My favourite board games 2020: Follow-up stats post

After each of my ‘Top board games‘ posts I like to take a look at some stats around them. Looking at previous years’ lists, what I’ve been playing, designers I favour etc. Hey, some people (like me) like this kind of thing. Normal service will be resumed next post, promise!

Climbers and fallers

This year, the top 15 picked themselves straight away – it was just a case of putting them in order. And, as it turned out, it was the same top 15 as last year.

Four did climb into the lower section of the Top 20, but none from outside last year’s Top 50. Yup – no ‘new entries’ in the Top 20 at all. Ingenious was the only game to break into the Top 10 for the first time. The top four was identical to last year, but Ticket to Ride fell from the Top 5 for the first time.

Gnomopolis, Kingdom Builder and Macao are in the Top 20 for the first time, with Macao an ever-present in my top 50. The biggest faller was Through the Ages, dropping right out of my 50 and being sold to boot. I still have the app, but am just too frustrated with the board game to keep it. Merchant of Venus also dropped a long way. I still enjoy it, but a bit of the gloss has come off in the last few games.

Seven games dropped out of the Top 50 this time. So now 48 have dropped out of the Top 50 since it began (eight per year on average). Despite dropping, 33 of those games are still on my shelves. There were no re-entries this year, but a few came close. I expect a few to be back.

Hangin’ around

There are 16 games in the Top 40 that have been in all my seven yearly lists. Ten of those are in the Top 20, with six in the Top 10. Only Achaeology: The Card Game has been in the Top 50 the entire time without ever making the Top 20. This consistency has helped me catch up on reviews, with all the Top 20 now having one on the site. Only seven of the Top 40 don’t have reviews. This is the first year I’ve owned every game on the list, but it was close. Tumblin’ Dice and Tales of Glory arrived just in time. I’ll aim to have the whole Top 30 reviewed for next year.

In terms of designers, there are 10 different ones in my Top 10 games. Stefan Feld has three games in the Top 20 and one more in the 40. While Reiner Knizia has two in the Top 20. The only other designers who currently have two games in my Top 40 are Mac Gerdts and Dirk Henn.

New entries

I put seven ‘new entries’ into the Top 50. But only Pharaon and Fertility made it into the Top 40. While a few keepers may yet emerge, I really don’t think 2019 was a good year for new games. Of last year’s new entries, four of the six immediately fell back off the list. The survivors were Gnomopolis (while climbed into the Top 20) and Crown of Emara.

This was the second year of Sarah’s Top 10 list and eight of her choices made my Top 50. Welcome To… and Uptown missed out. Good games, but not Top 50 material for me. Five of made my Top 10: Ticket to Ride, Oracle of Delphi, Thurn and Taxis, Azul and Ingenious. Our growing familiarity with these games is fuelling our affection for them. For me, there can’t be a much higher compliment for a board game than that.

Getting them to the table

Liking these games is one thing – but am I actually playing them? Thankfully, largely, yes. I’ve played all but two of my Top 20 games at least 10 times (Caverna (7) and Gnomopolis (9) withstanding). And just 10 of the Top 40 are below 10 plays. But 17 of them have broken the 20-play barrier. The most played games in the last 18 months were Azul (14 plays), Thurn and Taxis (11) and Ticket to Ride (10).

All the Top 20 have hit the table at least once since Jan 2019 and seven have been played at least five times. Only three of the Top 40 have no plays since January 2019: Tumbin’ Dice (which has now!), Twilight Struggle (I only have one playing partner for this) and Navegador (no excuse – must try harder). This play count does include some online plays, but only ‘live’ ones during lock down.

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