Seaux Hot at SoBo 2022: Top Library Checkouts at Southern Board Game Fest

Hey board gamers, as the last memories of boudin kolaches fades into the dim past, I thought it would be a great time to wrap up some thoughts on the games played at Southern Board Game Fest 2022.

Not the games I played.

The games all of you played!

Thanks to Ray and his wonderful team, I’ve got a spreadsheet full of geeky goodness in my inbox! Even Ogilve would be jealous at the numbers I am crunching tonight. Join me as we take a peek at what were some of the most popular games at SoBo ‘22.

Do you have time for two quick caveats? First, we have two separate lists, because we have a three year backlog of play-to-win games thanks to the generosity of a bunch amazing publishers. Those games would skew any list we did, because they are free to take home!

Second, our library doesn’t cater to the BGG hotness or the Ars Cardboard top 100 Games You Must Play. John and his team do a great job of maintaining a robust but curated library. Sure, we do have a few hot games, and even some of the Kickstart games just getting to backers. But mostly what we have are ever green titles and games that look good on the table, are relatively easy to teach, and have all kinds of different mechanics, play counts, and goals.

For most of the REALLY hot games, we have a separate section called our “guided playthroughs” – and most of those games are owned by the volunteers themselves. Plus, let’s face it, about half of the people going to SoBo are going to bring their beloved games or their latest hotness with them, so they can teach them to other gamers.

All right, you get the picture. Enough blather, let’s get right to what was hot at SoBo 2022.

Let’s start with the “regular” library check outs, mainly those games that are in our main library or in Sagan’s personal collection that he generously lets us borrow each year.

Top 11 Games checked out of the SoBo Library 2022:

Century: Golem Edition

Plan B Games

2017

Santorini

Roxley Games

2016

Dice Throne (Season Two)

Roxley Games

2018

Hanamikoji

Deep Water Games

2013

The Fox in the Forest

Foxtrot Games

2017

Captains of the Gulf

Spielworxx

2018

7 Wonders Duel

Repos Productions

2015

Codenames Duet

CGE

2017

Mysterium

Asmodee

2015

Reef

Next Move Games

2018

Sagrada

Floodgate Games

2017

Already, I’m seeing some good games in here for convention plays! For reference, we had about 300 people purchase tickets to the con, and we had 160 different games checked out that weekend (not counting play-to-win games).

Century: Golem Edition does not surprise me at all. The whole Century series is a popular item at friendly local game stores and booksellers. Splendor is a very popular family game, and lots of gamers want to check out that next step. Throw in the beautiful golem art from Chris Quilliams, and this is a game a lot of gamers are curious to play.

I see also that we have a host of two player games on the list: Santorini, Hanamikoji, Fox in the Forest, 7 Wonders Duel, and Codenames Duet are all two player only games. That makes sense at a con where we saw a ton of couples coming to their very first con ever. If I were taking SneauxBunny to her first con, we’d probably pick out a nice two player game that takes about 30-45 minutes so that we could play while waiting for friends to show up (or while waiting to make friends!) All of these games make sense on this list.

Likewise, Mysterium and Dice Throne makes sense too. On the opposite end of the two player spectrum is the convention game of “we have six people, what do we play now?” Games like Mysterium and Dice Throne and Deception: Murder in Hong Kong (which just missed the top ten) are all great games for a festival the size of ours.

If there is any surprise, it is that Reef and Sagrada are in the top ten, when the library had games like Cascadia (which is all over social media), Azul (with all of its variations) and Camel Up 2nd Edition. But, that being said, both Reef and Sagrada have a table presence and an ease of teaching that makes sense, too. I guess I’m just more surprised that these games are still being played over the newer abstracts that have come out of late. Now, if I can just get people to start playing Ingenious again…

I was surprised at where Captains of the Gulf finished, easily in the top ten, but I guess I should not have. First, it’s from our local designer, Jason Dinger, and since the advent of our GeauxPub section at the last festival, people are just plain curious about the hows and whys of designing games. Plus, it’s got that great Gulf of Mexico theme and beautiful artwork. I’m happy people are enjoying it!

Just missing the list, but getting good plays, were a few games that didn’t disappoint. I fully expected curious festival goers to want to play Eric Lang’s newest in the trilogy, Ankh: Gods of Egypt, and it just missed the top ten by a grain of sand. Just having Mitchell and the Beans & Dice crew around was enough to get people interested in playing it, I’m sure.

Although none of the Azul games made the top ten, Summer Pavilion and base Azul both just missed. It’s the newest one we have in the city (Queen’s Garden not being available at our FLGS yet) and Azul is VERY popular in these parts. I saw anyone of the three different available Azuls being played almost always at the festival, so the fact that it narrowly missed didn’t surprise me at all.

Come to think of it, a game like Camel Up 2d Edition might have been hurt because it was set up in our Gateway area. Gamers did not have to check these games out at all; they were already set up on a table with a cadre of Game Gurus ready to teach them. So, games like Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest, 7 Wonders Architects, Camel Up 2nd Edition, and Mandala may have made the top lists except for that. But, don’t worry – they were played and played a lot!

There were a couple of surprises in the near misses for me. Seeing that Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done and Cryptid just missed the top ten makes me happy. Both are fantastic games, and both should still be played. In fact, Crusaders has an expansion coming out, and I am wondering to myself if perhaps gamers wanted to check out the base game to see what the fuss is about before the new edition comes out.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I was pleased to see Jaipur and Takenoko on the list of most played games, just outside the top fifteen or so. I have wonderful memories of playing both of these literally dozens and dozens of times with my family. In fact, we were regularly playing Jaipur again just about a year or so ago, although it’s been longer for me since I’ve played Takenoko. I’m glad to see gamers are re-discovering these classic but recent games.

I guess I have to mention disappointments, too, right? Looking at this list and seeing that NO ONE checked out Aquatica or Baseball Highlights: 2045 tells me I am falling down on my job as Relentless Cheerleader for those two games. I’ll fix that for next year.

TOP TEN PLAY-TO-WIN GAMES CHECKED OUT:

Harvest Dice

Grey Fox Games

2017

Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra

Next Move Games

2018

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

Northstar Games

2018

Ubongo 3D

KOSMOS

2009

Echidna Shuffle

Wattsalpoag

2018

Vivid Memories

Floodgate Games

2022

Between Two Castles of MKL

Stonemaier Games

2018

Cover Your Kingdom

Grandpa Beck’s

2019

Nova Luna

Stronghold Games

2019

Ripple Rush

Stronghold Games

2020

We had over 50 different play-to-win games from publishers from all over the world. A lot of the games on this list are from Envoy affiliates, companies that work with the Envoy team to get games in convention libraries and play to win. (You’ve probably seen the Envoy Heralds at your FLGS or at GENCON or other conventions doing demos for your favorite board game companies.)

The way play-to-wins work, for those who haven’t seen it, is that companies donate a copy of the game in a random drawing of those people who check it out and play it that weekend. Every person that participates gets to be in the drawing. Gamers have a ton of fun exploring games that they might not have seen otherwise, and hopefully for the companies, end up purchasing some of these games if they liked them enough.

Let’s look at the list.

I love the fact that Danny Devine’s awesome little roll-and-write game, Harvest Dice, is still being supported and played. It’s so easy to teach, and very colorful to boot. It’s the perfect convention game in a small box that fits in your backpack. (Yes, I have taken it on our own backpack trips to south Texas and Colorado!) If you haven’t played Harvest Dice, you really should pick up a copy.

Echidna Shuffle surprised me. To give you a little behind the scenes, it was on the PTW table on the first day and got NO takers. We thought about just giving it away that night, but something told me to put it back on the table for the next day. Somehow it ended up being in the top five of games checked out for the entire weekend! I think once people started seeing it on the table, there was a lot of interest in playing it and checking it out. Happy to see it did well!

I’m sad that Ripple Rush made it, but not for the reasons you think. Stephen Buonocore was supposed to be our Very Special Guest of Honor for Sobo 2020 but the pandemic happened. We had this whole thing planned where Stephen would teach Ripple Rush to a dozen or so gamers during a Brunch With Buonocore event, and seeing Ripple Rush getting played without him there makes me sad. Oh well, we’ll work on getting The PodFather to south Louisiana someday!

How about the juxtaposition of Ubongo 3D – a game from 2009 that KOSMOS is still publishing – and Vivid Memories, a game just published 2022 from Dunstan and Gilbert (designers of Gumbo fave, Elysium)! Seeing games in the play-to-win section like that shows that every publisher should look for those evergreen titles that continually make gamers happy each year.

It doesn’t surprise me that an Azul game and a Quacks game both made it on the list. Both of those games are still VERY popular here in Louisiana, and I was happy to see some excited gamers take home those copies.

Well, that wraps up our look at the top games checked out of our play-to-win and regular libraries at Southern Board Game Fest 2022. If you came and enjoyed the library, we really do thank you and appreciate you supporting our fundraiser for New Hope Foundation. If you missed SoBo 2022 but want to come next year – just follow me on social media as I will be sure to talk about the festival as it gets closer.

Or, better yet, just geaux to http://www.southerngamefest.com and sign up for more info as it becomes available!

Until next time – or until next Southern Board Game Fest 2023 – laissez les bon temps rouler!

– BJ at Board Game Gumbo

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