Last year was a good year of gaming for me. I completed 355 plays across 52 unique games. Of those 52, nearly half were new (to me) games. The bulk of the 355 plays come from my nickel (5+ plays) and dime (10+ plays) list.
Dimes (10+ plays)
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
Ascension saw a ton of play by virtue of connecting with geographically disparate gamers via the awesome Playdek implementation on iOS. When I first played this a couple of years ago, it seemed to be an exercise in maximizing the points earned each turn. And it is that, to a degree. On the other hand, knowledge of the cards, what they do and how to create combos with other cards is just as important. In the end, the outcome will be determined by the card draw for equally matched opponents. Still, a lot of fun can be had for those with an iPhone or iPad and a willingness to drop the $10 or so for the app and expansions (vs. $75+ for the card game and expansions).
24/7: The Game
I’ve always like 24/7 and last year saw a resurgence in the number of plays, in part, because I was developing a digital version for the iPhone and iPad. It works well with 3 or 4 players but really shines with 2.
Summoner Wars, like Ascension, is another game I tried out a couple of years ago, thought it was ok and didn’t have much interest until the iOS version was released. It also has a lot more going for it than initially perceived and the digital version is incredibly well done.
Deck building with dice. It’s fun as long as it doesn’t last for more than 20-30 minutes. Once you know how to play, I think it’s important to use the expert rules.
It’s a knife fight in a phone booth. Great game, especially with 2 players. It’s even better in the digital version since you don’t spend time figuring initiative during battles.
Nickels (5+ plays)
A Few Acres of Snow
Deck building + board game. Great, asymmetrical game on the French and Indian War from Wallace. Experienced players had a clear path to victory using the 1st edition rules. This has (mostly) been fixed with the 2nd edition rules.
Ticket to Ride
Still a great game for casual gaming and to introduce new players to the hobby.
Good choice when you only have 30-40 minutes for a game. No single path to victory. I’ve seen players win with science, military, civilian, etc. Even though no direct interaction exists, you do need to be aware of what your neighbors are building and try not to pass them cards that help their cause.
Another good choice for 2 or 3 players and only 30 minutes to play. Great for gamers that enjoy puzzle and pattern matching type games.
Another deck building game with a light, space/empire building theme. You could call it Race for the Glory to Dominion. The mechanics are a mash-up of Race for the Galaxy, Glory to Rome, and Dominion.
Near Misses (Games with 3 or 4 plays that deserve a few lines)
A lot of game in a little package! Knowing the cards is rather important so multiple plays is a must. You can be out of the running early on but most games only last 30-45 minutes and it’s not difficult to finish 2 or 3 plays in a little over an hour with experienced players.
Railways of the World (aka Railroad Tycoon)
Sometimes called the easiest or most-forgiving or most-approachable game based on Wallace’s Age of Steam design, it is easily the most popular amongst my friends that enjoy railroad themed games. We played the eastern US, Europe and Great Britain/Wales maps last year and will likely see the western US and the time travel maps hit the table this year.
Jill’s favorite game that uses dice. We play this 3-5 times a year and have for as long as I’ve owned a copy.
Only time will tell what sort of gaming I’ll see this year. I’ll certainly see more plays of A Few Acres of Snow, Railways and Yspanhan. Eclipse, Sekigahara, 18xx and some evergreens (e.g., Power Grid, Wallenstein, Agricola, etc.) are sure to come into play (pardon the pun!).