So I normally do a lot of top fives at the end of the year in bigger categories, but I wanted to break it down for a few specific categories within board games so you can see what I really enjoy in the various genres…
Month: January 2019
I’ve talked a lot about theme in board game before and how I like board games with a good theme on them. Instead of talking so much about why I like themes in board games, I think I’ve covered that decently well, I’m going to talk about some of my favorite themes in board games and why I like them.
Now, that could be less exciting, because there are a lot of generic themes out there, and a lot of games that are using themes over and over again. Especially now with copyrights not being extended to kingdom come, there are more works that are now public domain. A few years ago Sherlock Holmes became public domain and HP Lovecrafts work some time before that.
So what are some of my favorite themes on board games?
Epic Fantasy –
Super generic, but I really do enjoy a good fantasy game. Especially since a lot of them have a better developed story than most. Now it helps that I’m a big fantasy fan, so I can quickly understand what is going on with the various fantasy tropes and it allows me to get quickly into the story being told. Games like Gloomhaven and Legends of Andor do a good job of baking story into the actual game play themselves. I think what I like about the fantasy theme on board games is that it gives me a bit of that feeling of playing an RPG in a lot of the games and I can make my decisions like I am that hero. In a lot of ways it scratches my itch to play an RPG when I can’t be in a game as a player or as the GM.
I did a big board game battle post about all of the Fantasy Flight games that I’ve played with the HP Lovecraft world theme on them. I’m a bit surprised with how main stream Lovecraft is in board games, but it works in most of the cases. I will say that it gets slapped onto a lot of games that don’t need it. Like in Unspeakable Words, you’re just doing a pretty standard word game, but it has the Lovecraftian theme and cute Lovecraftian artwork on it. Now, that’s fine because it takes a game that wouldn’t have artistic direction and gives it some, but it’s kind of silly. Then there are games like Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, and Arkham Horror LCG that are just steeped in theme. Those games seek to make you feel like an investigator of some background who is really going through this world, dealing with the monsters, progressing the story, looking for clues, and sometimes dealing with the events of the normal world. It also does a good job of setting an aesthetic that is generally pleasing to play in but also being a horror focused game. It really doesn’t rely on blood and guts like some horror games would.
Another super generic option, like epic fantasy, but I figured I should say more than just Star Wars. While the Star Wars games are great that I’ve played, Imperial Assault and Star Wars: Rebellion, there are other sci-fi games out there that I’ve liked as well. It’s interesting because you have a wide variety of scope with games in the Sci-Fi genre. Games like Star Wars: Rebellion, Battlestar Galactica, and Cosmic Encounters are planet level Sci-Fi games. And while Cosmic Encounters doesn’t feel like quire as grand a scope as Rebellion, it’s still a bigger game in some ways. Compare that to Imperial Assault and Clank! In! Space!, those games have a focus that is much more on a smaller part of the world. You’re on a planet or in a space ship dealing with things, but you aren’t as worried about the whole cosmos. Having that variety is what makes Sci-Fi such a strong genre to me.
Now, there are so many more genres out there, but you’re not going to have that much issue finding games in these genres, and I tend to gravitate towards them. There is one that I want to see more of though.
Weird West –
I really enjoy the weird west setting. Some might say that it’s a bit Lovecraft mixed with the wild west, and that’s probably pretty accurate. But when people say a Lovecraft game, that’s generally meaning 1920’s and Arkham area. Weird west can be a lot more than just that, and I like Shadows of Brimstone for that, though I’ve only gotten it to the table once. I need to go back and fix the monsters and hopefully stream that game at some point in time so I can actually play it some more. But the game is interesting and has some cool big moments to it.
Now, some might say this is part of fantasy, but I think I would qualify it differently than “Epic Fantasy”. Theming of games like Lords of Hellas, which I haven’t played or Santorini which is really an abstract game, but has the Greek mythology added to it, that’s a theme that I can get behind. What makes it generally pretty thematic is that all the deities have their own powers which really do track with the mythology that you’re in. Even if you aren’t going the standard Greek, there are now a lot of games with Norse Mythology. Blood Rage on the cards you draft does a really good job of creating that mythological feel for each deity that you can draft cards from. In fact, those cards are where you really get the theme of Norse Mythology in Blood Rage.
I could go on talking about more themes in board games. There are games with a heavily influenced theme by Japan and/or Anime. There are games t hat have cool adventuring themes that give you the Indiana Jones feel. There are a few themes that I’ll generally avoid though. If a game has the “trading in the Mediterranean” theme, that’s a hard pass for me. I’m also kind of done with the zombie theme at this point. I do like Dead of Winter, so I’m not opposed to it, but a zombie themed game isn’t all that interesting to me most of the time.
What are some themes you like in board games. What are themes that you want to see more of in board games?
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Urban Fantasy, what is it? And how do you create good urban fantasy? I’ve mentioned Urban Fantasy before in some articles, but I wanted to delve deeper into it and provide some more examples beyond my normal one. Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy in which the narrative has…
This is a game that I’ve talked about some in previous articles, but I wanted to do a proper TableTopTakes review of it.
Legacy of Dragonholt is a combination of an RPG and choose your own adventure book. However, it does feel different from something like Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger as in that game you just have the choose your own adventure, you don’t have a separate character, everyone just plays as a single investigator. You do the RPG like thing of creating a character before you start playing Legacy of Dragonholt.
Let’s talk about character creation first. It’s a very simple and fast process compared to character creation for something like Dungeons and Dragons. In here you are still working off of the normal selection process of race and class, but you aren’t rolling up stats and everyone doesn’t have all the skills. In some ways, the best way to compare skill selection is in D&D classes you have a certain number of skills you can pick from a list of skills to be proficient at. You do the same thing based on your class and race in Legacy of Dragonholt, but you don’t get to have all the other skills that you can try to do. If you are “proficient” at the skill, you can use it, if you aren’t, you can’t use the skill. This means you have to diversify more across the group, but you generally will want to have a few of the more common skills and a true fighting skill. While this does make character creation a whole lot faster, because of how turn ordering works in the game, and because you can’t just try to do things, you’ll probably end up missing out on some story at times that you might have liked to get into.
So, how is the other big part of the game, the choose your own adventure side? To tie it back into the skills, I do really like the ability to use skills to open up story that feels more specific to your character. So that is a fun part of the story and making choices. When you have that skill ability though, you almost always feel like you should be doing that part of the story than one of the more mundane options. The writing isn’t extremely consistent on tone as well. I feel like they shy away from anything that would make it feel mature, but then sometimes you get situations where you’re fighting someone and you get a pretty detailed description of the damage you have caused, but then they try and stay away from saying that the person you were fighting died. It’s just an inconsistent blend in something that feels like it’s pretty often dumbed down and targeted to a young audience. I don’t think this is bad, but it needs to be feel more consistent and actually nail down what it wants to be. That said, the story is most definitely fun. I will say that I haven’t played through the whole story yet, but from what I’ve heard, the inconsistency does stay. I’m also not sure how you get around that feeling without either targeting only the younger or older audiences.
So, does this work as a game? I think it does, though it might be as much of a story activity as a game. It kind of walks that line where it doesn’t have extremely tough choices that you have to make, it’s always just choosing at a story point. But it is also clearly not just an RPG or clearly a board game. It certainly has been fun playing, and even though I’ve only played through the first chapter twice, once by myself and once with Kristen, it was fun and different enough each time. There were no extremely different new paths that I came across, but there were a few new things that happened in it that told a slightly different story than I’d play through before.
There’s also the question if this is something you can come back to again and again once you’ve played it? If you’re a completionist and must go down every path, I guess there is a lot of replayability, but having played through the first scenario twice now, I don’t feel like I’m going to want to come back to it any time soon, and the chunk of time between plays helped. It is probably something that I could come back to eventually and have a few story points forgotten, but as it’s not an extremely complex story, you’re going to generally know what happens once you’ve played it before. I don’t know if Fantasy Flight has plans to add in expansions, but that would certainly be a way to continue the game. Bring in new adventures that another adventuring party could face in a stand alone expansion. I hope, in some ways, that it happens as I could see playing this game as a family activity or an introduction to RPG’s.
Overall, it’s a fun time. If you’re looking for a grand and epic game, you aren’t going to love it, if you’re looking for amazing writing, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you go into the game just looking to have a fun time with it, it can certainly meet those expectation. And as an introduction to RPG’s, I think it works quite well. Probably the next step if someone likes the House of Danger game.
Overall Grade: B-
Gamer Grade: D
Casual Grade: B
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This is more of a house keeping post to help myself focus in on what I want to do with video streaming and give all of you an idea of what you can expect.
My Reason for Doing This
This is a two fold thing.
- I wanted to play more solo or solo playable board games.
- I want to help create interest in this type of game and in the hobby in general.
Now, to unpack that a bit more.
I Want to Play More Solo or Solo Playable Board Games
Why don’t I just play them? I could, but I like to talk through my strategy. I’m not someone who just looks at the board in silence when I play. In a competitive game I will, but in a solo or cooperative experience, I’ll talk through my plans. I find it weird talking to myself. Even if no one is there while I live stream, I feel better talking to that invisible audience than I do to myself.
I want to help create interest in this type of game and in the hobby in general.
I think part makes a lot of sense. I have gotten further into my interest in table top gaming, both RPG and Board Games because of content like podcasting and video reviews and game plays. I want to add that content on our website and onto YouTube as well so that more people can find good content on solo games and board games in general.
What Isn’t It Going to Be?
Right now my plan isn’t for it to become another review channel. And I don’t plan on it becoming a how to play channel. The Dice Tower does an amazing job with tons of reviews, and Watch It Played puts out a lot of great rules videos, so you can find them easily on YouTube.
Now, let me add in a little more information with that, I am not just going to sit down and start playing a game without any rules talk. But I’m not going to spend a lot of time going over the rules ahead of time. I’m going to talk about the game that I’m going to play, and then go through the rules as they come up in the game. So it might not teach you precisely how to play, but especially early in games, you’re going to see more rules talk and then the game go faster as time goes on.
Is It Just Going to be Board Games?
As of right now, probably. But that’s going to be for right now. I hope to add in RPG content as well eventually. Whether it’s more character creation videos, game play, or what else it could be, I’m not sure. Eventually I want to grow what I do with these videos beyond just a stream every couple of weeks or sporadic into something more consistent. When that happens, expect the content to become broader as well.
YouTube, why not Twitch?
Because I’ve done some streaming on YouTube already so I know how that works, generally. Expect to see some hiccups with that, but right now the plan is YouTube. I could see doing both YouTube and Twitch or having different content on both mediums, but right now, YouTube is the plan.
Hopefully this gives some clarity as to what I’m doing. I think it is something that I’m going to have a lot of fun with. I also want to ask for patience with this as I’m sure there are going to be a lot of ups and downs, especially to start.
So the last question I want to ask:
What Games are I Going to Stream?
I am planning on throughout the year playing a number of games, a lot of campaign or legacy style of games, some I’m planning on possibly doing are:
Pandemic Legacy Season 1 and 2
Aeon’s End Legacy
Arkham Horror LCG
Legacy of Dragonholt
Mansions of Madness
And there are so many more I’m interested in doing. As you can see, I have a pretty big backlog of games that I can work on, so it should hopefully be a fun time.
The reason I’m writing this now is that my desktop should finally be coming at the end of this month, so expect some test streams early in February before we really launch into a lot of content. I might start with a few hands of the game Onirim to get everything figured out, and I’ll let you know when that’s happening.
If you have questions or suggestions about streaming, let me know, and I’ll try and answer them.
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