The Rumpus Room Top Twelve – 2014 Edition

A pogo stick!

The holiday season is a time for tradition, and as we all know “tradition” is a Christmas-y word for obligation. I’ve been at my tradition for five years now, where I look at my twelve favorite games and see what has shifted over the last year. My approach has evolved some, but I do it again from scratch every year. Our tastes aren’t set in stone after all. You can see by reading my lists from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013Continue reading

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Games Of The Years

I got involved in this hobby seven years ago, and I’ve been writing about it pretty steadily for about three, with occasional pieces before that. At some point every board game writer will have to deal with the expectation to crown their “game of the year.” This is tricky for a lot of reasons. Continue reading

Coming Up For Air

gasping for air

I saw the signs for a while before I did anything about them. Playing games out of duty, not just to review them, just to keep up with a steady stream of releases. Releasing that I hadn’t played my favorite games for a couple of years. Trying to get up excitement for game night only to find that it was wearing thin. Looking through a list of releases and feeling only a gaping sense of exhaustion. I was beginning to run out of goodwill for one of my favorite things. I needed to come up for air. Continue reading

The Best Games of 2013

wild party

Why did I eat so much paper last night?

Every end-of-the-year board game article I read makes a general assessment over the entire year, something I’ve never felt qualified to do. For starters, there are a lot of big releases that I still haven’t played. If I don’t get a review copy of something, I have to catch the wave of popularity every new release gets before my gaming friends have moved on. When that doesn’t happen, it becomes less likely that I’ll get around to something without trading for it. That’s why a couple of major releases like Pathfinder and Kemet passed by without comment from me. They haven’t made a lot of impact in my immediate circles, though they have been very well-regarded online. Besides that, the end of the year is when Essen releases are just beginning to trickle to the US. Some promising games are about to be inserted into my rotation (like Tash-Kalar and Steam Park) that would normally be considered 2013 releases. Let’s just assume those will be eligible for the 2014 list, especially a couple of games below are in that shadowy realm between 2012 and 2013. 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

First World Gamer

first world problems

Woe is me

Tomorrow night I’m going out to my local game store to meet up with some friends to play Archipelago. This is a game where each player is exploring and colonizing a chain of islands, which sounds like standard Eurogame fare until you realize that it’s going for theme instead of strategy. This will mark the second time I’ve played, after a learning game not quite a month ago where everyone lost (yes, that can happen). I also have review copies of Relic Runner and Duel of Ages II sitting around. Not only that, but I’ve participated in two math trades in 2013, and I still have a couple of unplayed games from the one in March, to say nothing of the one we held in August. And then there are all those games that I’ve only played once or twice, but that I want to play more because they interest me. And this isn’t an unusual thing for board gamers. We all have unplayed or underplayed games in our collections. Continue reading

Ode to Punching

Duel of Ages cardboard

Yes, all of those cardboard sheets are for punching stuff out.

The board gaming hobby spends a lot of time wondering how we can draw new people into the hobby. There’s discussion about whether one should emphasize the social aspect, accessible game design, or even if this is a hobby where new people belong in the first place. Those are worth discussing, but it seems to me that we’ve overlooked the most obvious draw of the board game hobby: punching out the pieces. Continue reading