Winding down. The number of games I played dropped again. A few years ago, I played over 700–800 games per year with over 350 hours clocked. Now, 384 games and just 227 hours played. The last time I had a year this slow was 2010, and then I had a baby and a toddler.
I was able to meet my friends 17 times. Spring was haunted by Covid-19, but things got better in August. I was able to make it to the cafe meetings 2-3 times per month after that.
Last year Nooa was already focusing more on his friends and video games, and that trend continued this year. This showed up in the average player count, 2.9 – the highest since 2008.
Avoiding new games. I tried to avoid playing new games. Last year I played only 14 new games. This year, the number was 17, including one new Deckscape title, two Unlock sets, a new Magic: the Gathering format, and Taco Hat Cake Gift Pizza. The total number of actual new games was thus twelve.
Last year, I bought two new games. This year I went wild and bought three new games, the Party edition of L.A.M.A. and two expansions, one as a gift to Nooa. I spent 180 € on the new games and sold about ten games. At the moment, I don’t have any interest in buying new games, and even if I wanted to, it would make fairly little sense.
Focus on books. I do have a feeling that my board game hobby is diminishing. I suppose that is possible, and I’m not sure if I feel bad about that. With Lautapeliopas, I’ve taken a step back. I wrote just two game reviews this year. I passed all the review copies to others, letting them take over. That has been a good decision: Lautapeliopas now has a wider variety of voices and opinions.
Instead, I’ve been more and more focused on literature. I read more books in 2023 than I’ve ever done and reviewed every single one. I started studying literature at the open university. That has been interesting. Things change, and this is a change that has been going on in my life.
There are still games to discuss, so don’t worry.
Game of the Year 2022
Ark Nova has been the scene darling this year. It has won multiple awards and has shot up the BGG ranks like a rocket. As I write this, it’s currently ranked as the fourth-best game ever. That’s something. I’m a supporter: this game has been a delight. I bought my copy in April and have played the game over 20 times.
People tend to complain Ark Nova is a long game. It doesn’t have to be. We play two-player games in about 40 minutes, if not less. The turns move quickly, and there’s always something to think about. With the first expansion built into the base game, the big deck of cards is a nice source of randomness. Accepting what the deck gives you requires a certain state of mind. It’s no surprise Wigge is a former Magic: The Gathering player.
Ark Nova is, without a doubt, my Game of the Year 2022. I interviewed Mathias Wigge.
Good new games (2021–2022)
Brian Boru: High King of Ireland is a weird mix of trick-taking and area majorities. Losers may get good rewards; you want to win tricks with low cards and lose tricks with high cards. Being the second is often the best, except when you must be first. Weird and clever, which I believe is typical for the designer Peer Sylvester. Lovely game and I want more.
Cat in the Box is a weird trick-taking game, and my game group loves those. In this game, all cards in your hand are black. They only get a suit when you play them. Of course, there can only be one of each card, so you may end up causing a paradox if the five in your hand needs to be green, but the green five has already been played. It’s all very mind-blowing and funny.
Codex Naturalis is a pattern-building and card-layering game where you try to achieve goals by playing cards on the table. A friend pushed his copy for me to test. We tried it a couple of times and failed to see where the interesting gameplay was.
Deckscape: Dracula’s Castle is another instalment in the Deckscape series. I found this in the library, so we gave it a spin, even though the Deckscape games haven’t wowed me. This one had a clunky story, nonsensical puzzles and puzzles with multiple solutions. Not a great game, but hey, it was free.
Family Inc. is yet another incarnation of the push-your-luck game Reiner Knizia first published as Cheeky Monkey in 2007. I haven’t played any of the other variations, but based on what I’ve read, this one’s my favourite. Family Inc. isn’t a complicated game; it does a single thing but does it well. The main hook of the game is lovely. I wrote a first impressions post about the game.
Heat: Pedal to the Metal is Flamme Rouge with race cars, except it’s not. There’s some similarity, but I wouldn’t look too deep into it. This is a different beast, and based on my experience so far, I prefer Flamme Rouge. I wouldn’t mind exploring this a bit more, but my game group already seems to hate the game, so the chances are slim.
Next Station: London is a flip-and-write game about tube lines in an abstract version of London. The game has a nice basic hook of “extend versus focus”, and the way you draw four tube lines, one at a time, with earlier lines blocking routes for later lines, is a delight. I recorded my first impressions here.
Unlock! Game Adventures bases the scenarios on popular Asmodee titles. The Ticket to Ride made little sense story-wise, while Mysterium worked great. Pandemic was still the best of the bunch. I thought this was better than I expected and quite a good set. Here’s my blog post on this set.
Unlock! Legendary Adventures was also a good set of Unlock! scenarios. The Robin Hood scenario is the best of the box and has some really good puzzles and fun app stuff. Not a bad set, not at all. Here’s my blog post on this set.
Good older games I hadn’t played before
Escape Team is a cheap escape game with print & play components combined with a phone app. The scenarios are cheap, and while they lack the shine of commercial products, this is a good way to try escape games at a low cost. You can also use their app to create escape games, which is nice. I got the scenarios for free and wrote a review.
Furnace is a 2020 title, an engine-building game where 19th-century capitalists build production engines. I enjoyed the auction, where losing with a high value is useful. The engine-building wasn’t as thrilling. I could see playing this again, especially with fast players. At 60 minutes, Furnace is too long.
Scout is a climbing game that reminds me of Krass Kariert. Again you can’t reorder the cards in your hand and must play multi-card sets from adjacent cards. Scout adds extra wrinkles, as the cards are double-ended. I like this game a lot: Scout is easy to teach and fun to play. The three-player game is brutal, and the five-player game is a bit long, but I’d still play this at every player count from three up. I wrote my first impressions here.
Voodoo Prince is a Knizia trick-taking game from 2017 and is really hard to find. It comes up almost every time Texas Showdown is mentioned. I realized it could be played with the Sticheln deck, so we did, and it turns out this is a very good trick-taking game for five. The game is about getting the necessary number of tricks as late as possible, but if you wait too long, you’ll be screwed.
Zheng Fen is a traditional Chinese climbing game. We gave it a go and found it lacking. The combinations are weird. The game isn’t brilliant with three players; it may be better with four. In any case, I’d rather play Gang of Four.
Here’s a list of games that we played at least five times.
L.L.A.M.A. remained a bit family favourite and only got more popular, with over 20 plays this year. Even my father liked the game. I got the Party edition, which adds cute extra features.
Family Inc. was fun while I had the review copy on loan.
Krass Kariert remains a popular filler game with my game group, but I also introduced it to my kids. My daughter likes it, so we have played it occasionally. It is possible Scout will eat into these plays in the future.
Machi Koro still works. We’ve been trying some variations to the card row mechanism: separating cards 1–6 and 7–12 to different decks and serving five and five, removing the stacking of similar cards and so on. We’re not sure yet what works best.
Linko! also got a big boost from being introduced to the kids.
Twin It! hit the table twice, which was enough to get on to this list. It’s still a fun reaction test game.
Mahjong is something we play whenever we visit my mother. It would be fun to play at home, too, but it’s not as good with three players.
The Mind was also played twice. Every now and then it’s fun to play.
Second Chance is still popular with the kids. They would probably enjoy other, more complicated coupon fillers, but this is the one we have.
Mysteries of Old Peking still gets occasionally played. The big thing this year was that my daughter finally realized how racist and stereotypical this game is.
Love Letter got the five players required to make it to the list. I like that.
Games I’ve kept on enjoying
Magic: The Gathering is still running strong. I play it every day, getting on average about ten games per day.
The Crew: Mission Deep Sea hit the tables twice. A friend is working through the missions and I’ve helped him at it. This second version of The Crew is an excellent trick-taking game.
Innovation wasn’t as popular as in 2021, but still one of my most-played games. It was the last game we played in 2022. We like it a lot, and it still offers surprises and interesting fresh gameplay.
Lost Ruins of Arnak continues to charm me. We played this almost 20 times this year, with or without the expansion. I’m not sure how much I like the expansion; it’s ok, but I could do without it. The base game is solid enough. The challenge of making your resources last is very interesting.
A Feast for Odin got lots of plays earlier in 2022. I also played the game a lot on BGA. That improved my opinion of the base game, but I still prefer playing with The Norwegians expansion. I love the wealth of options in this game, there are so many valid strategies.
Res Arcana is still on decline. I bought Perlae et Imperii, but it hasn’t breathed that much life into this game. We played this on four occasions, which isn’t a lot, even though it meant a total of eleven plays. 75 plays would still be a great run for a game.
Everdell is still doing strong. People have received their big boxes from the latest crowdfunding campaigns, with all the expansions. I’m still happy with my base game + Bellfaire combo, and need nothing else. Everdell is a solid game that’s always fun to play.
Fields of Arle had a huge year in 2021. In 2022, A Feast for Odin was more popular. Still, we farmed the fields several times and enjoyed ourselves every time.
Anno 1800 was a big hit in 2021, but we only played it four times in 2022. That’s natural, and I’m still happy that we’re playing the game after all. It feels like it’s somewhat lacking – the tech tree is a bit odd at points – and the expansion that might improve the game has been delayed. We’ll see.
The not-so-good, the disappointing and the plain bad
Codex Naturalis wasn’t much fun. I had little expectations for it, so it wasn’t a big disappointment.
Zheng Fen was weird, and I’m thinking we may be missing something. It just seems like it’s one of worst climbing games I’ve played. Maybe it’s better with a larger group, but I’m not terribly eager to try.
Where are they now
Hallertau was the game of the year last year. Considering that, it was pretty sad it got only three plays. One of them was a three-player game, which was nice! I wouldn’t want to give up on the game quite yet.
Beyond the Sun was another hit of 2021, but got just one play in 2022. I thought about it, and ended up selling the game. If I played more, this would be welcome to stay in the collection, but given how few opportunities there are to play games now, I don’t need to own this.
Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile also left the collection. This one hurts: I would’ve loved to play this regularly. I can clearly see that’s not going to happen, though, so I let this one go. Things like these are part of what makes my interest in board games diminish: there’s something where I see beauty and lots of interesting game play, and then it’s super hard to play with any regularity. This leads to complete apathy: I don’t want to be interested in anything new anymore to avoid disappointments.
Fives and dimes
- L.L.A.M.A. (27)
- Ark Nova (24)
- The Crew: Mission Deep Sea (18)
- Innovation (17)
- Lost Ruins of Arnak (17)
- A Feast for Odin (11)
- Res Arcana (11)
- Family Inc. (11)
- Machi Koro (10)
- Krass Kariert (10)
- Linko (9)
- Crokinole (7)
- Everdell (7)
- Twin It! (7)
- Mahjong (6)
- Fields of Arle (6)
- Unlock! (6)
- The Mind (6)
- Second Chance (6)
- Escape Team (6)
- Mysteries of Old Peking (5)
- Tarock (5)
- Tzaar (5)
- Love Letter (5)
- Scout (5)
- Battle Line (21/22)
- San Juan (17/19)*
- Attika (17/20)
- Ta Yü (16/20)
- Carcassonne (16/22)*
- Tarock (14/16)
- Innovation (13/13)
- Samarkand: Routes to Riches (13/13)
- Oregon (12/12)
- Age of Steam (14/20)*
- Love Letter (11/11)
- Ingenious (13/19)*
- Mahjong (13/21)
- Mysteries of Old Peking (13/21)
- Afrikan tähti (13/21)
- Dominion (11/15)*
- Agricola (11/16)*
- Memory (10/14)*
- Kingdom Builder (9/11)
- Fields of Arle (8/8)
Games marked with an * didn’t get played this year.
- A Feast for Odin (3.75)
- Fields of Arle (3.15)
- Innovation (3.09)
- Magic: The Gathering (2.93)
- Tarock (2.86)
- Mahjong (2.74)
- Love Letter (2.68)
- Great Western Trail (2.66)
- Ora et Labora (2.55)
- Machi Koro (2.23)
- Nusfjord (2.14)
- Altiplano (1.83)
- Unlock! (1.73)
- Res Arcana (1.58)
- Dale of Merchants (1.35)
- Mysteries of Old Peking (1.28)
- Hallertau (1.27)
- Merkator (1.24)
- Spirit Island (1.21)
- Oregon (1.18)
- Everdell (1.17)
- 1825 (1.13)
- Conflict of Heroes (1.10)
- Ark Nova (1.04)
- Colony (0.93)
This is a metric devised by Eric Brosius, and the scores for the games are calculated this way:
For each game and each year, calculate SQRT(number of plays in a year) * (5/6^(current year – year)). Sum these, divide with the sum of year weights, raise to the second power and multiply by the game length in hours.
My H-index for this year is 10 (11 last year). My total H-index is 50, like last year and where it’s likely to stay for now.