A Game A Day Keeps the Doldrums Away

augustgamesI have always been a big fan of board and card games. I spent hours playing Parcheesi, Pick Up Sticks, and UNO at my grandparents’ house as a child. At home, we played Boggle, Clue Master Detective, and Casino Yahtzee. As I got a bit older, I moved from Risk and Stratego to Axis & Allies, Talisman and Cosmic Encounter.

In 2009, a friend of mine got married, and for his bachelor party we all went to see the Star Trek reboot and then grilled burgers and played board games. (Do we know how to party or what?) There, I was introduced to a new card game that quickly became a favorite: BANG! It was quite different than what I was used to, and I loved it. I wanted to play more games like BANG! and that led me to the BoardGameGeek website.

I devoured all the information about “designer” board games, stuff that had to be imported from other countries and could only be found in specialty stores. I registered an account at BoardGameGeek in January of 2010, and decided as a New Year’s Resolution in 2011 that I would begin tracking all my board game plays using the system at the ‘Geek (BGG for short). Since that time, I have recorded 1,631 total plays. Divided over the 1,705 days since I began recording, that puts me at 0.95659824046 board game plays per day. That’s roughly 19 games out of every 20 days.

You might think that this means I play a board or card game nearly every day, but this is not the case. Most of my plays come in spurts. Some games, like Magic: the Gathering or Warmachine or Warhammer, I play in tournament settings, where I play multiple games in one day. This is specially true of Magic, where one tournament can lead to over a dozen plays. I also meet friends regularly for game days or nights, and usually get two to three games in during these sessions. So the norm is that I might go a week or so without any plays, then have a bunch all at once. But that was not the case in August of 2015.

This past month, I played a board or card game every day. Not one day went by where I didn’t sit down at a table with a set of cards, dice, miniatures, or whatever and play a game with someone. I didn’t set out to do this from the first of the month at all; in fact, I didn’t even notice until a couple weeks had passed. By that point, I decided to keep the streak going, no matter what. It was often a stretch, and particularly toward the end, I was playing games more to keep the streak alive than to have fun, but whatever. Here’s a visual of all the games I played in August, in order from the most played to the least.


The biggest hit for the month was Epic, a game that isn’t even out yet! I backed the Kickstarter for the game, and have been playing a Print and Play copy of the game until it launches later this month. Epic hooked me as a mashup of two games I love: Magic: the Gathering and Star Realms. It takes the fantasy spell slinging feel of Magic, and eliminates the collectible aspect as well as the “mana screw” problem. The Star Realms DNA comes in Epic’s fast pace, swingy fights, and low price. I am really looking forward to the full version and expect this one will be hitting the table often for a long time to come.

Marvel Dice Masters was second on the list, mainly due to the fact that it plays quickly but is still quite fun. I love dice, I love super heroes, and I love the Magic-like combat system. The only complaint I have about the game is it takes a while to set up and then clean up. We ended up leaving it all out for a few days in a row and ate dinner at the other end of the table. Thank you to my ever-patient wife!

Magic: the Gathering and Monsterpocalypse tied at three plays each. I keep a collection of Magic Duel Decks around as it is my all-time favorite game, though I admit it isn’t perfect (see my comments above). Monsterpocalypse was new to my collection, as I picked up a lot from a friend when he wanted to get out of it. It is a miniatures game with giant robots, huge monsters, lots of dice, and cool miniature buildings to destroy. Think Destroy All Monsters the Minis Game. I adore it for the theme and super sweet minis alone, but the mechanics are also very modular and easy to learn a step at a time.

Zombie Dice is far from my favorite game. I keep it in my collection only because it has little value to sell, is small in the game bag, and is super easy and fast to play. We dug this one out twice, towards the end of the month, simply to keep the streak going in the quickest possible time frame. Let’s just say I am enjoying Fear the Walking Dead way more than Zombie Dice and leave it at that.

The rest of the games in the list were played once each. I will group the by who I played them with.

CMqNXtuUsAIJNY2 (1)With only Connor – Coin Age, DC Comics Deckbuilding, Dungeon Roll, Mars Attacks, Star Realms, Star Wars: Armada, Tiny Epic Defenders

Connor is my most popular gaming partner. He rolls his eyes some here and there but he puts up with the old man’s demands, even though playing board games cuts into his texting and The Office rerun watching. Of this set, the best play was Mars Attacks the Miniatures Game. I have painted my copy and it looks great on the table, plus it came down to the last dice roll in a photo finish. Worst play on this list was probably Tiny Epic Defenders. I want to love it but it is brutally hard and was often frustrating due to cards coming up in the exact wrong order.

With Connor and Deana – Lords of Waterdeep, Sushi Go!, Wiz-War

Did I mention my wife was patient? All three of these plays were fun, but I have to give the nod to Lords of Waterdeep. It was our first time playing with the Corruption tokens in the expansion, and I abused them too much and ended up in third place behind both of them. Connor won, which he keeps reminding me of from time to time.

At Allie Family Game Day and Breakfast for Dinner Extravaganza – Hey That’s My Fish!, Logo Party, Martian Dice, Telestrations

Telestrations is always fun when a large group plays. It’s easily our favorite party game and we have had success playing it with all sorts of people. I played Logo Party only grudgingly because I love my nephews. Cranium is way better and I don’t even own that one anymore.

At Classic Rock Coffee Game Night – Camel Up, Concordia

Could we have found two more dissimilar games? Not likely. A light, fun game with adorable camel meeples contrasts strongly with a heavy economic hand management monstrosity. I love Camel Up for what it is, but found Concordia unengaging. I should probably give it a second chance, but then again I could just bet on camel races instead.

Everything else with friends here and there – One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Pathfinder Card Game, Say Anything, Welcome to the Dungeon

Really great stuff here. I had not played Say Anything, but it was a very good party game, particularly rewarding if you know the other players well. I would play the Pathfinder deckbuilding game at any given opportunity. It’s a masterpiece and I wish it hit the table more often.

CNN-RDgVEAAO824So what is my biggest takeaway from playing a game every single day in August? The fact that a good boardgame collection needs plenty of short, filler type games. Our lives are very busy, and it can be difficult to fit in a long game in one evening, particularly on a school night. I love miniatures games like Warhammer and Warmachine, but they takes 15 to 30 minutes to set up, and between 90 to 180 minutes to play. This means we can typically only get a game like this in on a lazy Saturday. Even some of my favorite medium-length games, like Agricola and Defenders of the Realm, take well over an hour. But we can almost always squeeze in a hand of Magic, or Epic, or a quick session of Dice Masters, even on a busy evening between football practice, dinner, and homework time. Good filler games are worth their weight in gold.

I very much enjoyed the cornucopia of gaming delights I partook of in August. Playing such a variety of games with Connor, Deana, and our friends was a wonderful experience. While I don’t plan on making a similar commitment anytime soon, playing a game every day gave me something to look forward to and it was a great stress reliever. It made me reevaluate the games I have in my collection, as well. Board and card games are an amazing way to spend time with one another and I am thankful to have a family that loves to play games together.

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