Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thirteen Gaming Resolutions for 2013

Happy 2013 from Ludi Berkeley! To ring in the new year, and to celebrate the start of the Ludi Berkeley's full year, here are thirteen gaming resolutions I'll try to follow in 2013.

    1. Host and attend more game nights. I'm in an engineering graduate program in the San Francisco Bay area. It's likely that at no time in my life will I be in such a board-game friendly situation, and I've done a less good job taking advantage of that in 2012 than I did in 2011. There is no reason that my apartment shouldn't be packed to the walls with board gaming at least once per month.


    2. Expand my collection. It's always the goal of any board gamer--or video gamer, movie buff, or avid reader--but in 2012, the only new additions to my collection were Pandemic: On the Brink and Kingdom Builder. The grad student stipend isn't one of fantastic wealth, but neither is it a shackle to poverty, and acquiring three or four new games in the new year seems reasonable. I already have my eye on Seasons, which is beautifully designed, has similar mechanics to 7 Wonders and Ascension, and has been recognized as the best new game of 2012.


    3. Play the Spiel des Jahres winners and nominees. Either the Spiel des Jahres overall winner (Kingdom Builder in 2012, Dominion in 2009, and so on) and/or the Kennerspiel des Jahres ("Enthusiast Game of the Year"; 7 Wonders in 2011, Agricola in 2008, and so on) tends to be very, very good and a lasting fixture in board game years after its award. I'm making a point of getting in on the ground floor with both the Spiel des Jahres and the Kennerspiel des Jahres, and the more of the nominees I can also play, the better.


    4. Tackle more of the BoardGameGeek top 20. Despite the changing tastes of gamers and the weekly entries of new games, the top 20 games on BoardGameGeek remain surprisingly constant from year to year. I've played Agricola, Power Grid, Dominion (and its expansion Intrigue), 7 Wonders, and Race for the Galaxy, and I was able to add Puerto Rico this year. Some of the games on there are expensive (Eclipse at $99 MSRP) or don't look like my cup of tea (Twilight Struggle, a two-player war game). But they're all at the top of their game (so to speak) for a reason. At the top of my list among these games include Le Havre, Caylus, and Ora et Labora.

    5. Be less scared of very long games. Agricola isn't my favorite board game out there, but that has as much to to with its length as its unforgiving mechanics. Power Grid is without a doubt one of my five favorite board games. I end up enjoying every minute of it every time I play, but all too often I veto it because it takes too long. And I adore the immersive aesthetic and beautiful artwork in La Citta, but all too often I let it get vetoed because it takes too long. It's time to dust off these evening-killers and accept that we're only going to get one game in.

    6. Get around to playing video games I purchased in 2012 (or longer ago). I'm not as huge a video gamer as I was in middle or high school, but I own a Playstation 3 and a PC well-suited to playing video games, plus plenty of games to play on both. I started but didn't finish Skyrim's Dawnguard expansion (and haven't scratched Dragonborn yet). I loved Mass Effect 1 and 2 but haven't even installed 3 yet despite having pre-ordered it back in the spring. And that used copy of Bioshock I picked up along with my PS3 has been sitting patiently on the shelf for more than two years now.

    7. Delve deeper into low-leverage indie gaming. Heartfelt storytelling, innovative gameplay, fantastic aesthetics, and a focus on experience rather than difficulty are a set of ideals very much in vogue in independent game design these days--and a set of ideals that very much appeals to me. I've been unfortunately out of the loop playing this sort of game for the past several years, and I want to get back into it. In particular, I'm interested in getting hooked on a point-and-click adventure game, King's Quest or Monkey Island style.

    8. Play at least one game of 1000 Blank White Cards. Essentially do-it-yourself Fluxx, 1kBWC is the ultimate in creative party gaming. Artists have a chance to create pretty pictures, comedians and raconteurs can entertain and engage, and us gaming geeks can play around with clever mechanics and rules interactions. I've loved the game since high school and have played it scant few times since college.

    9. Play-test D&D Next. Here's a chance to do something exactly in my wheelhouse: delve into the underlying design decisions behind the next iteration of the greatest and most popular tabletop RPG out there. I've followed the open beta since its beginning back in May but, despite my best efforts to organize a group, haven't been able to actually sit down and play it. 2013 might give me a better chance, as the next season of Encounters includes the D&D Next beta among its optional rules.

    10. Play a D&D Lair Assault. The name "Lair Assault" has always put me off: it implies that it's going to be a session of combat and nothing else, within a version of D&D that's soundly criticized (sometimes fairly) as focusing too much on combat. However, all of my D&D-playing friends who have done Lair Assaults have reported having a great time, and with 4th Edition starting to make its exit, now is as good time as any to give one a shot.

    11. Attend more puzzlehunts. September and October gave me the chance to play through two, one hosted by my friends in real life, another hosted by Ken Jennings and the Smithsonian online. I had an incredibly fun time with both, and I'm excited to try playing a live-action hunt on a larger scale, like MIT's or Berkeley's.


    12. Blog more about game strategy. One idea I had starting this blog was to relate specific situations and anecdotes from games and pose them to the blog's readers, asking for a wider audience to consider the optimum strategy. (Exactly how much is power plant 13 worth in Power Grid?) Ludi Berkeley has been all too light on that sort of post so far.

    13. Redesign the blog. The neutral gray was a placeholder layout I picked back in June when I started the blog, and unfortunately I haven't had time to make it more interesting-looking. Expect an aesthetic explosion in the New Year!

    Let me know what your gaming resolutions for 2013 are, and I wish you good luck in fulfilling all of them! I appreciate everyone who's followed along with the blog so far, and I encourage you to follow the blog and spread the word about it if you've enjoyed reading.