So this is a new series of posts that is going to happen when I sell off a game, or get rid of a game. It is hard to get rid of games, if a game has stuck on my shelf to now, that means …
Tag: Pandemic Legacy Season 1
Last night I kicked off a new Live Stream series playing Pandemic Legacy Season 2. This is the follow-up to Pandemic Legacy Season 1 that I’ve previously streamed. I talk a little about the differences that we’ll see going forward and I play through the …
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 wrapped up with Gloomhaven, one scenario left in the expansion, and yes there are side scenarios, but we won’t be playing those, at least right now. So I started thinking, what is the next big game we’re that we’re going to play and how are we going to play it. And with that I mean, we are finish up Gloomhaven outside wearing masks, and that’s not a long term plan for Minnesota with winter coming up, so we’ll be moving back to Zoom, what will work.
I got a few good ideas that I hadn’t thought of, and I came up with a few of my own, so for those who maybe have missed the bigger gaming via Zoom or are tired of just playing games like Scattergories, Codenames, or other more party style games via Zoom, here are some ideas that I was given and were given to me.
Now, this is a game that I was recommended and there is only one way to make this work and that’s playing it through the app. Everyone can connect to the same game and you just sit down and play it all together remotely on your device while chatting via Zoom. This is actually a really good one for a lot of people because all it requires is that you have a camera pointed at a board on a table or anything like that, this is done purely with digital gaming. Now, I have played through all but 1 game of this in the physical form, and one of the other people who I play with has played through it all, so it wasn’t the game for us, but for a lot of people, this is going to be a really good option.
Now, Gloomhaven can work two ways, if you are playing it with people near you, you can drop off their character and show the game on the board so that people can play with their own physical thing, one person will just have the duty of moving everything and doing all of that house keeping, which could be a lot. Though, with the Gloomhaven Helper App, someone else could be in charge of monster initiative and what the monsters are doing, so not the worst option and personally, I like playing with the physical components better than option two which is play it through the mod on Tabletop Simulator. Now, the base game is scripted, which means it helps with set-up, but there is still a lot of book keeping and if it seemed like a lot on the physical version, it is slower on the Tabletop Simulator version. This, obviously, also wasn’t an option for my group because that’s the game we’re literally finishing.
Pandemic Legacy Season 0, 1, and 2
Now, this one shows up and from here on out, you’re going to need a camera on the table. But Pandemic is a great game because there is no hidden information in the game. You play with the location cards out in front of you, so you can plan and worth together, your character is also open information as to what they can do. The only thing someone might need is a sheet of what the actions are that they can take, and that’s something that the person who owns the game can write up and add to as more actions are unlocked. Like Gloomhaven and basically anything that requires a camera pointed a the table, one person is going to have to do all the book keeping, but with Pandemic, that isn’t too hard, fairly often when playing Pandemic Legacy Season 1 & 2 with four players one person would be moving more of the pawns anyways just because of how it was positioned on the table. This again, though, for my group, falls into the category of games that won’t work as well because two of us have played them before, and I’ve played Season 1 twice now. And while none of us have played Season 0, that is one that I want to play with the people we played Seasons 1 & 2 with.
Folklore: The Affliction
This is one that I had recommend and I hadn’t thought of, but it’s actually one that wouldn’t be too difficult to do. Folklore is an RPG type of game in a box. You roll dice for your attacks, have a character sheet, and go through stories and scenarios. What I hadn’t thought about was the fact that beyond needing your own set of dice, which everyone in my gaming group has because they are all RPGer’s and of course they have at least one set of dice, I think one only one who doesn’t have at least five sets of dice is playing in my D&D campaign, and he probably has two sets of dice. But this one all you need is a camera pointed at a board, and sure, there are items and stats and things to track, but that’s like a regular RPG, so that can be done between sessions via e-mail or text messages without much trouble as players level up their characters. And, again, technically there is no or very little hidden information so that isn’t an issue with the game. Definitely one for people who want more of a pen and paper RPG feel. Might be one for my group.
Now, I own this game, and I am excited to play it, I just don’t know a ton about it. But according to one person in our group who has the game as well, this is one where there is no hidden information in it, the god cards and their powers are out there. This is game that I hope would work well, my concern about this one is that because it has a 3D tree element you would need to know fairly well what is on all sides of the tree as things rotate and it changes. That for me would be the biggest challenge, granted, it wouldn’t be an issue for me because I have the tree in front of me, so I could see all sides at once, but for other people it might be a bigger deal if they get distracted or lose track of what is on what side and what is rotating which way. This one definitely interests me, but I’d want to play it in person a couple of times first so that everyone knew what was going on, it seems less intuitive than some others.
Now, I’m sure there are more but this is the last one that I’m going to talk about. In Tainted Grail you are exploring a large, about 50 hour, campaign as you explore through the lands of Avalon, journey to Kamelot, and keep Menhir lit to fight back the wyrdness that threatens to overtake the land. This is one that I’m definitely interested in trying, it’s already in my Top 10 games, and I’ve made it part of the way through, but to restart with more players seems like a lot of fun, though challenging in some other ways. This game would work if you could get the players their characters. They’d need both their character, the basic cards for their character and class and the upgrade cards as well. Items could be sent via text or e-mail between sessions. This is really such an exploration game, I think it would work well, the person who owns the game would just be reading the passages, which I actually like not the person who is doing the action reading the passages because it feels like there is more mystery in the choices. This is one that is definitely in consideration for our group as well, it’s one that I am enjoying already and I’m confident that our group would enjoy as well.
Now, I’m sure there are many a campaign game that I missed. Some of them, like Arkham Horror: The Card Game, could work as well, but people would probably need their own set of the base game to make it work. Forgotten Waters is another one that can work well, which I failed to mention, but see on my shelf, and because of when it got released, around May this year, I know they have focused on supporting it in a way that it can be played with more people. I’m hesitant to use that for my group, because I know my wife is interested in it, so I want to leave that free to play with her as well. Which would you try? Have you considered doing a bigger campaign game via Zoom, besides something like D&D?
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 …
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 …
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 big narrative. Campaign games can be Legacy games but don’t need to be destructive or changing in nature, it can just be a grand story that is told throughout.
Let’s get to the list:
10 – Sword & Sorcery
This is a big dice chucking ameritrash campaign game where you take your group of heroes of old who have been brought back in the nations time of need. You get to level up, get new skills and attacks and generally be pretty awesome as you chuck dice and go through a pretty simple story. The game really gives you a lot of dice to chuck and a lot of cool abilities to use. Just in the base game there are plenty of characters to checkout and you can get a whole lot more in small character expansions or in the bigger box story expansions. This is probably one of the most classic in terms of story that you’ll find for a campaign. It is a bit fiddly, but the upkeep and monster actions are fairly simple and the story is small enough that you don’t feel like you’re spending all your time adjusting the board and looking up story elements in the book, but the initial set-up can be pretty slow.
9 – Risk Legacy
Probably the campaign that has the least amount of story in it. However, the board changes in a legacy style as you play and you can unlock things as new things happen in the game to create even more weird challenges. The story of this game really comes from the players as you face off against each other over and over again for points in this Risk based game that allows you to win not from taking over but by getting victory points for taking out your enemies bases and completing missions. Each game goes pretty fast, which is enjoyable, and you feel like you’ve gotten that Risk dice chucking combat done, but without it overstaying it’s welcome. Plus, unless an odd situation happens, you’re always going to be able to hope back into the game and possibly mess someone up and get back into contention, versus being eliminated. Not a ton of depth to this campaign, but a fun time.
8 – Star Wars: Imperial Assault
The Star Wars dungeon crawl, Imperial Assault offers you two ways to play. First, you can do it with someone running the empire and working within the game to create scenarios and a story that you play through. Or you can be completely cooperative and play through the game using an app that helps you with your book keeping as to everything the empire needs to do. This was the precursor to Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth in what it was doing with the app. The story is fun, and what I really like about this story is that it’s adjacent to the original trilogy story, at least out of the core box. So you don’t play as Luke, Leia, or Han, and you can’t kill of Darth Vader or the Emperor, but they might show up in your story as someone to help you or someone to run away from. It’s fun to see how they can weave that together and create a fun experience of a campaign.
7 – Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Another not that story driven one, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, has you play through a campaign of the books, getting new threats that you’re raising to finish and new bad guys you’re trying to beat. This is a deck building game that builds on itself as you play more and more games of it, there are seven total games to play out of the base box, one for each book, and you gain new abilities and new cards to build you deck in each one. It starts out simple, but eventually has you focusing more into what you can do really well. You get to play the main characters the base box has Neville, Ron, Hermione, and Harry, and take them through their times at Hogwarts. A downside is that while the game is simple, the longer you go, the more bad guys you have to beat.
6 – Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
One that I just got into recently but this game has so many things that I love. First, there is a digital component, not that that makes the game so amazing, but because it makes it more immersive as you’re trying to “solve” the case put in front of you. Then with that, you’re also using your own deduction skills, I really like using deduction and puzzling through things, even if I’m not great at figuring out the puzzle all the time, right away. There is so much going on in this game, story wise, that you feel like you’re in it trying to actually solve this case. It reminds me a bit of procedural crime TV shows, but you get to be the main characters. And while I’m not a huge fan of those shows, being a character in that show is fascinating. And while we were investigating, we were getting cards and things to be added into future cases because of what we’d studied before so out of the base box, with five cases, you develop a whole story as these cases tie together.
5 – Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Arkham Horror is an interesting one to put on the list, because as a Living Card game it’s getting new campaigns and parts to old campaigns pretty often. Out of the base box, you have a three part story where you do the first scenario and what you do in that causes changes for future scenarios. There is a lot that I love out of this game, first you get to play through a surprisingly immersive story for something that is done just with cards. You have interesting and different characters as well in the story. And even with just cards, they do wildly different things at times. Add in that you can do some deck building in this game, not during the game but before or between, you can develop the strategy that you want to take into a case, it might be a strategy of more fighting or more investigating, or blending and balancing the two depending on your style, and unlike some of these campaigns where eventually you’ll have played through it, this one is still getting new content all the time.
4 – TIME Stories
This one has less of a through story than a lot of the campaign games, but there are certain elements that tie it together. You are always worried about another time agency that is trying to mess with time and multiverse in it, and thus far, I’ve really enjoyed every scenario. I feel like they’ve managed to change them up a bit, and while you often have combat or things that are just rolling dice and hoping to get lucky, it does work very well. Each scenario has very strong story elements to it as well as you are trying to figure out a puzzle and an optimal path through the game to win, but with that, you’re exploring and uncovering elements of the story as well. I really like the fact that you are put into “vessels” and that’s how you time travel in the game, and sometimes, you don’t do well enough and your “vessel” dies, but jumping back into the past, you can join the game again and do another run to try and solve the puzzle. It can get a bit repetitive for some, but I haven’t found that to be an issue.
3 – Pandemic Legacy Season 1
Second Legacy game on the list, and I will toss in Season 2 as kind of continuation of this if you want more content. Pandemic is a great cooperative game where you are trying to cure diseases. Pandemic Legacy offers much of the same with that, but story and a changing and expanding rule set as time goes on. The game never feels too complex, but it is more challenging than the regular game. I really like how they manage losing in the game, you continue on if you lost twice in a month, and help you balance that out by getting more useful cards back in your deck that allow you to bend the rules. And the story, while not complex is good, and it has a nice twist to it. I don’t think that the twist was all that surprising, but definitely changes up the game.
2 – Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon
This game just screams epic campaign game. You get to level up and improve your character and you get to explore a massive story as you travel through the lands of Avalon. There are some things I really enjoy about the game, first is the story element. You get to delve into so much of a massive exploration journal and find out so much about the world. This is a dark world as well, and I really appreciate that the storytelling is set in that and that there is a survival element to the game as well. This can be a punishing game that makes you travel around places and do the same things multiple times, but that’s kind of the point of the game as you are traveling through this grim dark Avalon facing off against monstes, trying to hold the Wyrdness at bay by keeping Menhir lit, and struggling to find food. It’s played out over several chapters and you definitely don’t see everything in the game, so it’s a campaign you can come back to again and explore more to see if you can do better.
1 – Gloomhaven
My #1 game of all time, no surprise it’s at the top of the list. Gloomhaven just is a wonderfully massive game. It tells a good story, I wouldn’t say as good as Tainted Grail, but beyond that, the mechanics are amazing, I love the card combat and movement that you have in each scenario as you try and puzzle out what is going to be the best and what the enemies might do. And there’s just so much content in the game, not just scenarios, but also monsters to fight and characters to play as. I love that you have to retire characters at certain points, and that then gives you a new character that feels different from other characters, there’s just so much interesting things going on in the game and there are apps to help make it faster to get to the table that are great. I’ve talked about this a lot, so I’ll stop there, but it’s amazing.
One thing I’ll point out about this list, with the exception of Risk Legacy, all the games on the list are cooperative. It’s fairly rare for there to be competitive campaign games, that I’ve seen, though there are some out there with the likes of Charterstone, which is fun, and Seafall, which is long. But most are going to lean cooperative, so think about that, if you don’t love cooperative games and you want to play a campaign game. And I have a lot more to play and coming than I’ve already played. I really want to get the likes of Betrayal Legacy, Clank Legacy! and Aeon’s End Legacy to the table as well sooner rather than later, because all of those are campaigns based off of games that I already love. Also, I left Dungeons and Dragons off the list, because, I want to keep it board games versus adding in RPG’s which are great but different experiences.
What are some of your favorite campaign games? What are some that I should checkout?
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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 …
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 all of the games on this solo, but it is an official option, and I’ll call out when I haven’t done it, might be for one of several reasons including I started it not solo, so for a game on the list, that’s the only reason I haven’t played it solo. But as we’re in a time when for some people solo gaming might be their only option, here are 10 games from my favorites that can be played solo, officially.
10 – Onirim
Technically you can play the game with two players, but it’s a solo game through and through. It’s a fun puzzle type of game as you are trying to escape or sort a dream before the nightmares can get you. But to do that, you need to play down colored cards in pairs of three of the same color, you just can’t have the same symbol back to back. And beware the pesky nightmares, that can ruin a good hand or will you push your luck in other ways to deal with the nightmare? The game plays fast, and app for it is great, but I like playing it with the physical game, even though there can be a lot of shuffling. There are also a lot of expansions/variations that you can play out of the box as well, so it gives you good variety in the game.
9 – Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game
The name is a mouthful, but the game offers a lot of interesting fun solo. In it you play as Harry Dresden and two other characters when solo and you build out a hand for each of them. So really it’s a multihanded game at that point, but compared to the normal three player game, I believe that you end up with less cards to work with, and in a game where cards are at a premium, it makes is very tough still even with perfect information. The game is definitely a puzzle to be solved at that point in time, and with a few lucky die rolls maybe it’ll be an easy solve, but you never know. If you’re a Dresden Files fan, I’d say that it matches the books well, if you’re not, I think the game is interesting, but probably not as strong.
8 – Welcome To…
This flip and write offers you an interesting game that you can do solo as you build up your perfect Stepford, I mean perfect town. It does one thing that isn’t my favorite in a solo game, it’s a beat your best score sort of game, but it works well as a solo game. You have a lot of choices to make as you have to use two cards from a combination of three. Now, this is the solo mode that comes out of the base box, I do believe that they created another solo variant for the game at a later time that might be even better or give you another challenge for winning besides just trying to beat your best score. It’s a good solo filler game.
7 – Arkham Horror: The Card Game
This is the game that a future game on the list is loosely based off of, but this one holds up well on it’s own. In this game you construct a deck for your investigator and then you send them off to investigate some weird goings on and solve the mystery that is happening. I like it solo because as compared to some where you are just trying to beat a point total, in this one, you have a clear objective and with only one player, the game moves along really nicely. I have played this one player and two player, and while two player is fun because you can share the story, at one player you have no downtime. And there’s a ton of content for this, so you’re not likely to ever run out of material to play in the game.
6 – Aeon’s End: War Eternal
One of a few deck builders or deck constructions games, Aeon’s End: War Eternal is a really fun game and works really well solo. On Malts and Meeples, I played through a game of it solo and it worked well to play it two handed. You can play up to 4 breach mages, but I think that two works fine and is easy to keep track of. But because you aren’t shuffling the decks that are being built ever, it keeps the downtime of not playing the game to a minimum because you’re always just flipping for the next turn. The game has a lot of cool mechanics, and I think that the not shuffling the deck is one of the coolest, and I really like the turn order mechanic as well where you’re just flipping from a deck so you never know who is going to go next.
5 – Xenoshyft: Onslaught
I’ve played this one solo, kind of, I’ve played it solo in the app, and while the game worked well solo, the app is horrible and I’d strongly recommend not playing it that way. It definitely doesn’t work on a phone and maybe would on a tablet. But it’s a game that you can find and have a variety of how you play it depending on which character you pick. I expect that it’d be more challenging solo, though, you only have to make it through 3 rounds at each difficulty level. The downside is that the health of your base is way lower. The game offers good challenge and I like the somewhat silly nature of the game because it reminds me of Starship Troopers and a bit of Ender’s Game as you’re defending a base against bug monsters.
4 – Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon
The downside to putting this one on the list is that it’s going to be extremely hard to find. It was a Kickstarter at the end of 2018 that delivered at the end of 2019. There are going to be some copies on eBay, but I’d expect them to be expensive, but I really like this game solo. It’s a massive story driven survival game where you are sent out from your little farming village after the real heroes of the town have gone out and not come back. Can you fend off the Wyrdness that is creeping across the lands of Avalon and solve the mysteries that the game presents to you. The game is done in chapters, and I find the chapters to be a solid bite of the game that you can play in a sitting or two and get interesting and good story. It’s going to be spendy, but it’s really good.
3 – Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
When you want a mystery to try and solve, Mansions of Madness: Second Edition gives you that. I have played this solo once I believe, and I thought it worked pretty well. Board Game Geek users don’t think it’s bad at one, they just like it at higher player counts, and I think the most heavily story driven games I find that to be true, but it works well in a pinch. As you’re playing against the app which is laying out the mystery, you might find that you’re not having enough time to do everything, and that’s even the case with multiplayer. The app lays out the board and mysteries as well, so even if you’ve played a scenario once and lost, you can play it again and you’ll notice little things that are different about it. I really like this game, and because of the app integration, it’d be a really good solo game.
2 – Marvel Champions: The Card Game
I’ve played this one solo a few times and while I’ve only beat it multiplayer, that is because I was learning it more so playing it solo. The game is a lot of fun, you feel like the superhero that you’re supposed to be playing with the actions that they have and equipment. The deck building aspect is interesting as well because you can really change up the character with the aspect that you give them, maybe you want Iron Man to be defensive or a leader or aggressive, by swapping out some of the generic cards, you’re able to build the character so that they focus in a unique way. If you’re a Marvel fan and a board game fan, I’d say that this game is a really good choice, and the solo mode for this time works extremely well.
1 – Gloomhaven
This is one of them that I haven’t played solo, but you can, even though you need to play it two handed solo. I can see the solo working really well and I know it’s very popular solo, because you can really work on synergies and strategies that you might not be able to do in a multiplayer game. They recommend in the rule book for solo that you play up a level of difficulty for that reason because you’ll know precisely how fast both the characters are going. Now, with Gloomhaven , playing is solo, I’d say that the Gloomhaven Helper app is a must, and I’d even think the Foreteller app with the 51 base Gloomhaven scenarios and coming soon the side scenarios being read to you, it’d offer more feeling of discovery and immersion. Now, Gloomhaven is, of course, massive, so I’d recommend getting an organizer and even leaving it set out if you can.
What are some games that you like to play solo? I know that I have more on my list, such as Aeon’s End Legacy, Folklore The Affliction and 7th Continent that I need to play. Plus there are games like Sword & Sorcery and Legends of Andor that’d work well solo but didn’t make the list for me. Now is really the time if you can dig into a bigger adventure game to tackle one of those solo as we probably won’t be able to have many in person gaming experiences for a while.
Are there any games that I should checkout for solo play? Do you think that any listed don’t work well solo?
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