Following is an overview of the board and card games played by our game groups in the year 2000. A complete list of all game results is contained in the Play Data section, but this article attempts to put some order, categorization, and explanation of the data. Hopefully you will see the reasons behind the plays and not just some dry data.
The game data represents over 950 games played, over 200 game titles, and nearly 100 players.
These are not just games I played myself, but the cumulative results of several
groups that I attend regularly:
the RussCon Gamers, the Lunchtime Gamers, the Ale Knights
and miscellaneous others.
A special thanks goes to Russ Williams at The RussZone who
compiles the weekly RussCon data and sends out an entertaining gaming-related article every week.
Also thanks go to Ed Rozmiarek who keeps
a nice private site for the Lunchtime Gamers.
As seen in the chart, the RussCon games make up nearly 80% of the gaming data.
Rather than just go down the list, here is a discussion
of the most played games, category by category.
|Call My Bluff||44||201|
At the top of the play lists are Call My Bluff and Frank's Zoo. Both games averaged roughly 5 players per game in 2000, which alludes to how much fun they are to play with a big group. I imagine Bluff will be at the top of the list nearly every year because it is so fun and quick to play - the perfect filler game. Plus there are all those dice which are fun to rattle and roll. Similarly, Doris and Frank's Frank's Zoo is a delightful card game that caught on big in our game groups. It has the skill of Rummy or Hearts, but also touts the wonderful cartoon animal art of Doris Matthaus. We always play with the partnership rules which team up different players on each hand of cards. Whether for experienced gamers or 8 year olds, this is a great game that withstands repeated play.
Once again Frank's Zoo tops the list of favorite card games. Very close behind are three Reiner Knizia games Vampire, Zero and Zirkus Flohcati. Vampire has excellent cartoon horror artwork by Franz Vohwinkel, although the graphic design is a bit tough on color blind players. Zero is a fun multi-player rummy which always seems to end before you are ready for it. Together these three Knizia games clocked in over 100 plays, and far out-played his nearest non-card game, Durch die Wüste, with 12 plays. The 2 player card game Schotten Totten doubly out-played Lost Cities. Despite what appears to be a USENET preference for the latter, my sentiments lie with the numbers, as I enjoy the former much more than the latter. Both have good artwork and good replay value.
Also notable was that last year's popular darlings Mamma Mia! and Bohnanza tumbled all the way down to 8 and 6 plays each. Bruno Faidutti's Ohne Furcht und Adel also was a bit of a surprise as it only garnered 4 plays within our group despite having won the German Card Game of the Year award. Our group is not Deutsch-o-phobic (witness Zirkus Flohcati or Schotten Totten), but it appears something in the game held the number of plays down far more than expected. Perhaps when an English edition is available we will see a revival of this game.
|Web of Power||21||94|
Outside of the card game realm, a number of new releases did very well this year. The favorite new-comer is Klaus-Jürgen Wrede's Carcassone with 27 plays. More amazing is the fact that we didn't start playing it until November, and yet it was played more than such favorites as Settlers and Hare & Tortoise. If it had been out earlier in the year, it would have been even higher. This is quite an accomplishment. Michael Schacht's Web of Power did extremely well also. Both of these games are short piece placement type games with colorful pieces and multi-way scoring systems. I suspect the short length of play contributed to the high number of plays.
Knizia's Taj Mahal did very well, and out played all of Knizia's non-card games except Durch die Wüste in our groups. This is a good accomplishment considering the length of play of Taj. Likely the number of plays will go down as the newness wears off, but still this was our group's favorite Knizia new game of the year.
Richard Borg's Battle Cry did very well within the group. Outside of the group it had it's own tournament and face-to-face play sessions. The fact that people brought it to game nights shows how much people want to play this exciting 2 player game. I'm sure any new "Command and Colors" release will do well with our game group.
Finally Big City and Torres, although released in 1999, both did extremely well in our groups. They are longer games, but people repeatedly brought and played these games in our game nights. Both games got off to a slow start in their release year in 1999, but since have become repeat classics. Even after many plays, I just recently started playing Torres with the master rules, so I am sure I will visit it more in the coming year.
|Settlers of Catan||22||83|
|Hare & Tortoise||13||60|
|Durch die Wüste||12||50|
|Euphrates and Tigris||11||40|
Some older games are still doing well at our game nights. Klaus Teuber's Settlers of Catan is still played again and again with 22 plays this year. Although Seafarers and Cities and Knights have completely fallen off the radar scope, the timeless classic original edition is still a champ. The number of plays is about evenly divided between Kosmos/Mayfair editions and split about 75%/25% 4-players-or-fewer to 5-players-or-more. The computer version NetSet also contributed to this high play number. Were it not for the new contender Carcassone, Settlers would be at the top of the non-card game list in our group.
Both David Parlett's Hare & Tortoise and Sid Sackson's Acquire, freshly re-released in 2000, did well in our group. I don't have the data to back it, but I think my plays of these games have remained constant over the last 10 years. It will likely remain the same in the future.
Sid Sackson's Can't Stop, Reiner Knizia's Durch die Wüste and Euphrat and Tigris, and Alan Moon's Union Pacific continue to top the classics charts. There is no hesitation in requesting these games, as they all likely will score a full table of players.
|Nicht die Bohne||4||20|
Looking at the numbers, there are a bunch of games that leave me in disbelief thinking, "That's all I played this year?" Medici and Ra are 2 such games. Perhaps people don't enjoy bidding games as much as I, but I would like to play these twice as much as I now do.
Similarly, Vinci and Stratego:Legends satisfy the war gamer in me, but are far underplayed. Vinci is one of the longer games perhaps best relegated to its own afternoon. Regardless, I love to see the sweep and ebb-and-flow of nations across the board. Stratego:Legends is lighter and more whacky, almost to the point of mindlessness. There is strategy in picking out your army and decision-making in moving across the board, but there is also a lot of luck in guessing which enemy piece to attack first. Nevertheless I have lots of fun with the goofy special powers that some of these pieces have. Finally, Nicht die Bohne is an excellent, fun game, but I've seen many players turned off by the perception that it's a "screw your opponent" type of game. Every game involves maximizing your advantage and minimizing your opponent's advantage, but for some reason this game comes off as a nasty, vindictive blood-letting. I enjoy it for the paradoxical play in which offering your dreck to the other players, forces them to offer good cards for you to keep.
So there is an analysis of the games our game groups played this year. A complete listing in numerical order is available at the Play Data section, by choosing the "Game Plays" option and selecting the year 2000. If you have comments or a description of the game play habits of your own group, I would be happy to hear from you.