We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog for a blatantly self-congratulatory post.
On October 4, 2010, this blog was born. That means that today, the blog is four years old. It’s been my tradition since Year One to mark this occasion with a review of where Boards and Bees has gone in the last year.
Since my last annual review, I’ve published 99 posts, making it my second most prolific year. This includes 39 reviews, 28 game previews, 11 editions of The Eleven, 9 Kickstarter Blitzes, 4 posts about my journey into NaGaDeMon, 3 miscellaneous posts, 2 con previews, 2 Spiel des Jahres previews, and a post-holiday gift guide. Views have increased for me this year by 50%, which is always good to see.
The big thing that happened to the blog this year is that it almost imploded. In November, I kind of burned out. I had been working on game previews and catching up with all the Essen stuff that was coming out, and I found that I just didn’t care anymore. A lot of the games I write about are ones I won’t get to play, and I found that I was starting to write about stuff I didn’t care anything about. So I ended up trashing the post I was working on and disappearing for a while. I used the time to rethink what I was doing, and ended up reworking my vision for the blog.
One thing I decided that I wanted to do was more reviews. So, I set a goal of 50 reviews for the year. I’ve been doing one a week, and have kept to the schedule pretty well – 39 down so far, 11 to go. Most of the reviews have just been of games in my collection, though I have done a few of games I’ve played and enjoyed. I also have done a couple that were sent to me (thanks again to Tom Jolly and Level 99 Games). As such, the number of previews I was doing in the form of Game Buzz drastically decreased – 28 over the last 12 months versus 71 from the previous 12. That’s not to say I wasn’t doing plenty of previews – I started doing a monthly Kickstarter Blitz to talk about games currently funding. This turned out to be a pretty big thing for the blog. Instead of focusing my energies into an in-depth rules explanation of one game I may or may not turn out to be interested in, I can just do a surface review of a bunch of games that people might want to look deeper into. This format has started to creep into my Game Buzz posts – recently, I’ve been trying to cover a couple of games at a time in my Game Buzz posts.
Within the reviews, I’ve pretty much used the same format – a brief overview followed by analysis of several relevant categories. I wanted to experiment with some other review styles, but I’ve only done two that were outside the box – my review of The Duke was done in a courtroom style, and I did a SHOWDOWN! comparison of Pizza Box Football and 1st & Goal. Part of this is because I’m having to do reviews too quickly for me to be terribly creative. One a week doesn’t lend itself to new styles without some advance preparation. I’ve been trying to do another Meeple’s Court review for Rampage, but my ideas aren’t working, so that’s on hold for a while. In 2015, I plan to scale back the reviews, maybe to two a month. This will let me think some more about what I’m doing.
The Eleven has been continuing pretty well. It continues to be a good series for me. I’m currently in the middle of a miniseries I’m unofficially calling “How to Make a Gamer” which will get me through the rest of the year. I do plan on having Season Three beginning in January – still have plenty of ideas for lists. And I plan to continue the Kickstarter Blitz for a while – it’s turning out to be a lot of work, but it’s providing me some data on how quickly projects are being released. Or not, as the case may be.
As for what else the future holds – I’m not sure. I’ll probably take a couple of weeks off in December again to recharge. I’ve thought about trying to do some more session reports, and maybe some interviews. I also had an idea for a new series, but it will take some coordination with another person, so I don’t know if it will happen. If you have any ideas for features you’d like to see, please let me know.
One thing I like to do is look back over the year that was and add some new posts to my Hall of Fame. In order to make the Hall of Fame, you have to be among the top 11 most viewed posts of the year that isn’t already in the Hall. You can see the 33 previous additions to the Hall by clicking on the links for Year One, Year Two, and Year Three. But without further ado, here are the newest entries:
11. Eleven Dexterity Games (February 11, 2014)
The only appearance of The Eleven on this year’s list. This gathered a bunch of dexterity games that I have played and like a lot into one list. Dexterity games continue to be an underappreciated genre, and I think the popularity of this list proves that it’s a group of games that should be taken more seriously. Another note about this list – I accidentally included twelve games. I caught this just before it published, but rather than scrap something, I made Rampage a bonus twelfth item.
10. Steam Park (November 5, 2013)
This game was getting a lot of buzz from people thinking it should have been nominated for the Spiel des Jahres this year, or at least should have gotten a recommendation. Having not played it yet, I can’t really speak to that. However, I did think that it looked interesting then, and still would like to try it sometime. Trying to shoehorn a steampunk theme into an amusement park game seems silly, but the game does seem really solid.
9. Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends (October 25, 2013)
Of course, I am a complete Vlaada Chvátil fanboy, so I was very excited then. I am still very excited to try this game, I just haven’t been able to yet. The one person I know who has a copy hasn’t been to our game night in a long time. Now there’s a second edition coming out with upgraded components, so maybe I still have a chance. This did seem to be a polarizing game – people either loved it or hated it – but I still think it looks pretty great.
8. Rampage (September 1, 2013)
This dexterity game (soon to be renamed Terror in Meeple City) is all about destruction. You flick monsters around and eat meeples. It’s a blast. Despite the convoluted scoring and debates over licensing, the game has become pretty popular. I own my own copy now, and enjoy it a lot. It’s a lot of work to set up, but a lot of fun to break down.
7. Coup (May 2, 2013)
Indie Boards & Cards’ reprint of this deduction microgame was rethemed in their popular Resistance universe. It was very successful, even spawning some expansions. I’ve gotten to play this once, and thought it was decent enough. It plays quickly, so the elimination aspect isn’t a big deal. It is pretty heavily dependent on luck, but then, so is Resistance.
6. SHOWDOWN! Ultimate Werewolf vs. The Resistance vs. Shadow Hunters (November 30, 2012)
The oldest item on this list. This was my third SHOWDOWN!, and the first one with three competitors. I stand by my pronouncement that Shadow Hunters is the best game of the three, but people wanting to compare The Resistance and Ultimate Werewolf is probably why it lands on this list.
5. Two Rooms and a Boom (July 31, 2013)
This social deduction game probably would have fit well into the SHOWDOWN listed above. I probably still would have given it to Shadow Hunters, but 2 Rooms would have beaten out The Resistance and Ultimate Werewolf, in my estimation. It’s still very dependent on luck, but I think the sheer variety and ability to play with massive amounts of people (and no elimination) is a big draw. The Kickstarter campaign that ran last fall should be fulfilled by November.
4. Dead of Winter (February 7, 2014)
There hasn’t been a game in a while that was more anticipated than Dead of Winter. It was originally supposed to come out last winter, but got delayed and was finally released in August. I’ve played it twice now, and it truly is the best zombie game I’ve ever played. Definitely worth all the hype. Expect a review soon.
3. Pandemic: In the Lab (August 22, 2013)
This second expansion for Pandemic made me upset since it was only released to be compatible with the new edition. It does look good, and I would play it if presented with the opportunity. I just wish they hadn’t brushed off the first edition fans so easily.
2. Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men (March 8, 2014)
The most recent item on this list. Quarriors was a success for WizKids, but I think a lot of people were skeptical of taking the system and transforming it into a collectible game. Those doubts were cast aside when the game sold out immediately, and WizKids had to order several more print runs to satisfy the demand. It’s not exactly like Quarriors, and has some huge fans out there already. I haven’t played it, but maybe someday.
1. Mascarade (September 9, 2013)
My most viewed post of the last year, and also my fifth most viewed post of all time. I think one reason it went over so big is that it was widely unavailable for a long time. It’s a party game that offers a lot of unknowns, and people have been responding to it. I’ve played once, and enjoyed it. It’s something I think my wife would really like.
It’s nice to be able to review these stats every year and see how much the blog has grown. I’m looking forward to trying out some new stuff in the year ahead, and I hope you’ll join me. Thanks for reading!
PS: For the record, here is the complete list of my 11 most viewed posts of all time.
- 7 Wonders Wonder Pack (4/18/13)
- Dominion: Prosperity (11/17/10)
- Small World Underground (6/17/11)
- Eleven Artists You Should Know (8/11/13)
- Mascarade (9/9/13)
- The Hunger Games: District 12 Strategy Game (3/12/12)
- Pandemic: In the Lab (8/22/13)
- The Future of Dominion (4/1/11)
- Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men (3/8/14)
- Dominion: Cornucopia (6/13/11)
- Dead of Winter (2/7/14)