How I Did #500plays and What I Learned Doing It

January 14, 2017

Shortly after the beginning of last year, I randomly decided I would try to play 500 games in 2016. I don’t recall why. It was really just a whim. But, once I started, I have to admit that I became pretty obsessed with actually doing it. I’m happy to report that I actually did it, culminating with a few games of Insider right before the ball dropped on New Years Eve.

A few random notes and observations:

  • My most amazing gaming experience of the year was provided by none other than our CRO (and his partner-in-crime, Matt Leacock). I got a couple of my employees together and told them they didn’t have to clock out for lunch if they would play through Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 with me. It was a really remarkable experience. I’ll never forget when [something incredible dramatic] happened to my character about halfway through. I literally jumped out of my seat and shouted, “nooooooooooooooo!!!!”. Just note perfect from January to December. If you haven’t given it a try for whatever reason, you owe it to yourself to remedy that.
  • I played a handful of new games at Gen Con, topped by Gil Hova’s excellent The Networks, which takes the top spot for my favorite new game of the year without the word “legacy”.
  • I played a whole bunch more games at Dice Tower Con, including my first game of Star Wars: Rebellion with my new friend, Travis. He was very gracious when I nearly wrecked the game by screwing up Tatooine and Dantooine.
  • I played a handful of games with my cousin, Jeff, whom I’ve been gaming with since we were kids but who now lives in Chicago, including the amazing Food Chain Magnate
  • I’m fortunate to live near the Hollywood CoolStuff, where the Dice Tower does their monthly game days. I played a bunch of new games there, including Tom’s favorite game of the year, Project: ELITE, which is indeed quite fun.
  • I played 19 “unpublished prototypes”, which are mostly a combination of Downforce, Indulgence, and Stop Thief, but they were all full games.
  • Box of Rocks and Unusual Suspects were invaluable. Towards the end, my daughter, Jara, was particularly invested in me meeting my goal. There were more than a few nights after dinner, where she said to me, “Daddy, let’s squeeze in a few games of Box of Rocks”. A real trooper, that one.
  • Not sure why, but it tickles me to no end that, among my 500 plays was a game of Daytona 500 (as part of our scouting for Downforce).
  • My least favorite game of the year was Millennium Blades. Mind you, this is a great game. But it’s soooo not my cup of tea. I think my headache lasted a full week.

And, finally, if you’re really curious to see what else I played, you can see my plays on my BGG page or scope the thumbnails below.

For the record, I’m not doing it again this year. I’m still logging plays, but no artificial benchmark for me. I’m glad I gave it a try though. It forced me to find ways to make time to play. There were plenty of nights when I decided to solo a game rather than plop down in front of the television, and that has to be a good thing. And I enjoyed every single play–even the games I didn’t particularly like. I feel like I really broadened by game design “vocabulary”. I’m a better designer now for having done it, having experienced all those different games.

So, what was your favorite game out of what I played last year?