Cardboard time machine: My 2009 in life and board games

(If you want the story so far, please check out the 2008 post)

It’s fair to say 2009 was a pretty significant year. I moved back to Cambridge and started a new job in the first week of January. It was a friend’s small startup – which is now a fairly large (60 staff) digital marketing company. And i’m still working there today. I also bought my first flat and met a new girlfriend (who moved in later in the year).

Zoe was up for playing some games too; as were some old (and new) friends. Two of them (Carl and Andy) lived in the same shared house, so a weeknight game night was born. My Blokus and Ingenious were played alongside Carl’s Munchkin and Zombies!!! Until April, that is, when I purchased Race for the Galaxy. It’s fair to say that purchase changed everything…

The occasional meetup turned into a regular weekly session and in September I recorded 42 board game plays (across eight different games). I was happy to buy new games as long as these guys were happy to play them – while Zoe and I were enjoying plays of the lighter stuff at the flat too. Board Game Geek was becoming my most visited website and an interest was rapidly turning into a habit hobby.

My game plays in 2009

Even at the start of the year I was recording my plays religiously on Board Game Geek, and have done ever since. I’ve always loved stats and this site gave me so much in that department for so little input.

Over the year I recorded 163 plays covering 14 different games. Of these only Munchkin (12 plays) and Zombies!!! (5) were Carl’s. And as our tastes matured, they pretty quickly dropped out of the rotation. My 2008 purchases Ingenious (9 plays) and Blokus Duo (11) continued to be regulars on the table and I still own both today. The rest of the plays were of games I picked up during the year.

We recorded a staggering 74 plays of Race for the Galaxy that year – almost all of them three-player. We all totally fell in love with the game, regularly playing three or four games in a session (we play slow, so that would be the whole evening). But no, I never tried to teach it to poor Zoe! I also enjoyed 14 plays of Guillotine and seven of the original Carcassonne. I have good memories of both, but neither is still in my collection. The latter was replaced by Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers, which I still enjoy.

Other notable additions were Arkham Horror (7 plays), Ticket to Ride (6), Pandemic (6) and Mystery Rummy: Jekyll and Hyde (3). Ticket to Ride will figure large in later years; but it was the peak for Arkham and Pandemic. It was fascinating to explore how much variety there was in the hobby, but none of us really took to the euro co-op feel of Pandemic (great design though). While the great fun we had with Arkham was always tempered by the constant trips to the rulebook for fiddly exceptions.

My hindsight Top 10 Games of 2009

As I’ve gone into detail on in my Best games of 2009 post, for me this wasn’t a vintage year for releases. But I thought it would be fun to see, just two months on, if I picked the same games in the same order (it was very close):

  1. Egizia: Classic euro, coming back into print this year.
  2. Macao: Sometimes frustrating but always fun Feld game.
  3. Finca: An original and puzzley take on the rondel mechanism.
  4. Maori: A clever take on classic tile-laying.
  5. Endeavor: Worker placement, area control and clever scoring.
  6. Verflixxt! Kompakt: A daft roll-and-move that makes it work.
  7. Tales of the Arabian Nights: Pure storytelling nonsense.
  8. Campaign Manager 2008: Clever push-and-pull card play.
  9. Masters Gallery: Auctions auctions auctions.
  10. Jaipur: Quite a lot of two-player fun in a pretty small box.

I didn’t play any 2009 releases in the year itself – although I did pick up the Rebel vs Imperium expansion for Race for the Galaxy hot off the presses. One thing interesting to note is that Egizia, Finca and Endeavor have all enjoyed recent successful Kickstarter reissues – which means I must have a vague clue what I’m talking about!

Honourable mentions to Tobago (which I got recently but have only played two-player – not good – but still have high hopes for) and Cards Against Humanity (to which I’ve cried with laughter – and to which I’m sure I’ll turn to again in the right company).

The year’s end

Thankfully this time, 2009 ended with as much promise as it had begun. I was a year into the new job and all was going swimmingly. Zoe had moved in and all was grand, and a few flat disasters (including a Christmas burst pipe flooding fiasco) had done little to dampen (ho ho) my spirits. But my 40th was looming large in the next calendar year. Was a mid-life crisis just around the corner? See you in 2010…

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