September sure was a blur of a month that ended shortly after I realized it had begun. That said, I managed to get in a solid amount of board gaming and for this week’s top 10 list, I want to look back at my favorite gaming experiences of September 2019.
As always, this top 10 list is not a list of my favorite games but is a list based on the experiences I had during the month.
Before I get into the list, though, some stats from September: I managed to play 34 unique games, 9 of which were brand new to me. Those plays included 13 different individuals as my competitors and six total gaming locations. There are four games that got to the table most often (at 3 times each) –> of those, Tapestry was the leader in overall playing time at approximately 7 hours.
Now, on to the list!
#10 – Wingspan
My most recent play of Wingspan was the closest one yet. At the end, the four final scores were separated by only 7 points (first to worst). I built a card-drawing engine quickly and managed to play three birds that earned me extra end-game scoring cards. Thus, I spent a lot of effort trying to maximize those points — drawing lots of cards helped give me more options of birds to fulfill those requirements. I was one geographic bird name away from pulling off the win — unfortunately, I did poorly on early round goals which may have made the difference in the outcome. Another excellent play of Wingspan!!
#9 – Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates
In September, I was able to get in a four-player game of Pirates! This game is fairly light overall — light deckbuilding, simple point-to-point movement, basic pick-up-and-deliver. What I really enjoy about this game (and enjoyed at a higher player count) is the interaction in this game. I’m not a total “care bear” when it comes to my gaming style, but I also don’t like a lot of aggressive take-that. The player interaction in Pirates! hits a sweet spot for me. With three different ship tracks to manage, it is exciting (especially late in the game) to see players start having to make key choices between racing ahead of opponents and stopping to try and gain treasures.
#8 – Jetpack Joyride
I backed Jetpack Joyride on Kickstarter and expected it to arrive this spring, but it was delayed and finally arrived in September. My 7-year old son and I had a chance to play it on a Saturday and I loved getting to see him puzzle his way through the lab setups –> trying to avoid dangers, use the tetrominos wisely, pick up coins, and even score some mission-based bonus points. At the end of the first two rounds, you get to add a gadget to your arsenal — he loved that aspect of the game and the cool bonus powers they provided.
All-in-all, it is a quick play (15-30 minutes) but very enjoyable — hopefully my son will be up for lots more jetpack adventures with me.
#7 – One Night Ultimate Super Villains
After a session of playing a One Night game a few times, I’m always amazed at how much fun and excitement these games create. Super Villains is the newest title (I believe) and probably my family’s favorite. There are a bunch of cool characters with a variety of powers and it is constantly surprising how you can open your eyes after the Night phase — think you know who you are and what is going on — and have that completely flipped on you. In our final game of September, I was a Hero who got turned into a Villain (and I was aware of it) — I was biding my time, staying quiet to listen to what everyone else was claiming…and then all of a sudden, my son calls me out as a villain — and within three seconds has riled up the hero mob and called for a vote and before I can fully fathom what is happening a whole bunch of fingers are pointing at me.
Hahaha!!! So much fun! [Oh, and I also loved being the Annoying Lad twice in a row and getting to annoyingly tap my wife’s shoulder both rounds…she assumed I was just cheating the 2nd time] :-)~
#6 – Awkward Guests
The last several years, in the fall, my daughter (now 13) and I have set aside a weekend to just hangout, watch some fun shows, snack, and play some games. In my family, she’s generally the least interested in playing board games, but she gets “in the mood” for our special weekend.
We generally play ‘tried-and-true’ games but she acquiesced to her Dad’s whimperings and learned a new game with me –> Awkward Guests. She likes playing Clue so I hoped she would like this deduction game as well. Awkward Guests utilizes an excellent “Brilliant Deck” system that generates new cases each time you play — and with the app (which I used) you won’t have the solution spoiled for you if you make an incorrect guess.
So, we played through the game, learning the nuances of how to understand the clues as they came up. This game is great because the clues are fairly concrete, but the full information they provide is dependent on what else you know and your deductive reasoning skills as well. In our particular game, I played conservative and wanted to feel REAL GOOD about my solution before making an accusation. I had nailed the murder device, but was still waffling between two possible suspects.
Meanwhile, my daughter received a clue that strengthened a hunch she had about one of those suspects and she stepped up tall and proud to make her accusation. I handed her my phone so she could input her claims and then I heard the sound of applause from my phone — She had done it!! That sneaky teenager had outwitted me and won the game! And that’s okay, because it was a blast playing this fun new game with her. A wonderful memory!
#5 – Ocean Crisis
Speaking of wonderful gaming experiences with my kids — my 7-year old and I also had a chance to play Ocean Crisis a couple times in September. Our first play was on easy mode to learn the game (and man, even that felt difficult).
He enjoyed that play and shortly after was asking for another chance to play. We eventually did and tried the normal Standard mode. After a rough draw of tiles halfway through the game, I thought we were doomed. We fought on, though, utilizing our unlocked character abilities and came to the end of the final round with the last ocean flow dice roll. The beach and ocean were becoming heavily “trashed” and there was only 1 die scenario that would allow us to pull off a win –> rolling a one. So, my son grabbed the six-sided die and flung — we looked down and saw a one!!! My hands went up in the air immediately in excitement and my son had a huge smile on his face. Whew!! What an amazing ending. Regardless, we were having fun with this great cooperative game, but that was definitely icing on the cake.
#4 – Tapestry
Tapestry’s pre-order opened at the beginning of September and to my delight, it shipped and arrived in less than a week. During the month, I was able to get the game to the table three times (a 2-player game and a couple 4-player games).
First off, I’m still “figuring out” good strategies for this game. My 2nd play — I felt good and thought I might win (but my wife outperformed me by five points). Then, in my 3rd play, I had the worst performance I’ve seen by anyone yet. Bleh! That said, I have enjoyed all of my plays of Tapestry. I like that every game feels different — depending on your civilization, tapestry cards, techs, etc… and I love that! I enjoy the challenge of trying to understand my strengths/weaknesses and put together a new strategy to try and obtain a victory. I look forward to many more plays of Tapestry.
#3 – PARKS
I have been anticipating the Kickstarter fulfillment of PARKS, but mainly for its beautiful artwork and simple gameplay. When my wife sat down to play this one, I received a very pleasant surprise.
Is the game simple? Yes, I believe it is and would be easy for most elementary-age kids and up to understand the game and enjoy playing it. That said, it has a lot of strategic depth that I think a more experienced gamer can really appreciate — something that I didn’t expect from a game that seemed dependent on its production and theme –> but combine those with some solid depth and I believe PARKS will find itself with a firm spot in my gaming library.
#2 – Vindication
In September, I played my first, full-count, 5-player game of Vindication. Two of us had played the game and three were new to it. It ended up being a 3 hour, 44 minute marathon of back-and-forth momentum swings. I believe four of us had the lead at some point during the 2nd half of play. It was exciting to see how each player would utilize their personal strengths to try and keep gaining honor and stay ahead of the pack. I saw a few new cards acquired this game that I hadn’t seen before which provided some exciting interactions.
In the end, I was able to make a late-game comeback….positioned myself for some key areas of Mastery, and won the game. It may have been a 224-minute slugout, but I had a blast through all of it. I am absolutely loving this game! [And I still have several modules I haven’t touched at all yet!!]
#1 – Space Base
Currently, my wife and I are playing through the Emergence of Shy Pluto expansion for Space Base — and we are having a wonderful time with it. It has been very exciting to see new card types enter into play (and permanently into our version of the game) as we progress through the story. Our most recent play gave us the chance to finally open one of the Mystery boxes (oooohhhh!!!). It introduced a fun new element to the game that we both appreciated as a small variant to normal gameplay [Don’t worry, no spoilers]. I would estimate that we are 50-60% through this mini-campaign and excited to see what else Shy Pluto will offer / throw at us.
Having a great time…playing an awesome game with my wife..has been my biggest board gaming highlight of the month. John D. Clair and AEG — keep bringing us more great Space Base content!!
That’s my list for September 🙂 What all have you been getting to the table lately? Feel free to share in the comments below or on Twitter.