Back for another episode, just me talking about Disney+ that came out today with a ton of Marvel content on there. I look at what MCU movies are there at the very start and what shows are coming. Plus, there’s a ton of animated content,…
Tag: Star Wars
Normally, this would be another Halloween article, because I’ve been doing those every Wednesday, tomorrow, since it is actually Halloween will be my Halloween themed article. Instead, you are getting more of my top 100 board games, which will wrap up on Friday. ***Disclaimer***These rankings…
It’s getting so close to the end of this board game list. I’ve had a ton of fun writing it and I’m curious to see how much it’ll change next year, as I’m planning on doing this every October now that I’ve done it once. I had wondered at the beginning when I was doing the rankings if I’d really like my #100 game, it was fun to see that I’ve played enough games that I do like my #100.
These rankings are the opinion of yours truly, and if you don’t like them, that’s okay. We all have different tastes in games and that is great. There are some games that I’ve only played as a demo, and I felt like I got enough of a feel to put them on the list, thanks GenCon for all the demos. These are living rankings so next year I’m sure that things will change, so I’ll probably be doing another one next year. Thanks to Board Game Geek for letting me enter/rate my collection and games I’ve played. Thanks to Pub Meeple for creating a tool that pulls in those games that I’ve rated and creating a ranking tool. Again, the numbers and names will be linked to Cool Stuff Inc and Amazon if you’re interested in the games.
30 – Star Wars: Imperial Assault
We’re back into a bigger and heavier game. In Star Wars: Imperial Assault, you can either skirmish two sides against each other, but the more fun way to play it, in my opinion, is to play through the missions. In the game, you can play through missions either as a one against all game where one person controls the Empire who are trying to hunt down the Rebels, or you play as no name Rebels who are trying to survive. You can play through different missions, like a Jedi finding a lightsaber, maybe, or more. Either way, if the players win or lose, the story progresses in some way, because the Empire’s objective isn’t always to just kill off the rebels. Or, you can use an app and basically play the same thing, but instead of it being a situation where one person is the empire, the app takes care of that and directs their activations and the players move them on the board using a set-up that lets them know what actions to take based on distance. The game has a lot of little pieces to it, but the game feels like Star Wars, and feels like you’re part of a big story. If you’re a Star Wars fan, it would be a good one that is worth checking out.
29 – Village Attacks
There are a lot of games where you play the villagers or heroes who are going out to defeat the monsters. But do you ever really think about those poor monsters? Maybe they are just trying to live their lives and the villagers are just in the way, do they really deserve to be attacked by these villagers with their cruel intentions with pitchforks and torches? The answer is probably yes, but in this tower defense style game, you play as the monsters who are fending off hordes of villagers who are trying to complete some objective or attack the heart of the monsters lair, which would of course cause the whole building to crumble, bringing doom to the monster and all those around. This is a fun miniature, dice combat, tower defense game. I got to play a special scenario made at GenCon, and then I found out that it wasn’t available, which was annoying, because I really enjoyed it, and the cooperative play is always a good thing. Thankfully, it is back on kickstarter, so the pack that I got for the game with that scenario and some other goodies won’t go to waste and I’ll eventually be able to play the game. If you like playing as the bad guys, this game does a good job with that, but also without it feels too grim.
28 – Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is one of those aesthetically pleasing games, not to say the others on this section of the list aren’t, but with Photosynthesis, it jumps off the table as being pretty. In the game, you are growing trees, collecting light points to help your trees going more and hoping that you’ve set stuff up correctly so that you will be able to harvest your trees when they are old in order to get points and then start the process again. The game is really an abstract puzzle as you figure out where to place your trees and how to grow them, but it does have some thematic things as well. The sun travels around the forest, so that at some points in time, certain spots will get sunlight and spots won’t. That part is cool, and how you tell if an area doesn’t get sunlight is if there is a shadow being cast on it, which you can tell by where the sun is, and how tall various trees are on the board. This game can actually be a little bit mean, because you are probably going to be blocking other peoples trees at times from the sun and they doing that to your trees, so it’s possible to get no sun points if you are unlucky. But the game itself doesn’t feel that mean, because the theme of growing trees isn’t that confrontational. I really have enjoyed playing this game. I think that all the pieces look great and the concept of it works really well and even manages to feel thematic.
27 – Letter Jam
Letter Jam, when I saw it played, was going to be a game that I loved. I knew it. It’s a word game and a puzzle as you are getting clues about what letters you might have and trying to guess them as time goes on to figure out the word that you have. So I demoed it at GenCon, and the experience was bad. It was the first day at GenCon, one of the other people demoing didn’t want to be there, the person running the demo didn’t want to be there, and one of the people, because of the person running the demo didn’t realize the game was cooperative until half way through. So that was a poor experience, but then I tried it again with a different person running the demo, and it was a ton of fun to sit down and play the game, I was just sad that they were sold out at that point. In Letter Jam, you have a word made of between 4 and 6 letter cards (I believe), that are face down on the table. At the start of the game, everyone puts one upright away from themselves, and then people give clues as to what the letters are. So to do that, you spell out a word using tokens that are placed in front of peoples letters. But, of course, you can’t see your letter, only the other players, so you might get the word “F*IGHT”. If you got that word, and your letter is the asterisk, you can guess that your letter is probably an “L” or an “R”. Once you think you know what your letter is, you can flip it down and go to your next letter trying to figure out your word. But everyone is trying to do that, so everyone has to give clues. The game is a ton of fun, plays quickly, and I really love word puzzles.
26 – Hats
Another GenCon release, this one I did pick up. I wrote a TableTopTake on it a while ago. This is an Alice in Wonderland themed game that is a bit trippy, which is something that I am always looking for. In the game you are at the Madd Hatter’s tea party, and you are trying to get the best scoring collection of hats. To do that, you are playing down a hat from your hand and putting it in place of a hat on the Madd Hatter’s table. The trick is, to replace a hat, you need to either have a matching color or a higher number. And the scoring of the game is interesting as well. You only score the colors of hats on the Madd Hatter’s table, and it’s possible that certain colors won’t end up on the table at the end of the game. So the work that you did collecting them might be worth nothing if you can’t hold back a card so that you can make sure that color is being scored at the end of the game. The other trick to the game is that the cards in your hand are cards you might not use for scoring for yourself, in fact, your opponent(s) might get all of them. So how do you manipulate what is in your hand to end up with the scoring that you want and to use what is on the table to help drive your strategy. I feel like every game of this is different and a really good puzzle.
25 – Sword & Sorcery
And after a small game in Hats, we have Sword & Sorcery, a massive dungeon crawler with characters with cool powers who are heroes of old and brought from the past in order to stop something that is horrible that is happening now. There’s a lot going on in the game, and you can find information about that in my TableTopTakes post. But it’s a dungeon crawl game where you are rolling dice to fight monsters, looking for soul gems to level up your characters or to bring them back if they turn into ghosts. The game has a book of secrets as well that helps the story unfold without making it linear in each scenario because you have different things that you can do. And I’m not sure, maybe some of the choices you make in the earlier games can influence the future, we finally had something that felt like it might do that, or possible two things in this past scenario. The game, I wouldn’t say, is extremely difficult, or with a little bit of luck in terms of what treasure you get, it can make it easier. We’ve also done a good job rolling dice, so getting lucky, that has made them easier, but it’s still a lot of fun to play through the game, think about combat and go through the scenarios. If you want a big dungeon crawl where you are chucking dice, this one is good,.
24 – Small World
Small World, as I normally put it, is Risk, but fun. In Small World, you are trying to control areas with your fantasy race, collect coins, and at the end of the game, have the most coins. But, Small World is a ton of silly fun. In it, you are picking from various fantasy races, like Elves, Dwarves, Giants, Tritons, etc. and they are paired up with a power. So you might have something like Seafaring Elves or maybe you have Wealthy Dwarves or Flying Giants. These combos change up every time, which makes the game really diverse. You place your race tokens on the board taking over territories and once you’ve expanded or been attacked enough that you can’t go any further, you put them into decline and then pick a new race. The game is good silly fun, because, unlike Risk, if you get wiped off the board, you can always come back in. And if people are attacking you, you can put your race into decline and then come in with a new strong race and attack the people who attacked you, and that’s going to happen in every game. It’s fun to figure out all the different combos and which one might be the best from those available. This is another good gateway game and a gateway game for people who like Risk but maybe find it too long or too mean.
23 – Criss Cross
The smallest game on the list, Criss Cross is a little roll and write. However, it is one of my favorite roll and write games. In Criss Cross you are placing different shapes onto a five by five grid based off of what comes up on the dice. There are two tricks to this game. The first being that you are scoring symbols that are next to each other in both the columns and the rows. So if you pay too much attention to the columns, you won’t score well in the rows or vice-a-verse. The other thing is that when the dice are rolled, and everyone uses the same die rolls, you have to place the two symbols next to each other. So you might end up with two symbols that work perfectly or you might end up with one symbol that you really want and one that you really don’t. So you have to figure out where to put them to give you the most scoring chances and also make sure that you don’t accidentally end up with a space by itself, because if you do that, on the last roll, you won’t be able to place the dice symbols since they need to be next to each other. The game goes by really quickly and I rarely play less than two games in a single sitting. I would say that this game is a bit tricky too teach, because you can place the dice symbols anywhere, but the two symbols need to be next to each other, and people either think that you have to always put the symbols next to another symbol you’ve written, making their game harder, or they try and split up the dice, or they forget that symbols score when they are next too each other. It’s not a complicated game once you get it down, teaching this simple game, for some reason, is just tricky.
22 – Just One
This should be the highest party game on my list, and the newest party game on my list. In Just One, it’s cooperative and you are all working together but separately to get the guesser to guess their one word answer. Maybe they picked, unknown to them, the word “Emergency”. All the players, separately, have to write down a one word clue. So everyone does that and then, without the guesser looking, the players compare their clues, and any of them that are duplicated are hidden, so say, for “Emergency” that two people wrote down “Hospital”, the guesser won’t see either clue of “Hospital” and will be left with whatever other clues might have been given. The game plays fast, but it’s a fun challenge. in many ways, it has a bit of a Scattergories feel where you are trying to be clever with your clue, but not too clever so that no one can guess the word from it, or too clever that you match up with someone else with went that clever route. And you don’t want it so that, in the case of the word “Emergency” that no one puts down the helpful clue of “Hospital”. It leads to some great moments where people guess a word based off of way fewer clues than you would think that they could. I remember the first time that we played it, a friend guessed the the word “Karate” based only off of the clues “Discipline” and “Style”. Those moments make this game work well, and with the limit set on how long the game is, 13 word cards total, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
21 – Ice Cool
I had Ice Cool 2 lower on the list, but Ice Cool is almost a top 20 game for me, and I would play it anytime. I love how silly this game as you are flicking around penguins trying to either catch those silly penguins who are skipping class or the class skipping penguins trying to get their fish snacks. I’m waiting until my son is old enough to play this, probably 3 years from now, where we can just flick the penguins around and have fun with it. But the game is also a blast with adults. I’ve had it out at several board game nights and it’s always a success. I love that you can now combine it with Ice Cool 2 and play a massive eight player game. Since I’ve talked about this before I don’t have as much to say, but if you want a game that is just a lot of silly fun, Ice Cool is amazing for that, and the fact that you can get the penguins to jump over walls, if you do it right, or you can put spin on them and get them to go through multiple doors or a spin towards a penguin who is skipping class who thought they were safe, it’s just a blast. I know this game won’t work for more serious gamers, but if you have a group that is up for a fun time, I highly highly recommend this game.
I get to play one of these games tonight as my bi-weekly Sword & Sorcery game will happen. I’m excited to get it to the table, and now I want to play some of these games again. Maybe I can make a way to work them into the next board game night coming up in a few weeks. I really love all of these games and hopefully you can find some on here that you want to try as well.
Thank you for keeping up with this list with me. Let me know in the comments below if there any of these games that you love or that you really want to try.
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So, recently there’s been a trend in board games where apps or other pieces or technology are starting to get integrated into gaming. Then CMON announced Teburu a digital board set-up that allows the system to track where your characters are, have your player sheet…
Wait, wait, wait, isn’t Dungeons and Dragons fantasy? Yeah, Dungeons and Dragons is epic fantasy and we’re adding aliens into the mix. And not just some weird creatures from another plane, we’re adding in spaceships and craziness like that to Dungeons and Dragons, deal with…
This topic has been on the back of my brain for a little bit for two reasons. The first, I’m seeing it show up in Kickstarter and the other reason is Season 8 of Game of Thrones.
The idea of this is that as a fan or a consumer, we are demanding, creating petitions, threatening, and generally behaving like five year old’s that things are done the way that we want. And it isn’t just with the examples I gave, but those are a few that have been thinking about. It raises a few questions, what do we as fans of something “deserve” and what should be changed for us?
Let’s start by talking about Game of Thrones. There are a lot of complaints about Season 8 of Game of Thrones. I stopped watching much earlier than that, but I know people who watched through it and who didn’t like the end, because it felt rushed and because it didn’t go like they expected. Now, I think that there are valid complaints about how the last season went, and the show runners being given as much time as they wanted, but then deciding to rush the ending is a bad look. And it’s going to taint the fact that they are doing the next Star Wars trilogy after this one wraps up. Not like Star Wars fans have generally been that forgiving anyways.
I think what we need to unpack more is the complaints where fans are complaining because they didn’t want something to happen. Game of Thrones has built it’s brand on having slow seasons and then shocking and expected moments happen. With the last season, from what I can tell, again getting this information from people who are watching the show, the biggest complaint is people knew how they wanted the show to end, and when the last season, not even the last episode, the last season, went in different directions, they disliked that. I have issues with this complaint though, for several reasons. The first, it goes against the nature of the show. Game of Thrones isn’t supposed to be predictable, and when the complaints are that the popular fan series aren’t accurate, that should be fairly obvious. But more so, why is there this idea that we deserve a show go the way we want it. While it might be a minority, there are going to be people who liked Season 8 of Game of Thrones. So if it had gone a different way, they would have the issue. The job of the show runners and creators of a book, movie, tv show, play, comic book, etc. isn’t to please everyone. It’s to create the best thing that they can, now you could argue with Game of Thrones, maybe they didn’t do that by rushing the end, but this isn’t just a Game of Thrones problem.
This even shows up in the biggest movie franchise of all time, Marvel. When it was announced that we were getting a female super hero stand alone movie, I thought it was awesome. Captain Marvel was an interesting character that brought in more cosmic stuff to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, there was a large backlash over not getting the Black Widow movie that the “fans” had wanted. Now, I don’t want to belittle the idea that these people are fans, but threatening to boycott something or complaining loudly on Twitter and other social media because you don’t get what you wanted, I do question the fanhood some. Unfortunately, this backlash has hurt Captain Marvel in the long run. That wasn’t the only thing that Marvel has caught flack for and had people get mad about and demand changes from. I want to get into Kickstarter though, but you can go back and read about character arcs in the first three Phases of Marvel that I did when Endgame came out.
In Kickstarter, it’s interesting. There are two types of demands that you see on Kickstarter and the threat is pretty obvious, someone will demand a refund or threaten to pull funding on an active project. But the two types of demands are game play changes or extra things changes. And these go throughout the campaign, but also after the campaign and probably worse after the campaign. Both of these are extremely headscratching to me for one reason. Kickstarter is a platform for people to raise funds to do a project with the hope that it gets completed, not a pre-order system. So, as someone who pledges money on Kickstarter, I’m an investor, because I have faith in your project, if I get something back, that’s an added bonus.
Let’s assume that isn’t the case, even though that’s what Kickstarter is, and talk about the other things. Game play changes for me is the bigger of the two things. As someone who loves board games and who has dabbled in working on my own game, I don’t think I know enough about a game after having read through a vague idea of the game to tell you that you need to add in something to the game. Sometimes the people who are making a game have something obvious that needs to be fixed, maybe remove rolling to move, but don’t put money into a project because you like 80% of a project and then demand that the last 20% change for you specifically. If you need that change or don’t think that they are playtesting it fully to not make that change, you should assume that means larger issues with the project and pass on it. Or assume that if and when they do playtest it, that it will be caught or fixed if it needs to be. If I or you were a great game designer, we’d have games of our own on kickstarter.
Or, demanding extras, that’s it’s own ball of wax. This generally comes in later in the process when the project is running a bit behind schedule. I realize that it’s horrible that you won’t be getting that one out of fifteen projects you’ve backed and are waiting on right now, won’t be showing up on time. But does that mean that they have to treat you specially and give you more because it’s running late? For example, I’m in a project for a Shadowrun game, I have my copy of the game, but the fulfillment center screwed up massively and sent out extra copies of the games and games to the wrong address. Both of these are an issue, and while I think that there are probably things that could have been done better in handling the snafu, there are people flying off the handle about it. And they aren’t fine with the fact that the Shadowrun game that they got already has extra stuff as a surprise, they are demanding extra and different fixes to make them happy. Basically, you’re complaining about helping people get the copy of the game that you were complaining about before because it was delayed. Again, not a perfect example, because I think there is another fix that could help, but there would still be people complaining that they’re being asked to do something, even though they got more after complaining, because they couldn’t read information correctly when it was clearly laid out.
So, where does this demanding and threatening culture come from? I think it can be placed on several things. One, there’s this idea that something that is meaningful or interesting for you in some way belongs to you. Even on Kickstarter, I have a copy of the game so yes that belongs to me, but the idea and concept of the game were designed by someone else, and while at some point in time as a designer/creator things aren’t yours anymore, when it’s being created it still if yours. You get to put your stamp on it, but there’s too much of a mindset now that something being put out, because it’s meaningful or important to you, needs to be yours and go like you want it. Next, I think it can come out of jealousy. And I don’t know that is something people really consciously think about. I think, and at times I notice myself doing this, complaining about something that someone else is creating while wishing I had created it myself. Tied into that is the last piece, and that’s the delusion that you can do it better yourself. I am using that word intentionally, it is probably a delusion that you’d handle it better yourself. Now, sure, there are some people in Hollywood who probably hated Season 8 of Game of Thrones that would have done it better, but I’m talking about you and me, average people in the world. It’s a delusion that we could have done it better. I like to think that I would handle the Kickstarter situation that is going on with the Shadowrun game better, but the actual answer is that I’d be panicking and probably be radio silent right now, at least we’re getting regular updates.
Now, there’s a lot to parse through there. And I won’t lie, this article is very judging, and I’m not claiming that I’m above it. There have been plenty of things where I went – “You did what?” – or – “You better not kill of that character.” But, I wanted to write this to end on what we can do as a culture to move on from demanding and threatening and to allow creative things to continue to grow instead of scaring people out of the creative fields who have stories and ideas to share with the world that might be simple popcorn fun, but also might be important to making the world a better place.
There are a few things that we can do to try and make a difference. The first is to understand that the active creative work of someone can be picked apart for what’s bad, but also spend time trying to find what you like in the work as well. It’s easy, as the Twitter and online herd hurdles headlong into complaining to be swept up in it. Instead, take a moment to stop and think about what you liked about something before you join the echo chamber of complaints. You might find that there are good things to be taken from the story, from the moment, from the idea that has more depth than it would look like on a cursory glance. Next, encourage people to take risks and compliment people on taking risks. Again, this doesn’t mean that you have to love everything that is done, and maybe it isn’t your cup of tea, but recognize when people take risks and encourage them to do so. It’s easy to tell someone that a risk was bad and that they shouldn’t have done it, again, probably on social media, but instead appreciate the risk for what it was. Encourage people to take those risks and challenge them to pull off their next risk even better than they did before, realizing that it might never be for you, but it might be so important for someone else. And, finally, spend time encouraging those who are being run down by the herd. This ties into the first two, but there’s a mindset that you need to step in front of the herd and try and stop it, all that happens is that you get trampled and you feel like you wasted time trying to help. Instead, turn around and look at the person who is about to be trampled and engage in them in positivity and encouragement. Again, I don’t mean that you have to love and tell them that what they are doing is perfect, I mean that you let them know what you like and encourage them to continue to reach for the stars. Through a herd of negative, you have a chance to stand out and be a shining like for them to latch onto. And you might be someone who gives them confidence to continue.
What are some things that people have demanded be changed that you really like? Who are some creators that you’ve seen take risks that you think are interesting or important and that you want to encourage. Tweet at them, let them know somehow, but also leave a comment below so that we can learn about these interesting, boundary pushing people as well.
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Board Game Battle – Star Wars Imperial Assault vs Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth vs Mansions of Madness
We have a triple threat match this time as we have three heavyweights from Fantasy Flight facing off. The reason that they get to face off is because all of them have app integration. What this means for all these games is that you don’t…
Jumping back into another board game list, this time going with another mechanic I like quite well. Area control is a fun mechanic because it really pushes conflict in the game, and the games that do area control well really encourage that conflict to happen.
5. Risk Legacy
Yes, I could have put normal risk on the list, but I think that Risk Legacy is a way more enjoyable game. You could win a game of Risk Legacy by conquering the whole world, but you don’t need to, so it takes a game that can be a long slog and having players getting knocked out early, and turns it into a shorter and more focused game where someone might be knocked out, but they won’t be out completely. The dice are still extremely fickle, and with all the games higher on the list, there are ways to mitigate the dice, if there are even dice. Spoiler, only one more of them has dice. I don’t mind dice in a game, and in a shorter game like Risk Legacy, it works. There isn’t a ton to unlock in the game, but what you do unlock is fun, and creates some interesting choices as to what to play.
4. Cry Havoc
A game that I’ve only gotten to the table once, and it has a bit of a euro game feel for something that is heavily focused on area control. It is fun because the different actions trying to get gems on the planet all work differently. The Pilgrims don’t care about controlling as many areas because they score points better off of gem production. Whereas in a four player game, the Trogs just swarm out over the board very quickly, but can get spread thin if the player isn’t careful. Each faction handles area control just a bit differently, but they all seem balanced which is great.
3. Star Wars: Rebellion
While arguably a better game tactically than the next game, Star Wars: Rebellion does have the downside of being a two player game. There is a lot more going on in Rebellion than just area control as well, but controlling certain areas, getting troops built and deployed in areas that you do control, especially as the Empire really helps you lock down the position of the Rebels. With that, you also have the option of trying to slow down production by sabotaging different planets. This game has a lot going on in it, but it works really well and feels like an epic Star Wars struggle between the Rebels and Empire.
The silliest game on the list, but Smallworld really has a nice streamlined area control mechanic. It really does push for a ton of conflict, and that’s fine, because you are swapping out race and power combinations throughout the game, Mary might attack Tom to start the game, but in a few turns, Tom will be attacking Mary and destroying all of her troops. It does a good job of making the combat and wiping another player off the board seem not personal. The goofy theme and fun combinations does really help that aspect of the game as well.
1. Blood Rage
To me, Blood Rage might not do area control the best, but put together in the package of the whole game play, it’s area control and everything work extremely well. I also like that it’s area control can be known in some ways, but there are strategies that are fine if you die because you get more points or because you can take something from your enemy as well and as the player you get to decide how you want to focus in on area control. But you can’t lose all the time because you’re letting other players get points for upgrading their troop totals, action points, and other things.
What games could fall on a honorable mention list, and I really only mention some of these because they have a little bit of area control:
King of Tokyo – Technically you are vying for control of Tokyo. However, this simple dice chucker could just have you win without going into Tokyo at all, and there is only one area to control.
Carcassonne – Another one that doesn’t have much area control, you could argue that the original farmer rules are area control, because it’s who ever has the most farmers in an area.
Smash Up – Definitely are control, but I just got rid of my copy. Not because it’s a bad game, but because there are a million expansions. Also, it’s a game that seems to sit with a sweet spot of three players and more or less makes for a less enjoyable experience with it.
What are some other area control games that I should check out? I have Scythe sitting on my shelf waiting to be played, so eventually, I wouldn’t be surprised if that makes the list.
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