Here we are at the beginning of another month — it is September 2019. College football has started. The NFL season begins tonight and fall is just around the corner. But before I look forward too much, I want to take this time to look back at August and discuss some of the great gaming I got to be apart of during the month.
So today’s top 10 will be a look back at August as I discuss my favorite games I had the opportunity to play — this is not necessarily my overall favorite games, but the experiences during August that I most enjoyed.
First some stats — I played 35 unique games in August 2019, of which a whopping 17 games were brand new to me. Now, let’s get on to the list.
#10 – Throw Throw Burrito
My oldest son received Throw Throw Burrito from my sister for his birthday this year. Five of us were able to get together to play our first game and it is quite a wild experience. Personally, my main recollection was constantly getting beaned in the head by my brother-in-law who apparently has much better reaction speed than I do. The best part of the game is when a Duel gets called. The card passing / set collecting pauses and two called out individuals have to setup for a 3-pace duel. That’s a blast!
#9 – Jenga
So how did Jenga — NOT one of my favorite games by a longshot — make my top 10 for August?? What was special this month is that my wife and I got to introduce the game to our 3-year old daughter. She has enjoyed some toddler-level stacking games and so my wife wanted to give Jenga a try.
Honestly, I was nervous about this. There’s a decent amount of dexterity required to not send the tower toppling over right from the beginning of the game. That said, I was very impressed by the 3-year old’s performance. She definitely had some over-aggressive moments that made us catch our breath, but the game continued on for quite a few rounds — several of those in which we were expecting any new move to be the finisher.
It was a great example that playing games can be so much fun regardless of mechanism, theme, production quality — it is just great to play with your family!
#8 – Hail Hydra
When this game first came out, it received a glowing review from Tom Vasel at the Dice Tower. I love the Marvel franchise, so this sounded like a fun take on the social deduction genre, which my oldest son particularly enjoys. He and I got to play this with some family members who DON’T necessarily like this genre. So, the game started rough, but I think everyone started getting into it. I like the way card giving and playing is used to try and infer data about your group. Who’s a dirty HYDRA agent and who is truly a trustworthy superhero?
I was Captain America…..and I was HYDRA. I played up the Cap angle hard as a hero. At one point in the game, my son gave me a strong offensive card. I played two cards that round, claiming that I was going to hit the villain HARD! As luck had it, my two big positive cards were the only ones that hit the table that round…my fellow conspirator played a negative card and the other two players had lousy hands with only negative cards as well. Excellent!! The villain fended off our attack AND I was able to virtually solidify my stance as a “hero” in the game.
The game ended excitingly with a nail-biting final round. We were on our 3rd and last attempt against Ultron. With one card left to reveal, we were one point shy of defeating him and the heroes winning the game. And I just sat there smugly knowing that my negative 5 card had not been revealed yet. Bam! Disappointment from the ladies of the group and my son (who were the heroes) while my brother-in-law and I got to reveal ourselves as evil agents. I’m not sure if every play will be this exciting, but my first game of Hail Hydra definitely created some great memories.
#7 – Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates
Gen Con has come and gone and it seems like a lot of Kickstarters are starting to fulfill to backers. For me, that included receiving Forbidden Games’ Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates during August.
This is a light deck-building game that also includes racing (along three different tracks), along with pick-up-and-deliver. Pirates! is a fun game at two players, but it really shines at a higher count — four players was great! The tension – every turn – is deciding which track to move along. On one hand, it is tempting to just plunder merchant ships and visit ports to collect treasure. Plus, both options allow you to get new cards to strengthen your deck. BUT…the victory points awarded by end-game track placement are significant and cannot be ignored.
The game can start slow…a lame starting deck, small movements, few decisions…but the 2nd half of the game really picks up and the excitement escalates! I am looking forward to more plays of Pirates! and also to seeing what else Forbidden Games does with this new Extraordinary Adventures line.
#6 – Dream Home
If you are unfamiliar, Dream Home is a light-weight card drafting / set collection game, published by Rebel in 2016. I enjoy the theme of Dream Home, building / designing your own home…and the art on the cards is well done and fun, also. You aren’t just adding a bathroom to your house, but each bathroom card is a unique design with various decorations and even random visitors throughout the different rooms as well.
I played Dream Home three times in August, specificially because it was the first time for my 7-year old son to play it. He quickly fell in love with the game and asked for a couple replays throughout the month.
Generally, my son is much more interested in the visual aspects of a game and the “fun element” over strategy and figuring out the best move. Dream Home is great for him because he can have a blast just trying to build the house that he wants on his board.
That said, he is pretty good at the game and clobbered me in our most recent game session. 🙂
#5 – The 7th Continent
After a long time waiting, I finally received the 7th Continent this summer and August was the month I was able to jump into it — with six total play sessions. Each ‘curse’ that is undertaken in 7th Continent is a lengthy experience, so I chose to start off with the 2-3 hour intro curse. Here’s how I have fared so far:
After almost 3 hours during my first attempt….I realized I was playing the curse wrong (no wonder it seemed like I wasn’t actually making any progress, besides running and swimming all over the place). So, chalk that one up to some practice experience and start over. Attempt #2 only took me an hour and 24 minutes…….because I died. But again, I learned more in the process. I made one particularly bad mistake that had me shaking my head. So, now I am about an hour into my 3rd attempt on this curse. And because I’m a wimp, I’m playing with the Prodigy and Immortal modes. Hey!!! I only have so much time to play games and I still have several more curses to attempt (and those ones are suppose to be the big 10+ hour curses).
Overall, the exploration is very fun. The artwork on the cards is great and I am enjoying the puzzle of how to use my resources, when to attempt something and when to move on….and when to panic about needing to find some food.
Warning: this game may be on my monthly top 10 for awhile.
#4 – Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar
At my game group’s monthly game night, Troyes and Tzolk’in were the featured games. I had the opportunity to play both games and for me, Tzolk’in was the experience that really stood out. I enjoy worker placement and loved the way these wheels work — they make the timing of your decisions very important throughout the game. I also love when games provide opportunities to earn new powers. I was able to take advantage of an ability to feed my workers for less (and got that early in the game). I also saw a possibility to make wood tiles worth 4 points at the end of the game, so I worked hard to pick up wood tiles while steering many of my placement decisions towards getting the resources I needed to pick up that power.
We didn’t even play with the variable player power tribe cards — I have a feeling those would only increase my enjoyment of this game.
#3 – Castell
My son and I made it to our local board game café in August for a game day. We managed to play several new games that day, but our favorite was Castell. I had heard the Brothers Murph rave about this game on YouTube and am very glad we gave it a try. From a mechanism standpoint, I like that each turn is simple, but the decisions to make are important and you can tangibly feel your troupe progressing. Furthermore, it is fun to try and strategize how to most efficiently fulfill performance requests AND be able to compete at festivals.
Beyond that, though, I would say that Castell is just really fun — especially from a physical standpoint. Recruiting new castellers, training to improve your abilities, and then reconstructing your tower to complete performances and please festival-goers is such a blast! As with any game, I want to win when I play, but Castell is such a fun game that the play outweighs the final outcome. Love that!
#2 – Charterstone
August featured my 6-player group’s 12th and final game of our Charterstone campaign. I have absolutely loved this game and was very excited to see how things would go in the final playthrough. Personally, I only won a couple individual games but I had been working hard on my long-term strategy to try and be able to win in the end.
The final game was tense, but in the end my son (pictured above) turned this 12th session into his own 2-hour victory lap. In most of our games, the top two scorers were pretty close, but in this one, the green charter almost doubled the 2nd place score. And it was the end-game points he earned from this final day that gave him the advantage he needed to win the entire campaign. I managed to come in 2nd overall, beating my wife by a margin of only 0.2% of her total score.
At some point, I think my son and I would like to try a 2nd campaign, but in the meanwhile, I am really interested in trying the single game version of our finished Charterstone board. The post-campaign rules sound solid and look like they will provide a lot of replayability for the future.
#1 – Vindication
Another one of my Kickstarter fulfillments in August was for Vindication — my most anticipated arrival of the year. In my excitement for this title, I managed to get it to the table six times in August at a variety of player counts (2 players, 3 player, 4 player, and even a play of one of the solo modes). At this point, I believe this game works great at every count! Visually, Vindication is very pleasing and there are plenty of modules to give the game tons of replayability and shelf life.
One of the things I love about Vindication is that with a variety of companions, secret quests, and starting hex setups…each play of this game will have its own feel. Overall, you are playing the same game with the same general concepts, but the nuances of your strategy will have to be flexible. I’m the kind of player who likes to be given a new challenge and then construct my path to victory from there and so Vindication does that wonderfully.
In future months, I am really looking forward to getting into some of the heavier modules and trying the other solo modes. I have only played one so far and it was very fun and highly tense.
As you can see, August was another great month of gaming. How was yours? What has been your favorite game recently?