MJ's Games Played in 2001  |   Back to MJ's Games Played in . . .

Another year, another game rating method. :-/ It isn't quite that bad, but in the five years I've been doing this I've used the 10-point scale, a letter-grade system, and most recently the 3-star method of evaluating games. It illustrates how important these rating systems are to me--not very much. Still, I can paint with broad brushstrokes some opinions about various games, and despite those different rating methods I can see consistency over the years in my tastes. Number of plays is an indicator of how much I liked the game, too, only there are some games I'm sort of cornered into playing more often than I'd like, and a good number of games I'd prefer to play more often than I do.

I've grouped the games in the broad rating categories: the 3-star games I consider great, the 2-stars that are good, the 1-star games I'd call okay, and the zero-star games I try to avoid. Within those categories the games are listed by the number of plays. One thing that jumps out when I sorted them this way is the correlation between games that were new to me, and my highest ranked ones. It's not that I'm biased against new games, but that a greater proportion of my top-rated games weren't new, they were established favorites. Stands to reason, right? About the same percentage (40%) of both new and old games I rated good (2-stars), but the lower-rated games are more and more dominated by new titles. The bar gets higher every year for new games to find their niche in my game collection, limited by budget, storage, and especially playing time.

Something else that's encouraging about my records is that they show I'm playing the games I like more often. Great games were played an average of 5 times each, good games twice, okay games 1.5 times, and bad games just once.

Total stats: 159 different games (84 of them new to me this year), 346.5 total plays (the half was a game of Spanish Main we didn't finish, but was beefy enough to count). That's up quite a bit from previous years which hovered around 100 games. The increase comes largely from attending Gulf Games, and getting SoCal Games Days up & running locally.

*** GREAT GAMES ***

Magic:The Gathering -- 44 times

Okay, I admit it. I *enjoy* getting sucked back in by this game described as "flat crack." It's a great game in its own right, but of course the game is bigger than that. Magazines, trading, local card shops, tournaments ranging from boasting rights with your friends to $30,000 Pro Tour... this game is huge. And that's really my only problem, that to enjoy it fully requires more time than I have right now. What it doesn't take is gobs of money. At least, not as much as I'm spending on German games these days. So I'm trying to figure out how to just dabble in Magic, even if it means cutting into my German gaming time a little bit. BTW, these are 44 individual duels, or about 15 matches.

Crokinole -- 18 times (New)

I had to take the plunge, thanks for a fortuitous ebay sale. Would've preferred to try someone else's board first, but none were around. I'm so glad I did. Pricey as hell, yeah, but the game has been a hit with my game group, and an even bigger hit with my family. That counts for a whole lot. One of the few games anywhere on this list that I expect to be playing, now and again, two decades from now.

Carcassonne -- 15 times

It gets no respect--well, other than the Spiel des Jahre!--but this game is really solid. It doesn't bother me in the least that there's a healthy dose of luck in the game. I like that quality unless it overwhelms the strategic considerations, which is not the case here. BSW showed me how it's a very good 2-player game as well as multiplayer, played mean, something I didn't see at first.

Frank's Zoo -- 10 times

Quirkiest of the rolling-trick, Dalmuti family of card games. It's a staple among our lunch group, and it was also a Game of the Month for the Left Coasters. We prefer to play that partners only have the card exchange and help options--they don't score going-out points together.

David & Goliath -- 9 times

Another lunchtime favorite. I used to be surprised that Mit List und Tucke received such praise while this was mostly overlooked...except that no one's playing MLuT anymore!

Tally Ho! -- 7 times (New)

A healthier dose of luck yet, even when you play two games switching sides (which you simply have to do). Nonetheless, I think it's really a lot of fun, with some trickier tactical situations that require lookahead and judgement.

Canyon -- 6 times (New)

A real surprise. This one had passed me by before, but I took a liking to it on the first play. Yes, it's derivative of many other games going back all the way to Oh Hell, but there's more to it than that. The board is more than a scorekeeper. Someday I hope I'll finally get to try the Grand Canyon variant (which I own), but I know it won't be at lunch.

Fluster -- 6 times (New)

This was a word game recommended on r.g.b. A quick search on ebay found a copy for cheap, and it was just as good as the poster said. My wife and I play this, and it's now my preferred crossword game (over Scrabble).

Samba de Amigo -- 6 times (New)

I cheated on this one--it's a video game. But I only played with my usual boardgame group, the Left Coasters, and we did it in a rotating, party-game sort of way that made it much more interactive for the entire group than any other video game. Electronic marraca competition, with vibrant graphics and driving Latin soundtrack. It's reason enough to by an old Sega Dreamcast. Wow!

Tohuwabohu -- 6 times (New)

Some speed or dexterity games look so simple, you'd think chimpanzees could've designed them. But then you play a few, and you see the differences between great speed games, and all the rest. This is one of the best speed-recognition games.

Elchfest -- 5 times

You're dead meat if you can't flick accurately, but there's more to this unassuming little game than that. Requires some real planning in shot selection. (More than in Carabande, which is much more about execution.)

Drunter & Druber -- 4 times

I almost find it odd that I enjoy this game so much, because often I find myself frustrated to silently watch one player make a bad move, thwarting my chances and helping someone else. And yet, the game's unusual mechanics, excellent production, and fun theme add up to a great experience overall.

En Garde -- 4 times

Ah, my favorite little 2-player game yet again (excepting some wargames). I recently got a nice wooden cribbage set for Christmas, and besides the standard deck I can store my En Garde cards inside. I ordered the felt map separately from Funagain, but now I may see about playing using the cribbage pegboard.

Entdecker -- 4 times

My favorite boardgame got even better this year with the infusion of rules from the new edition of the game. I don't own that new edition, and from all reports I don't think I care for the expanded use of scouts and the alternate bonus chit system. The other changes, though, were good and easily grafted onto the original game.

Streetcar -- 4 times

The endgame issues in this game caused too many people to look past it, I believe. With a common die roll final race, the game doesn't suffer the anticlimax you read about online, and what's left is the best connection game around, for my money. (Yes, including Metro, see below.)

Vinci -- 4 times

Four plays is a pretty solid number in our group when you consider the game's length. We've always played with open scoring, and never had a problem. I hope someone comes up with an expansion with some new abilities some day, even if it's just homebrew on the net.

Ausgebremst -- 3 times

I know Formula De has its legions of fans, but *this* is the car racing game for me. It's lighter and doesn't simulate racing as well, but plays so much smoother, and in one box you get a bunch of track combinations. Would love to play a multi-race series like a mini-tournament (which is what the rule suggest). But I'll be getting EG Spiele's Pit Stop next, and that may give this game competition...

Battle Cry -- 3 times

For being so enamored with this reasonably-short game, I don't play it that often. Picked up a second set when Target was blowing them out, and will someday play multiplayer Big Battle Cry.

Mu -- 3 times

Despite concentrating on this game for a month back in 2000, I still have trouble wrapping my head around it. I always enjoy it nonetheless, and would love to see it take hold with the lunch crowd.

Carabande -- 2 times

Still a whole lot of fun for bigger gaming events, but there's no question that Crokinole has made this game feel less unique and compelling. If it weren't for the fact that my kids get a kick out of it (giving me hope that they'll play seriously some day), I'd be tempted to sell the expansion set for big bucks on ebay. (But I won't, so don't ask me.)

Kohle, Kie$ & Knete -- 2 times

The game that's absolutely screaming out for an English language reprint. It's not the holy grail of negotiation games that some make it sound, it's just a great game that's hard to find and too expensive when you do.

La Citta -- 2 times

One of my new favorites that I wish would see as much play as Vinci (or more). A little fiddly, a little mechanical, but it flows nicely and nails its theme. (I can't believe I made it all the way down here before mentioning theme!!)

Loopin' Louie -- 2 times

This will be a family party fixture...until it finally breaks!

Medici -- 2 times

Only twice?! I would've thought we'd played this more often at work. In fact, I know those two plays were both in the same lunch hour! This game has a permanent spot on my favorites list. (Whereas I traded Modern Art away, and have never quite felt the need to own Ra, though I enjoy it.)

Queen's Gambit -- 2 times (New)

As a strategic contest it may not be as great as some of the others on this list, but as a total game experience it's fantastic. Amazing bits, invokes the movie perfectly (and I happen to have enjoyed the movie, even Jar-Jar...a little), DOES provide some mental challenge, and you get to roll lots of satisfying dice.

Taboo -- 2 times

Still one of the very best party games around, especially for couples. Need to try the electronic version.

Werewolf -- 2 times (New)

Quite the experience, let me tell you. In my first game my intuition about a werewolf was 100% correct...but I didn't stick to it and paid the price. In my second game I was a werewolf who felt like a deer in the headlights, amazed that I lasted as long as I did. Wow!

Zap Zerapp -- 2 times (New)

The naysayers are wrong, this is a very enjoyable game with a unique mechanic, and it's more than just for kids. I need one.

Ace of Aces -- 1 time

I got my first set almost twenty years ago, and it's been played at least a little bit most of those years. And it'll continue to do so (especially if I can find the X-Wing/TIE Fighter version of the same game).

Apples to Apples -- 1 time

Obviously this flame burned out a bit from last year, but I still think it's great and will play now and then.

Assault on Hoth -- 1 time

The *other* highly rated Star Wars boardgame I played this year. :-) This one is for an earlier movie, and is a notably earlier game. Nonetheless, it's got some ahead-of-its time mechanics and pretty nice components.

Bohnanza -- 1 time

Only one play all year for this old favorite. Which is one more than I had for Settlers. Sheesh, gotta get these oldies-but-goodies on the table more often in 2002.

Mississippi Queen -- 1 time

A second time I sat out because we had too many people show up at lunch! A good game made even better by the endgame tweak that allows finishing by exact count (not necessarily speed 1 like all the other docks).

Netrunner -- 1 time

Great to play, even better than Magic thanks to the bluffing and general feel for the theme, but it's a distant cousin in terms of deck construction, so it doesn't hold my interest quite as much.

We The People -- 1 time

The only wargame I called Great last year. Rats, I didn't play enough wargames in general. This one is short and easy enough to get played each of the past few years, though.

** GOOD GAMES **

(I'll limit myself to one line about each of these, and not even that for the remainder)

Africa -- 5 times (New) -- The lightness doesn't bother me, it's FUN!
Dragon's Gold -- 5 times (New) -- Lunchtime negotiation game
Flowerpower -- 5 times (New) -- A hit with my wife and daughter
Ra -- 5 times -- I prefer Medici's simple elegance, but this is another Knizia auction favorite
What Were You Thinking? -- 5 times (New) -- Favorite new party game of the year
Wizard -- 5 times -- A good lunch game (though I prefer Canyon)

Brawl -- 4 times (New) -- A realtime game I like. Could be a reliable filler.
Die Malwurf Co -- 4 times (New) -- Wish my kids liked it more. Migh try with adults.
Lost Cities -- 4 times -- BSW scratches this itch, but I still play face-to-face occasionally
Palmyra -- 4 times -- My favorite stock market game (wish it worked better with 2, though)

Al Cabohne -- 3 times (New) -- Good but I don't have much use for solitaire games
Attila -- 3 times -- Slick play outweighs the several annoyances in this oddly themed game
Das Letze Paradies -- 3 times -- Weird, overproduced, and difficult Knizia. I like it!!
Get the Goods -- 3 times -- Most often 2-player with my wife, a favorite of hers (and mine)
High Society -- 3 times (New) -- FINALLY played this classic. A good filler.
Princes of Florence -- 3 times -- A jumble of mechanics and components that somehow work
Strand Cup -- 3 times (New) -- Much better than most sports sims. Fun, too.

Cape Horn -- 2 times -- Strangely compelling despite dryness and endgame anticlimax
Chinatown -- 2 times -- With a timer, it's a solid negotiation game
Dia de los Muertos -- 2 times (New) -- I'm getting over my fear of partnership games!
Durch Die Wueste -- 2 times -- I only enjoy this game when played quickly (~30 min)
Kontor -- 2 times -- My determination sees this played a couple times every year
My Word! -- 2 times (New) -- Good speed word game, and by Knizia to my surprise
Oil Strike -- 2 times (New) -- Old Sackson pencil & paper game. Worth finding.
Shipwrecked -- 2 times -- Marked cards ended play of my copy, but it's good stuff
Ta Yu -- 2 times (New) -- Beautiful but expensive. Someday I'll buy or trade for my own
Wurmeln -- 2 times -- My favorite Randolph game (the rest are too dry for me)
Wyatt Earp -- 2 times -- I hope this will become a staple at lunch.

25 Words or Less -- 1 time -- The most challenging party game I enjoy
Advanced Civilization -- 1 time (New) -- I can stomach one game this long per year, no more
Arbos -- 1 time -- It's better with the cards, though perhaps they need some tweaking
Ave Caesar -- 1 time (New) -- Pretty and light, generally my sort of thing, but too pricey
Big Boss -- 1 time -- Not sure how best to play, but I prefer it to Acquire (its inspiration)
Cribbage -- 1 time -- Got a nice wooden set for Christmas. Hope to get my wife to play.
Doge -- 1 time (New) -- Might even be great! This almost slipped under my game radar.
Down in Flames -- 1 time -- Always hard to get a campaign game in (takes ~3 hrs)
DTM Hockenring -- 1 time (New) -- Needs a ruthless timer
Expedition -- 1 time (New) -- I prefer WA's theme (greatly), but this has better rules
Flickwerk -- 1 time (New) -- Realtime puzzle doesn't sound like something I like, but I do
Golf Masters -- 1 time (New) -- Makes Loopin Louie look downright conventional!
Hearts -- 1 time -- Since I can play this with family, I prefer odd trick-taking games
High Bohn -- 1 time (New) -- For those that want even more Bohnanza, this delivers
Kerplunk -- 1 time -- If this came out at Essen 2002 we'd be talking about it
Lift Off! -- 1 time (New) -- Similar to Brawl, but with a terraforming SF theme
Merchants of Amsterdam -- 1 time -- Does anyone else read/enjoy the historic commentary?
Metro -- 1 time -- I like most connection games, and this one is pretty good
Meuterer -- 1 time (New) -- But a dozen more plays online. Nicer than Verrater.
Modern Art -- 1 time -- With the right crowd, it's fantastic. Otherwise...
NASCAR Champions -- 1 time (New) -- Light as a feather, but cool bits, good fun, & cheap
Old Town -- 1 time (New) -- Weird mix of placement and deductive mechanics
Orcz -- 1 time (New) -- Surprisingly good and with an abstract German feel
Pancho Villa -- 1 time (New) --More experience game than wargame, but quite an experience!
Pick Two -- 1 time (New) -- Another speed word game I need to play with more people
Regatta -- 1 time (New) -- An oldie but goodie that was new to me
San Marco -- 1 time (New) -- I avoided this due to El Grande comparisons, but it was good!
Schotten-Totten -- 1 time -- Too much of a headscratcher for me, but it's a good game
Scrabble -- 1 time -- Two-player only, please! Even at that this worthwhile classic is slow
Skyrunner -- 1 time -- Very cool vertical "board", and I like the Raj mechanic
Stimmt So -- 1 time -- Not sure why I don't like this lightweight even more...
Tabula Rasa -- 1 time (New) -- It's got Knizia written all over it.
Take 6 -- 1 time -- Just once? This filler should come out more often.
Tichu -- 1 time -- Played much more on BSW. And I'm brave enough to call Tichu now. :-)
Timberland -- 1 time (New) -- Unsure about the lumberjack die, but I like this Tueber game
Tutanchamun -- 1 time -- Dry as the sands of Egypt, but unique and short. Definite keeper.
Union Pacific -- 1 time (New) -- Better than I expected, but won't ever be a favorite
Way Out West -- 1 time -- It's got theme till the cows come home! Love it now & then.
Web of Power -- 1 time -- I missed the boat on this last year. Now I need to catch up.

* OKAY GAMES *

Liar's Dice -- 5 times
5ive Straight -- 3 times (New)
Mamma Mia -- 3 times
Nur Peanuts -- 3 times (New)
Battle for Naboo -- 2 times (New)
Can't Stop -- 2 times
Die Erbraffer -- 2 times
Evo -- 2 times (New)
Hera & Zeus -- 2 times (New)
Kapitan Wackelpudding -- 2 times (New)
NFL Showdown -- 2 times (New)
Alaska -- 1 time (New)
Auf heller und Pfennig -- 1 time
Bongo -- 1 time (New)
Buried Treasure -- 1 time
Card Baseball -- 1 time (New)
Columbus -- 1 time (New)
Die Mauer -- 1 time (New)
Die Schlangen von Delhi -- 1 time
El Caballero -- 1 time
Empires of the Ancient World -- 1 time (New)
Financier -- 1 time (New)
Foto-Football -- 1 time
Guillotine -- 1 time
Im Marchenwald -- 1 time (New)
Johnny Controlleti -- 1 time (New)
Kuhhandel -- 1 time
Laser Attack -- 1 time
Marracash -- 1 time
Metropolis -- 1 time (New)
Money -- 1 time
Montage -- 1 time (New)
Schweinsgallop -- 1 time (New)
Space Beans -- 1 time (New)
Spekulation -- 1 time (New)
Targui -- 1 time (New)
The eBay Game -- 1 time (New)
Wat n Dat -- 1 time (New)
Witch Trial -- 1 time (New)
Zicke Zacke Hühnerkacke -- 1 time (New)
Spanish Main -- 0.5 times (New)

- Games I didn't like -

Buffalo -- 2 times (New)
Zendo -- 2 times (New)
Babel -- 1 time (New)
Cartagena -- 1 time (New)
Cat-a-pult -- 1 time (New)
Drakon -- 1 time (New)
Formula Motor Racing -- 1 time (New)
Gold Connection -- 1 time (New)
Great Battles of Patton (Bulge) -- 1 time (New)
Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone -- 1 time (New)
Honor of the Samurai -- 1 time
Ice Traders -- 1 time (New)
Impact Zone -- 1 time (New)
Pirate's Plunder -- 1 time (New)
PowerPuff Girls -- 1 time (New)
Tennis -- 1 time (New)