Wednesday, December 25, 2013

End of the Year

This is, I just realized, my last post of the year - and it's going live on Christmas.

Had to happen sometime, I guess.

I have a sizeable order of games arriving tomorrow that I was hoping to write about for this post, so I procrastinated getting anything written.


So I'm just going to say this:  2013 was an amazing year, with dozens of really good games passing in front of me.  From what I've seen, 2014 will be even better.  I've seen several batches of rules and several "info sheets" that I can't really talk about, yet.  But I'm very much looking forward to some of the games that are coming next year.

And tomorrow.

Meanwhile, if you don't have New Year's Eve plans, yet, consider joining us at Phoenix Games. I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Starting My End-of-Year Review

With the year winding down, I've started getting ready for the end-of-year posts just like this one.  Due to Christmas falling on a Wednesday this year, I don't know that I'll get much more gaming done (other than tonight and New Year's Eve) this year. These numbers will fluctuate, but I don't expect there will be dramatic upheavals here.

As of this writing (a few weeks before you see it, actually), the top-played games in my library are Rise of Augustus (with 30 plays), Mutant Meeples (with 13 plays), Shogi (with 13 plays), Le Fantôme de l’Opéra (with 13 plays), and The Duke (with 12 plays).  Not far behind is Mascarade with 11 plays.

So my top six consists of three Asmodee-distributed games, one classic, and two Kickstarted games (one of which I didn't even back).  All of them are either two-player or fast-playing.

In fact, looking at my top ten or fifteen or so, all of them are either two-player or are fast-playing.

It's because of the environment in which I play - Wednesday evenings with their constant mixture of players are really not conducive to very long games.  In fact, I'd rather play a dozen short games with different folks each time than one long game.  Most of the time.

This becomes more complicated when a two-player game that I really really like appears.  Like, say, Shogi. Or Le Fantome de l'Opera.  There are also games on the list that I want to play more. Changgi, for example. And there is no Dungeon Twister on the list, because I don't log demos in which I don't play. I ran several Dungeon Twister: the Card Game demos at GenCon this year. And then a few more at Phoenix. But I haven't actually played a full game, yet.

I'll almost certainly be playing more Changgi over the future.  I like it better than I like Xiang Qi. Part of that, however, is because one of the Game Night regulars learned to play as a child, and so knows some of the strategy involved. It's amazing how much more I like games when I have an idea of what you are supposed to do.  I've read a couple of books on Xiang Qi, but there is no substitute for an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher.

There are some games on my list that I thought would be higher than they are - I only played Spyrium four times this year, for example.  And I really like that one.  And it was a focus at GenCon.  I thought I'd played Gentlemen Thieves more than five times. And it's another favorite that everyone seemed to like. Now, it's possible I failed to record one or more plays of these.  But I don't think I did - I just didn't play them to death ...

When I add RPGs to the list, 13th Age (11 plays), and Dresden Files (11 plays) appear. Both excellent games - and both games which are ongoing.  I'd thought we played them more than 11 each.  And I'll probably be hitting 12 on Dresden by the end of the year (unless game is cancelled).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New Year's Eve

This year, we'll be doing our usual New Year's Eve gathering at Phoenix Games.  Unlike past years, however, I'm remembering to put this post up more than a few days in advance.

In past years, we've pulled forty or fifty folks together to hang out and play board games, card games, and another dozen or so folks who are just there for the food and the socializing.

Both groups are welcome.

All we ask is that you bring enough food and/or beverages for your party + 1 person (so that there's enough food for all) OR $5 per person (which will be used to purchase paper plates, cups, flatware, and the like).

This is an alcohol-free kid-safe environment.

The store has a sizable collection of games that are free-to-use for participants, but feel free to bring your own game(s) if you're afraid Phoenix won't have an available copy.

At midnight, we'll drink a toast using sparkling cider (or soda, depending on your preference), and then we'll get back to the gaming.

The event will kick off in the early evening (generally around 5pm) and will wrap up ... well, when we're done.  In past years, we've wrapped up as late as 10am.

I don't usually get there until around 8pm, as I have a nice dinner with my wife before we head in (it's a tradition for us).  And then I eat all night.  Mmmmmmm.

In the past, I've used this party as an excuse to pull out longer games that don't get enough play on Wednesdays due to their length.

If you're thinking about attending, I'd suggest contacting the store to make sure there is still room - the Fire Marshall does limit how many people we can have in the room ...

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Charitable Giving

Every year, my friends ask me what to get me for Christmas - obviously I don't need more games, right?  And my house has a limited amount of space. Much as I'd love to, I can't just buy every game that comes out.

Because of this, every year, I request that my friends give money to a charity of their choice.  There are dozens of worthy charities out there, and all of them deserve more attention than they get.

This year, I'm going to suggest to my friends (and to you) the following:

1) The Jack Vasel Memorial Fund.  This is a charity by gamers and is dedicated to helping gamers in need. That makes this - in my opinion - the ideal charity for gamers to support.  They have an annual donation auction on BGG that recently wrapped up - and it raised a fair amount of money for them.  But more money will never hurt.

2) Doctors Without Borders. These days, I like these guys more than the Red Cross. Not because the Red Cross is somehow corrupt or undeserving of attention and money, mind you.  So far as I know, they're not. But DWB focuses strongly on getting medical aid there - the Red Cross has a much broader focus.  And, in general, I much prefer to fund narrow-focus charities (it's a personal preference, not some sort of broad manifesto or anything like that). 

3)  Anything on this list. No. Really.  I grew up loving books, and - in large part - my love of books was what drove me into gaming.  I think that an active reader will have an active imagination.  So any charity which promotes literacy is a good one in my book.  If you need me to narrow it down to just one, I suggest Reading Is Fundamental (

4) Many of the charities which the Bundle of Holding has supported have also been excellent choices - and you get stuff, too! Stephanie and I have backed a ton of these - and not just because we want the stuff in the bundle.  It's always interesting to see which charities various industry personalities choose to back.

5) Amazon recently set up Amazon Smile.  By going to instead of, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase to a charity of your choice. AND it's compatible with affiliate links and Amazon Prime and any other special deals you may have access to. I currently have the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund set up as my charity of choice.