Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The most popular games of 2013

Last Friday saw our the last Windsor Gaming Resource event of 2013: our Boardgame Bash! I wanted to take a moment to thank every single one of you who came out to one of our events and made 2013 our best year ever. We've gotten more events in than any year in the past and I've met a ton of new wonderful gamers. Thank you!

The other thing I wanted to do was take a look back at 2013. After every event I gather a list of all of the games played and enter those plays over at www.boardgamegeek.com (awesome site BTW). This lets me see; not only what's been played, but how often each game was showcased at one of our events. Here's the results of that data collection:

The 10 most popular games at WGR events in 2013:

1. Munchkin

I will admit that I'm personally not a big fan of this but if this year's events are any indication, I'm in the minority with that opinion. This one and the next one tied, showing up at 11 different events.

For those who haven't heard of it (I'd be surprised if that's anyone who follows this blog) Munchkin is a pretty simple dungeon crawl parody game full of back stabbing and one upmanship. Kick in the door, kill the monster and steal it's loot. You will have to ask for help along the way but expect a knife in the back from those same friends as you approach level 10 and the win.

2. The Settlers of Catan

This one doesn't surprise me at all. There's a reason The Settlers of Catan is the most well known "Eurogame" in the world - it's a great game. It also introduces a lot of mechanics that players only familiar with traditional roll and move games may not know.

Catan really is a great gateway game and has been the doorway to hobby gaming for many people, myself included. I expect this one to remain popular for years to come.

3. King of Tokyo

The first time I tried King of Tokyo I wasn't a big fan. Yet another push your luck Yahtzee game but with giant Kaiju monsters. Eventually one night at one of our events at Villains Beastro I gave it another shot and found I loved it. I'm  not sure what changed, I think it may have been the expansion that added power ups and differentiated the monsters. Whatever it was, I was glad I gave the game another shot as I've found it to be one of the best filler games out there. I'm always happy to see it come out at our events.

4. Race for the Galaxy

Race for the Galaxy was hugely popular at the beginning of the year. I would receive requests from players week after week to bring this one out. For some reason that popularity died off as the year went on. I don't think this is any reflection on the gameplay of this great game, but rather the amount of great new games that came out in 2013 and people's desire to try new things.

"Race" continues to be one of the most popular card games out there for good reason: it's a fantastic card based 4x game. There's a bit of a learning curve but once you are past that you've got a great strategic game with no one right way to win.

5. Ca$h 'n Gun$

What's not to love about a game where you point foam guns at the fellow players in a virtual Mexican Stand Off?

This one is great for public play events as it's quiet the spectacle. It always gathers a crowd and is responsible for getting the non-gaming public to join in the fun at some of our events. 

You've just completed the bank job of a lifetime. Now it's time to split up the cash. There's no way this is going to go smoothly. The only problem with this game is that it's been out of print for some time.

6. Love Letter

One of the hottest new games of 2012, Love Letter continues to be a WGR event favourite. 

There's a new trend in tabletop gaming and that's a trend towards micro games. Small games that are very portable and easy to explain. The best of them don't sacrifice strategy and gameplay and currently Love Letter may be the best of the best. Though it's looking like Coup may usurp the throne in 2014.

Love letter is a deck of only 16 cards but involves a solid amount of risk, deduction and just a bit of luck.

7. The Resistance

I've always enjoyed the group game Werewolf. We've seen versions of it at a few of our events over the years with Do You Worship Cthulhu? seeming to be the most popular version. That was until The Resistance came out.

This brilliant big group game can handle 10 players. It's a hidden role game that pits The Resistance against the Imperial Spies. The Resistance is trying to complete missions and the Spies are trying to make those missions fail. 

One of the best parts about this game over the Warewolf games is that no moderator is required, so all players get to actually play and enjoy the game.

8. Magic the Gathering

I think we can blame the Cards & Coffee events hosted by Hugin & Munin for this one showing up on the list. Magic has been very popular since it first came out in 1993. The fact that it's on this list 20 years later (oh man I'm getting old), showcases that very well. Magic continues to be the driving force in card gaming and it doesn't look like it's slowing down any time soon.

Build your deck, summon some monsters and cast some spells to defeat the opposing player trying to do the same for you. Over the years this one has evolved a lot of cool and interesting ways to play besides the traditional head to head.

9. Quarriors!

One of the biggest innovation in tabletop games in the recent years was the invention of the "Deck Builder" games where the drafting of cards isn't something you do before the game, but rather it becomes the game itself. 

Quarriors is an interesting twist on this mechanic. Instead of drafting cards you collect dice which you put in your dice bag and pull from every turn.

10. Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age

This one surprised me. I don't remember seeing it out all that often but I guess it was there and I missed it.

Roll through the ages is a very solid Yahtzee like dice game. You roll and then use the resources rolled to build cities, craft wonders and upgrade your technology level. For an even better experience you can download the free Late Bronze Age expansion.

If anyone is interested in seeing all of the games we played at events in 2013 you can check here:

Did your favourite game make the list?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The 11 best new games I played in 2013

With the time of gift giving very fast approaching (far too fast if you ask me) I thought it would be a good time to look back and see what new games I enjoyed playing the most in 2013.

Note these aren't necessarily games that came out in 2013, they are games that were new to me this year. Also note: these aren't in any specific order. I wouldn't say the first game on the list is better than the last.

I tried Core Worlds as I kept hearing it listed as various podcaster's favourite deck building game. Many of them ranking it well above Ascension which was my favourite deck building game. Note "was" The podcasters were right. This is a great game and is now really the only deck builder I've been playing. I really enjoy it. It reminds me of a mix of Race for the Galaxy and Dominion, which is a really good mix. This seems a lot more strategic and less random than many other deck builders. I've heard, but not yet proven, that it's even better with the expansion.

I got into the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game at the start of 2013. I even wrote up an X-Wing Buyers Guide that has ended up being the most popular post on this entire blog. I still think that this is an awesome game. Besides having the best looking pre-painted miniatures you will find on the market, the game play is excellent. Though I see quite a few people complain about the price, it's still one of the cheapest miniature games to get into. It really does bridge the gap between boardgamers and miniature wargamers. If you haven't tried this one out yet check with your FLGS as demo events and organized play are common.

I picked up Quarriors! with a gift certificate I received for my birthday this year and I've never regretted that choice. Quarriors! takes deck building to a new 3D level. Instead of building a deck you are building a dice bag full of dice representing spells and monsters. The basic game is quick to learn and fun though a bit broken (buy the biggest thing all the time and the first one to get a big monster often wins). There are some advanced rules that really make this game shine though. Plus, what gamer doesn't love dice?

The best big group game I found this year was The Red Dragon Inn. This game is all about the party after the fantasy adventure. What the group does with their loot after they've saved the kingdom and killed the dragon. This is fantasy RPG themed screw your neighbor last player standing card game that is at it's most fun when the players get into character. Now the base game only plays 2-4 players but each stand alone set ads 4 different characters and they can all be combined. Right now with all the sets out there you can play with up to 14 players. This one has proved to be very popular at Windsor Gaming Resource Events.

I was leery when I heard Wizards of the Coast was going to put out a D&D based Euro-Game. It's not really their niche and I'm not sure if it's their market either. I was pleasantly surprised when I finally got to try Lords of Waterdeep though. I immediately went and bought myself a copy. This is a very light worker placement game with a very solid D&D theme (as long as you can convince the players to say Fighters instead of orange cubes). The core game is easy to explain and is designed in such a way that the final scores are usually very close with no run away winner problem. I personally find the base game a bit light for my taste, but all you have to do is toss in the Skullport expansion and the game goes from good to great.

Primordial Soup is an old one. It's from 1997. I first got to try it at a friends birthday part this year. He noted it was his favourite game and I can see why. You start off this game just playing single celled creatures floating in the soup. At first you have very little you can do besides just flow with the current and eat food cubes. As the game progresses though you buy evolution cards. Maybe you gain mobility being able to go against the current, maybe you grow armor to protect you from other evolving animals, etc. A very unique and rewarding game.

One of the things I've done more of this year than in the past is play more boardgames with my kids. They are now getting old enough to really grasp how to play a variety of different games, even getting good enough to beat their mom and dad sometimes. I picked up Catan Junior based on some very positive reviews, reviews that were dead on. This is a great game to introduce kids to hobby gaming. It teaches the basics of resource management and trading and planning ahead. It's a simplified version of Catan with a pirate theme. The great part being that it's not overly simplified. It's still actually quite fun to play even as an adult. If you've got a growing little gamer in your life I can't recommend this one enough.

2013 seems to be the year I discovered Stronghold Games. Maybe it's due to how often Stephen Buonocore shows up on various podcasts. Space Cadets is a very unique game that attempts to capture the chaos of being a starship bridge crew. Each player takes a different station like Helm, Engineering or Weapons and then has to play a mini game while on a 30 second time limit to get their station ready and hopefully follow the captains orders. The games vary from dice games to dexterity games from puzzles to memory. This one isn't for everyone though, some people really dislike it. Personally I'm a fan. Now I've heard the new Space Cadets Dice Duel is better. I'm going to have to check that one out in 2014

A new toy store opened up here in Windsor: Mastermind Toys. For their grand opening they had 50% off any one item: Qwirkle was the item I chose to buy at that sale. I had recently listened to an interview with the designer and the game sounded solid. Since then Qwirkle has become my favourite abstract game. Pretty much replacing Ingenious for me. I love the simplicity of the rules combined with the rather deep strategy of play. Even better: the rules are simple enough even kids can get this one. Play a set with one thing in common shape or colour: get points based on how many tiles are in the complete set. Get a bonus for completing a set of 6. That's pretty much it.

La Boca was the surprise hit of our Extra Life charity gaming event. It was donated by the awesome people at Z-man Games and gathered a crowd every time it was played. La Boca is an interesting dexterity game that has players teaming up to try to assemble a stack of coloured and oddly shaped blocks to a pattern shown on a card. A timer is started each time and both players get points based on their combined time. The interesting bit is that the card is different from each side and only shows one player's viewpoint. Each pair is timed and the game is played round robin so that you team with every other player twice. The player with the most points at the end wins.

This is another one that we are playing with the kids and they are loving it. In Mice and Mystics you take on the role of medieval fantasy characters who have been turned into mice and despite their diminutive stature must save their kingdom from the evil sorcerer queen. The game is a highly thematic dungeon crawling game reminiscent of classics like Heroquest or Descent. Mice and Mystics is completely co-op though with no Zargon hiding behind his screen. The combination of richly detailed story, amazing components and very thematic mechanics makes this one a must buy for anyone with kids. Added to that the game is actually good enough that there's no reason you have to save it for the kids. I know plenty of adults that love this game.

So there you have it. Eleven of the best games I tried for the first time in 2013. What new games did you get to try out this year? Which would you recommend as great gifts this holiday season?

Monday, 2 December 2013

December 13th - Holiday Boardgame Bash

Join us at the Green Bean Windsor Star Cafe at 6pm on Friday December 13th for our first ever Holiday Boardgame Bash!

What better way to celebrate the holidays than by playing some games with friends? This is a free all ages open gaming event. It's an excuse to get together one more time before all the craziness starts. It's a chance to try out some new games and find stuff to add to your wish list. It's a great chance to discover the perfect gift for the gamer that has everything.

Door Prizes

Besides the usual open gaming we are also going to have door prizes. Some of which have been donated by our FLGS Hugin & Munin and also by the awesome Jason Russel. To be eligible all you have to do is show up and play at least one game!

Hidden Gaming Gift Exchange

Bring a sealed gaming related gift to join in the Gaming Gift Exchange.

Here's how it's going to work: Everyone who wants to participate brings a wrapped gaming related gift. These will all be put out on display at the Cafe. The exchange will take place at around 8pm (we'll let people in the middle of games finish up if possible). At that time everyone will receive a random playing card. Then we will draw one card and the first person will pick one of the gifts and open it. Then going forward every subsequent person will have an option: open a new gift or "steal" one of the gifts already opened. If your gift is stolen you then get the same choice, open a new gift or "steal" one that's already opened (but no stealing back what was just taken from you). 


The Green Bean Windsor Star Cafe is located at:
300 Ouellette Ave - 3rd floor
Windsor, ON N9A 7B4

6pm - 11pm on Friday December 13th