Welcome to the first full article of the year! Today I want to continue a tradition of looking at the games I have, and some that I don’t, and highlight my top picks for the coming year. Before we get into that, let’s talk about last year’s picks. What blows my mind is that my top play agains were never played again. Not a single one. I could have sworn that TMNT and Cypher were games that I played recently, but guess what! It has been over a year since I played either of them. Excuse me? A year!? Where did time go to!?!?! Anyways, beyond that we have a little more success in the still haven’t played. One of those games remains on the list and sadly it didn’t make the list again this year either. But don’t worry, Magpie Games books have featured heavily in my life and will continue to…even if it isn’t Our Last Best Hope. As for the other two, Kult should finally be coming to my hands this year with the nearly finished versions hitting PDF beta downloads and Star Trek Adventures was a game I not only purchased but have been playing in for a few months now. Win!! Getting to our “need” to buy list I am two for three. I never really got around to checking out O.L.D. or N.E.W. but I did purchase Ryuutama AND Masks while I was at PAX East last spring. We even managed to play a few session of Masks (which was amazing by the way). Now that we have seen the partial success of last year, let’s head into this year’s goals!
Games To Play Again
Cypher System (Predation): While I haven’t technically played Predation yet, I have played in the Cypher System. We played for just one night but there are a few memories and even a monstrous creation that is name-dropped regularly between us. The game and the system that enabled it were just so much fun. But, much as I enjoyed it, there was a whole lot to the world of Gods of the Fall. This isn’t a bad thing, but it was more than I could put into research or prep than I could manage back in 2016. Also I was still REALLY bad at creating something that could be played through in one sitting. That being said Predation (which I reviewed last week) looks amazing. It is right up my ally of crazy specific sci-fi combos but with a healthy dose of limitation. Not only that but there is a more hand-wavy mechanic to cyphers themselves. This all allows me to focus on a single adventure in untamed wilderness without worrying as much about the world at large. Why? Because cyber-dinos and time anomalies!! Honestly, I can’t wait to play this game and my players have been waiting for me to give them a go with Cypher again.
Splinter: This was another game that I reviewed last year by End Transmission Games. You can listen to the podcast of that one shot, but it was a bit poorly recorded. Still, my players had a ton of fun with the concepts of the system and its world and, I think, would love to play a follow up one shot. Not only that but because this game takes place in two worlds with a “real” character and their avatar we have only really had a hack at half the game. Don’t you worry though, the game and story left off in a perfect spot to explore the other half! Personally, I can’t wait to see how that plays out, how the rules go, and what that might mean for a potential third one shot. Now if only we (and by that I strictly mean myself) can NOT screw up recording it for you guys.
All Outta Bubblegum: We recently played a drinking version of this. Don’t worry, the bubblegum was only half shots and we made sure the stuff wasn’t too strong. That being said it was an awesome time. It was a fantasy, D&D-esque telling of They Live featuring doppelgangers. It was way more fun than I had hoped for and I seriously want to get to playing it again. Of course a little bit of alcohol might have to make an appearance as well. Beyond that, I want to explore some other one-page RPGs. We tried out Honey Heist, which was also a blast, but in my research I have found so many more. If I can just play a handful this year it would be a terrific thing!
Honorable Mentions: Star Wars, Masks, 4th Edition D&D, TMNT & Other Strangeness
Games I Still Need To Play
Ryuutama: This newer edition to myself is at the top of my list of games to finally get around to trying out. I won’t blather too much about it, but my love of the concept just grows every time I look at it. The game has been described as Miyazaki meets Oregon Trail, but I think we can take it one step further if the art is any indication. The art reminds me, hands down, of the Harvest Moon video game series. I can only imagine how many similar themes and ideas within Ryuutama as you find in a game about community and farming. That being said my most played game of last year was Stardew Valley with somewhere over 100 hours being played. Now, some may have many times that in many games but with work, school, RPGs, and this blog that triple digit number says a lot. For those who don’t know Stardew Valley takes Harvest Moon and becomes so much more. It is the spiritual successor and adds things like fighting slimes in the caverns 8-Bit Legend of Zelda style. This aesthetic not only feel right, but makes my eye wander to Ryuutama ever more regularly. Needless to say, even if we don’t play this year I will definitely learn how to play the game for when the time comes.
Torchbearer: This game has been on my shelf for a few years now. It features two things I really love. First is the (admittedly cut down) mechanics of Burning Wheel that I discovered with Mouse Guard and found I really loved. Second is the classic dungeon crawl. This game explicitly seeks to be a resource counting, monster killing, trap avoiding, you will probably die fantasy game. All I need to do is come up with some time and an excuse to get my players on board with a one shot crawl of some kind. Over the past year they have learned a lot about such dangers as I continue to challenge them. Perhaps the time is almost upon us!
We Hunt Bugs: The third addition to my list is something I have reviewed, but not something I have played. Of all the games that I can’t feature for campaigns it probably had the biggest response from my players. It was tough deciding which game to put here but, in the end, it had to be We Hunt Bugs. This game is like a combination of Alien and Starship Troopers and my players are all about it. Not only that but it comes from a publisher that makes smaller, easier to play games. This one sounds not only fun, but really simple to pick up at random intervals with random crew compliments and, well, hunt bugs! I can almost guarantee that, not only will we end up playing this game, you will get to listen to the session on Untamed Dice.
Honorable Mentions: Doctor Who RPG, Psionics, CthulhuTech, Call of Cthulhu, Our Last Best Hope
Games I Need To Buy
Tales From The Loop: I can already hear the multitudes shouting out from their computers as to why this isn’t on my shelf already. There are so many there and you barely play them and still buy more! Where is this one!? Well friends I concur. I loved the idea of this game. I loved the art I have seen. The only reason I haven’t bought it yet is because I haven’t gotten around to it. In all honesty it is very likely going to be ordered later today as a birthday present to myself. In fact, I guarantee it will be on my shelf by the time Spring rolls around. Now, like all the others, I just need to work on my fitting in one shots of all these things.
Adventures In Middle Earth: This 5th Edition take on the Lord of the Rings franchise has interested me since I first heard about it. The fact that it comes from the publishers who have been making the One Ring RPG for who knows how long just adds to its desirability. The fact of the matter is I have tried to forget about it. I want to by other games. I know quite a bit about the LotR universe and I play 5th Edition all the time. But recently I have heard a few words from those who have gotten around to buying it or looking at it. Apparently there is much more to it than these things with loads of concepts that should be viewed and harnessed. As someone who runs primarily 5th Edition and loves to incorporate clever ideas, especially those MADE for 5th Edition. Well, now this books is right up near the top of my list, isn’t it?
Starfinder: There is plenty to say about this game, but let’s keep it short and to the point. First I have been itching to get back to Pathfinder under the express understanding of the complexity of the rules and what kind of game that would bring about. Second I love sci-fi and lust for sci-fantasy. I think this will itch plenty of scratches. Then, frankly, there has been a couple of awesome Twitter discussions with the Starfinder social-media folks involving space goblins and the movie Hackers. Once again, how can I do anything but want to buy this game. Like the last two it is only a matter of time before it makes its way onto my shelf where it will live a life being well used for much more than it was intended.
Honorable Mentions: Kaiju Incorporated, Fate Core, Dungeon World, Titan’s Grave, Numenera
This year I decided to forgo any lengthy descriptions of the games themselves, instead focusing on why I want them or why we might get around to playing them (or not). I also went without the copious links. Such a thing is very time consuming and, much as I would love to help, I cannot right now. That being said, Google will get you anywhere and I WILL be adding them when this post become an archived page in a month or so. Oh and I definitely should go through and italicize titles (note to future me!).