My most played games of 2014

Games played 2014
Just because a game is new and shiny and fresh it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better than what has come before, something I think we forget in this age of the cult of the new. It’s because of this, and influenced by the great Fire Broadside blog, that I like to look back at the games I’ve played the most over the previous year, we’ve already been through what I consider the best games of 2014 but where those the games I actually played the most during the year?

Due to the super nerdy and ridiculous statistical tracking available via boardgamegeek I’ve managed to keep a tab on the games I’ve played. I’ve then popped them into a spreadsheet (just in case this wasn’t nerdy enough) and adjusted my list of top games based on play length. I ran a similar process a couple of years back (I forgot to last year) and there has been a stark difference, mainly due to review games. We get sent review copies of games here at Polyhedron Collider therefore the list was slightly skewed by mandatory play through, games I’ve just had to play to ensure I’ve given the game enough attention.

Miniature games

It’s not really a surprise to me that my miniature game escapades have been limited to just two games Star Wars X-Wing and Warmachine. In my opinion these are the two best miniature games I’ve ever played, both are balanced, fun and full of tactical and strategic possibilities. I did get a quick taster of Infinity and I really liked what I saw but I haven’t had the opportunity to delve into it further.

WarmachineThis year was my first visit to a tournament. I’ve been playing tabletop games around 25 years and last year I entered into a local Warmachine tournament. I’m still not entirely convinced by my experiences and it isn’t because I did very badly. Instead I realised that the whole meta-gaming aspect where you hunt down the best list available isn’t for me. I will say I enjoyed the event and if they ran something similar next year I probably would play again. The weird thing is that even though I’ve played a lot of Warmachine I’ve not played any of the sister game Hordes, which is bizarre because I actually prefer Privateer Press’s beastly counterpart to Warmachine.

X-Wing is going from strength to strength in my opinion. It’s still a game that is quick to get to the table and with more and more ships becoming available it’s getting more interesting as time goes by. We’ll be seeing a third faction coming in 2015 and since I already have a Slave I in my collection I’ll be expanding my fleet with some Scum and Villainy. This was also the first year I played Star Trek Attack Wing and my initial impressions weren’t overwhelming. To me the game is just too similar to X-Wing and the poor paint job on the ships doesn’t do much to inspire me. Although there are differences between the systems there isn’t room in my collection, and more importantly my wallet, to collect both. I’ve got similar feelings towards the new Dungeons & Dragons Attack Wing, if it’s just the same game with an adjusted theme then I’ll save my money for more X-Wing models.

Star Wars X-WIng Slave I and Millenium Falcon

Card Games

Before I begin this section I should clarify what I mean by card games; I’m not talking about any game based on cards but more the collectible, expandable, living and customisable type. My most non-collectible card game has been Pathfinder, but we’ll talk about that later. Instead what I’ve been playing mostly is Lord of The Rings and Doomtown

The Lord of The Rings
I managed to obtain The Lord of The Rings core set for an absolute steal and I’ve been really impressed by the game so far. Blending the rich Lord of the Rings lore into a beautifully illustrated cooperative card game is a truly amazing accomplishment. To show how much I’ve enjoyed Lord of the Rings I’ve actually played this game solo, on multiple occasions, something which I never do. My only problem with the game is that the core set really is a gateway drug, to get full enjoyment out of the game you need to be constantly buying expansion packs for the new scenarios and since I’m late to the party there are a huge amount packs available, keeping up with this game is going to be costly.

I’ve already crowned Doomtown my game of 2014 so I won’t go into too much detail here just that it is a brilliantly thematic take on a customisable card game set in the old west winning were shoot outs requires drawing poker hands from your carefully stacked deck.

Doomtown Reloaded

Board Games

Board games, especially multiplayer (four or more) are the games I play the most so it wasn’t a surprise to me that they where top of my list of most played games. What was a surprise was that the top three games I’ve played throughput 2014 have all been cooperative games.

giant pandemic
First on the list is Pandemic, the classic game of saving the world form a variety of dangerous contagions. Pandemic deserves to be on any list of top games, the whole things is so smooth and yet bloody difficult, just like all good co-ops should be. The reason why Pandemic has become played so much is simple; it’s really easy to teach and plays in an hour. I’ve played this game with every type of gaming group I know; families, non-gaming friends and hardcore gamers. I may have had to adjust the difficulty depending on the group but every time the game has been a hit and every time a group of players lose they are desperate to play it again.

Pathfinder adventure card gameThe second most played game of my year was Pathfinder the Adventure Card Game and the weird thing is I’m still not sure what I think of this game! Bizarrely Pathfinder is also the game I’ve played the most that I do not own (here’s a tip people; you don’t have to own every game). Pathfinder is a relatively simple game to play; you move your character to a location, draw a card for the location and resolve its effect all while hunting down the main villain. There’s defiantly a Talisman like feel to it. There’s also some subtle deckbuilding to the game as any loot you pick up goes into your deck which is also your character’s health. Where the game really excels, and I think why I’ve played so many games, is the deck building carries over from game to game. The deck is your character and represents their equipment and followers, together with a simple yet elegant levelling up mechanic you start to get attached to your character and want to see how they’re going to fair against the next adventure. I’m obviously not the only person who thinks this, as the popularity of The Rise of the Runelords set has led to the release of Skulls and Shackles last year.

The biggest game played in 2014 by a long shot was Eldritch Horror. It wasn’t surprising that this would be my most played game but it was a surprise just how many times I’d managed to get it to the table, especially compared to how rarely Arkham Horror gets an airing and its all down to playtime. Although Eldritch Horror is an amazing game I think it lacks some of the intimacy of Arkham, however the game always plays in under 4 hours and since my regular gaming group meets from 7pm till 11pm it fits in an evening perfectly, something I don’t think I could manage regularly with Arkham (we did once and they where closing the pub around us just as we closed the final gate). I can’t see the playing of Eldritch Horror slowing down soon; I have recently got hold of the Mountains of Madness expansion so will soon be venturing into the icy cold expanses of Antarctica in search of the ancient Elder Things.

Eldritch Horror

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  1. It seems like you've had lots of fun! I'm especially jealous that you got to play all those games of X-Wing that I somehow... didn't. :(
    Well, a new year will bring more space combat and with a third faction added to the mix it's going to be fun to kind of re-discover the game.

    Also, glad to have inspired someone. :D

  2. I think X-Wing is getting played so much because of how little effort is required to set up a game; my local gaming shop has a star-field table just ready to go and you're only flying a handful of models at a time.

    I'm planning on entering my first X-Wing tournament this year, which could be interesting!