Archive for October, 2014


AlienFrontiers

I am an avid board gamer and have recently been watching Top 100 Game of All Time lists from a few of the hobbies most stalwart reviewers. This prompted me to come up with my own.

The exercise made me think a bit about what I like in board games. Yes, I love interesting mechanics. I love to be made to think. I love to be given the opportunity to try to out-think my opponents. I love to have fun, be creative, and try to think outside the box while doing all of that. But most of all, I love when a game becomes a story.

I’m not talking about story-telling games here (although there a few on my list), but when a session you played becomes something memorable. An event you keep coming back to or a talking point among your friends.

Like the time in Eclipse where one of my friends was in the lead, holing up in his corner of the galaxy, building monoliths with abandon, and another friend found a way to blast through some wormholes with his custom ships and took over his whole system in the last round.

Or the time I spent the whole game of Shogun outguessing a friend of mine. Attacking him before he attacked, taking over his provinces right before he taxed them, and razing his castles right after he built them.

Or the time in Twilight Imperium when I made a risky move to attack another player (which almost worked!) and then another player sneakily added long-distance travel to his spaceships and swooped in to take over my home world while my back was turned.

Or the time a good friend of mine wrote a string of curse-words as his fake definition in Balderdash just so he could see me read them out loud. (I have never cursed out loud.)

Or the time in Wrath of Ashardalon, where our whole group barely escaped a dungeon with our lives because this goddamn rolling boulder trap somehow kept rolling towards us no matter what direction we went!

Or that time in Battlestar Galactica where we were so paranoid that we were convinced our lone engineer was a Cylon. We voted him into the brig even though he pleaded with us not to, only to find out later that he was a loyal human and had been trying to help us all along. He won’t let us live that one down.

Or the first time I played Tales of Arabian Nights and won after my character turned into an ape, murdered the princess who was in love with him, and ended up becoming a sultan.

These are stories we create ourselves, with our friends, without even trying to. Board games are the medium that help us do that in ways we couldn’t have done otherwise.

I wrote a few words about some games I love, and I hope they will inspire you to go out and give these games a try. Below that you will find my Top 100 Games of All Time list.

#3 Battlestar Galactica – Everyone must work together to try to get your spaceship home without dying or starving to death. But one of you is secretly working for the enemy. Which one? MY GOD WHICH ONE????

#6 Galaxy Trucker – Step 1: Build a space ship faster and better than your friends. Step 2: Watch all your spaceships fall apart in spectacular fashion.

#8 Sentinals of the Multiverse – This is the one super-hero game where it feels like you are in a super-hero battle. Choose your heroes, choose your villain, and choose your location. Then proceed to have an intense and fun battle of epic proportions.

#12 Tales of Arabian Nights – This is a completely unique experience. You play a character travelling around looking for adventure. You encounter something: A rich princess, a raging storm, a mystical djinn. What do you do? Choose from your many options, consult the book of tales, read from one of the over 2500 things that could happen to you, and laugh with your friends as the story unfolds!

#17 Arkham Horror – Grab some friends and try to sastop an ancient god from awakening and destroying humanity. This is a lingering, atmospheric game. Give it a chance to grab you and you’ll have sessions you’ll never forget.

#90 Cards Against Humanity – Play this game with your parents.

Rank Game
1 Shogun
2 Yggdrasil
3 Battlestar Galactica
4 Castles of Burgandy
5 Eclipse
6 Galaxy Trucker
7 Glen More
8 Sentinals of the Multiverse
9 Steampark
10 Alien Frontiers
11 Small World
12 Tales of Arabian Nights
13 Cyclades
14 Heroscape
15 Kingsburg
16 Agricola
17 Arkham Horror
18 Balderdash
19 King of Tokyo
20 Twitch
21 Dixit
22 Ticket to Ride
23 Legend of Drizzt
24 Wrath of Ashardalon
25 Castle Ravenloft
26 Catacombs
27 Jungle Speed
28 Mage Knight
29 Airlines Europe
30 Modern Art
31 Star Trek: Fleet Captains
32 Age of Conan
33 Word on the Street
34 Hanabi
35 Puerto Rico
36 Mansions of Madness
37 Pocket Battles
38 Forbidden Desert
39 Carcassone
40 Escape: Curse of the Temple
41 Stone Age
42 Carson City
43 Race For the Galaxy
44 Love Letter
45 Earth Reborn
46 Legendary
47 City of Remnants
48 Mage Wars
49 Mr. Jack Pocket
50 Space Alert
51 Quarantine
52 X-bugs
53 Long Shot
54 No Thanks
55 Civilization
56 10 Days in Europe
57 Gloom
58 Yedo
59 Lords of Waterdeep
60 10 Days in Africa
61 Zooloretto
62 Dynasties
63 Kemet
64 Elder Sign
65 Exodus: Proxima Centauri
66 Samurai Swords
67 Enigma
68 Merchants & Marauders
69 Star Trek: Deck Building Game
70 Pit
71 Martian Dice
72 Best Sellers
73 7 Wonders
74 Betrayal at House on the Hill
75 Twilight Imperium
76 Cineplexity
77 Guillotine
78 Forbidden Island
79 Dominion
80 Tsuro
81 Wits and Wagers
82 Runewars
83 Kill Dr. Lucky
84 Scrabble
85 Biblios
86 Cosmic Encounter
87 Power Struggle
88 Time’s Up
89 Game of Thrones
90 Cards Against Humanity
91 Letters From Whitechapel
92 Khet 2.0
93 Formula D
94 Flash Point
95 Settlers of Catan
96 Pandemic
97 Fresco
98 Shadows Over Camelot
99 Heroquest
100 Battle Masters

 

As promised, here is a catch-up on what I’ve been reading recently in the graphic novel world.

The Hood – Brian K. Vaughan

I love Brian K. Vaughan. He wrote Y: The Last Man, Pride of Bagdad, Runaways, and many more. The Hood was one of his early OOP graphic novels that I finally got a copy of. It’s the story of a young man who gets super-powers, and how he becomes a super-villain instead of a hero.

It’s an interesting concept, but the story is too simple and lacking in anything that particularly grabbed me. Very generic feeling, unfortunately.

Pretty Deadly – Kelly Sue DeConnick

This one definitely looks pretty, but it was trying to hard to be like Sandman. The author tried to build her own mythology but the ideas never resonated and it ends up being hard to engage with.

Even worse, though, and one of the worst sins in comics, is that the way the panels were presented made the action very hard to follow. I have zero interest in continuing to read more volumes.

Infinity Gauntlet – Jim Starlin

I read this to get some detail on the upcoming storylines in the Marvel films. Pretty good. It was a bit old-fashioned, lacking the more modern gritty feel of comics of the last 10 years. Also, I felt out of my depth because there were so many characters I wasn’t familiar with. The ending was cool, though. We’ll have to see if the movies head in the same direction.

Seconds – Bryan Lee O’Malley

This was a disappointing graphic novel from the author or Scott Pilgrim. It’s a bit of a mess. A chef finds a stash of magic mushrooms that allow her to correct any mistakes she might have made in her life. But using them causes her even more problems than she anticipated.

It’s full of surreal and dream-like ideas that never quite work out, and lacking in the humor of Pilgrim. The art is beautiful, though.


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