Monday, January 3, 2011

Borderlinx Package

As mentioned in a previous post, I made an order from CSI and delivered it back to Singapore using Borderlinx. What impressed me was that I received the package in about a week from the time I made the order - that's fast considering I opted for standard shipping.

On the downside, the charges from Borderlinx were far more expensive than I expected. Despite

1. Free US domestic shipping from CSI (on orders > US$100),
2. a 10% discount off the games thanks to CSI's year-end sale and
3. a 15% discount off shipping charges from Borderlinx,

I ended up saving about $10 as compared to purchasing the entire package from local online retailers coupled with customer privileges. This was somewhat disappointing and the unanticipated cost largely boiled down to Borderlinx's volumetric charges. The actual weight of the package was about 5kg but the volumetric weight (the higher being charged) came up to just over 9kg . The calculation for volumetric weight seems to vary across the net and it was my oversight not to have double checked against Borderlinx's formula.

I did instruct CSI to pack the games in the smallest box possible and while there was excess space in the box, it was impossible to know if that was due to the lack of smaller boxes that were suitable or simply added caution to avoid damaged games.

While I did obtain the games much faster than if I had enlisted my local online retailer to procure them for me, I'm not sure whether the added hassle and risk borne was worth it, especially when void of the discounts I chanced upon this time round.

Oh well, it will all be forgotten when I get to table Navegador, Power Struggle and Vikings for my gaming session this week!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 In Review

With the turn of the year, I was keen to find out what my gaming patterns for 2010 would reveal through the annual nickels and dimes exercise. I was divided as to whether to include online plays because coupled with my iPhone and OCTGN, I clocked a sizable number of games against others over the net. In the end, I decided to be a purist and only record F2F games, as I do on BGG.

My most played game in 2010 was...

A Game of Thrones LCG - 23 plays

No surprise here since I had a regular group with Ivan, Ben and Jo going early in the year where AGoT LCG was a weekly affair for us. While the weekly sessions dried up due to our various commitments over the course of the year, it remains one of my favs. I never had a chance to try a CCG in my youth despite my interest and AGoT LCG most definitely scratches that itch. Most of our F2F sessions were multiplayer in nature where the different titles add a different dimension to the game. In addition, I clocked 100+ 1v1 games over OCTGN with some of the best American and European players in the game. That has not only fueled my interest in the game but the privilege to play against opponents of such stature has also been a valuable learning experience.

Only other dime was...

Glory to Rome - 10 plays

Not a surprise - it is after all one of the few games that I rate a 10. Furthermore, it's a perennial favourite with Van and she still requests it from time to time despite her diminishing interest in games.

While AGoT LCG and GtR were my only dimes, I had a few near misses...

Hansa Teutonica - 9 plays

One of my new favs and my appreciation for it grows with each play. If I had to pick my fav euro for 2010, this would be it. I adore the depth that comes in the reasonably short playtime, the multiple paths to victory and the tense interaction between players. Looking forward to even more plays in 2011.

Dominion:Intrigue - 9 plays

I really wanted to like the game but eventually sold it after lacklustre interest from my gaming group. In all honesty, I too realized that its multi-solitaire nature was getting to be despite opting for the most 'interactive' expansion of the series. Nonetheless, thanks to its relatively short playtime, I did clock quite a number of plays while I owned it.

Monopoly Deal Card Game - 9 plays

A surprise here, but I suppose there were sufficient occasions that we needed a real filler or had non-gamers around to bring it to the table.

The rest of the nickels...

Dixit 2 (8 plays) - Wonderful filler that my non-gamer friends enjoy.

The Resistance (8 plays) - A newly acquired game but I can already see its potential in being my go-to game for larger groups, especially since it's relatively non-gamer friendly.

Yspahan (7 plays) - A fast-playing, medium-light game. It seems to fit the mold of the kind of game that sees play often but I have recently put it on my trade list. The different paths to victory are limited and the Caravan is overpowered when it sees little competition, which is often the case with new players.

Jungle Speed (6 plays) - Party game that saw more plays in the early half of the year.

Macao (6 plays) - I really like the wind-rose mechanic and the potential card combos, but the rest of the game seems 'meh'. I don't know whether it's a keeper yet but definitely one of the better games I was introduced to in 2010.

Ra (6 plays) - Another one of Van's favs so she does request it occasionally.

Die Kutschfahrt zur Teufelsburg (5 plays) - A fantastic game once players get a hang of the strategy involved. I much prefer this for large groups than The Resistance but it is a tad less unapproachable unfortunately. A blast with the right group.

Santiago (5 plays) - Another of the discoveries of the year. Unfortunately it plays best with 5 which means it faces tough competition from the Princes of Florence and El Grande when I have a gaming group of that size. What it has going for it is that it does play in half the time.

Summoner Wars (5 plays) - Another newly acquired game and a keeper already. I'm unlikely to find a ready opponent in Van but it is an ideal 2-player filler. The simple rules and use of dice keep it accessible too.

Final stats: 171 plays, 38 games (of which 19 were new)
In comparison, here are the 2009 numbers: 167 plays, 44 games (of which 29 were new)

Bottom Line:

While the number of plays rose, this was likely due to increased number of plays of shorter, filler/party-like games. What's telling is that I played much fewer new games, which suggests my gaming experience was more focused this year. While I always enjoy 'discovering' new games, it meant that I was also able to play the games I like more frequently and get a better handle on the their strategies and subtleties. All in all, a year I'm contented with on the gaming front despite the drop-off in activity.

Finally, while the figures didn't factor in this yearly review, boardgaming on iOS appear to be an increasing staple. I clocked in 70+ online games of Samurai, coupled with multiple Carcassonne and Tichu games. If I do acquire an iPad in 2011 as planned, F2F gaming on the iPad may be an added dimension of my future gaming experiences.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Last Game Order For 2010

I had planned for one last game order for the year - Power Struggle, but thanks to the year end sale at CSI, I ended up putting in a full-blown order to qualify for free shipping. Was hoping to keep my games collection around the 30 mark but it seems that this order coupled with my recent acquisitions will be blowing that number out of the water.

Since I didn't have anyone to help carry the games back for me this time round, I had to decide between Vpost and Borderlinx as an alternative. Went with Borderlinx in the end due to the 15% shipping discount currently on as well as the convenience of being a Citibank cardholder. This is the first time I'm opting for a commercial delivery so we'll see how it goes. I have heard horror stories of shocking shipping charges. I suppose it's tough to get a good estimate since you can never be sure of the volumetric box size that the games will be packed in. I requested for the smallest possible box from CSI but it really boils down to the fit. Will update on the experience after I receive the games.

Besides Power Struggle, I added Navegador and Vikings to the order. Navegador has been notching great reviews over the past few weeks on BGG. The game from this year's Essen crop that initially caught my eye was Troyes but after ploughing through the reviews that emerged after Essen, it seemed that Navegador would be a better fit for my gaming palate. Looking forward to my first rondel game!

Happy gaming over the holiday weekend and Blessed Christmas!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Checklist For iDevices Boardgames

With the slew of euros coming out for the iPhone/iPad, I decided to see if I could come out with a list of some sorts to keep my wallet in check:

1. Universal App or iPad version? Since the main attraction for me is really playing the game on-the-go with friends round the table on an iPad.

2. Game I haven't tried or one I don't like enough to own? At the price of a Starbucks Frappe, a mighty attractive option for sure.

3. Online implementation of some sorts? Samurai has been highly addictive in its asynchronous online mode, 'nuff said.

4. Round-the-table/Hot-seat multiplayer format? The pass-and-play format doesn't appeal to me since I find it easier to get others to sit around and stare at a 10" screen then to pass a device around. Boo for the games with hidden info though...

5. Plays more than 2? Smallworld would be a straight purchase if not for the developers nerfing it to only 2 player multi.

6. Price. My current inclination is to pay US$4.99 for a game with online capabilities like Samurai and Carc and US$2.99 for a game without, like NS Hex and Tichu.

Not all my purchases so far meet all the criteria but check out mostly:

Tichu - Misses on 2 & 4. 3 on the way.
Samurai - Misses only on 4 due to hidden info.
Carc - All hits baby!
Roll Through The Ages - Misses only on 3. Unlikely but at least AI on the way.
NS Hex - Misses on 4 due to hidden info. 3 on the way.

I hate gushing but Carc and Samurai are superbly done. All future releases should hopefully seek to emulate what they offer.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Samurai and Neuroshima Hex! On The iPhone

Some comments on previous boardgame apps I bought:

Samurai: Tad more expensive but definitely a very polished product. Online implementation is fantastic. If I use Word with Friends as a benchmark for asynchronous play, this beats it for the ability to set a time limit for each move and online leader boards. I purchased it primarily for future iPad play (but got it now in case of price increase), but I've to say, I'm enjoying the AI/online play tremendously at the moment. I've never played Samurai before I purchased the app. It's probably not a game I need to own a physical copy of as it can be somewhat abstract, but at US$4.99, it's a steal as a substitute.

Neuroshima Hex!: Also a game I've never tried before I bought the app and I must say I rather enjoy it. Playing it even more than Samurai even though it's just against the AI. It is priced more attractively due to lack of online implementation at the moment but developers say it's 'akan datang' (on the way). Suspect price will go up then, so I decided to grab it first. Also another game I don't need a physical copy of, but I can see myself playing it with others over an iPad.

Roll Through The Ages On The iPhone

Bought it. The solo achievements were fun while they lasted (1.5 days), but in all honesty not too hard to accomplish. Little incentive to play it anymore till AI is implemented.

1. Beautiful graphics and interface
2. Be upgraded as universal app soon
3. While multiplayer is in 'hot-seat' format, I see F2F viable on an iPad since there's no hidden info
4. Upcoming AI which should breathe some life into the game after accomplishing the solo achievements

1. No online implementation of any form and none promised.
2. Info divided in separate menus where it would be nice to have it all on one screen. With no separate app for the iPad, I seriously doubt this will change with the universal app.
3. Limited number of solo achievements and current ones aren't too challenging
4. Optimal play seems to always begin with building cities to max out the number of dice available

I suppose the last point is sort of unfair since it's an issue with the game more so than the app. I have never played RTtA before and reviews never convinced me the physical game warranted a purchase due to its multi-player solitaire gameplay. The app (especially at a discounted price of US$2.99) gave me adequate impetus to give it a go. It definitely didn't make me feel as good about the money spent as compared to the Samurai, Carcassonne apps, but I suspect the disappointment is more with the game than the app itself.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My First Geeklist!

Never thought this day would ever come since I've always been more at ease lurking around BGG. But I suppose I was particularly inspired today and started my first ever geeklist.

What's YOUR boardgaming limit?