Looking back on 2012: a year in Gaming

I usually write a “My year in review” post in early January but I didn’t feel in any particular hurry this year.  I do want to keep up the tradition, as I did one last year.  I write about games and gaming quite a bit in this blog, though not solely.  So I’ll focus on what 2012 was like as a year of gaming.  Again.

Boardgame Acquisitions:

I kept my resolution about scaling back boardgames from 2011’s all time high.. 35 boardgames in a year, and to date, I’ve played maybe half of them.   In 2012, I was more disciplined throughout the year and mostly picked up games on subjects I’m really interested in, or had some track record with.  I also got rid of a few older titles which proves that I’m not going to be featured on HOARDERS any time soon.  I think it’s healthy to be cruelly objective about gaming and I need to be more severe about it.. if I’m not putting it to use for its intended purpose, it is only contributing to clutter.

So, the list:

Bloody April, 1917: Air War Over Arras, France  (GMT, P500 sale.. I like the subject)  So far I haven’t broken it out yet.  I need to find a local gamer who likes historical subjects first.

Commands & Colors: Napoleonics Expansion #1: The Spanish Army (GMT, P500 sale I enjoyed the original quite a bit).  I’ve stickered this one up and played one of the battles.  I’m designing a few scenarios, too.

The Spanish Civil War (GMT, Boardgamegeek Santa Grogs Christmas Gift Exchange — a favorite subject matter).  I’ve just looked at it.  Another subject that I really need a local hardcore historical gamer to play with.

1805: Sea of Glory (GMT, special 50% customer appreciation sale).  A little bit of buyer’s remorse here.. I was not hugely impressed with the product as shipped.  The stickers don’t fit the blocks and the blocks don’t fit the hexes.  GMT verified that the big blocks were included in the original game and shipped that way as a production mistake, but they very kindly sent me smaller blocks.  I’ve yet to play it.

Modern Naval Battles – Global Warfare (DVG – 2012 Boardgamegeek Santa Grogs gift exchange).  I have played this a couple of times, and I’m very happy with this purchase.  It’s lite and fast and plays to a conclusion in a few hours. 

Merchant of Venus (FFG/Stronghold –  Main Boardgamegeek Secret Santa gift)  I’m in awe of this one– the standout boardgame of 2012.  I still haven’t played it but it’s going on the table in 2013.

and lastly

The Tide at Sunrise: The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 (MultiMan Publishing, reprint of Japanese original.. taking advantage of a Multiman Sale)   Seems a tad light in components for the box size, as if this was a ziploc or folio game in a previous incarnation.  Still it has an interesting land-sea system and is on a period of history that rarely gets gamed.  I’ll play this one in 2013.

Here’s a two part AAR for Tide at Sunrise: Part 1 Part 2. Particularly good.

I suppose Leviathans is a boardgame, technically.  I received Leviathans for Christmas. I’ve played it solo a couple of times and once at a recent convention.  Jury’s still out on that one– I’m not liking the rulebook at all.

In addition I picked up some family games:  High Noon Saloon, Cthulhu Fluxx, Conquest of Planet Earth, Gauntlet of Fools (which was a bit disappointing), and Run for your Life Candyman!.  I’m probably forgetting one or two purchases beyond these, but I don’t think it’s very much.  So I reigned in the insane purchasing this year, and I’m happy about that, it makes sense.

Miniatures Gaming

I became a big fan of SAGA this year and will continue pursuing building warbands for it.  I have a Viking Warband done (although it needs re-basing), a Viking Longship and some other items.  I’ve only played it a couple of times but I’m really enjoying it.  It doesn’t require a huge amount of buy in to have a great time.  I’m also painting up Fanticide by Alien Dungeon.  This game is silly enough for me.  Progress has been slow because the armies I want to buy are pretty high-dollar.

Other projects I’ve been working on are finally coming to fruition.  I’ve had a 54mm Napoleonic Skirmisher game in development for a very long time, more than a decade.  The appearance of Victrix Miniatures in 54mm scale in recent years has really moved this game forward.  Right now I have a small unit of British Line, a small unit of British Rifles, and a small unit of French Voltigeurs painted up.

Don’t they look pretty?

I hope to have this game ready for a convention play at HISTORICON 2013. I’m very eager to run this.

Some of the games I’m putting together are geared towards the Summer Gaming Camp I run in August. I’m fixing up my Uncharted Seas fleets, which are fairly battered after running the game frequently for about four years running. Still it’s a big hit with the Summer Camp kids, so I’m bringing it back.  I’m also putting together a game about Pod-Racing in the Star Trek universe, the Gladiators versus Skeletons thing, the Magi game (of wizardly spellcasting) in 54mm, The Zombie Game, and a maybe a few other surprises.

I probably bought more new rule books in 2012 than I usually do– I’ve a hankering to try a few new things, like 15mm SF and Renaissance Wargaming also in 15mm.  So I got Tomorrow’s War (Osprey/Ambush Alley), Black Powder by Warlord Games,  and Frank Chadwick’s Condotterie rules (Foundry).  I have a decent Leonardo army but need to buy some Turks for opponents.  I also have a decent amount of painted 15mm SF now.  Not sure what I’m going to do with Black Powder, but it makes for some danged interesting reading.

Other Gaming

Any long term reader of 3POS will know I’m a big fan of the IPad.  I have been writing IPad app reviews for a solid two years now, usually wondering when the actual Ipad Wargames are going to show up.   I’m happy to say that two of them did in 2012.  Phantom Leader from DVG showed up and it appears to be a  faithful rendition of the game I used to play in hotel rooms when on travel back in the 90s.   I’m slated to do a full up review of it; I want to play through a few more games first.  Far more exciting to me was the arrival of Butterfield’s Battle of the Bulge for Ipad.   This is a real, no-kidding wargame for the Ipad, and it is deserving of high praise.  Another review that has been long delayed on here.  Alien Frontiers for the Ipad was a Kickstarter I was glad to contribute to.
Other fun near-misses were Pacific Fleet, Civil War, Civil War TBG and Combat Mission Touch.    Life isn’t all about wargames on the Ipad, however, and there were some great releases in 2012 that I played the hell out of… Stone Age is highly addictive, as is Starbase Orion,  Summoner Wars, Ascension,  Lost Cities, FLUXX (yay!), Kingdom Builder, and King of Dragon Pass.   2012 was a great year for Ipad Game releases and I enjoyed all sorts of games put out in that format.. indeed, some, like Stone Age and Kingdom Builder, were my first exposure to the game system and the Ipad turned me into a diehard fan.

Trends and the Industry

Just like last year, I’m really enjoying the role of Meetup.com in bringing gamers together in my area.  I haven’t been to every possible meetup available to me, and to be honest, I’m still too shy just to drop into somebody’s house unannounced.  I attended a few game days from NOVAG that have been showing signs of increased attendance lately, and I think we can lay that at Meetup.com’s door.  Smaller cons are part of my rubric now, so I still hit up the Williamsburg Muster faithfully and usually the Guns of August.   I haven’t blown off a HMGS convention in years, and still volunteer for them, mostly because they are usually short handed.  So I’m reasonably active (still) with the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society.  I’m hoping that we start to see a way of marrying up these great Ipad and tablet devices with the miniatures hobby soon.  I got wind of a computerized rules set for the Ipad coming to Kickstarter “Soon” when I was at the Muster this year (no more details forthcoming, I promised to keep mum).  I think this a great trend and if I see something like that on Kickstarter, I’d be inclined to support it to some degree even if it isn’t in a period that I play in.   Just to get them out there.  

I guess Kickstarter.com is the other big trend in 2012– I supported Alien Frontiers, Battle of the Bulge, and Shadowrun for the Ipad, and Up Front (boardgame) last year. Kickstarter.com and programs like it are responsible for the huge glut of games that I predicted in last year’s year end review, which wasn’t hard to predict. There’s just hundreds of titles being published a year nowadays. Frankly, I’m not even going to TRY to keep up with it, it’s not my job. Kickstarter is a two sided coin that can create some gems (and 2012 produced a few, like Zombicide), but it also can bring some projects with very limited appeal to fruition because a bare minimum of people were interested enough to fund it. Result: a huge glut of games I’ll never even hear about.  I’m very selective about what I back. Even though I ended up paying more than the average customer to get Alien Frontiers, I think part of what you are shelling out money for is the investment to make the vision happen, and you have to accept that up front.  So I have no qualms about supporting the occasional project I really, really want to see happen.
Something to consider: Kickstarter’s most successful category is games. More gaming related projects of all kinds get funded than any other category (source: Kickstarter’s 2012 in review).

The glut of gaming materials seems to be generating (or is a product of, hard to say), a much wider cultural acceptance of new and unusual games that were once considered “fringe”, like Cataan, Carcassone, Apples to Apples, Wits and Wagers and the X-wing Miniatures game. As I observed more than once during the year, some surprising stuff is starting to show up in conventional outlets like Target and Barnes and Noble.. where last year it was much of a muchness. I think you can attribute this to some of the great media exposure that’s starting to happen, like the TABLETOP webshow by Wil Wheaton, which can sell a game out in a hobby shop with one episode. I’m impressed.

Part of dealing with a gaming glut is the growing importance of the gaming review podcasts that can help a consumer focus on what is worth my time and money and what is crap. Believe me, there is a lot of crap out there these days.

So that’s my year in review.  In short, I didn’t play nearly enough boardgames to justify my outlay on them, but I’m working on changing that.  I didn’t paint nearly enough pewter to justify my outlay on THEM, either.  But I progressed on a ton of good projects and have nothing I feel particularly bad about.. it was a fun year, but not as awe-inspiring as 2011.. lots and lots of games got made but only a few were worthy of a purchase for me. IN 2013, I’m going to concentrate on enjoying the games I own rather than acquiring more of them willy-nilly.

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