to a very small extent, but here's why I like The Resistance better.  You don't need a moderator, which let's everyone play.  It also has no player elimination, which keeps everyone involved the entire time.  Sure, you can have a spy outed really early, but there's always the chance that they can try to work their way into good graces again, whereas in Mafia/Werewolf, once they're lynched they're gone forever.

Would it be a good game for Tabletop?
Sure, they already did normal Resistance, why not throw in Avalon?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September 2013 Recap

Another 30 days and a new month. Fall is in the air.  Pumpkin drinks are appearing at what seems like every store.  It's my sister's birthday.  Life is good.

The big happening for me was making an appearance on Dice Tower Showdown.  I made mention of that in a previous post, so you can find the link there.

I played 46 games in 30 days, which continues to put me ahead of my goal.  That brings the YTD total to 339/365.  Ideally I would be at 273, so 66 ahead and what I'm now going to call a very safe bet for 300 baring major surprises..  I played 6 games for the first time this year, which brings me up to 79/100.

Just a quick list of what I actually played in September
Avalon continues a strong showing from August.

10 Times
  • Resistance: Avalon
5 Times

  • TransAmerica
4 Times
  • King of Tokyo

3 Times
  • Get Bit
  • Star Trek: Attack Wing
2 Times
  • Article 27
  • Love Letter
1 Time
  • Adventurers
  • Citadels
  • Colossal Arena
  • Crappy Birthday
  • Eight-Minute Empire
  • Formula D
  • Hanabi
  • High Society
  • Legendary
  • Lost Cities
  • Munchkin
  • Roll Through the Ages
  • Shadows Over Camelot
  • Survive
  • Tiki Topple
  • Tsuro
  • X-Wing

I acquired 3 new games, and several expansions this month.  I picked up Star Trek Attack Wing core set, and then bought 1 of each of the 8 Wave 0 ships.  I also bought several Wave 3 X-Wing ships.  I won a game called Hex-A-Gon as a participation prize in a game tournament.  I also used Amazon support dollars from all of you clicking through and buying things to purchase Love Letter.

Looking ahead to October I'm going to try to get out the review of Article 27 that I said I'd get out in September.  I should also probably get a review of Avalon out since I've been playing it so much.  We'll see how the month goes.

Until next time, thanks for reading.