Friday, April 29, 2011

Five & Dime 2010: Peak Performance

I haven't posted this data before... but thought it might be interesting for those of you who've been following the Five & Dime Reports for a while.

The following list is the peaks for the top 50 games over the last 12 years... the highest percentage of people playing these games 5+ times. (Because of the incredibly small sample size of the first year, I excluded it from this list.)

Game % Peak Year
Puerto Rico 73.85% 2002
Ticket To Ride 73.64% 2004
Lost Cities 72.41% 1999
Dominion 69.82% 2009
Carcassonne 69.64% 2001
Settlers of Catan 61.11% 2000
Agricola 60.87% 2008
Race for the Galaxy 59.63% 2008
San Juan 59.09% 2004
Saint Petersburg 55.45% 2004
Mamma Mia!/Sole Mio 55.17% 1999
Pandemic 50.31% 2008
Attika 46.36% 2004
Liar's Dice/Bluff/Perudo 42.86% 2001
Battle Cry (AH) 41.67% 2000
Ra 41.67% 2000
Transamerica/europa 41.54% 2002
Samurai 41.38% 1999
Citadels/Ohne Furcht & Adel 38.89% 2000
Klunker 37.93% 1999
Union Pacific 37.93% 1999
Wyatt Earp 37.50% 2001
Thurn and Taxis 37.07% 2006
Crokinole 36.92% 2002
Coloretto 36.84% 2003
Can't Stop 36.11% 2000
Web of Power/China 36.11% 2000
Tikal 34.48% 1999
Balloon Cup 34.21% 2003
Power Grid/Funkenschlag 33.64% 2004
Euphrat & Tigris 33.33% 2000
10 Days/Europa Tour 31.58% 2003
Bargain Hunter/Schnäppchen Jagd 31.03% 1999
Loopin' Louie 31.03% 1999
Ricochet Robot(s) 31.03% 1999
Hey! That's My Fish/Pingvinas 31.03% 2006
Alhambra 30.91% 2004
For Sale 30.65% 2005
Princes of Florence 30.56% 2000
Schotten-Totten/Battleline 30.56% 2000
Ingenious/Einfach Genial 30.15% 2005
Goa 30.00% 2004
King's Breakfast 28.95% 2003
Diamant/Incan Gold 28.64% 2005
Circus Flohcati 27.78% 2000
Shadows Over Camelot 27.64% 2005
Ticket to Ride: Europe 27.64% 2005
Amun-Re 27.63% 2003
Apples to Apples 27.59% 1999
Bohnanza 27.59% 1999
Settlers of Catan Card Game 27.59% 1999

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Five & Dime 2010: Nickels (29th-50th)

Since I'm posting the main results over at the Opinionated Gamers website this year, I thought I'd offer some extra-special goodies here on aka pastor guy... so, for those who are willing to follow the links, here's the next 25 games in the Nickels List! (There are some extras, since there was a tie for 50th.)

Coloretto 6.12%
Tobago 6.12%
Arkham Horror 5.88%
FITS 5.88%
Liar's Dice 5.65%
Dungeon Lords 5.65%
Fresco 5.41%
Hive 5.18%
Battle Line 5.18%
Space Alert 5.18%
Kingsburg 5.18%
Endeavor 5.18%
Power Grid 5.18%
Wits & Wagers/Family 4.94%
Saint Petersburg 4.94%
Sorry! Sliders 4.71%
6 Nimmt 4.71%
Glory to Rome 4.71%
TransAmerica 4.71%
Zooloretto 4.71%
Crokinole 4.47%
Innovation 4.47%
Galaxy Trucker 4.47%
Hey! That's My Fish! 4.47%
Parade 4.47%
Mr. Jack 4.47%

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Five & Dime 2010: Dimes (27th-50th)

Since I'm posting the main results over at the Opinionated Gamers website this year, I thought I'd offer some extra-special goodies here on aka pastor guy... so, for those who are willing to follow the links, here's the next 25 games in the Dimes List! (There are some extras, since there was a tie for 50th.)

Werewolf 4.47%
Blokus 4.24%
Diamant 4.24%
Sorry! Sliders 4.24%
Loopin' Louie 4.00%
10 Days 4.00%
Dixit 3.76%
Hansa Teutonica 3.76%
Space Alert 3.76%
Bananagrams 3.76%
For Sale 3.29%
Macao 3.29%
Liar's Dice 3.29%
Thurn & Taxis 3.06%
Wits & Wagers/Family 3.06%
6 Nimmt 3.06%
Zombie Dice 3.06%
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization 3.06%
Carabande 3.06%
Twilight Struggle 3.06%
Ghost Stories 3.06%
Kingsburg 2.82%
Vikings 2.82%
Battlestar Galactica 2.82%
Ticket to Ride: Europe 2.82%
Fluxx 2.82%

Monday, April 25, 2011

This Could Have Easily Come Out of My Mouth On a Sunday Morning

Read the entire quote from President Obama & watch the video on the GetReligion blog:
But then comes Holy Week. The triumph of Palm Sunday. The humility of Jesus washing the disciples' feet. His slow march up that hill, and the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross.

And we're reminded that in that moment, he took on the sins of the world -- past, present and future -- and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection.

In the words of the book Isaiah: 'But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.'

This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this 'Amazing Grace' calls me to reflect. And it calls me to pray. It calls me to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I've not shown grace to others, those times that I've fallen short. It calls me to praise God for the gift of our son -- his Son and our Savior.

Five & Dime 2010: Most Played Games (26th-50th)

Since I'm posting the main results over at the Opinionated Gamers website this year, I thought I'd offer some extra-special goodies here on aka pastor guy... so, for those who are willing to follow the links, here's the next 25 games in the Most Played List!

Diamant 315 10.59%
For Sale 285 10.12%
Macao 280 9.88%
Sorry! Sliders 280 8.94%
Magic: the Gathering 280 7.53%
Space Alert 270 8.94%
Werewolf 270 8.24%
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer 270 7.29%
Thurn & Taxis 265 9.41%
Liar's Dice 260 8.94%
Bohnanza 255 9.41%
Memoir '44 255 7.06%
Le Havre 250 9.18%
Loopin' Louie 240 7.29%
San Juan 235 8.71%
Wits & Wagers/Family 235 8.00%
Kingsburg 230 8.00%
6 Nimmt 230 7.76%
Bananagrams 230 7.06%
10 Days 230 6.82%
Zombie Dice 220 7.29%
Arkham Horror 215 8.00%
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization 215 7.06%
Endeavor 210 7.53%
Vikings 210 7.06%

Kid Game Review: Animal Upon Animal: Balancing Bridge

Animal Upon Animal: Balancing Bridge
  • Designer: Klaus Miltenberger
  • Publisher: Haba
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 5+
  • Playing Time: 15 minutes
  • Review by Mark Jackson (6 plays w/a review copy provided by Haba USA)

Once upon a time, there was a yellow box filled with chunky wooden animal pieces. Between the whimsical components (gotta love the alligator building base) and the kid-friendly “knock-down” rule (you only have to keep two of the pieces you knock down), Animal Upon Animal became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic for Haba Games in 2005.

In fact, it was such a big hit that Haba released Animal upon Animal – The Duel in 2008, a two-player version of the game that involved a little more dexterity skills coupled with real-time competition and was more appropriate for ages 6+. (It’s also known in the gaming community as “the expansion pack for Animal Upon Animal” – two copies of this give you enough new animals to make for longer, trickier versions of the original game.)

But Haba wasn’t done trading off the goodwill generated by the original game. 2008 also saw the release of Animal Upon Animal: The Card Game… a nice portable dexterity game which probably the least successful of the series as it involves balancing cards rather than wooden animals.

Fast forward to late 2010… and Haba goes to the well one more time for a big box game based on the same theme, Animal Upon Animal: Balancing Bridge. There’s still chunky wooden animals & a gator base in a bright yellow box… but there’s a new twist that makes for a different yet still enjoyable playing experience.

The large box is divided diagonally into 4 quadrants, each decorated with appropriate art (desert, river, forest, etc.) and a symbol which also appears on the die. Across one of the walls lays the balancing bridge of the title – which is not, as I first thought, actually a wobbling bridge. The animals are placed around the outside of the box, divided up between the various sections.

Evidently, the gator wants to make sure that the bridge is safe (he’s like the jungle version of a crossing guard lady) so he’s placed in the middle of the bridge. In turn, players roll the die and place an animal from the determined section onto the bridge – either stacking it or putting it next to an already placed animal. There is also a wild card (pick any animal) side to the die… and a bridge side, which requires players to shift one animal on the bridge.

Each player has three secret assignment cards that show three animals – your objective is to get those three animals to touch. (For example, if you had the bat/lizard/flamingo card, you could place the flamingo where it was touching a bat & a lizard to successfully complete your secret assignment.)

Assignments can be completed – even on another players turn! Completed cards are discarded… and the first player to get rid of all their cards wins.

Of course, with this many animals on the bridge, some are going to inevitably get knocked off. Whichever quadrant they fall into is considered their abode – and players may now use them when they roll the appropriate symbol. As well, the player who knocks animals over must take another assignment card as a penalty.

That’s it. Simple enough for a five year old to enjoy – silly enough to make a nice late night closer with gamers. The secret assignments make for a different game experience that I find equally enjoyable to the original game.

Some random thoughts:

  • We found that 4 (or even possibly 5) cards is a better starting hand for older players, as the game can end too quickly with players with dexterity skills.
  • You can use the number of cards dealt initially to handicap better/older players.
  • The ONLY problem we’ve had with the game was playing with gamers – one of whom decided to knock the pyramid over to keep someone else from winning. Simply put: avoid playing these kind of games with those kind of people.

Added bonus for Animal Upon Animal fans: for a few years, buying two copies of The Duel was the only easy way to “expand” your game… and now, with 25 new animals in the box, you can nearly double the size of the original game with this one purchase. The animals in Balancing Bridge are slightly thicker (the same width as the sheep in Animal Upon Animal) but that doesn’t cause any problems when playing the game. (My older son & I played an Uber Animal Upon Animal, using a complete set of animals from the original game, The Duel & Balancing Bridge – it was a lot of fun!)

And an additional added bonus for parents: the new animals have already seen a bunch of solo play time with my 6 year old son, who uses the game to make up interesting (if bizarre) stories involving the cast of animals.

This review originally appeared on the Opinionated Gamers website.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Splitting Hairs: My Opinion of The BGG Top 100

Here's how I'd split up the Board Game Geek top one hundred games as of this morning (April 13th, 2011)... your mileage may/will vary!

Games I've Played
(61)

ON MY PERSONAL TOP 100
  • Agricola (2007)
  • El Grande (1995)
  • Memoir '44 (2004)
  • Pandemic (2008)
  • Puerto Rico (2002)
  • Race for the Galaxy (2007)
  • The Princes of Florence (2000)
  • The Settlers of Catan (1995)
  • Ticket to Ride (2004)
PROBABLY IN MY TOP 200
  • 7 Wonders (2010)
  • BattleLore (2006)
  • Claustrophobia (2009)
  • Dungeon Lords (2009)
  • Galaxy Trucker (2007)
  • Ra (1999)
  • Small World (2009)
WOULD GLADLY PLAY THIS
  • Arkham Horror (2005)
  • Carcassonne (2000)
  • Combat Commander: Europe (2006)
  • Commands & Colors: Ancients (2006)
  • Die Macher (1986)
  • Dixit (2008)
  • Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (Deluxe Edition) (2006)
  • Space Alert (2008)
  • Space Hulk (Third Edition) (2009)
  • Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries (2007)
WOULD PLAY IF SOMEONE ELSE WANTED TO
  • A Game of Thrones (2003)
  • Battlestar Galactica (2008)
  • Civilization (1980)
  • Dominion (2008)/Dominion: Intrigue (2009)
  • Endeavor (2009)
  • Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage (1996)
  • In the Year of the Dragon (2007)
  • Notre Dame (2007)
  • Power Grid (2004)
  • Samurai (1998)
  • Stone Age (2008)
EH (could be talking into playing but only if some sort of bribe was involved)
  • 1830: Railways & Robber Barons (1986)
  • Crokinole (1867)
  • Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2005)
  • Dune (1979)
  • Shogun (2006)/Wallenstein (2002)
  • Steam (2009)
NOT SURE WHY PEOPLE LIKE THIS SO MUCH (will only play under duress)
  • Acquire (1962)
  • Advanced Squad Leader (1985)
  • Battle Line (2000)
  • Blood Bowl: Living RuleBook (2004)
  • Go (-2200)
  • Modern Art (1992)
  • Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization (2006)
  • Tichu (1991)
  • Tigris & Euphrates (1997)
  • Ticket to Ride: Europe (2005)
  • Tikal (1999)
ACTIVELY HATE THIS GAME
  • 1960: The Making of the President (2007)
  • Amun-Re (2003)
  • Cosmic Encounter (2008)
  • San Juan (2004)
  • Taj Mahal (2000)
  • Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) (2005)
Games I Haven't Played (39)

WANT TO TRY
  • Cyclades (2009)
  • Hansa Teutonica (2009)
  • Twilight Struggle (2005)
WOULD TRY IF SOMEONE ELSE WANTED TO PLAY IT
  • Glory to Rome (2005)
  • Le Havre (2008)
  • Navegador (2010)
  • Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game (2010)
  • Ticket to Ride: M√§rklin Edition (2006)
  • Troyes (2010)
  • YINSH (2003)
AM UNLIKELY TO TRY BUT WOULDN'T REFUSE TO
  • Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! Russia 1941-1942 (2008)/Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! Kursk 1943 (2009)
  • Imperial (2006)/Imperial 2030 (2009)
  • Paths of Glory (1999)
  • Up Front (1983)
  • War of the Ring (2004)/War of the Ring Collector's Edition (2010)
HAVE ZERO INTEREST IN TRYING
  • Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery (2007)
  • Antiquity (2004)
  • Automobile (2009)
  • Dominant Species (2010)
  • Goa (2004)
  • Hammer of the Scots (2002)
  • Here I Stand (2006)
  • Indonesia (2005)
  • Merchants & Marauders (2010)
  • Napoleon's Triumph (2007)
  • Railroad Tycoon (2005)/Railways of the World (2009)
  • Roads and Boats (1999)
  • Struggle of Empires (2004)
  • Warhammer: Invasion (2009)
REFUSE TO TRY
  • Age of Steam (2002)
  • Brass (2007)
  • Caylus (2005)
  • Chaos in the Old World (2009)
  • Runewars (2010)

Christian Marketing?!

Pete Wilson (familiar to many of you because of his wonderful book, Plan B, which I used as a basis for a sermon series earlier this spring) blogged this morning about a Tweet from Derek Webb (familiar to many of you because we used his song "T-Shirts" in a couple of worship services):
Derek: The word “christian,” when applied to anything other than a human being, is just a marketing term.
So Pete listed a bunch of stuff where we do just that:
  • Christian music.
  • Christian books.
  • Christian label.
  • Christian publishers.
  • Christian bookstore.
  • Christian greeting cards.
  • Christian dating service.
  • Christian radio.
  • Christian camps.
  • Christian clothing lines.
Derek's comment (esp. in light of the list Pete threw out there) is a bold & thought-provoking statement... and the thought it provoked from Kyle Reed (in the comments section of Pete's blog) is the must-read quote of the day:

To me it is a term that promises safety.

Which that is the marketing side of it all. You are safe when you buy this. You are safe when you read this. You are safe when you listen to this. Just go and listen to Christian radio. That is what they say every time. Safe for the whole family.

I think the problem is, there is nothing safe about Christianity.

Which begs the question - when have we traded in passion for the good news of Jesus Christ for safety & security from the big, bad World?

It's Almost Here!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Game Review: Alvin & Dexter - Monsters & Trains, Oh My!

Ticket to Ride: Alvin & Dexter
  • Designer: Alan R. Moon
  • Publisher: Days of Wonder
  • Reviewer: Mark Jackson (review copy provided by Days of Wonder)

When he designed Ticket to Ride, Alan Moon mashed up a card-drafting mechanic along with some rummy-ish set collection and then let all of that play out on a map of the United States. Coupled with the gorgeous Days of Wonder production, the game won a well-deserved Spiel des Jahres.

Over the following years, Alan has tweaked the game in a variety of ways:

  • three “big box” additions to the franchise (which are stand-alone games, each with their own innovations): Europe, Marklin & Nordic Countries
  • one “map” expansion for 2-3 players that can be used with any of the big box games: Switzerland
  • two “tin box” expansions that add cards & other alternate ways to play the games: 1910 & 1912
  • one “dice” expansion

So the next logical step, of course, was to have monsters invade.

In interest of full disclosure, I was an early hater of the idea. I tweeted about Ticket to Ride “catapulting the shark” – managing to reference Fonzie & the most ridiculous of the Carcassonne expansions in the same 140 characters.

But after playing the basic game (augmented a couple of times by the 1910 tickets) with Alvin the Alien & Dexter the Dinosaur, I’ve had a change of heart. I think there’s a lot to love about these not-so-cuddly additions to the Ticket to Ride franchise. The Alvin & Dexter expansion (it requires any full box edition of the game in order to play) is a winner.

They’re simple enough to use: the two players who are last in turn order place them on the board & the game takes off as usual. Each player now has an additional option on their turn: trade in a locomotive (wild card) or two to move one of the monsters 3 (with one locomotive) or 6 (with two locomotives) cities.

Any city occupied by the monsters are being ravaged. (You are welcome – nay, encouraged! – to make sounds of destruction & mayhem.) Those cities are unsafe and therefore may not be built into or out of until the monster has moved on to greener pastures.

When a player moves a monster, he receives a card that indicates he’s done just that. (You can decide for yourself whether this indicates that he’s used the military might of our great country to chase the monster away… or instead that he is actually in cahoots with the monster, directing its every move.) No other player can move that particular monster until the end of moving player’s next turn, when he flips that card over.

At the end of the game, Alvin & Dexter affect the scoring in two ways:

  • the player who has moved each monster the most gets 15 points (ties are friendly)
  • the two cities which are currently being rampaged are worth 50% less points (rounded down) for any player with a ticket that ends in those cities

In practice, we’ve found that the monsters affect the game without overwhelming it – in other words, they add some variety to the game without making it into a completely different game… and with a game I like as much as Ticket to Ride, I see that as a good thing.

Here’s some ideas for things you can use Alvin & Dexter to accomplish for you:

  • block access to a city that looks to be important to your opponent(s)
  • stop building in a city which you need until you can get the appropriate tickets
  • position them for the endgame so that your opponent loses half the value of their high value tickets (this means that monsters should head for the East & West coast)
  • position them for the endgame so that the tickets you whiffed on only cost you half the points

So far, we’ve found that most of the monster movement occurs in the mid to late game… but I think that’s probably a function of the aggressiveness of the people you’re playing with. I’d be interested to see a game where players begin sending Alvin & Dexter out to kill & destroy earlier – thus really chewing into the number of available locomotives for actual track building.

As I’m not as big a fan of the more complex games in the series, we haven’t tried the monsters with those sets. I’m especially curious to see how Ferries (which require locomotive cards) will interact with Alvin & Dexter.

My only negative about the monsters is that their miniatures are a little tippy – I wish they’d had slightly larger bases. In the long run, however, that hasn’t proven to be a big deal in play.

This review originally appeared on the Opinionated Gamers website.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Terry Taylor: No Ship Comin' In

As my long-time readers know, I do almost no fund-raising on this blog... but today I think I'll make an exception for someone who has touched my life through his music for over 25 years.

To any and all who been blessed by the life and gifts of Terry Talor,

It is with much regret that I come to you with a desperate prayer. Our dear friend and brother, Terry Taylor, is experiencing one of the direst personal struggles of his life. Since the cancellation of Catscratch, his financial situation has been dismal to say the least. His wife and daughter both teach at a pre-school to help make ends meet week to week but it hasn’t been enough and two years ago they lost their home in foreclosure.

As many of you know, Terry, who is uninsured, has had ongoing medical problems for the past five years, with last year being particularly troublesome and expensive. The bills have mounted steadily and the late fees continue to add more misery. Last month their little apartment was burglarized and items of great sentiment were stolen. As an unwanted culmination to one of the toughest years in the life of his family, this past weekend his daughter Noelle was rushed to the hospital and had to have emergency surgery to remove her gall bladder.

He hasn’t wanted us to share his story and burden his fans and we’ve been trying some creative new ideas to raise Terry’s income but this last blow has broken the camel’s back and nearly broken Terry’s spirit. I know many of you would want to help our brother in this time of personal crisis. If we all gave $10 or $20 it would go a long toward relieving this burden for their family. Some of you may be able to give more; some less. Anything would help right now.

We’ve set up a relief fund that can be donated to through Paypal. Please visit www.DanielAmos.com and click the donate link in the upper left corner. Be sure and click on “Update Total” after you enter the amount. If you’d like to donate in some other way, please email tom@eveselis.com.

Thank you for hearing and for being the support you’ve been to Terry and his family for these many years. Sincerely and with much love and gratitude,

Tom G., the Townsends, the Lost Dogs, and Terry’s family