We’ve made it! Our Countdown is finally complete, and Gen Con Online is underway! The last ten days featured the games that got the most likes. Some of that surely has to do with the names of many games also being actual locations… but Scythe had no such advantage. We enjoyed getting these games back off the shelf to finish out the countdown.
First, we have a couple honorable mentions for tenth place. Both Ceylon and On Mars also got 90 likes by the time Dice Forge was posted. As of now, On Mars has 93 likes! Given that it was posted on day fourteen, this was a quick surge into contention, but not quite fast enough to be featured again.
All of these games came from our physical collection, aside from Scythe. We have the stunning Tabletop Simulator DLC for that one, which we cannot recommend enough. The countdown allowed (forced?) us to try more new games per week than ever before. Tabletop Simulator has been a great way to find and play new games, and we’ve seen more and more official mods as online conventions continue.
With the countdown complete, we’ve been wondering: what’s next? We’ve upped our gameplay considerably, and become more involved in the board game community during our countdown. We think we may start a podcast or start streaming board games… but for now, we’re enjoying Gen Con and replaying some of our favorites.
It’s not long now! We’re getting our schedules sorted and snacks ordered for Gen Con Online in just a few days. We started this countdown on a whim, and it’s been a focusing force for the last few months. We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a different game featured for each day, and we look forward to sharing our plays more regularly going forward (but not every day…).
As we’ve found unique games to post each day, we’ve been forced to expand our gaming horizons and try things that we’ve passed up. Dungeon Academy, Islebound, Paper Tales and War Chest were all games we had heard about, but never really dug into. While we’ll be happy to go back to some of our old favorites, finding new games has been rewarding.
This set of games featured stronger art and themes with titles like On Mars, Oceans, and Crystallo. Much like Parks from the last 10-Day recap, these games are as enjoyable to look at as they are to play. Through the Ages and Concordia on the other hand, fall more in line with typical beige Euro vibes, even though the individual elements are colorful. We’ve had the Through the Ages app for a while, and still feel like it’s the best way to play. To our knowledge, there’s no Concordia app yet. As we’ve seen more and more games going digital, we hope this one turns up soon.
Death Eaters Rising is yet another Harry Potter game, but overall our group liked it more than Hogwarts Battle. We feel like we can’t keep acquiring every game from the Wizarding World… but we’re also pretty sure that we’ll pick up that new House Cup game.
The days are going by fast! We’re making our final Gen Con gear selections and browsing the events as we continue to countdown to Gen Con Online. Our daily posting engine is running dangerously low on fuel, but we’re doing our best to finish strong! We may still post daily on Instagram once the Countdown is over, but we’ll probably focus again on our game collection and what we’ve recently played instead of posting a unique game everyday.
We appreciate games presenting new themes, like in Chai and Parks. Games with unique themes can also be great ways to introduce our hobby to people who may be unfamiliar, or apprehensive. Have a friend that loves tea? They probably have no idea there’s a board game about it. The art in Parks is so delightful, it’s easy to convince someone to spend some time playing a game with such wonderful designs.
Imperial Settlers almost sounds like a parody of the standard theme for so many board games, but it’s so well done that we can’t hold anything against this one. We originally played in on Tabletop Simulator, and almost immediately bought a copy from our local game store. We’ll likely do the same with Istanbul Dice and MMAGK, which has the much-less exciting name of Divvy Dice here in the U.S.
Champions of Midgard, Keyflower, Teotihuacan, and Villagers were all games that we loaded just to browse through the cards and pieces. We’ve enjoyed being able to sift through components as we decide what to learn next. Before, we would be limited by the number of games we wanted to buy. Now, we’re limited by how much we can learn and play.
We’re settling in for convention season, from the comfort of our desks! Gen Con 2020 would have been our first convention ever. Now that many are heading online, we are taking advantage by indulging in a steady stream of board game content. We watched much of the Virtual Gaming Convention and The Dice Tower Summer Spectacular, and are looking forward to participating in all sorts of conventions online that we never would have traveled to in person.
Because apps are comparatively cheap and endlessly portable, we’ll often find ourselves buying both a physical copy and a digital copy of games we like. Many of the apps we have are already featured earlier in the countdown (Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Terraforming Mars, Istanbul, and Splendor, to name a few). We had a fair amount of stand-alone apps this decade of the countdown: Galaxy Trucker, Exploding Kittens, Dragon Castle, Mysterium, Mystic Vale, Kingdom Builder, and Le Havre. The remaining games were either from Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator.
Some games certainly perform better as apps than others. While Kingdom Builder is still enjoyable, the controls are less than great and there’s no undo options or confirmations for your moves. Mysterium has a bit of a campaign mode, but it is a bit strange to play a game like that with AI. A game like Mystic Vale is able to benefit from crafting cards much easier on the app, and highlights your available moves. Dragon Castle and Galaxy Trucker are a couple of the ones we like the most. Dragon Castle is well designed and has optional animations that help highlight the top level of the castle, and Galaxy Trucker has a story mode that makes playing solo more interesting.
We’ve been a little obsessed with Garphill Games recently, playing through both the West Kingdom and North Sea Trilogies. Architects and Viscounts were the last two on our list. We felt that Orléans was a bit similar to those trilogies, as there were many interconnected elements that could lead to victory points. Unfortunately, Orléans felt a bit long, especially because there doesn’t seem to be any rubber-banding to keep the game competitive. In our game, the standings at turn 9 were the same as they were at turn 18. An early lead, or an early mistake, seem to set your course for the rest of the game. But, it was only our first playthrough, so perhaps we weren’t commanding all available strategies.
Time is ticking down! We’ve bought some official merch from Gen Con, and have been hunting down games to fill out the last slots of the countdown. We’re not exactly sure what we’ll do after the countdown is done, or if we will still post a game every day. We typically play less games in the summer, as we find ourselves busy with other commitments. One thing is for sure: when we finally decide to join up again in person, we’re planning a bit of a feast!
After playing Paladins of the West Kingdom and Raiders of the North Sea, we found ourselves jumping between Shem Phillip’s Trilogies until we made it through all available online options. Shipwrights of the North Sea was the only one we couldn’t find, and we sort of stumbled upon Shelfie Stacker on Tabletopia. We’ve enjoyed his games so much that we purchased the complete North Sea Trilogy from Garphill Games, including the Epilogues RPG. We’ve also backed Shelfie Stacker on Kickstarter. Needless to say, we’ve become loyal fans, and we’re excited to watch Shem tonight on Dice Tower’s Daily Chat!
Playing more online has increased our solo and 2 player plays by quite a bit. While we’ve also played some of these multiplayer, Nations, Welcome To, Fantastic Factories, and On Tour are a handful of the solo games we’ve been enjoying. Jaipur, Onitama, and Patchwork are all two-player games that have excellent stand-alone apps. Playing Patchwork against the hard AI (named after Uwe) is truly challenging!
Small World was a game we used to play quite a bit, but has since fallen out of rotation. Right now, we’re preferring the area control of Yellow and Yangtze. This is one that we’ve only played on the app, but have loved the experience. The animations and artwork are clear while still being immersive. We do think that it’s worth nothing that it’s bit more expensive than the average board game app.
We’re continuing to feature digital versions for board games in our countdown. We’ve been platform agnostic, playing games on Tabletopia, Tabletop Simulator, and from app stores. We’ve dabbled a bit in Board Game Arena, but haven’t featured any games from there. There’s also a newer contender called Tabletop Playground. As much as we like board games, it’s hard to justify buying yet another digital board game platform.
Sometimes in Tabletop Simulator after playing a game, we load mods just to see how the game and components look. Both Thanos Rising and Star Wars Rebellion were impressive, though we have yet to play either one. We haven’t played Are You A Human? either. The presentation on Tabletopia is excellent, but we are unlikely to play a memory game.
6 Nimmit!, Onirim, Cat Lady and Splendor are all apps that we own, though the Tabletop versions of the latter two were used for the countdown. We’d recommend any and all of these, as they are easy to learn and a great way to get familiar with playing analog games in digital form. If you’re new to playing online, tacking something like Scythe can be a bit intimidating (but certainly worth the challenge).
That leave us with Quartz and Explorers of the North Sea, two games that we hope will become standalone apps in the future. There is already a Raiders of the North Sea app by Dire wolf Digital, and we hope they continue making digital version of the North Sea Trilogy. Explorers is available on both Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator, but each one is less than perfect. Even though we struggled a bit with the pieces staying where they should, we had a great time playing and think that it could be quite fast in person. We didn’t all love Quartz, but it’s a decent push-your-luck game. We think we’d like the game a bit better with some balancing elements, and may try to create some sort of variant if we play again.
Here’s to the start of a new(ish) countdown! Gen Con 2020 has transformed into Gen Con Online. There have been quite a few conferences that have decided to take a year online. We remain excited for Gen Con, and are interested to see how it goes!
We’ve been trying to make the best of the current situation by organizing our game days a bit more. At the end of each gaming session, we pick a few games for the next one. Throughout the week, we learn the rules and watch videos, then play and discuss afterwards. Preparing for Paladins of the West Kingdom felt like cramming for a test. The game play itself is not very difficult, but the execution and strategy can be mind-bending. You find yourself with a pile of workers that all need worthwhile assignments, which can lead to significant analysis paralysis.
Settling in for a long game in front of a screen can be a bit more taxing and exhausting than playing at a table. At first we were playing huge games every weekend, but we’ve started to ease back and play more lighthearted and short titles, like Go Nuts for Donuts. We’re also trying lots of new (to us) small box games, like Cartographers and Mint Works. These have also been great one-player games, along with Roll Player, Rolling Realms, and Castle Panic.
We already had quite a few game apps in our shared Google Play library, many of which were collecting digital dust. Now we’re revisiting many of those, and finding that we prefer some apps to the physical game. Potion Explosion is one app that lead us to sell our physical box. Lords of Waterdeep doesn’t quite replace the actual game, but we would definitely recommend the app. We’re not thrilled about the Dream Home app,…but we’ve also never played this one in person. Maybe that experience would be better?
We’ve come to an end of this countdown. On May 19th, Gen Con officially cancelled their event for this year. All the badges will roll over to 2021 (unless individuals request otherwise) and they will instead be offering Gen Con Online this year, during the same dates. We’ll now be counting down to that, and we’re going to start posting some digital games… Maybe a lot of digital games; we’re running out of board games and our local cafes are not open.
Ticket to Ride was perhaps our gateway into the hobby. We happened to see the 10th Anniversary when we were shopping for a copy. It’s huge and beautifully made – we’ve definitely been more partial to special editions as a result.
With a library of over 100 games, it can be hard to keep everything in rotation. Dominion, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, and Ascension are all games that we play multiple times a year. We used to play Dixit quite a bit, but that was years ago. We only recently played Helios and Pioneer Days for the first time. Helios had been on the shelf for nearly two years, still in wrap. Kingdom of Solomon and Herbalism have yet to be played, but they are both fairly new acquisitions.
This set of ten features quite a few games that we purchased recently. We bought a few games from IELLO, and were able to support our FLGS in the process. We also bought a discounted bundle from Deep Water Games. We figured they would at least provide some entertainment while we were stuck inside, but so far we’ve liked them all!
KoTDE is BEAUTIFUL. We’ve been fans of the game for quite some time, as a light-hearted diversion from our more intense games. The new edition adds some features to better balance gameplay, and tons of new art. Dark, matte blacks are splashed with glossy neon, resulting in frame-worthy components. You can take a look at the assets and experience the gameplay on Tabletop Simulator, but it’s no substitution for owning the physical game!
Our bundle from Deep Water included both Hanamikoji and Jixia Academy. We had no idea that this was the same game with different art. Hanamikoji features women on the cards, and Jixia has men. It’s a simple but strategic game, much like Onitama. We think there’s something Euchre-ish about it… if you enjoy that card game, you should definitely give this a try.
We haven’t played Charterstone since finishing the campaign, but we’ve given the digital edition a try and have been impressed. We could never otherwise imagine affording endless copies of a Legacy game, just so we could keep trying new tactics to see how the game is shaped.
Shakespeare, Attack on Titan, High Risk, and Little Town have all only been played once. The first two just don’t happen to work their way into the rotation, and the last two are brand new and will probably be played quite a bit. Tokaido and Gravwell have both been played frequently. We bought the collector’s edition for Tokaido, but elected to keep our standard edition. The same may be true for King of Tokyo… we still opened both, but there’s also a temptation to keep the special editions, well, special.
This week, the State of Indiana released a plan to transition back into full public life after COVID-19. The current dates on the plan targets July 4th for all business and events to return to normal, though Indianapolis may be a bit delayed due to population density. With Gen Con’s start date of July 30, we are cautiously optimistic that the date will not be postponed! We hope everyone continues to remain safe as we transition back into public life, so that we can hit these projected dates.
Catacombs & Castles is one of our few dexterity games. We’ve really only played it once, and only two of us at that. We enjoyed it, haven’t gotten it back off shelf. Downfall of Pompeii and The Estates are two more that we enjoyed, but have only played once. Discover: Lands Unknown also happens to be in this category, but it’s much newer than the rest. We bought this one out of curiosity; because the game is procedurally generated, no two copies are the same. We’ve since seen a few used ones at Half Price Books, and considered buying another copy to understand some of the variation.
Tsuro, Nefarious, 7 Wonders, and Camel Up are some of our most played games. They are all relatively fast, so we tend to choose these either when we are waiting for everyone to arrive, or at the end of a GameDay when we don’t want to pull out anything huge… like Talisman Kingdom Hearts. The game is beautiful, the implementation using the Kingdom Hearts theme is excellent, but it’s definitely a “start of the day” sort of game.
Mystery of the Temples was one that we first played on Tabletopia. Deep Water Games has been offering Gamer Relief Bundles with deep discounts over the last few weeks. The bundle we bought including Temples was meant to come with a playmat, but an inventory error meant that they were not available at the time of shipping. The company was nice enough to offer us a discount on a future purchase, but we can’t decide if we’d rather get another game or go for upgraded components.