With my game challenges over, I’ve been giving some thought to how I consume this hobby, both in what/how I play and what I actually buy. Running some stats on the challenge I did complete, the 100 unique games, showed some interesting trends that confirm some suspicions I’ve had on where I’m going in this hobby.
Here we have my gaming pattern for the 100 unique games. The big spikes in unique game plays center around the major gaming events I did this year: the two House Cons and our annual Cabin Con and Gen Con trips. This is partly due to me using the events to further the challenge but also, these events allow us to break out new games we haven’t had time to work into our normal gaming schedule.
This all petered out by the end of August and I didn’t play any unique games until November rolled around. Part of this is due to having played so many unique games, it was getting harder to add new ones to the list without heavily forcing the issue. When I checked back in in November, I figured the challenge was over and I wouldn’t be able to get the last 20 games or so in but we made a big push with the Winter House Con and that got me to within sight of the goal.
That final push, however, got me thinking about the challenge and why do it. I wanted to “explore diversity,” as the theme of the challenge usually goes, but if left to my natural tendencies, that want to diversify the games I play starts to wane. Contrary to what the graph shows, September and October weren’t devoid of gaming. Instead, we ended up hitting games that we had already played but still enjoyed. This want to play games familiar to me is hinted at in the next graph.
Of the 100 unique games I played in 2018, 60 percent were ones I owned and 51 percent were ones I’d played in the past. This doesn’t include all the repeated plays that happened over the year that wouldn’t have qualified as making the unique games list so that 51 percent will be higher overall. I’d argue that it would be higher still if I wasn’t trying to complete the game challenge and looking for new games to add to the list all the time.
One of the things that struck me while doing this diverse challenge was how many times I had to force myself to grab a game that I hadn’t played already. This was easy in the first half of the year but later on, I found myself trying to grab games I wanted to hit again and again. Championship Formula Racing, Ventura, Village, Stone Age, Ticket to Ride, Ninja, Flip ships, Fire & Axe, Blood Rage and many others were always tempting me, especially having just played them and the itch to relive their glory was still fresh in my mind. Instead, I’d be “good” and reach for something else or rely on my friends to bring out something from their collection.
This got me thinking about my game play habits when I first started seriously getting into board games. In the beginning, my friends and I had a rotation of about three games: Ticket to Ride, Catan, and Heroscape. We played these three game incessantly and usually multiple times per week. Of course, lifestyles changed. We had kids and jobs changed and eventually the patterns got less frequent while our game collections grew and we weren’t hitting the “classics” like we once did. Even with a collection that I really like, one that I feel I have curated to an almost perfect state, I find myself yearning for those early years where we did deep dives into a game and played it over and over.
So where are those games now? Of the three, Ticket to Ride still stays in the play rotation. That game will likely always have a welcome place at my table, much like Bridge or Spades was the “go-to” game of my parents. Heroscape had the unfortunate honor of dying and becoming a dead system. Dead games are something I’d like to talk about another time but in essence, it was replaced with tabletop miniatures games. And then there is Catan. It is grandfathered in on the shelf but definitely not a game I reach for ever since a fateful epic 6-player slog that all but ruined the game to me. I’ll still play (if the player count is four or less) but not one that I ever recommend.
All of this ruminating has me circling back to the challenge I failed: play one game 100 times. I initially chose my favorite abstract game, The Duke, for a variety of reasons but it failed quickly and I switched gears to a game I had more control over: The Walking Dead: All Out War. I mainly treated the game as a solo game so I could just play that at my leisure and I did. It was never hitting often enough to go the full 100 but I thought I could get to 50. Unfortunately, Mantic Games has decided to move the game in a different direction and one that I’m not interested in so while I like the game a lot, my interest eroded as I started to see the system as another dead game. It is dumb, as there is still plenty of material to explore in the expansions but I need some time to recharge and come at the game as my “own” instead of relying on the publisher to provide the experience I want.
So now what? I like these challenges so I’ll do another one for 2019 but I haven’t settled on what I want to do yet. Right now I’m just relaxing in the freedom of not worrying about meeting game quota and letting fate dictate what hits the table. So far it’s been fun as my wife and I tear through Pandemic Legacy Season 2.
I did have one last statistic I ran and that centered on miniature painting. I know that I’ve been shifting more and more to painting minis as one of the main aspects of the hobby and I was curious to see what happened this past year.
So I ran a count (mainly through my blog since I tend to post everything I paint) and had 125 models painted in 2018. I’m not going to run a goal or challenge to beat that number or anything but I was surprised that it was that high, especially when I looked at the breakdown by month.
I may have misspoke earlier when I thought I was playing repeat games in September and October. Apparently I was painting minis like it was my job. I doubt I’ll sustain that kind of production output but it seems like a good month sees about 10 minis working their way through the table and 5-6 minis on the lower end. One thing I like about this is that I don’t paint just to paint. I paint because I want painted minis on the board or table so if I’m painting, there is a good chance I have game coming up.
Well that is about it for 2018. There are more stories than just my game challenge and what I’m painting but if you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably read about already. Thank you and I look forward to more of your comments and encouragements!