So I’m picking this one again because it’s one of my favorite themes and feelings in games. Also, the Dice Tower did a Top 10 list recently as well, so you can see how mine compares to theirs. But I am taking a slightly different …
Tag: Lord of the Rings
I’ve talked about a lot of games that are about that epic adventure for a small group of characters. Birthright is about epic things, but not on that smaller level. Birthright is about great leaders going to battle against other nations, probably with other world …
I’ve been toying around for a little while the idea that I might start doing some more top 10 lists. We might still do some video ones in the future, but finding the time with a toddler is tricky. So I wanted to do, from what I’ve played, go through my top games in a given mechanic or style.
This first list is going to be Deck Building Games, now on BGG, they combine pool and bag building games as well, but I’m only going to do deck building. However, it is going to include deck construction games as well. Because you are technically constructing the deck, it is just prior to the game, but it is also a large part of the game. I will call out those games. In deck building, you are constructing the deck to do something in the game, it might be getting victory points, it might be for buying more cards, fighting or many other things. Let’s see what my list looks like.
10 – The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth
It’s a long title and an interesting game, a deck construction game, you start out with an archetype and some character cards. But you can play against type, so maybe Gimli as a leader and Aragorn as a tank, and between scenarios you can spend experience to level up the deck and get better cards. How you use the cards is interesting, most of the time you are looking for successes on cards, but you can also use cards for a more permanent ability, but the better the ability, more likely it’s to have successes on it, which means you want it in the deck for your challenges so that you can pass them. It’s a good mechanic because it makes so many decisions tough. Plus, there’s a campaign for it, and an app driven story, this is weaker than Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition for that, but the app helps so much, if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, it’s definitely a game to check out.
9 – Dragonfire
I haven’t played this game as much as I’d like though I have played both Dragonfire and Shadowrun: Crossfire, which are both built off of the same system. I’m going with Dragonfire because that’s the one that I own. The game offers interesting scenarios and challenges for the players to defeat, and you start out with your class which means that you are a little bit better at something than others. You get to purchase cards to improve your deck, but at the same time, you’re trying to deal with monsters and avoid becoming exhausted or taken out. It’s a tough game that I don’t feel like I fully have a grasp on the strategy for it yet, but I like the deck building aspect and I think that it does some interesting things with leveling up your characters. Definitely a fun time to play, and while I like the Shadowrun RPG theme better than the D&D RPG theme, I think that both are fun, so either works, just depends if you want fantasy or cyberpunk.
8 – Magic: The Gathering
MtG was a game that I loved and I’d play all the time for a while, but unfortunately I don’t have a group anymore for it. But I still love it for the deck construction aspect of it. You could build all sorts of crazy decks, and I think, almost as much as playing it, I loved finding an odd card that didn’t have an obvious way for it to work, but I would figure out a way to create a deck around it. Sometimes they were cool decks, and sometimes they failed horribly, but it was always fun to experiment. And then we got into commander which adds a challenge of only having a single copy of a card in the deck and a 100 yard deck, so there was always something new to try and build. I miss playing it as often sometimes, but it’s a classic and extremely popular game for a reason. It’s also addictive to open packs once you get into it.
7 – Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
This is just a fun game as you get to play through the books, getting further in your education and improving your deck. You get to sling spells, get friends to help you and try and defeat everyone. The game starts out pretty simple, and I like that, because it can continue to add in mechanics and rules and cards for each book that you go to, which makes it more thematic. It does get longer the further in you go because, while you are theoretically getting better cards the longer it goes, in the later chapters, you’re dealing with the villains from the first books as well as the ones from the later books so that number always increases. But Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is just a good deck building game and a good theme that will draw people in.
6 – Ascension
This is the most generic deck building game on the list. In it, you have a basic starting deck, you get to buy more cards that allow you to buy more cards or fight monsters that show up. You can combo things together with card draw and constructs, and that’s probably the only unique bit is that you have constructs that you can play out and they stay out while heroes go into the discard at the end of the turn. So you can vary your strategy by either going construct heavy or maybe hero and attack heavy or buy heavy. Each of them gives you a chance to win because you get points for killing monsters, but you can also get points for getting cards and some constructs are worth a lot of points. This is my preferred introduction to deck building.
5 – Clank! In! Space!
Some games take themselves seriously, but Clank! In! Space! is not one of those games. You’re an adventurer/thief, stumbling around Lord Eradikus’s spaceship, trying not to make too much clank so that you don’t get tracked down and knocked out. The cards are all references to other sci-fi things, and it just works really well. It’s a deck builder where you have a few different types of cards that can combo together to create some epic turns, if it shuffles out right, plus it’s push your luck with deck building as well, because you can go further into the spaceship to get a better treasure, but it’ll take you longer to get out and Lord Eradikus might get you before that happens. But if he doesn’t, you’ll be in a much better spot to win. The game is light fun with good replayability.
4 – Aeon’s End: War Eternal
Aeon’s End: War Eternal is such an interesting deck building game that gives you a chance to not have to worry about the randomness of your deck. When you buy cards, they go into the discard, when you spend your cards on a turn, they go to the discard, but cards that you spend on a turn, you can sort those. That’s not a big deal if you’re shuffling the deck, but you’re not, when you run out of cards, you just flip your deck, so it gives you the ability to potentially set-up hands. Add in the game play, which has an interesting spell casting mechanic where you need to prep them, tough monsters to fight, and a town to defend, the game gives you so much replayability just out of the base box and then there is more in expansions and other editions. It’s just a nice twist on deck building that works really well for my style of play, plus it’s cooperative.
3 – Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Another deck contrusction game on the list, Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a great experience creating your character so that they can investigate, attack, or deal with whatever might come up better for a given story. And then you get to take them through a campaign, so it’s not just a one off game, so between games you get to improve your deck so that you’re more prepared for the next part of the story. And characters, depending on their skills will be able to use certain types of cards better or will need help on some skills, so will need more of those cards in their decks, you can really tailor your investigator how you want.
2 – Marvel Champions
It was hard to know where to slot this one in, it’s deck construction, so you build your deck before the game, but it is so much fun. I’ve been writing about it a bunch recently, and it just works for me, all it’s missing is a campaign, which we’re getting. In it, you play as a superhero who is taking on the likes of Rhino, Ultron, or Green Goblin. What makes this work and be an interesting deck construction game is the different archetypes. So you could play someone like Spider-Man with defensive cards in his deck to keep him standing longer without having to flip back to the Peter Parker side, or you could be aggressive hoping to end the game faster. It gives you so many options when you’re constructing your deck. It just feels like taking your superhero up against a villain who has some grand or small scheme.
1 – Xenoshyft: Onslaught
Why is this my favorite, it’s actually fairly low rank on BGG, but the game is just a ton of fun, and I think it does some interesting things for a deck builder. You are never short money, which is nice, but when you buy cards and you are creating your defenses to stop an alien bug attack on your mining base, you can help other people as well. So you build up your defenses, but you can also help build up others, so even if someone has a bad card draw, you’ll be able to help them, or vice-a-versa. It’s just an interesting thing that makes the game feel even more cooperative in it’s nature and not something that you can do in many other deck building games. Plus, you’re blasting alien bug monsters, and I’m always down for that.
I’ve left a few games off of here that do have deck construction or deck building in them because I think that, while it’s important for those games, t here are other things that are also as big a part. Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon is one of them, but that one is a story driven survival game with deck construction being part of how you level up. The same goes for Gloomhaven, you can improve your hand of cards versus a deck there, but you can improve your modifier deck as you level up. I wanted to go with games where the deck construction is a huge part of the game. I think with the exception of Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth, though you are using the deck for everything, you do need to really focus on the deck building part of the game.
There are a couple of notable deck building games that aren’t on the list. First, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, I just find that game to be okay. I think that there’s so much in the game now that it can be hard to keep track of everything and you can pretty easily end up with a less than ideal combo of heroes that don’t synergize as well as they could. If that happens, you just get stomped, and I feel like that is pretty common for that game. Dominion also didn’t make my list, and while I know that some of these games, if not all, wouldn’t have existed without Dominion, it doesn’t make Dominion a good game. It’s a pure deck building game, I’ll give it that, but it’s not thematic and it’s not nice to look at, and because it has a static market, someone who has played it more or played with a certain combo is going to be at an advantage because they know what to build immediately, and there’s always an optimal strategy. I like games that make me adjust as I go and stretch me that way, and I don’t think Dominion does that.
What are some of your favorite deck building games? Are there any, based off of what I like, that you think I should check out?
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Let’s get back into talking about some of the Worlds of Dungeons and Dragons, I’m talking about what I’d consider to be the most vanilla of their settings first, though, there are some that give it a run for its money. That, of course, is …
I do this every year, some of it is state of the website and some of it is things that I want to do in the new year. I’m not a big person for resolutions, but I do like to put down some goals for the year so that I have something I can shoot for.
Just looking back at 2019, I streamed more than 20 times and I got 40+ books read. The watch 5 anime to end of their seasons or wherever they are, pretty sure I got to that one, but I didn’t get games I bought in 2019 all of them played. I think I have a few for streaming that I haven’t gotten to yet.
So let me make a new set of resolutions:
- Always be reading a book. What do I mean by that, I mean that I want to always have a book that I’m actively working on. If you don’t read for a week, that’s fine, but if it goes longer than that, I want to be reading more.
- To go with the first one, I want to get a big dent into the books that I own but haven’t read yet. Some of them are going to be fast to read, others are long, but I want to get through a number of them.
- Stream a game the whole way through. Not sure what it is going to be, but Folklore: The Affliction is high on the list, and so is something like Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth or some of the games that I have coming in.
- Don’t miss a week of #10MinMarvel. This will be tricky to end the year, but I’m hoping not to miss a week, because I want to make it a successful podcast. So to do that, I need to be consistent in what I do, plus if I miss one week, I’ll make an excuse as to why I can miss future ones. And, I suspect there will be a lot of fun Marvel news this upcoming year.
- Finish the chronological Marvel watch through. We made it through a number of them and are up to Winter Soldier, but for #10MinMarvel, I want to get the rest of the way through them. Ideally before Black Widow, but we’ll see if that happens.
Then let’s talk about the Nerdologists website. We got moved over to a new hosting site last year and it has made a big difference in speed. I don’t know that we’ll see any massive changes on the site, though I might start looking at updating the design later in the year.
And let me look at some stats. I just want to say thank you to everyone who went through some of the hiccups that we had with the system earlier in the year and show off how the numbers are compared to last year through the same time period.
So last year we had 40950 users with a whopping 415% increase from the previous year where we had just under 8000. But more than that, we had 151,942 page views as compared to 27,751, over a 440% increase. The amount of time people spent on the site increased and the bounce rate, people leaving the site fast, decreased.
Malts and Meeples Youtube/Twitch Channels were started for solo gaming content. Only 3 subscribers so far, but I got up 33 videos and some of them have better than I expect view numbers. Still not many people joining live, but that’s one thing I want to get better at, having a consistent streaming time for people to join me.
10 Minute Marvel was also started. I’ve gotten a couple of ratings and reviews, and in the time it’s been up 278 listens. The listens are also slowly increasing which is what I was looking for. If you haven’t checked it out, please do so, and let me know any feedback you might have.
So what do I want to do new now in 2020?
A few of my resolutions are also for the site, keeping up streaming and podcast are the big two.
I hope that in 2020 I can do some new things as well in terms of content. Not sure what it might be, maybe interviews, maybe patreon, whatever it might be, it’s going to probably be a surprise for me as well as you. But If we can continue to see growth into 2020, that’s awesome. I doubt that we’ll see 400% increases, but I’m hoping that it’ll continue to increase.
But, let me wrap this up just by saying THANK YOU to everyone who checks out the site, I’m so glad that you do. Hopefully some of the new content, the streams and podcast interest you, and I look forward to writing a lot more content that hopefully you’ll continue to enjoy. If you have any suggestions for the site, please contact me one of the ways below, and I’ll consider it and dialog with you about it.
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This is towards the end of Christmas ideas, because I know if you’re using of them, you need to plan for the shipping time. And I’m running out of different things to do these lists on. Today’s is like yesterdays where it’s more of a general thing, not something more specific like a type of board games or RPG’s. I’m going to just briefly mention it now, a lot of the epic board games and the RPG stuff I talked about would work well on this list, and for that reason, it won’t be on this list.
Vintage Copies of Books – So, books will show up multiple times on the list in different ways, but I think that there are different types of books you can pick up for that fantasy fan. And one of the cooler ones is vintage books. Getting an older copy of Lord of the Rings, even if it has a little bit of wear and tear on it is going to be awesome for a fan of Lord of the Rings, because the vintage covers and just the feel of the books is different. Or, it could be any other vintage sort of fantasy book, but there’s just something about having that almost collectors type book, that fantasy book lovers will really like.
Box Sets of Books – Here’s the other book thing. Box sets of books are also that other book lovers collectible thing. Again, box sets are the pieces that you can put on the shelf and show off. It also means that you can give them something they might not buy, for example, if they were picking up the Harry Potter books as they went along and they were published, they could have a mismatched set, but most book lovers will spend their own money on more books, not making a consistent collection, so you could give them that as a box set, so it is consistent, and it’s something that they’ll likely love.
Fantasy Themed Artwork – Now, this is a bit iffy to put on here, simply because, while Superhero artwork you can know has a recognizable superhero on it, fantasy artwork is all over the map. So, I would lean towards artwork that is based on something. So, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter are good examples here. There’s going to be artwork that has been done depicting both of those stories, and if someone is a fan of that story, they’ll appreciate the artwork more so. That said, maybe the person has some obscure story that they like and there isn’t artwork on it, I’d be hesitant to suggest picking up large artwork, but postcard size stuff that is work appropriate and they can put up in a cubicle, that would work. Just don’t go with anything too large that they might not like because it’s just not their style.
Fantasy Themed Magnets – Fairly specific with this one, but I’ve found that a lot of people have pretty boring magnets, if they have many magnets on their fridge. Or they might again be using them at work in a cubicle. This is where you can go with the more generic fantasy, because, again, it’s smaller. And especially going with a cute art style or maybe a chibi art style, those work for a nerdy person’s fridge. If the person has a beer fridge or a wine fridge you can put magnets on, getting the hobbits drinking pints in chibi form would be great, in my opinion, for something like that. Or maybe, the person doesn’t want chibi but loves Dungeons and Dragons fantasy, get them dragon magnets. This also has the advantage of being something if you get a magnet that you can use as a stocking stuffer.
Lego – Yup, there are plenty of fantasy Lego sets out there, some generic, and then Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Sorry for you Game of Thrones fans, no Lego sets. This is another display type thing, or if they are younger kids, something that can be played with. But in our house, we have a Hobbit Lego on one shelf and a Hogwarts up on top of another shelf. So, you can go small or big with this, but Lego is a bit on the spendier side of things with the larger sets. It is a lot of fun to put together, and if someone has time off over the holidays, it gives them something fun to do through their time off.
Video Games – Woo, another generic category, but there are a lot of fantasy games out there. You can go retro if they have an older system or a Retron system and get them things like the original Zelda or Final Fantasy. Or, there are middle aged games (not games in the middle ages) like the original Dragon Age that have been ported over to the newer systems, but if someone still have an XBox 360, you could find it for that. There are so many fantasy games out there, figure out if the person you are giving the gift to like the more sword and sorcery style games, more story driven games, fighting, whatever it might be, and you’ll probably be able to find something unique for them. And if they are already a video gamer and have a lot of them, you can look towards more of the indie titles and there are a lot of interesting fantasy games out there.
Classic Fantasy Movies/TV Shows – When I say classic, I more so mean old ones. Find the fantasy movies or TV shows that people might not remember from back in the day. I’m sure there are plenty of good lists out there, or you could find the B-Movie classics in the genre as well. Definitely a lot of them you can check out, and if they are more of a classic one, the cheesy nature of them works better versus a modern cheesy story. Now, you still end up with some of them being too cheesy or dated poorly in other ways, so do a bit of research, but you can probably find bluray or DVD collections of them that would have a good variety as well.
This list is a bit more generic, so I apologize because it’ll make you do more work tracking stuff down. But fantasy is a bit broader than the board game topics and even broader than superheroes, because, while there are indie superheroes out there, most people think Marvel and DC. I tried to suggest some ideas that are a bit more specific for Lord of the Rings fans or Harry Potter fans, but there’s so much in the fantasy realm that it’s hard to cover some of the broader stuff. For that reason, if the person loves reading, books is always a great option, next time you see their book shelf, look at it and find what books might work there.
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