The year is drawing to a close so it is time to reiminisce about my favorite standout games of 2019. 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 originally published. Why did these games impact me and thus stand out for the year? As I share about my standout games of 2019, 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 and 2 that we really wanted to try another Legacy game. We tried Gloomhaven for a while, but it just didn’t fit our playing style. Then we picked up Betrayal Legacy and fell in love. The gothic horror interspersed with very dark humor really drew us into the world of the game. Then you add in that inevitable betrayal by one of the team and it really spices up the cooperative game playing style. We are still playing through the storylines and enjoy how it progresses over time and through the various horror genres. Curious what our next cooperative game will be.
This was our first year working the Stronghold Games booth and events at Gen Con. My daughters and I were heartily welcomed by the Stronghold Games and IBC staff and volunteers, and quickly found our new groove. The Stronghold Games booth was almost always full of people demoing games, which I spent most of the week demoing Dizzle. Luckily I loved the game and really enjoyed sharing with so many people. Even at the Thursday night Rock and Roll and Write Launch Party, I demoed Dizzle quite a few times along with my other duties managing the event. My wife enjoyed the game as well and we have been playing it since Gen Con. So, after more demos and plays than I can count, I still enjoy the game which says something.
An unexpected highlight for my family at Gen Con this year was finding a time slot open to demo Letter Jam with Paul Grogan of Gaming Rules!. We loved the game and picked it up. Paul is a fellow game rules editor and friend, so it was extra special to have him demo the game for my family. Since then, we have enjoyed playing the game and getting better at its strategies.
Fluxx is a favorite game of ours. We have SO many themed decks. My current favorite versions are the Star Trek Fluxx games. I picked up The Next Generation and The Original Series at Gen Con 2018 and Deep Space Nine this year at Gen Con. DS9 is my favorite of the Star Trek shows, so I was so excited to pick up that deck this year. Fluxx is a great game to pull out when you just want to relax and play. We know how to play, so we can just dive in and have fun.
Even with life challenges, busy work schedule, busy family, and scheduling conflicts, I still manage to find time to play and DM D&D 5e. Only back surgery and recovery has slowed down my roleplaying a bit, but we will get back to it. D&D 5e continues to be my go to rpg for campaigns. Working up a new campaign currently to shift one of my monthly groups to. This game will keep showing up in my stand out games periodically because it brings me happiness and provides me a great creative outlet.
This is a repeat for me from 2015, but I had to include it as I had so much fun with this game again! As always, I never run the campaign world included within the book. As always, I ran crazy custom adventures using this super fast and flexible rpg system by creating custom characters. The two best this year were a Guardians of the Galaxy meets Mission Impossible inspired adventure with friends and family and a solo game I ran at Gen Con one evening for my daughter set in the world of Harry Potter’s Ministry of Magic. The space romp was just full of insanity as their stealthy infiltration degraded into an all-out, building leveling, brawl interrupted by odd extended family relations. Much hilarity ensued. And the solo game with my daughter brought to life the world of Harry Potter, which I still am in shock no official RPG exists. What an incredible world and Feng Shui 2 worked well for a one shot in the world. Feng Shui 2 will always be my go to for one shot, over-the-top adventures.
This semester I have been teaching Tabletop Game Writing Lab at Taylor University in collaboration with Chaosium, Inc., and as the project for that course the students have been developing an adventure for Call of Cthulhu. That adventure will be published next week! While preparing for this and during it, I have spent a lot of time reading the Call of Cthulhu core books and numerous published and community published adventures. This focus has re-energized by passion for this game and reminded me how amazing it can be for storytelling.
What games stood out for you in 2019, and what made them stand out? I am curious what make a game special to you.