Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Year of Gaming at the JSGC: Nickels and Dimes

The following games were played last year at the Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club. This list does not include any games that I personally played outside of the club. This list is provided not only for personal reflection, but as a guide to others as to which games actually got played and enjoyed.

Very generally, games that were played more times are more loved than games that were played less times. There are exceptions to this:

- Some games were acquired very late in the year. Their play count will be higher next year.

- Some games we can only play if the person who owns it brings it to game night.

- Some games we played a few times to see if we liked them, but we didn't. These got traded away.

- Light games tend to be played multiple times compared to heavy games. Roughly speaking, divide a light game by 4, and a medium weight game by 2, to compare to a heavy game. Games are marked with L, M, and H for these purposes.

- Two-player games only get played when the dynamics work out; we prefer multi-player games. Games that are only for two players are marked 2.


Magic: the Gathering x 26 (2L): David and I in particular play this every now and then and have so for the last ten years or more. It's a keeper, obviously. You don't have to play in tournaments or keep up with the latest cards to enjoy it. Simply buy a collection of 500 common and uncommon cards and enjoy.


Notre Dame x 17 (M): This became the game that everyone basically enjoys. It's Gili's favorite. It's new to us this year.

Race for the Galaxy x 17 (M): I considered this game flawed for a while, but now I'm beginning to rewarm to it. I still don't like that it has the fatal "rush the end game" mechanic.

R-Eco x 14 (L): A simple but elegant filler game, easy to explain and understand in one sitting, with simple choices to make.

It's Alive x 12 (L/M): I designed this game. I'm happy to say that most of the playings were not because I suggested it; others pull it out on their own. I still like it, of course, and discover new things about it even after several hundred plays. The theme discourages some people, however, while others like it.

Puerto Rico x 12 (M): Still THE game, only not played more in the group because many of us play it online excessively.


Power Grid x 9 (H): A heavy game that's good even for newer players. We took a break from it after playing it quite often. Still enjoy greatly, however, although often the game comes down to the last round. David likes it a lot (lots of math).

Year of the Dragon x 9 (M): Considered by most of the group to be a superior version of Notre Dame. I actually feel it is too "clever" and scripted. David and Nadine like it.

Bridge x 8 (L): THE card game, but not everyone is up to it, so we often play Tichu instead, which is more accessible. A frequently played end of the night game.

Robo Rally x 8 (M): Highly nonstrategic, but a lot of fun for many of us. Must be set up carefully, however, or the game can be quite long. Gili in particular doesn't like it.

Tichu x 8 (L): A frequently played end of the night game. A very good partnership card game. David and Nadine like it.

Princes of Florence x 7 (M): An excellent, contemplative game, very serene.

The Settlers of Catan x 7 (M): For ten years now I've said that this is THE intro game for new players. But I'm not sure now. New players do quite well with lighter games like R-Eco and so on, too. So let's call this THE medium-weight intro game. Many other groups will tell you that Ticket to Ride is better for this purpose, but we never got into TtR. Gili likes it.

Mr Jack x 6 (2L): A very cute two-player deduction game. A little lacking in the game department, more puzzle-like, but still fun.

Penny Shy

Agricola x 4 (H): Now considered the best game on BGG, but doesn't yet hold a candle to Puerto Rico in our game group. Still, very very enjoyable, but also a bit too long.

Cosmic Encounter x 4 (M): Like Robo Rally, a chaotic nonstrategic game, but very fun. Older than most of the games we play, so some feel burnt out on it. Elijah likes it in particular.

El Grande x 4 (H): A great, classic game, but pretty long. Nadine tends to win often.

Saikoro x 4 (2L): A really good new two-player abstract, but very quick and light.

The Rest

Amun-Re x 3 (M): Like, Notre Dame, it's a game that nobody doesn't like. However, I don't own a copy, so it doesn't get more play.

Caylus x 3 (H): A good game, but I find it too fiddly and too long. Others like it more than I do. David and Gili like it.

Cities and Knights of Catan x 3 (M): A very strong twist on the basic Settlers game, it's overly long for some, but intriguing for others. It's hit or miss, as some games can be tight and exciting, and others a runaway massacre.

Geschenkt x 3 (L): An excellent light game for a game night opener. Other, slightly more substantial games, are often played instead.

Go x 3 (2L/M): THE classic abstract game, but only of interest to some. Played when the dynamics are right. Adam and I like it in particular.

Havoc: The Hundred Years War x 3 (L/M): A night game, somewhat too heavy for a light game, and too light for a medium game. An easy game for newer players.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation x 3 (2L): An excellent two-player light game.

Odin's Ravens x 3 (2L): A good two-player light game, but not very substantial. Gili likes it a lot.

Taj Mahal x 3 (M): An excellent medium game.

Tigris and Euphrates x 3 (M): One of my favorite medium games, it's very hard for some people to grasp and so doesn't get more play. I wish it did.

Tower of Babel x 3 (L): I didn't play it, but people seemed to like it. Brought by someone to game night.

Before the Wind x 2 (M): I thought this had potential, but it turned out to be severely flawed, near as we could tell. Traded away.

Blue Moon x 2 (2L): A non-collectible game that plays a bit like Magic. The mechanics didn't really interest me. Traded away.

Chess x 2 (2L): Played by very few of our members in any serious way, but sometimes enjoyed by players new to the group.

Children of Fire RPG x 2 (H): We tried some roleplaying this year, again, but it only lasted two sessions. Done together with Universalis. I enjoyed it. We had too few players; for D&D, we had too many players.

Dungeon Twister x 2 (2M): A good dungeon-crawl conflict game, but not really our style. Traded away.

Industria x 2 (M): An interesting game, played twice. Not quite as good as some other games, but I would like to play it a few more times to get the hang of it.

Jambo x 2 (2L): Like Odin's Ravens, a good two-player light game, but not substantial, and Gili likes it a lot.

La Citta x 2 (M): Just acquired, a very nice game. Will see more play in 2009.

Mexica x 2 (M): Another one I though was good at BGG.con, but seems to have problems. And wasn't engaging enough for Gili or Nadine. I expect it will be leaving us soon.

Pirate's Cove x 2 (M): Gili brought this a few times. I liked it, though it has dice base combat which I tend not to like.

Reels and Deals x 2 (L): A light game sent by a publisher, I like it, although I didn't like the end conditions. If fixed, would see regular play, I imagine.

Santiago x 2 (M): I truly love this game, but no one else likes it that much. A shame, because if it doesn't see more play, I will have to part with it.

Shadows Over Camelot x 2 (M): A very different game for our group, as it's semi-cooperative (with a probable Traitor), plays up to 7 players, and allows people to enter and leave the game without disrupting the game play. The game play itself is only so-so, however, and I don't own the game so it's only played when it's brought to game night.

Solomon's Stones x 2 (2L): By the same publisher as Saikoro, this is a very pretty piece that didn't interest us as a game, but did as a puzzle to solve. Traded away.

Universalis x 2 (L): Played with CoF RPG (see above).

Vegas Showdown x 2 (M): A nice game with some random elements that detract a bit from the game play. I think the graphics also bother some people (kinda kitchy). Most consider it less interesting than some of the other games we have. I would like to play it more.

Alexander the Great (M): We tried this and I found it excruciatingly boring. I think it's a better game than I gave it credit for, as I was distracted at the time. I would like to play again and give it more attention.

Anagrams (L): I love this, but only get to play it with non-gamers, i.e. outside of game group.

Antike (H): Just acquired, I hope this sees more play in 2009, although it's a bit long. Excellent, excellent civilization building game. To solve that, and one other things I don't like about it (not a problem with the game, just my preference), I plan to shorten it a tad.

Arkham Horror (H): Very long cooperative game with RPG elements. Right for the right crowd, but not really for us. Traded away.

Atlantic Star (M): On the light side of medium-length, many found this to be too luck-dependent. I disagree and would like to play it more.

Blue Moon City (M): A nice if somewhat overly clever Euro game, played when Binyamin brings it.

Boggle (L): Very quick filler game. Excellent for non-gamers.

Carcassonne: the City (M): A Carcassonne variant, Hunters and Gatherers is just as good; both are better than the original. Acquired recently, might see more play with newer players. Regulars tend to find Carcassonne a little slow.

Colosseum (M): Another nice typical overly clever Euro game. Played when it's brought.

Cribbage (2L): Gili likes this as a quick filler game for two players. Can be played by more, of course, but never is.

David and Goliath (L): A trick-taking game, but not an exceptional one. OK.

Down Under (L): This is a nice tile-laying game, but not substantial. Traded away.

For Sale (L): An excellent game for non-gamers, not substantial enough for the group.

Hacienda (M): Just acquired, seemed like a good game. Will play again.

Kingsburg (M): This was bought by someone who came once. I didn't play it.

Lo Ra (L): This is Nadine's Jewish themed version of Ra. It's a good game, but doesn't seem to come out much. Probably because we like our auctions mixed with other mechanics.

Lost Valley (M): I initially loved this game, but it suffered greatly from the fatal "rush the end game" mechanic, which destroyed the game. Probably could have fixed the game by setting the game to last a certain number of turns. Nevertheless, traded away.

Louis XIV (M): A good game, with strange scoring which ruins it a bit. As a result, not played as often as it could be.

Metropolys (M): I didn't play it. Brought by Binyamin, who claims it is a deeper version of Mykerinos.

Mission: Red Planet (M): Brought by a one-time comer. It's a good area control game. I don't like some of the designer's choices, but they are easily fixed to be more our style. I would play again.

Mississippi Queen (M): On the light side of medium, a race game with random river terrain, but no other luck elements. Fun, and often ends in a close race. But not substantial enough for many of the players. Traded away.

Mykerinos (M): Better than it gets credit for in our group, but somewhat on the light side. Comparable to Louis XIV.

Netrunner (2L/M): I think this is an excellent CCG, but my CCG partner David doesn't like it. I need to convince more people to play it with me.

Pandemic (M): Another cooperative game, this was a big hit around the world in 2008. We thought it was good, and would probably play it again. Cooperative games lose a lot without a traitor, however.

Pentago (2L): An abstract, I didn't play it.

Pillars of the Earth (M): Just acquired this week, this is an excellent game using people placement mechanics (like Agricola and Caylus), but lighter and less finicky.

Prototype (*): I try these occasionally, but it's sometimes hard to get players willing to test the game unless it's short and the start of game night.

Samurai (M): A serene tile-laying game from Knizia, it's good. But I didn't like the scoring rules.

Scrabble (M): Too long and too traditional for most players at the group. I play this frequently outside the group.

Texas Hold'Em (L): Some players decided to play this one evening (for chips, not for money). Not likely to become a regular game at the club.

Tikal (M): A great game, I like it a bit more than the other players, probably because I do pretty well at it. Would like to have it see more play.

Torres (M): Kind of a companion to Tikal, this also doesn't get enough play because it's very mathematical and somewhat dry. So is Power Grid, and this is shorter. I don't know why people don't want to play it more.

Trias (M): Recently acquired, I love this game, but the people I played it with, especially Gili, didn't grasp it and so didn't like it much. I think we have to play it a few more times to figure out the strategies. Nearly no luck, it's also a lot of fun. I hope it gets more play in 2009.

Ubungo (M): A kids game played on Games Day. Not one of mine.

Verrater (L/M): A nice game, a little heavier than a light game, but not quite a medium game. Since we only played it once, I'm not sure how we feel about it. Hopefully will see a little more play in 2009.

Winner's Circle (M): A very nice game for non-gamers, not really for the group.

Yinsh (2L): Excellent abstract, played when the dynamics allow it by those who don't mind abstracts.

Zertz (2L): A good abstract, but would never be chosen in place of Yinsh. Traded away.

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