2018 is quickly coming to an end, so it is a good time to reflect back on my favorite standout games of 2018. This is not a top 10 list of new games this year, nor my all-time favorite games list. These are games that impacted me personally this year, no matter when they were original published. Why did these games impact me and thus stand out for the year? As I share about my standout games of 2018, I hope you will gain some insights into why I am so passionate about freelancing and gaming.
My gaming group had so much fun with Pandemic Legacy Season 1 that when Season 2 was released, it was an instant buy, and we set aside our other gaming to focus on this. The game immerses you into a fascinating story that smacks you with an unexpected twist or few along the way. Even the familiar gameplay of Pandemic has a few twists and turns keeping you eager to learn the new strategies. I can’t go into many details, as that would give away the surprises, but I can say we enjoyed Season 2 as much, if not more, than Season 1. Now we are eagerly awaiting a Season 3.
My wife and I demoed Sagrada at Gen Con and instantly fell in love with the game. The stained glass theme with the brightly colored dice really give the game a table presence that draws you in. The game is wonderful for us to play as a couple and with friends, as it scales very well. We also enjoy that you can play at different difficulty levels, which helps level the playing field for each of us. Our one minor issue with the game is the size of the dice on the playing boards. Angie can struggle sometimes with bumping the dice, which can change their number, then we have to remember the number she placed there. I am looking to see if anyone has created a 3D printable frame that might add depth to the holes for the dice.
I found this game last year but really have gotten into it this year, spending a lot of time preparing and painting terrain and starting to work on vehicles. I grew up playing with Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars and still have quite a few on my shelves as mementos, and we get out boxes of them when children come to visit. So, when I found a miniatures game that would give me a reason to play with toy cars again and is set in a post apocalyptic setting (one of my favorites), I was instantly drawn in. I have also found that the less precise painting along with extreme weathering and rusting is a lot more enjoyable for me to paint than detailed miniatures. Hoping to complete my race course soon and get this game to the table for others to enjoy with me. I will post pictures in a later post showing you my Gaslands creations.
I am a huge X-Files fan, having watched the entire series three times so far. I am also a big fan of the Legendary Encounters series of games, with LE: Aliens being one of my top games. Well, Aliens has now be dethroned as my favorite LE game. LE: The X-Files has all my favorite elements of the Legendary Encounters games, with some wonderful new mechanics, and depicts the show incredibly well in its feel, graphics, and images from the show. And unlike the other LE games which you really want to have four players when at all possible but three can work, this game feels perfect playing solo or as a couple as it fits the theme so well. The Truth is out there!
I got to know Lance Hill during the Kickstarter for Kings of Israel by Funhill Games. He then guest lectured in my Game Studies course, and we have gotten to know each other more online since then. I really wanted to work with him on a project, so when he announced Wisdom of Solomon, I reached out and offered to help edit the rules. I have discussed before about my frustration with “Christian” themed games and that only a few do I really enjoy. So I found it a blessing and an honor to work on a game with such a strong Biblical History focus that was also a very solid and fun game. Really looking forward to future projects with Lance.
Two wonderful game trades this year added Gammarauders and Gammarauders: Revenge of the Factoids to my collection. Talisman and Gammarauders were my high school gaming group’s entertainment of choice when we wanted to take a break from our roleplaying campaigns. Gammarauders was my first tactical warfare game beyond Risk, and I loved its weird post apocalyptic, giant mutant animal theme. So many Saturdays did I field Filmoore the Tricerian (Triceratops are my favorite dinosaurs) to do battle against my fellow gamers. After high school, I didn’t get to play this again as I had not picked up my own copy of the game and had moved on to other games in college. When I saw the games available for a trade, I had to pick them up to see how well they aged. I have to say, they are just as much goofy fun as they were back then. Even older games still have some life in them, and can show you how our hobby has grown.
At Gen Con this year, I was honored for the first time to be a special guest at a release party. I worked on Fist of Dragonstones: The Tavern Edition for Stronghold Games, and Stephen invited my wife and I to attend the release party as special guests. We really enjoyed hanging out the with the Stronghold staff and Knights of the Stronghold before the party started. Then we had the joy of sitting with Marty and Tony from the Rolling Dice & Taking Names Podcast and Roman Rybiczka from Edition Spielwiese, who I worked alongside with on many games but had not met until this event. In the end, I won our table’s game of Fist of Dragonstones then gifted the winner’s copy of the game to the RDTN guys since I already had my own copy. Seeing the Stronghold staff and Knights of the Stronghold all dressed up like characters from the game was a lot of fun as well.
Folklore: The Affliction turned out to be one of the most complicated and time intensive board games I have every worked on as a freelance editor. Unlike most games I had worked on, this game had multiple books with intensive amounts of text which cross referenced across multiple pages, so I was constantly flipping back and forth to confirm page numbers, text consistency, and story flow. Working so intensely on this project solidified my relationship with the creative team at Greenbrier Games as we delved into the rules and the adventure guide for this massive story intensive adventure game. At Gen Con, it was wonderful to finally put faces and voices with the names I had spent hours upon hours working with and spend some time talking to the team.
Hopeful that this game is a true standout. Over the past few years I have run a once a year Dresden Files RPG campaign during a long weekend of gaming with friends. As the campaign progressed, the older Fate system in the RPG was beginning to have some balance issues. Recently, a new version called Dresden Files Accelerated was released based on the newer Fate Core/Fate Accelerated. I am excited to give this updated and streamlined system a try over the New Year’s weekend as we have another of our game weekends.
What games stood out for you in 2018, and what made them stand out? I am curious what makes games special to you.