New Year, Old Year: 2020 Revisited

click to counter depression

Day Five! Uncommon Sense!

What I Got Right!

Everything. But before you throw me a party, remember that that isn’t unusual for the last day of Best Week. The topic is a lampshade, you see. It’s there to obscure the fact that I’m showing off nothing but rattlesnakes.

Oh, perhaps The Field of the Cloth of Gold and Reign of Witches could be swapped; their own designer Amabel Holland all but accused me of special pleading when I noted that her annual freebie game was one of my favorite titles of the year. I’m not so sure. Although I’m such a worrywart that I sometimes fret over whether this is the proper venue to commingle solitaire RPGs, party games, hobby games, and more serious fare — see the previous page if you don’t believe me — on the whole, I prefer to take the holistic approach. Why should a game be better than another because it comes in a box and has a certain recommended price?

Hence this list. I like that it has a little bit of everything. In addition to Amabel’s stuff, we have that aforementioned solitaire RPG. Thousand Year Old Vampire made me think long and hard about memory and the slow death of dementia. Scape Goat is one of a billion social deduction games, but it also happens to be one of the best, fostering a paranoia that I’ve missed from every hidden role gig since. Dune: Imperium. Come on. That thing is a firecracker.

The only title I’ve had a falling out with is The Cost, and it’s a downgrade rather than a total plummet. It’s the sort of experience I respect more than enjoy — and lest you assume I’m talking about the game’s focus on the human cost of the asbestos industry, the offending elements are more the currency exchanges and rail placements. This happens with most dense economic simulations. I like them for a while, then I get a handle on where all the levers and buttons are placed. After that, my enthusiasm wanes.

What a year. Really. What a year. There was something for everyone. I hope, despite the upheaval of the plague and waves hand that these don’t disappear beneath the tidal wave of new releases. Not every game held up in the long run. Honestly, though, I’m surprised by how many continue to hold my interest.

To another year. A better year.

What I Got Wrong!

Many things. But none that fit here.


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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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