Welcome to Board Gamers Anonymous. Hello, my name is Hannah and I have a board game addiction. I blame 2020 and it’s rollercoaster of rubbish entirely for this though. We initially completed Netflix, iPlayer and NowTV before we both decided that we needed something a bit more engaging than staring into a screen to use up all the time we suddenly had. We decided to crack the seal on a couple of games we had got for Christmas and got a Zatu mystery box. Well, that was like opening Pandora’s Box. We spent all our saved commute money on games. So many games. Here is my journey of playing my collection!
But Why The Challenge?
Our collection is a healthy mix of base games and expansions for games that we love. What we have noticed though is that we have serious favouritism over some games, and we neglect others. Not because we don’t like them, but we just forget how good they are? We wanted to go through all of our games, and decide which games we wanted to keep, but some of these games hadn’t been played in months, perhaps years, so how could we make any choices without revisiting them?
We had 87 base games to play, so surely it would be doable in a month whilst still working full time, and continuing to work out four times a week, and still managing to make food and keep life going. I mean this is how we talked ourselves into this challenge. Writing it now, it seems madder that I initially thought of playing my collection.
The Meagre Planning
Our planning simply involved counting the games and writing a numbered list for us to fill in as we went. For this challenge, we ignored expansions and any games that we couldn’t play at two or over a video call. We had set ourselves the task of playing all 87 games at least once during the 28 days of the challenge. This meant we needed to play 3 games a day to stay on target, which sounds quite easy if you are playing Dobble, Point Salad and Age of War.
Not so much if you are playing Spirit Island, Five Tribes and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. We needed to be smart about which games we played at the weekend, and which we reserved for playing in the evenings after work and life had been completed for the day. Heavier and longer games are not for starting on a Tuesday night at 7 PM.
We started with playing some of our absolute favourites; Welcome To Your Perfect Home was one of the firsts along with My City. Welcome To is a flip and fill that takes about 15 mins to play with two players, and we usually play a best of three. You fill in your streets with numbers in ascending or descending runs trying to fill in as many numbers as possible to fulfil the contracts first and secure mega points.
If you are second to fulfil a contract that gets you a measly handful of points usually. You also want to have as many pools as possible, and as many parks, and also maximise your points by using the estate agency and temp agency abilities. It is one of those games where you are always left wanting more as you never get to do all the things you wanted to. This is its beauty though.
If you are eagle-eyed, you may have already seen my review of My City published by Kosmos. This is a legacy game, our first in fact, and it is all kinds of brilliant. Don’t worry there are no spoilers in the review, nor in any of the images. The game is segmented into 8 chapter envelopes, each containing 3 episodes. The episodes all have varying rules, and you add stickers to the board throughout according to whether you won or lost the episode. So after a couple of games, everyone will have a different personalised player board and pieces. The game is excellent, the legacy part is amazing and the eternal game is a nice polynomial tile-laying game.
We started the challenge, and then promptly life got in the way. As life has a habit of doing. By the end of the first week, we were 7 days in and had only played 7 games. I thought we had gone in with our eyes wide open, but if I am honest, there were far more games than we thought that we didn’t know without using the rulebook. We also started by playing some of our current “in” games, which of course meant that the easiest ones had already gone. This was not our smartest move, if you are ever to walk in my footsteps, choose to play harder games first. Like eating your vegetables before you eat your fish fingers. Which makes sense, but we just didn’t plan very well for playing my collection.
Getting Back on Track
Not one to be beaten by a challenge I created for myself however, we put on our big-girl-pants and saddled up for a long weekend of gaming. Friday we got a zoom game of Cranium sorted with my work colleagues. I only started this job in September, but by November I was running Mysterium Park sessions for the whole of the UK sales and operations as team-building exercises. Some of the guys fancied running their own games nights, and I was more than up for joining in rather than running the game! I spelt our way to victory. I can spell “assassins” backwards under pressure and with a few vinos in my system.
We also managed a game of Herd Mentality. In Herd Mentality you don’t need to know the right answer to the question, you simply need to say the same as the majority of people to win a point. If you are the odd-one-out you are lumbered with the pink cow of shame. You can still get points but you can’t win until you manage to get rid of it by someone else picking a ridiculous answer no one else did. It’s at this point when you realise how weirdly some people think. Name a famous John? What would you say, would you ever think that John the Baptist was the most obvious answer? Nope, me neither, but MJ spent a good two minutes explaining why my John Lennon answer was far inferior to his John the Baptist. Needless to say, he still got the pink cow for his troubles!
The Biggest Surprise of the Challenge
The Dwarves published by Pegasus Spiele was one of the biggest surprises of this challenge. This game is based on a hugely popular book series, although it seems that the books are only really popular in Germany… The box is not overly inspiring, and so I guess it never leapt off our shelves and got to the table. This challenge was perfect for forcing us to play it, and well turns out it is actually really good.
The game features some brilliant dwarf miniatures each has a different skill and special player power. There is one lady-dwarf, which I guess is exactly the same number that Lord of the Rings managed to give a named role to so I suppose that is the going rate! The map is an “olde worlde” design with a hexagon overlay, it’s functional and actually kind of beautiful when you look closely at it. The game plays like the love child of Risk and Pandemic, each turn the enemy hordes descend and ravage the land. You must keep the enemies at bay whilst also completing the challenges that the story presents you.
These story elements give you changing objectives to achieve in order to win, but you also must make sure you keep one eye on the enemy cubes and ensure that they are kept in check. This game is one of those cooperative games that really help you keep on your toes, everything that you do is dice driven, although as you progress in the game you can upgrade your cards and character traits to mitigate the luck of the rolls. This game deserves more love than it gets, and the new Big Box is on its way soon enough, worth a look!
Getting Into The Swing of Playing My Collection
Our challenge is well underway, and we are managing to play 3 games most evenings after work. This is a real brain burn as the weeks go on aw we are playing my collection. We work all day, then we do a quick workout and play a game whilst tea is cooking, wolf down our dinner and then play until bedtime. I think now is a prudent time to make it clear that this is a challenge, it isn’t easy. But of course, if it were easy, then no one would be interested in how we got on. We LOVE games, just love them.
It’s the FINAL COUNTDOWN
Our final game of the challenge needed to be a special one. We settled on playing the “Triple Century”, this is the combination of all three of the Century game series played together. Century Spice Road is a firm favourite of ours. This is a brain bender of resource and hand management to ensure resource upgrading and victory point card gain. The second game, Eastern Wonders, is again resource management but this game uses a different mechanism where you move your ship around a map and build outposts to gain more resources. The third game, A New World utilizes worker placement in a third different game although unlike the same suggests, this is set in the same world. I enjoy all of these three games on their own, but I love the fact you can combine them to form new bigger games too.
The triple Century game uses aspects from each of the games and brings them together into a game that is top-notch. You have worker placement as the key mechanism, but it takes aspects of the other two games and combines them into the third game seamlessly. This game I will warn you takes up some serious table space, but it is immersive and brilliant fun. If you want a game that leaves you wanting more, then check out the triple Century. There are so many options to choose from and you simply cannot do everything even though you really want to.
Round-Up of Challenge
We have been keeping track of our win rates, how long games took and also the colours we chose each time this was available. I am a yellow player. The thing is, when I knew that I was tracking it and always picking yellow, I felt this need to not be predictable. So I found myself choosing rogue colours rather than faithful yellow who has served me so well. Anyway, despite my best unintentional efforts to skew the colour stats, yellow was still the most selected colour. In total, 43 colours were chosen throughout and yellow was selected 9 times.
We played 14 co-op games throughout the challenge, and we won 12 of them (86%). MJ and I have had almost a whole year of being cooped up just the two of us. I guess we have learnt to be more in tune with each other. It clearly has improved our ability to work well as a team though as our win stats evidence. Most of our games are competitive though, and of all the games we played, I won 56% of the games played. Blacknell reigns victorious, although since the challenge ended I have been absolutely smashed into submission, so my winning streak is over.
And finally, how long did we spend gaming during the challenge? The tallied total stands at 2920 minutes or 48 hours and 40 mins for playing my collection. Given the state of the world, I cannot think of a better thing to spend my time on! I can mark the experiment of playing my collection a success!