When I posted this year’s Top Twelve list to Facebook, a Euro-fan friend of mine noted that our two lists of favorites had now totally diverged. It’s true too. I started out as a fresh-faced fan of Eurogames, and then cynicism and darkness crept into my soul until only the deep embrace of dice could soothe my fevered brow. Continue reading
This is the fourth year I’ve done a big countdown for my top twelve games, but I still feel like it’s a work in progress. My first installment back in 2010 seemed to assume that these were the twelve “best games EVAR,” like there was a standard that these games were held up to, and they were the ones found to be at the top of a linear list of every game I own. Now that I’m putting together this list for the fourth time, that’s obviously a load of crap. Not that I don’t consider these games among the best ever made, but the list this year is almost totally different from the first one that I published in 2010. I mean, I put Dominion on the first iteration of this list, and Puzzle Strike on the second one. Those might reflect the last time I wrote much positive about either one of those games. One list by itself doesn’t mean much anyway. I’m not the same gamer I was in 2010, and that’s fine. I keep doing these lists because they tell me a lot about where I am right now as a gamer. Consider this a portrait of what I want in a game in December of 2013. Continue reading
Carlos Hyde about to trample a Michigan defender
Let’s get this out of the way right now: college football as a organized sport is almost totally broken. It was broken before the BCS, and it will continue to be broken in the playoff when that comes around next year. Fans complain endlessly that nothing is determined on the field, and yet we constantly try to make a case to ignore the only tangible evidence we have in front of us. I am convinced that Ohio State should have played a much closer game against Florida in the 2006 National Championship game, in spite of the only concrete evidence being very much to the contrary. Alabama somehow got the nod to play LSU for the championship in 2011, even though such a game had already been played, and showed that Bama lost. Several teams, like Nebraska in 2001, Oklahoma in 2003, and Bama in 2011 got the opportunity to play for the national championship in spite of the fact that they weren’t even the best teams in their conference. It’s a sport entirely based on feelings, one where we refuse to accept the concrete, because the concrete has been proven wrong just often enough to make us doubt it more than we should. Continue reading
This last Friday saw an unusual occurrence: I had no games to review, and I was able to easily get six people together. I suppose I could have used it to play Dune or Cosmic Encounter, neither of which would have been a waste, but instead I used it for a kitchen-sink game of Talisman. This was partially because I haven’t played in a good long time, and also because it’s such an easy game to teach. Even with all the expansion stuff thrown in, it’s the sort of game you can start and just teach as you go. Continue reading
It’s an all-timer.
The first iteration of Duel of Ages came out ten years ago, but it’s follow-up feels like something much older. I don’t mean that in a dismissive way at all, but rather that the game eschews a lot of design trends and so-called advances from the last 15 years or so in favor of something elemental and pure. It’s a little like playing an old-school video game that bypasses all influences in the 3D age and instead steals from every game of the SNES era. I suppose Duel of Ages II will confound a lot of contemporary gamers, but it would be their loss. It’s one of the best games of the year, and it has the feel of something that will stay with me my whole life. Continue reading
Our house is not nearly this magical.
For some reason unknown, our duplex is a quintuple split-level. That is, there are five levels staggered from the basement to The Big One’s room, or as I call it the Crow’s Nest. This means there are stairs, stairs everywhere. It wasn’t a huge problem when we moved in, because we only had one kid at the time and he could climb stairs pretty well. But when we had the second one I was worried we would be impeded by baby gates all over the place. Continue reading
He’ll probably read this and ask me to change the picture. I’d just be flattered to hear from him.
One of my strongest influences in board gaming came from noted French designer Bruno Faidutti. Aside from his many designs over the past 15 years, at one point he maintained one of best board gaming sites on the internet, his Ideal Game Library. This was a valuable resource to me as a new gamer, because it showed me two very important things: that gaming had a rich and eclectic history, and that I did not need to like every popular game. Of course, Bruno is best known for his games, which are numerous and varied. I’ve gone all over the places on his games. Mission Red Planet is an underrated game that synthesizes bluff and area control to great effect. A couple, like Red November and Mystery of the Abbey, are compelling misses for me. At least one or two others, like Letters of Marque, didn’t work for me at all. But his contribution to gaming can be best summed up in what I call his Triple Play, a run of three little games he released between 2000 and 2001. These games, Dragon’s Gold, Castle, and Citadels, are three designs that continually impress me with their simplicity and their terrific interaction. They’re all pretty different from each other mechanically, and my mental grouping of them is mostly arbitrary. But they have always felt of a piece to me, and I think they’re exactly what light games should be. Continue reading