October 4, 2010. I had recently moved from Champaign, IL to Griffith, IN. In Champaign, I had been a part of a good game group, the first one I had ever belonged to. However, in the Northwest Indiana region, there really wasn’t anything (at the time). Meanwhile, I was also writing another blog called The Great Game Gate. I was getting kind of burnt out on that one, honestly. Part of the trouble was that LiveJournal (the platform I was using) kept deleting my drafts, and part of the trouble was that I was really only talking about games that fit into certain themes. It was kind of limiting, and I found myself wanting to talk about new and upcoming games. So, I started a new blog on WordPress with the name Boards and Bees. My first post was all about a new game about to be released at that year’s Spiel called 7 Wonders, and I was off. Historical note – I also continued writing The Great Game Gate with very irregular frequency until May 2011, when I finally gave up after LiveJournal deleted yet another of my drafts. My original plan was to try to port the GGG over to WordPress, but I decided just to let it die and devote all my efforts to Boards and Bees.
Near the end of 2013, the blog almost died. My focus had been writing about upcoming games with a few reviews sprinkled in, but I was going through games that had been released at Spiel, and I was just losing interest in writing about them. I felt like I was writing just to have something to write about, and I was tired of it. So I took a small hiatus and tried to figure out a new direction. During 2014, I set a goal for myself to write 50 reviews, which I did, and I felt rejuvenated after that. I felt braver about doing different things, and while I continued the tradition of writing about upcoming games, I also felt I had given myself more freedom to do other things.
I started doing random convention previews in 2015, and have continued doing that ever since. The Eleven, which started in 2013, was discontinued this year but I’m considering bringing it back. The Kickstarter Blitz started in 2014, and that still continues. But I also started doing a few other series this year, specifically my Tweeviews (reviews in the format of a tweet) and Games I Haven’t Played. Just recently, I started looking at solo games more in depth, as well as starting my Buzzings, which is just me thinking about some different topics in the gaming community. Beyond that, I still do my game previews and occasional reviews, and I’m still enjoying it. But, to be honest, I’ve had periods where I’m feeling some burnout again. And, I guess it’s probably understandable. Ever since 2015, I’ve been keeping myself to a pretty strict 100 posts a year so I can hit that 00 number right at the anniversary post. Which means, here I am in 2020 writing my 1000th post on this blog. So I may pull back a bit over the next year, but who knows. Maybe I’ll just give myself permission to not be so regular.
For these anniversary posts, I always try to put something reflective. For my first four years, I looked back over the most popular posts I had done over the past year. Then I started doing other things – my Top 11 games in 2015 and 2019, an overview of my first 11 posts in 2016, my seven favorite posts as of 2017, and my eight favorite game components as of 2018. This year for my tenth anniversary, I want to go back and look at the first ten reviews I did on this blog, just to see if my opinion has changed over the years. So, here we go.
1. LORDS OF VEGAS (published December 13, 2010)
I remember really liking this game when I first played it, and I immediately put it on my wishlist. I’ve only played it once since then, and I still liked it. I have a good friend in the area here that absolutely hates the game, and his vehemence has probably rubbed off on me somewhat. I still think it’s a pretty fun game, but as he’s one of the people I play with the most, it’s not as high on my wishlist as it used to be. After Mayfair folded a few years ago and was bought up by Asmodee, the rights for this game went to Z-Man for a time. But earlier this year, the rights were returned to the designers and their company Lone Shark Games, who ran a successful Kickstarter back in April. I’m interested to see the new edition when it comes out – it might even make it back up my wishlist.
2. SURVIVE! ESCAPE FROM ATLANTIS (published March 14, 2011)
I had played this for the first time at Who’s Yer Con in 2011, and wanted to write a review since it was such a big deal. Of course, Stronghold was still a pretty new company, but they had made a reputation for themselves bringing back old classics. I had never played the original, but I had a great time with this version. My biggest complaint was the art, which is something they have mostly fixed in subsequent editions – this cover and its bad Photoshop aesthetic still makes me cringe.
3. OH GNOME YOU DON’T! (published March 15, 2011)
Quite honestly, I don’t remember a lot about this game. It was one I played once at Who’s Yer Con and have never picked it up since. According to my review, I thought it was kind of a mindless game that was good for a very light distraction. I complained about the 13+ age rating, which I was later informed was because there’s more testing you have to do if you make it for younger children.
4. WOK STAR (published May 16, 2011)
I played this at a game day in Chicago, and fell in love with it. This, as you may know, was the first game from Tim Fowers, who has since gone on to design other game like Paperback and Burgle Bros. I really liked the real-time cooperative aspect to the game, and was waiting eagerly for my chance to get my own copy when Z-Man published it. And then they never did. Game Salute eventually got the license, and their version was a HUGE disappointment to me. The electronic timer they included didn’t work, they had made the game shorter, and it just didn’t feel as fun. But this version, the original, I loved.
5. CROWS (published June 28, 2011)
Valley Games has some really good titles. I don’t really know all the details about how they imploded – I know they had a lot of legal troubles with undelivered product, and they just kind of went away. But games like Crows were some hidden gems that I don’t think enough people got to try. This one’s basically an abstract where you’re trying to collect shiny things, but with a nice creepy theme glued on. A second edition was published not long ago by Junk Spirit Games, and I need to try to hunt down one of those because I really liked this.
6. ALVIN & DEXTER (published August 7, 2011)
This was the first expansion I reviewed. It added monsters to Ticket to Ride. I wasn’t crazy about it then, and looking about it now, it feels a bit like a jump-the-shark moment for the TTR franchise. Fortunately, they were able to pick themselves back up with the map collections, which have been doing very well.
7. EPIGO (August 18, 2011)
This game holds several distinctions for me – it’s the first game I was sent from a publisher, it’s the first game I actually played more than once before reviewing (which is standard practice now), and it’s the ONLY game out of these first ten that I currently have in my collection. It’s an abstract programming game where you’re trying to bump the other players off the board. I really enjoy it and all the variations you can play with, I just don’t get to pull it out that often anymore. I don’t think the company still exists – it’s hard for small publishers to make it. But there are copies floating around.
8. DICE TOWER EXTENSION (published September 8, 2011)
The second expansion I ever reviewed was for Dice Town, which at the time was one of my favorite gateway games. I’ve cooled on in a bit since then – I find it to be a little bit too mean – but it was fun to play the extension, which has since been renamed Dice Town: Wild West (which is at least a bit more creative than “Extension”). I felt at the time that it was nice to add a sixth player, and I liked the extra ways to get stuff. I do think it’s something you want to play if you have high numbers of players, though I couldn’t tell you as I haven’t played with this expansion since I did the review.
9. URBAN SPRAWL (published November 29, 2011)
This was Chad Jensen’s next big game after Dominant Species, so it’s understandable that expectations were running high. A lot of people were disappointed in this one because it had a ton of random elements that people just didn’t want in their city building games. I did really enjoy playing this, but never got an opportunity for a second play as I think the person who owned it wasn’t a fan and got rid of it. I would like to note that I mentioned in the review that I was still looking forward to my first play of Dominant Species, and nearly nine years later, that’s still the case.
10. BELFORT (published December 7, 2011)
This worker placement game from the Bamboozle Brothers was a highly enjoyable game for me, and yet another that I have only gotten to play once. All these years later, I really don’t remember much about how it works, except that I liked it. I read through my review, and nothing really felt familiar to me. I guess that probably says something about the game, but it probably says more about me. I’m glad I play games more than once before reviewing them now.
Thanks for joining me for however long you have been joining me on this blog. One of the weird things about doing the written word is that I have to be able to write for myself and then just hope it connects with other people as well. So for those of you who have checked in over the years, it means a lot. And for those of you who haven’t, that’s fine too. I’m just glad to have you here. So, be it for your first time or your 1000th, thanks for reading!