Happy birthday to the blog! On October 4, 2010, I burst onto the blog scene with my overview of the yet-to-be-published drafting game 7 Wonders. And here I am, six years later writing my 600th post! Huzzah!
In the past for my birthday, I’ve put a lot of time into looking back at the previous year and seeing what I did was the most popular. I’m not doing that this time (though if you’re curious, my most popular post from the last 12 months is ). And last year, you may remember that I had a big giveaway where I gave away three games and a box of premium bits. I’m not doing that this year either.
What I am going to do is look back on my first eleven posts and see where those games are now. These posts were all written before Spiel in 2010, so I think it will be interesting to think about what interested me at the time. I haven’t read these posts in six years, so this will be a trip down memory lane. Here we go!
7 WONDERS (October 4, 2010)
“With Spiel 2010 just around the corner, it seems that 7 Wonders is about to conquer the world of board gaming much like Dominion did in 2008.”
Those were the first words of my first overview, written entirely from a reading of the rules. 7 Wonders was really the ideal candidate to launch my blog that I intended to just be about new and upcoming games. It has evolved since then, and I’m glad – I almost burnt out at the end of 2013, but was able to pull myself out by diversifying more. 7 Wonders, as it turned out, did not quite take over the world of gaming like Dominion did, but it remains a very popular game and did give new life to card drafting as a game mechanism. It’s spawned expansions and a dedicated two-player version. It’s a great game, and one I’m glad to own, though I don’t play it much these days. I would like to point out one thing that I said:
“It seems a bit weird that the seven player cards are marked 7+, even though you can’t play with more than seven players. Preparing for an inevitable Tower of Babel expansion perhaps?”
An eighth player was added with the 2012 expansion, Cities. But there was indeed a Babel expansion, coming out in 2014. Called it.
51st STATE (October 6, 2010)
In my second post, I noted the rise of games coming out of European countries that were not Germany. In particular, I pointed out Asmodee and Days of Wonder coming out of France (now part of one company that currently in the process of taking over the world) and Czech Games Edition (a company that still is producing some of the best games out there). That was all a lead-up into my discussion of Portal, which was still fairly new on the scene. 51st State was their new release in 2010, and it’s a game that has stuck around. In 2014, it was reworked into Imperial Settlers, and this year, a 51st State Master Set is being released. So it’s still around, and I’ve still never played it in any form.
ALIEN FRONTIERS (October 8, 2010)
It’s a little hard to believe that there was a time before Kickstarter. But back in 2010, it was still an incredibly new thing. Alien Frontiers was the first tabletop game to really use the platform, and as I was writing this post, it was being packed up to be sent to backers. In its initial Kickstarter run, the game raised a little less than $15,000. By today’s standards, that’s only a modest success (the goal was $5,000). Back then, that was pretty amazing for a small company like Clever Mojo. I hadn’t heard about it until podcasters I was listening to began raving about the game, so I wrote the post. I’ve since gotten my own copy, and while I like it, it’s never gone over as well as I would have liked. There have been some expansions for the game that increased its replayability, and the game remains a favorite of many people.
This post was where I also started experimenting with my first tagline. These days, I just say “Thanks for reading”, but I was being snarky back then and chose “Insert clever tagline here.” I did mention a thought of using “Thanks for reading…now buzz off”, and am glad I didn’t choose that. It works for the theme of the blog, but a little off-putting.
WOK STAR (October 9, 2010)
I heard a lot of buzz about this game coming out of Origins in 2010, and was really interested to try it. The game was published by Gabob Games, the company formed by designer Tim Fowers, and it really was just a small one-man operation. I eventually got to play it in its original form, and even reviewed it in 2011. But the promised new edition kept getting delayed. Z-Man picked it up and asked Fowers to streamline it a bit more, but then never released the game. Then Game Salute got a hold of it and Kickstarted a new edition in 2013. I did get to play that version, and while I enjoyed it, I felt it was a different game than the original. It felt too sanitized and missing a lot of the original charm. Plus, the electronic timer was awful. I still am a fan of Wok Star and would love to get my hands on a copy of the original. In the meantime, Fowers has given up on using distribution to get his games out there and has had a lot of success with Paperback and Burgle Bros.
HIVE: THE LADYBUG (October 10, 2010)
Five posts in a week. That’s a pace I did NOT keep up over the lifetime of this blog. The Ladybug was the first expansion I covered, looking at a couple of new pieces for one of my favorite two-player abstract games. Hive remains near the top of my favorites list, though I’ve sadly never gotten to play with this expansion or the 2013 Pillbug expansion. I did note at the end of this post that this was the most appropriate thing I had covered for the theme of the blog so far (you know, bugs and all).
LORDS OF VEGAS (October 14, 2010)
Four days between posts was the longest break I had taken up to this point. That was partially because I really wanted to dig into what was going on in Lords of Vegas, a game that really intrigued me. I think I was a little bit wary of the amount of randomness in the game, but when I played it, I really enjoyed the game. In fact, it was the subject of my first review, written in December of 2010. I haven’t played it much, but I really liked it and had it at the top of my wishlist for a while. I’d still love to own it, though I’m not as eager as I was.
TRAVEL BLOG (October 18, 2010)
My first post about a new Vlaada Chvátil game was Travel Blog, which was his new game for that year. It never really took off – it’s a geography game where you are trying to quickly make connections as efficiently as possible, and didn’t really hold much interest for serious gamers. I’ve never had the opportunity to play, so I can’t speak to that for sure, but this is definitely on the lower end of his catalog.
SPACE ALERT: THE NEW FRONTIER (October 19, 2010)
The New Frontier was the first (and only) major expansion for Vlaada’s 2008 cooperative game Space Alert. When I wrote this article, I had only played Space Alert once and while I loved it, I wasn’t ready to get the expansion until I had played the base game a bunch more times. Since then, I’ve only played the base game two more times. The problem with Space Alert is the learning curve. The game itself only lasts ten minutes, but there is SO MUCH to learn that teaching takes a lot longer. Each time I’ve played, we’ve only gotten through the first two scenarios. The next time, it’s been with all new players so I’ve had to completely reset the teaching. While it would be fun to have this, I’d really have to be able to play the base game more.
MORD IM AROSA (October 19, 2010)
As far as I know, this is the only time I ever published two articles on the same day. This one was about a deduction game where you drop cubes in the top and listen to hear where they land. It was a murder mystery, and I thought the audio component was pretty cool. It’s one I’d still like to try, though I don’t think it ever got released in the US.
ANTICS! (October 21, 2010)
My tenth post on the blog was about the Lamont Brothers’ offering for the year, Antics! I was intrigued by the way the worker placement and leveling up aspects worked, and still am to some extent. Reviews on this one seemed to be fairly mixed, and the leveling up mechanism was used again the following year (to more positive buzz) in Poseidon’s Kingdom. I’ve always enjoyed seeing what the Lamonts come up with, even if it doesn’t really look like something I’m all that interested in. I’m sorry they won’t be releasing a game this year (though they did hint at something else in the works).
DOMINANT SPECIES (October 25, 2010)
Post number 11 was the survival-of-the-fittest game Dominant Species, from GMT. I was extremely interested to know more about this Eurogame from a company traditionally known for wargames. This game has proved to have some staying power, as a lot of people still really like it. I’ve never had an opportunity to play, but it’s still on my list of games I want to try.
Over the past six years, the blog has evolved from something that was just about previews to one where I do reviews, lists, and various other articles here and there. I still do previews, but lately, I’m tending to combine a couple of games into one article. The main reason for this is that I’m trying to keep my posts to two a week, and there’s too many games out there for that to be feasible at one preview per post. So expect that trend to continue.
I’ve enjoyed writing this blog for the last six years, and I look forward to more posts in the future. As always, thanks for reading!