I couldn’t have done this list a year ago but now I’ve played over 10 of them, and I have even more on my shelf that I need to play. Roll and Write games (or flip and write or flick and write) are a very …
Tag: Top 10 List
Yes, this is highly subjective, and Halloween candies are generally just candies, but we will be talking about some Halloween specific ones on this list, and #1 might shock you (oh yeah, create that click bait). These are all going to be candies that you …
Completely different, but since we’re in the middle of summer and I’ve been outside grilling more, I thought it could be fun to do. So what does grilling have to do with beer, it’s a rare situation that I’m not grilling with a beer in my hands. I’ve been using Untapped for a while now (you can find me there as TheScando) and I’ve rated 1081 different unique beers. So join me as I go through my Top 10 beers.
10 – Goose Island Bourbon County
This is a big and bold beer with a lot of great barrel aged flavor to it. It doesn’t work for a light beer fan sitting at 14.7% ABV and being very dark and almost syrupy. It has hits of chocolate and coffee bitterness coming through that help balance out this big flavor. I’m generally a big fan of these darker barrel aged beers during the winter here in Minnesota when you want something that just kind of sticks with you. There are others similar to this that could have made the list as well, but because it’s a limited release it makes it feel just a bit more special.
9 – Steel Toe Size 7
Now onto more of a summer beer for me, though I will drink IPA’s throughout the year. Steel Toe is a local brewery that actually does three different versions of this be, a Size 4, Size 7, and Size 11, which refers to the ABV. I personally like the Size 7 best, the Size 4 is just a bit too light whereas the Size 11 is a bit to malty, the Size 7 gives you that good beer body while balancing it out nicely with the hops.
8 – Deschutes Zarabanda
This was one of the first odder beers that I tried and really loved, unfortunately I don’t believe it’s put out by Deschutes anymore, or if it is, it’s going to be at their tap room only. Zarabanda had a lot of unique flavors to it including peppercorn, it was just a fun one to try and something so very different. I hope, maybe, Deschutes would consider bringing this one back for a limited run at some point in bottles so that I could enjoy it again.
I also got to try this at one for the first Tryptophania’s that a local bar does the night before Thanksgiving. It’s a great even where you just show up like normal, but they’ll have a guest brewer doing a tap takeover and you’ll be able to try beers that you wouldn’t normally see on tap. They’ve had Deschutes, New Holland, and Indeed as various breweries that have done it.
7 – Deschutes Fresh Squeezed
Back to back Deschutes, but this one is more straight forward. Fresh Squeezed is just a good citrusy IPA. And most of the time when I want an IPA, I like it to have a bit of that grapefruit bite to it. Fresh Squeezed definitely has some of that. It’s an odd beer that I think works much better in a bottle than in a can. The can just tweaks the flavor slightly so that it doesn’t work as well. The only knock on this beer for me is that it’s best when it’s perfectly cold, if it gets too warm on a summer’s day, it isn’t as good.
6 – Surly Axe Man
Another IPA for the list Surly Axe Man (formerly known as Todd the Axe Man) is a pretty big IPA. Sitting just over 7%, it’s not that much stronger but it just has a good consistent flavor. It has the citrus flavor that I really love. A bit harder to find, this beer is very much worth it though and is another one that just has that great summery taste to it.
5 – Insight Crazy Aunt
Now for something completely different again. This beer is out there as a Gin and Tonic style beer. And it does taste a good amount like a gin and tonic, maybe just a bit sweeter. Canned it is a great refreshing taste but, oddly enough, not as good on tap. I actually think the slight metallic taste that it can pick up from a can cuts down on the sweetness that you still get on the tap making it a better and more balanced flavor profile. If you want to try something completely different, this is amazing.
4 – Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Another great winter beer, I could have gone with the CBS instead of the KBS, but the CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout) has more of a sweet note to it with the maple syrup. This is another one of those big barrel aged stouts that really holds up well in the winter. I wouldn’t drink this beer in the summer at all just because of the darkness and heaviness of the beer, but it is great for sticking to your ribs as you drink it. If you want to try a big barrel aged stout, I’d probably start here or Dragon’s Milk from New Holland.
3 – East Lake Nicollet Nicollet Mauler Mauler
The Nicky Nicky Mau Mau as I know it, this is the double black IPA version of the Nicollet Mauler a black IPA. So you get a good malty flavor, but unlike a stout or a porter, you have less of that sweet malt backbone, instead you get more of the dark roasted malt flavors then with a strong hit of the hops. This one is another one that isn’t being brewed anymore, but I hope comes back at some point. Fortunately, I can brew an double black IPA myself that is basically the same, so hopefully this winter I’ll be able to drink something like it again.
2 – Mikkeller Brewing Raspberry Blush
Now, I’m normally not a fan of the fruity beers unless they are very sour, but this one just is fascinating and really good. It’s a raspberry coffee berliner weisse, so technically a sour, but it isn’t as sour as most sours. The coffee note balances it all out and creates a very unique flavor that I just really love. I’ve had it on tap and in cans and either way it is just really good. Definitely an interesting flavor profile, but a good side step from your traditional sour.
1 – Odell St. Lupulin
Finally, another one that isn’t being brewed anymore, which is a real shame. If I could only drink one brew for the rest of my life, this would have been it. It was light and refreshing with a great hop profile, but not one that just tasted like a summer beer but it had more depth to it than that, even if it was only brewed for the summer months. The hop profile is less citrus on this and more floral in terms of the profile, but not potpourri floral, but more hop fragrance. BRB, just found that it’s available on one of their variety 12 packs, but if you’re an IPA/EPA fan, definitely worth checking out.
Now, there are so many more beers that I could list, and I’ll probably do a top 10 brewery list coming up here soon because I can talk about more of them then. There’s the Lazer Cat (Elysian Day Glow IPA) that just missed the list as well as a massive collection of coffee beers and barrel aged stuff that I have also enjoyed. And even stuff like Light Hearted, a low ABV IPA that I’ve found that I’ve really enjoyed recently on summer days.
What are some of your favorite beers? Are there any that you think would make my list if I tried them?
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Jumping around in our Top 10 topics, we’re going to go to books and or series. I was thinking about doing more movies, and I’ll come back to them, but felt like time to do books for some reason. I’m lumping series together, because I would probably have 8 or 9 of the spots filled up with books from one series that you’ll have to see what it is later on the list.
10 – Good Omens
I like some humor in by books and this one has a good amount of it. Good Omens is the story of an Angel and a Demon who are working together because they don’t really want to see the apocalypse come around. Unfortunately, nothing is really working like they think it will and can you actually avoid the apocalypse? Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman do a great job with this story and it’s a fast and really enjoyable read.
9 – Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
More humor, this time even more absurd as Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy asks you the big questions in life as you fly around on a crazy space ship that just doesn’t quite do what you think it will. And you’d think that the universe would have some normal parts, but that’s very questionable. Douglas Adams is an author who’s writings I generally enjoy. The other Hitchhikers books are fun, though not as good. And Dirk Gentley’s Holistic Detective Agency is a new side of crazy. If you’re up for something completely absurd, anything by Adams is worth checking out.
8 – Daughter of Smoke and Bones
You’ll also see a fair amount of fantasy on the list, and Daughter of Smoke and Bones is the first one to kick it off. And it’s very different in terms of fantasy. It’s not your normal knights on horses riding off with the wizard to slay the dragon. No, this takes place partially in a modern world. The story is interestingly woven together, and while there are some stumbles in writing where it dumps backstory for too long, it’s very enjoyable. It also feels so different from standard fantasy. Laini Taylor does a good job on the story and a good job creating a world that feels unique.
7 – Swallows and Amazons
This is a series that I grew up on. We read through it multiple times growing up and it’s just a ton of fun. It’s a kids style adventure story, almost kids on bikes, but because that was really the common term for the genre. It follows three families of kids as they go exploring the lake country of England, camping under the stars, and having crazy adventures. Good wholesome fun for the whole family. Arthur Ransome really can tell a tale of adventure. Now, I will say that there is some from the times that shows up in the writing, considering they were published in the 1930’s and 1940’s, mainly in Missee Lee, and while that one is a fun romp, it is skippable in terms of the story as a whole.
6 – Stardust
Back to another story by Neil Gaiman, this one again leans into the comedy, but also a lot of fun world building. What happens when the normal world and a world of magic collide. Stardust is an absurd story of that. It has high stakes adventure, romance, and so much going on in the story. If you’re looking for something that is just a fun romp, Stardust is that, and you can blow through it quickly. Again, one that leans into that British absurdity in it’s humor like Good Omens and like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
5 – Harry Potter
I wish JK Rowling would just go away at this point in terms of her world. She’s ruining the world that she created by continually trying to fill in holes in her world and just in general, but I won’t get into that further, because the series itself is still enjoyable. Yes, there are massive plot holes, but for a series, it builds over time and they are almost always enjoyable. I like how the stories grow up with the characters, the first one is a pretty light and simple romp and story, but in the last one, they are dealing with much weightier things. I still recommend the series for kids who need something to read, and since I’ve read them a few times now, it’s something that I can breeze through quickly.
4 – The Reckoners
Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors. The man is a machine when it comes to turning about books, and while I like some of his epic fantasy stuff better, you’ll have to find out what it is, I love the Reckoners series. It’s a good young adult superhero book where it isn’t just your normal superheroes out there saving the world, the powers affect the heroes negatively so that if you have powers, you are a villain, and the Reckoners are a group of people who are taking down the worst of the worst, but you have to find out the weakness of those with super powers. Really well written, some heavier things to think about, and a ton of fun.
3 – It
Only Stephen King book on the list, though, I do enjoy a lot of his stuff, and I really need to read some of them again like Dreamcatcher. But It is a book that I can just read over and over again. He does a great job of creating the horror and the tension in the book while also having a kids on bikes adventure feel to it, almost like you get in Stranger Things. Pennywise is a great villain, and there’s a lot of depth to the story. It’s a big book, but it tells such a good tale that if you’re thinking about reading some horror or want to see what Stephen King is all about, I think that this one is a great starting point.
2 – Stormlight Archive
Second Brandon Sanderson series on the list, this is a massively epic fantasy series, I mean massive. The third book in the series, the audiobook for that is over fifty hours, it’s insane. But the story in it is amazing. Sanderson weaves together several different characters into a story about the end of the world, but also about how it could be saved. There are spren, creatures that embody everything, there are wind spren that you can see when it’s windy outside, light spren, dark spren, death spren(?), and more that people research, and it’s just a unique twist to the world. I feel like there are a lot of fantasy tropes, but also so many amazingly different things that make the series worth spending the time on.
1 – The Dresden Files
I really enjoy urban fantasy which Daughter of Smoke and Bones is in some ways, and Neverwhere, which just misses the list by Neil Gaiman, is as well. But the best urban fantasy that I’ve found has been The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. He weaves a masterfully grand tale and always world ending events that keep the stakes high, but without feeling silly like so many massive series can. Harry Dresden is just a well created character, you know he’s going to win, but it’s going to be hard along the way. Nothing ever comes to him easily, and that’s fine, and he’s never going to be a perfect character, he’s written well with flaws and that makes him seem such more real, as do all of the characters in the series. Definitely a big series, definitely an easier series to read, one to checkout if you’re having trouble finding good urban fantasy.
Now, I’ve mentioned a few other books that I like as well that almost made the list, Dirk Gentley’s Holistic Detective Agency is just out there and weird but really enjoyable. I have liked Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan is massive and enjoyable. Classics like Dune, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia all just miss the list as well. How about what, what are some of your favorite books? Have I sold you on checking out any of my favorites?
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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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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 …