Since I've managed to acquire a massive backlog of games to blog about, some of the games mentioned here won't have links or blogs yet. They'll be added as and when possible.
At the start of 2021, I wondered whether my gaming would pick up in '21? The answer is a resounding yes! The breakdown is below.
Number of different games played: 78.
Of which were new (To me.): 46.
Total number of gaming sessions: 333.
Total number of different games played: 29.
Of which were new (To me.): 13.
Total number of gaming sessions: 49.
Why have the numbers have significantly increased? Put simply, it's due to Board Game Arena: Around May 2021, we reconnected with an old friend who had moved abroad and we started playing games on BGA and playing games digitally is really quick! There's no unpacking and packing, or setup and clean up, there's even no need to tally scores, it's all done automatically. As a result, it's easily possible to play 4 or 5 games in a 3-4 hour window and this includes playing a game several times! Hence the six fold increase in game sessions.
Which games were played the most?
Love Letter is a fairly quick game to complete and we probably play 2 or 3 games per session on BGA, so I don't doubt we've played it over a 100 times in 2021; not bad for a game that only consists of 16 cards.
Over 2021, Love Letter became more of a ritual than a game, the calculating, the guessing and double-bluffing, twists of luck and reversal of fortune, along with the banter and bragging made it our mainstay over BGA.
Enough of boring numbers; it's time to now talk about the highly coveted and still world-beating 3 Spellcaster and a Dwarf 2021 game awards!
These are not necessarily new games, but they are games I first encountered in 2021.
Game of the year: The Crew: Mission Deep Sea.
What a game! It blends analytical, cooperative gameplay and whist-like trick-taking to pack so much longevity and replay value into a 40 card deck, a 96 card task deck and some tokens; it's almost mind boggling.
Even after the final level has been completed it remains re-playable.
We only started playing The Crew: Mission Deep Sea in late October and by the year's end had played 25 sessions.
It was an instant hit.
Disappointment of the year: New Frontiers.
I find it hard to believe that I'm saying this about a game that shares DNA with the singular Race for the Galaxy, but I found New Frontiers just frustrating to play.
It takes the core concepts of Race for the Galaxy and turns them into a board game, also adding 2 currencies (Money & colonists.) to the mix, this serves to add complexity to the game, yet somehow New Frontiers seems quicker to play and makes for a less satisfactory experience? So quick in fact, that often the game ended before I managed to do anything interesting.
It's not bad because it's based on a great game, just.... disappointing.
Surprise of the year: The Crew: Mission Deep Sea.
I'm going have to give it to The Crew: Mission Deep Sea for the reasons above.
Honourable mention: Railroad Ink.
This roll-and-write, dice-rolling and route-building game is accessible, easy to learn and a pleasure to play. It throws a healthy dose of luck into the game, but because of the way the game plays, this luck affects all players equally, so if a player doesn't score well, they've only got their planning and themselves to blame.
12th November 2021
It's a Friday night and we're round Simon's for some impromptu evening gaming.
“I beg your pardon,” said the Mole, pulling himself together with an effort. “You must think me very rude; but all this is so new to me."
Well, Everdell is new to me, mixing various game mechanics and lush anthropomorphic artwork.
What's in a game?
Everdell is a game that has a big footprint and a lot components.
The components are well made and the attention to detail for the most part is excellent. In particular, the resources look great as do the individualised meeples. We didn't use the tree but it's a nice touch
Even if the anthropomorphised artwork is not to your taste, it's hard to fault the quality of the artwork and rich, warm colour palettes used throughout on the board and all the cards.
Iconography is where the game could be improved though. Sometimes, the text used on the critter and construction cards is perhaps a little too small as are the symbols and sometimes, to maintain the game's aesthetic, you'll encounter a small around of tiny writing surrounded by a lot of unused space. Having said that, it's a quibble, not a gamebreaker and doesn't really detract from the game's quality
How's it play?
On to play
The objective in Everdell is to construct the best city, that is the city that scores the most victory points. Players achieve this by playing critters and constructions into their tableau.
When somebody becomes the active player, they can perform 1 action from a choice of 3 and then player progresses to the player to the left. Players continue performing actions until they have to or choose to stop; in which case the season has ended for them. Everdell is played over 4 seasons.
When the 4th season is completed, then the game is over.
Victory points can be scored from a variety or sources, including cards, tokens and events.
Points are tallied, highest score wins.
It's obvious that a lot of thought and care has gone into the game's presentation and charm. It's one of the best looking games I've seen in a while and I always appreciate the extra effort committed to a game.
Hmmm, what else to say about Everdell; for the most part, it's initially a pretty solid, straightforward game, although it feels a like a bit of a slow burner.
While the game's cards provide players with a variety of approaches choices and plays to make. Having said that, the game's action-economy is actually quite tight, almost too harsh. E.g, in the 1st season, players will only have 2 workers to gain resources in order to play cards, it means players will have to pay close attention to optimising their plays and actions. card synergy can make a big difference.
It gave me the feeling that players will need to know what they're doing from their first action in order to play Everdell competitively.
Additionally, in comparison to other tableau building games, it feels like the tableau in Everdell provides much more limited benefits that lacks the satisfaction putting together a good tableau.
At best, production cards are reactivated once every other season - or round - but because players have multiple actions in a single season, it means a lengthy gap before those reactivations. This is something players will need to consider when playing cards.
All of this makes the choices in Everdell important - which is the sign of a good game.
Ultimately though, I just found it a little unexciting and unengaging and while it wouldn't be my first choice, I'd have no qualms about playing Everdell again.
I play, I paint.