2017 was the first year that I started to use the excellent Board Game Stats app – meaning that for the first time I could look back at the year and have a good idea of what I’ve played.

Overall Stats

In 2017, I played 143 unique games with 115 different people, for a total of 434 plays. Some of these numbers are slightly off, as I often forget to log a play or two, and I include some experiences that others wouldn’t (such as escape rooms, or playing prototypes). But even so, this averages out to roughly 1.2 plays per day – not too shabby!

Loose Change

This past year I managed to ‘earn’ 1 quarter, 6 dimes and 15 fives:

  1. Bananagrams (59 plays) – This is the go to game for tea breaks at work, and as such was easily my most played game of 2017. I still really enjoy it, and I imagine it will continue to post strong numbers in 2018!
  2. Finished! (19) – Definitely for a niche crowd, a solo game which mimics a sorting algorithm, but I am firmly in that niche! Very addictive, although I’m not sure I will ever play it again (these plays were all within 1 week of getting the game at Essen).
  3. Qwixx (15) – This, along with Lost Cities, Coloretto, Noch mal! and Jaipur, are quick games my girlfriend and I can get through of an evening, even when we’re exhausted.
  4. Lost Cities (14)
  5. Coloretto (10)
  6. Escape Rooms (10)
  7. Noch mal! (10)
  8. Perspective (prototype) (9) – Can’t say much about this one yet, but it does have a publisher now!
  9. Roll and Race (prototype) (9) – Ditto!
  10. Good Little Martian (prototype) (8)
  11. Da Vinci Code (8) – A surprisingly good game, which you wouldn’t expect from this theme (which doesn’t really matter anyway). A fun quick deduction game, this would have gotten played more had Bananagrams not taken over our tea-time playing.
  12. Good Little Ninjas (prototype) (8)
  13. Civilization Deckbuilding (prototype) (8) – This one should see the light of day in 2018…
  14. Jaipur (8)
  15. The Resistance (6)
  16. Azul (6) – Came extremely late in the year, but I have immensely enjoyed every play of Azul. It’s the kind of game that you are so jealous of because you wish you had designed it!
  17. Schotten Totten (5)
  18. Imperial Settlers (5) – All solo plays with the campaign system, which I quite enjoy. Almost tempted to pick up some of the expansions…
  19. Good Little Trains (prototype) (5)
  20. Pick and deliver (prototype (5)
  21. Nile (prototype) (5)
  22. Venice the Card Game (prototype) (5)

Escape Rooms

I was lucky to do 10 different live escape rooms this year, as my interest in them grows is now partly professional (I am currently in the beginning of two different projects to design educational escape room experiences). Their quality varies immensely as one might expect, and more and more I am realising that there is still so much room for innovation and experimentation in this space. There were a few too many rooms for my liking that were simply ‘good’ – fine puzzles with reasonable presentation, but they are simply blown out of the water by the rooms that up the game in terms of production values, story, or both.

Thankfully, I did get to play some really excellent rooms this year, which I will list here in the hopes that you will be able to experience them as well!

Kill M.A.D, Archimedes Inspiration, London – The most experimental escape room I have ever done, they managed to create an engaging narrative experience with a really original twist at the end. I really look forward to playing more rooms from AI once they design them!

Operation Blacksheep, Cluequest, London – Probably the least original of the rooms here, but that means that their execution and production value was absolutely top notch. I actually did this room just as a duo with my girlfriend, and we had an amazing time (although we are very experienced having done 20+ rooms between us). The room had some really inventive puzzles, and overall was an extremely polished outfit. We look forward to going back and trying their hardest room, Revenge of the Sheep, soon.

Pirate Cove, Budapest  – A somewhat classical room, this one has been around really since the first wave of escape rooms hit Budapest 3-4 years ago. While we breezed through the room in about 30 minutes, this room more than anything reminded me that escape rooms are not necessarily just about the puzzles. They can be so much more – they can be spectacles, cinematic experiences that you will remember long after. The owner has a background in film production and it certainly shows – the attention to detail and the immersion in theme provided by props, lighting, music, sound effects, and the puzzles all comes together for an exhilarating adventure on the high seas! Plus it easily has the best room transition I have ever seen in an escape room.

Prototype playing

This year saw plays of 29 different prototypes I was working on, for a total of 102 plays (including solo playtesting). I think more than anything this underlines my tendency to keep starting new projects, rather than putting in time to finish what I’ve started. Definitely something I’d like to improve on in 2018. I’ll talk more about this in a post recapping my designing activities in 2017 coming soon!