2014 gaming round-up

What games did I play in 2014? I don’t really try to track all the different games I play, mostly just to enjoy them while I’m playing them. Still, it’s interesting to think about what all I’ve played recently. Here are the games that I remember playing over the past year:


    Image of New Year fireworks

  • Blade & Crown: Unsurprisingly, this is still the game I play the most. My ongoing monthly group have finally rescued Count Dobros from a shipwreck. But will they be able to prevent Morensia from falling into civil war? I also ran the Mountain Monastery Mystery twice this year (one at Con of the North and once at WisCon). I think I also playtested the Bandit Map with the weekly group this year.
  • Fate of various sorts: Dresden in the Twin Cities, Tekumel, Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, Ringworld and others. At least two GMs in my weekly group use Fate regularly, and John especially is a big fan of the system, so we’ve used it to play lots and lots of different games.
  • Quiet Year: I think this has taken the place of Fiasco as our standard one-shot game. Interesting, in that it’s in some ways less versatile than Fiasco. But it produces a fun game, and at the end, you’re left with a very evocative map. 🙂
  • Classified: Also known as the James Bond 007 retroclone. We’ve recently been playtesting it as a prelude to Alan’s game at Con of the North.
  • Night’s Black Agents: We have a pretty extensive ongoing campaign in this. Our PCs are exposing a worldwide vampire conspiracy, jetting from Berlin to Oman to various spots around the former Yugoslavia.
  • Microscope: Had a good, albeit somewhat intense, game of this at Con of the North 2014. I’m also pretty sure the weekly group has played this at least once this year. Used to be a common game to pull out, but we haven’t done it as much recently.
  • Og: Don’t think I’ve played this with the weekly group recently, but there was a very memorable game at Con of the North.
  • Fiasco: The weekly group has played this at least once over the past year. It used to be quite a mainstay of our one-shot library, but we haven’t been playing it as much recently.
  • Dungeon World: Eric ran a multi-session game of this. I don’t really like the basic systems, but Eric’s scenario design was good.
  • Hari Ragat: This was a one-day playtest, but quite good.

Board & card games

  • Dominion: The super-popular deck-building game. Quite a few of my friends are into this, and it’s a pretty quick-playing game, so I’ve played it a fair amount this past year.
  • Timeline: A very fast-playing game of trying to remember historical dates — or at least trying to predict when the game authors will date a particular event. Enjoyable and quick.
  • Star Traders: I actually played considerably more of this over the past year than I had in the past few years, largely thanks to a trip to Chicago. Star Traders continues to generate hilarious stories through its often silly, convoluted and at times very PVP play.
  • Roll Through the Ages: This is still one of my favorites. It plays pretty quickly, and works very well as a solitaire game. It also manages to combine nice flavor (you are a bronze age civilization, trying to become prosperous and powerful) with good strategy and just enough luck.
  • Battleground: An interesting card-based miniatures combat game.
  • Zar: I must’ve played this at least a few times over the past year, right? Zar is still one of the major social lubricants for my main group of geeky friends.

Computer & other games

  • Settlers of Cataan: If I’m honest, this is probably the game I play most often… because I play the Linux version of it on my home computer, quite a lot. A game against three AI opponents usually takes no more than 20 minutes. It has all the frustrations and rewards of the face-to-face version, including “Why did you build a road there?!? Now I’ll never get my third village!” But Pioneers eliminates the wear-and-tear that Settlers can cause to real human friendships.
  • Skyrim: I played this some last summer. It was nice to get back into that immersively beautiful (but sometimes obnoxiously hostile) world.
  • Artemis: The only place I actually got to play this in 2014 was Con of the North — I missed out on the Convergence sessions. Still, a thoroughly enjoyable and, I still feel, revolutionary game.
  • Kerbal Space Program: Such a fun game. So fun. The thrill of putting together rockets, launching them, nervously working to prevent them exploding, then flying them into the far reaches of space is really just great in a lot of different ways. The cute Kerbals add to the enjoyment in interesting ways… I’ll have to do a fuller review of KSP at some point. And KSP has helped my understanding of orbital mechanics rather hugely. Apparently the beta, soon to come out, will get rid of the angle snap problem while assembling rockets, which is one of the few real annoyances remaining in the program.
  • Minecraft: Yep, I’ve been sucked in by this. The possibilities for building, playing, exploring, making your own goals and following them… it’s the consummate computer-based sandbox game. Lots of goodness.
  • EVE Online: In the past couple weeks, I’ve finally managed to get EVE Online running on my (Linux) system. So far, the beauty of the space scenery has been enticing. I doubt I’ll be enamored with the more PVP-esque aspects of the game for very long, though.
  • Let’s Build a World: Did this at Minicon and at MethodCon. This continues to be fascinating, hilarious, evocative and just generally wonderful.
  • Moneyduck: It’s been harder to get together a group to play this recently, but when we have, it’s been just as great as ever.

I’m sure that I’m forgetting other games, but those are the highlights. Or the ones I remember, at least.

None of this, of course, is to imply that anyone has to play lots of different systems. If you like one game and stick to it, more power to you! And I certainly would never say that play is the only way to enjoy a game — reading an RPG is just as valid as playing it. Still, it’s interesting to think about what exactly I’ve been playing this past year.

And hopefully I can say this without bragging: This continues to be the most bountiful time for gaming in my life. I’m having more varied, more amazing, just plain more gaming experiences than I’ve ever had before. That’s a very nice thing.

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