My 2020 #Boardgame #Wargame Gaming Accessory of the Year

It’s the end of the year so it’s that time for the inevitable “of the Year” lists. Here is my 2020 Gaming Accessory of the Year.

To be eligible for this category, the item must be an accessory to a boardgame or wargame meaning it is not mechanically necessary for play but which somehow enhances the play experience. It must also have been released in the 2020 calendar year. For a near-complete listing of all the gaming accessories I acquired in 2020 (including some items not eligible for this list) please see my GeekList 2020 RockyMountainNavy Gaming Acquisitions and look for entries labeled “ACCESSORY.”

Candidates

Presented in alphabetical order:

My 2020 Gaming Accessory of the Year

Aircraft Data Cards for Downtown, Elusive Victory, and Red Storm. Not essential for play but having them makes play go so much faster with the right data at your fingertips with little need to cross-reference or otherwise search for what you are looking for. I deeply appreciate GMT Games allowing these cards to be published through Game Crafters using game art.

Aircraft Data Cards for Red Storm, Elusive Victory, and Downtown

My 2020 #Boardgame #Wargame Year in Review – By the Numbers!

I’m not a data scientist, but in this year of COVID we all have (hopefully) become a bit more savvy when it comes to numbers and statistics. So here is my look at my 2020 gaming year “by the numbers.”

Important note as you read below; although I consider Root (Leder Games, 2018) a wargame, for the purposes of this post it is counted as a boardgame.

Can you find Root, the wargame?

2020 Gaming Acquisitions

Total Gaming Items Acquired in 2020 – 82

  • Accessory – 8 (5 Boardgame, 3 Wargame)
  • Boardgames – 38 (Includes 30 base games & 8 expansions)
  • Wargames – 36 (Includes 31 base games & 5 expansions)

Comment: Did I really buy more boardgames this year than wargames? This is a major blow to my wargaming cred!

Part of the wargame collection

Wargames

  • Total Wargame Items – 39 (48% of total)
  • Base Games – 31 (79% of all wargame items)
  • Expansions – 5 (13% of all wargame items)
  • Accessory – 3 (8% of all wargame items)
  • Published in 2020 – 17 (44% of wargames)

Comment: A good mix of old and new with a fair amount of expansions thrown in too.

Wargame Items by Era

  • Pre World War II Era – 9
  • 20th Century 1925-1945 (World War II Era) – 18*
  • Modern Era (1945 to Near Future) – 9
  • Future or Sci-Fi – 1
  • Multi-Era – 2

* Includes Amerika Bomber: Evil Queen of the Skies (Compass Games, 2020) since it is really an alternate-ending WWII game.

Comment: Shows that World War II remains far and away my most popular era although Modern Era games are also strong. Whatever happened to sci-fi? (Answer – They went to boardgames).

Wargame Items by Publisher (Base Game-Expansion-Accessory)

  • Admiralty Trilogy Games – 3 (1-0-2)
  • Command Magazine – 1 (1-0-0)
  • Compass Games – 3 (3-0-0)
  • Counterfact Magazine – 1 (1-0-0)
  • Fort Circle Games – 1 (1-0-0)
  • Game Crafters – 1 (0-0-1)
  • GDW – 2 (2-0-0)
  • GMT Games – 5 (3-0-2)
  • Hollandspiele – 3 (2-1-0)
  • Lock ‘n Load Publishing – 4 (2-2-0)
  • Multi-Man Publishing – 4 (4-0-0)
  • PSC – 1 (1-0-0)
  • Osprey Publishing – 1 (1-0-0)
  • RBM Studio (C3i Ops Magazine) – 1 (1-0-0)
  • Revolution Games – 4 (4-0-0)
  • US Naval War College (via History of Wargaming Project) – 2 (2-0-0)
  • Worthington Publishing – 2 (2-0-0)

Comment: I’m pleased with the diversity of publishers that I purchased from this year. Although I bought more individual items from GMT, I actually bought more base games from two other publishers (Multi-Man Publishing & Revolution Games).

Boardgames, good boardgames

Boardgames

  • Total Boardgame Items – 43 (52% of total)
  • Base Games – 30 (66% of all boardgame items)
  • Expansions – 8 (20% of all boardgame items)
  • Accessory – 5 (12% of all boardgame items)
  • Published in 2020 – 18 (42% of boardgames)

Comment: Seeing how 42% of all boardgame items were published in 2020 should I be looking for a Cult of the New (CotN) or Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) vaccine? Not really; 10 of the 17 items were accessories or expansions leaving ‘only’ 7 new games from 2020 – 16% of all boardgames.

Boardgames by Domain* – Base Games Only

  • Abstract – 5
  • Card – 3
  • Children’s – 6.5
  • Family – 4.5
  • Strategy – 6
  • Thematic – 5

*Using the BoardGameGeek classification where able.

Comment: Was a bit surprised that Children’s games were at the top here. Then again, I should not be surprised as Mrs. RockyMountainNavy and myself made a concerted effort to buy new children’s games this year for her to use in teaching.

Four Gardens from Korea Boardgame Company

Board Game Stats (Plays)

  • Total Game Plays – 257 (223 in 2019 = Up just over 15%)
  • Different Games Played – 123 (119 in 2019 = Up ~3%)
  • Percentage of Game Collection Played in 2020 = 14%
  • Players – 27 [Mr. Solo – 30%, RMN T & RMN Jr. 22% each]
  • Locations – 3 (Up 50% over 2019)
  • Days of the Week – Sun 22%, Mon 10%, Tue 7%, Wed 9%, Thu 10%, Fri 20%, Sat 22%
  • H-Factor =6 (Six games played at least 6 times)
  • Game Quarters (at least 25 Plays) = 0
  • Game Dimes (at least 10 Plays) = 1
  • Game Nickels (at least 5 plays) = 10

Most Played Games

  • Here to Slay (Unstable Games, 2020) = 10
  • Brief Border Wars (Compass Games, 2020) = 9
  • Dragomino (Blue Orange Games, 2020) = 8
  • Iron Curtain: Central Front 1945-1989 (Multi Man Publishing, 2020) = 7
  • Tri Pack: Battles of the American Revolution – Guilford, Saratoga, Brandywine (GMT Games, 2017) = 7
  • Red Storm: The Air War Over Central Germany, 1987 (GMT Games, 2019) = 6
  • Elena of Avalor: Flight of the Jaquins (Wonder Forge, 2017) = 5
  • Enemy Coast Ahead: The Doolittle Raid (GMT Games, 2017) = 5
  • Fury at Midway (Revolution Games, 2020) = 5
  • Lonato (GMT Games, 2002) = 5
  • NMBR 9 (ABACUSSPIELE, 2017) = 5

Comment: Roughly same number of games played this year but more plays of those games. Reflects the fact that because of COVID I got a slightly larger gaming table which allowed me to keep games setup longer. This resulted in multiple plays of more games.

Incoming Games…Someday (Pre-Orders & Kickstarter)

Living GeekList is here.

As of Dec 27, 2020

Comment: Hmm. Average age (or time on list) is a bit over 11 months. And that’s i the year of COVID which slowed down manufacturing. If this time shrinks appreciably in 2021, could it be a barometer of recovery?

The 2021 RockyMountainNavy Game Collection

According to my BGG Profile

  • Boardgames Owned (Boardgames + Wargames): 782
  • Expansions Owned: 247
  • Accessories Owned: 7 (Obviously this is not correct as I acquired eight this year)
  • Average BGG Boardgames Rating: 6.55
  • Average BGG Expansions Rating: 6.71
  • Top Rated Game: 9.25 Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel, Kursk – 1943 3rd Edition (Academy Games, 2019)

RockyMountainNavy 2019 Most played #wargame & #boardgames

IMG_D6BDC9FE37F4-12019 was a pretty good year for gaming in the RockyMountainNavy household. This year, I played 119 games a total of 221 times. Compared to 2018, this was fewer plays (221 vs 357) but more actual games (119 vs 105). This year I only had two ‘Dimes’ (played 10 or more times) and three ‘Nickels’ (played 5-9 times).

Dimes & Nickels

  1. Quarriors! (WizKids, 2011) – 21 Plays
  2. Hold the Line: The American Civil War (Worthington Publishing, 2019) – 10 Plays
  3. The Mind (Pandasaurus Games, 2018) – 7 Plays
  4. Scythe (Stonemaier Games, 2016) – 6 Plays (including the first three episodes of the Rise of Fenris Campaign).
  5. Tank Duel: Enemy in the Crosshairs (GMT Games, 2019) – 5 Plays

Eight (8) other games sat at four plays during the year and another seven (7) were played three times. Basically these top 20 most -played games account for around half of the game plays during the year.

What comes in 2020?

In an upcoming blog post I’m going to dig deeper into the numbers for 2019 but suffice it to say for now that it was a good year.

How was your year? What games are you looking forward to playing next year? For myself, I have a few new Gaming Challenges I am going to reveal just after the new year.

 

Blog Look Back – A 2018 RockyMountainNavy Gamer Year in Review

It’s a new year (Happy 2019!) and I guess this is the time for some introspective thoughts. In my case, I finally decided to look at my blog stats. I have been writing my blog, Bravo Zulu, since sometime in 2007. I have never before looked at my stats in any sort of serious manner. This year I will be different! Be warned though – I use a free wordpress.com account so the available stats are not all that deep.

Stats

  • Views: 14,464 (+2,387 or +16% vs 2017)
    • USA – 8,155, UK – 1,750, Canada – 845…all the way down to a single view from Vatican City?
  • Visitors: 9,250 (+2185 or +23% vs 2017)
  • Posts Published: 164 (+29 or +17% vs 2017)
  • Likes: 497
  • Comments: 112
  • Month with the most views was December (1,740) although July had the most visitors (1,679)

Top Posts for the Year

  1. Starship Construction in Mongoose Traveller (Originally posted March 2014!)
  2. Game of the Week – Silver Bayonet…Game Mechanics (Posted in 2018 and linked to by GMT Games…thanks guys!)
  3. Traveller 5 Character Generation (Another March 2014 post)
  4. #TravellerRPG Ship Combat (MgT2E) (January 2016)
  5. SOLO Campaigns (April 2017)
  6. The Old South China Sea – 7th Fleet (March 2018..discussing a game published in 1987)
  7. #FirstImpressions – Cataclysm (July 2018)
  8. #WargameWednesday – Carrier Battles 4 Guadalcanal iOS (November 2017)
  9. #TravellerRPG Character Generation (MgT2E) (January 2016)
  10. The Gygax Rule for GMs (July 2018)

What I See

In 2018 I really focused my blog on the wargame and boardgame portion of my hobbies. I actually all-but-ignored my roleplaying games. Yet 60% of my top posts are RPG related, and most of those from as long as five years ago! I guess there are some older search engines or linked pages that continue to drive folks searching for Traveller RPG items my direction.

My top wargame post was picked up by GMT Games so their page is driving people to my posting. My top boardgame post would be #15 on the list if I went that far.

Way Ahead in 2019

Writing my blog is very therapeutic. I want to write more and am considering restarting my #ModelMonday, #ThreatTuesday, #WargameWednesday, and #RPGThursday structure of postings. I really enjoyed my Game of the Week series last year as it gave me the chance to really dig into a game and get more familiar with it. I also want to continue my weekend Family Game Night postings too.

Technically, I long ago named my blog “Bravo Zulu” which is Navy code for “Good Job.” Over the years I have taken more the identity of RockyMountainNavy and even folks like GMT Games reference my site that way. Maybe I need to rename my blog?

RockyMountainNavy Game Year for 2018 (#Boardgame & #Wargame)

This is the last in my series of 2018 “of the Year” posts. This one covers my Game of the Year. The first post looked at boardgames, the second was wargames, and the third was game expansions. The game had to be published and acquired in 2018.

Looking back over the candidates for my Boardgame / Wargame / Game Expansion of the Year there is one game that I left off the list. That is because it is my Game of the Year.

Although I am a grognard wargamer at heart, my Game of the Year is not a wargame. Well, not in the traditional sense of a hex & counter wargame. Some people call my Game of the Year a wargame, others a Eurogame with combat (waro).

pic4267727
Courtesy BoardGameGeek.com

Root by designer Cole Wehrle and published by Leder Games is unlike other boardgames or wargames. Some people claim it is a Eurogamer-version of the GMT Games COIN-system. In part this claims comes from the fact both games feature asymmetric factions each with different victory conditions. To take that comparison any further is unfair because Root carries the asymmetric powers to another level.

In a typical COIN game, each faction has an asymmetric selection of actions to choose from. The actions themselves have a subtle difference but for the most part factions are distinguished by which actions they can take. On the other hand, factions in Root have almost entirely different game mechanisms as to how they operate. While basic movement and combat rules are common across every faction, each faction plays differently from the others. From the Marquis de Cat that plays a resource game and builds to the Eyrie that use a programmed turn or the Woodland Alliance (Communists, not Star Wars Rebels mind you) who subvert the others with influence and the lone Vagabond who can be a pure soulless thief or White Knight, each faction plays differently. Even the Otters and Lizards in Root: The Riverfolk Expansion play differently.

IMG_0084
Courtesy Twitter

That is what makes Root such a special game. From a game design perspective it is impressive to see the seamless integration of all these different game mechanism on the table at the same time. The artwork – whimsical yet functional – fits the game perfectly.

I will be one of the first to admit Root is not easy to learn. It takes time to learn the basics of the game and how each faction operates. Players in early games often spend their time “heads down” on their own tableau figuring out how to play and miss looking at the other players. As time goes on that skill emerges and the interaction between different players becomes the making of many tales of woe – and victory.

Root occupies a special place in my game collection; a game that I can play against other serious gamers or solo. It is a game that I want to get expansions for because I want to play on different terrain (boards) and with different factions.

For its innovative blending of theme, artwork, and game mechanisms, I can see no other game than Root for my Game of the Year.

RockyMountainNavy #Boardgame #Wargame Expansion of the Year for 2018

This is the third in my series of 2018 “of the Year” posts. This one covers boardgame & wargame expansions, the first looked at boardgames, the second was wargames, and the last is my Game of the Year. Candidate expansions are taken from those published and which I acquired in 2018.

My candidates for the RockyMountainNavy Boardgame/Wargame Expansion of the Year in 2018 are:

…and the winner is…

prelude_boxfront-old-logo-1-740x1024
Courtesy Stronghold Games

I absolutely cannot imagine ever playing Terraforming Mars without the Prelude expansion. The Prelude Cards jumpstart your corporate engine and gets the game going faster in the early turns. It doesn’t really shorten the game, but it does make it alot more fun!

Other Games

Several of the other expansions are also great but for each the base game can be enjoyed without them, unlike Prelude which has made itself an essential part of the game. That said, The French and More! is more like a bonus box then an expansion and is practically inseparable from the base game. Both MBT: BAOR and MBT:FRG add new “factions” and optional rules that make the overall game more interesting but can easily be ignored if desired.

Kingdomino: Age of Giants occupies an interesting spot in my game collection. Although ostensibly an expansion for Kingdomino, the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself feel that it doesn’t really fit that game because it adds a bit too much of a “take that” element that spoils the feeling. On the other hand, adding it to Queendomino, which has more “take that” mechanics than Kingdomino, feels much more organic.

RockyMountainNavy #RPG Item of the Year for 2018

This is a bonus posting in my series of 2018 “of the Year” posts. This one covers role-playing game (RPG) items. The regular posts cover boardgames, wargames, game expansions, and the last is my Game of the Year. Candidate RPG items are taken from those published and which I acquired in 2018.

My candidates for the RockyMountainNavy RPG Item of the Year in 2018 are:

…and the winner is…

pic4387901
Courtesy RPGGeek

First, a little backstory. In 2018 I lost my RPG-mojo. I used to play around with my Classic Traveller, Cepheus Engine, Traveller 5, The Clement Sector setting, and other Alternate Traveller Universes (Orbital: 2100, HOSTILE, These Stars Are Ours!) all the time. This year I hardly touched them. Even the RockyMountainNavy Boys, lovers of Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars (especially Edge of the Empire) had all-but-stopped messing around with the books. The last major RPG System book I bought was Genesys. My Kickstarter for Cortex Prime: A Multi-Genre Modular Roleplaying Game is “only” about a year overdue.

At one point this year I backed a Kickstarter for a RPG setting that seemed right up my alley. It featured “tense space fighter combat, swaggering pilots, and interplanetary adventure!” However, after reading the preview version I dropped my pledge in disgust because I wanted a GAME, not a political statement. It was part of a trend I see in many parts of the RPG industry and it turns me off. Now, I’m not naive, nor do I desire to avoid the “issues” but I deal with them enough elsewhere and I just don’t want them in my RPG. I want to play RPGs for a bit of escapism, not political activism. It was yet another nail in the coffin of my RPG enthusiasm.

Then I read Alegis Downport’s Cepheus Light Three-Format Review. I liked what I read. I bought a copy for myself. I read though it in one sitting.

Now my RPG-mojo is back!

Omer Golan-Joel and Josh Peters have reignited my interest in RPGs. To use some Traveller 5 definitions, I tend to be a Casual Player (travel, explore, interact, negotiate, combat, etc.) with a heavy dose of world building and System Engineer (explore the universe in detail) thrown in. With Cepheus Light I can get back to making adventures for myself and the RockyMountainNavy Boys. Indeed, using Cepheus Light I may just try to make my own RPG setting based on the wargame Talon from GMT Games.

Feature image from tedlindsey.com. Go look at their work; it’s excellent! 

RockyMountainNavy #Wargame of the Year for 2018

This is the second in my series of 2018 “of the Year” posts. This one covers wargames, the first looked at boardgames, the third will be expansions, and the last is my Game of the Year. Candidate games are taken from those published and which I acquired in 2018.

My candidates for the RockyMountainNavy Wargame of the Year in 2018 are:

…and my winner is…

slar_2_sm_1024x1024
Courtesy Hollandspiele

I’m not sure, but the original Supply Lines of the American Revolution: The Northern Theater (Hollandspiele, 2017) may have been the first game I recognized as a waro (wargame-Eurogame hybrid). I never thought a game about logistics could be the basis of a good wargame. I also appreciate that instead of simply redoing his first game on a new map, Mr. Russell added, with little rules overhead, game mechanics to reflect the unique “irregular” war in the southern colonies. The result is a very playable game that is not only fun but offers decent insight into the conflict.

Gettysburg and Battle of Issy 1815 arrived Christmas Eve. My initial impression of Gettysburg is that it is a very simple introductory-level wargame that features a rich decision space. Indeed, I almost put it here in a tie with SLotAR:TSS as a co-winner! The Battle of Issy 1815 is my first introduction to the Jours de Gloire -series of rules. Although I admit Napoleonic wargames are not really in my wheelhouse this is a fast-playing, rules-lite game; I like what I have seen – and played – so far!

Regarding Cataclysm, I debated when making these “of the Year” postings whether to categorize it as a strategy boardgame or a wargame. Regardless of where it ended up, the game is still a triumph of design and is interesting to play every time. Battle Hymn with its chit-activation mechanic brings the Fog of War to a game with little rules overhead and is a visual masterpiece. I am looking forward to Vol 2 later this year. Even the newly arrived NATO Air Commander is fun and a very playable solo game – when its not bringing back nightmares of Soviet armored hordes rolling across the West German frontier!

After the tremendous delays in the Squadron Strike: Traveller kickstarter campaign I am soured on the game. It makes it harder to judge the game on its own merits.

RockyMountainNavy #Boardgame of the Year for 2018

This is the first in my series of 2018 “of the Year” posts. This one will cover boardgames, a second will look at wargames, the third will be expansions, and the last is my Game of the Year. Candidate games are taken from those published and which I acquired in 2018.

For my 2018 Boardgame of the Year the candidates are:

…and my winner is…

box-hero
Courtesy Stronghold Games

As I recorded in my First Impressions post, I was a bit cool to AuZtralia at first. After playing it a few more times (and especially after solo play) I have really warmed up to this title. What I initially called “schizophrenic” in the game I now see as a well-accomplished blending of sometime disparate game mechanisms into a complete game playable in about 2 hours.

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Photo by self

At the time I wrote this post, AuZtralia has nearly 900 ratings on BoardGameGeek with a rating of 7.7. It was also ranked 197th in the Thematic Game category. I personally think the Geek Rating is a bit low and the game should get more respect than it seems to be garnering. I have heard some people criticize the randomness in the game (“this game has way to much randomness, the scoring sucks”) while others don’t like the blending of mechanism, especially when the game devolves into a wargame (oh the horror!). I think designer Scott Muldoon (sdiberar on BGG) says it best, “I don’t think the work is a stroke of genius, but it’s a solid game that has staked out some new territory (“Rails to Cthulhu, Now With More Combat”).”

Other Candidates

Let me also say that Pandemic: Fall of Rome (BGG rated at 7.9) and Ticket to Ride: New York (BGG rated at 7.1) are also excellent games. My opinion of Fall of Rome may change as the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself play it more. Ticket to Ride: New York makes an excellent gateway game or filler game. As far as Villainous; let’s just say the less said the better.

2017 Gaming Retrospective

Well, its that time of the year for the obligatory post addressing the question, “How much did I game in 2017?” This year I tried to keep better stats using BoardGameGeek. Here is my year:

fullsizeoutput_56bIf my math is correct, that is 124 plays of 59 different games. Actually, it’s only 57 different games because there are two expansions in there.

I have no real data to compare these numbers to because I admit I only sporadically logged game plays in 2016 and before. But there are a few trends I noticed myself.

Family Gaming: This was the year that the family started gaming together. Look at all the family games. From heavy games like Scythe to lighter fare in Kingdominothe game shelf is sagging a bit more this year.

Academy Games: Easily one of my favorite publishers today. In particular I love their Conflict of Heroessystem and their “lite” family wargames of in the Birth of America and Birth of Europe series.

Hollandspiele: Another small publisher. Small, innovative and interesting games have rekindled my love of wargames.

GMT Games: A powerhouse publisher, this year I explored titles beyond their niche wargames. Their COIN-series title Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection is a favorite.

All in all, 2017 was a good gaming year. Here’s to hoping 2018 continues the trend!

Happy New Year!