How I was shocked in my February #wargame #boardgame Month in Review

Shocking few games played…

According to my BGStats app, in February I recorded 26 plays of 21 games. This is a 60% drop in games played compared to February 2018. On the positive side, the 21 different games played is an increase over the 16 last February.

IMG_0205
February 2019 BG Stats

A major factor in the large drop was last February I played 16 games of Rhino Hero (Haba). This year there were few light family/party games played. Need to work on that; maybe trying to play a light weeknight game with the RockyMountainNavy Boys is worth the few minutes of family time spent together rather than just depending on our weekend game.

…a shocking mix of old and new…

This month I accomplished my first play of Colonial Twilight (GMT Games, 2017) which I really enjoyed. It can be a good introduction/refresher on the GMT COIN system. The RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself also went a bit retro with an awesome play of Wooden Ships & Iron Men (Avalon Hill, 1975). I also got Brave Little Belgium (Hollandspiele, 2019) to the table and really enjoyed the tight gaming situation.

Continuing on my Wargame Challenge, I kept up with the retro theme by playing Azhanti High Lightning (GDW, 1980), Car Wars (Steve Jackson Games, 1981+), and Wings (Yaquinto, 1981). As much as I liked these old games, I also got my new games to the table including designer Michael Rinella’s Counter-Attack: The Battle of Arras, 1940 (Take Aim Designs/Revolution Games, 2019) as well as The Expanse Boardgame: Doors and Corners (WizKids, 2019).

I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit this month and tried to seriously playtest a game. To the Shores of Tripoli (Fort Circle Games) has much promise and I hope it gets published. I was also fortunate to get a day of multiple games played during a snowstorm; there are worse things than being stuck with your family! Continuing the bad weather gaming I revisited, and enjoyed, solo versions of Gravwell (Crytozoic, 2013) and Pandemic: Fall of Rome (Z-Man Games, 2018). I ended the month with a revisit to game that I had discounted a bit before; Villainous (Wonder Forge, 2018) and discovered it to be better than I remember.

…shocking few purchases…

In February I tried to limit my spending on new games. Sure, I still purchased a few but more importantly (for me) I passed on several Kickstarter campaigns that tempted me. I also paid more attention to my existing Kickstarter and Pre-order games; in the end I will still be getting new games, but just at a more reasonable pace (and cost). Potentially I could see most of my KS/pre-order list in my hands by the end of 2019 [sure….]. On another positive note, the reduction of incoming new games has let me focus more of what I already have and explore several good titles in already possess.

…shocking blog numbers…

In mid-January I changed my blog theme to the current version and since then my views have skyrocketed. In February I logged over 5,800 views – as compared to 14,000 views in ALL OF 2018! There certainly was a bounce in views as part of the “shocking” kerfuffle I will discuss in a bit but I cannot help but notice that the new format, which is much more visually appealing, gets visitors to click around more. So to all my readers I say welcome and thanks!

…but the real Shock of the Month…

In early February, I talked about a company that was running a Kickstarter and using a game title identical to a “serious” game from a designer/humanitarian I admire. I apparently ruffled more than a few feathers and at one point was blocked by the publisher. The issue was quickly resolved and all made better. Here at the end of the month Stronghold Games has re-Kickstarted their game Aftershock: San Francisco and Venice. Give it a look!

…and my after shock.

I am very conscious that as a wargamer I am already a member of a subset of a very niche hobby. Further, as a sometime “professional” wargamer or “serious gamer” I realize that I am in an even smaller (microscopic?) subset of the wargaming subgroup. In the “shocking” kerfluffle of the month I saw too many comments that denigrated my small gaming clan. Although it admittedly seems relatively benign, the comment that upset me the most was this:

This site is a hobby game site, if someone is coming here and searching for Aftershock, likely they are looking for the Stronghold published game.

The “site” referenced is BoardGameGeek. This poor soul does not understand (nor does he seem to want to tolerate) that BoardGameGeek is used not just for gaming, but as a leading portal to all things boardgaming. This means it is used by hobbyist and “professionals.” I have been at professional wargaming/serious games conferences where the question, “Where do I find games?” is asked. Invariably, the first answer is, “BoardGameGeek.” This is a good thing; BGG serves a wide array of boardgamers, from the very playful to serious. To say it is “just” a hobby game site is ignorant at best. Possibly I am taking the “serious games” moniker a bit too seriously; but then again I am a strong proponent of gaming for fun, learning, and military planning and government policy making.

Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games responded with a very thoughtful post that deserves much more attention that it is getting (emphasis is mine):

All,

As has been posted here above, Rex and I have discussed all of this.

We will make a name change to our game. This will settle the issue completely, and it will make both parties happy.

Neither of us wants the negativity that has been seen throughout this, and most of all, neither of us wants any harm done to the reputation of the other.

What we do want is happiness among gamers, including of course everyone that has participated in this dialogue, whether they favored one side or the other.

This is what it is all about. We are in an industry that creates FUN. There is no other industry in the world like this. We create FUN, so that families, friends, acquaintances, strangers, and everyone, can come together and compete or cooperate across a table in a social, happy, and fun way.

Thank you to all out there for your passion and love of board games. Without all of you, this industry would not exist.

Best,
Stephen M. Buonocore
Stronghold Games

Surprisingly, the event that calmed me down the most was not Stephen’s comment but Villainous winning the The Toy of the Year Award. As much as I love BGG, listening to the comments of Mr. Francke about the 250,000 units sold in late 2018 (as compared to ~5,200 “owned” in BGG) illustrated for me that even BGG is a small portion of the hobby boardgame market. For Villainous, BGG users possibly represent as little as 2% of the players. This makes even BGG a very small niche within a niche.

Still, I cannot ignore the attitude behind some comments from the past month. I really am trying to keep Mr. Buonocore’s comments in mind but it’s hard. This was more than a simple “Ameritrash vs Eurogamer” flamewar;  it was rank intolerance of a minority sector of our hobby. Sure, it was just a few loud-mouthed a$$hats but they did a fine job of showing me a dark side of our hobby. Part of the reason I write this blog is to show my happiness with the hobby I enjoy. This month was very discouraging to do so.

I’m going to leave it there and hope for a better March.

3 comments

  1. On popular sites such as BGG, that host a huge patchwork of extremely diverse interests, game title collisions can indeed have undesirable effects.

    S. Buonocore’s response was the right one IMO.

    Happy Gaming!

    Paul

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