I know you’ve been eagerly waiting to hear about my board gaming year since you read my last one in 2022! I’m sorry to have kept you waiting but that is how the Gregorian calendar works. I think it should be decimalised anyway, but that is a discussion for another day! Of course, you could also be thinking this is incredibly self-indulgent, but you’re here reading it so you must be a little bit interested!
Once again the Board Game Stats app that I log all my plays on displays some pretty outrageous numbers. A total of 296 games were played 972 times! More importantly, I sat at the gaming table with over 100 different people over the course of a year.
Image courtesy of the excellent Board Game Stats App
Most played games of 2023
Last year, Similo, Akropolis and Next Station London reigned supreme in the ranks of being my most played games. 2023 has seen a bit of a shake up! Well kinda, Similo is still in the top spot with 32 plays logged. I still really love it, and will never say no to playing it. This is a cracking game I really must properly review soon!
My second most played game of the year is another quick game. Kites is a co-operative realtime game that is fast and furious. The 30 logged plays is a reflection of defeats too, with games so quick and often tricky, you’re left all agreeing to “one more try!”
After that, my third most played game is Clever 4Ever. My first play of this was on the 29th July. Considering half the year had passed before its premier, this sneaking into third spot is testament to how heavily I fell head over heels in love with it. I think it might be my favourite version from the Ganz Schon series which feels like a betrayal to the first and second iterations as I have previously declared my love of those two too!
Gaming highlights of 2023
The sadness of my dad dying was punctuated with plenty of things to look forward to. These pretty much exclusively revolved around trips to play board games with friends I have forged on Instagram. My travels included The Netherlands, Austria and Germany! For someone who had never got on a plane on their own in their lifetime, these were surprising adventures! In addition to some fantastic British meet-ups and UKGE of course too!
I feel truly blessed to have so many friends in the board game community. Meeting virtual friends in real life are special moments I cherish. I have been very lucky to meet many that I had never met before, it is always particularly special meeting international friends and this year I met @boardgameangel @meanandart @the_hop_meeple @miss.inpieces @dani_standring @boardgamepirates @bromide_enthusiast and @ordinary_board_gamer to name but a few of the lovely overseas friends I met in person for the first time.
My trip to see Austrian friends in Vienna was a particularly happy time. It was amazing to meet @boardgiulie @diary.of.a.boardgamegirl @ladybugmeeple and Sabine from @lookout_games. Playing Tipperary in a board game café with these lovely people was an absolute delight. This was closely matched with a game of Deception: Murder in Hong Kong at Essen.
I’m pleased to report the Castles of Burgundy match between Joe from @movinmeeples, Marie from @burtons_boards and myself went one step closer to becoming an annual tradition as we sat down once again to steal each other’s cows. This year we played with the all new and fully blinged Castles of Burgundy Special Edition! My eldest son, Harrison, played with us and even took some cows that Marie mistakenly thought were hers. I was such a proud dad!
The 10 x 10 challenge update
So at the beginning of the year I challenged myself to all sorts of board gaming challenges. I failed almost all of them! My 10 x 10 challenge reached 42% completion. Akropolis being the only game that chalked up ten plays. I smashed by Play 100 new-to-me board game challenge by playing 148 new games, which is probably why some of my other challenges were such a failure. The one challenge I strive to complete is to play more board games than the previous year, I didn’t even complete that. I suppose the 986 plays of 2022 was always going to be hard to beat and at least I came close!
I’m not beating myself up about any of these challenges though, they are all entirely arbitrary. I have enjoyed playing board games and that’s the most important thing!
Games that haven’t hit the table enough
I look at my shelves and Concordia, Iki and Santa Monica are the three games screaming at me because they haven’t been played in 2023 at all. These are very good games that deserve to be played and have sat gathering dust for over a year. Shame on me! However, on a positive note, Kitara, Calico and Wreck Raiders did get to the table having been neglected in 2022.
Games that I said goodbye to in 2023
You cannot keep all the games and so some games were sold and given away in 2023. Land vs Sea was one. I completely acknowledge this is a good game, but I found that the gameplay revolved more around how well you can muck up your opponent than build your own areas and this stagnated play a bit for me and was probably just a little too much conflict.
Tokyo Highway also found a new home. This was a fun dexterity game but it wasn’t getting played. I think if I wanted to have a dexterity game like this Men at Work would fit the bill better, but equally, I haven’t rushed out to buy that one either.
Taverns of Tiefenthal was another good game that didn’t stand the test of time with me. I enjoyed playing it, but I found the luck of dice and cards too frustrating. It was therefore never going to hit the table often enough to earn its space on the groaning Kallax!
Surprises of 2023
Weary legged at Essen and in need of a long overdue sit down, my friends Anne and Anne plonked down at a table demoing a card game. All of our expectations were low, but our feet were telling us it didn’t matter what the game was, it was more important to sit down! We embarked on the game and all three of us instantly fell in love with Trio. This is a simple memory game with some lovely bright and colourful styling. We had such a giggle we parted with our Euros immediately and since October I have logged ten plays of this great little card game.
There aren’t many games that can be played by five year olds and yet still sees me getting it to the table with friends long after the kids have gone to bed. Stomp the Plank did exactly that and the raw push your luck is so neatly packaged that you don’t mind seeing your elephant fall to the ground having walked the plank!
Oh I also got a puppy this year! She is a Havanese x Maltese or HavaMalt if you want to be a hipster! We had to find an apt board game name so settled on Qwirkle!
Here’s to playing more board games and board gaming adventures in 2024!