Saturday, May 29, 2010

Would You Just Make A Stinkin' Decision Already?

Cross Seth Godin with Monday Morning Insight & you get this insightful post...
Make a decision. It doesn't have to be a wise or perfect one. Just make one.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review: The Last Christian

I read David Gregory's Dinner with a Perfect Stranger a few years back - it's an imagined evening of a modern-day businessman with Jesus himself. I liked Mr. Gregory's take on the conversation - it exceeded my (low) expectations for a Christian novel & did a good job of presenting a Biblically solid picture of Christ.

So when the folks at Waterbrook Press asked if I was interested in reviewing his new science fiction/thriller novel, The Last Christian, I jumped at the chance. As a fan of Michael Crichton (well, some of his work) and John Grisham, I was kind of hoping for a cross between
State of Fear & The Testament...

...but what I ended up reading was a cross between two lesser novels by these same famous authors, Prey & The Client. Great ideas here are left to fend for themselves as the characters are mostly one-dimensional props to advance the story: the saintly missionary girl, the skeptical skeptic with a heart of gold, the scheming politician, the wise old grandfather, the taciturn but morally solid FBI agent & the prideful scientific genius. (The same, by the way, is true for the novels I cite by Crichton & Grisham - this is not a problem that is isolated to Christian fiction.)

But even with that lukewarm introduction to my review, I found the book to be a page-turner with some excellent insights into the nature of the Christian faith and our changing culture in the First World. The plot hums along nicely and in occasionally unpredictable ways. (In particular, the ending to the book does not feel like your average Christian novel.) As the protagonist, a young woman raised in Papua New Guinea as the child of missionaries returns to the United States with the mission to re-introduce the Christian faith to America. Her presence sends shock waves through the political & science establishment... and leads to a series of classic thriller/sci-fi moments as she & the professor seek to do the right thing.

I want to be careful not to spoil any of the twists & turns in the story - as I believe those are the best parts of the book - but I do want to highlight a particularly strong passage about one third of the way into the book - Professor Daniels' class on why Christianity has all but disappeared in America by 2088. A long quote to illustrate the high quality of this section:
"From its outset the Christian religion claimed that the intervention of the deity in people's lives would change people for the better. They would have a different character. They would have different morals. They would think, speak, and behave differently. They called it Christlikeness...

"This alleged change in people wasn't caused just by the religious adherent's efforts to be good, although that was certainly emphasized as well. Rather, it was also brought about by the presence of something the Christians called the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit was supposed to change a person's character so that others could see them living like Jesus.

"This belief worked as long as the vast majority of people in society were professing Christians, because there was no one to compare Christians to. The crack in the foundation appeared when people began abandoning Christianity. When a large segment of society became openly nonreligious, an amazing thing happened - amazing to the religionists, anyway. People discovered that religionists & nonreligionists behaved similarly. Sexual behavior, divorce rates, self-reported levels of honesty - none of these varied significantly between religionists & nonreligionists.

"In short, the supposed influence of the deity to change people wasn't real; it was all a psychological game. As people realized that, more of them concluded, 'Why should I adopt that belief system? It doesn't cause a real change in anyone.'"
You may not like what the character is suggesting - but it's a valid concern for those of us inside the church.

There are sections like this scattered throughout the novel - some more effective than others. It feels like David Gregory is using his characters as mouthpieces to speak about his (well-thought-out) convictions about where Christianity could be headed... or as stooges/straw men to woodenly present utilitarian & utopian (scientific, that is) "answers" to the problems in the world.

Overall, I can recommend the plot & the ideas behind the book while cautioning that the characters don't have much resonance or depth separate of the ideas & stereotypes they represent.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Duty Calls

Game Review: Memoir ‘44: Breakthrough

Memoir '44: Breakthrough
  • Designers: Richard Borg & Jacques David
  • Publisher: Days of Wonder
  • Players: 2
  • Ages: 8+
  • Playing Time: 60 minutes
  • Rules Language: English & French
  • Price: $30 retail
  • Version played: Comped review copy
  • Times played: Five, against two different opponents
Let’s start this review by making sure that my bias towards Memoir ‘44 is clear – I own two copies of the base game, plus a copy of every expansion (two copies of Eastern Front) ... and I even own a Campaign Bag. I am, frankly, the bull’s-eye of the target audience for the Memoir ‘44: Breakthrough expansion, so it’s probably not a surprise that I consider getting 15 new scenarios, plus two huge, double-sided mounted maps to enable me to play larger battles a very positive step for the franchise.

With that established, let’s get on to some important questions about Breakthrough

Will Breakthrough make me like Memoir ‘44 more?

That depends on your opinion of Memoir ‘44 and Richard Borg’s Command & Colors system before you play with the expansion:
  • If you don’t like Memoir ‘44, this is not going to change your mind. The scenarios are a bit longer and offer some new tactical and strategic considerations, but you still play orders from a limited hand and roll a lot of dice.
  • If you love Memoir ‘44, this will simply add to your admiration for the system. The greater depth of the boards gives rise to meatier scenarios.
  • If you’re on the fence about Memoir ‘44 – if you like the idea but have been put off by the short scenario length or the “race to X medals” method of victory – Breakthrough may well change your mind. The expansion includes multiple scenarios with victory conditions based on objectives rather than medals, and the larger board means that battles have more time to develop. (I would suggest that fence-sitters also check out the Campaign Book Vol. 1, which connects multiple scenarios together to deal with these same issues.)
Do I need to own a bunch of other expansions to play this expansion?

This has been a subject of much debate as information about the game and the included scenarios has become public knowledge. Thanks to Stig Morten’s post over on BoardGameGeek, there’s a comprehensive list of which scenarios require particular pieces. If you want to use the “correct” figures, unit badges & terrain, you need to have two copies of the base game and of Eastern Front, plus one copy of each expansion other than the Sword of Stalingrad map, the Overlord boxed expansion & the Campaign Bag. (Remember I said that I was the dream customer for this expansion.)

However, if you are unwilling or unable to fork out the cash required to obtain roughly 25 lbs. of WWII gaming goodness – yep, that’s what my Campaign Bag weighs now – you can still play most of the scenarios included in the expansion. Two base games and a Terrain Pack are enough to allow you to play 7 of the 15 scenarios. The Overlord map figures are needed for only three scenarios (two with the supply trucks and one with the Tiger tanks).

What do I get?

It’s pretty straightforward: two double-sided nine-panel boards and a book of 15 scenarios. The quality of both is (as usual for Memoir ‘44) excellent, though there will be some clarifying done on the Days of Wonder site for some of the scenarios due to having only a half-page per scenario for description and special rules. (The scenario book is printed in English & French side-by-side.)

There is a specific warning about the boards on the cover of the scenario book; because this is as large as they can print given current technology, the boards are not reinforced along the edges and so require careful handling. I’ve played five games with my copy and haven’t experienced any problems.

Are the scenarios balanced?

That’s an excellent question… and not one I’m qualified to answer after playing five of them one time each. We did play two amphibious landing scenarios, and both of them seem to lean toward the defenders. (Of course, that’s true of most of the beach scenarios throughout Memoir ‘44.) One of my gaming partners – he and I have played 30+ games of Memoir together – was on the losing end of three Breakthrough battles. He commented that he wasn’t sure about the balance, but that the scenarios were a blast to play even when things went entirely wrong for him.

Other miscellaneous thoughts
  • Most of these scenarios have a longer set-up time than the average Memoir ‘44 scenario, which isn’t surprising with the board being roughly equivalent to two base game boards.
  • Hand management is, if anything, even more important than in the base game. With the longer board, it’s much easier to strand units.
  • While only one of the scenarios requires the airplanes, they are an option in about half the scenarios – but the increased size of the board makes using the planes effectively more difficult.
  • I really like that they included scenarios like Operation: Crusader (the British attack to reconnect with Tobruk in North Africa), which is on a scale similar to the Market Garden Overlord scenario (in the Tigers in the Snow map pack).
My recommendation

I believe that this expansion is aimed at the hardcore Memoir ‘44 player. There are scenarios here that finally put roads to real use (since traversing the battlefield is much more important with the larger board), in addition to incorporating a greater use of the Terrain Pack and various special rules from the troop expansions.

However, I think that the Breakthrough expansion may prove to be a “gateway” of sorts for those with a background in wargaming to give Memoir ‘44 a second chance.

The real strong point of the expansion is that Jacques David and Richard Borg (and Days of Wonder) have managed to create an expansion that adds tactical and strategic depth without adding undue complexity.

I look forward to playing the rest of the scenarios and enjoying the ones that Days of Wonder posts online.

This review (written by me!) is reprinted from BGN with the kind permission of the editor, W. Eric Martin. You should click through to the site & read a lot more stuff about this wonderful hobby of ours!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Peanut Butter Manifesto

I read about Brad Garlinghouse's 2006 memo to Yahoo employees in Ken Auletta's book, Googled: The End of the World as We Know It. (For the record, the book is just OK - don't rush out & buy it.)

It became known as "the Peanut Butter Manifesto" due to the following passage:
We lack a focused, cohesive vision for our company. We want to do everything and be everything -- to everyone. We've known this for years, talk about it incessantly, but do nothing to fundamentally address it. We are scared to be left out. We are reactive instead of charting an unwavering course. We are separated into silos that far too frequently don't talk to each other. And when we do talk, it isn't to collaborate on a clearly focused strategy, but rather to argue and fight about ownership, strategies and tactics.

Our inclination and proclivity to repeatedly hire leaders from outside the company results in disparate visions of what winning looks like -- rather than a leadership team rallying around a single cohesive strategy.

I've heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular.

I hate peanut butter. We all should.
While I disagree on one point with Mr. Garlinghouse (I actually like peanut butter, esp. the crunchy kind), his message should is vital for church leadership. I'm gonna paraphrase a bit - call this the Living Memo version of his words...

Our church lacks a focused, cohesive vision. We want to do everything and be everything -- to everyone. We feel compelled to create, support, fund & staff a smorgasbord of ministries that that make your average Chinese buffet look like a one course meal.

We've known this for years, talk about it incessantly, but do nothing to fundamentally address it. We are scared to be left out... we are afraid that if Church X down the street has a growing [fill in the blank] ministry that we will be left in the dust if we don't create a [fill in the blank] ministry ourselves. We are reactive instead of charting an unwavering course.

We are separated into small groups & leadership teams & deacon bodies that far too frequently don't talk to each other. And when we do talk, it isn't to collaborate on a clearly focused strategy for making a God-sized dent in our community & world, but rather to argue and fight about ownership, strategies and tactics.

Our inclination and proclivity to repeatedly hire leaders from outside our church community results in disparate visions of what winning looks like -- rather than a leadership team rallying around a single cohesive strategy.

I've heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities to reach people for Jesus Christ. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular.

I hate peanut butter. We all should.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Porn Event
You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act -- that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us? C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
From May 23-28, and present, a 25-minute interactive experience focused on the real-life effects of pornography. has two segments, one for men and one for women; more details and the schedule can be found at During we will examine the effect porn has on our lives and relationships, and look at next steps for those who are struggling. Expect a non-threatening environment featuring stories, helpful answers, and an open conversation with people who╩╝ve traveled a similar path. is for anyone who is interested in what it looks like to live a life beyond pornography.

For those of you who know my story, you're clear on why I'm posting this here. For those of you who don't, you can check out the posts 9 Years Ago, Minefield, Part Deux, & The "M" Word.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Five & Dime 2009: The Up Escalator

More interesting facts culled by "mi compadre," Senor Joe Huber:

There are 26 games that a higher percentage of respondants list in 2009 than 2008, and a higher percentage in 2008 than 2007. As expected, none of these games are getting a lot of responses, but the steady increase is interesting to note:
  • Chicago Express/Wabash Cannonball
  • Bananagrams
  • Glory To Rome
  • Lexio
  • Container
  • Scepter of Zavandor
  • Warhammer 40K
  • Start Player
  • Cosmic Cows
  • Twister
  • Kakerlakensalat
  • Merchant of Venus
  • Outpost
  • Ligretto/Espresso/Dutch Blitz
  • Bongo
  • Duck, Duck, Bruce/Kleine Fische
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Rummikub
  • Viva Topo
  • Code 777
  • Oceania
  • Indonesia
  • Sticheln
  • Chinatown
  • Wildlife Adventure/Expedition
  • Guillotine

Most of these have just the two straight years of increases, but a couple have more:

  • Start Player - 3 years
  • Ligretto - 4 years
  • Guillotine - 3 years

Guillotine is particularly interesting - after a fairly standard decline from 1998-2001, there were actually a higher percentage of people reporting 5+ plays in 2010 than in 2002.

I would add that the resurgence of some of these games is due to re-release in a new edition and/or language:
  • Chicago Express/Wabash Cannonball
  • Scepter of Zavandor
  • Cosmic Cows
  • Merchant of Venus (actually the splendid redesign available on the Geek rather than a reprint)
  • Duck, Duck, Bruce/Kleine Fische
  • Chinatown
  • Wildlife Adventure/Expedition

What's the Christian Equivalent of "Jihad Cool"?

As I was listening to Asra Nomani being interviewed yesterday on NPR's Talk of the Nation, I was struck by a couple of things. She had written an op-ed piece for The Daily Beast (an online news & opinion site) about the struggle of American Muslims to deal with, as she put it, the failure to "give disenchanted yet talented young Muslims nonviolent avenues for protest to lure them away from the temptations of jihad cool."

First, I was reminded that it's much too simple to stereotype religious adherents by the behavior of a particular individual who claims that faith... or even a group of people who claim that faith. Hearing callers talk about their experiences as Muslims in America - both hearing the pro-jihadist teaching and finding mosques where those kind of teachings are not welcome - paints a multi-dimensional picture of Islam.

Of course, that bleeds over into my own background as an evangelical follower of Jesus Christ. I wouldn't want you to assume things about me & my personal practices of faith based on the rantings of Fred Phelps & his Westboro Baptist Church... nor the soft-headed writings of retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong.

Second, it occurred to me that we inside the Christian faith have some of the same struggles present in our own "house." With the exception of some Aryan hate groups who have co-opted the language of Christian faith to their own purposes, the primary issues we face are not of physically violent believers. Instead, we have the temptation in our churches to nurture Christians who shut themselves off from the rest of culture, looking down their spiritual noses at those who don't believe (or don't believe in a particular set of cultural markers)... who, in the words of Loyd Boldman, are "gonna live the life (they've) chosen while the world rides to hell in a shopping cart."

Ms. Nomadi suggests that Muslims need "to watch where they're going on their websites, what kind of sermons they're hearing, what they're learning at Sunday school" if they want to influence their children towards a healthy and non-destructive interaction with the world around them. I think the same is true for us as follower of Jesus Christ - you need to pay attention to what your kids are taking in. For that matter, you need to pay attention to what YOU are taking in... don't just let the sermon and/or the lesson wash over without a second thought!

She closes with a final response to another caller who believes that she is overemphasizing the problem and points to the great things that Muslims are doing inside his local mosque. Ms. Nomadi responds: "I appreciate what youre doing inside of the community, but I have to say I'm just shaking my head because I think that, you know, the world is just so tired of us inside of our community not acknowledging that we've got a problem. It's not a demonization of Islam. This is a recognition of interpretations inside of our faith that are being used to draw young men into militancy, and that's being used to justify suicide bombings. I mean, as many carwashes and walks and soup kitchen moments we may have, it's beautiful because we need that. We need to be involved in our community, but we also need to take on this ideology of violence that is very real... Until the uncles and the elders realize we've got a problem, we are losing that battle."

The same is true for those of us who claim Christ - all of the good stuff going on inside our buildings, in our small groups & Sunday Schools is wonderful, but the world around us needs to see us take on false teachings, esp. those that advocate hatred & bitterness. To sit silently under the banner of "they'll know we are Christians by our love" in inexcusable... love is not passive but active. If we love someone, we point out the destructive error of their ways, not plop down and act as spectators to the train wreck of their lives. The same must be true philosophically & theologically.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Five & Dime 2009: Blips

My good friend, Joe Huber (who also happens to be the game designer behind Ice Cream & Burger Joint - hmmm, is there a food theme here?!), loves playing around with gaming stats... so I let him have at the Five & Dime spreadsheets (at his request).

Here's the first bit of information unearthed from the gold mine...

Most "blips" - i.e., years when exactly one person reported 5+ plays of the game:

Pure blips - i.e., never reported by more than one person:

  • 7 - Burn Rate, Careers
  • 6 - Freibeuter, Pylos, Boku
  • 5 - Tonga Bonga, Attacke, Iron Dragon, Car Wars, Vs. System CCG, Castle, Mausen, Circus Maximus (Rome), Nuclear War, 25 Words or Less, Lines of Action

Impure blips - had multiple reports in one or more year, as well as many years with a single report:

  • 7 - Falling, Sharp Shooters, Samarkand, Netrunner CCG
  • 6 - Hornochsen, Linie 1/Streetcar, Upwords, Drunter & Druber, Mississippi Queen, Fill or Bust, Santa Fe Rails/Santa Fe, Merchant of Venus, Spinball, Stephensons Rocket, Billabong, Daytona 500, Code 777, Up Front, Dungeon Dice
  • 5 - Cafe International, Rosenkoenig/Texas, Enchanted Forest/Sagaland, Batik, Scotland Yard, Pente, Taboo, Drakon, It's Mine, Kahuna/Arabana Ikibiti, Tycoon, Black Vienna, Zum Kuckuck, Igel Argern, Zoff in Buffalo, Password, Outpost, Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit, Frisch Fisch, Auf Falscher Fahrte, Quo Vadis, Njet!, Split, Tutanchamun*, Medieval Merchant

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Five & Dime 2009: Decay Rates

This is my third time to do the Decay Rates analysis... it yields some intriguing information. I'm not sure my work here is statistically sound but it's interesting. (That's your cue to smile & grin knowingly.)

Anyway, what I did was to take the top 350 (352 due to a tie for the last spot) games (percentage of plays-wise) from the last eleven years - the cut-off number ended up being an average of 2.04% or better over time. For comparison, last year (2008) the average was 2.08% and two years ago (2007) the average was 2.00%. I think that this number has remained consistent over the past three years means something - not sure what, though.

For this particular exercise in determining decay rates of games, I then set aside games with 4 or less years on the list... leaving me with 250 games. (Again, for comparison, there were 239 games in 2008 and 230 games in 2007.) To do the decay calculation, I:
  1. Took the largest percentage played number from each game.
  2. Compared it to the current (2009) percentage played number for each game.
  3. Divided that amount by the number of years since it had first appeared on the Five & Dime Lists.

Three games showed no rate of decay whatsoever - they have appeared on the list for 5+ years and their highest percentage played is in 2009:

  • Arkham Horror
  • Descent: Journeys in the Dark
  • Glory to Rome

There were two games in 2008 (Tichu & Chicken Cha Cha Cha) and three games in 2007 (Downfall of Pompeii, Hive & Uno). Here's the chart with the rest of the top 20 games... that is, the games that showed the least decay over 5+ years time. (There's actually 21 games on this chart, as the final 2 games were very close in percentage.)

Game years on list percentage decay 2008? 2007?
Arkham Horror 5 0.00% no no
Descent: Journeys in the Dark 5 0.00% no no
Glory To Rome 5 0.00% no no
Hive 8 -0.01% 11th 1st
Empire Builder series 10 -0.09% no no
Connect 4 11 -0.13% 4th 4th
Rummikub 10 -0.14% 14th 13th
Jungle Speed/Arriba 10 -0.17% no no
Uno 8 -0.24% 5th 1st
Set 10 -0.29% 8th 12th
Magic: The Gathering 12 -0.33% 27th 20th
Midnight Party 9 -0.34% 7th 9th
Cloud 9 10 -0.34% 9th 4th
Saboteur 5 -0.38% no no
Gang of Four 9 -0.38% 15th 7th
Nexus Ops 5 -0.38% no no
Quoridor 11 -0.38% 40th 18th
Downfall of Pompeii 8 -0.39% 26th 1st
Quarto 8 -0.47% 20th 37th
Wizard 12 -0.48% 10th 7th
Time's Up/Celebrities 12 -0.50% 3rd 20th

And here's a chart with the 20 games who've shown the highest rates of decay. (Note - to show a high rate of decay, you have to start from a high position.)

Game years on list percentage decay 2008? 2007?
Ticket to Ride 6 -8.72% 1st no
San Juan 6 -8.27% 4th no
St Petersburg 6 -8.26% 2nd no
Puerto Rico 8 -8.16% 3rd 1st
Attika 7 -6.29% 5th 2nd
Bohnanza 12 -5.54% 7th 5th
Carcassonne 10 -5.46% 6th 6th
Euphrat & Tigris 12 -5.38% 9th 3rd
Lost Cities 11 -5.35% 11th 9th
Shadows Over Camelot 5 -5.14% no no
Mamma Mia!/Sole Mio 11 -4.83% 10th 7th
Balloon Cup 7 -4.68% 13th 4th
Goa 6 -4.65% 8th no
Settlers of Catan 12 -4.55% 17th 11th
Through the Desert 12 -4.54% 14th 14th
Transamerica/europa 8 -4.53% 19th 13th
Ticket to Ride: Europe 5 -4.43% no no
Caylus 5 -4.18% no no
Battle Cry (AH) 10 -4.05% 17th 10th
Wyatt Earpt 9 -4.04% 18th 12th

I'm not sure I'm really qualified to comment beyond the statistics... you need to know that the average decay rate of these games was 16.65% over their lifespan (1.85% per year) and that the average lifespan was just over 9.1 years. Make of that what you will. (BTW, last year, the average decay rater was 16.51% over their lifespan/1.98% per year. Intriguing to me that the numbers remain so solid.)

Another interesting factoid - this list of highest decay rates is remarkably stable. There are only three new games on the list (Shadows Over Camelot, Ticket to Ride: Europe & Caylus)... which means only 3 games left the list (Coloretto, King's Breakfast & Hey! That's My Fish). All three of the new games just became eligible for the list (this is their fifth year on the Five & Dimes.)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Five & Dime 2009: Joining the "In" Crowd

These are games that have appeared on the Five & Dime lists before... and have risen in overall playing percentages.

Gamepercentage gain from 2008
Roll Through the Ages+23.34%
Battlestar Galactica+11.80%
Le Havre+8.73%
Space Alert+8.05%
Cosmic Encounter+6.21%
Arkham Horror+4.94%
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization+6.28%
Chicago Express/Wabash Cannonball+4.86%
Memoir '44+4.59%
Ghost Stories+3.85%
Space Hulk+3.85%

Just off the edge of the list at 3.70% - Snow Tails.

There are two main reasons that games appear on this list:
  1. They were reprinted and/or had another game/expansion added to their franchise this year (Dominion, Cosmic Encounter, Arkham Horror, Chicago Express, Memoir '44 & Space Hulk).
  2. They were "Essen"/end of the year games... they were released late in 2007 and were only played 5+ times by a couple of folks in 2007 (Roll Through the Ages, Battlestar Galactica & Le Havre). This particular list is surprisingly short this year.

As always, the interesting games here are the ones that can not be explained by these reasons:

  • While Le Havre was an "Essen" game, it did garner impressive numbers (nearly 10%) in 2008, which makes appearing on this list all that more astounding. Cities & Ghost Stories have similar tales of their popularity.
  • Finito! finally became recognized here in the U.S.
  • Bananagrams has benefited from becoming widely known outside our little gamer world - and thus making it easier to find opponents.
  • I guess Rattlesnake became easier to find? I dunno.
  • As usual, there's one game I just don't understand why it's here - and that would be Coloretto.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Five & Dime 2009: Lo, How The Mighty Have Fallen

These are games that have appeared on the Five & Dime lists before... and have fallen in overall playing percentages.

Gamepercentage loss from 2008
Power Grid/Funkenschlag-14.64%
Race for the Galaxy-12.88%
In the Year of the Dragon-11.06%
10 Days/Europa Tour-10.97%
Ticket to Ride: The Card Game-10.32%
Take 6/6 Nimmt/Category 5/Slide 5-8.13%
Hanging Gardens, The-7.98%
Notre Dame-7.45%
Loopin' Louie-7.21%

As usual, I'm pretty darn accurate at predicting what will be on this list - I was sure that Agricola would be #1 (and I was right, even with the great year it had) and also nailed In The Year of the Dragon & Hanging Gardens. I missed (but only by two places) Stone Age.

The big question for next year: what will happen to Dominion? Will the plethora of expansions widen the appeal or narrow the rabid fan base?.

Predictions: Pandemic will drop hard again (sadly) as will Agricola, Race for the Galaxy & (crossing my fingers for luck) Dominion.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Five & Dime 2009: Fresh Faces

These are games that appeared on the Five & Dime lists for the first time... in some cases, they may be older games that just hadn't reached a particular play threshold.

Game score percentage
Small World 610 26.04%
FITS 415 18.64%
Endeavor 160 8.28%
Finca 145 6.51%
Ra: The Dice Game 125 5.92%
Automobile 115 6.21%
Steam 100 4.44%
At the Gates of Loyang 100 4.14%
Dixit 85 4.44%
Fluch der Mumie 85 4.14%
Peloponnes 80 3.55%
Monopoly Deal Card Game 75 3.25%
Pack & Stack 75 3.25%
Mystery Rummy: Bonnie and Clyde 70 2.66%
Keltis: Der Weg der Steine 70 3.25%
Modern Art: The Card Game 65 3.85%

Tied at 2.66% (less than 65 "score"): Blokus 3D, Tobago, and Diamonds Club

For those who wonder, I don't count prototype plays for figuring out whether or not a game belongs on the "Fresh Faces" list, only published plays.

Five & Dime 2009: Wide Angle Lens (Four Year Pix)

These graphs cover 2009 (top bar) through 2006 (bottom bar). The bar is the percentage of players reporting who played the game 5+ times in the given year. The games here first appeared on the Five & Dime lists in 2005.

Blue Moon City
Command & Colors: Ancients
Mr. Jack
Pillars of the Earth
Thebes/Jenseits von Theben
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
Thurn and Taxis
Tier auf Tier/Animal Upon Animal
To Court A King
Twilight Struggle

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Five & Dime 2009: Wide Angle Lens (Five Year Pix)

These graphs cover 2009 (top bar) through 2005 (bottom bar). The bar is the percentage of players reporting who played the game 5+ times in the given year. The games here first appeared on the Five & Dime lists in 2005.

Ca$h N Gun$
Diamant/Incan Gold
Pickomino/Heckmeck im Brautweck
Railroad Tycoon/Rails of Europe
Shadows Over Camelot
That's Life/Verflixxt
Ticket to Ride: Europe
Vegas Showdown
Wits & Wagers

Five & Dime 2009: Wide Angle Lens (Six Year Pix)

These graphs cover 2009 (top bar) through 2004 (bottom bar). The bar is the percentage of players reporting who played the game 5+ times in the given year. The games here first appeared on the Five & Dime lists in 2004.

Blue Moon
Ingenious/Einfach Genial
Memoir '44
No Thanks/Geschenkt
San Juan
Saint Petersburg
Ticket To Ride (does not include Marklin or Europe)

Five & Dime 2009: Wide Angle Lens (Seven Year Pix)

These graphs cover 2009 (top bar) through 2003 (bottom bar). The bar is the percentage of players reporting who played the game 5+ times in the given year. The games here first appeared on the Five & Dime lists in 2003.

10 Days in the _____/Europa Tour
Age of Steam
Balloon Cup
Fearsome Floors
Gulo Gulo
Hey! That's My Fish/Pingvinas
King's Breakfast
Paris Paris

Five & Dime 2009: Wide Angle Lens (Eight Year Pix)

These graphs cover 2009 (top bar) through 2002 (bottom bar). The bar is the percentage of players reporting who played the game 5+ times in the given year. The games here first appeared on the Five & Dime lists in 2002.

Alles im Eimer/The Bucket King
Bang! (includes expansions)
Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
Power Grid (includes Funkenschlag & expansions)
Puerto Rico
Street Soccer
TransAmerica (includes TransEuropa)
Trendy (includes Crazy Race)