Meeple Mountain Year in Review – 2020

Happy Birthday to us: we’re five years old! 2020 was a hard year, but join us as we celebrate our accomplishments!

If You Publish it, They Will Come

Meeple Mountain is, and always will be, primarily a print based media. We love the written word and all its nuances. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting to spread out into other areas of board gaming. That’s why in 2020 we made our YouTube channel a priority. We also wanted to expand our coverage of other areas of gaming, so we aimed to release more wargaming and RPG content. Join me as I walk through our accomplishments for 2020 and talk about what’s on the horizon for 2021.

154 Reviews

Since the total number of articles we publish continues to increase it stands to reason we’d publish more reviews too. The number went up slightly from 2019: this year had 154 to 2019’s 145. Reviews are the largest single segment of our content and we’re proud to have reviewed some of the most interesting games from 2020 including Ctrl, New York Zoo, Demeter, Soulgivers, Fort, i’m sorry did you say street magic, Personal Space, Dollars to Donuts, and Calico.

And we’re got a number of hotly anticipated 2021 titles as well – either already reviewed or on the calendar. You can look forward to seeing games like Masters of Mutanite, Cascadia, Rulebenders, and Mercado de Lisboa.

One thing we began doing in earnest in 2020 was running board game giveaways. Last year we partnered with 18 different publishers to give away nearly 40 games to excited and happy gamers. If you’re interested in sponsoring a giveaway on Meeple Mountain, let us know!

9 Top 6 Lists

We all love a good list, especially when it’s got an interesting slant. Our readers are no different, with almost 25% of last year’s traffic coming from our Top 6 lists. Our big hit has been the Top 6 Catan strategies guide; proving the staying power of old-school hobby games. And while it was technically published in 2019 it barely got any traffic until May of 2020 – coincidence? I think not.

We also published a few others of interest, such as our Top 6 games about voting, or our definitive guide to storytelling dice. But in true 2020 spirit, we also published a list about attending online board game conventions – who knew that could ever be a thing, right?

45 Articles and Editorials

One of my proudest moments this year was the collaborative effort our team put into publishing the definitive guide to the Spiel des Jahres board game awards. This article took us close to two months of research, preparing, and writing to pull off and I think it’s one of our best articles to date. It’s the most complete and accurate collection of recommendees, nominees, and winners of the most prestigious award in board gaming.

We followed it up with in-depth articles about the world of Play by Post RPG games, comparisons of Tabletop Simulator vs. Tabletopia, and  tips for the wargame newbie,

2020 was obviously a year of highs and lows: we experienced the first global pandemic in 100 years and the United States experienced political and social turmoil. Our writing reflected that with articles about how to game while isolated during the COVID pandemic and why representation in board gaming is so important. We raised money to support the Black Lives Matter movement and talked about Colonialism in board gaming.

While I wouldn’t say that Meeple Mountain’s stances are overtly political, our position is that “board gaming is for everyone”, and we want to publish content that reflects that whenever we can.

16 Board Game Award Nominations

We’re bringing the Diamond Climber board game awards back for a 3rd year, and this time we’re taking advantage of what we learned from the first two years. Fewer categories means more impact. And while we’re not limiting ourselves to 2 or 3, we are slimming the awards down from 14 to 8.

The big winners from the 2019 Diamond Climber Awards were Wingspan from first time designer Elizabeth Hargrave, the homage to classic Hollywood monsters Horrified, and Tiny Towns from another first time designer Peter McPherson.

What titles are sure wins in the 2020 awards? Join us for the 2020 Diamond Climber Awards fan voting and make your voice heard! We’ll start announcing the winners in February.

115 Videos

At the end of 2019 Brody Sheard joined our team as primary video reviewer, and during that time he’s helped grow the Meeple Mountain YouTube channel from a few hundred subscribers to over 1,300. Even though our channel is still relatively small, we’ve got a fantastic team. Brody, Tyler, Gary, and Kurt & Kathleen racked up over 100,000 views to our channel by releasing a steady stream of great reviews and playthroughs. Not every video makes it from the YouTube channel to the website though, so make sure you’re checking out both so you don’t miss anything.

Some notable videos have been our Rallyman GT review, The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine, and the pirate themed Dead Reckoning.

4 Nontraditional pieces

We’re well known for our humor and satirical pieces, but we also love to cut loose and just have fun. Reid certainly did that with our Beginner’s Guide to board game terms, a gentle tongue-in-cheek look at the various words and phrases we use in everyday board gaming – and just what they really mean. Wink!

We also put out three volumes in our exclusive Board Game Haiku series, celebrating not only board games but the subtle and delicate art of the Japanese haiku.

Website Traffic & Social Media

2020 was the year we hit some really great milestones on social media. We broke 1,000 subs on YouTube (which opens up some exciting opportunities), we hit 4,000 followers on Twitter, 2,000 followers on Facebook, and we’re closing in on 2,000 followers on Instagram.

We had over 1.4 million views to our content on the website, thanks in part to a massive summer spike in July, August, and September. Unfortunately Google made some tweaks to their algorithm in October which caused our numbers to dip. It was disappointing, but having seen the lofty heights from the summer, I now have a new traffic goal to get back to where we were previously!

One thing that really helped our traffic was a number of “evergreen” articles; evergreen meaning they continually generate site traffic. Pieces like the board gamer’s guide to conventions, learning how to write your own D&D campaign, and 2018’s how to protect your board game collection.

We’re going to continue to look for interesting article possibilities and write about it…because that’s who we are! Have a suggestion for a topic? Let us know!

Board Gaming in Nashville

This section brings the most pain to my heart. Meeple Mountain has been an important part of the board gaming community since we started Nashville Game Night, which has been running continuously since 2015. And our flagship event Nashville Tabletop Day has remained one of the largest single day board gaming events in the country. But not in 2020, and likely not for large parts of 2021 either.

Originally scheduled for April 18th, 2020, Nashville Tabletop Day had to be cancelled due to the COVID virus, which has decimated any chance we had of playing games in larger groups. Many larger events opted to go the online convention route with varying degrees of success. But that wasn’t something I was interested in pursuing due to the logistics of running an online event.

As 2021 kicks off we’re debating a possible fall event, but we haven’t made any concrete plans for it just yet. Stay tuned for more details as we decide on them.

What Does 2021 Have in Store for Meeple Mountain?

We hit nearly all of the goals we set in 2020, which is exciting. So what does 2021 have in store for us? I’d like to see us double down on wargame content. We have two authors whose main focus is that segment of tabletop gaming; will we add more? We have 2 reviewers whose main focus is our YouTube channel; will more people join that effort? Due to COVID our average pieces per week dipped back down to 3 or 4, so I’d love to see that come back up again.

I’d also love to bring on more team members in general. More people on the team means we can cover more games for you to read about! With an all-volunteer team, you always have some ebb and flow, and since we didn’t do any official calls for contributors in 2020 we didn’t bring on more new team members like we usually do in a year. If you want to write about board games, and you think you’d be a good fit for Meeple Mountain, then drop us a line.

So how about some concrete goals?

  • Add four new team members:
    • 1 new team member to cover wargame content
    • 1 new team member to do videos
    • 2 new team members to do reviews and articles
  • Run 30 giveaways
  • Add two new t-shirts to our store
  • Reach 4,500 Twitter followers
  • Reach 2,200 YouTube subscribers
  • Reach 2,600 Facebook followers
  • Reach 2,100 Instagram followers

Only the next 12 months will tell us if we made it or not. Will you join us on a journey through time?

Peace!
Andy Matthews
Founder of Meeple Mountain
Editor of MeepleMountain.com

About the author

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Andy Matthews

Founder of Meeple Mountain, editor in chief of MeepleMountain.com, and software engineer. Father of 4, husband to 1, lover of games, books, and movies, and all around nice guy. I run Nashville Game Night, and Nashville Tabletop Day.

2 Comments

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  • I for one appreciate your commitment to the written word! Tbh I skip over all the video content on here, but glad to hear it is working well on YouTube proper for you. Sucks the way the subtle Google algorithm changes can throw spanners in otherwise innocent websites, but there you go :/.

  • First, let me say ‘congratulations’ on what appears to be a quite successful year! Meeple Mountain is a favorite site of mine (as you know) and I truly appreciate all of what you do. My primary method of absorbing MM content is reading; I prefer the text reviews. You have some amazing reviewers with some varied and interesting points of view. I truly enjoy all of them.

    Given that I prefer text reviews and the like, I have not (I will admit) watched all of the video reviews / box openings / other content you have created over the past year. However, I would like to give a shout out to Brody Sheard. I own several games right now because of the beauty of his box opening videos and reviews — the two most noteworthy are Empyreal: Spells and Steam and Montmartre (both of which my wife and I love to play!). So, even this old grognard is allowing the video reviews and such to seep in. 🙂

    You guys are amazing. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to seeing what you have in store for 2021.

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