2017: Year in Review

Happy New Year, everybody! With the calendars changing, this seems like a good time to look back on my progress over the past year.

Since setting out one year ago to play every game in the BoardGameGeek Top 100, I have nearly reached the halfway point. By my count, I’ve played 46 games on the Top 100 list as of 1/1/2018. This includes 80% of the top 15 games on the list.

Out of those games I’ve written full-length reviews of 29 of them, along with three other games not in the current Top 100. Of those three reviews, one is of a game that dropped off the list after quite a long run, another is of a game that has not yet made it but should do so in 2018, and the other is of a game that will surely never appear on the list — but I felt compelled to write about it nonetheless.

My Top Reviews of 2017

Of all the posts I wrote in 2017, here are my top 5 most popular reviews, as voted by the BoardGameGeek community:

5) Twilight Struggle

This was one of my first epic gaming experiences of the year. Preparing for it felt a bit like cramming for an exam, and I was just scraping the surface in terms of strategy. It was tense, stressful, and punishing — and I’d play it again in a heartbeat.

4) War of the Ring, 2nd Edition

War of the Ring was at the very top of my list in terms of games I hoped to play someday, so when the opportunity came along I jumped at it. This incredible asymmetric battle between the forces of good and evil really feels like experiencing the Lord of the Rings trilogy in a ‘what-if’ universe. If you like LotR and/or heavy games, it’s an absolute must-play.

3) Puerto Rico

I wrote this review in response to Shut Up and Sit Down’s comprehensive overview of the BGG Top 100 earlier this year, in which one of the reviewers mentioned he had not yet tried Puerto Rico. I made the case that while Puerto Rico might not be as flashy as the latest-and-greatest games, it’s a modern classic that should not be overlooked.

2) Go

Even though Go seemed destined to drop out of the Top 100 soon (and it did), I felt that I needed to write about this game that has truly stood the test of time. Though I don’t own a lot of abstract games, I really enjoyed learning Go and getting schooled by my friend Matthew. I also paid homage to the game’s longevity with a special feature,  “Ye Olde BoardGameGeek Top X“, which attempted to recreate the BGG Top 10 as of 1000 BC.

1) Tigris and Euphrates

Ironically enough, my most popular review of the year was of a game that I received decades earlier and never played at the time. I probably never would have thought to dust it off if not for seeing it on the Top 100 list, but am I ever glad I did. This 1996 masterpiece was far ahead of its time, and is now one of my very favorite games. This game is proof that you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

 

Looking Forward to 2018

As I continue to blaze a trail through the Top 100 and other games of interest (perhaps some future Top 100 games among them), my backlog of reviews to write grows ever longer. I still want to play every game in the Top 100, but I’m starting to realize that I probably won’t write a full review of each one. I’m trying increasingly to prioritize writing about the games that spark my imagination — I don’t want to waste your time or mine with a review that doesn’t have something exciting or interesting to say.

For the other games I play that don’t quite warrant a full review, I’m thinking about ways that I can share some brief thoughts without going too in depth. I recently got a microphone for recording podcasts as a Christmas present, and I hope to give that a spin sometime soon. If it turns out well, I’ll post to the site to share the audio with you!

In terms of games I’m particularly excited to write about early in 2018, the following are a few that currently top my list:

  • Santorini– My new favorite 2 player game; the ‘god power’ cards imbue an incredible amount of variability. Still exploring this one but absolutely loving it so far.
  • Gloomhaven– Speaking of games in the ‘still exploring’ department, this one is an absolute monster and I’d be mad at how much of my time it has taken up… if it wasn’t just so darn good. And as of today, it’s the new #1 game on the BGG rankings! It’s not a matter of if I’ll post some thoughts on this one, simply when.
  • Mansions of Madness (2nd ed.)- The Lovecraft genre generally turns me off, but this game is so good that it overcomes that hurdle for me. I love the way that the companion app preserves the mystery of exploration in the game, and manages a lot of the fiddly calculations and stat tracking. I’ve played two of the scenarios so far and feel that I’ve already got plenty of good material for a post about this one.
  • Clank!– I’ve played this one a few times over the holiday break and am really liking their take on the deck building mechanic. I’m considering a combo review with Dominion and Intrigue, which have also been hitting the table in recent months.

And of course, I’m going to continue posting ‘Haven Journal‘ entries about my game group’s playthrough of Pandemic Legacy Season 2, which we’re loving so far. It’s January, so the next entry is coming soon!

Goals for 2018

Lastly, here are my goals (the board gaming ones, at least) for the coming year. I’ll check back a year from now to see how I did:

  • Play the oldest remaining games on the list (Crokinole, El Grande)
  • Discover an original or collector’s edition of a game on the list
  • Play every game in the BGG Top 20 by year end (8 remaining)
  • Attend a board game convention

As always, thanks for reading. Happy New Year!

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