My Top 10 Non Solo, Non Wargame Games

My Top 10 Non Solo, Non Wargame Games

Finally! My first real top 10 list.

Originally I thought I was going to do my top 10 gateway games…but then I realized I haven’t ever sat down and thought about what my top gateway games are.  I thought about doing top 10 wargames, but that’s definitely going to take more time to write about than I have, especially if I am keeping myself to my Wed. night deadline.  II was going to do my top 10 overall games, which I am sure I will do at a later date, but I am equal parts wargamer, solo gamer, and euro game (and yes I am sure there are other distinctions that people could make but I’m already writing so we are just going with it).  So, I figure I would go with my gut picks for my top 10 games that are not designed for solo play (co-op games that can be played solo are fine) and that aren’t wargames.  I’ll also add that these are in no particular order (because I don’t need to make things harder for myself) and that for any of my top 10 lists, I have to own the game unless otherwise stated).

So, here you are, my top 10 non solo non wargames games:

Imperial Settlers

As a former history major, I love anything with a civilization component to it.  I also love games that let me develop an engine, and that have variable player powers or strategies.  Imperial Settlers has all of these.  The first time I played it seemed to take forever, and that soured me for a while but once I played again and really wrapped my head around the gameplay, I knew I had to have this game.  I don’t think I’ve ever turned down someone wanting to play a game of this, and with various expansions that can be added, I still haven’t explored all this has to offer.

Viticulture Essential Edition

The first time I played this, I wasn’t sold on it.  A friend convinced me to give it another try, and after I did, I really, really came to enjoy this one.  A worker placement game where you are in charge of a vineyard, Viticulture has a ton of extra content you can add with the Tuscany expansion, which I am told makes the game better.  I think it’s pretty great as is.  It employs a ‘wake up early’ mechanic for turn order, which I really thought fit well, and you have to strategically save your workers as you place them on different halves of the board for different seasons (meaning If you place all your workers in summer, you can’t take any winter actions).

I have everything in the Essential Edition line, and haven’t played this a ton, but this is actually my wife and I’s game this week, thanks to the Deck of What Should We Play (see my earlier post) so it gets to hit the table this weekend, and I am excited.

BrewCrafters

I know, I know, another game about beverages.  Well this one is just as good, especially because I am a craft brew fan.  This worker placement game has each player running their own brewery and the biggest thing I remember about the first time playing it was that it’s tight.  With tons of different beers players can choose from, this is one of the best Kickstarters I have been a part of.

Castles of Burgundy

I am a sucker for anything with dice.  This has dice and tile placement and tons of different boards that you can choose from.  I think I’ve played with the ‘starting player’ board most times, so this is one I need to revist often.  It’s thinky, but not so thinky that you don’t want to play anything after it.

Trains

I am not a fan of most deckbuilders.  For some of them, it just seems like you are cycling through a deck to score points, which doesn’t do a whole lot to draw me in.  Trains, though, is a deck builder that is also an area control game, of sorts.  Adding in that extra mechanic, so I have something I am actually doing with the cards is what makes this game perfect for me.  Again, I have tons of expansion maps for this one that don’t get played.  I should probably remedy that.

Suburbia

Just like I’m a sucker for anything civilization themed, I am also a sucker for anything city building related.  This was the first city builder I played, and I actually think it was the first game I ever preordered.  I’ll also associate this game with the first Con I went to, as it was in the Hot Games room that year, and it was my most played game at that Con.

It’s a bit fiddly, but theme fits perfectly with this one (i.e., airports by suburbs are a bad idea).  This is one I haven’t played in quite some time…I should remedy that soon.

Marvel: Legendary

Yes, I know this is a deckbuilder.  But it’s a deckbuilder with Superheroes!! Marvel Superheroes!!

Seriously, I love this game for the situations it puts you in.  I don’t think I’ve ever played a bad game of it, even after getting my butt handed to me 3 times over the course of 3 hours.  We sort of overplayed this one when I was first introduced to it, so I cooled on it, but I don’t think I’d turn down a game of this if someone asked.

Legacy: The Testament of Duke De Crecy

This is a ‘worker’ placement game about making your family tree.  I kid you not, you literally build your family out with cards from the game.  This was a very surprising game to me that is sort of cutthroat (easy for people to play their workers where you need it) but the game even gives you a way to mitigate that.  It’s set in the late 1700s, so seeing some of the history come into play between the different nationalities is pretty cool too.  Oh, and the art is amazing.

Fair warning though:  this game does involve the potential loss of a child or a mother in childbirth.  I didn’t fully explain that the first time I taught this, and while none of us playing had children or had been in that situation, it was still sort of jarring, so this is one of those that you might want to give your game group a heads up on before you start playing if there are new players.

Castle Panic

This is a co-op tower defense game.  It’s light, there’s strategy involved, and you can have giant boulders that come through and crash your 3-D castle.

When we got this game, I played it 3-4 times in the first 48 hours we had it.  For me, that speaks very much to the replayability and enjoyability of the game.

Silverton

This is a game about train railways, mining, and prospecting in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.  Sounds like a real barn burner, eh?  It involves building routes, staking claims to mines, and manipulating the market in various cities. The few times I have played this, I have always emjoyed it and I think part of that is because the group knew that this game definitely takes a time investment.  So long as you can devote the time and take this game as an experience, it’s always fun

So there you have it.  My top 10 non-wargame, non-solo games.  Have you played any of these? Would any of these make it into your top 10?

Review: Sagrada

In 2015 my wife traveled to Spain to achieve a life long goal of hers…which was to travel to Spain and teach.

She spent 4 weeks in Seville and I met her for two weeks after.  We traveled all through the country, spending time in Seville, Córdoba, Granada, Barcelona, and Pamplona (we even attended the Running of the Bulls!).

In Barcelona, I had the opportunity to hear all about Antoni Gaudí, with whom my wife had become obsessed.  For those of you know don’t know, Gaudí is/was the architect behind La Sagrada Familia, a huge Basilica located in Barcelona that is known for many, many wonderful things, including it’s stained glass work.

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When I heard that there was going to be a dice game based on building stained glass windows, I knew this was one that would be an auto back for us.  I didn’t even really read through the rules in full, I heard that it was dice placement and I heard that it was based upon the basilica.  I opened my wallet and let them take my money.

The first time I played Sagrada, I knew it was something special.  It was thinky, but not the type of thinky that made your brain really hurt.  It looked absolutely stunning once all the dice of varying colors were placed.  There were ways for you to impact the other players, but it wasn’t in a confrontational way, which was nice for my wife and I.

We have played the game with the minimum (2) and the maximum (4) and we haven’t felt that play suffered at either of those player counts.  There are a wide variety of ‘tool cards’ which are special powers that players can pay to buy as well as a variety of public end game scoring goals.  One of the cons I have to this game (which I have for other games that run into this issue) is when you have two goals that are not compatible with each other.  Some people may not have a problem with this, and I know it’s a bit of a reach to call it a con, but I have had better plays when the 3 public objectives have been distinct.

The other major ‘con’ to this game is that you can’t find it.  It has been in high demand since it’s release, so I am always grabbing it to throw in my bag of games for game days so I can share the awesomeness that is this game.

Floodgate Games has published a gem, and this is one game I am super glad is on my 10 x 10 list this year so I can keep playing it.  Even if my overall strategy is normally the same, with the different window ‘boards’ to play, the different combination of goals, and the different combination of tools, I know this one will have immense replayability for years to come.

Review Rules

I’m off to  a great start with this whole “post twice a week” thing…

Anyway, I had originally started about having a super objective review/rating system.  Judging games on lots of areas on a scale of 1 to 5, breaking it down for everyone, and making it the definitive way I’ll review games.

But I’m not going to do that.

That seems really complicated for something I want to do for fun.  I want to write about games.  So when I review a game, I’m going to give you an overview of what the game is, what mechanics it has, what games I think it’s similar to, what I liked, and what I didn’t like.  I may say that it’s my game of the year, I may say it’s garbage (probably not), but my goal is to not overthink things.

The game of the week is “A Dice Game” and Sagrada happens to be on my 10 x 10, so I think we’ll be playing that tonight.  Look for my review on Saturday, as we’ll be travelling on Sunday this week.

2018 5 x 1 Challenge

Normally on Sunday I would write a review of a game in my collection, but with my 10 x 10 challenge post last Wednesday, I figured I would take the time to post my other board game challenge I’m doing this year.

I have a soft spot for meaty games.  Whether they are wargames or thinky games about logistics or things like that, the idea of sitting down for a lengthy game always appeals to me…but I rarely find the time to sit down and play them.

So this year, I am focusing on 5 lengthier games that span genres so I can at least say I’ve played them.

Special thanks to Heavy Cardboard (@HeavyCardboard) and Katies Game Corner (@katiesgamecrner) for recommending a few of these, either through Twitter or through excellent playthrough videos on YouTube.

Without further ado, here’s the list:

The Colonists

I found out about this game through Heavy Cardboard, and watching their playthrough I knew I had to have it.  It takes place over 1 – 4 phases (depending on what the players want) and the 4 phase game takes something like 8 hours.  I don’t think I’ll get a 4 phase game played, but I’m hoping for at least a 2 phaser at some point.  This has worker placement and tile placement which is why it appealed to me in the first place.

Day of Days: The Invasion of Normandy 1944

This is a Standard Combat Series monster game of the D-Day landings in WWII.  I am a WWII wargamer at heart, and the D-Day landings are by far the most interesting operation to me, so I’m looking forward to getting this accessible monster to the table this year.

Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection

This recommendation came from Katies Game Corner as an introduction to the COIN series from GMT.  I didn’t have many Revolutionary War period games, and the board with this looks absolutely phenomenal.  While I had tried Cuba Libre a few years ago, it left me lacking and I had written off the COIN series.  I am glad I took Katies advice and picked this one up, as my play through of the tutorial (of sorts) in the Rulebook made me absolutely need to play this; the icing on the cake is I have a group of friends who have already said they want to try this one.

Roads & Boats

This is another rekindled love thanks to Heavy Cardboard, and the only game I’ve played previously on this list.  This is a game about logistics, which I get doesn’t sound all that interesting, but the one time I’ve played this in the past I really enjoyed it, so I figured it was time to dust it off and make sure we get it played again this year.

Star Wars Rebellion

I am a huge Star Wars fan, so it saddens me to think I’ve had this game since release and it hasn’t hit the table.  This is everything I love in Ameritrashy games, so it has to happen this year.  No doubt about it.

Well, these are the 5 longer/heavier games I chose.  I’m already looking for opportunities to get these played, and who knows, maybe this will expand to a 10 x 1 if things go well.

Any heavier games you are wanting to play in the new year? Let me know in the comments!

2018 10 x 10 Challenge

I know, I know, you were expecting the Top 10 Games I want to play in 2018.  But I got distracted on Facebook, talking with a friend who is doing a 10 x 10 challenge this year.  For those not familiar, 10 x 10 challenges are popular on BoardGameGeek (I tried to find the original post but couldn’t).  The goal is to play 10 games 10 times.  There are some other stipulations or modifications that people can make, but that’s the gist of it.

I have tried to do 10 x 10 challenges twice before.  They did not go well.  I think part of it is that I tend to go in gaming spurts.  I’ll be really into board games for a while, and then I’ll switch over to disc golf or video games, and then continue cycling through my hobbies.  I also never really recorded plays on Boardgamegeek so remembering to go back and record a playthrough never really happened and I ran out of steam.

Not this year though! I am doing not only a 10 x 10 challenge, but also a 5 x 1 challenge (Play 5 separate games one time each).  I figured for this first post I would share my 10 x 10 list with you all and explain a bit about why I like the game and why I chose to include it (The 5 x 1 selections will be revealed next week, as it’s highly unlikely I will play any of them before then).

So, without further ado:

2018 10 x 10 Challenge (in alphabetical order)

7 Wonders: Duel (including the Pantheon expansion)

I love games that let you build an engine, and the drafting in this one is unique compared to its bigger brother.  I especially love that this is a quick 2 player version that my wife and I can play when our daughter is taking a nap.

Charterstone

This legacy worker placement game from Stonemaier games was my game of 2017…and it was released at retail on Dec. 12.  We have played two games so far, and there are 12 games total, so we have the perfect number to complete this challenge.  The art is great, the placement mechanic is something I haven’t seen a ton, and the ability to write on the board and unlock more cards and further mechanics as the game progresses is always fun, even if I’m not the one getting points for unlocking things.

Club Stories

This is a solo game of managing a football club.  I’ve started to get back into soccer the past couple of years, and I will play this while rocking my Sporting KC kit (I’m also a passing Aston Villa and FC Seville fan).  This game has a progression style system where it gets harder as you complete each scenario.  I’m really looking forward to this.

Kingdomino

This is a super quick thinky but not too thinky game that was introduced to us late last year.  I’m looking forward to playing this with my wife (including the 7 x 7 variant) as well as continuing to introduce friends who haven’t played this yet.

Sagrada

This is probably my most successful Kickstarter purchase that I received in 2017.  This dice placement game is surprisingly deep and has a solo mode (which is always a plus for Euro games).  It looks super pretty (the technical term) and my wife and I have also visited the Cathedral it’s based upon, so this game reminds me of that as well.

Sherman Leader

This was the last Kickstarter that was delivered to me in 2017, and I am super excited to get it to the table.  I am a WWII buff, and also seriously addicted to Dan Verssen Games products (there are 4 total on this list).  This is a solitaire game about commanding American groups of tanks, infantry and everything in between.  Any game that has a campaign component is usually a must by for me if I’m interested in the subject material and Sherman Leader is no exception (much like the other ‘Leader’ games from DVG)

Target for Today

This spiritual successor to B-17 Queen of the Skies has you take control of a B-17 flying air missions out of London in World War II.  While there are many who question if this is a game (there is a lot of die rolling and looking up things on charts and maybe not so many meaningful decisions) the campaign aspect of this and the narrative it provides means I’ll probably make it past 10 sessions, to see if my plane and crew can make it to 25.

Thunderbolt/Apache Leader

Another DVG title, many consider this the pinnacle in the Leader series.  In this game, instead of commanding an aircraft carrier of aircraft or a group of tanks, you take over helicopters and other aircraft providing close air support.  This is the only game on the list that was on one of my previous 10 x 10 lists, and I’m really looking forward to making this one stick.

Warfighter: World War II (including all Wave 1 expansions)

And another DVG title as well.  This is card driven game of tactical WWII combat.  I have had this game for about 6 months and haven’t yet gotten to dive in.  That’s all about to change.

As part of the challenge, some people provide alternate games that they can swap out or move on to if they quickly accomplish 10 plays of one game.  I’ve included 5 alternates that, should I need to, I can fall back on (or add in and make it a 15 x 10 challenge).

B-17 Flying Fortress Leader

The final DVG game on this list, this is on the opposite end of the spectrum of Target for Today.  Instead of controlling one bomber (although there are rules included so you can do that), you control squadrons of bombers as they make bombing runs against the Third Reich in WWII.

Enemy Coast Ahead: The Doolittle Raid

This is a game from GMT that I P500’d (their version of preordered) but haven’t had a chance to play yet.  This is a system that tackles famous air raids in history, and one of the earliest memories of learning about WWII I have was learning about the Doolittle Raid.  I’m excited to get this one to the table, even if it isn’t part of the challenge.

Imperial Settlers (with all current expansions)

An engine building civ builder? Count me in.  This was my game of the year the year it was released, and I still won’t turn down a game of it.  With expansions adding new mechanics and civilizations, and a variety of solo modes including a campaign style game, I am sure I’ll be playing this one this year regardless.

Sentinels of the Multiverse (with all current expansions)

This is on here as I’m currently awaiting the final Kickstarter product of this series.  There is so much content already, with the Kickstarter expansion I’ll be all set.  This is one my wife hasn’t played a bunch of, so I am hoping that this is the year I can introduce her to it.

Terraforming Mars

This is a card drafting/engine building game about settling Mars. I’ve played it a few times, but have only scratched the surface, so this is one I would love to force myself to play more in the coming year.

So there you have it.  10 games I will play 10 times in 2018. I’ve created a page that will allow me to track my progress and show you what games I’ve been diligent about playing and what games I still need to get to the table.

Are you doing any gaming challenges? Have any particular games you are looking forward to in the coming year? Let me know in the comments!

A Few Housekeeping Items

Hello everyone, and Happy New Year!!

I’m excited to restart this blog, so I wanted to make a quick post about how I see this working this year.

I am planning on updating twice a week.  On Wednesdays, I’ll be posting Top 10 lists or other essays or random musings about gaming.  On Sunday, I’ll be updating with Reviews, Session reports, or something that I’m looking forward to in gaming.  I’ll also be providing stats on plays at times, as one of my New Year goals is to record every play of a board game.

I know this wasn’t a very substantial update, but it was an important one.  So, the plan for the week is to give you all the Top 10 Games I want to play in 2018 on Wednesday and then on Sunday I’ll explain how I review games.

 

Stay tuned, folks! Awesome stuff is happening!

A New Year, and New Goals

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted here.  Lots of games have been bought, punched, and played since I last posted (July 4).

For Christmas, my wife made me a custom deck of cards.  52 Cards that all have a game or classification (i.e., Play Qwixx or Play a game one of us loved as kids).  The goal is to play a game a week in 2018.  The cards are going to help us decide to play a game, because there are plenty of times where we hem and haw about playing a game and take so much time that we end up not playing anything.

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We also started a playthrough of Charterstone.  If you aren’t familiar, Charterstone is a legacy style worker placement game from Stonemaier Games.  It’s art is awesome, the gameplay was fun, and you get to unlock things as you progress.

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With this renewed outlook on playing games together, I wanted to revisit this blog.  I started this blog because I enjoy writing quite a bit as a method of stress relief.  I had been blogging about the death of my mother earlier in the year, and wanted to start up another blog that dealt on a ‘fun’ topic.  But as the year went on, this blog just sat there. I didn’t make the time or put the effort in to maintain it.

I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions, but I do set goals.  So these are my goals for 2018:

  1. Blog twice a week.  Game Review on Saturday or Sunday, and a Midweek Musing, probably Wednesday or Thursday.
  2. Record my plays on BoardGameGeek.  I’m historygamer89 over there.  I’ll also be using the BG Stats app to get some more data.

I’m looking forward to this this year.  Hopefully someone gets some value out of my writings and I stick with it.

What are your New Years gaming goals?

Top 5 #Murica games

Tomorrow is the 4th of July in America, which means people will be blowing stuff up, eating and drinking too much, and probably chanting USA.

With that in mind, I wanted to present my top 5 #Murica games, because America is number 1!

(Authors Note:  This is a joke list.  I really do like all these games, but thought this was a neat way to write about them.  Work was hard, so I didn’t feel like doing a real blog post.  #Sorrynotsorry)

With that out of the way:

Number 5:  Pandemic

Pandemic is all about America saving the world from impending doom, and if every Hollywood movie I’ve ever seen has taught me anything, it’s that there might be some people from other countries who help, but it’s American ingenuity that saves the day.  Besides, you start in Atlanta, which is in America.  Need I say more?

Rating:  3 American Flags

Number 4: Food Chain Magnate

There is nothing more American than running ad campaigns so that people indulge themselves on burgers and beer and other things.  Ensuring you make the most money is the cherry on top of the freedom sundae that is this game.

Rating:  4 Burgers and a Beer

Number 3: Washington’s War

It has THE Father of our country in the title.  It could have been Washington’s Unicorn Fairy Monopoly Jamboree and it still would have been considered for this list.  You get to beat up on the British if you are the lucky player and that is really what Independence Day is all about.

Rating: 1 Cherry Tree, 1 Set of False Teeth, and 1 River Crossing

Number 2: Baseball Highlights 2045

It has our national pastime in it AND robots.  How can this not be good?  It combines names of famous baseball players in the past which is important too.

Rating:  3 Balls, 2 Strikes in the bottom of the 9th with bases loaded.

Number 1: Scythe

I’m probably going to get a lot of flak for this decision, because you are probably saying to yourself “HEY! AMERICA ISN’T EVEN IN THIS GAME?!?! WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO PULL?!?!”

This game has former Soviet Bloc countries fighting amongst themselves for control of resources and stuff.  If that isn’t the American dream (from, like, the 80s or something) then I don’t know what is.

Rating: 1 Giant Bald Eagle

So there you have it.  The top 5 games about #Murica as seen by me.  I’ll be playing one of these on the 4th and am really looking forward to it.  Feel free to share your top 5 from wherever you come from!

Why I Game

Hello there.  This is the umpteenth blog that I’ve started.  Most of them were focused on board game reviews or things of that nature, but this one will be a little different.  I’ll be combining session reports and reviews with essays or musings that revolve around board games and RPGs.  For an introductory post, I thought it might be a good idea to think back on my gaming background and why I game.

My college provided students with ‘Interterm’ which was a way for students to take experiential learning classes for a few weeks.  Some students traveled, some students learned Arabic, some students learned to fly fish, and others learned to play board games.  My first experience with ‘contemporary’ board games was with Arkham Horror.  One of the guys in my fraternity was in the board game class, and brought this home for the rest of the house to play.  I was hooked almost instantly.  From there, I branched out into wargames (starting with Commands and Colors: Ancients and Memoir ’44) and I haven’t looked back.

A few years ago, my group of college friends decided we wanted to try RPGs.  I ran an unsuccessful campaign of Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, and we slowly migrated from that to Dungeons and Dragons (3.5e).  This was amazing to me.  I could be who I wanted to, do what I want, and use it as an escape from the stresses of everyday life.  Now, I’ll admit, the characters I play don’t have a very different mindset than I do IRL, but they get to go on great adventures that I myself may not be able to.  In fact, one of our DMs came up with the name for this blog, since I normally play some sort of Melee class that tends to like smashing things.  Now we meet weekly (unless life gets in the way) and play one of 3 campaigns.  I still feel like I need to redeem myself and run a 5e campaign for them…

I think it’s this reason as to why I game.  Playing a board game or an RPG allows me to focus wholly on that game for the hour(s) that I am playing.  I was diagnosed a while back with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and one of the largest triggers of that for me is interpersonal conflict/relationships.  This doesn’t come up in gaming though, and I wonder if the RPG aspect of my gaming life has helped treat my anxiety in some way.  I don’t have to think twice or rehearse what I’m going to say when I’m trying to convince a bandit to let innocents go or try to get information out of a noble.  I just do it, something that I struggle with in my day to day life.  When I’m playing a euro, I get the mental exercise of trying to figure out a strategy.  Wargames allow me to research or delve into history, and, since I was a history major in undergrad, this is a very big deal.  Ameritrash games let me throw buckets of dice to see if I can take over America or ensure that the Rebellion stays strong against the Empire.

I am so grateful that I found this hobby.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts and my games with you.  If you have ideas for posts, or a game you think I should check out, let me know. I am going to leave you with a quote from Reiner Knizia, who is a legend in board game design:

“When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning”

I don’t win often.  It’s hard for me to commit to a strategy most times.  But the winning isn’t important.  It’s the time spent in pursuit of it.