Friday, 27 November 2015

The Top 20 GNN Games

Admittedly there are more pressing things to do than ponder the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of our little crowd, but I thought it might be interesting and not remotely obsessive to take a look at the most-played games since the blog was initiated, as the five year anniversary looms.

Which games do we still like? Which games are in there just because they are acceptable fillers? Which are bona fide classics?

So, in reverse order, here they are!

20 Roll Through the Ages / Port Royal / The Resistance: 13 plays
Who can forgot how The Resistance knocked us sideways when it first arrived? It was so different, so... tense. Maybe that's why it's not been seen much since. Port Royal was similarly impactful, only to fade from view, whereas Roll Through the Ages has taken a slow-and-steady approach. 

19 Lords of Vegas / Castles of Burgundy / Las Vegas / Ascending Empires / Carcassonne: 14 plays
A nest of games here with an upward trend - Burgundy, Lords of Vegas - more downwards direction with Ascending Empires (though it did get played at Joe's recently) and Las Vegas, plus the flatline of Carcassonne, which I personally haven't played in a long time. I'm surprised it's on the top 20 at all to be honest - and I thought Burgundy and Lords would be higher.

18  Medici / Istanbul: 15 plays
Although it had its critics, Istanbul was another entry in the GNN canon that racked up a number of plays quickly, before tailing off. Medici on the other hand retains a strong position after lying fallow for a long period before rising from the grave over this past year. It also got a lot of plays pre-blog, so is unlucky not to be in the top ten.

17 Hey That's My Fish: 17 plays
The game of fish-grabbing whilst the world around you dissolves apocalyptically. Despite its childlike appearance it also has potential for big-time screwage... but I'm not sure quite how it got 17 plays though. 

16 Poison / Castles of Mad King Ludwig: 18 plays
Poison was the pre-6Nimmt 6Nimmt, and brings to mind sat in Joe's house on a wintry Tuesday evening... or indeed a summery one. I still like it. Mad King Ludwig had an instant hit and longer tail than some - it still gets played now, though I'm no longer quite as enamoured of it as I once was.

15 Agricola / Macao: 19 plays
Like Medici, Agricola's position suffers from existing pre-blog. Macao on the other hand sits here on merit, for those of us who like Feld. 

14 Ticket to Ride / Raj / Quantum: 20 plays
Ticket to Ride probably deserves it's place here if only for demonstrating how many cards Adam can hold in his hand without doing some tendon damage. Raj is generally played as a short tournament and pops up now and again. Quantum is just fab as far as I'm concerned. I've been playing it at work.

13 Kingdom Builder / Cube Quest: 23 plays
Cube Quest has built it's reputation in fits and starts, but still seems to divide the genders in a way other games don't. Kingdom Builder was the hit of a couple of years back but has sagged since then.

12 Timeline / Incan Gold: 24 plays
The latter can claim to be a perennial favorite, whereas Timeline has faded slightly from view with the return of 6Nimmt and the advent of Pairs.

11 Take it Easy: 25 plays
I think GNN's couplets or themes meme has helped Take it Easy, but since the initial burst of enthusiasm it has settled into the solid occasional-play territory.

10 Railways of the World / Ra / Pairs: 28 plays
Three very different but classic games. RofW has gone quiet, but will certainly come again.

9 Tsuro / Alhambra: 30 plays
Thirty plays for these two? It seems incongruous now, but once Alhambra was almost the go-to game on a Tuesday night. Tsuro maintained a long initial burst of plays before picking up the odd hit here and there, when its ability to play 8 quickly stood it in good stead. 

8 Trans America and Trans Europa: 32 plays
Perhaps contentiously I've grouped these two together (it's actually a 21/11 split in America's favour) and they are the same game in all but name. Neither have set my heart beating fast, but they must be getting something right. 

7 Stone Age: 33 plays
Good old Stone Age! Still up there and hanging on, despite not seeing the light of day much in a while. I still rate it. 

6 Tinner's Trail: 36 plays
Good old Tinner's Trail! It arrived around the same time as Stone Age (I think) but has sustained a longer replayability in  GNNer's eyes apparently. Last seen only a couple of weeks back. 

5 No Thanks / Love Letter: 39 plays
I like No Thanks. It's a neat little game. But I hope I haven't personally played it 39 times. Whereas Love Letter I regard as more of a mini-classic.

4 6Nimmt: 41 plays
The game that produces the most inventive swearing at GNN towers was bound to be in the upper echelons, wasn't it? It was a hit first time around, then Martin's enthusiasm for it brought it back into the limelight, where it has stayed ever since.

3 Lords of Waterdeep: 43 plays
Waterdeep's easy accessibility and variety of strategies have seen it rack up a very respectful number of hits, and it still gets revisited today; very nearly seeing the table as recently as Novocon.

2 Biblios: 62 plays
A whopping jump in plays takes us to Biblios, whose mysteries feel like they have never been completely resolved. It also has two titles available to the winner: Mr Biblios (winning) and King Biblios (winning to zero, the latter only achieved so far by Ian) A great game. 

1 7 Wonders: 74 plays
Despite being nobody's favourite game (as far as I'm aware) 7 Wonders has somehow soared away in terms of plays. Maybe it's everyone's second-favorite - or enough people's anyway. What it does have going for it is play-time (short) and variety: it's hard to be sure who is really winning unless you actually grind the game to a halt and count up. Out of interest, the very first play (almost 5 years ago to the day) was won by Steve: 

Steve 48
Adam 45
Sam 42
Andrew 34
Joe 33

And there we have it. The top 20 GNN games - or positions, to be exact; it's actually 37 games all told. I wonder how it'll look in five years time. Will one of the big beasties like Eclipse or Caverna start to climb? Or will it be populated by trick-taking games like Potato Man? Maybe Bandu will surge up the charts...


  1. I'm not crazy about Cube Quest - does that mean I need gender reassignment?

    I think it's significant that most of these games are owned by you, Sam - you are the host and advocate of many a non-tuesday meet. Which makes Lords of Vegas' showing even more worthy of a hearty LORDS OF VEGAS!!!

    Interesting stats though - wow Roll Through the Ages - those were simpler times . . .

  2. yes that's true. But I think going through establishing which games were played on a Tuesday only is beyond even me.

  3. No that would be unfun in a big way . . .

  4. I think it might also be the Bracknell nights skewing the figures. I have a smaller collection so there were more replays of popular games.

  5. Yes, as an accurate top 20 I guess it's flawed actually. But as a way of whiling away an hour at work, it was pretty good.