Tag: Pandemic Legacy Season 1

Campaign Games through Zoom

Campaign Games through Zoom

So, this was a question that I posed on The Dice Tower Facebook group, Board Game Geek forums, and Board Game Geek Facebook group, what are games that are campaign style that would play well through Zoom? The reason for this is that we’re about 

MY TOP 100 BOARD GAMES 2020 EDITION – 10 THROUGH 1

MY TOP 100 BOARD GAMES 2020 EDITION – 10 THROUGH 1

We’ve made it through another list this year. No spoilers as to what’s to come, what might have moved up, what might just be a new game on the list, so let’s get into this. 100 to 91 90 to 81 80 to 71 70 

My Top 100 Board Games 2020 Edition – 100 through 91

My Top 100 Board Games 2020 Edition – 100 through 91

It’s that time of year again, and I’m going to talk a little bit about what I’m doing and when I’m going to try and consistently do it from here on out. We’re doing my Top 100 Board Games of ALL TIME!

Now, this is my top 100 games, not the 100 objectively best games, these are my 100 favorite games. To get this list, I go through all the games that I’ve ranked on BGG, minus a few, which I’ll get to in a second, and then using PubMeeple.com’s ranking engine, I go through and do the one versus one comparisons on the games until they are all sorted. This gives you a one to one comparison between the games and in my case was something around 1000 different comparisons. I could have done only my top ranked games, but this gives a chance for a game that I maybe haven’t rerated recently to show up on the list, even if I’ve rated it lower. So, I said this was minus a few games, and I don’t mean ones like Monopoly or Cards Against Humanity that I don’t like, those I actually rated, I’m talking about actually things like ICECOOL 2, Dice Throne Season 2, or Star Wars Destiny Two Player, because I have ICECOOL, Dice Throne Season One, and Destiny that I counted for those.

Next, when I do these lists, if the game sounds interesting to you, I want to give you a chance to pick it up. I always, and especially this year, recommend you order from your FLGS, but some of you might not have a local game store, some of them might be closed due to Covid, some local game stores aren’t friendly, and I fully recognize that sometimes you need a game, funds are tight, and online is cheaper, so don’t feel like you can use your local store, I hope you do pick them up online, more games to play, more fun options to introduce people to, no matter where they come from is great. I’m going to be linking to either CoolStuffInc or Amazon for where you can pick up the games immediately if you want.

Finally, this is obviously just my opinion. There are some games that you’ll hate that I love, almost guaranteed for some of you in my Top 10 even, and there will be some games that you love that won’t make my list, they were obviously my number 101 (all of them). And if it was on the list last year, I’m going to try and put down the number it was at before, just to see which ones move up and which ones move down and what new games have hit the list.

But, without further ado, here’s my list starting with 100 through 91.

Image Source: Greater Than Games

100. Lazer Ryderz

Lazer Ryderz is a game of goofy fun as it’s basically light bikes like you see in Tron and you are racing them around, leaving your path behind you hoping someone else will run into it, and trying to get goals. You basically have to go off of feel because you decide where you start at the edge of the table with your eyes closes, when laying down your track route, once you pick up a piece and put it over the top of the table, you’re committing to it. And it’s all in 80’s neon glory looking like a big four pack of VHS. So it has that goofy feel to go with what’s a very goofy game. Good one for when you want something pretty fast and very casual to play.

Image Source: WindRider Gamers

Last Year: 100

99. Ra

This game is interesting as it’s bidding, it’s set collection and it’s push your luck. I like the bidding mechanic in it a lot as you bid you put that number into the middle if you win the bid and take the number that was there, so it’s possible late in a round to hold onto a low number in order to be able to grab a high number from the middle and change your fate for a future round. There’s also some interesting push your luck because when you’re the last person who can bid, you can always draw more and more tiles, but if you get the wrong tiles you’ll bust. The game maybe plays a touch long for me for what it does, but I like the strategy in it, and I like the bidding in it.

Last Year: Not Ranked

Image Source: Catalyst Games

98. Shadowrun: Crossfire

We’ll see a game very similar to this coming up, but this is one that I wish I had in my collection, but I want to find used. I like it for the theme a lot. I enjoy the cyberpunk setting that it’s in, and the idea of going on these runs, missions, to take down the evil corporations. It’s something that is very interesting. Plus it’s deck building, so you can specialize, but that might not always be the best because you don’t know who you’ll have to face off against next and that might not work with your skill set. But other people can help you some as well, which makes it interesting to see how that works. And it’s scenario building as well which is fun as well.

Last Year: 91

Image Source: Thames and Kosmos

97. Legends of Andor

This is a dungeon crawl, kind of, really Legends of Andor is more of a scenario based puzzle as you try and rush to get everything done before the time runs out. And you can kill monsters, but that advances the timer, so you need to understand that is happening and figure out how to balance out killing monsters while trying to complete the mission while trying not to let the story advance too quickly so that you run out of time to complete it. The game does one thing I really like and that’s having both the male and female version of the heroes so people don’t feel like they are locked in playing a certain character because of the sex of that character. I think the one thing that might confuse people about this game is that it looks like it should be a big fight the monsters adventure, but really it’s a very tightly made puzzle where every decision really matters.

Last Year: 86

Image Source: Fantasy Flight

96. The Lord of the Rings: Journey to Mordor

So, first off, no link for this, it’s out of print from what I can tell and I couldn’t find it even on Amazon which is saying something. This is a little push your luck roll and write game where you are trying to get the ring to Mount Doom and by the first to throw it in. Thematically it doesn’t make sense because you can’t have one ring to rule them all and then four different groups each having the one ring, but as a roll and write, it was pretty solid fun. There are definitely others that I like better but this one was a good time and it plays fast. There is some take that to it which can be a negative thing, but it didn’t seem like there was too much and the game didn’t overstay it’s welcome to make the take that a big deal.

Last Year: Not Ranked

Image Source: Matagot

95. Takenoko

This game is a really cute game. Takenoko has adorable little panda figure, and you are stacking up different colors of bamboo. There’s really just a lot of fun stuff in this game. You are growing the bamboo, moving the panda and having him eat it, putting out and irrigating more tiles to grow even more bamboo all to complete different scoring base off of bamboo growth, title placement, or what the panda has eaten and you’re seeing how many you can get done before all the turns run out. This is a game that has an amazing table presence with the bamboo growing up and the panda and gardener figures, and it’s a very enjoyable game to boot without being too complex.

Last Year: 97

Image Source: Catalyst Games

94. Dragonfire

So this is the game that is based off of the game system as Shadowrun: Crossfire. Whereas Shadowrun is a future cyberpunk setting, Dragonfire is classic Dungeons and Dragons setting where you are taking on monsters, fighting through scenarios, leveling up your characters and doing it all over again. I think that this game has worked out some of the kinks from the original and it has definitely gotten more support with a lot of scenario packs having come out for it. This just allows you to build into more and more game play and pick the scenarios that look interesting to you. Plus, deck building is always a plus in a game for me.

Last Year: 93

Image Source: How Stuff Works

93. Yahtzee

Second roll and write on the list, and this is the original roll and write. I still enjoy Yahtzee today because everyone understands how it works and the rules are simple. In fact we’ll see other games on the list that use a similar mechanic to Yahtzee. But what I like is that I kind of have it down, now that doesn’t mean that I roll a Yahtzee always, but it means that I can look and see what I might want to be doing, what I’ll want to keep, what the odds are of me getting what I need, when it’s worth it to push for a large straight, when it isn’t and so on. Plus, I can play it with my parents and it isn’t as much of a game that plays itself like a lot of the more classic games that we’d play such as Uno or Skip-Bo, which are number 101 in case you were wondering.

Last Year: Not Ranked

92. Pandemic

Last year this was a fair amount higher on my list, but it’s dropped some just because of having played Legacy Season 1 twice and Season 2 once, and Season 0 is coming out soon-ish. Base Pandemic is still a good game, it just feels like the introductory cooperative game that it is. It’s easy to teach, it’s easy to play, but it can be fairly hard to win, depending on how things come up. The game is a classic game for a reason and it is one that I won’t turn down playing, though, I’m not sure it’s one I’d immediately pull off the shelf myself when it comes to introductory games at this point. I think that it really highlights, beyond being a cooperative game, is how every players part of the game can be different with the variable player powers, and I think for new players that is something that is cool and uinique.

Last Year: 50

Tsuro
Image Credit: Amazon

91. Tsuro

This one also slipped for me because in some ways I’ve played it too much now. I think that this is a fun group game, and I think it’s one of a few games that plays fast and plays a large number but it isn’t just another party game. In this you are trying to be the last person on the board but you must follow the path that you lay out in front of you. And you have to be concerned about the other players as well. If you get to close, you could have to follow a path that someone else lays down, and that might run you off the board, in which case you’re out of the game, or it might hit another players pawn, in which case both of you are knocked out. So there’s some strategic avoidance but you also don’t want to stick yourself in a corner with no way out. It’s a fun game, just one that I’ve played a lot.

Last Year: 61

So we have a few movers in this section with three previously not in the Top 100 games, and two dropping a ways. Oddly enough, the very first game on the list, Number 100 was Number 100 the year before, good job Lazer Ryderz in being consistent.

Looking at this list, are there any of the games that stand out to you as ones that you want to play? If you’ve played any of the games, which is your favorite on this section of the list? Let me know in the comments on on Twitter.

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Top 10 – Campaign Games

Top 10 – Campaign Games

Recently I did an article talking about the different types of games, and one that I mentioned was campaign games. These are games that tell a story throughout as you play them and you are playing scenarios that tie together over time and create one 

It’s the End Of The World – The Apocalypse in Film/Literature and Everywhere

It’s the End Of The World – The Apocalypse in Film/Literature and Everywhere

It might be kind of the wrong time to talk about this, we’re in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic, however, I think with that, for some, comes more time to delve into more story, including that of the Apocalypse/Post-Apocalyptic in nature. This is one 

Top 10 – Cooperative Games

Top 10 – Cooperative Games

This is going to be another Top 10 list that hits on a bunch of games that I like a lot. There’s something about cooperative games that is quite nice, mainly being able to sit down and if someone at the table is lagging behind in knowledge of the game, they can be brought up into the game without needing to know every rule perfectly because we can all work together and learn as a group versus be stomped if you don’t fully get the strategy in a competitive game.

So what are my top 10 cooperative games?

10 – The Lost Expedition
Number ten on the list is the smallest game of the group but also one of the easier ones to teach and get to the table. In this, you are your fellow players are trying to lead your team of adventurers on hikes twice a day so that they can get to the Lost City of Z, but the jungles are dangerous, and you never know what might be coming up next. But that’s for you to decide as players, without discussing, you put down cards for a morning and evening hike that might get you more food or cause you to find bullets or maybe you get hook worms, and no one wants that, but there are difficult decisions to make on each card, and you can discuss that part. One of the games that really has something built into to stop alpha gamers from being able to run the game. It’s a lot of fun, and it plays fast as well, which some of the games further on the list won’t.

9 – Arkham Horror: The Card Game
The first, but not the last Lovecraft Mythos game on the list from Fantasy Flight, this one is the smaller or the two, though it packs a lot of punch. In this one, like all of Fantasy Flight’s Lovecraftian Games, you are an investigator working together with the other investigators trying to stop whatever horror is being called through by cultists. But in this you can be fighting, but much of it is investigating, and the game is just basically cards and a bunch of tokens. You don’t need a bit board to tell a big story or change up the game. The different things that the cards can do and how they can use them to create a town or house or other locations and it feels different is impressive. Now, with the base box, it’s only a 1-2 player game, but with another core box you can play up to 4, so if you have a larger group it’s something to consider. And Fantasy Flight does a great job of supporting this, as they do with all their living card games, so there is always more story coming out.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

8 – Aeon’s End: War Eternal
When it comes to deckbuilding a lot of them do similar things, you add cards, you maybe buy more cards or attack, and then you draw a new hand until you can’t fill the hand and then you shuffle up your discard and repeat the process. Aeon’s End: War Eternal is unique because you never shuffle, when you discard cards, you choose the order they go so that you can create, if you’re good at card counting, a hand or combo that you want to get because it’s going to be strong. It’s a lot of fun to see how that piece of the puzzle fits together. Plus, you’re all trying to take down a nemesis who is bent on taking out the town of Gravehold. And each nemesis plays differently. I have really enjoyed both plays of this game, and it’s a good challenge, there are a lot of mages, who play differently, and there are expansions galore for the game with even more nemesis and breach mages to choose from.

7- T.I.M.E. Stories
One of the most unique games on the list, T.I.M.E. Stories has an element of an escape room game, it has some role playing aspects, and there’s a good amount of narrative to it. You are all part of a time agency who is trying to stop unwanted time incursions from happening and messing up the timeline. This means you might be going to the earth in the 90’s, or another dimension where there is magic and dragons. And it can change that wildly in each of the expansions and each time you play. Now, each scenario can only be played once, but to get through and beat the story it is at least a couple hours of excitement for 4 players, if not up to 3, and it’s cheaper than a movie at that point. Plus, the upside, and sometimes downside, is that because it’s such a sandbox, you can do anything in the games, and the creators have done a good job of doing that, creating interesting puzzles and mechanics to test out along the way.

Image Source: CMON

6 – XenoShyft: Onslaught
You and your fellow crack team of marines, scientists, and medics have been tasked with protecting a mining facility from hordes and hordes of giant monstrous bugs. Why did they build a mining facility on this remote planet, money of course, but now you’re about to overrun with bugs, can you fend off the waves they’re throwing at you? This is a very tough game, even though it makes it’s deck building easier than a lot of others. You can help other people, you can give them troops or weapons that you’ve bought for your deck to help them shore up their defenses, they can give you stuff in return, or use stim packs and grenades to help you when it’s your turn to face a wave of monsters. This game is clever in what it does, and it creates a good amount of tension, plus I like that the game is basically all simultaneous so there isn’t downtime for anyone.

5 – Pandemic Legacy Season 1
Seems a bit on the nose to be playing right now (article written 4/13/2020 during Covid-19 Pandemic), but it is a really good cooperative game. I could have put down either season of Pandemic or base Pandemic on the list, and any are great options. Can you prevent the spread and find the cures to four diseases before they run across the world and destroy everything? This game is pretty simple compared to the other ones, but still offers a lot of good choices and you always feel like there are 1-2 more things that you need to do on your turn and you hope that you’ve picked the right things so that you don’t have an outbreak on your hands. Also, do you have a good combination of characters that are able to fight it off and can you use it to the best of your ability. A lot of questions, but it’s a good game, a simpler game, and one that you can play faster and with more people than some because it an easier game to pick up.

Image Source: Polygon

4 – Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon
When Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table came to the lands of Avalon, they were wild and untamed and the Wyrdness and Foredwellers twisted the land, but they forced it to their will, creating Menhir, but now that was long ago, and the Menhir are starting to go out and the Wyrdness is coming back over the lands. You and your fellow adventurers are only going out because those who were supposed to have saved you and your village have gone out and not come back. Can you survive the twisted lands of Avalon? This game works really well as it’s a very tough game where survival is the goal but not a guarantee, and you spend so much time exploring and discovering new things about Avalon and you might not have wanted to know. Then you go from the exploration piece of the game and jump into combat which can be tough as monsters aren’t always meant to be beaten and diplomatic encounters can turn violent if you’re not careful. There are chunks of the game that are pretty well split up where you can do daily actions separately or explore while someone else fights, but this is a grand free flowing game that tells an interesting story.

3 – Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
You, and your fellow paranormal investigators have been called to a mansion to explore some unnatural goings on. This might be a crazed cultist leading a band of cultists and trying to summon a deep old one. It could be you’ve made it to late and a town has been overrun with Deep Ones and you need to figure out how to escape. You and your fellow investigators could get split up in two different timelines and need to work together to solve the mystery and get the one who time traveled back. There are a lot of different scenarios, and an app that helps you keep track of everything. The game is set in the Lovecraft Mythos, but it has more of an investigative feel to it, than leaning into as much horror. If you want a game that is fairly big but doesn’t feel as daunting as some dungeon crawlers, Mansions of Madness is a good option.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

2 – Marvel Champions: The Card Game
This game has made it on a lost of lists and it’s working it’s way up to being one of my favorite games of all time. The game just feels like you’re in a comic fighting a villain. And you get the full comic feeling as you can team up superheroes as well as flip back and forth between an alter-ego and superhero side in order to rest and recover if the villain knocks you around to me. The game does a lot of clever things, and you can create the team-ups that you always wanted, or at least some of them, eventually Fantasy Flight will come out with more heroes so you can create any team-up you want. And they’ve managed to make the villains feel different as well as the heroes, so you can get a lot of unique games.

Image Source: Cephalofair Games

1 – Gloomhaven
No surprise here, though there are some slight semi-cooperative elements of the game, mainly having specific goals that you need to do in a given scenario depending off of some card draw, but for the most part it’s working together, and those goals are just perks and don’t make or break the game if you don’t get them. Gloomhaven is an epic dungeon crawling and character leveling game where you and a group of fellow mercenary adventurers go through and try and figure out what strange things are happening in Gloomhaven and the surrounding areas. The story is fun but it really shines with a puzzly sort of card based combat that makes everything work together. And it feels like there’s always more to explore in the game.

I think that one thing I really like about cooperative games is that you get so many great shared stories out of them. Even the ones that aren’t just storytelling heavy can still have great moments in them as you roll the right number to get what you needed or draw the right card. It’s such a shared victory and moment that they often stick out to me. And I know that I have so many more cooperative games sitting on my shelf that I like and that are waiting to be played again or for the first time. What are some of your favorite cooperative games or cooperative gaming experiences?

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Top 10 Soloable Games

Top 10 Soloable Games

Now, let me set a few ground rules. The game must have an official solo version, it can’t be something like Pandemic Legacy Season 1, which I played solo, but officially, by the rules, isn’t a solo game. I will say though, I haven’t played 

Top 10 – Variable Player Power Games

Top 10 – Variable Player Power Games

I have a lot of mechanics that I like, deck building was an easy list for me to make and while I don’t always love area control, there are some of the games that I love that use it. But variable player powers, that is 

TableTopTakes: Pandemic Legacy Season 2

TableTopTakes: Pandemic Legacy Season 2

If you’ve been keeping track of this site for a while, you’ve seen me talk a lot about Pandemic Legacy Season 1, and play through Season 1 on Malts and Meeples. I haven’t talked as much about Pandemic Legacy Season 2 and my experience with that, though you can see that Season 1 is high in my top 100, and Season 2 is much lower.

So, it was time to do a TableTopTakes review of Pandemic Legacy Season 2.

In this game, without going into spoilers, you are basically on the ocean, I believe oil drilling platforms, where humanity has mainly been relegated. This happened when a plague overtook the lands, and to be saved, you had to go to the platforms. You have limited contact with a few coastal cities but even those are in danger of being overrun with the plague if it weren’t for you sending them medicine. Plus, there are many more things that you unlock as you try and figure out how much of humanity is left, and where the leaders of your platforms have gone, because they left a while ago to find out what has happened to humanity as well.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 keeps what feels like core mechanics from Pandemic, but in some ways turns them on their head. In regular Pandemic and in Season 1, you are trying to keep cubes at bay, if you get too many, you get outbreaks and bad things happen. Season 2, instead, you are placing out the medicine cubes. If the plague shows up in a city where there isn’t medicine, bad things are going to happen. In my experience playing this, it takes a few games to really wrap your head around the change. Maybe for some it’ll go faster, but it feels backwards and I think, though it still feels like Pandemic, that could be off putting for some people and groups, because you might lose several in a row just because of how it feels.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

This game does offer one very cool thing out of the box that I can talk about, and that is that it adds in exploration. Through this exploration you get to add in more things, but those would be spoilers. But there are certain cities on the board that tell you to discard groups of cards of various colors which will unlock things on the sticker sheets. It’s a cool concept and being able to unlock more of the map is interesting. You can see how your resources are going to be dwindling for dealing with the plague, but you need to unlock the map as well, so it’s a push and pull of not expanding too fast, but needing to go fast in order not to be spread too thin. Like other versions of Pandemic, you always feel like you’re neglecting something in order to try and get through the game before something bad happens.

Also, because you aren’t fighting diseases in the sense that you aren’t curing four different colors, you can use the cards in different ways. The big thing is exploring, but it doesn’t feel as bad to spend cards to move around, though, when you need to place out more medicine cubes. So that is an interesting tweak to the game. I’m going to be saying this a lot, the game still feels like Pandemic because of the cards, the mechanics, but so much of what you’re doing is different in Pandemic Legacy Season 2 and it is interesting to change your mindset, especially if you’ve played a lot of Pandemic Legacy Season 1 recently and regular Pandemic.

Next, I want to talk a little bit about the characters. In Season 1, you get characters where they are the “Medic” or “Scientist” and Season 2 changes that up some. You still get to be a character with a special power, but the special powers, like the medics basic power, you can just pick a character card and add it to that, so you can tailor your look. And death is also handled differently. There are still scars that you can get, but now you have a track that you, every time you’d “get” a scar, you instead scratch off the next one, and it might be nothing, it might be a scar, or you might just die. So it’s possible that you’d have 1 scar and then just die or it’s possible you might get 3 scars, you don’t know how resilient you are. That makes being in a dangerous location even more stressful because you don’t know how it’s going to go.

Now, I should do the comparison to Pandemic Legacy Season 1, I’ve kind of already done that though, in an epic Board Game Battle. So I don’t need to go back and recap that much, I will say that I do prefer Pandemic Legacy Season 1, I think the game is a bit easier in terms of focus on what you really need to do. Pandemic Legacy Season 2 can get caught or the game will have to unlock stuff if you don’t do it fast enough or in the right order, and that can be annoying at times. They do a good job of pointing you in the right direction generally though. Overall, it’s a really good game, a good story, and definitely worth checking out.

Overall Grade: A-
Gamer Grade: A-
Casual Grade: B

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Christmas Ideas – Epic Board Games

Christmas Ideas – Epic Board Games

It’s that time of year, with Black Friday and Holiday Shopping nearly upon us. That means that people are starting to think about the gifts that they’ll be getting for others or what they might want to ask for themselves. This list is basically the