2016 Top 25 20-16 (Brandon Kempf)
#20 Mechs vs Minions designed by Chris Cantrell, Rick Ernst, Stone Librande, Prashant Saraswat & Nathan Tiras
Last Played 3/20/17
All the promise in the world. Beautiful miniatures set in a popular IP with a tantalizing price tag. Who wouldn't jump at it? We have enjoyed our plays of MvM, it's a programming game that is actually fun and can work. We just fall apart on the campaign, we have not been past the third game, we just keep going back and starting over. This is mainly because others wanted to play it so I would teach it from the beginning, but I kind of got tired of it after seeing the 3rd game a 3rd time, so it just lost all forward momentum and sits on the shelf. It works well though, the programming is fun and it really feels like a wonderful co-op. Your player board and how the actions work is a thinky puzzle at times and once something clicks and works exactly how you have it planned out, it's a thing of genius and its moments like that, that should keep you coming back for more.
#19 Adrenaline designed by Filip Neduk
Last played 2/4/17
I love digital FPS games, always have. I was never any good at them, but I absolutely love playing them. So Adrenaline could not have clicked on more cylinders for me if it tried. It's an absolutely wonderful implementation and feels pretty close, or at least as close as cardboard can get, to the actual FPS feeling. You are moving around the board, picking up ammo and weapons that is laying around and then using that ammo to shoot your opponents in order to gain points. Those opponents will then respawn and come back bigger and badder, and even a bit angrier. It works and it works really well.
#18 Roll Player designed by Keith Matejka
Last Played 4/29/17
A wonderful dice allocation game that "simulates" the activity of getting a character put together for a role playing game. In the game you are going to be drafting dice to allocate to one of six stats and you want those stats to stay within certain values. Along the way you will be buying armor, weapons and skills to help your adventurer be the best adventurer that they can be. It's a wonderful idea and for the most part, it works. There are a couple thematic disconnects and the game may take too long to play for some, but it's honestly well worth playing. Now that we've added the Roll Player: Monsters & Minions expansion, here's hoping this makes a resurgence in our plays.
#17 Honshu designed by Kalle Malmioja
Last Played 12/19/16
Wow, that last played is a travesty that we'll have to remedy before this list goes live possibly. Folks call this a trick taking game, but I don't think it really is, it feels the same to me as Pi mal Pflaumen which isn't a trick taking game, and more of a drafting game. Everyone plays a card, highest card gets to draft a card first. That's not trick taking, that's card drafting, but I digress. You are building your land, you are connecting different plots of land to build masses of that land and you are also gathering resources to be shipped to factories. Doing this with your cards is a tricky puzzle as each card you put down has to overlap with something already on the board, thus covering something either on the old card or the new, but you can't cover lakes. It's a wonderful game, one that deserves more attention than it has gotten over the past couple of years.
#16 Paradox designed by Brian Suhre
Last Played 6/18/16
It's weird, and it's a bit hard to describe what this game is about, let alone what I like about it. But what it ultimately is, is a Set Collection game, where you are trying to collect sets of planet cards, the more in each set you collect, the more points they are worth at the end of the game. Easy, peasy. Beginning of each round you draft cards and then you place those cards on your player board and you are ultimately trying to collect the required color tokens so that you can claim those cards. How you do this is ultimately the catch to the game, you see, next to your player board you have a 5x5 grid of colored tokens, and in order to claim those tokens, you are trying to manipulate that board in order to get 4 or 5 tokens of the same color in a row, think Candy Crush or Bejeweled. When you have the correct tokens collected for a card, you save that card to your set, but also as you are doing this, there is a central board, the Quake board with all 15 of the planets on it in a circle, each time a card is claimed, the Quake marker moves a certain number spaces and flips that planet, if that planet is flipped at the end of the game, no points can be scored for it.
It's been a bit, but that's a quick rundown. It shouldn't work, it really should be a jumbled mess of a game, but it does work and it works really, really well. You don't have all the time in the world to claim those planet cards, they are continually moving towards extinction each round, so you have to plan carefully for that, plus you have all that grid of tokens to be thinking about, really the game is just a wonderful puzzle each time you play it.
I haven't even mentioned the art, but Randy Fields put together a team of artists on this title that just knocked it out the park, each planet has a different artist and thus a different feel to it, making each one feel unique. I wish I had the list of artists in front of me, but I don't, I may just have to add that tonight when I go home as the art absolutely shines in Paradox.