So, I’m going to do what I did with Frosthaven when that was announced and talked about on videos, I’m doing a video breakdown. This Fantasy Flight In-Flight report is normally a big deal, kind of a kick-off for Gencon to find out what Fantasy …
Tag: Star Wars
Probably should have done this list sooner with people needing to shelter in place during Covid-19 pandemic, but better late than never. I’m talking about games that work well with 2 players versus 2 player only games because I’m not sure that I’ve sat down …
We’ve all seen Simpsons Monopoly and Monopoly for a specific football team or baseball team, national parks, or city. Those are all IP’s put onto Monopoly, intellectual properties. Those aren’t going to make this list, I’m looking at my top 10 favorite games that are themed around an IP, we’ll have to see which IP’s make the list.
10 – Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Do you want to play through the Harry Potter books? That’s what Hogwarts Battle gives you as you can play from Ron, Hermoine, Neville, or Harry himself as you go up against he-who-shall-not-be-named. Though, you need to deal with the likes of Crabbe and Goyle, Quirrel, and others first. To do that, you need to build up your deck so that you can deal with the threats before the plans of the villains get too tough to deal with and you lose the game. The game grows in complexity as you advance through the various books until you get your NEWT’s and you can specialize your skills even more. And there are more challenges that you need to tackle. There’s even an expansion to add in some of the monsters that live in the forest and Luna as a playable character as well.
9 – Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate
D&D Theme here which is kind of odd to have a game that’s based on an RPG and Video Game. But there’s a game that is actually based on Betrayal at House in the Hill. In this game you’re going to explore the city of Baldur’s Gate and there are odd things going on, crazy events, and omens, and items. Eventually someone is a traitor and everyone is going to have to deal with their betrayal. You get that classic D&D sort of feel as you have all your different character classes that you can play and all of them do something special that makes sense for their class. The cleric heals, the wizard has magic missiles, and it’s a very fun time. While it is a big generic in terms of what people expect from fantasy now, the game is a lot of fun and more balanced than Betrayal at House on the Hill.
8 – Lord of the Rings
There are a number of Lord of the Rings games, this isn’t the Living Card Game or Journeys in Middle Earth, this is the game that came out in 2000. This one is all about playing cards in a such a way that you can complete legs of Sam and Frodo’s journey to Mount Doom to destroy the ring. It allows you to go on that journey and play as Pippin, Merry, or Fatty Bolger if you’re playing with five players. It’s fairly abstracted but overall a bunch of fun and punishingly hard as you reach towards the end of the game. The artwork in the game is beautiful and fully cooperative, though, there is a Sauron expansion where someone can control Sauron.
7 – Hats
Not all games with an IP are going to have a ton of theme to them. Hats is definitely one of them as you’re trying to create you best collection of hats. Now, that’s all around the Madd Hatter’s tea party and his hat collection and which hats you should be wearing, but it’s really a card based game where you are collecting hats and trying to set yourself up to score the best that you can. It’s a fun abstract game with a vague Alice in Wonderland aesthetic to it, but that’s about it. It’s a fun fast game that has some clever things around it when you consider which hats you’re trying to collect and which you’re playing down that might help your opponent. Definitely a stretch for an IP, but technically it has one.
6 – The Grimm Masquerade
There are a few of these that are using public domain IP’s. The fairy tale characters that you get in this hidden role game are all out there for anyone to use, but they are a theme that has been added to the game from a previous work. In Grimm Masquerade, you are at a masquerade, unsurprisingly, and you are trying to figure out who all the other players are. You do that by giving them gifts and taking a gift for yourself. If you’re Cinderella you want to get a glass slipper, but there is one that is going to be bad for you and if you get that, it outs who you are as a character and you’re out for the round. But you don’t have to just give gifts, you can accuse as well. And if you correctly guess who someone is, you get more points. There’s an interesting amount of strategy to this generally lighter style of game.
5 – Star Wars: Rebellion
Star Wars in a box, this game is all about playing that original trilogy and seeing of the Empire is able to find and destroy the rebel base or if the rebels are able to sabotage the empire’s plans and outlast them. You get to play with iconic characters and write your version of the trilogy. Maybe it’ll be Yavin that gets blown up or Endor. Will the rebels capture Darth Vader, or maybe the Emperor himself will be leading the Death Star into battle. It’s a big game of cat and mouse that takes a while, but it feels like a Star Wars movie each time you play it.
4 – The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game
Probably one of the more abstracted games on the list, the theme still comes through well, especially if you’re familiar with the books. You are taking your team of investigators, combatants, and possibly werewolves to try and solve the case from a given Dresden Files book. Each book has it’s own balance of advantages you can get, obstacles you can overcome, and most importantly cases to solve and villains to beat. If you can solve more cases than there are villains left, you win, but you might be dealing with the final encounter where you can use some abilities, but hope that you got things close enough so that with a lucky roll you can defeat that last villain you need to defeat or solve the last case at the last minute.
3 – Arkham Horror: The Card Game
One of two Lovecraft games on the list, and since you haven’t seen the other one, you know that it is going to be higher. This game allows you to play through scenarios, trying to avoid going insane and be able to solve the mystery presented before you with basically just cards and a few tokens. It has some good mechanics some of the randomness and mechanics, and I really like that you can tailor your experience where if you want to enjoy the story more, you can play on easy, if you want it hard, you can play at an extremely difficult level. It works well, with that, for like I said if you just want to experience the story or for learning the game, being able to play on an easier level.
2 – Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
The second game on the list based around Lovecraftian mythos and they come back to back. Mansions of Madness just does a better job with it’s app integration for doing the book keeping of moving the story along nicely. In both of the cases, you can play very different types of stories, but they are all set in the Lovecraft mythos, or at least adjacent to it. Lovecraft’s works were less pulp detective than the Fantasy Flight Lovecraftian games are, but it still has some of the theme of the monsters, and a game that is just about madness and dread wouldn’t work extremely well, you need something for the players to do.
1 – Marvel Champions: The Card Game
Top spot goes to Marvel, this game a lot of fun, and it really uses it’s IP well. You have your superhero, Spider-Man for example, fighting Rhino. Well, if Rhino has been hitting Spider-Man too much, he can always flip over into Peter Parker, and Rhino will stop attacking and go back to scheming on his great plan to rob a bank. So it really feels very thematic and you come in with a web swing and kick Rhino to eventually beat him, it feels like you’re playing as Spider-Man. The art helps the theme as well, and even the graphic design on things like the “Tough” and “Stunned” cards have a great comic book look and feel to them.
There are a lot of fun games with good IP’s on them that don’t have to be a generic fantasy or sci-fi setting. A lot of these games, while some are a bit more complicated are going to be good things to get people who maybe aren’t big game players who really love a theme. I think that all of these are fun games, and I really wish, looking at the list, that I had some time to play some of them right now, but thankfully some of them, Marvel Champions, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle can be played solo, or with Lord of the Rings, my wife enjoys that game as well. There are a lot of good games with IP’s now after it just being generic roll and move games.
What are some of your favorite games with an IP?
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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 approach to mine as they rejected some off their lists, that I’d put on mine. What I’m looking for can be some exploration, but also games where you feel like you’re going on with a journey through the game, whether it’s exploring, solving a mystery or puzzle, some sort of journey in the game. So let’s get to the list.
10 – Dead of Winter
The zombies have taken over and you need to find a cure, get enough fuel to move, or one of several more scenarios, but can you trust everyone in your midst? Probably not, and should they fully trust you, probably not. In this game you play as survivors of the zombie apocalypse who are just trying to survive against the horde of zombies in the town, but there might be a traitor in your midst. There’s a sense of adventure in this game as you feel like you’re playing through The Walking Dead or other zombie time story where it is more focused on the survivors and if you can really trust them. Plus, the crossroads cards offer you a lot of tough decisions to make as well, maybe you can save someone and add them to your team, but will there be enough food to feed them? You’ll end up having to make choices like that throughout the game, and often times with no easy answers or right choices for the colony.
9 – Star Wars: Rebellion
A massive around three hours long game, Star Wars: Rebellion pits the rebels against the Empire in a battle for the fate of the galaxy. Taking from the original trilogy, you feel like you’re playing through it but shaping it your own way. Can you crush the rebel fleets and find where there base in hidden? Or will they be able to sow enough descent around the galaxy that the Empire crumbles away. And you get to send major characters out on missions to places, maybe Han Solo will get captured by the Emperor or Darth Vader will lead troops into battle against Admiral Ackbar on Tatooine. You can rewrite the original trilogy in this adventure and you won’t know how the story will end up until you’ve played.
8 – Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game
I was debating about this one on the list, is it really an adventure because it’s fairly abstracted away with trying to solve cases and fight bad guys just by putting tokens on them. But I feel like the puzzly nature of how you have to do that, and the fact it brings me back to the books and series, there is that sense of adventure for me as I get a chance to relive and play through those books myself. And there’s always a struggle to win in this game. Sometimes you can just win without getting into the final confrontation, but that’s extremely rare. Instead, so often you are hoping for a lucky last roll to take out the bad guy, which is thematic to the books, because through sheer stubbornness and sometimes force of will, Harry can prevail, and that’s how it works in the game as well. Less of a grand epic adventure than some, but still a fun one, especially for fans of the series.
7 – The Lost Expedition
Now, this is probably not a game that a lot of people would have thought of when they were thinking of an adventure game. It’s a small game, it’s only cards and very few tokens, and all you’re doing is going on a hike each morning and evening trying to make it to the Lost City of Z. However, there’s a sense of adventure to it as you are all cooperatively trying to play down cards in a way that makes sense without being able to communicate. But then, once the cards are down and your path is ready, you can all discuss as how to best go through it. It always feels like a close game and you have to decide when it’s worth it to sacrifice a guide in order to move ahead or to keep another guide alive. This game isn’t going to give you a big adventure, but it’s a fast adventure in a little package that won’t break the bank.
6 – Arkham Horror: The Card Game
The first of a couple of Fantasy Flights Arkham Chronicles games, this one has a very interesting adventure feel from what I’ve played, which admittedly isn’t a ton of it yet, but you get the sense of exploring, just from the first scenario in the first box, a house that is being twisted and warped around you. Then in the second one, you get a chance to run around the town and look for cultists who might just be hiding in the shadows. And all of this builds, so depending on what you do, scenarios or perks you’ve gotten will change, so it feels like a big unfolding adventure. And I like that it doesn’t come in a massive box, it’s just cards with a few tokens and you can have an epic adventure.
5 – T.I.M.E. Stories
This one is interesting because there’s a smaller level of adventure in the game since each scenario is it’s own mystery or puzzle to solve, but it always feels like something new as you unpack what’s going on. You could be in a mental hospital at the start where a time incursion is about to happen or maybe a town that has been quarantined for some reason or in ancient Egypt. While you might know where your adventure is going to take you, you don’t know how it’s going to unfold or what body you’re going to be put into. I really enjoy this as an escape room type of engine where you have to figure out the puzzle in the box, but it’s not as straight forward as a lot of the Unlock and Exit style games are, because why they might be fairly consistent in what they do, T.I.M.E. Stories is not.
4 – Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon
I need to play more of this adventure, but what I’ve played thus far has been great. There is just so much story happening, and it gives you a different sense of adventure because it adds in such a strong survival element as well. So not only are you going out into the land of Avalon and searching for ways to keep the land from falling into the Wyrdness, you have to figure out when to fight, when to run away, what path you want to go, the fact that there’s a branching story in a game that is so long and so big is pretty amazing. It’s also a really good solo experience. When a game offers you so many choices as to where to go, what to explore there, what you might run into, who you can help and side mysteries that you might want to check out as well, it’s very much an adventure game, and it’s one of the best I’ve come across.
3 – Betrayal At House on the Hill
Now, I know this game isn’t for everyone, but I love it. And for me it’s a great adventure game because I get to see what horror film I’m in. Am I going to be the final one standing in the end or the person who betrays everyone else. Will I have to play chess with death or maybe it’ll be the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I never know. Plus, I get to explore the house and have it unfold before me, and I never know in what room the haunt might happen, so I can basically always play a new scenario. I have Betrayal Legacy waiting for me at some point in time coming up here when we can start to get together in groups again, because I want to have the adventure of playing through a house year after year and watch the house change and unfold a new adventure. Now, I know that this game isn’t for some because it’s not always the most balanced, but I like that aspect as it works well in a horror setting because some horror movie monsters are just better than the college students.
2 – Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
Adventure games don’t have to be on a super grand globe trotting scale, they can be in a small town or even in a mansion that is full of madness. But you’re unfolding a story and a mystery that gives me a sense of adventure because playing a scenario once, I don’t know what is going to happen and where cultists might show up or what my main goal is even sometimes. As the game unfolds that and explains it to you and as you unravel the mysteries, it just makes a great gaming adventure experience. And even if you play a scenario once, because of the app, you can go back and play it again and things might end the same, but the house will be set-up differently and there will be still be some adventure to the game. Mansions of Madness just really gives you that immersive experience of exploring and solving a puzzle/mystery unlike so many other games.
1 – Gloomhaven
I believe that this was left off someone’s list on the Dice Tower top 10, because it didn’t have enough exploring, though, I feel like Forgotten Circles expansion definitely has more of that feel. But I would argue that there is a sense of exploring through the story as you complete the various dungeons and you unlock more story and more places to go. Plus, even though you’re a mercenary team who keeps retiring, you still feel the progression of story and adventure that I’m looking for and love in a game. It has that RPG-lite feel to it with leveling up your characters and getting better at what you can do, so the whole thing feels like you’re taking those characters on epic adventures. While the mechanics for combat can be a bit crunchy as you figure out what tops and bottoms of cards to use and what order to play them in, the whole thing just works really well for me.
Now, I could have gone with more as well, Sword & Sorcery just missed the list. The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth or Lord of the Rings board game would work as well. Even something like Pandemic Legacy I considered for the list, but that one doesn’t give me as much sense of adventure. And I have more adventure games waiting for me to play, Apocrypha, Folklore: The Affliction, Aeon’s End Legacy and more are waiting for me to give into, plus more coming in the mail at some point in time like Oathsworn, Dice Throne Adventure (it says it in it’s name) or Frosthaven next year. So clearly I love these big epic sort of games.
How about you, what are some of your favorite adventure games? Are there any on the list that I should checkout?
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I’m going to spend a little bit of time here creating a buffer so that people who don’t want spoilers don’t need spoilers for the Rise of Skywalker.
So, without any spoilers, the Rise of Skywalker is the 9th Star Wars film. George Lucas had originally planned on doing nine films in the 1980’s and had it plotted out, but due to the stress of making the original trilogy and the following that he had, he held off for a long time, until he made The Phantom Menace and then Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, which were not that well received. He then later sold the rights to Star Wars to Disney who with JJ Abram at the helm for the first film, The Force Awakens, started a new trilogy.
Now that we have a proper spoiler buffer, let’s talk about Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. This, like I said, is the ninth film in the Skywalker Saga, and the end of the Skywalker Saga (theoretically). After The Last Jedi, which was half of a good film and some other characters being taken in a direction that they weren’t set-up for in The Force Awakens, JJ Abrams came back in to wrap up the story that he had laid out for Rian Johnson, which had then been promptly thrown away. Abrams then had to try and cut down and cram what he had laid out previously into a single film. That might sound like a bad thing, but I think that it worked for this film.
In the Rise of Skywalker, we start out by getting a pretty heavy information dump about how the Emperor has been broadcasting his return from somewhere deep in space. Kylo Ren, with the First Order, has been trying to track down this signal, but they need an old Sith map to be able to do so. Finding one, he goes to the Emperor. In the mean time, Finn, Poe, and Chewbacca chasing down leads to the First Orders plans and what is happening with their search for the Emperor and plans for domination. Rey is back with the resistance training to become a Jedi. She leaves her training when they get wind that Kylo has found the Emperor, and they go searching for a map of their own. This leads them into a handful of adventures where they run across someone who Poe used to run with and run spice with and they end up wiping out C3PO’s memory in order to translate where the map is hidden. Rey, during this time, becomes more and more obsessed with finding and defeating the Emperor. This leads to her going to a moon of Endor where they come across more Stormtroopers who have rebelled against the First Order. Meanwhile, Kylo is able to track down Rey and they fight on the destroyed Death Star with Kylo getting the upper hand on Rey, but then Leia, feeling the anger and disturbance from her son, used the last of her energy to stop Kylo. In a fit of rage, Rey strikes Kylo who has lowered all defenses and dropped his lightsaber, realizing, though that her anger has taken over, she uses the force to heal him. She runs away, in Kylo’s ship, to the planet where Luke had hid away, and there, meeting the force ghost of Luke, he convinces her that she needs to go and confront her grandfather, Palpatine. The rest of the resistance tracks her flying through a gravitational field, which is why the map was needed and goes to aid her. However, things look bleak until Lando Calrissian manages to gather up the support of people who are willing to stand up to the First Order and they join the fight. During this time, Kylo (Ben), sees a vision of Han Solo who talks to him and gets him to give up his lightsaber, returning back to being Ben Solo. He flies to the Emperor and joins Rey as they stand against the Emperor’s plan to return. The Emperor again gets the upper hand, but what Rey wasn’t able to do in her training earlier in the film, connect with the spirit of the Jedi, she was able to do in that moment and with the power of them behind her, she is able to get back up and defeat the Emperor. There is much celebrating, and Rey goes and leaves both Luke and Leia’s lightsabers back at the moisture farm (what’s left of it) where Luke grew up.
There’s just a little bit of story there, and I normally wouldn’t write out the whole thing, but this is a spoiler episode and I wanted to demonstrate how much was packed into this movie. Now, do I think that it probably would have been better split into two movies and we just lose The Last Jedi? Probably, but does that make Rise of Skywalker a bad movie? I don’t think so. I really enjoyed it in the theater and I thought that it did a good job of wrapping up the Skywalker Saga. Before going to see the movie, my hope was that it was going to wrap up the Skywalker Saga and then we wouldn’t have any more movies with Rey, Finn, Poe or Kylo. And I feel like it did that, now if Disney decides it was popular enough with those characters, they might bring them back again, but I personally don’t want it. With have a massive world, and with the great work that the Mandalorian has been doing, there is clearly room for stories that aren’t focused only around the Empire and the Skywalkers.
For me, one of the things that this film does impressively is wrap up the storylines for the original trilogy characters. We get more of a send off for Han Solo and he gets to deliver a famous line in a meaningful way. We get another send off for Luke. And we get, kind of, a send off for Leia. I feel like hers was the most lacking, which makes sense with Carrie Fishers passing. Her passing in the film is really the start of a turning point for both Kylo and Rey, and then Han and Luke, respectively, finish bringing both of the characters back around.
What might bother some people about this film, and I hinted at it in the paragraph above, with Han delivering a famous line, but there is a feeling to this film that it’s kind of a Star Wars greatest hits. We get lines, we get callbacks, Chewie finally gets his medal. This will definitely be an issue for some people who don’t know what they want, probably just to watch the original trilogy and repeat, but for me, it was what I was looking for when wrapping up the Skywalker Saga. It gave the main characters a send off that they needed and it kind of showed that the story has always been about them, even with the new cast of characters, it was still about Luke, Leia, Han, and the Emperor. For some people, that’s not going to be enjoyable, but it wrapped up the saga.
I think, it’s also fair, as this wrapped up the last trilogy in the saga, to look at this as part of the whole trilogy. I think that you’d be able to watch The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker without watching The Last Jedi and have a pretty complete film. And if someone were to create a cut of The Last Jedi that dropped out the whole gambling planet and Finn and Poe becoming whiny for no reason, you could then add back in the Luke, Rey, and Kylo story. But, I feel like Rise of Skywalker did a good job of recapping some of that information in a meaningful way. Now, yes, you would miss a little bit by skipping The Last Jedi, but less than you’d think. So as a trilogy, that’s definitely a downside for it. I don’t think that Rian Johnson set out to change it so much, but it felt like he didn’t have a full understanding of the characters. I hope that he gets a Star Wars film with his own characters, because I felt like it was interesting in concept, but overall it wasn’t set-up like it should be to continue to tell a cohesive story. But this is a considerably better trilogy than the Phantom Menace trilogy.
Overall, this was a really fun film. I think that it wrapped up stories really well, I think it was decently well acted, and I feel like the saga was completed. Now, don’t ever show me any of these characters as main characters on the big screen again, maybe in the background 10 years down the line would be fine, but even that’s questionable. Or maybe a plaque with Rey’s face on it. I’m ready for more new Star Wars, but I’m also glad to see this finish the way that it did. I hope that Disney and Kathleen Kennedy can get a better, more clear, direction for Star Wars and really be able to build off some of what Marvel has done for Disney but also to then create a more developed universe. I will also wrap this up by saying that I’m not someone who knows the extended universe stuff, but I know there were a lot of references to the stuff that I only vaguely knew about.
So, what were your thoughts on Rise of Skywalker. But, as much as that, stepping back and looking at this as the Skywalker Saga, what are your thoughts on the nine movies put together as a whole?
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