Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Best And Worst Games Of 2017 And Other Assorted Ramblings About Games That Were New To Me This Year.

I do a lot of gaming. Roleplaying, wargaming and board & card gaming. 

One of the clubs I go to is Isleworth Board Gamers. We have a guild on the brilliant website that is Board Game Geek, and every year, the question is floated on our forum about our favourite games of the last year.

I have many opinions on this subject and I've just spent ages typing out my views for my fellow club members to see. As I spent so long doing it, I thought I'd put it up on my blog too.

I've included links for the B.G.G. pages for the games that have them under my comments on each so you can check them out for yourself.

One thing that might confuse you a bit, is who Arthur Cucumber is. I mention him a few times in the post. It is sort of explained but to further elucidate, Mr. Cucumber is my mate Dave. Arthur Cucumber is his B.G.G. username. Also mentioned is Dan...Just Dan. Both are regular I.B.G.ers and friends. As far as I know, Dan has no relation to cucumbers.

Below is my guild post.

"Right, I don't have a top ten really, so prepare for some rambling thoughts.

Best games of 2017.
Just the two of them.

Runewars Miniatures Game I already have two fairly large armies for Mantic's fantasy wargame, Kings Of War, which is a game that I really like, so when I came across the Fantasy Flight try out area at Expo this year, I wasn't initially tempted by this. The models, that I had already seen at Enfield Gamers, one Saturday when I waddled down there, are really cool though and as I had intended to play lots of demos at Expo, My mate Richard (who's an even bigger fan of wargames than me) and I thought we'd give it a go. The rules are very straight forward and, after a a quick explanation by a FF demo dude, we were able to play without any hand holding. The game uses a variation of FF's Flightpath rules system, first seen in X-Wing The Miniatures Game but with enough changes to make it really work for a ground-based wargame with units of infantry, cavalry, heroes and whatever else you might expect to find on a fantasy battlefield. I didn't buy it there and then as I was put off by FF's usual hight prices. Fortunately for Richard and I, we have another friend who really gets into a game, buys loads for it and then becomes disillusioned with it. This very kind fellow sold to Richard and myself three copies of the starter plus a copy of another Runewars game all for the bargain price of £75 each, the cost each of one base set. We had already decided who would have which army (Undead and Humans come in the starter) so we were more than happy.

DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Heroes Unite. Now, I'll start by saying that at my core, I am a Marvel fanboy. I love DC Vertigo but, other than The Flash, really don't have time for the DC Universe. That said, this game is great. I've played a number of deck builders over the years since Dominion and this is by far my favourite. This version features what some would call b-list DC characters (Arthur Cucumber (David H) calls them the Z-Listers, but I think that that is a bit cruel.) . Also in the series is the a-list set with Superman, Batman, The Flash, ect., and A two-player Batman Vs Joker game. All are great fun but this one is by far my favourite. I've seen it on sale at a proper games shop for (I think) £30. Mr. Cucumber informed me that he found it in TK Maxx for a Tenner. Although he has a copy and I play games with him several times a week and reckon I could persuade him to bring it along often, I like it so much that I tracked down and bought my own copy.

Worst game of the year.

Lewis And Clark. This game is terrible. I have gone off of euros this year. I still like some but others seem to me to be a collection of boring maths equations held together by an artificially applied theme. Lewis And Clark is tedious and infuriating. Just when you think you've made some progress along the river, you find that you haven't managed your cards and resources well enough and your base-camp position pulls you back, sometimes further than where you started. Just awful.

Best two-player games.

Other than the aforementioned Runewars Miniatures Game and the DC Deck-building Game Rivals Batman Vs The Joker.

Schotten Totten. It's one by Reiner Knizia. I think the copy my friend has is a german edition. Each player attempts, by laying sets of cards, to win possession of standing stones. Different card combinations have different values. There is some second guessing your opponent and pushing your luck, hoping that they don't have the cards you need or just a better combo. The position in which you play your cards matters as, you can win by gaining control of a certain number of stones, or by a smaller number as long as they are all next to each other.
 Link here.

Blue Moon. Another one from Mr. Knizia. With a number of themed decks of cards included in the base set, choosing one, you try to trump your opponent by playing cards with a higher number to gain the favour of dragons. Fairly simple to play, with a mathematical basis (Reiner was a maths professor as well as being a games designer.), different types of card with additional values and game effects can be added to the characters played in an attempt to gain victory. Really fun.

A couple of fun, easy to learn games that I've only played once and hadn't seen before they tuned up at I.B.G. in the last couple of weeks but that I really like.

Azul. This game plays as well as it looks. A game about building a mosaic shouldn't really be this much fun but it is. Lovely tactile, Bakerlite (so Arthur Cucumber told me) pieces and simple but tactical mechanics. I really enjoyed it.

Ominoes. A game that Dan picked up at Dragonmeet at the beginning of December. Roll dice (I love dice.), move dice (I really do love dice.), place dice (Have I said how much I love dice?), score points. Great fun with a nice looking ancient Egyptian theme.

Game with the best theme.

Incursion. Diesel power armoured U.S. soldiers infiltrating The Rock Of Gibraltar defended by Nazi black-science experiments during the Second World War. What's not to love about this? The game-play is very similar to Games Workshop's Space Hulk. I've only played the fist scenario, which is very basic but..I love the theme. Arthur Cucumber (who owns this game) said I might as well play Space Hulk. However, I'm pretty disillusioned with G.W. at present and, after spending a fair bit of money on Space Hulk 3rd Edition when it came out, found that it wasn't as fun as I remembered when I played an earlier edition in a G.W. store many years ago.

Game with the worst theme.

Viticulture. Seriously? A game about owning a vineyard and making wine? This is a truly terrible theme. Mr. Cucumber has told me about some of the aspects of the game-play and it sounds a little better than I envisioned. But it's a euro and it's about wine making.

Biggest disappointment.

T.I.M.E Stories: The Marcy Case. T.I.M.E Stories is my favourite game. I've played the scenario that came with the base set and the A Prophecy Of Dragons module, both of which I loved. Set in 1992 and with an audio cassette on the box cover, I expected The Marcy Case to have a strong element of investigation and Grunge. It didn't. I was disappointed. I won't tell you what it did have, as exploring the mysteries of the T.I.M.E Stories scenarios is part of the fun. I will say that it featured a theme that a lot of people really like but that has never done it for me.

Game that I'm most looking forward to being launched on Kickstarter.

Gladitores: Blood For Roses.  At Dragonmeet this year, I played one phase of this (I think) five phase game. You pick your gladiator and enter the arena to do battle. You might not want to win though, as at the beginning of the phase you may have opted to play a card that gives you more points if another gladiator wins, and who you may have secretly bet on, instead opting to weaken the other fighters so that your nominee wins...That's what I did in the round I played. Of course, you may have played a card that gives you more points if your gladiator does win the current battle. There are five strategy card, one of which you play at the beginning of each phase (battle) of the game which will help you shape your strategy. The combat is fast and fun, card-driven, with each player having a partially customised deck to start with, along with a choice of three different decks to pick cards from as each battle progresses. I will be regularly checking Kickstarter so I don't miss out on this.

Best wind-up of David H (Arthur Cucumber) about a game.

I sent Dave the following by text message earlier in the year.
"I got a game in a charity shop today. It looks like the sorta Euro I take the pee out of though. It's called Corn Law and has loads of cubes. I've read the rules already. You plant and harvest (it takes two turns to do this) corn (yellow cubes). You then can spend a turn baking it into bread (white cubes). You can sell the harvested corn or made bread to the market. You also need to employ farmers and bakers (brown cubes and red cubes). One lot of harvested corn can be split into three for replanting to yield more corn two turns later. There is variability in how many townspeople there are to buy the corn and bread (which is worth a lot more than corn but will spoil if left for more than two turns) and how many you can employ. The corn law bit comes from the fact that you start with a certain amount of corn and can split harvested corn to grow more but you can also buy in, from abroad, expensive foreign corn. It looks really dry but was only £3.99. Do you want to try it out tomorrow?"
Dave replied with something along the lines of,
"That sounds like a game I'd really like to try."
Oh how I chortled to myself. I'd thought up the driest Euro I could think of and wanted to see if Dave would fall for it. He did. I worry about him though as now he's suggested I should launch it on Kickstarter. Yep, that's just what we need, another dry cube-pusher. But at least I know Dave would pledge."

In case you're interested, here is the Board Game Geek front page. 

And here is the page for our guild, so that you can check out other member's views on this year's new games. Some of which contradict mine.

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