Game retrospective 2020, #1: My ‘most played’ & other game stats

Well, we made it to 2021. And the less said about 2020 the better. But that’s not going to stop me geeking my way through my annual retrospective posts. Which are a nerdy dive into some of my gaming stats from the past 12 months.

I always start by talking about how I viewed the year in terms of new releases. But no Essen Spiel – or cons that follow it – means I’m less prepared. As those events are great for discussing and playing all the new releases.

Some publishers have upped their online presence. But I’ve really struggled to get into online cons. I’ve played online with friends a lot, but to keep in contact in a year of low human interaction. I’d swap five of those online plays for one ‘real’ one in a heartbeat.

Board Game Geek is also a good place to test the year’s gaming pulse. At time of writing, only On Mars (number 74) has troubled the top 250 games. For me, the jury is out. But my feeling is 2020 was a solid if unremarkable year. Especially as a lot of the current rising 2020 titles were reprints. It was probably a small step up from 2019, but largely unremarkable. With no big new ideas surfacing, or clever new mechanisms taking the community by storm.

My game play and collection stats

My game collection is down to just over 140, from 156 last year. I’ve not included two ‘for sale’ games in that number, or a couple waiting to be reviewed. But it’s my first time under 150 for years, which is great. I use that as an artificial cap on my collection. So to have breathing room feels positive. Better still, my ‘shelf of hope’ (unplayed games) is down to one title: On the Underground, also on last year’s list. I’m pretty sure I’ll like it to! Maybe I need to leave notes around the house to play it. I’m not getting any younger you know…

Total game plays this year was up to 439, from 371 last year. That had been a bit of a blip, as I’m usually just over the 400 mark. This year’s figure did rely a lot on online plays. I’ve been strict with that though, only including games that have been played fully live in one sitting and that have been done while on some form of live chat channel. It has been a real blessing to be able to keep most of my regular sessions going in some form – it has genuinely help keep me sane through some really difficult times.

Real life gaming (since April) has largely been with Sarah, which is reflected in the ‘most played’ list below. I’ve also introduced a local friend I’ve been in a bubble with (hi Vince! Not that he’ll read this…) to our hobby. While in the summer I managed a couple of ‘real life’ sessions with my local group. I have managed to play a few heavier games, largely thanks to regular online sessions with a few LobsterCon pals (chiefly co-organiser Alex). So my brain has had a bit of a work out!


I played 173 different games in 2020, down 25 on 2019. But we didn’t have Essen, where I tend to play a bunch of new things over a crazy week. Only 96 of those games got a single play, compared to 126 last year. Again supporting the theory that missing Essen week had a big impact on my playing of new one-off titles.

On the flip side, I managed to play more than 20 games at least five times during the year. While some of those were review games, many were old favourites that clearly benefitted from my lack of exposure to the new hotness. Didn’t get any better at them though…

The Extended BGG stats page is the perfect place to geek out on numbers. I record all my board game plays at Board Game Geek, allowing this site to gather a blistering array of useless information. But it still fascinates me. Here’s what I learned:

Extended BGG stat attack

  • I only played 75 ‘new to me’ games in 2020 – my lowest number since 2011.
  • I played 90 (63%) of my 142 games within the calendar year.
  • 2020 became my fourth highest year for total games played. But was still way behind the 530 total plays I managed in 2014 – my only 500-play year.
  • September was the only month in which I didn’t play any ‘new to me’ games.
  • Eight games hit 10 all-time plays in 2020 (including Merchant of Venus and Targi), while two hit 25 total plays during last year: Stone Age and Thurn & Taxis.
  • Eight of my Top 50 ‘most played of all time’ didn’t hit the table in 2020. Many were down to circumstances – small box travel games and those requiring more players. But I need to brush the cobwebs off Dominion and The Manhattan Project. At least the three games on that list from 2019 (Macao, Uruk and Puerto Rico) all got played in 2020.
  • I now own just two of the Board Game Geek top 10 games of all time (Terraforming Mars and Twilight Struggle); and six of the top 20.

My most played games in 2020

I managed 41 plays of ‘unpublished prototypes’ in 2020. A couple down on last year, but almost all the plays were of my own designs this time. So in terms of moving forward with my own stuff, that’s a slightly positive improvement. Elsewhere, there were a lot of family games at the top of my most played games list for 2020:

  1. Ticket to Ride (16 plays)
  2. Codenames Duet (10)
  3. Can’t Stop, Oracle of Delphi, Race for the Galaxy, Targi and Thurn & Taxis (8)

The new-ish ‘Italy & Japan’ map pack helped Ticket to Ride top the list (review incoming). As did a new gamer really getting into the game. Codenames, Delphi, Targi and Taxis are all Sarah/me favourites. While Can’t Stop is a regular closer for online sessions. And the excellent Race for the Galaxy app on Steam has seen some action in 2020.

Just missing out (with seven plays each) were Pharaon, Welcome to… and The Downfall of Pompeii. In terms of heavier games, Concordia and Snowdonia had four plays each. While Kanban, Tzolk’in and Terra Mystica had three.

Codenames Duet and Race for the Galaxy were back on the list after being oddly absent in 2019. While Ticket to Ride and Thurn & Taxis continue their annual dominance. Last year’s top title Azul wasn’t far off with six plays. While Adios Calavera, Dizzle and That’s Pretty Clever (all in last year’s most played list) had three plays each in 2020.

Enjoyed this post? 

I’ll be back with Part 2 (best gaming events and individual plays) in a few weeks. While they’ll also be a Top 10 list of my favourite ‘new to me’ games of 2020. And why not check out the previous versions of this post from 2012, 2013, 2014, 20152016, 20172018 and 2019? What do you mean you have something better to do…?

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