2014 Year-End Reflections

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Pathfinder Doubleclicks
I love my life. Watching the Doubleclicks’ livestream concert while playing Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Well, as the year draws to a close, I always like to take a look back to reflect. And as my kids (and I) get older, it feels like this is happening more and more quickly each year. I’ve still got a huge pile of books and games that I’d love to tell you about, but chances are you’ve already done your holiday shopping–or if not, you’re being bombarded with lots of suggestions anyway. (Our own last-minute stocking stuffer guide is coming up on Monday.)

Instead, I figure I’ll take a little breather from my usual reviews and just mosey around my memories of 2014.

At the beginning of the year, I listed 10 things I was anticipating in 2014. Let’s see how I did…

Pathfinder Minis
My Christmas present to my Pathfinder ACG group: miniatures of our characters. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

1. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Check! If I had to pick, Pathfinder has probably been the highlight of the year for me. Our party of five made it through the entire Rise of the Runelords storyline. We have a standing appointment on Monday mornings if everyone’s in town, and it’s my favorite way to kick off the week. We started the Skulls & Shackles set this fall and just wrapped up the first adventure deck. The game is fun, but I’ve loved having a chance to get to know my fellow adventurers really well over the course of over dozens of sessions.

The LEGO Movie

2. The LEGO Movie: Check! We did see the LEGO Movie–my kids saw it twice, once with me and once with mom (because we had to take turns staying home with the baby). Loved the animation, the tune was incredibly catchy, and the live-action portion really hit home (though I’m still not sure I’m ready to break out all of my complete, vintage LEGO sets for my kids). But, as a father of three daughters, I was also disappointed in the way that the awesome girl has to be saved by the clueless guy in the end. Sigh.

S. by J J Abrams
Didn’t quite make it to this one. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

3. S. by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst: Nope. Sad to admit, but I haven’t read it yet. Just flipped through it and looked at bits and pieces, but I’ve had so many books to review this year that I haven’t given this one the time it deserves. Maybe next year!

Robinson Crusoe
See that? That’s a complete woodpile, on turn 11. We win! Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

4. Robinson Crusoe: Check! I’ve played this one several times this year, though still with the first basic scenario. I’ve managed to score a few wins, even one without using any handicaps, but my win-loss record is still not great. I’m hoping to play this more, dig into the other scenarios, and eventually get to the Darwin-themed expansion released this fall.

Halo 3
Didn’t happen this year.

5. Halo 3: Nope. I did get an opportunity to buy a used Xbox 360 but finally admitted to myself that I’m just probably not going to play console games much. I’ll play stuff on my iPad to get a short videogame fix, but sitting down in front of the TV for long sessions just doesn’t happen for me. Ah, well.

True Dungeon group photo
True Dungeon! Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

6. Gen Con: Check! Another highlight of my year, and an event I look forward to attending as much as possible in the future. Hanging out with other GeekDads, connecting IRL with all of these Twitter gamers I know, and running through True Dungeon were all fantastic experiences.

Run Free Race 2014

7. Ridiculo.us: Sort of check. Since Kyle Scheele, one of the minds behind Ridiculo.us, had a new baby this spring, things have been sort of on hold there. They did follow up their fake marathon with a fake adventure race this year, but it was on a day when I wasn’t able to participate myself.

Emperor's New Clothes
Do you see what I see? Playing Emperor’s New Clothes. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

8. Emperor’s New Clothes: Check! My Kickstarted game about games finally shipped in April this year, and I’ve been able to break out my shiny white box at conventions and game nights, and have had fun being able to share that with other gamers. It’s led to some great conversations.

We Heart Nerds

9. We <3 Nerds Con: Postponed. Due to various circumstances, Levi Mote and Sarah Sharp decided to postpone their new nerd-centric Portland-area convention until 2015, so that’s still on the list for next year.

The Battle for WondLa
Cover art for The Battle for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

10. The Battle for WondLa: Check! The conclusion of Tony DiTerlizzi’s WondLa series was worth the wait, and once again I read it aloud to my kids. I even got to play a session of a WondLa-themed RPG (using the Numenera RPG system), and got to play as Rovender. Oooeeeah!

So, for my list of 10, looks like I hit 6.5–decent, I suppose. I did manage to read a good number of other books, played a lot of games, attended my high school reunion, and started an occasional podcast.

Roller Derby Sisters
Square Not (in blue) and Cthu-Liu (#3.8, middle girl in red) get ready for a jam. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

And one thing that has become a huge part of my life in the past year that I didn’t have on my anticipated list is roller derby. Yep. My two older daughters and my wife are all part of the Rose City Rollers–my daughters in the junior league and my wife on the recreational team. It’s a fascinating sport, and I love being a derby dad/husband. It’s amazing to see what these girls can do on wheels, and I’m particularly enamored with my middle child’s choice of derby name: Cthu-Liu.

Last year I also mentioned the 10×10 Tabletop Challenge: playing at least 10 board games 10 times each. Well, I knew it was going to be difficult, and I’m not quite there, though I did get a lot of plays of a couple games. Here’s my top 10, according to BoardGameGeek. (I log my plays there, though sometimes I forget.)

  • Yardmaster Express: 18
  • Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (Rise of the Runelords): 17
  • Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (Skull & Shackles): 16
  • Good Cop Bad Cop: 11
  • One Night Ultimate Werewolf: 9
  • Machi Koro: 8
  • 20 Express: 8
  • Eggs & Empires: 7
  • Meteor: 7
  • Robinson Crusoe: 7

I don’t log games I played on my iPhone or iPad, or else Carcassonne would certainly have hit 10, though nothing else does. All of the games on the list are pretty short games except for Pathfinder and Robinson Crusoe; some are under 10 minutes per play. It’s pretty clear that in general I play a lot of games only a few times. My total on BGG for the year is just over 600 total plays (though some of that is double-counted when it comes to expansions, and sorting that out would be tricky). It’s certainly not that I don’t have time to play games, but with Kickstarters and review games I’m constantly having to learn something new.

For next year, I’m hoping to go back and play more of the games I backed on Kickstarter that have been arriving over the past year. Many times, the only version I’ve played of a game is the unfinished prototype. Then the finished game arrives, and I don’t have time to play it because I’m writing up the next unfinished prototype. It’s a dilemma, because I love supporting cool ideas on Kickstarter, but it means I don’t get to dive in as deeply in games I already have.

How has your year been? Did things turn out the way you expected? What are you looking forward to in 2015?

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