Games I played in the fall of 2014

This fall, I played a total of 18 unique board game titles. That’s more than one per week! Maybe I should cut back a bit… NAH!

Repeats of recent plays

Six of those 18 games I have already discussed in my summer gaming article. Those games are:

  • 7 Wonders
  • For Sale
  • Rampage
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Splendor
  • Star Realms

New experiences

Five games in the list were new to me, and I learned them for the first time this past season. They are:

Bang! The Dice Game
Bang! The Dice Game
  • Bang! The Dice Game – There are three teams in this game: the good guys, consisting of the Sheriff and the Deputy, the bad guys, consisting of the Outlaws, and the Renegades, who play every-man-for-himself. The hitch is that all the roles are hidden except the Sheriff. Who should you shoot at? Kill the wrong person and you might sink your team’s chances of winning. Very fun with enough people. I’d be willing to play this again any time.
Blue Moon
  • Blue Moon – This is a unique card game by designer extraordinaire, Reiner Knizia.  I only played it a couple of times, and I’m not sure that I completely get it, but it is intriguing. One neat feature is that it’s an asymmetric game, meaning that the two players have completely different cards from each other. This forces the competitors to adopt distinct strategies.
Machi Koro
  • Machi Koro – I really like this game. It plays fast, and feels like a very light version of Settlers of Catan. Unfortunately, every time I play it with someone they don’t seem to be as enamored with the game as I am. I’ve tried it with several groups, and my impression is that everyone thinks it’s just “okay”. Oh well. I’m going to keep trying because I like it.
  • Village – Winner of the Essen Kennerspiel Des Jahres award in 2012, Village is a beautiful, intricate, deep game that is surprisingly easy to learn. It can feel a bit morbid because your people are constantly dying throughout the game. In fact the game doesn’t end until a certain number of people have expired. It actually works really well, though, once you wrap your head around it. I look forward to many more plays of this one.
Xia: Legends of a Drift System
Xia: Legends of a Drift System
  • Xia: Legends of a Drift System – This game is getting a lot of buzz in the industry right now. Hot off a successful Kickstarter campaign, it’s quite popular, and for good reason. The components are top notch, and while the mechanics are a bit clunky, the breadth of options available to you makes for quite an immersive experience. Games can run a bit long, but that’s a minor flaw in an otherwise stellar (literally) game.

Old favorites

The other seven games in this list are old favorites that I was happy to get back to the table again this past fall:

Alien Frontiers
Alien Frontiers
  • Alien Frontiers – This is a very difficult game to summarize. You roll dice, and the numbers you roll will determine what actions you can take on your turn. Unlike most die-rolling games, though, there’s not much luck involved. Any roll can be useful. It’s just a matter of figuring out how best to utilize what you get. A very tactical game with loads of options.
City of Iron
City of Iron
  • City of Iron – Beautiful artwork and deep, rewarding gameplay are what come to mind when I think of this game. I haven’t gotten it to the table as often as I’d like. It takes a bit longer than most games I play, pushing 3 hours, but the experience is so engrossing that the time flies by quickly.
  • Dominion – I’ve probably played more games of Dominion than any other game ever made. There was a time when I would play this a dozen or more times in a given week. When I first bought the game, I pulled an almost-all-nighter playing it over and over again. I’ve cooled off on it a bit now, after several years of near-constant play, but I still am always happy to pull it out for a quick game.
King of Tokyo
King of Tokyo
  • King of Tokyo – It’s like Yahtzee, except with monsters fighting each other in Tokyo. Roll the dice, trying to get sets of various symbols to earn points, attack your opponents, heal your monster, an purchase power-ups. The last monster standing wins.
Lost Cities
Lost Cities
  • Lost Cities – Another Knizia gem, this game is one of my favorites for a quick, tense two-player match. It’s super easy to learn, but the play is so deep, it’s surprising – literally! No one has ever fully grasped the strategy on the first play. That’s okay, though. With games done in 10-15 minutes, you can always try again.
Robo Rally
Robo Rally
  • Robo Rally – Robo Rally is pure insanity. Each player programs his or her robot’s movements five turns in advance, then the players reveal and execute their programs simultaneously. You thought you were headed for that repair point? Too bad. My robot bumped into you and pushed you onto the express conveyor belt. Now you’re headed right into a pit. Loads of fun.
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride
  • Ticket to Ride – Only 10 years old and already a classic, Ticket to Ride is the one game in this entire list that I’d say, without reservation, everyone should play at least once in their lifetime. It’s a beautiful game, both in appearance and design. It’s easy to pick up, but challenging to master. Most importantly, it’s very enjoyable to play.

– danBhentschel



Finish strong

New Years is often cited as a time for beginnings. Common wisdom holds that starting is always the hardest part of any task. However, I have recently come to realize that, at least for me, seeing a troublesome undertaking through to completion can sometimes be even more difficult than that first step.

The inertia fallacy

A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. That works well for “ideal” physical objects in a vacuum. Our lives are never ideal, though, and we don’t live in a vacuum.

What are the factors that can counter my inertia and tempt me to quit early?


Life can be wearisome! We live in such a fast paced, over-committed, under-rested, over-stimulated society! This is not criticism, but communion.

I feel as though my own life is a constant battle between the desire to simplify and the desire to accomplish more. I want to do more and allow my family to experience more. And yet I long for those times of just sitting in front of the fireplace, reading a book to my kids.

Except I don’t have a fireplace. I’d better get on that…


In the beginning, everything is rosy! My plans are perfect. Everything will be great.

But nothing goes as smoothly as I expect. Even when I think I have accounted for a hefty dose of “reality”, reality often seems to be more hefty than I anticipated.

I call it the Clark Griswold effect. When nothing is going my way, do I give up, or do I press on with Aunt Edna’s dead body tied to the roof of my car?

Feelings of inadequacy

This is similar to discouragement, but I think it’s worth addressing separately. Sometimes it seems like the world is out to get me, but there are other times when I feel like plans go awry simply because of my own incompetence or stupidity.

Self doubt will always be a monkey on my back. I need a strategy to deal with it when it inevitably arises.

What is “done”?

For some people, this may sound stupid, but it is a real issue. When I get 90% of the way through a project and start tying up all the “little things,” I start to wonder how much of the “spit and polish” can be postponed, or even skipped altogether.

Oh shiny!

I have dropped a good number of worthy projects simply because a more interesting one popped up part-way through. This is related to all of the above factors. When I am bogged down in discouragement and mind-numbing details, sometimes any new endeavor looks enticing.

Finish strong

This has been my mantra of late. I find myself repeating it to myself frequently: at work, when I’m fixing a leaky pipe, when putting the kids to bed, when reading the mail, when I’m teaching a Sunday School class of 15+ 2-year-olds.

Finish strong, Dan. Finish strong.

Skip the excuses, Dan

Am I really too tired to continue, or am I just using fatigue as an excuse to stop? It’s almost always the latter.

If I stop to “rest” before I’m done, I often am not able to rest well. I am plagued by worry and guilt over my poor showing, and any leisure or sleep I engage in is fitful and unsatisfying.

I might as well just go ahead and finish strong, then get more satisfying relaxation afterward.

C’est la vie, Dan

If I were to always throw in the towel at the first sign of hardship, then I would never accomplish anything.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

– John 16:33

Experience has taught me that an accomplishment made in the wake of challenge is always more exhilarating and satisfying than an accomplishment made without much difficulty.

It might be a wild ride, but if I finish strong, it will be a ride to remember.

Good enough, Dan

I can be such a perfectionist. But I’m not perfect! Sometimes good enough has to be good enough! I have been really preaching to my children recently that I’m more interested in their effort than in the results.

If I always give my all, then I will always get the best result possible. If I’m not satisfied with the best I can possibly do, then I need to work on my contentment, not my ability.

So don’t make judgments about anyone … [the Lord] will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.

– I Corinthians 4:5

I’m not the judge of anyone, not even myself. Just finish strong, Dan, and leave the judgement to God.

Define “done” ahead of time, Dan

One of the tenets of Scrum is the Definition of Done. Scrum does not define “done”, but states that the definition must be developed in the planning stages of a sprint (mini project), and should not be changed during the sprint’s execution.

Whenever I start a project, I try to determine ahead of time what I expect it to look like when I am done. That way I can know what it means to finish strong.

Be mature, Dan

A primary measure of maturity is the ability to endure temporary hardship, and ignore fleeting pleasure, in order to gain greater pleasure at a later time.

If my current exploit is mired in complications, it might be tempting to start working on something else because I know I can make more progress on another endeavor, and making progress is satisfying. In the end, though, I know that this will ultimately lead to less satisfaction.

It is almost always better to faithfully pursue my current task and finish strong. Then I will earn the feeling of accomplishment that accompanies a job well done.

And you?

Care to share? What prevents you from finishing strong? How do you counteract these failures?


– danBhentschel