New Year, Old Year: 2020 Revisited

click to enter a perpendicular dimension

Day Four! Parallel Dimensions!

What I Got Right!

To varying degrees, every game on this list has held up. The big surprise, I think, is that Beyond the Sun remains so worthy of remark. Despite its impressive span of dead space, it sparks the imagination where so many space games have become perfunctory. More than one previous favorite has fallen by the wayside thanks to its clever tech system and breezy stellar colonization. Wasn’t there an expansion in the works? If I could do it all over again, this would be the category’s winner.

Which isn’t to say that Oceans or Under Falling Skies turned out to be slouches. They’re both more particular than Beyond the Sun, is all. Oceans excels at middle player counts, a Goldilocks zone between too much downtime and too few species on the table. Under Falling Skies, meanwhile, remains one of my favorite puzzle-style solitaire games, one I wholly intend to revisit from time to time when the mood strikes.

What I Got Wrong!

What’d I get wrong? The topic, for one thing. I know it’s a small detail, but I do put some thought into the categorization of these lists. Maybe the problem is that this list and the previous one were effectively the same. Vacations and parallel dimensions. At some level, they’re both chances to get away.

The Mission remains many things to me. A wonderful solitaire game. A gripping expression of a full millennium of history. An act of religion devotion via design. When I’m feeling optimistic, I hold out hope that this hobby will continue to bloom into adulthood, with all the complexities and tastes that accompany such refinement. The rest of the time, I wonder if our adolescence will remain arrested. When I wrote about The Mission, I braced for opinions. What I couldn’t have prepared myself for was the scolding. I was being too political; not political enough; too soft on a “problematic” game; too hard on a “Christian” game. And, look, it’s fine; my policy is that we should never spend too much emotional energy on criticisms from somebody we wouldn’t ask for advice from. However, it does give me some concern with the format of this site. There’s always been some friction when this hobby’s disparate spheres come into contact. A wargame or consim should be free to explore topics, ideas, and settings that might be an uncomfortable fit for a regular hobby game. This leads me to wonder, though, if perhaps Space-Biff! casts too broad a net. On the one hand, I enjoy curating a space that speaks to my own tastes. On the other, I do consider the ways our industry’s ongoing discourse is shaped, and wonder if the membrane between spheres is becoming too porous.

In other words, I dunno. I’m still thinking about it.

On a less navel-gazey note, I cooled on Forgotten Waters and Bios: Origins. The culprit for the first murder was absolutely Sleeping Gods. For the second, it’s mostly that I haven’t found the opportunity to return.

On the fifth page, the stunning conclusion…

Posted on June 21, 2022, in Board Game and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. While I do think with some folks there was a bit of special pleading re: Reign, and I said as much, you actually weren’t one of the ones I had in mind, Dan, to be clear.

  2. In a world obsessed with the new, I always appreciate a good retrospective. Thank you.

  3. I agree that the response to ‘the mission’ and some other kerfuffles has been disappointing.

    On the other hand, there never was an Eden, and there never will be.

    But this site is good, and the core conceit of this site is true: that games, both as artistic achievements and as the scaffolding to support shared exploration of a system, are worthy of serious criticism.

  4. Cosmic Frog is freaking awesome. It feels like a fresh breeze in the stale world of streamlined Euro games. It’s a pallet cleanser from the hype and the churn. It’s also a great way to “settle scores” from other games. And two years on it still stands out and gets requests at my gaming group.

    Cosmic Frog; the pick of 2020.

  5. I will never apologize for telling folks Reign of Witches is one of my favorite games of 2020, despite how much it annoys Amabel.

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