RogerBW's Blog

2016 in boardgames 28 December 2016

2016 was a very boardgame-ful year. I didn't plan it that way, but I'm not objecting.

My Eddington number for games this year (the largest number E such that I have played E different games at least E times each) was six, with seven games: Grifters, Red7, Don't Mess with Cthulhu, Mysterium, Timeline: Historical Events, Leaving Earth and Captain Sonar. I played a total of 182 games, about one per two days, though of course the distribution was nothing like that even.

I didn't get to play enough Firefly for my taste, but I did moderate one PBF game on the BoardGameGeek forums.

I went to Essen, demonstrating for Indie Boards & Cards again and coming back with a big bag of games.

I'm not going to do a Top Ten list, but here are some of my favourites of the year in various categories, in no particular order:

Favourite abstract game: Small Star Empires. Yes, it's basically the same idea as Hey, That's My Fish!, but it's much quicker to set up, and I prefer the science-fiction theme even if it doesn't really make much sense; the scoring can be a bit fiddly but this is my big Essen discovery and I'm biased in its favour.

Favourite attack-your-friends game: Grifters. Stockholm Syndrome, maybe, but I've played it a few times since Essen and still enjoyed it.

Favourite deck-building game: Automobiles. Well, it's technically cube-building, and that's one of the reasons why I like it; it's a new haptic spin (with bonus automatic shuffling) on a standard mechanic. But it also works for me, and manages to make an entire car race interesting rather than just letting the person who gets an early lead become a runaway winner.

Favourite gateway game, for hooking in new players: Mysterium (though Captain Sonar comes close). The explanation is a bit more fiddly than it might have been, but once people have played the first round they quickly pick up what's going on. One of these days I may even play it as a player, rather than as a ghost.

Favourite pocketable game: Red7. Again it's a little tricky to explain, but people quickly pick it up with some examples, and it's easy to pull out and play in a pub.

Favourite complicated game: Leaving Earth (with Outer Planets). Well, it would be, really - a theme I love, mechanics that are just complex enough to keep things interesting while still being playable. Hits all the spots.

It's a great time to be a boardgamer. What am I concerned about? App integration and "Legacy" games, mostly: as far as I'm concerned a boardgame should be something you can play dozens of times, put on a shelf for twenty years, and play dozens of times more. As more people from the video-game world drift into boardgames (where it's much nicer because it doesn't cost millions to develop a top-end title), I suspect they bring with them the idea that a game should provide a set number of hours of entertainment and then be over.

[Buy Small Star Empires at Amazon] [Buy Grifters at Amazon] [Buy Automobiles at Amazon] [Buy Mysterium at Amazon] [Buy Captain Sonar at Amazon] and help support the blog.

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