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.
15th August 2021
Sunday evening is here again and I'm my living room logged into Board Game Arena on my PC for some gaming goodness.
First up was 6 nimmit!. 6 nimmit! is 6 takes in German, it's quite an abstract game and the name will make sense when you seen the rules.
What's in a game?
6 nimmit is a card game and comes with a deck of 104 cards number from 1 to... you guessed it... 104 and that's it for game components. Each card also displays one or more symbols which are endearingly known as bullheads. Bullheads are bad.
The cards are normal quality as you'd expect.
There's pretty much no artwork to speak off, other than the symbol for bullheads and colours used to mark out cards which have more than 1 bullhead symbol.
The game has no iconography other than numbers and bullheads and being an abstract game, doesn't need anything else.
How's it play?
On to play
6 nimmit! is played over several rounds and the goal is for players to empty their hand of cards and avoid collecting other cards as much as possible each round, which is not as easy as you might think...
How is this done, well read on.
Play continues through rounds until at the end of a round, in which at least one player has accumulated 66 or more bullheads..
Points are tallied, the player who has collected the lowest number of bullheads wins.
As per the brevity of this blog post, 6 nimmit! is a very simple game to learn, it's also a curious mix of strategy and unpredictability.
The objective is obviously to try and not collect cards, they'll be times that a player will want to play lower value cards to 'get into' a row before it gets to 5 cards, conversely, they'll times they want to play higher cards to go later and hope someone plays the 6th card in a row to clear it out.
Sometimes players will want to play very low and choose which row to take because it's the best of a bad set of choices, the bullheads a row may contain can vary greatly. Also choosing which row to take presents a player with the opportunity to mess with other players.
Watching a row you planned to play a card into vanish and leave a much worse alternative is quite the surprise.
And that's the thing, while some card plays can be much safer than others, it's almost always never 100% safe and it's other players bring that element of aforementioned of unpredictability to the game.
Quick to pick-up-and-play, 6 nimmit! can be a lot of fun with its surprises and reversals -of-fortune, provided you don't find playing fairly randomised games frustrating and you're not too much of a serious gamer.
10th August 2021
We're with the Woking Gaming Club for board gaming night at The Sovereigns in Woking for the second and final game of the evening.
So apparently, if you're a kid, the most important things to you, other than building a fort, is pizza and toys. Welcome to Fort, a game about very fickle personal relationships!
What's in a game?
The cards and boards are pretty standard, normal quality components, what you'd expect from a modern game.
The tokens are anything but average, big, chunky and colourful, they're a great addition to the game.
Stylised child-like art is used throughout Fort to decorate its cards and components, normally against a plain but colourful background, fairly effective art in my opinion.
Fort uses a lot of iconography; between the 7 suits on the cards and a plethora of symbols for card actions, there quite a lot to remember and the stylised art used for icons isn't always instantly clear. It's not a gamebreaker by any means but it does add to the learning curve.
How's it play?
On to play
A round is pretty standard in Fort, the active player plays a card and the other players react. Then the player to the left becomes the active player.
There are 3 ways the endgame can be triggered.
If the park deck is depleted.
If any player reaches 25 or higher on the victory track.
If any player reaches fort level 5, they acquire the Macaroni Sculpture Card.
Once one of these criteria have been met, the current round is completed. Points can come the victory track, fort level, made up rule cards and the Macaroni Sculpture Card.
Points are tallied, highest score wins.
The central theme and premise behind Fort is quite clever and charming. That is that friend cards are literally friends: Don't play a friend card, then that friend may go hang out with another player, although best friends are always loyal and more potential friends may be found at the park.
Building a fort is of paramount importance as are pizzas and toys. Halcyon days!
Fort blends together a bit of deck-building and a bit of drafting. Broadly speaking it provides players with the choice of performing actions to increase their victory points, or build up their fort. One provides points towards winning and the other confers benefits which hopefully helps later on.
Another very important strategy here is to watch what other players put into their yards, some vulture-like scavenging may net the sharp-eyed player's a useful card, simultaneously denying another player of it.
Thus players will also want to play as many of their 5 cards as possible, minimising the risk of losing friends. The better combos a player can generate, the more cards they can play.
But despite this, I found Fort a finicky game to play, there's lots of suits to remember, somewhat indecipherable iconography to navigate and occasionally overly-complex actions to comprehend.
The rule about having to fully complete an action in order to perform it all was a sticking point for me. I'm sure it's there's for balancing or a legitimate reason, but it felt so unnecessary and counter-intuitive.
It's frustrating being unable to use a card because it's too powerful and having to discard it into the yard, only to watch another player snatch it up. It turns Fort from what could have been light, breezy and quick, into slow, pedestrian grind instead.
Fort is a mechanically sound game with a strong theme and great presentation but somehow becomes a forgettable experience.
I play, I paint.