2018 ended with the failure of my 10×10 Challenge. I ended up getting in 87% of the way there. I completed the plays for 6 of the games. I was hoping to get in 5 more plays the week of Christmas but I came down with a cold that left me with no drive for gaming. Even with those additional plays I would have missed the 10×10 challenge by 8 plays. I started off pretty strong with the 10×10 challenge but things petered out at the end of the year. I was surprised to see that through the challenge three games were culled from my collection. I intended the the challenge to be a way of reintroducing me to some of the games that weren’t hitting the table. Earlier in the year this was very much true. If you wanted to here more about the reasons why I selected them, check out my post from the start of 2018.
I’ll run through the games I had in the 10×10 Challenge and let you know how I faired.
- Burgle Bros.– I got to 6 plays of this games. This is the game that I was hoping to blitz through the last week of the year. I thought that this game would be a slam dunk since it was something that hit the table during game nights. But in 2018, my attendance of the game nights was spotty at best so majority of these plays were at home either solo or with the kids. For some reason, this is one that is overlooked when I’m selecting games to play at home. Only reason I can figure it an “out of sight, out of mind” problem since it is an odd shaped box and it ends up being stored in a bin with card games. Without it being directly in front of me, I don’t think of it. I’m accused of this same action when looking for items in the fridge so there is some validity to this statement.
- Ex Libris – This is the first of 3 games that has left the collection. This was a new game to me when the year started so I was looking forward to exploring the game. It turned out that the play of the game was shallower than I had hoped so it quickly lost its luster and was sold early in the year. The game play of Ex Libris is a mix of worker placement and tableau building. This are two things that are up my alley. For the multi-player game, there are great options to interact with the other players without completely ruining their plans. This game played well the handful of times I played with a group. The game truly fell flat in the solo experience though. I’ve discussed that in a previous post when I talk about why Ex Libris exited the building.
- Legendary: Marvel, for example, was a game that was seeing reduced plays in the last couple years but finished the year with a solid 21 plays. This may have been aided by one of my favorite characters being included in the Champions expansion. A great deal also led me to pick up the two Aecret Wars expansions. This increase content gave me a lot to explore and discover in Legendary. This was the only game on my 10×10 that got in more than the 10 plays.
- Fallout was the second game that left collection, but unlike Ex Libris, I only got in 7 out of the 10 plays. I got a fair amount of plays in early in the year due to Con of the North in February. This was a great game if you like the exploring the story of a game. The game play itself was pretty straight forward and had some good variability in setup of the tiles. I found that the game was good at the 3 player count but the excitement seemed to dwindle when it was played solo. The solo game was fine but it was hard to progress the story lines fast enough before the end game was triggered. With more players, the story lines emerged quicker and provided a better play experience. For this reason, this game lost its momentum when I started playing it as a solo game. The length of the game prevented it from being a game night game. I decided to sell it when I looked through my 10×10 Challenge and felt that I “had” to play it rather than excitement of “Sweet! I have a free evening to play Fallout!”.
- Flash Point: Fire Rescue like Legendary is a classic of my collection. I got it early and have since acquired almost all the expansions. The one big upgrade I did this year was getting the Broken Token box or the game. In addition to the box, I took the extra time to stain and varnish the box so it feels more like a collector’s piece now. This was one of the games that were impacted by the end of year sickness. I got to 9 plays and was expecting to get my last one in before the year end. That didn’t happen when I came down with the cold. The new storage solution helped speed up setup, but Flash Point suffers from the expansion fatigue. Each expansion adds new mechanism and there is always a little needed to do a refresher on the various rule changes for the chosen maps. One of the best plays I had of Flash Point in 2018 was with the work gaming group where we had 6 people playing the game. There was a mix of people familiar with the game and brand new to the game. We played a version somewhere between the family game and the advanced rules. It was a great to see the excitement the new players had for one of my favorite games. We ended up losing the game but it was great to see how the group came together to try to figure out a way to save the building on our last turn.
- Imperial Settlers is an example of a game where the additional content was preventing me from playing the game. I had the small box, Why Can’t We Be Friends, and the larger Atlantans expansions. With these expansions you could just through them into the decks but there were some situations where the game wasn’t balanced for this. For the best experience time needed to be spent steering up the decks based of which expansion was going to be used. This was a killed my desire to play since it felt like a chore just to get started. I ended up selling the expansions early in the year and playing just the base game. This was great for me since I wasn’t sorting through cards and looking up rules. I was able to sit down, shuffle the cards and play. After getting back to the basics for this game, I was reminded why I love this game. There are so many choices you can make during the game but they are presented in such a way that you are not overwhelmed. You are limited by the cards you have in your hand and what resources you have. Based on those factors you need to puzzle out how best to convert those into victory points. All my plays of this game was solo and played mostly with the Barbarians which let me start thinking about the game a little differently and identity which cards are setup or early game cards. Then trying to get the combo cards that would ring up the victory points each turn.
- Nemo’s War was the third game that left my collection in the year. I only got 5 plays completed during the year. With the low amount of plays and the fact that I sold it, gives the wrong impression of my thoughts on the game. The time commitment along with the thought requirement is what limited my plays of the game. This is one game that I required 2-3 hours of focused time to play. This game rewards repeated plays in order to get a “winning” outcome. The goal of the game is to survive to the end of the adventure deck. If you achieve that goal, you then move onto the scoring phase to see how well you did. I was batting 85% on surviving but when it came to scoring I never scored anything above the base tier. With my last couple plays, I was finally beginning to understand what I was doing wrong. In late 2018, I heard that there was going to be a Kickstarter for the 3rd printing of the game with some minor improvements. These were mostly box size and organization improvements, but I took this as a chance to liquidate my old copy in order to offset some other new game purchases. I got rid of it, but odds are this will come back to the collection once the 3rd printing his retail.
- Pandemic: The Cure – This game has been a mainstay and ranks up there as one of my favorite games of all time. This co-op game offers great play-ability as a solo game since there is no hidden information and there is no resources or cards controlled by each player. Each player has a set of dice that determines their actions. This game hit the 10 plays relatively early in the year. The Experimental Meds expansion added 2 unique modules to the game. One of the expansions is one that I play with most often since it adds a little more variability to the dice, in both good and bad ways depending on when you roll the new dice. This made the game more fun for me. The second module makes the game harder by putting up additional barriers and challenges that the players need to take into account. Learning these two new modules made it an easy for me to get my plays in throughout 2018.
- Scythe and its expansions are edging towards complicating setup so much that it prevents the game from coming out. However, in this case, I will put the time to get this game to the table. I have all three expansions for this game: Invaders from Afar, Wind Gambit, and Rise of Fenris. The expansions aren’t the only challenge with this one. This one that takes up significant space so I’m physically limited where and when I play it. I don’t have the space where I can leave games setup and play over a day or two. The game comes out only when I have a large enough window to finish the game. The Rise of Fenris expansion has been awesome so far through episode 5. This specific expansion adds to the setup time since I have to do a refresher of the rules as well as the story before I start. This is one part I enjoy in being reintroduced to the world and picking up the story. I’ve gotten more than the 10 plays in 2018 if you include the digital plays. I had held out on purchasing the digital version but I picked it up when it was on sale and found it to be a great way to get a game in without the setup issues. It’s great just to be able to fire up and play the game. With the digital version, I do miss the social interaction since that is one of the draws of gaming for me.
- Viticulture: Essential Ediction is one game where the only way I play is with its expansion, Tuscany. The Tuscany introduces a couple elements I consider essential. It is a modular expansion in that the expansion changes the board and then allows you to add other modules if you like. At the start of 2018, Viticulture was relatively new to me so I was just playing with the expansion board and the mechanic that went along with that. Majority of my plays were solo and the game was brutal in that I never logged a solo win with just the expansion board. Things turned around on the win front when I added in the remaining modules. This new modules added in new abilities which could be linked to get some great combos. The game is still very dependent on the card draws but the modules give you more opportunities to cycle through cards to find what you need. This is almost the opposite in terms of setup and space to Scythe. This game fits nicely on my coffee table so am able to setup and play the game over a day or two without much complaint from the family. Also in regards to focus, I can play this with the TV on or a movie is playing. With Scythe, I may have some music going but other than that I need to be distraction free. I feel this is one game that I improved at during the course of 2018.
Looking back it feels that the 10×10 Challenge was more of an expansion challenge. Through 2018, I found that expansions don’t always improve the game. The added complexity puts up barriers for me to get the game to the table. The additional overhead of relearning rules and unique setups for expansions were something that also prevented games from coming out. Story elements are something that may overcome this problem. This is exactly what occurred with Rise of Fenris, but I’m have not seen it replicated by any other expansion.
When I finished 2018, I was 100% sure I wasn’t going to do a challenge in 2019. After getting this recap done though, I’m thinking of a smaller scale challenge but something that would allow me explore the some new games or some that were left off last year.. The top contenders there are: Renegade, Too Many Bones: Undertow, and Pandemic: Fall of Rome.