Buckle in folks, this is a long one. There are plenty of games to check out, and stats/rankings at the beginning and the end of this post. Don’t feel guilty if you just skip to the games of interest and/or those rankings and lists. I don’t blame you. This is a LONG post, one I’ve worked on as games have been played throughout the month. But what better way to encapsulate the thoughts on the games I play? Some of you might enjoy this. I hope you do. Let me know! Ultimately, though, this is as much for me to collect my thoughts as it is for you to enjoy reading them. So without any further ado…
“Top 10” of 2019 Releases, Alphabetical Order
I’m not quite ready to announce this as a final list of top games of 2019. There are at least two games I really want to try for the first time, but here’s a glimpse at what is likely to make the cut. Regardless, all of these are likely to get a few more plays before an official “winner” is announced, as I’m itching to play all of these more.
Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
Marvel Champions: The Card Game
Pax Pamir (Second Edition)
Top 5 “Expansions” of 2019: Alphabetical
Bushido: Rising Rage
Exceed: Street Fighter (aka Exceed Season 3)
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Shadows in the East
Res Arcana: Lux et Tenebrae
Thunderstone Quest: Barricades Mode
Ranking the New-to-Me Games in February
1. Empyreal: Spells & Steam
3. Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan
4. Meltwater: A Game of Tactical Starvation
5. Peloponnesian War
6. Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga
8. Ahead in the Clouds
9. The One-Hundred Torii
10. Leaving Earth
11. Tokyo Highway
February Games Played Recap
This little game from Button Shy Games is a clever resource generation game for two players (although expansions make it play 1-4). It took a little time to wrap our head around how it operated, and a misprint in the rulebook didn’t help matters. But once we figured the game out it flowed really well. My wife is great at games with resource generation and fulfilling objectives through them, so it was no surprise that she completely obliterated me in the game. The outcome was never really in question, and we did both enjoy this one and look forward to getting it back to the table some more in the future.
I’ve been exploring old, dead CCGs and this was a highly regarded one from a lot of folks. I played it a few months ago for the first time and was delighted to get some more plays of it with a friend. The game is so fast, simple, and very tactical in nature. There is some luck involved, but it isn’t exclusively a luck fest. Games take 10-15 minutes, and the cards are incredibly well made. This might just be my favorite CCG to date, and being non-randomized in packs with a deck size of 5 cards makes this an easy one to collect and play time and again. I’m pretty sure my wife would think it is “fine”, but I probably will still try to teach it to her at some point in time because I’ve got an itch to play the game.
This game became an instant classic in our household last year, and is the most-played game we own since it hit our collection in 2019 (not counting my solo exploits in the LotR LCG). And with good reason, because this game is quick to play yet is full of tense, agonizing decisions almost every step of the way. Balancing the need to play cards into paths, holding the right cards to try and score the paths you need at the end, holding cards to thwart your opponents from scoring said paths, and having to discard a card which can be scooped up by your opponent if they want it…well, let’s just say there are few games that make my brain hurt in as short of a playtime as this one. This is the quintessential thinky filler for us.
This little wallet game packs a fun experience, at least for the English major in me. I love the concept of being literary characters trying to fight to reverse the banning of their book. The mechanics are pretty darn smooth in the game, and it flows quickly. It presents tough and interesting choices along the way in terms of when to trigger actions, the order to trigger them, when to just flip cards or move them along the line, etc. It is a game of balance that I did horribly at this month, coming short both times due to Stamina loss. But this one will definitely continue to hit the table as a solo experience I greatly enjoy for the timeframe it covers.
We absolutely love Broom Service, regardless of player count. It is one of those interesting, unique hybrid board games that offers just enough interesting decisions to make it a welcome hit on the table. So of course we picked up the Card Game version – admittedly, I was more interested in the promos for Broom Service. The card game takes the fascinating Brave/Cowardly mechanic and spins an entire 20-minute experience around just that. And it works well enough, providing a fun filler to close out an evening of games. I think we’ll always prefer the board game version of Broom Service, but this is definitely a keeper for those times when we want a quick game with a handful of other folks.
I’ve been a fan of this game from the first play, and every time it gets back to the table I remember exactly what I love about it. I’m yet to play with anyone who dislikes the game, but I also carefully avoid introducing it to our one gaming friend who actively dislikes “building games” because this is very much a building game. And that always provides an enjoyable sensation by the end, seeing the castle you’ve constructed. Even when I play poorly and come in last, like I did when we taught it to a friend this month (#goodteacher), this game is a pure joy. The auction/bidding mechanic is one of my favorite parts of the game, something echoed in another of my favorite games: Isle of Skye. If you haven’t played this one yet, it is definitely worth checking out.
Even though I love the 2-player version of the game more, I really dig the Lone Cowboy expansions (I have them both, giving me 9 cards total to try!). The rules modified here are really simple and the most challenging part can be determining which territories are the most predominant for the “opponent”, since they only score their 3 most abundant types. Which almost always scores more than my 6 combined, since they don’t play by the same rules. I feel like I need to get far better at risk-reward decisions around the circle, as I’ve suffered far more losses than wins in the solo play of this. Not quite to Sprawlopolis level of pitiful, but pretty darn close. This is the one wallet game I would choose to keep if I could only retain one Button Shy title in my collection, even though it isn’t my favorite overall of their games. This one is simply perfect for what it provides.
One of my most anticipated games since the end of 2018 has finally arrived and let’s just say I couldn’t be more pleased with the final product here. The game has production value that is out of this world, a fantastic and simple set of rules, and immense amount of replay value without any need for hundreds of maps to accomplish that replay value. This game is everything I want in a pick up and deliver game, and reaffirms my belief that Level 99 Games is the most underrated publisher in the industry. They have so many enjoyable, replayable games in their catalog and they will continue to dominate my Top 50 of all time. Odds are really good that this game will make a strong rise after some additional plays, too. I didn’t back the game to get the expansion as part of the package, but a local gamer did get the As Above, So Below expansion and was kind enough to loan me the Automa cards to try it out solo. And boy, it is a smooth and simple solitaire system – my opponent had the unfortunate placement early on to where it drew too many “dead” placement cards, placing a hard cap on its deliveries throughout most of the game. Even so, it was a fun and fast solitaire experience that will hit the table more – and convinced me that I probably should also pick up said expansion at some point for the solo deck…as well as the Purple player components for my wife to play with!
This one returned to the table for a match against the evil rat, Rugwort. After playing with 2-3 players, the solo experience was the final piece of the puzzle I was looking to include when preparing for a review of the game. And I shouldn’t have been worried, as this solo experience provided a nice, challenging loss for me in a very narrow game. It still suffers from one of the main issues I have with the base game experience, which I discussed in depth in the review: the special event cards. That is a really thick deck of cards, and even with getting through a fair chunk of cards each play I have only seen one game where a special event has been accomplished. The problem in solo play? Rugwort gets points for each of these you don’t score…which is pretty much money-in-the-bank for him.
An old game in our collection, and one of the longest tenured games for us. It doesn’t get pulled off the shelf often enough anymore, but is still a delight every time it hits the table. My wife wanted a short game to play at the end of the night following the brain burn that learning Noria caused for us at the table. The simple gameplay, the easy drafting of the cards, and the interesting scoring mechanics make this a welcome treat every time it gets played. It’ll never be our most-played or favorite game, but I don’t foresee it ever leaving our collection either.
This game is one I’ve wanted to play for years. It was rumored to be among the absolute best Viking-themed games on the market and I am a complete sucker for Viking themed games. The problem: 3-5 players. We try to avoid owning games that cannot play 2, but I had a chance to get this last summer from a local guy for $20 and pounced on that chance, thinking we’d eventually get to try it. Eventually finally arrived this month, as a friend came over and requested to play something we hadn’t ever played. This fit the bill perfectly, especially since this friend (who hates building games) enjoys pick-up-and-deliver games. I think my wife even got over the presence of dice in here, as at the end we all talked about how enjoyable the game was and I think we might see a repeat of this one next month as we get in some more plays. I’m not sure if it is my favorite Viking-themed game I’ve ever played, but it definitely is up there among the best. My wife really wishes it could be played at 2, which is an equally good sign. This one is going to join the A Game of Thrones Board Game and the Broom Service Card Game as permanent additions to our collection that require 3+ players, a rarity on our shelves.
You may not know this little solo game, and why should you? It is my first game design and, as yet, unpublished. I worked hard on it and had it mostly in a good place last year, but something was bothering me about the game. The feedback was mixed on the chit-draw system for testing so I needed to change it. That meant either going with dice rolls or making a deck of testing cards. I wanted to maintain the chance of automatic success and automatic failure, but wasn’t sure how to do that with dice apart from radically changing the values on all cards. I had a revelation at the end of the month and now things are updated to include rolling 2d6 and subtracting the lower result from the higher. This gave me the spread of numbers I wanted (0-5 as possibilities, with 0-2 being the most likely) and allowed double 1’s and double 6’s to fill the desired success/failure rolls. Give it a week before you check the game for the 2.0 files and rules to be uploaded, but I definitely welcome you to try the game out if you’re interested! It is a page of 9 cards and 3 pages of rules, all ink-friendly! And I submitted the new version off to a publisher. Fingers crossed! Let’s keep the design momentum going and get a 2-player game wrapped up in March…
A friend loaned me his copy of Hostage Negotiator, which has everything released in there, so I could try the game out. I talked about it last month, and set it aside thinking there was a small chance I’d try it again before returning the game. And, well, I happened to notice that Crime Wave was deeply discounted at my FLGS to where it would be difficult to pass by. So I resolved to try my friend’s copy one last time before deciding if I wanted the game or not, and I tried to figure out what was only from the Crime Wave expansion and use that content. In spite of the dice rolling to pass/fail testing, this is a quick and fun game that I genuinely enjoy getting to the table. And then I pulled it out once more a few nights later, running through base game cards and had such a run of bad luck for two games in a row that it never once seemed like I had a prayer of success. Which, ultimately, saved my wallet from a bad investment. I’m glad I played the game, and would gladly do so again. But if I want a dice-chucking fast solo game, I’ll turn to Hoplomachus.
A classic Feld game with a fresh look and theme. I’ve loved The Speicherstadt from the first play of the game, but the theme and appearance left me wanting. Jorvik had been on my wishlist ever since I learned of its existence, but it took forever to finally get around to acquiring it for my collection. We finally tried out the game at 2 (I’ve previously played 3-5) and I finally got to include the expansion board and cards from the original (already included in Jorvik!) and, well, I’ll never want to play without the extra stuff. And this game is so tight and cutthroat at 2 that it is a sheer delight to play. Plopping down that meeple where you have no intention of buying a card, purely to make your opponent either pay more or have to forsake the purchase of that card, is so wonderful. And it happens all the time at 2. Cards become pricey quick, even with only 2 players, because you have 4 workers to spread out among 6 cards (3 if playing without the expansion). Auction/bidding games rarely work with 2. I can think of only one other that has left a strong impression (Biblios) as being great with 2. And I think I officially can go on the record to state that Jorvik/Speicherstadt is my favorite Feld game so far. That should give you an idea of where this might fall come June when I refresh my Top 100…
This game was highly recommended to me as a solo game, and I’ll admit I was a little curious to try it out. Once I read through the rules and watched part of Heavy Cardboard’s solo playthrough video, I had a good handle on what to do for the game. And I was genuinely enjoying myself in the game, having a solid plan from the start on how to achieve victory via a series of Moon-related missions and sending a probe out to orbit Mars. And then I landed on the Moon with a Probe and discovered the Moon wouldn’t be able to allow landing at all so my collection of a sample wasn’t going to work any more. This left me in a predicament, as the Moon presented a ton of my points and, after running the numbers, the only path to victory required me to collect a sample on Venus instead for the biggest chunk of points. It took a lot of planning. Figuring out how to make a trip there and back without needing a bajillion rockets. FIred a probe off and started working toward that Mars orbit, trying to get them to coincide for victory around the same year. The probe arrives at Venus and, wouldn’t you know it, can’t land there, either. Hours invested into the game for my first play to run into the end result of an unwinnable game regardless of how well I planned or executed. Unwinnable situations are fine in a shorter game, because you can reset and try again with hope for a better scenario. But a game this math-heavy, taxing on the brain for all the planning, and a multi-hour journey…only to find out there was no path to win…. Yeah, hard pass for me. I’m just glad I was able to borrow this before considering a purchase.
My favorite solo game of all time. I have more plays of this game than the next 4 games combined. It is always fun getting this to the table, even with my ~30% win rate in the game. I decided to continue playing through quests in order of release, although that will soon come to an end since I am missing most of the Dwarrowdelf Cycle – I played through the second and third quests from Khazad-Dum using an unrefined Ranger/Dunedain trap and sidequest deck that has too many cards and I think runs just 1 of every card in there to try and get a feel for which cards should stay and which should go. Playing through earlier quests helps me to appreciate the maturity of the design that happens, as some of the quests are just ridiculous with the tricks they have or the very narrow requirements. However, these two have been pretty fun and enjoyable. My loss in the third quest was probably more a problem of my deck (not drawing into allies after the first round and getting no traps beyond 1 in my opening hand) than an issue with the quest itself. More plays to come this month…
This game is very much a classic worker placement game, and it was refreshing getting a chance to experience it again. This was my first play without the expansion included in the experience and it definitely changed the game flow. The board was extremely tight with 5 players (I’ve never played with fewer than 5, either! Something I need to change eventually when we get the game for our own collection) but we all knew the game so things flowed extremely well. We all pursued our unique strategies and ended up clustered relatively well along the scoreboard at the end, which is something that felt good to see. Every time I play this walk away wanting to play it more often, which means we definitely need to get around to picking this up soon.
Oh boy, did this game come out of nowhere. I hadn’t heard a thing about the game until my wargaming friend mentioned it about a month ago. He kept repeating the name with satisfaction, as if that was all that should be needed to interest a player. And sure, it has a unique name. Hollandspiele is full of games that are unique in name and in gameplay. From that perspective, this was a perfect fit for their catalog. We had some initial issues in missing a key rule because it was mentioned under the components (bizarre place for a critical concept) but once we figured that out and started over, the game was great. Lots of planning and adapting to a shrinking map. Plenty of room for being mean to your opponent: after all, you win by being the last one with units still on the map. Delightfully easy rules to parse, which opened the way for the gameplay to shine. I don’t think it is my favorite Hollandspiele game, but this one is a game I’m going to be excited to play more and might just be one to teach to my wife…and I’m fully aware I’ll lose playing against her, too. This might be the best hidden gem of a game I’ve encountered for quite some time.
It had been too long since this one hit the table. My wife isn’t a fan of card games and, well, this is very much a card game plus. A friend of mine requested to learn the game, since he owns it but felt overwhelmed on where to begin in terms of sorting, etc. on what he had. So I brought out my copy and we played using the recommended Store setup with the modified rules from Collusion to separate out the Core Set into its own stack. As anticipated, the first tournament played was a one-sided affair as it can be a challenge to know how to value things going into your first ever tournament round. However, from there it swung hard in his direction and he built a monster of an 8-card deck that obliterated me in the second tournament and just barely outscored me in the final tournament. I have never been happier to have been a #goodteacher in a game, and afterwards we both felt like we had played a nice, heavy game. He compared the brain burn to what he gets after an 18XX game, even though this is a very different, unique game to play. Hopefully he enjoyed it enough to want to play it more, and this one cements itself again as one of my absolute favorite game experiences to get to the table.
This game was an instant favorite for me years ago when a friend introduced it to me. And 18 bajillion expansions later, this is still a top-tier game for me. I picked up the new Nemesis expansion on the last day of February, which was an auto-buy for me since it introduced a way to experience solitaire play of the game. For some reason no one else delights in the towers of cards as much as I do with everything mixed together, so this will allow me to get this game to the table a lot more. With 13 different opponents of varying difficulty and two sides to the AI selection board, this is going to have a TON of replay value. I still need to pick up that Harmony expansion that was released last year to “complete” my collection – minus a promo I’m missing – and I still have a row to fill in this Conclave box. I can never get enough of this game, even when it all goes horribly wrong for me like it did last night. I really enjoyed the smooth AI opponent to face, and the new Level 4 advancement cards plus the Titan Leaders add enough cool things for anyone to want to grab this expansion even if they don’t want to play it solo.
This game intimidated me to no end. I was in love with the art and the idea of the game since I heard it announced, and I finally got a copy of the game late last year. And I danced around learning and teaching the game far too often to where it just needed to get played. The rules themselves didn’t seem to be too brutal, but the unique layout of the rules combined with the very spatial aspect of the action wheel made it one of those that simply wasn’t going to fully click until it hit the table. And yes, the first 3-4 rounds had us all asking questions and verifying how things should flow. But a funny thing happened – about halfway through the game we no longer hit those snags. The issues with turning the wheel subsided (mostly), and we were able to just enjoy the gameplay. All three of us had very different strategies, and the scores were reasonably close overall all things considered. And I think we all have thoughts on what to do differently, especially in the first half of the game, when it gets played again. I have a feeling this will be one that we return to another time or two this month, along with Empyreal.
This one came in the mail unexpectedly, as had the past two Pencil First Games titles (Heroes Welcome and Skulk Hollow, the latter of which you might have noticed is one of my top 2019 titles! I strongly recommend that to anyone looking for a 2-player asymmetric game). This one appeared to be a lighter, tile-laying game experience with fantastic components and artwork, and I brought it out several nights in a row with the intent of playing it solo if I had time. After several non-plays, I finally got it to the table as a solo experience. While I misplayed one pretty big rule, forgetting to give the AI an extra bonus tile when they got double Torii tiles, I did enjoy this quick and lighter game. It’ll scratch an itch that my wife should enjoy, similar to what Seasons of Rice provides but in a little longer and deeper format from that. It is one I could see being a staple for nights when we want to play a game but don’t want anything too complex as a nice way to competitively pass the end of an evening. And I’ll definitely give the solo another run or two with the correct rules this time before passing judgment on that aspect, although I think it’ll stick around more for the multiplayer experience.
I picked up the expansion around Christmas time and finally got a chance to try it out with the solo mode this month, facing off against the Lich King. I was initially dismayed by its score, as it easily surpassed my typical scores. However, there were some key cards into the mix from the expansion that helped me to raise my own “bar” for scores, especially since I started off the game with a Relic of War and focused on pumping that up whenever I was able. It gave me just enough to topple the Lich King in a fun, easy-to-use solo system that plays really fast (just like the base game). It was a great challenge, and has me looking forward to some rematches soon!
You probably saw the review, but if you didn’t you can find my full thoughts on this game there. This is easily my favorite version of this game, as the look and feel of the game is fresh yet retains the positive aspects I enjoyed. It is still dice-dependent and you rarely feel overpowered to where success is guaranteed, providing both tension with every test and swingyness as a factor to overcome. When it goes well, this is one of my favorite solo games to play. When the dice roll consistently horrible, it can still feel crummy in losing. I wish it set up a little quicker, but the game plays at a nice pace and I love the integration of a story booklet.
This one is a hard game to place. Right now, it is sitting around the middle of the “month” experiences for new-to-me games because it is going to require more time diving into the game system and trying out a little more of what it has to offer. I’ve run through the introductory walkthrough turn and then a few rounds from the beginning, but haven’t played a game out to completion yet. Which means this game has all of the potential in the world to move up that list in the future, but is going to be very limited because it requires both time and space, and some days I just don’t have enough of one or the other in order to get a full play of it in before it needs torn down. So far my impression is cautiously optimistic toward a really fascinating solitaire experience from GMT Games. Forcing you to switch sides in the battle if you are doing too well, but not well enough to win, blows my mind in the perfect sort of way. If you go hard for the win and fall short, suddenly you are having to dig out of the hole the other side was placed into by your own aggressive efforts. You want to bring the war to a successful, early ending, and the better you do at accomplishing that the stronger your score. This might be a dark horse candidate for game of the year. That’s how much potential I see in this one. However, I’m not sure if I will ever get a chance to play it to completion – I’ll be looking to see if any of the other scenarios are shorter than the 10-round campaign.
It was the perfect moment to play this game. I was stuck in a hotel room with a sleeping child and no one else. I needed something to rescue me from the boredom that would fall upon a normal person. So I pulled this out for my second and third solo plays of this, and it went WAY better than the first time I tried to wrap my head around the game. Granted, the first time was months ago when in the hospital while my daughter was dealing with issues, so that might have been the issue on that first play. This game is challenging in all the right ways, and I fell short both times. I realized when the first game was ending that I was making it harder on myself because I was only focusing on the Paradox and trying to match that rather than including the Plan in my hand. Sadly, I did worse on the next play…so this is going right along with all of the other Button Shy solo experiences: I lose, lose, lose. Late in the month I finally got my wife to try it out against me and, well, it didn’t fare any better for me. It took her some time to wrap her head around the game, which isn’t surprising, but once it clicked for her the game flowed well. She liked Ahead in the Clouds, which we played first, more than this one but I am confident we’ll play this more in the future.
**This appears to be the ONE game I played this month that I failed to take a picture of…**
This game continues to impress me every time it hits the table. It had been far too long since my last plays of the game (how had it been since September!?) and that won’t be an issue before the next plays of this one. The first expansion was picked up around the holiday season and integrated seamlessly into the core game, adding extra Mages, Artifacts, and more. It also limits the number of Monuments put into play, and overall provides a nice, tight experience with no real need to explain any additional rules apart from the presence of the Scrolls. This game is fast, fun, and has plenty of room to slow down an opponent’s engine if you get the right cards and want to use them. I’m not saying this replaces Race for the Galaxy by any means, but it definitely is in consideration for the best Tom Lehmann game I’ve ever played – and that says a lot, since Race for the Galaxy is probably still a Top 20 game for me overall. I love having the personal deck of 8 cards, and trying to figure out how to potentially build a functional engine from those cards (depending on when you draw them, of course!). My downfall this play was not getting anything that generated Essences in the opening turns, and I was stupid for not digging actively to get those cards out – that put me about 1-2 turns behind the curve, which is a lot in this tight engine builder.
This one just had a review go live, so if you want more detailed thoughts be sure to check that out. Ultimately, this was the Kosmos title I expected to need to find friends to play as I assumed my wife wouldn’t really dig the abstract theme. Turns out I was wrong, she not only wanted to play it but wanted to play it several times in relatively quick succession. This game is extremely simple, plays relatively fast, and has room for some clever curse-inducing maneuvers along the way. Trying to decide when to use your limited, powerful moves to flip an opponents’ piece is important, as is trying to manipulate the board position for placement. There’s a lot of good strategy in here and I’m glad she enjoyed this one!
This was another game that had been on my radar for years, but I never had an opportunity to try it out. Block wargames appealed to me from the perspective of a “fog of war” effect, and I’ve enjoyed hidden information games like Stratego, or more modern ones like Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. The game took a while to get going, as setting up and diving through the rules was interrupted by random folks at the gameday who were drawn toward the board and the blocks upon it. Once we got underway, things began to flow well with only a few rules needing referenced as we came across situations. This one has quite an interesting mix of concepts going for it, as you not only get towering stacks of blocks that your opponent can only guess at the power of, but you are also limited by your hand of cards. Moving efficiently requires using cards from your hand, but if you want to bring a block into play during a battle you need a card of that symbol to marshall that force. All in all it had an interesting ebb and flow to the game experience, and it was a really tight push-and-pull affair. My Tokugawa forces took an early board advantage that was lost mid-game, but then reclaimed in the final rounds as the other side turtled up inside their fortress. I think we both have ideas of new strategies to attempt the next time we play, and this is definitely a game I cannot wait to play a second time. What more do you want from a first play, right? I’m hankering for a rematch…even though I was ultimately victorious.
This game had been in my collection for far too long without getting played. First, I didn’t realize at the time that I needed the (then) upcoming Barricades expansion to play it solo. Second, I just never could get it played – I even set it up 3 different times to play with my wife and ended up putting it away before we could play each time. Well, that streak of failure ended this month with a solo play of the Barricades mode. And boy, was it FUN. I love deckbuilding games so much, and this one is no exception. There is so much tension with the boss and the destruction of areas of the town. I played one key thing very wrong, spending half the game with Festering Wounds remaining in play upon receipt (In my defense, the rulebook mentions the wound cards and right after that talks about Curses. I saw the “this card goes into play in front of the player and remains there until removed” and assumed it was still on the Festering Wounds so that made life REALLY difficult until I checked again when about to get slapped with 4 more cards. Oops. Well, my revenge on that Spider Queen should go much better the next time I challenge her. And now I also know to try and make sure at least one of the 4 market cards generates light, as needing 6 to reach the boss was the only reason I didn’t win in spite of the handicap. This one should hit the table quite often over the course of the rest of this year.
I taught this one to my wife recently at our FLGS and, well, it didn’t go well for her in any of those games. So when we were back to play games at that same store this month, she wanted a revenge game to try and redeem herself. And I genuinely felt like I was positioning myself to do well, but ended up getting cornered and had one too many bad colors in a row to pull things off. Ultimately, I had two choices of where to put my 2nd to last cube, and based on the next color I chose wrong and it locked me out of the game and let her very comfortably defeat me. I really enjoy this one and will gladly replay it any time we’re there, although I’m not convinced we’ll want this one in our collection.
After the Tiny Towns defeat, we were needing something simple to play and I couldn’t resist trying a new game that I had seen and heard about. The rules were extremely simple, making it an easy one to explain. And, well, there were a lot of things going against this one. The table we were on wasn’t exactly the most stable surface. My wife was exhausted, and she didn’t even want to stand to try and get better angles for placement. And my hands were far from stable while making key placements. Ultimately the table proved to be the deciding factor as she placed her winning move. It was a fun experience that I don’t feel any need to try a second time. Would I play it again? Sure, I would gladly do this before jumping into something like a party game. But it definitely isn’t one I’ll ever crave to try again even though I am really glad I got the chance to try it out.
Last month I played some nice Card-Driven Wargames: Twilight Struggle and 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis. I greatly enjoyed them both, and then I met Watergate. There was a lot of buzz around this game last year and, honestly, it is 100% merited in this case. Watergate is good. Really, really good. It has a theme that, like 1960: The Making of the President, my wife would have zero interest in trying. Yet since this is a short enough game, I wonder if I could convince her to give this one a try. After all, I love Capstone titles and this might just be the best they have right now – in a small box designed exclusively for 2 players. The board is deceptively small, so you feel like victory is easy to obtain as the Journalist, yet it proves to be just right in size to allow for aggressive blocking, and there are so many cards that mess with your best-laid plans to make this a perfectly delightful little title. Spoiler: this is definitely in the running for the best 2019 game.
Next 3 Reviews
Empyreal: Spells & Steam
Traveller Customizable Card Game
2020 Husband/Wife Record
Him: 13 Wins (+5)
Her: 15 Wins (+10)
Next 3 Games to Teach My Wife
The One-Hundred Torii
Five Games I Want to Try Soon
Commands & Colors: Medieval
Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar
Three Kingdoms Redux
Next 3 Acquisitions
Helionox: Deluxe Edition
The Great Heathen Army
2020 Five & Dimes (Games with 5+ Plays)
Circle the Wagons (5)
Hostage Negotiator (5)
10 Best New-to-Me Games of 2020
1. Empyreal: Spells & Steam
2. Helionox: Deluxe Edition
3. On Mars
5. Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan
6. Meltwater: A Game of Tactical Starvation
7. Age of Steam
8. Peloponnesian War
9. Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga
10. Twilight Struggle
Best Releases of 2020
1. Empyreal: Spells & Steam
2. On Mars
Best Expansions of 2020
1. Mystic Vale: Nemesis