My Gaming Challenges for 2020

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I’m going to play so many games this year! That’s the plan anyway 🙂

So I have told you my favourites games for 2019. We looked at what I wish I could have played in 2019. We even went through what I am looking forward to in 2020.

But what about my gaming goals? Bottom line, we play ultimately to enjoy our gaming experiences. So what would setting goals do to help this?

I have seen (and in the past set) goals that have hurt my gaming. I was playing just to hit some abstract number. Playing games should be fun, and if you have to drag yourself to a game, that isn’t great for anyone.

But there is also the trap of “I can do it later”. We all know this one. Busy at work? We make the excuse of playing more later. But once you start going down that hole, it can be hard to come back up. That’s where the challenges help me.

As demonstrated by Last Week’s gaming, sometimes I play a lot of games, other times I hardly play anything. Not playing games isn’t a bad thing, except when that’s what you want to do. We all joke about gaming backlogs and the shelves of shame, but the goals will helpfully put a dent in all this.

All that said, let’s have a look at my gaming goals for 2020 🙂

Board Game Goals

Late last year, I made a few goals for myself about 1/4 of the way through the year. I came closer than the stats suggest, mainly because I keep forgetting to record plays!

I didn’t make it though. It’s not the end of the world, and I know why. So I am hoping that making my personal challenges ‘public’, this will change this year!

But why am I doing this? It boils down to just wanting to see how much I am sacrificing gaming time through the year.

Goal 1 – Record 100 plays of games that I haven’t recorded before

OK, so this one can be a bit of a cheat. In a perfect world, this would be play 100 new games, but that’s not happening. While I buy a lot of games, 100 new games would almost be all I played. So if there is an old favourite that I hadn’t recorded – it counts.

Recording 100 new games does sound insane. In the future, this count would likely be coming down. But when you think about the games Alpal continuously shows me and events like PAX Aus, it’s not impossible. Coupled with replaying games on games nights that just weren’t recorded, I think I can do it this year.

Goal 2 – Record 250 plays

This works alongside the 100 new titles. Now, I admit this sounds just as crazy, but not really. While not running at the moment, I have a regular games night at home. I also have separate game days with Alpal. Hopefully I will be starting a semi-regular date night games session Rabbit this year. This breaks down to only a few games each week, and that is pretty much what I do anyway.

Failing this last year was because I kept putting off playing games coupled with not recording plays. 2020, I hope to change all this. Partially for a better record for me, and because I am hoping to make my own recording app. That means comparing my test data against a known solid system like BG Stats.

Board Gaming Challenges 2020
Currently I use BG Stats to track my games. It's a great program, but I want to tweak a few things

Goal 3 – Make sure certain games make it to the table

This one is a mixture of finish playing some campaigns, and starting to play others. For all of the campaign games, I am hoping to actually finish the campaigns this year as well. Because these games take a long time, there aren’t many I am picking some, and I want to get into them!

Pandemic Legacy Season 2

I started playing Pandemic Legacy Season 2 over a year ago. We have a long way to go before we finish it! Holidays, Marriage, Work, Health – all of the reasons for delaying the games were there. The four of us couldn’t make our times click. Hopefully this year we can power through with a session every couple of months!

The 7th Continent

I don’t know if I will solo this or not. The 7th Continent has been sitting on my shelf as a “When I can dedicate the time to it” game, and that excuse is wearing thin.

A card-based exploration and expansion adventure, The 7th Continent blew up on Kickstarter a few years ago, and it’s time to finally put it to the test!

Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Inc

So a lot of my game night crew are also in my PAX Aus crew. Clank! is one of those push your luck games that became a board gaming hit. I have only played Clank! In! Space! so far, but having a campaign version with the Acquisitions Inc crew? Yes, please!

I am hoping that Clank! Legacy will be the easiest one of these that I can get through this year. A couple of rounds of Clank! on the table, then see who would want to play regularly. What could go wrong with that? :p

Pandemic Legacy Season 2
Just want to get this one finished before Season 3 comes out!
The 7th Continent
I have had this beauty on my shelf of shame for a couple of years 🙁
Clank Legacy
Who wouldn't want to see how far Jim Darkmagic can push his luck?

Video Games

Yep, I have video games as well. Looking through my backlog, I think I have about 2500 of games I want to get through. My problem here is one of my favourite genres are RPG games, and they can take hundreds of hours to do everything!

As you may have seen with my board game goals, every hour I spend on one sort of game pulls time away from the other. This is a delicate balancing act that we all know about. My video game goals are a bit vaguer because they aren’t something I can schedule in like game nights and stick to.

On game nights, if I am not feeling 100%, I can pull out a more straightforward game and still play. If I am playing something like The Witcher or Breath of the Wild, I can’t just put it down for a couple of months. I have learned that lesson in the past! Hence, there are a bunch of games I have started but not gone back to. Any of these games I need to start again, and then I tend to play something newer instead.

So with all this in mind, my video games goals seem conservative. According to PlayStation year in review, I only played about 160 hours in 2019. While the Switch did stop me from playing on the PS4, it didn’t stop me playing that much. I also started and finished The Outer Worlds on Xbox that I got this year as well.

I know I started and raved about a few games last year. Astral Chain is one such game. It was great, I enjoyed playing it with Rabbit, but I left it too long and away it went. Link’s Awakening met the same fate.

So my goals I am hoping will be realistic, but if I don’t make them – ah well 🙂

2019 PlayStation Year in Review
This used to be more my gaming a month instead of a year. Wow.

Goal 1 – Finish 10 games this year

That’s right – 10 games. Compared to my board game goals, this sounds tiny. But if the last couple of years have taught me anything, it’s that video games are the first form of gaming that I have been cutting out.

Now, finishing games to me means seeing the end credits. I get through the story. There are going to be exceptions – Kingdom Hearts 3 first DLC Re:Mind has just come out, and I will be playing it. It’s Kingdom Hearts 3 media – of course I am. But it’s extra content and bosses, not a new game, so it doesn’t count.

What does count? Games like Resident Evil 3 that I will probably spend the entire weekend finishing. Also, backlog games – Breath of the Wild and The Witcher 3 are candidates. But expansion content, no matter how big? Off the list.

Goal 2 – Platinum/Complete 5 games

So here is a bigger one. Finishing a game is one thing – getting through the story and being happy with that.

Getting the Platinum is a PlayStation thing. If you earn all the the Trophies (Xbox Achievements) in a game, you are awarded one additional Trophy – the Platinum. In my mind, if I get all of the Xbox achievements in a game, I still got the Platinum it. I just don’t get an Xbox bonus achievement equivalent.

Completing a game means something completely different. In game, there are usually collectibles and equipment to unlock, and Completing a game (with the capital C) means you got all of them. Searched every area. Opened every chest. Seen every possible ending. These days, you tend to earn the platinum before you Complete a game. These runs for me are reserved for games I truly love and can’t put down.

Final Fantasy XV, my first game finish and Platinum for 2020, is a great example. I have earned the Platinum. But I haven’t completed the game. I started a New Game+ instead of reloading my save, so I haven’t done any of the extra dungeons or got the best weapons. And there are additional chapters as well I haven’t started.

So, Platinum and Complete are different things. But it took me an additional 20ish hours to earn the Platinum for Final Fantasy XV and based on the internet about another 80 hours to ‘complete’ it. I could finish another game or two in that time! Hence, low goals.

Candidates for games to Finish/Platinum/Complete

What games do I want to complete? Well, until you finish a game, it’s tough to say. Why would I want to potentially double the playtime for a game I thought was only OK?

If you look at my anticipated video games for 2020, it’s fair to say these are all candidates. Backlog titles, I have a lot to choose from. A couple of options I have shown below.

Return Of The Obra Dinn
A game that flew under a lot of radars, but from all accounts is right up my alley
The Witcher 3 - Wild Hunt
So here is hundreds of hours of game-play in one game
Sekiro Shadows Die Twice
Not the longest game, but the grind to learn is no harder than huge RPGs

The one thing I am worried about is playing multiple RPGs in a row though. Genre fatigue is a thing, so my next game now that I have ‘done’ Final Fantasy XV won’t be a large open world adventure. Maybe Luigi’s Mansion 3?

But there is a lot that goes into Trophy/Achievement/Completionist runs. More than I am going to go into here. So guess what I am talking about Thursday?

What about your gaming goals? Do you have some for yourself? Let me know in the comments, or shout out on Facebook or Twitter!

Good luck with the Yeti hunt tomorrow!

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Most Anticipated Board Games for 2020

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The new shiny games I know I want to get this year

Anticipation. It’s a wonderous thing. So many new things to look forward to, including what you don’t know is coming!

But like any time you try to read the future, it’s exciting and scary at the same time. What do I want to play more than anything else? It’s easy when you look back with all the information. Trying to predict what is coming – no so easy.

I have included games that are not only announced but should be in my hands this year. This excludes Kickstarters like the current Return to Dark Tower, as it won’t deliver until next year. As much as I can’t wait to play it, I can’t play it in 2020, so it’s out.

Will my Top 10 look anything like this list? Probably not. But enough about that – let’s get to the list!

Number 10 – Lander

This is a leap of faith addition. Lander is due to come to Kickstarter in March 2020, with no release date yet. It has been sent around to various game stores around the world for playtesting and demos. Not Queensland though – boo! :p

It also looks like a contender for quick manufacturing, so I am taking a chance it will be delivered by the years’ end.

But what is Lander? Think of a mix between Terraforming Mars and Catan, and that should put you in the right frame of mind. Build your area, control your resources, and trade with others trying to do the same.

Different game modes to help learn the game also help a lot. Expect a Kickstarter preview article when the campaign launches later this year.

Lander

Number 9 – Dungeon Drop

Dungeon crawlers are great fun, but they tend to have two things in common. First, a lot of setup and teardown time. Second, they can become multi-hour game sessions where a small mistake can invalidate hours of gameplay.

So what about a small scale dungeon crawler that can be set up, played and packed away in about 30 minutes? That is what Dungeon Drop is promising! Using cubes instead of minis may not be as appealing to some, but it keeps Dungeon Drop small and affordable.

I missed the Kickstarter, but it should be hitting retail later this year, and I will nab a copy then!

Dungeon Drop

Burgle Bros was a fun little adventure that is on my ‘Need to get into my games night’ list. I quite enjoy it, as did a lot of people as its popularity increased over the years. I get most of my plays on my phone, which for this game isn’t as fun as playing with people around a table.

And now, in 2020, the sequel should be coming to me from the successful Kickstarter! Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers isn’t just more Burgle Bros. There are streamlined mechanics and new challenges to overcome.

New rooms, new decisions, new gear even! Expect this to come up a few times once it arrives, even if only in solo mode 🙂

Burgle Bros 2

Number 7 – Kemet: Blood and Sand

This will be much higher in some peoples choices for great games coming in 2020. For me, this might take some convincing to get some game night regulars to try it. So, a little further down my list.

Kemet is basically an area control game. Deploy your and try to keep areas the longest to collect points. One of its biggest draws is the Egyptian theme, which includes summoning monsters to fight with you.

Kemet is excellent, but it had some rules issues. This was addressed very well with a ruleset built with the Board Game Geek community, commonly referred to as Kemet 1.5.

Kemet: Blood and Sand goes even further in addressing these issues, without the limitations of existing components. I can’t wait to see how this goes.

Kemet Blood and Sand

Number 6 – Crypt X

Another Kickstarter that is being delivered this year all going well. Crypt X describes itself as a narrative puzzle. You must use the missing professor’s notes to discover what has become of him.

The game contains 51 puzzles, solved with a mixture of physical and augmented reality. Each solution takes you further down the narrative path, and each problem is not necessarily stand alone.

Think Unlock! or other escape room in a box type games, but with a campaign mode and overarching story. Not 100% accurate, but close enough to explain why I am excited by Crypt X.

I might be playing this on date nights with Rabbit rather than a game night experience, but it should be a heap of fun.

Crypt X

Hostage Negotiator is a game I pick up and put down regularly. It has an app version that works well, even if graphically there could be improvements.

Hostage Negotiator: Career does just what you think it does from the title. It takes the solo gameplay of the original and adds a career mode to the game.

Will this make Hostage Negotiators gameplay better? Probably Not. It should be more of the gameplay I know with some add ons. Hostage Negotiator is already an excellent game. The career mode will just give me a reason to play a few more games more regularly, and that can’t be a bad thing.

Hostage Negotiator Career

Number 4 – Deep Space D-6: Armada

I have spoken a few times about Deep Space D-6, the strangely absorbing space dice worker placement game. I even got around to giving it a review.

One of the things I wished I could do was play this game with others. It’s not that I don’t like solo gaming, it’s just games give me an excuse to catch up with friends. Solo gaming rarely lets me do that.

That is all set to change because the follow-up game Deep Space D-6: Armada is on Kickstarter, and delivers this year! Now I can work with my friends to save the galaxy 🙂

Read my review, check out the Kickstarter (there should still be 2 days left to back it!) and see why I can’t wait for this game.

Deep Space D-6 Armada

I have written about this Australian Werewolf inspired game before. It even made my most anticipated games of 2018 list. Ooops, bit of a time slip there 🙂 I have even had the chance to watch a couple of games while at PAX Aus.

Werewolf and The Resistance were social deduction staples at my game stores game nights. Playing such games is mostly how I formed my more recent circle of friends.

Blood On The Clocktower is more than just a ‘werewolf clone’, and I cannot wait to start hosting games at my game nights soon after it is delivered.

Blood on the Clocktower Box Art

Number 2 – Escape the Dark Sector

So you know I love Escape the Dark Castle. I have reviewed it. Made a podcast episode about it. It even made my Top 10 games of 2019! OK, through a couple of small technicalities, but you can see I love it.

Why wouldn’t I be waiting to move from the castle into space? It’s not just a retheme though, there are some new additions to the gameplay as well.

I am delighted that Themeborne can now refer to the Escape The Dark as a series, and can’t wait to see what else is in store down the line.

Escape the Dark Sector

Number 1 – Cosmic Encounter Duel

This was a by the skin of its teeth contender for this list. It was literally revealed while putting the draft article on the site, requiring a quick re-shuffling of my list!

Cosmic Encounter is excellent and has been loved (and lovingly hated!) for almost 45 years. Various new editions have come out over the years, but the core gameplay has remained largely intact over that time.

One problem with the original game is it isn’t great at two players. So why not take a page from 7 Wonders book and make a two-player version? Hello, Cosmic Encounter Duel.

I know a few people that would play Cosmic Encounter more if there were more players available. Now, if it’s just a pair of us, we can still play it! I will also be able to introduce this as a date night game with Rabbit, who I don’t believe has played Cosmic Encounter.

How can one of my favourite games of all time, coming in a version I can play with just one other person, not be my most anticipated game of 2020?

Cosmic Encounter Duel

What do you think? Is there a game coming in 2020 you think should have been on this list? Let me know in the comments, Twitter @JohnHQLD or on my Facebook page!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Board Games 2019 (I Wish I played!)

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The list of games I wish I had more time and/or money for

Today I am going to take you through the top 10 games I wish I had played in 2019. The ones that others talk about with that certain gleam that reminded me of a moment of excitement or gave a moment of envy.

Like any list of favourites and wishes, they are very personal and different for everyone. As I haven’t played any of these games, the list order should not be seen as “In my opinion, this game is better/worse than that game”.

This list is more “If I had all 10 in front of me, which one would I play first” style ranking. If I happen to own (or know someone that does) a specific game, it will probably have a higher position than one I would love to play more but have to track down.

Make sense? I hope so because we are going in!

It’s a Wolfgang Warsch game, so of course, I am interested. Like a lot of his games, it takes a bit of coaxing to get players excited initially.

The premise of Taverns? Compete against other players to build the most successful pub in your little valley. It has dice drafting and deck management.

By itself, it sounds a lot like so many games out there. But. Wolfgang Warsch has proven himself a designer that takes known mechanics and adds that magical X factor to make them work better than the originals. And for that alone, I wish I had been able to get a copy of The Taverns of Tiefenthal and play it last year.

The Taverns of Tiefenthal

2019’s Ridiculously Big Box Delivery Kickstarter Champion (if you see the boxes of all in pledges arriving, leaves CMON to shame!).

It’s not only the size of contents and boxes delivered that brings on comparisons to Gloomhaven. That really isn’t fair though, as Gloomhaven is more combat-based where Tainted Grail is more exploration-based. Tainter Grais is closer to (but still different from) The 7th Continent.

Either way, I missed the Kickstarter, and both Gloomhaven and The 7th Continent are on my shame shelf. If I am given a chance for go, I feel it will be 2-3 hours well spent 😀

Tainted Grail

Number 8 – Nemesis

So Alpal and I have a running laugh about Kickstarters I thought I backed but didn’t. Nemesis was one I could have sworn I backed, and I did. And then cancelled. I don’t remember why, and I am kicking myself.

Nemesis is a semi-cooperative survival horror game. You all need to work together to survive, but you also have your own objectives to complete. Sometimes at the cost of other players, and hopefully not at your characters!

I have Lifeform for solo ‘Alienesque’ board games, and a few one-vs-many games, so I have options. The reception to Nemesis has been so positive I am really kicking myself for cancelling my pledge.

Nemesis

Number 7 – Cthulhu: Death May Die

Summing up Cthulhu: Death May Die as ‘Cthulhu Zombicide’ is both a quick summary and an unfair comparison, like so many games in our hobby.

Cthulhu: Death May Die is a CMON game with beautiful minis and lots of ‘stuff’. Zombicide. Where it differs is Death May Die is split into specific chapters and closer to a strategic mini-game than a fun ‘dice-chucker’.

And did I mention this is a collaboration between Eric Lang and Rob Daviau? Why didn’t I back it! Well, the cost, but we won’t dwell on that.

I already have heaps of exploration/survival games on my shelves of shame, so I don’t think I will try and track down Cthulhu: Death May Die. But I would love to play a chapter/episode to see if it is as good as I think it will be.

Cthulhu Death May Die

I really love the Roll Player universe. The original Roll Player made character creation into a dice worker placement game. Lockup became a bluffing area control game. And now Cartographers brings Roll and Write to the series.

I generally try not to be one of those people that says games need to stay in a specific genre. If there are alternate ways to bring people into the lore, go for it. And that is precisely what is happening with the Roll Player universe.

On its own, the gameplay description isn’t unique. Roll dice, create your map and try and group things to earn more points than your competitors. But everything so far in the Roll Player universe has appealed to me, so I would love to give Cartographers a play or five.

Cartographers A Roll Player Tale

Number 5 – Marvel Champions

When I first heard about Marvel Champions, I was pretty meh about it. I still need to get through my Arkham Horror LCG (Living Card Game) packs, and I didn’t want another retheme of the same core mechanics.

Well, I guessed wrong apparently. Marvel Champions is being praised as a story-driven, yet casual friendly, LCG. I cannot say that Arham Horror is exactly casual friendly, hence the rarity of getting it to the table.

A casual-friendly story-driven version with a streamlined ruleset, where I can mix in only the packs I want going forward? Yep, I am interested.

Marvel Champions

Number 4 – Wingspan

Well, this has been an interesting release. Demand far outstripped the initial supply, and there seems to be a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ mentality on the net. It’s rare for me to hear an “It’s fine” opinion about Wingspan.

I was a little upset initially that almost everything I heard about Wingspan was about everything but the game. Supply issues are unfortunate, but they happen. It also made me laugh that the US was complaining so much that the game didn’t have enough releases to go around. Try buying initial runs in Australia :p

I don’t have an overwhelming urge to add Wingspan to my collection, but I would love to have a game and see where it falls for me. Competitive without being cutthroat and a unique theme have my curiosity well and truly piqued.

Wingspan

Number 3 – Star Wars: Outer Rim

I love Firefly. A universe that has (had?) so much promise, cut short just as it had begun to make its mark.

I am not as big a fan of Firefly: The Game. Essentially a hand management/pick up and deliver game, it was overly complicated admin wise and needed streamlining. Also, it was huge – a single-player game took up more space than my 8 person poker table provided!

Star Wars: Outer Rim is being described as a streamlined version of this, and in the Star Wars universe which fits thematically. So I really want to play this. Alpal and I have this in a shared library, I just need to be able to play it!

Star Wars Outer Rim

I have had Detective: City of Angels for ages. I backed it on Kickstarter, I was so excited, but I haven’t had the chance to get it to the table yet. Boo!

If you think of Detective: City of Angels as “L.A. Noire the Board Game”, you won’t be too far off the mark. An actual interrogation/threaten system instead of other deduction “Here is all I say” mechanics intrigues me. And I can play it solo then help others play game night.

I really need to get this played over the coming weeks so I can make that happen.

Detective City of Angels

So you may know I am a fan of Penny Arcade. This was the one game I was praying would be available at PAX Aus 2019, and it wasn’t so I didn’t get to play it though.

I did get my hands on a copy just before Christmas, so yes this will be one of 2 Legacy games I will be running this year. The other? Betrayal Legacy 😀

Clank! is a popular push your luck/hand management series, of which I own Clank! In! Space! (Yes, you have to pronounce it like that :p). Adding the silliness of the Acquisitions Inc. world by having your group starting their own franchise is appealing. You also get to build up your own world similar to Charterstone, a mechanic I appreciated. Still, as a game, I felt Charterstone missed the mark. By all accounts, Clank! Legacy nails it.

My plan is to run a couple of Clank! In! Space! sessions once the regular games night resume, then find players for the campaign. Expect to hear more of Clank! Legacy from me later this year.

Clank! Legacy Acquisitions Incorporated

What do you think? Are there any games you wish you could have played in 2019? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Board Games 2019 (That I actually played)

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My first list in over 18 months!

It has been far too long since I have done a list like this. Once thing I noticed when I compiled my list was the numebr of games I meant to review but didn’t get around to! So these lists have helped from a roadmap for a lot of reviews this year already 🙂

As you may have guessed from the title, this list is made up of games I actually played this year. I tried to also restrict it to games that were released in 2019, and no expansions. As I didn’t do a 2018 list I kind of fudged that rule a bit though as you will see.

Think I missed a great game? That is a possibility. It might also be on tomorrow’s list – Top 10 Games of 2019 I Wish I Played!

Any list like this is very subjective. Even without bending the rules a little bit for eiligability this year, I may have played a game you loved but it didn’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean I don’t like that game or think it’s bad – I just liked these games better. I would love to hear what games you think should be on this list!

All that said and done, let’s get on to my favourite games of 2019.

Number 10 – MegaCity: Oceania

MegaCity: Oceania is an exciting game. Not quite a dexterity game, not quite a city builder, but something in-between. And it is better for it.

Right off the bat, MegaCity: Oceania won’t be everyone’s first choice to play. It might not even be their second choice. But I can’t see many people that wouldn’t play it if it was in front of them.

Not into deep strategy games? Just have fun building your cities. Not the greatest at building blocks? Go for the ‘safe’ buildings and use location to your point advantage.

I played this right at the end of 2019, so it has the ‘fresh in my mind’ advantage. But while a review will be coming, if you get the chance to try MegaCity: Oceania, give it a go and enjoy a light but fun experience.

MegsCity Oceania

So I heard a lot this year that Pandemic: Rapid Response isn’t a ‘Pandemic’ game. That it’s theme was not there or too hard to immerse yourself in.

I don’t understand most of these arguments. These are all things I will cover in the full review later. For now, all I can say about Pandemic: Rapid Response is that is was a fun time on the table. I felt that the theme made sense for the gameplay, with certain leaps of logic that Pandemic already asks you to make in other games.

Was it perfect? Nope. But we did have a lot of fun, and that is what counts most of all.

Pandemic Rapid Response

Number 8 – That’s Pretty Clever

So I really got into That’s Pretty Clever last year, both physically and digitally. A tremendous mental puzzle that allowed you to zone out while playing, I really enjoyed playing this game.

My biggest complaint about it has nothing to do with the game at all. What was my gripe? I always played solo. You can play against other people, but I just never really found the time to start a group game. And the digital implementation is basically solo only, so there goes that idea.

For my full review, click here.

Thats Pretty Clever

Number 7 – Disney Villainous

Well, Villainous took me by surprise. I only got to play a few rounds with Alpal, but they were really, really fun.

There are usually two drawbacks to multiple themed card games. The first – learning curve. You have to learn all of the decks to know what works and what doesn’t. Secondly – mashing the ‘wrong’ cards together. Having Genie face-off against Snow White’s the Hunter doesn’t always work.

Prospero Hall took care of both issues with elegant simplicity – you pick a deck, and your opponents use your cards against you. You are even given tips on how to win/what to watch for on all of the other characters.

Is Disney Villainous a top tier competitive game? Of course not! But it is a quick and fun game that you can have new players getting into straight away, and that is always appreciated.

Disney Villainous

The first Roll Player ‘universe’ game I played, I was a little confused about Lockup when I first saw it. How could you take the dice placement of Roll Player and make it work as a bluffing worker allocation game?

The answer is you don’t. You let it be its own game within the world of Roll Player and enjoy.

Lockup was a game that I wouldn’t have seen for a while without Alpal’s influence, and I can imagine a lot of other gamers being in the same boat. If you get the chance, give Lockup a try – even if you didn’t like Roll Player. The game is entirely different and deserves to be judged on its own.

Lockup A Roll Player Tale

Ahh, Funko Pops. I have too many, and not enough. I will not let myself buy any Kingdom Hearts ones though. If I get just one, I will need to get the rest. And we already don’t have enough room!

Why am I going on about Funko Pops? Because now they have their own strategy game! Games? They have lots of things coming out!

The Funkoverse Strategy Game is no Memoir 44, Warhammer, or even Imperial Assault. It is very streamlined, quick to play, and with an expanding universe of characters and missions, here to stay. The only pack I am missing so far is The Golden Girls. I knew I had to try this when on the internet someone was complaining that Bea Arthur was the most overpowered character in the game.

Just let that sink in – Bea Arthur is seen as stronger than Batman, Rick Sanchez, The Joker, or even Voldemort.

Whether in amusement or disbelief, you must be smiling about that. And that moment of silly suspension coupled with simplified tactics and Pops replacing minis makes Funkoverse a great experience.

Number 4 – Escape the Dark Castle

So this one may be seen as a cheat, as I have definitely played it before 2019. But 2019 is when I got the collectors big box and expansions. I also didn’t do a 2018 list. So, it’s on the list!

Escape the Dark Castle is a light narrative dungeon romp that is still fun to play. Similar to a Fighting Fantasy/Choose Your Own Adventure game with randomised ‘pages’, each run is different. And that is just with the original base cards!

For my full thoughts, you can check out my review here. For something a little different, you can listen to Alpal and I playing here 🙂

Escape The Dark Castle

Wolfgang Warsch seems to have come out of nowhere in the last couple of years. The Mind, That’s Pretty Clever, Twice as Clever, and now The Quacks of Quedlinburg. The man has yet to design a game I haven’t enjoyed.

Quacks of Quedlinburg is my favourite to date though. It contains a ‘rubber band’ catch up mechanic similar to Mario Kart. What is this? If you are behind, you are given some advantages to help you catch up to the leader, keeping it competitive. And it is implemented so seamlessly, it was a couple of games in before I realised how good it is.

Yes, there are some random elements. Push your luck is also a more significant part of the game than I usually give it credit for. I enjoy it so much, and we are yet to play an ‘advanced’ game.

If you have a mixed group of players and are looking from something different, play The Quacks of Quedlinburg.

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

Another game not released in 2019, but I have had a ball playing it through the year. Also, this would have been on my top games of 2018 list, but that didn’t happen! Replacing the mancala like movement strategies of the original board game with dice rolling sounds disastrous, but it works well.

I know plenty of players that love the idea of Istanbul but get frustrated at various aspects of the gameplay. For these people, the dice game works wonderfully. You get the same sense of tension and racing your opponents as you do with the board game but in a fraction of the time.

If you are new to gaming, Istanbul: The Dice Game is a fun introduction to an intense euro game with a natural learning curve. The tactics you learn in the dice game can carry to the board game quite easily, even if it doesn’t look like it at first.

If I want to play a game, Istanbul: The Dice Game is usually on the list of options. For more information, check out the review here.

Istanbul The Dice Game

Number 1 – Chronicles of Crime

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective remade for the digital age. There are plenty of new deduction games out there, including Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game and Detective: City of Angels, both with their own twist.

Chronicles of Crime is probably the most accessible to play and works well in small sessions. Lucky Duck Games have outdone themselves with this setup.

The use of QR Codes makes reading easier to digest for most people. Instead of being faced with a wall of text, everything is in smaller bites. Plus you can actually interrogate people about items, something that is very difficult in the preprinted document format a la Consulting Detective/Legacy of Dragonholt.

The look on new players faces as they use their phones to actually examine a crime scene is priceless as well.

I am yet to make it through all of the original cases. I also have both expansions to look forward to. Chronicles of Crime is easily my choice for the best game of 2019, and I look forward to playing it through 2020 as well.

Chronicles of Crime

Honorable Mention

Deep Space D-6

I was really tempted to give Deep Space D-6 a spot on this list. A solo game only game that came out a few years ago, I still love to pull this out now and then.

Released in 2015, I only got my hands on it this year. By my bedning of the rulesfor thiis year, I could have found a way. The main reason I marked it off the list is that it is only solo, where as every other game on the list you can play with others.

All that said, for 2020 the follow up is now live on Kickstarter – Deep Space D-6: Armada. Check out my review of the original Deep Space D-6 here., then check out the Kickstarter here.

Deep Space D-6

What do you think? Is there a game you saw me talk about in Last Week’s Gaming that you think should be on this list?

Or even better, what were your Top 10 games of 2019? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

GameFor – an interesting app to help find other gamers!

GameFor Logo

Looking to make a new game group or extra player?  GameFor has you covered

Yesterday, I saw a mention of an app called GameFor.  Something about connecting gamers?  It was free, so I had a look.

Jumping in, I was instantly greeted by a new board game group in Brisbane I knew nothing about – The Blind Pig Games Club.

You may be thinking “So?  Isn’t that what the app is for?”

Well yes, it is.  But GameFor is written as a free app from US-based We’re Milk Can Dev & Design Studio, and Australia usually gets ‘outside of area’ type issues for these type of apps.

Finding a group and event within 5 seconds of registering is actually pretty cool!

And not just groups – yes the first page is a gaming event, but GameFor has a virtual bulletin board for gamers looking for players groups as well that already looks pretty healthy in my area.

GameFor Upcoming Events
Upon registering (a very quick and painless process) first screen is an event near me! Usually I am greeted with US events
GameFor Looking for Group
Looking for players is also just as advertised. A fair number of people are already on and around in QLD, which is awesome!

I won’t be jumping straight into new groups this weekend, I already have a fair bit on.  However, if you are looking for somewhere to play/someone to play with, give GameFor a look!

You can get the app for free on Android and sort of for iOS.  I say sort of because I can’t find the app on my Australian iPad App Store, but the homepage has a link so maybe there is a way?  Android users no issues loading though, and what I have on my phone.

The only niggles I have with Gamefor so far are pretty simple fixes.

  1. Get it on the Australian iTunes Store
  2. Allow distance to be changed to km’s.  The US is virtually the last holdout for imperial distances!

Registration is email and an emailed verification code and is quick and easy.  After PAX (Maybe even during?) Don’t be surprised to see a JohnHQLD group appearing in the future!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Haru Ichiban – fun little two player game out of nowhere!

Haru Ichiban Feature

Don’t know where this one came from, but it was fun!

You will hear a lot of Board Gamers talk about ‘The Cult of the New’.  This can be used to describe people buying/playing only the new ‘hotness’, or at least newly published games.

While I definitely have a wish list of releases that stretch to 2020, I like to think I look for games that are fun and don’t care when they are released.

So last night Alpal showed me a game from a designer I enjoy that has gone under my radar for four years.  That’s quite an accomplishment.

Bruno Cathala’s Haru Ichiban is a fun, light and quick two-player abstract game that can be surprisingly deep.  Essentially it’s a game of sliding puzzles, where you try and make a shape out of your coloured flowers.

Gameplay is simple.  Each player has eight flowers, each with a number on its base between 1-8.  Each round, you have up to three flowers, and you select which number you want to play.  The highest number becomes the Grand Gardener, with the lower number the Little Gardener.

Then you proceed to play as follows:

  • The Little Gardener places their flower on the dark lilypad.
  • The Grand Gardener places their flower on the lilypad of their choice.
  • The Little Gardener moves one lilypad to an adjacent space, possibly moving other lilypads at the same time.
  • The Grand Gardener flips one unoccupied lilypad to its dark side.
  • Each gardener takes a new flower.
Haru Ichiban Gameplay
An elegantly simple board for an elegantly simple game

This continues until players are out of flowers, or players form a shape with their flowers.  These shapes are fairly simple – a 2×2 square, a 4 flower line, or a five flower line (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal).

Once one of these shapes is achieved, the player will score 1, 2, 3, or 5 points depending on the pattern, until someone gets 5 points total and is declared the winner.

Simple, isn’t it?  But it’s not as simple as it initially looks.  You can play to mess with the other player, but that just weakens your position in the long run.  The timing for when to be the Grand or Little Gardner is everything, but a player cannot dominate the board.  There is a true ebb and flow to playing this game properly, I just haven’t quite found it yet.

Hopefully, I can talk Alpal into a few more games, and a formal review will be coming soon.  Until then, if you enjoy light abstract strategy games like Onitama or Patchwork, definitely give Haru Ichiban a look if you see it around 🙂

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Fantasy Flight Games reveals Fallout: New California

Fallout Board Game New California Box Art

An interesting choice for expansion material

Fallout: The Board Game.  It had a lot of buzz, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it when it was first announced.  I have three plays of it now, and I will be getting it back to the table a few more times for a formal review.  Right now, my thoughts are if your a fan and like heavy solo games, go for it.  Fallout is not a terrible game, it’s just to me not a great game either.  The license and theme are definitely doing a lot of the sales work.

Things have been fairly quiet for about a year now about the board game.  And then Friday the 13th (Australian Time) on the Fantasy Flight Facebook page, an image familiar to Fallout fans appeared:

Fallout Board Game New California Please Stand By
The last time we saw this image, Fallout 76 was announced

Personally, I was hoping the announcement was for a Mansions of Madness/Imperial Assault type of app.  Fallout has a lot of bookkeeping, and play could be streamlined with such a tool.

What came to light over the weekend though was a new expansion is coming this year – Fallout: New California.

Now some new scenarios and characters are always a welcome addition to this sort of game.  Variety is the spice of life, and there is a good game in there – I am sure of it.  It’s one of the main reasons why I am determined to stick with the game and try to find as much game as possible in there.

But the expansion setting confused me a little.  While I admittedly haven’t finished Fallout 4, I only really remember New California being referred to in story on the odd occasion.

Fallout Board Game New California Box Art
The Fallout: New California Expansion. An Official Expansion for an unofficial mod?

The big bit of news Video Game wise about New California is that a long-awaited fan-made mod for Fallout: New Vegas has been in the works.  Set as a prequel to Fallout: New Vegas, the New California mod has been years in the making, and has a release date of October this year.

There was recently a trailer for the mod with the release date, shown below:

Now while this is a huge mod and the culmination of years of dedicated work, it’s not exactly a ‘canon’ update either.

This makes the Fallout: New California Board Game an interesting choice.  On one hand, you have an established IP with set events and characters that fans know.  On the other, there is an unexplored lore acknowledged area of the country that is open for creative interpretation.

The featured Vault 44 is even a new area lore wise – from memory there is no mention of Vault 44 in the pre-existing narrative, so hopefully again some creative freedom is being explored here!

Fallout Board Game New California Components
A way to add variety is almost always welcome!

While the expansion comes with only two new scenarios, with new characters and creatures there will be a lot of variety in the original games too.  This is always something to look forward to.

But honestly, one thing that pulls me out of the Fallout game is the micromanagement of the world itself.  Fantasy Flight, if you could maybe think of supporting the Fallout with an app, I think you will have a better sales uptake than with this expansion.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Fallout Board Game New California Minis
New characters incoming. Even just this addition is a welcome one!

So E3 isn’t over, but Origins is beginning. Back to the Board Games!

Origins Game Fair

From excitement about trailers to excitement about box art and rulebooks

So E3 is winding down.  My Video Game stuff isn’t stopping, but it is slowing to a trickle as I take in more of the stuff I am excited about.

But while the public spectacle side of E3 is winding down, over in Columbus Ohio the Origins Game Fair is just warming up!

The Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has been hosting Origins since 1975, and is five days of gaming.  And not just Board Gaming – if it involves a table, someone is at Origins to represent!  RPG’s, Miniatures games, Table Wargaming, even LARPers are there!

There is also the Origin Award to look forward to.  These are awarded annually for contributions to gaming over the previous year and will be announced Sunday (Australian Time).  While the Origins awards do not have the same buzz around the world as the Spiel Des Jahres, these nominees and winners are no less important for their contributions to gaming.

But that’s enough for today – tonight I will be eagerly combing through as much Origins news as I can, and I will start sharing my thoughts tomorrow.

Until tomorrow!

JohnHQLD

April Fools Day 2018

Renegade April Fools

Oh yeah, that’s ama… Wait… Damn it it’s April Fools, isn’t it?

Sometimes, companies troll us with great sounding ideas.  Other times, we all laugh with the joke.  Today, I thought I would just list a few board game related April Fools jokes that made me smile 🙂

Let me know which ones you wish you were playing!

Other than that, I hope everyone has enjoyed/is still enjoying their long weekend and catch you all soon.

JohnHQLD

Lego VacuSort

Can’t stand stepping on Lego blocks?  Don’t have hours to sort everything?  How to fix two problems at once!

Lego VacuSort

Renegade Game Studios

Renegade Game Studios is my favourite new publisher and one of my all time favourites as well.  I can’t think of a single game they have published that I don’t enjoy.

And now, thanks to the great news released April 1st, I don’t have to worry about storing the games I don’t have!

Renegade April Fools

Mayday Games – Get Bit Legacy

Mayday also announced their contender for the Legacy craze.  Get Bit Legacy sounds rough!

Get Bit Legacy

Sony knows where the games are at

Even PlayStation gets in on the act.  I am sorry to say I really wouldn’t mind the mini controller pieces though.

PlayStation Board Game

Space Cowboys gives us the expansion we didn’t know we wanted

Cites of Splendor is a fine expansion that adds greatly to the base game.  But it’s no Kitties of Splendor.

Kitties of Splendor

Stronghold Announces Fields of Mars

Can’t decide between Fields of Green and Terraforming Mars?  Why not both?

Fields of Mars

ZMan goes all out with the newest Pandemic Title

Yeah.  Image says it all 🙂

Pandademic

New York Slice gets the Legacy Treatment

Honestly, Beziers April Fools made me smile, then wonder why I was still watching.  Then I watched the people at the end.  It’s always great seeing people enjoying not taking themselves too seriously!

ThinkGeek is in on it as always

ThinkGeek is never one to shy away from a good prank, and this year it makes character creation so easy!

4d6AndMe

Wyrmwood announces a new line

And speaking of not taking yourself seriously…