Designed by Haakon Gaarder
Published by Sinister Fish Games
I’ve been quarantining myself during this pandemic since mid-March. I have literally only left my house once a week since then to the grocery store. Otherwise, I am occupying space in my house reading, writing, watching films and playing games. Villagers was a game I backed on Kickstarter back in 2019, primarily out of the beautiful minimalist art style and my love of playing city-building video games. This wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, but I ended up loving it nonetheless.
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The X-Files Board Game (2015)
Designed by Kevin Wilson
Published by IDW Games
After watching through ten of the best episodes of The X-Files this month, I decided to crack open a copy of the board game from IDW I’d bought a few years ago. I remember hearing good reviews when it originally came out in 2015, and I snatched up a copy. As so often happens when you buy a board game on a whim, it sits on your shelf for a while until you finally find the time to play it. The X-Files Board Game turned out to be quite an excellent experience, a game I definitely want to play again and again to explore the tactics and mechanics going on under the hood.
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My Favorite Video Games and Tabletop Games of 2017
From my Steam Summer Sale write up on this one:
“Dead Cells is an Early Access title, but one that overcomes the stigma that label can sometimes bring. Like a side-scrolling Dark Souls, Dead Cells drops your nameless protagonist in the middle of an island dungeon with no knowledge of how they got there. As you run, jump, and kill enemies, you collect the two currencies of the game: gold and cells. Gold helps you purchase items in the shops and unlock treasure doors during play. The cells are spent at the end of each stage to upgrade and unlock new weapons and abilities. When you die you start over with your primary weapons, but everything you unlock carries over from playthroughs, able to be discovered and purchased. Addictive, smooth gameplay.”
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Scythe (Stonemaier Games)
Designed by Jamey Stegmaier
Art by Jakub Rozalski
In an alternate history, the continent of Europa is recovering from the effects of the Great War. The Factory once provided the armies of this land with powerful mechs but has now shut down, hiding its advanced technology behind its doors. The nations of Europa want this tech and begin a campaign against each other to become the most prosperous of nations in the world. To do this, they will need to gather resources to unlock greater and greater achievements, always taking note of their military might and popularity amongst the people.
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Belle of the Ball (Dice Hate Me Games)
Designed by Daniel Solis
Art by Jacqui Davis
I have a soft spot for deceptively simple card games, those games that come in small-ish boxes and seem to just be a few cards and maybe half a dozen tokens. It doesn’t look like much, but upon playing them, you start to see the depth of strategy lying underneath. Love Letter was like this for me, and subsequently, Sushi Go among others. Belle of the Ball is another game that falls into this deceptively simple category.
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Friday (Rio Grande Games)
Designed by Friedemann Friese
Art by Harald Lieske and Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
As someone without a regular gaming group in addition to homebody tendencies, there are a lot of tabletop games that just aren’t worth dropping the money when 3+ players are needed. My wife is also busy with other things when home so isn’t always available to play some of our favorites. So, I began to look for games that would work with a single player when I came across Friday, a game made for ONLY one player. I was a bit skeptical, but the $12 price tag at Origins made it affordable enough to take a risk.
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The Networks (Formal Ferret Games)
Designed by Gil Hova
Artwork by Heiko Günther and Travis Kinchy
Damn, I love this game! The premise of The Networks is that each player is running a fledgling television station. Each network has a minuscule deck of three starting shows with zero viewers, one star, and one advertisement. The game is played over the course of Five Seasons, or rounds, with each season 1, 2-3, and 4-5 bringing different television shows with different requirements and benefits. At the end of each season, income/expenses are calculated, and viewership (the main scoring mechanic) is tallied. At the end of season 5, whichever network has the highest number of viewers wins.
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Written by André La Roche
Cestina Saga is a deep fantasy setting using the Fate Core mechanics. Akin to Game of Thrones, this is a world where the power rests in the hands of aristocratic houses. Unlike GoT, the fantasy elements are more prevalent with centaur-like Khorsa, vegetative fey, and wolf people intermingled with humans.My game was by Mark Diaz Truman, co-founder of Magpie Games and co-author of Urban Shadows, Cartel, and co-author on a seemingly endless stream of great gaming content. I’d played Cartel and Magpie’s still in development Zombie World with Mark before and knew this would be a fun experience.
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Written by Adrian Thoen
The game space Powered by the Apocalypse occupies has become fairly bloated in the last five years. With any mechanic that becomes popular, there is a high chance of the output becoming diluted with less than stellar content. One genre that designers have made multiple attempts at using the PbtA framework with has been space opera/science fiction action. It’s this type of game that designer Adrian Thoen has sought to leave his mark on with the ever evolving Impulse Drive. Thoen credits Firefly, Mass Effect, and Farscape among his influences and they can be felt in every aspect of the game.
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Written by Graham Walmsley
Cthulhu and Lovecraft are so prevalent in the world of tabletop it is often hardly worth noticing when someone comes along with these names slapped on their product. Every noteworthy game like Munchkin, Gloom, or Smash Up will inevitably have the Cthulhu expansion. The tabletop RPG world has Call of Cthulhu at the top of a virtual mountain of madness of games (Trail of Cthulhu, Age of Cthulhu. Delta Green, etc.). There are some great games amongst all of this, but for me personally, I am very picky about how horror and games meet, especially the weird fiction genre of Lovecraft. My preference is always for a role-playing system that is light and allows for a lot of creative freedom at the table. I know this is not everyone’s style of game, but after writing lesson plans for weeks and weeks and weeks, if I run something I want to have to do very little prep-work and be surprised by my players and where they take the story. Cthulhu Dark seems to do just that.
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