Another year of gaming is in the books, which means it's time to analyze the statistics and come up with a new list of Evergreens, Falling Stars, and New Contenders. This is my fourth full year keeping track of my games played, so I've created a chart below that encompasses all four years of data from 2006 through 2009. For last year's results check out my Round Number Gaming column, and for the previous year's results check out Nickels and Dimes and Quarters, Oh My! For even more data, statistics, and analysis, head over to my article on Quantifying your Fun, which I wrote to celebrate the three-year anniversary of logging my games played (from June 28, 2005 to June 28, 2008), and which looks at my games played per month and by designer.
Without further ado, below is the table that shows my Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters for 2009 and the three previous years. Beneath the table you will find a brief discussion of all the games that made the chart in multiple years, broken down into sections for games that made the list in four, three, or two years. Only one game made the chart in all four years, so I've lowered the bar for a game to be considered an "Evergreen" to those that made the chart in at least 3 out of 4 years, which admits six games into the fold. Then comes a discussion of all the games that made the chart in any 2 out of 4 years. This includes the: (a) Falling Stars, which entered the list in 2007, stuck around in 2008, but missed out in 2009; (b) New Contenders, which entered the list in 2008 and made the cut in 2009 as well; (c) Off the Radar, which were played enough in 2006 and 2007 to appear in the chart, but have disappeared in recent years; and (d) Trampoline, which is the only game to make the chart in multiple years but not in consecutive years. Now it's time to get back to playing games in 2010 so I can see how the chart shakes out for its fifth anniversary next January.
Unique Games Played
Percent of Games Reaching Nickel Status or Better
Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters
31 nickels, 10 dimes, 2 quarters
21 nickels, 12 dimes, 3 quarters
24 nickels, 12 dimes, 2 quarters
16 nickels, 17 dimes, 7 quarters
Dominion Fairy Tale
Crokinole Dominion Loopin' Louie
Crokinole Ultimate Werewolf
Caylus Crokinole Hey That's My Fish Ra Reef Encounter StreetSoccer Tigris & Euphrates
Cities Crokinole Ghost Stories Ghost Stories: The Guardhouse Expansion Jungle Speed Mr. Jack Pandemic Roma Vikings Werewolf
Agricola Antiquity eBay Auction Game Galaxy Trucker Ghost Stories Mr. Jack Mr. Jack Extension Pandemic Roads & Boats Sorry Sliders Star Wars: Epic Duels Tigris & Euphrates
Age of Steam Can't Stop eBay Auction Game Gheos Hansa Hey That's My Fish Kreta Loopin' Louie Mr. Jack Notre Dame Piranha Pedro Ra
Amun-Re Can't Stop Carcassonne Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals Carcassonne: Traders & Builders Clans DVONN Fjords Ingenious Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation Louis XIV Samurai Thurn & Taxis Ticket to Ride Tikal Wits & Wagers YINSH
Agricola Antiquity Battlestar Galactica Descent: Journeys in the Dark Descent: The Tomb of Ice Descent: The Well of Darkness Dixit Dog Dominion: Intrigue Egyptian Ratscrew Galaxy Trucker Galaxy Trucker: The Big Expansion Hammer of the Scots Hansa Teutonica In the Year of the Dragon Jamaica Jamaica: Extra Treasures Last Train To Wensleydale Le Havre Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation Mr. Jack Extension Mü & Lots More Pandemic: On the Brink Pit Red November Small World Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit Tichu Tigris & Euphrates Twilight Struggle Wings of War - Famous Aces
Aton Bamboleo Bausack Hamsterolle Hansa In the Year of the Dragon Kreta Maus Nach Haus Notre Dame Ra Red November Stone Age StreetSoccer Survive! Tribune: Primus Inter Pares Twilight Struggle Ubongo Ubongo: Das Duell Werewolves of Miller's Hollow Wits & Wagers Zopp
1960: Making of the President Amun-Re Arkadia Bonaparte at Marengo Carcassonne Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals Carcassonne: Traders & Builders Caylus Chess Die Macher Goa Imperial In the Shadow of the Emperor La Citta Reef Encounter Settlers of Catan StreetSoccer Stuff Yer Face Taj Mahal Taluva TransAmerica Twilight Struggle Wallenstein Yspahan
Age of Steam Cartagena China El Grande For Sale Goa Hansa Java Liar's Dice Lost Cities Nexus Ops RoboRally Santiago Through the Desert Wallenstein Web of Power
So many games just missed the Nickel cut in 2009 with four plays that I thought I'd list them here. Some particularly long games that are favorites of mine just barely missed the list, such as Age of Steam, Bonaparte at Marengo, and Imperial. The full list of nineteen games with four plays in 2009 is as follows: Age of Steam, Apples to Apples, Aton, Bonaparte at Marengo, Chicago Express, Descent: The Altar of Despair, Descent: The Road to Legend, Dungeon Lords, For Sale, Ghost Stories: Chuck No-Rice, HeroScape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie, HeroScape Master Set: Swarm of the Marro, Hey That's My Fish, Igloo Pop, Imperial, Krakow 1325 AD, Loopin' Louie, Scripts and Scribes, and Ta Yu.
4 OUT OF 4 YEARS
Crokinole - The only game to make the list in all four years that I've been keeping track. My total number of Crokinole plays is up to 174 now after first playing the game in December of 2006, making it my most played game of all-time. However, my number of Crokinole plays per year has certainly dropped from a high of 84 in 2007, to 38 in 2008, to only 17 in 2009, making 2009 the first year when Crokinole missed the Quarters list and ended up on the Dimes list. Hopefully it will climb back up to the Quarters list in 2010. For more information on the king of dexterity games check out my Hilinski Brothers Tribute and my Game of the Year from 1876.
3 OUT OF 4 YEARS - EVERGREENS
Hansa - This is the first of three Evergreens from last year that missed out on my Five & Dime list in 2009 and is in danger of becoming a Falling Star on next year's list. Hansa missed the list in 2009 with one measly play, which reminds me thankfully that I need to get this great Super Filler for 2 back to the table so I can revisit some of my strategic thinking on the game.
Ra - This is the second Evergreen from last year that missed the list in 2009 due to only having three plays. Ra is my favorite pure auction game and I certainly enjoyed my three plays of it last year, so hopefully I'll have a chance to play it at least five times in 2010.
StreetSoccer - The third and final Evergreen from last year that missed the cut in 2009 with only two plays. Hansa, Ra, and StreetSoccer all had at least five plays in three successive years from 2006 through 2008, so it's sad to see all three fall so far in 2009, leaving only Crokinole as the defending champ. StreetSoccer is my favorite sports board game though so I'll need to find the right opponent in 2010 for a few matches. I also still need to track down an averaging die and try the variant that uses that die instead of a regular die for movement.
Tigris & Euphrates - The first of three games to join the 3 out of 4 years list with a strong showing in 2009. Tigris made the list in 2006, 2008, and now 2009, only missing out in 2007. It's actually the only game on this list of six Evergreen games that didn't make the list in three consecutive years. The first three games made the list in the first three years that I kept track, and the next two games made the list in the most recent three years, while Tigris missed a year in the middle. I was happy to have a chance to play Tigris with an experienced group at BGG.CON in 2009, one of the few games played at BGG.CON that didn't require any teaching before playing, which was a welcome relief and a great time.
Mr. Jack - The first of two New Contenders from last year that made the Five & Dime list again and has thus claimed its place among the Evergreens. Mr. Jack racked up 16 more plays in 2009, shooting it up to a solid 49 total plays. While there were six New Contenders last year that had made the chart in 2007 and 2008, four of them failed to make the list in 2009, those being the eBay Auction Game, Kreta, Loopin' Louie, and Notre Dame. Only Mr. Jack and Twilight Struggle climbed up from the New Contender category into the Evergreen category. Mr. Jack may struggle in 2010 though because of the new sequel Mr. Jack in New York, which I've already played five times and am enjoying very much.
Twilight Struggle - Twilight Struggle makes it onto the Evergreen list by the skin of its teeth. My 16 plays of Twilight Struggle have actually been spread out remarkably evenly by happenstance. I played it once in 2006, but then five times exactly in 2007, 2008, and 2009. I have the new deluxe mounted board on the way, so hopefully that will help the game make the list in 2010. I also have Campaign Manager on the way, which is very different, but should give some of the flavor in much less time, but I'm not sure if that will lower the number of plays for Twilight Struggle or make me want to play it even more. I do know that another long game that has been eating up a lot of my game time lately is Through the Ages, which will certainly be on my Five & Dime list in 2010 and will make it difficult for other long games to make the list, such as Twilight Struggle and Antiquity.
2 OUT OF 4 YEARS
Falling Stars (2007 & 2008)
eBay Auction Game - This is the first of last year's New Contenders crop that became this year's Falling Stars. These four games were promising new hopefuls after making the list in back-to-back years, but all of them missed the cut in 2009 and have become the new group of Falling Stars. The eBay Auction Game saw only two plays in 2009.
Kreta - Another former New Contender that made it to the table only two times in 2009. Kreta really is one of my favorites, so I'm going to make a concerted effort to play it five times in 2010 so it can join the elite ranks of games that have made the list in three years.
Loopin' Louie - Just missing the cut is Loopin' Louie, which I played four times in 2009, bringing it up to a massive 78 plays total. I'm hopefully going to add a copy of Loopin' Louie to my collection soon, which should help it make the Five & Dime list in future years.
Notre Dame - I just played Notre Dame this week for the first time in far too long and reminded myself how much I enjoy Notre Dame. It contended with Galaxy Trucker for my Game of the Year in 2007 so it deserves more plays than I've been able to give it lately. Hopefully the Alea Treasure Chest expansion will spur a few more plays of Notre Dame in 2010 as well.
New Contenders (2008 & 2009)
Agricola - The first of eight New Contenders which made the list for the first time in 2008 and stayed on the list in 2009. However, Agricola is not a game that I think has a great shot at staying on the list for long. I played it twice in 2007, and 19 times in 2008, but only 7 times in 2009, so it's on the slide and will have a challenge in staying on the list for a third straight year, unlike some of the other New Contenders below (like Antiquity, Galaxy Trucker, Ghost Stories, and Pandemic), all of which I think have a good shot at joining the Evergreen ranks.
Antiquity - One of my favorite games of all-time and about which I've already written a fair bit. Antiquity will hopefully become a permanent fixture of these lists in the years to come.
Dominion - Like Agricola but even more so, I've tired of Dominion. My 122 plays in 2008 dropped precipitously to 27 plays in 2009, and is likely to fall much farther in 2010. I had been hoping that the Intrigue expansion would rekindle my interest, but after 7 plays of Dominion: Intrigue, I realized that it wasn't going to accomplish that unfortunately. Thunderstone looks to be an improvement on the system, but an incremental improvement on a system that doesn't particularly interest me any more.
Galaxy Trucker - My Game of the Year in 2007 and still one of my all-time favorites. I simply love Galaxy Trucker and love the Big Expansion as well, which introduces all sorts of new challenging cards and tiles. I'm always up for a game of Galaxy Trucker and enjoy it every time. This game alone is the main reason I think Vlaada Chvatil is one of the best game designers, but I suppose he has some other fabulous games that help his resume in that regard.
Ghost Stories - The first of three cooperative games to make the New Contenders list after racking up sufficient plays in both 2008 and 2009. Ghost Stories is my favorite of the three and up to 39 total plays now. Ghost Stories was my Game of the Year in 2008. While I haven't been wowed by the White Moon expansion, I'm still enjoying exploring it and still enjoying the base game as well.
In the Year of the Dragon - Not one of Stefan Feld's strongest showings, as compared to Notre Dame and Roma, although certainly far superior to Rum & Pirates. It will be interesting to see if In the Year of the Dragon falls off the list in 2010 since I'll probably be playing Feld's new Macao more, as well as Roma and trying to get Notre Dame to the table more too. Looks like Feld has an impressive lineup, and I also still want to try the Roma sequel and all of his expansions in the Alea Treasure Chest. In fact, sounds like Feld might be right alongside Chvatil and Gerdts in eventually challenging Kramer, Dorn, and Knizia as my favorite designers.
Pandemic - The second of three cooperative games on the New Contenders list. I've played Pandemic 41 times now, and used the new On the Brink expansion in 13 of those plays. I've been very impressed with On the Brink. It adds a great deal of variability to Pandemic, while still fitting in seamlessly with the base game. I was more excited about Ghost Stories: White Moon than Pandemic: On the Brink going in, but after the fact I realize that Pandemic needed an expansion more and On the Brink does a better job fitting in with the base game than White Moon. I look forward to Pandemic likely breaking the 50 games played barrier in 2010.
Red November - My third favorite cooperative game from 2008, which doesn't sound like much of a compliment, but 2008 was such a great year for cooperative games that being the third best is actually quite good. I've enjoyed 13 total plays of Red November so far and look forward to many more. It's a wonderful change of pace when I've played Ghost Stories and Pandemic recently and am looking for something a bit different.
Off the Radar (2006 & 2007)
Age of Steam - This is the list of last year's Falling Stars, none of which actually made the Nickel list in 2009, so all have them have fallen even further to a brand new Off the Radar list. With four plays in 2009, Age of Steam just missed the cut for the Evergreen list. It's funny how one play here or there makes all the difference when calculating whether games make the Nickel list, and thus whether they're Evergreens or Off the Radar.
Amun-Re - One of the Knizia greats, in the second tier just below Tigris & Euphrates, Ra, and Through the Desert, but with only two plays in 2009, it has fallen completely Off the Radar. Once a proud member of the Nickel list in two consecutive years, it's now down here waiting to be rediscovered some day.
Can't Stop - I'm not sure what happened to Can't Stop. After coming up one play short of the Quarter list in 2006 with 24 plays, it fell to 12 plays in 2007, 3 plays in 2008, and only a single play in 2009. This is a good reminder to get Can't Stop to the table a few more times in 2010.
Carcassonne - Zero plays of Carcassonne in 2009 is another good wake-up call to break out this classic once more. Carcassonne is my fifth most played game of all-time (after Crokinole, Dominion, Tigris & Euphrates, and Loopin' Louie) with 69 logged plays (and many more from before I started keeping track), so I really need to dust it off one of these days.
Caylus - A single play in 2009 of the game that inspired The Attia Family Tree reminds me to trace my way back up the lineage in 2010 and remind myself what made Caylus worth playing 45 times back when it came out in 2005.
Goa - The only other game on the Off the Radar list with zero plays besides Carcassonne. As a huge fan of Rudiger Dorn's work, from Louis XIV to Arkadia to Goa to Traders of Genoa, and most recently to Robber Knights, I certainly need to revisit Goa in 2010. I'm actually in the middle of a play by forum game of Goa, which is an interesting experiment and has definitely rekindled my interest in getting this classic back to the table again soon.
Hey That's My Fish - The other game on the Off the Radar list with four plays in 2009 besides Age of Steam. Another game that could've been on the Evergreen list, and this one with only 15 minutes more invested. My 58 plays of Hey That's My Fish have been very enjoyable and I have a feeling it will be a long-time contender for the Nickel list and hopefully back in the mix next year.
Reef Encounter - An old favorite that I only had the chance to play twice in 2009, but now that I finally have the Reef Encounters of the Second Kind expansion I'm hoping to play this one a few more times in 2010. I just need to find a group of people that are familiar enough with the base game that it makes sense to introduce them to the expansion. I've played Reef Encounter 48 times in total now and tried the expansion twice so far, and I really enjoy the expansion, so here's hoping that the expansion helps the game get to the table again in 2010.
Wallenstein - Last but not least comes Wallenstein, the Dirk Henn game that I've played 13 times in total, but only twice in 2009. I've still never tried the sequel Shogun so hopefully I'll have a chance to try that in 2010, while also revisiting the original Wallenstein as well.
Trampoline (2006 & 2008)
Wits & Wagers - The only game to make the list multiple times, but not in consecutive years. Wits & Wagers has been all over the map with 13 plays in 2006, 3 plays in 2007, 6 in 2008, and only 2 in 2009. It only comes out when the right opportunity arises, but when it does, it's always a good time. Hopefully the opportunity will present itself more often in 2010.
Those are the 29 games that have made my Five & Dime list in multiple years. That's a little over 10% of my collection, which seems pretty solid. Hopefully even more games can join the crowd next year, such as Fairy Tale, Roma, Vikings, Descent, Battlestar Galactica, Dixit, Hansa Teutonica, Last Train to Wensleydale, Mü & Lots More, Small World, Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit, and Wings of War. Those are some of the newest entries onto the Five & Dime list, and hopefully they'll stick around for another year to become the next crop of New Contenders. The only game that's already sure to be on next year's Five & Dime list is Pandemic and the On the Brink expansion, which have racked up 8 plays already in January. Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization and Mr. Jack in New York are next on the list with four and three plays respectively so far. Check back in January 2011 for the fifth anniversary of my Five & Dime chart to see the new crop of Evergreens, Falling Stars, and New Contenders.