The fourth full year on this blog has come to an end, and the blog keeps growing – this year, the pace of growth even picked up from last year (despite a few slouch months in the middle). I’d like to believe that is because of the quality content I put out here.
One thing remains pretty stable, though: Most of my readers come from the United States (more than 40%), followed by other countries in the Anglosphere and/or Europe. Countries in which I am doing particularly well compared to their population include Canada (thanks Dave!), Spain (a very robust wargamer culture there!), and the Netherlands (I don’t know why – but given the excellent language skills most Dutch have, it almost counts as an anglophone country).
None of them, however, compares to the Emerald Isle: Ireland with its mere five million inhabitants (so, less than 0.1% of the global population) accounts for 1.3% of my blog traffic. That’s about as much as China, India and the entire African continent combined! My Irish friends, I am in awe. Leave a comment below so I can properly thank you!
Anyway, I’m happy about every reader I have here – no matter if you devour every post of mine or if you were the solitary person from Brunei or the Gambia visiting exactly one page on the blog. I hope you enjoyed it.
And now on to what I think represents the best I had to offer this year. As I’m very fond of this blog, allow me to present to you the double number of entries (six) as with the other categories in the Farewell posts. Also, as no one likes to select their favorite among their children, I will not crown a winner and rather present the posts in the sequence they were posted.
Sometimes I like a post of mine just because it is based on such a rich foundation of games. This is such a post – a variety of games either contain references to the economic and political reforms Mikhail Gorbachev enacted in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s or are entirely devoted to them. They have different points of view on the subject (and ultimately, their judgment of Gorbachev is different) and thus provide us with enough food for thought to come to our own conclusions. For this variety, I gave these games Clio’s Stamp of Approval (awarded only for the second time!).
Not everything we do in gaming is something we find acceptable in real life. We run coal plants. We rob trains. We blast planets apart. We lead the parliamentary efforts and the street mobs of a racist totalitarian movement. Based on the latter (as there are two upcoming games on the Weimar Republic), I wrote this post to discuss how games can tackle difficult subjects – based on ethics, historical accuracy, and personal comfort. That is one of the most important issues I have written about, and I’m glad to have received a lot of positive feedback for the post.
Every beginning contains magic, says the German poet Hermann Hesse. That is certainly true for series of blog posts! My assessment of Robert Walpole’s qualities as prime minister of Great Britain (the very first one to be recognized as such) kicked off an irregular series rating prime ministers (and in the future, other historical leaders as well). They are assessed in three policy (foreign, domestic, economic) and three more general (vision, pragmatism, integrity) categories – and their exploits contextualized by a single board game depicting their time and challenges. I’m definitely going to continue the series in 2022 – I’ve already got some ideas for the next leaders to be scrutinized!
Not only beginnings are magical. Endings have their charm, too. After six blog posts, my series of thoughts on the top-rated war games on BoardGameGeek came to an end with the Top 10 post. That one contains some of my favorite games ever, so it was a particular pleasure to write. Overall, having to write about all 60 top-rated games (whether I played them or not) made me think about war games in general – which trends there are, what kinds of games I like, which ones I don’t play enough… Thus, it raised my awareness of both the wider hobby and my own place in it! As new games have entered the top ranks since then (for example, Imperial Struggle (Ananda Gupta/Jason Matthews, GMT Games)), maybe I’ll do an update for the series somewhen!
Decolonization is a topic of great interest to me (and should be to the wider world of historical scholars and gamers – I maintain that it was the most important historical process of the 20th century). Here, I tied it together with my area of historical expertise (the Cold War), and the result is a tale of atrocity, betrayal, and indifference. Not all of the few games which cover the recent history of the Congo do so with the sensitivity one would hope for, but at least there are a few which give me hope that by their merit more people in gaming (so, predominantly in North America and Europe) will learn something valuable about African history.
Sometimes – not very often – I write something about myself on this blog. (You could surely argue that every post, necessarily informed by my own experiences and views, is in some way about myself, but let’s leave these implicit autobiographical aspects aside.) This year, I’ve tackled the subject of how I even became a board gamer (like many of us, a few times, with periods of barely any gaming in between) and which games influenced me. I’m always curious about the similarities and differences between our board game journeys – so, if you haven’t told me already, do share what your path into and within board gaming was and is – maybe in a comment below!
You can find the other posts in the Farewell 2021 series here:
All that remains now is to wish you lovely festivities for the change of year (with your favorite people, and maybe even a board game), and a healthy and happy 2022!