From a board game perspective, for me this year has been one of disciplined spending and less disciplined blogging. In the whole year, I’ve spent over £10 on only a single game – Samarkand: Routes to Riches (a 2010 train game in disguise, designed by David V.H. Peters and Harry Wu). Additionally, however, in the year to date, I’ve only made 15 posts on this site prior to this one.
In part, the two are connected: I feel diminished need for novelty in the games I’m playing, and have less immediately communicable novel thoughts to put here. There’s a lot of pleasure in learning something new from a game on the fiftieth time playing it: that thing, however, tends to be pretty nebulous – after all, it resisted pinpointing in the first 49 plays. When that game is one which tends to be dismissed as trivial by most regular board game players – Ticket to Ride, for instance – any post about such a nuance is not likely to find the audience which would appreciate it. Getting that kind of nebulous thing into words is a lot of work, and the incentive isn’t there.
Returning to my buying habits, I have purchased a few expansions during the course of the year: indeed, most times I’ve felt inclined to reward myself with something new, I’ve bought an expansion rather than an entirely new game. Among these have been the first and third volumes of the Ticket to Ride map collection series (Asia and Africa respectively), a couple of the Cosmic Encounter expansions, and the Wisdom and Warfare expansion for Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game. Don’t expect reviews soon for any of these: I’m playing each frequently with two, but I know I won’t be able to convince my board game club to play any one of these enough for me to feel qualified to pronounce judgement.
I don’t feel any hunger to nominate a game of the year, for broadly similar reasons. Maybe Zooloretto: The Dice Game. But in my affections it’s nowhere close to Kakerlakenpoker Royal (my favourite from last year). I don’t feel this has been a stellar year.
In terms of my personal most rewarding gaming experiences, I particularly enjoyed taking Hanabi on a visit to my parents – they ended up asking to play each day of my week long stay. After I left, my mother even ordered a copy to give her friends for Christmas (and presumably play with them). Based, in part, on this experience, I’m excited to introduce my parents to Ticket to Ride via the team play variant the Asia expansion introduces. I think it’ll suit their quiz game derived proclivity towards playing as a partnership.
I’ve also stumbled into designing a card game, and that’s brought a fair few kicks so far with the private, unexpected moments of enlightenment it has provoked. At the moment, it only exists as a couple of hundred index cards with scribbles on them: however, preliminary playtests with the game in this form have me thinking there is something there worth building upon. The game is a trading game set in the world of today, and features very liberal trading and deal making (sneaking out of the room to forge a deal in secret is encouraged: eavesdropping on such trades is also highly endorsed). The game also features, I think, a couple of neat twists on action selection which should promote both the formation of contingent alliances and suspicion of the partners in those alliances.
The game, codenamed Trust, is something I’ll be posting about here in the coming year. Hopefully, however, someone else will also produce something to excite me and get me raving here. Few games may have really excited me this year, but I’ve not lost my hunger to seek excitement in games.