Opinionated Gamers – 2020 in Review

Opinionated Gamers – 2020 in Review

Well, thankfully, 2020 is in the rearview mirror by now (heck, by more than 2 days already in Kiribati – which I just learned yesterday is actually GMT +14!) – though like in my car, “objects in the rear view mirror may be closer than they appear”…

I have been blessed to have this close group of friends here at the Opinionated Gamers – to provide a forum to chat about games, to collaborate on game reviews and other articles, and to heckle me from all angles about anything and everything!  Though 2020 wasn’t maybe the best year for playing games, most of us managed to adapt to the times and still find ways to participate in the hobby that we love.

Now that I’ve had a chance to take a look at the stats – I was actually surprised at how productive we were.  Though everyone had many fewer chances to play games, our group still managed to write up over 175 game reviews and first impressions this year.  Sure, the big difference is that many of the review were based on fewer plays or perhaps virtual plays – but I’m glad that the Opinionated Gamers still found a way to play the games that we love!

For many, including myself, this was the year to discover gaming online. The SPIEL fair, normally the epicenter of all things gaming, went digital this year.  That was a new experience for sure.  Many gamers also found out that there are apparently plenty of places to play games online, and the circumstances of 2020 caused many of us to go out and try out these great online services.  Many of them are free, though some also have paid premium subscriptions.

Simmy wrote up a good primer on some of the places that he plays online back in November:

Digital Analog Gaming

Mark also wrote up a nice piece on how he passed the time with a bunch of solo games

Solo Gaming in the Time of Covid 19.

For the ninth consecutive year, our readership has increased.  We appreciate the fact that many of you take a little bit of time out of your day to come and read what we have to say.  We still strive to post one article per day, and this year, we nearly hit our goal – we had 359 posts for 2020.   Not quite as many as last year,  but honestly, I think this is just due to the fact that we didn’t have any convention reports… usually we get 3-5 small posts a day from GenCon, the Gathering and SPIEL – and this year, that output was much reduced.

Our most popular reviews this year were:

  1. Hallertau (more than 10,000 readers!!)
  2. Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion
  3. Ticket to Ride Pennsylvania – which interestingly was penned in 2015
  4. Cities of Splendor (2017)
  5. My City
  6. 7 Wonders (2020)
  7. Terraforming Mars Hellas & Elysium
  8. Terraforming Mars
  9. Pictionary Air
  10. Trambahn – the game we played 100 times in 3 months

There were some weird spikes in old reviews, spurred by mentions on Reddit, Twitter, and BGG… This seems to happen every year, but a bit more this year – perhaps because people were pulling out old games to play again?

We also spent a lot of time talking about games in general – and our group LOVES to make lists.  Our most popular non-review pieces this year were:

  1. Congrats to the 2020 SdJ winners
  2. 10 Great Worker Placement Games
  3. 10 Great Ticket to Ride Maps
  4. 10 Great Fillers
  5. Nibbling on the Hand That Has Fed Me
  6. 10 Great 2 Player Games
  7. Solo Gaming in the Time of COVID 19
  8. 10 Great Games by Reiner Knizia
  9. 10 Great Games from the 00s
  10. 2020 OG Holiday Gift List

Finally, since I’m making lists – we did start using Amazon affiliate links a bit more, trying to help keep the lights on here.  Our non-traditional Christmas Gift List was surprisingly popular, and we really appreciate the readers clicking on the links.

Our best recommendation was apparently for Cain’s Jawbone, a nice little literary puzzle which was apparently solved earlier in the year.  The Wood card holders recommended by James Nathan in our gift guide as well as the Magic Jigsaw Puzzles were also great hits.  As far as regular games go, Escape Room in a Box: The Walking Dead board game and Pandemic: Hot Zone North America were quite popular.  Thanks to everyone who supported the OG in this way!

This year, we also started a series of giveaways for some of the games that we have reviewed.  Things got off to a good start, but then the end-of-year craziness got us a bit off track.  We’re going to restart the giveaways hopefully later this week, and we will try to continue them through the year!  The contests are run between the blog and our Instagram feed.  Please sign up for both the blog (you can do this in the sidebar off to the right) or the Instagram feed to keep up with the latest details from the Opinionated Gamers!  We have a Twitter feed too which announces our daily posts as well….

But, enough about the past.  Let’s look forward to 2021!  We still have a LOT of games to play and review.  Though we managed to write about nearly 80 games from SPIEL.digital 2020, there are still plenty of games that are trickling in.  In a normal year, almost all my games come back direct from Essen – but as there was no fair this year, many of the games aren’t arriving until they make it to the US via regular distribution channels.  The nice thing is that this has given us a little bit more time to play the games that we have and now we have a lot of games to look forward to in the first quarter of 2021…

So far, on my list of highly anticipated games to play/talk about

  1. MicroMacro
  2. Hallertau (the real version, not the PnP prototype)
  3. Beyond the Sun
  4. Holi
  5. Babylonia
  6. The Fuzzies
  7. Paris
  8. Kodama Forest
  9. Tawatinsuyu
  10. Vampire The Masquerade Vendetta
  11. Unicorn Fever
  12. Cantaloop

So, that’s the year in a nutshell.  If you have some downtime this weekend, consider taking another look at some of the most popular pieces on the blog from the past year. But no matter what you do, enjoy this first weekend of the year, and I hope that everyone has a great and happy 2021!  Thanks again for reading our blog, and we invite you to come back daily in 2021 for more gaming goodness…

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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6 Responses to Opinionated Gamers – 2020 in Review

  1. Hey Dale, happy New Year! Thanks to all the OG Krewe for bringing some light each day to my inbox.

    BTW: that video you and I did on Hallertau? Easily most popular one on our site. What is it about Hallertau???!?

    Best wishes for the new year.

  2. seisyll says:

    Game of the year – Rajas of the Ganges: the Dice Charmers. This is like when Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Air Jordans were invented.

    Thanks for the great stuff – personal fan of Talia Rosen’s contributions this year, like the Trambahn article. But it’s all good. Seems like Scout! was a major sensation on here – I’m hooked as well now.

    • Dale Yu says:

      Thanks for reading! 2021 is going to be the year of Roll Write Daifugo!

    • seisyll says:

      Oh shoot – the Trambahn article was Valerie Matthews! I am thinking of Talia’s responses to some of the lists on here. Apologies to Valerie – I need to check my replies before I submit them. 😓

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