December 25th. Christmas is here! If you happen to be reading this on the actual day I post this…then, Merry Christmas and I wish you and yours a wonderful day of family and celebration. I love the board gaming hobby, but it doesn’t compare to just getting to be with my family, nor the chance to remember and celebrate God’s gift to humanity, Jesus Christ.
Now, on to the Best of the Best, my top 4 games!
Links to prior posts:
#4 – Gloomhaven (Cephalofair Games, designed by Isaac Childres) [#41 in 2019; #8 in 2018]
Here it is…BGG’s #1 game, the Beast of the Board Gaming world –> Gloomhaven. I purchased Gloomhaven August of 2018. My wife and oldest son started playing it fairly regularly for about half-a-year and it climbed into my initial top 10 list. We stalled out, though, and have never returned to our campaign. With that disappointment in mind, the game slipped down to #41 on last year’s list. During the pandemic, though, (and thanks to the excitement of the Frosthaven Kickstarter campaign back in April), I decided to dust off the big box and start my own solo campaign.
So, since May, I’ve been playing a three-handed solo campaign of Gloomhaven. I’ve managed to complete 26 scenarios so far, having retired two of my starting three characters. It’s still a game that ‘wears me out’ at times…and I need breaks from it, but as you can tell from its movement up to the #4 spot, my joy for Gloomhaven has been reinvigorated during 2020. Great combination of puzzly play and bashing monsters!
#3 – Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game (Upper Deck Entertainment, designed by Devin Low) [#2 in 2019; #1 in 2018]
Legendary: Marvel –> easily the most consistent game amongst my favorites. I first played this game on my birthday back in May of 2016. 4 1/2 years later, I have 103 plays in of this excellent Marvel-themed, deck builder –> 23 of those plays coming in 2020. My daughter is at that age (teenager) where she doesn’t want to play games very often, but this is one she still enjoys. I acquired the S.H.I.E.L.D. expansion this year and she’s enjoyed some S.H.I.E.L.D. versus HYDRA themed matches with me (one of the highlights of my gaming year!)
And when I can’t get a kiddo to play with me, I just play 2-handed solo. I’ve been having a blast playing with new characters and also trying to work through a BGG-created campaign (from RangerRob). The campaign really takes advantage of the comic story lines that can be “mimicked” by utilizing the game’s plethora of characters, villains, and schemes.
Now, I realize there are some who may not like this game or have gotten tired of it over time…for me, it is still a game I continue to enjoy play after play –> I think that’s because of how much I enjoy the Marvel Legendary’s cadence. First few turns = start your deck creation. Next several turns = keep building and try to survive, which will lead right up to a point of feeling like the game is about to get out of hand. If you have survived okay and built up a deck that can start combo’ing well…this generally coincides with when you start getting powerful. This is the moment in the game when it truly feels like the story’s Big Battle is about to happen. The villain will keep throwing out his worst, but your heroes are present, strong, and ready to battle back…you can finally feel momentum about to shift in your direction. Now, this is where the combination of Mastermind power and Scheme are crucial. If the clock is ticking, can you finish the job in time? If the Scheme build up is the main threat, have you been clearing it successfully enough to hang in there?
There’s nothing like that moment when you know the next card from the Villain deck could be your Big L, but you manage to put together a huge Double-Digit Attack to finish the Mastermind…just in time! Whew, what a finish! I love the cadence of this game and the cinematic feel I get out of it most plays. I don’t always win…but when I don’t, I love the challenge of examining what went wrong and trying to adjust my Hero roster to better prepare for the next attempt. Keep those expansions coming, Upper Deck…you got my money!!!
#2 – Too Many Bones (Chip Theory Games, designed by Josh J. Carlson and Adam Carlson) [new to the list]
During this year’s Cloudspire expansion Kickstarter campaign, I became curious about Chip Theory’s Too Many Bones. My FLGS had a base game in stock, so I picked it up curbside (happy to support Wizard’s Asylum in Norman, OK). My son and I played together for a first play (with one Gearloc each) and had fun, but got a bit hammered. I’ve played once as a true solo play with Picket, but since then I always play with a full four Gearloc roster regardless of player count (so yes, I play 4-handed solo a lot — and LOVE IT!)
I’m so prepared to gush about this game, that I’m becoming verklempt. Okay, so let me highlight a few things: A) RPG character progression. The mini tech-trees for skills are outstanding…they do a wonderful job of making every character feel unique and like a fun puzzle to figure out. With 16 skill dice per Gearloc, you will only be able to progress your character a portion of that during any one adventure…so it provides the chance to try out different builds for a character as you feel-out and learn how you best like to play with that Gearloc. B) The day-to-day adventures –> most of the time you will end up in battle, but I love that some days involve other options — maybe hunting, Dangerous Darts, dealing with rubble/dynamite, etc. C) The battles are deliciously fun. The Baddies quickly get to a very intimidating state and yet, it feels so great to puzzle out a strong gameplan…and when the dice roll your way for some big hits, YEEHAW!!! D) A full, RPGesque Adventure in a few hours. My games have lasted anywhere from 1.5-5 hours and I love that I get a full, multi-battle experience, with lots of character progression, but it is able to come to a point of completion.
I have obviously had a blast with Too Many Bones (it has jumped all the way to my #2 slot) and I expect a lot more gameplay in 2021 as some expansion content should be arriving over the next couple months.
#1 – Marvel Champions: The Card Game (Fantasy Flight Games, designed by Michael Boggs, Nate French, and Caleb Grace) [new to the list]
And here we go, my current #1 overall game –> Marvel Champions: The Card Game. Since I received this game exactly one year ago (for Christmas), I have managed to get in 110 plays with 13 different Heroes against 8 different Villains (so far). Average game time = 34 minutes
I have played a couple other LCG’s. I have played some Lord of the Rings. I love that franchise, but maybe I was just too ‘new’ to gaming or maybe just too ‘late’ to the game to really get into it. I tried to get into it, but just never got the emotional ball rolling. I have played the Arkham Horror LCG and I think the campaign is cool, but the theme doesn’t do anything for me and the exploration was not as enticing to me as it is to others. Marvel Champions, though…I have been able to get into it at the game’s beginning (and trying my best to keep up) and I really love the Combat-heavy focus of the game. Furthermore, I’m a huge Marvel fan so I feel invested in the characters, good or bad, that I’m playing with.
Not only has the gameplay really clicked with me, because I’ve been playing the game regularly and acquiring new packs as they are released, I have been able to stay “in-tune” with new cards and have really enjoyed the deck creation aspect of the game. After a loss, I enjoy being able to take a few moments and analyze the situation. Am I struggling to handle a Villain’s scheming…maybe I need to switch to Justice. Is Ultron too much to handle as time ticks by, time to focus on a Super Aggression deck (I managed a win with Captain Marvel in only five turns and 11 total minutes. Whew!!)
I love the deck-tweaking and also learning how each Hero ticks…how they perform at their best. At the moment, I’m in the middle of the Rise of Red Skull campaign (playing simultaneous campaigns with both Hawkeye and Spider-Woman). In its first year, the game has made some great progress and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead in 2021. In three years, I’ve yet to have a #1 game hold on to its title…but I tell you, Marvel Champions is not going to go quietly into the night. I currently don’t know what would knock it down, but I’m excited to keep exploring new games in hope there’s another #1 in my future.
That’s numbers 4 through 1…and that’s my Top 100 List! I hope you have enjoyed this list…I appreciate you following me along this discussionary journey. Let me know what your thoughts and/or feedback are for these titles. Furthermore, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @boardgamecrock1 and Retweet the Top 100 posts to earn entries into the Fantastic Factories giveaway.