Another year passes, and once again it’s that time of year when it might be worth pausing and reflecting on what has gone before, and perhaps more importantly, what might be yet to come. I do hope you all had a good Christmas, btw, and fingers crossed your New Year goes well (or has started well, depending when you read this!)
2019 proved a mixed year for me, although I did manage to get a fair bit of gaming done, albeit not as much as I would’ve liked (o’course!), but Hey-Ho: we take what we can get nowadays, I guess! In 2019 I played 259 games in total, which is not so bad given that this figure was hovering around the 170 mark in August, and I said at the time I was a tad worried whether I’d scrape past the 250-plays mark by end of year. That’s still a pretty reasonable figure all told, I think, and I’m pretty happy with that, to be fair.
If you’ll recall, last year I was annoyed that a couple of games I owned hadn’t made it to the table that year, and decided to try something a bit radical: to avoid buying anything new and/or backing anything on Kickstarter in 2019, and try and play all the games I own more often… You can read all about that in last year’s summary: 2019: The Year Ahead, etc. As it happens, I bought myself a copy of This War of Mine at the tail end of last year, and annoyingly this still remains unplayed on my SOS (Shelf-of-Shame) for 2019, alongside SeaFall (for which I doubt I’m going to find a group consistent enough to play this one: it’s a legacy game, and apparently not even a particularly good one), so that resolve didn’t quite pan out, really… 😦
Alas, the ‘no KS or new games’ thingy didn’t quite work out as planned, either, but I did manage the first six months easily enough, and was even feeling somewhat elated in June at having done so well up to that point: June was a nice month…
Of course, it started falling apart shortly after that fateful post, and I finally caved and bought a copy of Radetzky: Milano 1848 the next month, under the pretense that it was a better version of Pandemic: Fall of Rome. Alas, having played it a good few times, now, I don’t think it is a better game, but I would argue that it is significantly tougher than Fall of Rome, which ain’t no bad thing, I guess. That said, I’ve only beat Pandemic: Fall of Rome once this year, so “Boo-yah-blah!” and a big fat “Bleurgh!” to tougher and hard-to-beat games for 2020, I say!
I remained fairly true to my resolve for the rest of the year, at least, although I did go on to buy a few other titles in 2019, including Undaunted: Normandy (… erm… ostensibly for research purposes, this one, ‘cos I’ve got a card-based wargame ‘in the wings’), and Reiner Knizia’s Babylonia (which was one of my Essen 2019 Picks and reminds me a lot of Samurai, although it’s perhaps not as good imho: see Essen 2019 Preview).
I also bought The Genius Square on a whim (reviewed here: REVIEW: The Genius Square), and certainly don’t regret that: I’ve played countless games, already, and it’s one of the very few things I can actually play with the rest of my family (Cards Against Humanity is the other game I own that they like, which probably says more about them than it does about me, but ne’ermind!)
As it happens, I’ve had several other games join my collection this year, including Salty Dogs (a KS preview), Marvel Champions (bought by my gaming friends for my birthday), and Century: A New World (bought for me this Christmas). That’s still quite a climbdown from the number of new titles I bought in 2018, and at time of writing there are only a few games I’ve really got my eye on for 2020… at the moment, at least!
I was planning to include my Best Games of 2019 in this post, but might save that for the weekend, given that the list is still a little bit fluid and fluxacious (just invented that word, btw, meaning ‘in flux’, sorry!)
My relationship with KS (so to speak) has deteriorated somewhat this year, although I did have lots of stuff arrive c/o KS projects I’d backed the previous year. It wasn’t quite ‘something new every month’, but near as dammit! Perhaps more interesting is how many of the KS titles that arrived last year have actually seen a lot of table time since their arrival…
Of the 10 or so games I received via KS in 2019, only The Ancient World (2nd Ed), Barrage, FlickFleet, Nanty Narking, and Space Explorers have really stood the test of time thus far (which is 50% of them, at least!), with the very intimidating Snowdonia Deluxe Edition, and Book of Dragons being very much ‘put on the back burner’ for now… As for the bad’uns: The Island of El Dorado was perhaps the most disappointing game-based KS project in terms of quality, with Darkness not too far behind it (although I knew what I was getting with that, and just wanted to support the designer, tbh).
I did of course, back a few other things via KS in 2018/19 (magazines, art books, documentary films, the Fail Faster playtest journal, etc), and although Barrage came close to being the worst KS campaign in terms of fulfillment and communication (despite the game itself being excellent), hands-down Ultimate Deskmat was the worst and most disappointing KS project I’ve ever backed in terms of communication and overall process — it’s the first time I’ve genuinely felt that I lost my money and would have rather had a refund. On the flip side, that does mean I am even more cautious and choosy when it comes to backing future KS projects, so this will hopefully serve me well in the new year.
At time of writing, I’m still waiting on a couple more KS projects to complete fulfillment, of which Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon is probably the biggest right now, in terms of anticipation.
As for what 2020 might hold for me? Well, actually, I think I might be planning to be a lot more selfish with my time this year… Yeh, ’tis true!
Following the final production and layout work I completed for The SPIRIT #7 in early December — an excellent PDF-format boardgames magazine, btw, which you can download FREE using this link: The SPIRIT #7— I cannot deny that I have enjoyed some extended personal time with my family this month, and in fact spent an inordinate amount of time rekindling my love for a couple of classic PC games, too: Elder Scrolls IV, Dragon Age II, Jedi: Fallen Order, XCOM 2, and Civilization (IV and VI). I’ve played even more MTG: Arena than usual this month, too: it’s a FREE and excellent digital version of Magic: The Gathering with the rather awesome bonus of allowing you to experiment with new decks without the otherwise considerable cost of purchasing the physical cards and decks — I may yet write more about this in a future blog post or in a future issue of The SPIRIT magazine, given I wrote a whole book about it’s earlier incarnation in the form of the MTG: Magic Duels computer game: Magic The Gathering: A Primer…
I have also spent a LOT of time playing (and pruning) my Aliens Ate My Planet! card and deckbuilding game, and am extremely happy with all the positivity and great feedback I’ve already had on it. My hope for 2020 is that we’ll finally see something great and good come of all that work, even if it means trying to use KS to publish it myself…
I guess it’s only right that I end this post that same way it started: by hoping you all had a good Christmas (in whatever form that may take for you), and have a Happy New Year, too. With best wishes to all and sundry for 2020…
Pax Transhumanity (Sierra Madre Games)