Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Obligatory “What I Played In…” Post Part XXX: December 2017

Woo hoo!  Another month and another year in the books and it has been a great one!  This past month was great for getting some interesting new games to the table and playing some old favorites.  We continued to work on our 10x10 challenge for the year and were able to complete it!  We got in 60 plays of just less than 30 different games!  For 2018 we’re planning on doing a 25x5 (25 games played at least 5 times) challenge instead of the 10x10 so we’ll see how that goes.  I think that’s enough, let’s take a look at the final stats for the 10x10 challenge in 2017.

10x10 Challenge:
Arkham Horror: The Card Game (4 plays in December, 10 total plays for 2017)
Cottage Garden (0 plays in December, 10 total plays for 2017)
Five Tribes (2 plays in December, 10 total plays for 2017)
Gloomhaven (1 play in December, 15 total plays for 2017)
Great Western Trail (2 plays in December, 10 total plays for 2017)
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (0 plays in December, 11 total plays for 2017)
Ticket to Ride (2 plays in December, 19 total plays for 2017)
Tokaido (2 plays in December, 10 total plays for 2017)
Too Many Bones (0 plays in December, 13 total plays for 2017)
Unfair (1 play in December, 10 total plays for 2017)

We did it!  We were able to complete our 10x10 challenge this past month!  In all we played the 10 games we chose 118 total times!  I’m looking forward to making a new challenge for 2018 and seeing how we do.  Alright, let’s move on to the monthly stats!

Statistics:
Total plays in December 2017 – 60
Total unique games played in December 2017 – 28
New games played in December 2017 – 6
New games acquired in December 2017 – 6
New expansions acquired in November 2017 – 1
Most plays of a single game in November 2017 – 6


Designer – Rikki Tahta
Publisher – Indie Boards & Cards
Last play before December 2017 – 11/10/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 6

We pulled this out a few times with my buddies Zach and Steph and rolled along with a bunch of plays.  This will always be one of those games I’ll keep on hand to teach new people and when we just want a quick and fun play!


Designer – Trey Chambers
Publisher – Tasty Minstrel Games
New to me
First play – 12/3/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 5

We picked this game up after selling something we didn’t want anymore.  This game is awesome!  I love how quick and simple the game is and it is a wonderful worker placement game!  Everyone who has played this game with us so far has loved the experience.


Designer – Nate French/Matthew Newman
Publisher – Fantasy Flight Games
Last play before December 2017 – 9/26/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 4

Oh wow did I ever have an awesome month of playing this game!  I am currently working through the Dunwich Legacy with Rex Murphy and it has been awesome!  I can’t wait to pick up the next couple of expansions that I don’t have yet and see what happens!


Designer – Isaac Vega
Publisher – Plaid Hat Games
Last play before December 2017 – 8/15/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 4

Oh wow, four plays of this game this month!  This makes me so incredibly excited!  We got one of the deluxe expansions, The Laws of Lions, for Christmas and broke it out and it was awesome!  I can’t wait to get some more of the new decks (we still have 5 to pick up!) and play them with Em!


Designer – Vlaada Chvátil
Publisher – Czech Games Edition
Last play before December 2017 – 6/13/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 4

Em and I brought this along with us on our sojourn to Maryland for Christmas and played it with Adam and Christina.  It was an awesome time as we played guys versus girls and ended up each winning 2 games.


Designer – Emerson Matsuuchi
Publisher – Plan B Games
Last play before December 2017 – 10/23/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 3

This game is so good and Em and I were able to get in 3 plays of it this month!  Em was really on the ball and I’m pretty sure she won all 3 of our rounds.  I love this game and am starting to really look forward to the second in the series.


Designer – Seiji Kanai
Publisher – Alderac Entertainment Group
Last play before December 2017 – 11/16/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 3

Zach and Steph really dig this quick game so I’ve brought it along with me a few times so we could get some plays of it in.  This is just one of those perfect fillers that takes so little time and is fun for the quick duration of it.


Designer – Matt Leacock/Rob Daviau
Publisher – Z-Man Games
New to me
First play – 12/25/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 3

AAAAHHHH!!!  Yes, that was a scream.  This was my most anticipated release from Essen Spiel and one of my most anticipated releases for some time!  We’ve broken it out and started the campaign with Molly and Dustin and it was been every bit as amazing as I’ve hoped!  I am so looking forward to getting together again and starting the next month!

Designer – Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher – Amigo Spiele
Last play before December 2017 – 10/12/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 2

This is such an incredible card game.  This is probably one of my favorite quick, simple, straight card games.  I think this is the design that really makes me realize how good of a designer Rosenberg is.  We played this during our vacation with the family and they all love it!


Designer – Bruno Cathala
Publisher – Days of Wonder
Last play before December 2017 – 11/11/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 2

Em and I were able to get in two quick plays of this game this past month which ended up helping us to complete our 10x10.  I would really like to pick up at least one of the expansions to this game this year as I think it will make it even better!


Designer – Alexander Pfister
Publisher – Stronghold Games/eggertspiele
Last play before December 2017 – 11/26/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 2

Em and I also got to play this game a couple times this past month and man do I ever love it!  This is one of my favorite games of all time and I’m not sure it is going anywhere anytime soon.  I think this game just gets better with each play.


Designer – Scott Almes
Publisher – Tasty Minstrel Games
New to me
First play – 12/5/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 2

I actually won this game from a Tasty Minstrel Games’ giveaway on Instagram!  We played it a couple of times this past month and really enjoyed it.  It is a small but very clever game that I think we’ll keep around for quite some time!


Designer – Matt Leacock
Publisher – Z-Man Games
Last play before December 2017 – 10/31/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 2

Em and I pulled this out when we wanted a quick dice-rolling game.  We lost the first round handily but ended up winning the final round just barely!


Designer – Christopher Badell/Paul Bender/Adam Rebottaro
Publisher – Greater Than Games/Sentinel Comics
Last play before December 2017 – 11/30/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 2

I was able to get in a couple more rounds of solo play in this game this past month and they were awesome.  This will always be one of the most thematic games I have!


Designer – Alan R. Moon
Publisher – Days of Wonder
Last play before December 2017 – 11/12/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 2

I just feel like at this point I just have to say yup…more games of this one!  We played this a couple of times and as usual was a ton of fun!


Designer – Antoine Bauza
Publisher – Funforge
Last play before December 2017 – 10/22/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 2

We pulled this fun game out a couple of times this past month and finished off our plays for the 10x10 challenge.  This is always a fun time and my wife loves it!


Designer – Antoine Bauza
Publisher – Repos Production
Last play before December 2017 – 9/8/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 1

I pulled this one out with Zach and Steph and it was the first time in a while that I’d played!  They really enjoyed the game and I forgot how much I also enjoy the game!


Designer – Jonathan Gilmour/Brian Lewis
Publisher – Pandasauras Games
New to me
First play – 12/21/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 1

Josh Kickstarted this game and received it this past month and I was chomping at the bit to get in a play of it.  We pulled it out and played with Em and it was amazing!  This is exactly the game that I wanted it to be and can’t wait till I get my retail copy!  This could be a game that jumps up my list the more I play!


Designer – Andrew Fischer/Nathan Hajek
Publisher – Fantasy Flight Games
New to me
First play – 12/8/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 1

So Josh picked this game up in December and we played it and wow!  This is everything that I wanted in a Fallout game!  While we were playing I felt like this was a wonderful boardgame that completely captured the wastelands so well.  I can’t wait to play this game more!


Designer – Isaac Childres
Publisher – Cephalofair Games
Last play before December 2017 – 11/30/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 1

Yup…another game of Gloomhaven in the bag!  This game just continues to be amazing although we’ve slowed down due to a crazy couple of months.  I hope that we’re able to get back onto our once a week schedule now that the holidays are almost over.


Designer – Andreas Odendahl
Publisher – Stronghold Games
Last play before December 2017 – 4/17/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 1

I wanted to teach Zach and Steph a dice game one night so I decided to pull out this one.  They loved it, and can you blame them?  This game is such a fantastic dice-drafting game and is my very favorite roll-and-write game.


Designer – Steve Jackson
Publisher – Steve Jackson Games
Last play before December 2017 – 9/7/14
Total plays in December 2017 – 1

I taught this one to Zach and Steph and it was fun.  I understand why many people don’t love this game but to be honest we really enjoy it.  It will never be a favorite but it was one of the games that opened the door to hobby gaming so it will always have a place on our shelf.


Designer – François Gandon
Publisher – Days of Wonder
Last play before December 2017 – 12/3/16
Total plays in December 2017 – 1

Zach and Steph came over for a gamenight and we pulled this game out.  It had been a while since I’d played and I had forgotten how fun and quick this game is.  I really should get this one to the table more often.


Designer – Phil Walker-Harding
Publisher – Gamewright
Last play before December 2017 – 6/26/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 1

Here is another game that I taught to Zach and Steph and they loved it!  This is a wonderful and simple card-drafting game where you are trying to collect sets of sushi.  Great art and simple rules make this game a hit with anyone.


Designer – Jacob Fryxelius
Publisher – Stronghold Games/FryxGames
New to me
First play – 12/1/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 1

Josh taught me this game (finally) this past month and it was awesome!  I don’t own this one but I could see it going up my favorite game’s list if I got more plays in of it.  I love a good, clever hand-management game and this is definitely one of them.  Unfortunately, like most others, I think this is a pathetic job of artwork in a game.  I hope that the Venus Next expansions makes it prettier!


Designer – Joel Finch
Publisher – CMON Limited/Good Games Publishing
Last play before December 2017 – 10/1/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 1

We played a round of this great little card-drafting and amusement park building game with Molly and Dustin.  I love this game.  It is just a ton of fun every time we play and I’ve never had a flop with this one yet.


Designer – Isaias Vallejo/Rick Holzgrafe
Publisher – Daily Magic Games
Last play before December 2017 – 7/7/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 1

We pulled this out to close out a gamenight over at Josh’s house one night and had a great play.  I was able to inch out the victory after Josh and I tied.  I won the second tiebreaker which was money left over apparently!


Designer – Jonathan Gilmour/Matt Riddle/Ben Pinchback
Publisher – Pandasauras Games
Last play before December 2017 – 9/8/17
Total plays in December 2017 – 1

Oh wow do I ever love this game so hard!  I was able to teach this one to Zach and Steph one night when they came over and it was awesome!  The game is super close every time we play and this time Zach was able to win the game one turn before me and maybe two or three before Steph.  I just want to play this more!

New game acquisitions in December 2017:

New expansion acquisitions in December 2017:

Well there you have it!  Another month in the books and another year in the books!  This has been a wonderful year of a ton of changes for my wife and I and we hope that things have finally settled down for some time.  Keep an eye out for the next series as I'll start my yearly end of the year series which will take a look at 2017.  Thanks so much for taking the time to read and I hope you enjoyed.  Until next time, game on!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Obligatory Favorite Games 2017 Edition Post Part VI: Josh’s Top 10 Favorite Games List (Guest Blogger)

***Hey all...Aaron here again!  This post is being taken over by one of my best buddies, Josh.  We've been regularly playing games together for over a year since Em and I moved back to Indiana.  Enjoy his top 10!***

When Aaron asked if I’d write a guest post outlining my favorite games I played this year, I had to stop and consider what method I’d use to rank them. This is the first year I’ve been tracking my plays, and I had a surprising amount of data to work with. I was floored to discover that I’d played 104 separate games this year, and wound up only a few plays short of a 10x10. It took some time to narrow it down to 10.

First, a little about me: I spent much of my free time in the past 20 years playing video games and long-running RPG campaigns. I’ve always enjoyed tabletop games, and have always enjoyed the heavier side of gaming. In 2017, in an effort to reduce the number of hours I spend in front of various screens, I took up solo board gaming in a big way. I do some multiplayer gaming with Aaron’s group, and I’ve been running an open-invite weekly group for just shy of a year now, so I see a diverse palette of designs.

I ended up using a variety of determining factors to put together this list, but the final criterion was subjective enjoyment. It seems to be reflective of my broad preferences in tabletop games, despite the somewhat disjointed methods I used to pare things down. Let’s dive in!


Mechs vs Minions came out of nowhere this year. While I’m not a fan of MOBA video games, I’m familiar with League of Legends, and it was very cool to see a company like Riot put their resources into what turned out to be an incredibly fun game. The rules were a breeze to learn and teach, and there’s a good depth of strategy for each of the scenarios - I’m still only halfway through the stack of dossiers, so I’m looking forward to seeing the difficulty ramp up.


This was another surprise--when Aaron cracked open the box, I was expecting something completely different from a medium-heavy rondel game. I’m not sure I’ve found a go-to strategy in this one yet, but one of the marks of a great game is when it’s just as fun to figure out as it is to execute a competent strategy. I’m looking forward to playing GWT plenty more times in 2018. Maybe someday I’ll actually make it to San Francisco.


One of the few small-box games on my list, Villages of Valeria is the second installment in the Valeria series, and so far is my favorite of the three. I’m still in love with the Mico’s fantastic character artwork, and while it doesn’t quite have the depth of several other games in this list, the mechanics make up for it. I love how smoothly the game flows, with follow actions allowing every player to stay involved. Multi-use card play is quickly becoming one of my favorite mechanics, and Villages of Valeria nails it beautifully.


Spirit Island is one of the least-played games that made it into this list--this is mainly due to its recent release date, as well as the large number of new games that we brought back from GenCon 50. However, every time we’ve played, it has proven itself to be one of the most engaging games I’ve run into. It combines some of my favorite elements: area control, great card play, and a unique theme. I know we’re all excited to bump up the difficulty on this one, as well as dig into the expansion content, so I’m fairly certain Spirit Island will have a spot on next year’s list.


I was reluctant to pick up Terraforming Mars after seeing it in person at GenCon 2016. The complaints about the artwork and component quality are well-founded. However, I spotted it for a price I couldn’t refuse and gave it a try after months of hearing about how good the gameplay was. I ended up playing it solo almost every night after buying my copy. The engine-building card play combined with the tile placement is extremely engaging. I’m looking forward to more multiplayer sessions of this one, and the expansion boards seem to ensure that there’s plenty more to dig into
.

Whew. We’ve cracked into the top 5! While Hoplomachus wasn’t my first introduction to Chip Theory’s offerings, once I knew it existed I fell in love with it. Hoplo got its hooks into the side of me that enjoys a simple wargame, pushing me out of the rulebook and onto the battlefield. This is one game that is not only viable for solo play, but works wonderfully as a co-op. I haven’t spent much time in head-to-head battles, but I haven’t found a need to. Like all CTG games, Hoplo is a pleasure to experience.


I was fortunate to have an early shot at this behemoth. Aaron was one of the few pre-order customers that wasn’t caught up in the first print shortage, and we’ve hit this one hard from day one. The combination of card mechanics and dungeon crawl is something I never knew I needed, but Gloomhaven delivers with a serious level of intensity. We have yet to lose a scenario, but almost every single session has been a close call. The character development and story have not been particularly engaging for me, but the mechanics of this game overshadow everything else about it. There’s just no comparison: Gloomhaven is an absolute masterpiece of design.


Whoops, how did this get in here? I happened upon an episode of the Heavy Cardboard podcast that put this Euro in a very favorable light. In addition, I’ve spent a good portion of my life making furniture, so the lumber milling theme was an easy sell. Lignum is a perfect example of my favorite sort of low-luck game - it’s unforgiving but not overly so, resources are tight, good planning is critical, and it uses a variety of clever mechanics that mesh well together. My favorite part of Lignum is the mind game that ensues when choosing which grove to cut. Last time I played it, the metagame shifted constantly as we all jockeyed for position each season. The resource path is brilliant, and the slow burn of transporting and milling lumber fits perfectly with the theme. Not recommended for players prone to AP, but absolutely recommended for players who want every decision to be critical. If this game had a solo mode, I would play it weekly. Indefinitely.


I like rolling dice just as much as I like pushing cubes, and Too Many Bones leaves no question as to what it’s about. TMB is a perfect one-session distillation of everything I love about the dice-rolling side of RPGs. The sheer variety of character build strategies, tailored to the nature of the diverse villains, with CTG’s standard of component quality, PLUS a perfect solo footprint...there is nothing quite like it. Keep it on Greenhorn difficulty, take some time to read through your character sheet (which are much-improved for version 2), then start rolling dice. This game takes slightly more time to get the rules nailed down than Hoplo, but is unbelievably rewarding of those efforts. I averaged two plays per week of this one after I picked it up, and it’s unlikely to get a layer of dust anytime soon. There’s a reason why this game put Chip Theory on the map.


I found out that KD:M existed when a buddy of mine told me his cousin was working a booth at GenCon 2015 and that we should try to grab a beer together. While the con is always far too hectic for us to catch up outside the convention center, I’ll never forget the experience of walking into the Kingdom Death booth that year. Every single display case packed with creepy miniatures had me wondering what the hell this was all about. After backing the v1.5 Kickstarter campaign, I spent the latter part of 2017 finding out.

In the 2.5 months I’ve had the giant black box in my possession, I’ve played 29 lantern years’ worth of it, and I can confidently say that there is nothing else like it. While the theme isn’t for everyone, there’s nothing I love more than a game that tells a story, and somehow KD:M manages to build a vivid nightmare world around you without actually spelling it out. As each campaign progresses, tiny parts of the Monster world are revealed, not in paragraphs of box text, but snippets of descriptions and story events, leaving the players to explore the darkness alongside the survivors they control.

This game offers the best of both my favorite worlds - luck swings like a cold, dark hammer, crushing the life out of your precious survivors, while the warm light of the settlement offers an incredible depth of strategy, allowing the players to mitigate the swings of the dice and scratch out an existence in this terrible world.

Kingdom Death: Monster is not without its flaws, but nothing else comes close to capturing what it accomplishes on all fronts: storytelling, tactical combat, and deep, long-term strategy. It’ll take some doing to unseat this as my #1.

There it is - my top 10 for 2017. If you’ve made it this far, it’s probably worth checking out my list of honorable mentions. These are games that would be potential contenders, but didn’t receive enough play time for me to nail down a solid opinion.

Honorable Mentions:
Dinosaur Island - 2 plays and wanting more. Fantastic theme.
The Ruhr - 2 plays - I think I’ll eventually love this as much as Lignum.
Clank in Space - 5 plays - now that it’s been added to the Renegade app, I’ll be playing this one a lot. It gets better every time.
Sagrada - 7 plays - it’s light and fun - not sure that it’s a top contender, but it’s a great filler so far.

Next year’s list may be longer--we’ll see. Here’s hoping for another good year!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Obligatory Favorite Games 2017 Edition Post Part V: Em’s Top 15 Favorite Game List (Guest Blogger)

***Hey all, this is Aaron.  Taking over the blog for this post is my wife, Em.  Enjoy her top 15 games and her writing as it is 100% better than mine!***

So this year I decided to write a Top 15 list instead of a Top 10 partly because I played a lot more games this year and partly because I didn’t feel like whittling down my list to 10 games. It was stressing me out, so tah dah - my top 15!

#15 - Bohnanza


This little game is one of my favorite go-to small games. The only reason it’s ranked this low on my list is because we can’t play it well with 2 players. I love the trading aspects, the social tension and the weird competitive streak it cultivates while you’re growing beans of all things…”to bean or not to bean”!

#14 - Dice Forge


This might be the only game on my list that Aaron and I don’t actually own (yet). Our friend Josh picked it up and I was immediately hooked. I’m a dice junkie so it really appealed to me from the get-go, not to mention I hadn’t played any game that allowed you to customize your dice before. Lots of fun, and I look forward to many more plays of this dice crafting game in 2018.

#13 - Kanagawa


I win this game a lot. But I swear I’m not including it on the list solely based on my love of winning. It’s a beautiful game, I love the artwork and the mechanics of building a painting. The multiple ways to build your pallet and create your own work of art make it fun to replay regularly.

#12 - Unfair


This might be my brother-in-law’s new favorite game, but aside from that, a card-based game where you build your own amusement park? Sweet. On top of that, the themes are ridiculous in a good way - you could end up with a Robot Ninja Gangster themed park or maybe a Vampire Jungle Pirate theme is what you’re going for. You can play it super mean and sabotage the crap out of each other’s parks or take the mellow route and just enjoy a good build.



This is a game I wish we had gotten to the table more this year and it’s definitely on deck for more plays in 2018. The artwork alone sells it for me, but I love the worker placement mechanic in this context. It’s fun to try to build up an engine to get the most lucrative deal for your mutant weirdo of a pet while trying to keep your goblin workers alive, what more do you need?



Love love LOVE this game. Dice rolling, battling, magic, all the good stuff is there. Plus new decks and expansions are rolling out more regularly now so I plan on playing it even more in 2018. Personally, Rin Northfell might be my favorite deck with Victoria Glassfire as a close second. We’ll see how the new decks stack up!



This might be my favorite dice-based game. I love that there’s literally no downtime while players make their decisions, the tableau building is a lot of fun and you get to roll a freaking TON of dice in your own little cup. #win



This might be the mellowest game on my list, even more mellow than Tokaido where you’re just competing to have the best vacation... it has Patchwork-esque qualities (of course) but I like the point system and the freedom of this tile laying game a little better. Plus it’s pretty and makes me want to just have tea in a garden somewhere.



Kiki’s Delivery Service in board game form anyone? Witches delivering potions all over the map, trying to beat out your competitors and guess which witches and druids they’re using so you don’t end up with a dud of a turn...all good time to me. Plus this pickup and deliver-style game has really fun artwork!



Storytelling games are one of my favorites and this one only seems to improve upon the concept of Above & Below, which I also enjoy. I like the choose your own adventure feel to the game, the way you can customize a character depending on your choices and meet your own goals throughout the game.

#5 - Tokaido


Will I ever not love Tokaido? Unlikely. We have the deluxe edition and can enjoy the mellow tinkling spa-sounding music while we play and compete to have the best vacation. I love the replayability of this game and that it’s fun with 2 or more players. There are so many variables and ways to win, I don’t anticipate it dropping off my list anytime soon.



My favorite 2-player card game by a HUGE margin. I love 7 Wonders, the original, and the adaptation to a 2-player version is fantastic. We added the Pantheon expansion this year and it almost makes it seem like a new game each time we play.

#3 - Seasons


This was one of the first modern board games Aaron introduced me to several years ago and I still love it, if for nothing more than the awesomely chunky dice! Seriously though, the game is excellent, the card-drafting + dice-rolling is a winning combo for me about 99% of the time with board games and with the expansions, Seasons is a game we play over and over.



Don’t even care that it’s a “gateway” game...it’s awesome. I love all the maps (except India which is one I’VE NEVER WON...damn mandalas…) and can’t wait to get my hands on Rails & Sails and France/Old West to round out our options when we bring this game to the table.



Pandemic Legacy Season 1 was high on my list last year and we just started playing Season 2...there really isn’t anything about this game I don’t like. I love the whole legacy concept and the Pandemic Legacy series is so much fun to play. It’s tense, ridiculous, full of strategic options, and again, that fantastic “choose your own adventure” mechanic I love in a storytelling game. Looking forward to many MANY more plays of this game and already anticipating Season 3!