Replacing the Game of the Month for December is this new annual feature, A Review of My Board Gaming Year. For me, almost everything brilliant in 2022, centred around board games. While there were tough moments in my personal life with mental health and bereavement, sitting at a table with family and friends always seemed to provide the much needed anaesthetic for my day-to-day life.
Looking through the Board Game Stats app that logs my plays, the numbers are mind blowing: 986 plays of 272 different games with over 100 different people! Wow! I’m thinking that sounds just as nuts as you! I do appreciate I am very fortunate to be living in a board game household. I’m also lucky for the amazing board gamers that I have met via Instagram. This helps the numbers ramp up and the board games get played!
Image courtesy of the excellent Board Game Stats App
Most played games of 2022
When I looked at the stats for my most played board games of 2022 I’m not surprised. The top three games are accessible and quick to play. My third most played game of the year was Similo. This has been a ‘go to’ with my boys almost all year and is a fantastic family deduction game and we now have a few different sets to mix and match with, racking up 22 plays has been a pleasure!
With 25 plays, my second most played game of the year is also one of my games of the year, and that is Akropolis. I’ve said it all in my review and in my feature on my Top 10 New To Me Games of 2022, but in case you haven’t heard: Akropolis is a brilliant game that I thoroughly enjoyed last year!
Stealing the most played game of 2022 accolade is Next Station London with 27. A flip and write that has been pulled off the shelf and out from my backpack on many occasions. Being my top played game doesn’t include the countless battles I have had on BGA either. I like how (with additional coloured pencils) this game can scale to numerous players. Next Station London also excels in offering an interesting puzzle to solve, I hope it continues to hit the table frequently because I haven’t tired of it yet!
Gaming highlights of 2022
I have forged real bonds with so many of the British Instagram board game community. However, one of the highlights in 2022 was meeting my Dutch friends for the first time at a gaming meet up I organised for my birthday. Anne @dice.and.dishes has been an amazing friend over the last couple of years and I was delighted to give her a massive hug as well as play some games together. Erlijne @mostly.solo is also an absolute delight and we’ve had some laughs over recent years and so it was a treat to play Gravwell with her amongst other games.
At the same meet up I got to play a now infamous game of Castles of Burgundy with Joe from @movinmeeples, Marie from @burtons_boards and Lee from @gamingoverboard. I don’t want to start any vicious rumours, but Marie provoked me into stealing her animal tile in the last round out of spite and that is now the stuff of legends. Gaming with these three was a real giggle and I hope that our Castles of Burgundy meet ups will be an annual event.
The 10 x 10 challenge update
Whoopsies! So at the beginning of the year I set myself a challenge to play 10 games 10 times. I failed at 75% completion. However, I’m seeing the positives in this. I didn’t pick quick and easy games, I chose games I didn’t want to forget about and in that regard I succeeded. Often when we were stuck for what to play next we would look at the challenge and play one from the list. I will be setting myself the same challenge for next year but with another selection of games.
However, a couple of the other challenges I set myself were completed. The first was to reinforce my New Year’s Resolution: to play more games than I had the previous year – which I did. Another was to play 100 new to me games, which again was a success. I also set a 15 x 15 challenge to play with my boys, these had autofilled games and was finished on New Year’s Eve, so I cut it a bit fine!
Games that haven’t hit the table enough
I can’t complain that I own a lot of board games, I am delighted that so many reside waiting to be played. However, with reviews and life, sometimes great games don’t get to hit the table as often as I would like. Viticulture only hit the table a few times. The fact that Kitara, Calico and Wreck Raiders didn’t get to the table once is a travesty! I will make amends in 2023!
Games that I said goodbye to in 2022
A few games made room for new things this year, most of them were still good games, but perhaps not going to be played as frequently. I said goodbye to Tags this year. While I really like the game and the gameplay it wasn’t getting to the table as it wasn’t the sort of game that worked with anyone I played games with, other than my wife. It wasn’t as good at two and so despite enjoying it, it has gone.
Unicorn Fever is another game that I really like and enjoyed playing but the arrival of Downforce in December knocked the unicorns from their rainbow perch. I love the styling and have had some fantastic games of Unicorn Fever. My problem was that it over-complicated what felt like an accessible game. If the same gaming group were regularly pulling it to the table and can see it making some memorable moments, but after my first play of Downforce, I just felt it did everything smoother and easier. It was therefore going to hit the table more often and so Unicorn Fever was culled.
I am also waving goodbye to New York Zoo, this stroll around a zoo felt like a trudge. While the cute wooden animals, particularly the flamingo, will be missed, the way they were fiddly placed on squares only just the right size for them won’t be. This was a game I was super excited for, and it just missed the mark for me personally.
Surprises of 2022
Hitting the table for the first time in 2022 was Juicy Fruits. Not only was the chunky fruit components a surprise when lifting the lid, the way in which you gather resources also was. At its heart is basic set collection. However, to gather a fruit you shift tiles around your board in a manner akin to those puzzles you get at Christmas like a 2d Rubiks cube. It was quick to play and really clever. For a game I knew nothing about I had zero expectations of it and the surprise came from it being really, really good! I’ve introduced it to a handful of other people and at least two of them have gone on to buy it!
Probably the biggest surprise of the year though arrived in September. The artwork of Gullible looked cool, but I really wasn’t sure how much I would play it. Well, as readers of my review will know, this became a surprise hit in my house and proved me wrong. Not just with me, but also with my eldest son who has declared Gullible, his game of 2022!
That is my goodbye to board gaming in 2022, but I am looking forward to playing even more in 2023!