Kryptonite

It’s a common misconception that playing a lot of games means you are good at them. There are obviously some games that only pay off with experience, where knowing the rules will surely give you an advantage. There are some that you know well enough to have a fighting chance, even if you don’t win all that often. But we also all have “kryptonite” games. Those are the games that we always lose. They might be a constant source of heartbreak, where we always find a wait to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They might be games where we just cannot wrap our head around how to win. But one thing is for sure: we almost always lose them. We all have that list of games, but here are mine. Continue reading

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Hex Education – Wiz-War: Malefic Curses Review

Wiz-War Malefic Curses

They are not all accounted for, the lost seeing stones.

For several years, I’ve was convinced that Fantasy Flight’s greatest reprint was the outstanding work they’ve done on Cosmic Encounter. They republished a long out-of-print classic and made it relevant for new audiences, but they also support it with solid expansion work that keeps taking players deeper in the world of the game. Well, don’t be surprised if one year from now we’re crowning a new champion, because I’m starting to think that as an update to a classic game Wiz-War might be even better. The first expansion, Malefic Curses, is everything it needed to be. I can heartily recommend it to anyone who alrea Continue reading

Training Wheels

I pledge allegiance to training wheels

Training wheels for America

Being the guy who reviews games means that I’m usually the guy teaching them. This was the case even before I started writing about games regularly, since I was one of the buyers among my friends. I would decide what I wanted to play, buy it if no one had it already, and then teach it to everyone else. Teaching is something that most gamers need to figure out, and I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at it. But lately I’ve grown weary of being the teacher. I’m not sure if it’s a function of too many games, or a growing sense that more and more games require “training wheels” to enjoy the experience. But either way I’m tired of learning and teaching games. I’d much rather play them. Continue reading

Resolutions

The New Year means a lot of things to a lot of different people. For college football teams, it’s a way to crow about winning a meaningless game. For parents of young children, it’s a reason to stay up until exactly 12:15 and then go straight to bed. For me personally, it actually means a birthday. (Thanks to my Facebook friends for the well wishes, by the way. For someone who never gives birthday greetings on Facebook, I sure got a lot of them.) And of course, it means resolutions. Continue reading

The Rumpus Room Top Twelve – 2013 Edition

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

A Once and Future Rumble – Duel of Ages II Review

Duel of Ages

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

Another Thing to Chase

stack of games

Image by user Fran_Kubelik on BGG

It was just over nine years ago that my friend introduced me to The Settlers of Catan. As much as any game I’ve played, it was love at first sight, a revelation, an experience like nothing I had before. Strategy, interaction, and wonderful times with my friends all in a one-hour game. I bought a copy, played it to death, and got most of my friends hooked. I assumed that was the end of it, and I never bothered to look further into the hobby. Continue reading