New Year, Old Year: 2015 Revisited
Day Three: Overlooked!
What I Got Right!
A whole lot more than on Day Two’s list, basically.
Probably the biggest success from this list was Homeland, which continues to be one of the greatest traitor-style games ever designed that nobody seemed to notice. Even this past year’s New Angeles took a few cues from it by focusing on non-binary goals and suspicions. Essentially, rather than splitting things into “Human!” and “Cylon!” roles, it managed to up the paranoia to basement-person levels, complete with hoarded newspapers and a conspiracy web.
Specter Ops and Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, both from Plaid Hat Games, have become regular game night fillers for when certain irregular guests show up, though the latter is in trouble thanks to its creators’ inability to hold themselves to a consistent release schedule. I’d like to say that I expect Ashes to continue to meet my expectations in 2017. I’d probably be lying. In the future, I hope Plaid Hat focuses its attention on single-release games like Specter Ops, if only because then I don’t have to wait for them to dream up new ideas to make the dang thing feel complete.
A few others make the occasional appearance, only to retreat back to the safety of the bottom of the pile. Resistor is as clever as ever, and I do love me a smart two-player title with a War Games aesthetic. Rum & Bones provides just enough outlandish fun that I was tempted by some of the silly little expansions before steeling myself against emptying my wallet, and I’ll probably hold onto it for when the little’uns grow up enough to appreciate the scent of burning powder. Camp Grizzly lasted a good long while as a Halloween-season table pleaser, though I gave it to a friend to take on a camping trip to a remote cabin. They never came back. Probably because they liked the game so much that they’re still playing it to this day. As ghosts.
What I Got Wrong!
First of all, I contend that I didn’t get Three Kingdoms Redux wrong. It’s a fantastic game. So fantastic that I couldn’t refuse the filthy lucre that somebody offered in exchange for my copy. I lay awake nights, tossing with regret, and trying to persuade myself that I couldn’t get a group of exactly three people together all that often. Which is a lie; I play games with three all the time.
So there’s that.
The Golden Ages fizzled out of existence. I’d forgotten it was a thing until right this moment, to be honest. Maybe there’s a reason that sprawling 4X games shouldn’t be pared down until there’s nothing left of their original fabric but a few tatters. Meanwhile, The Bloody Inn impressed me sufficiently at the time, and I still dig any game that lets me use my hand in so many ways. A few years ago this would have been a classic in my book. Today, hand management is a staple mechanic. Down to the basement with ye!
Lastly, there’s Gold West, my numero uno winner for this category back in 2015. It’s a long story why I haven’t played it in over a year. In short, I gave it away as a bribe, which maybe speaks volumes about how little I loved it in the first place. Which is odd, because I loved it intensely for a while. Maybe I harbor a secret grudge against mancala games, probably because my middle-school crush said she would give me a peck on the cheek if I beat her at mancala. She wrecked my heart when she won. I thought she’d go easy. She did not go easy. Now she’s a millionaire and I’m waxing nostalgic about a board game that I liked so little I gave it away to prevent blackmail. What has happened with my life.
On the next page, prepare to be surprised by how the best surprises of 2015 stack up today.