…so I decided that I’d continue that trend into 2021 by doing a solo gaming post every four months. What you’re reading is the third (and final)solo gaming post of this new year – the previous 8 month review is available at the Opinionated Gamers link in the paragraph above!
And even though I have (since being vaccinated) been out playing games with friends, there’s still been a LOT more solo gameplay over the past year – 33% of my gaming was solo. For comparison, the yearly total for 2020 was 19% and for 2019 was 6%.
I’ll repeat my same caveat as each previous report:
I know, I know – there are plenty of board game apps on iOS and Steam… and I own many of them. But there’s something really satisfying about physically playing a game: shuffling cards, moving pieces, seeing it all spread out in front of you.
I’d also add that board game apps must – for perfectly understandable reasons – hide portions of the game from you. One of the delights of a physical game is that the whole thing is spread out across the table where you can soak in whatever details you need. This is true, BTW, for solo or multi-player play. (Example: I’m enjoying the Maracaibo iOS app a lot right now – but “seeing” the game status is really tricky between the various sideboards which I have to remember to access and check.)
So, what follows are my thoughts on a variety of solo games I’ve played during 2021 – ordered by number of times I’ve played them. (Note: this is not necessarily how much I like a particular game for solo play – for example, I think Roll Player is a brilliant design but I have only played it two times this year.)
Times played, 5 with review copy provided by Gamewright
Happy City is a new light city building game published here by Gamewright. In this game, players start with a single building, and over the course of the game, grow their city to as many as 10 cards. The main goal is to have a happy populace – your final score mostly being the product of your population (green people icons) and your happiness (pink hearts) at the bottom of your cards.
To start the game, each player gets a starting building and 2 coins. The middle of the table is set up. The three types of basic green residences are placed on the table (one less than the number of players for each type). Then the 3 different decks of building cards are shuffled and placed in a row. The backs of each deck tell you the costs of the buildings found in that deck as well as the relative distribution of colors in that deck. Finally, the special cards are set out – randomly chosen, 2 more than the number of players. There are both regular and expert special cards – choose one type to use in this game.
Played with review copy provided by Renegade Game Studios
When I first read about the Hunger, I was immediately interested – it was pitched to me as a new non-collectable deckbuilding game that would also involve board play. I’ll admit to being fairly partial to Garfield’s earlier design in Magic: The Gathering – a collectible card game, the genre from which deckbuilders arose. Having played the role of developer of Dominion, I’m also pretty partial to deckbuilders in general. And, I like Clank – a similar sounding game (also from Renegade) that uses both deckbuilding and board play. So far, sounds like a winner!.
As 2022 starts, things are super busy here. As always, the holidays and the new year occupy much of the calendar, and this year, the continuing rise of COVID and Omicron keep things at work as busy as possible. We haven’t had as much time for games in the past few weeks as a result, but there are some games I still wanted to talk about. Continue reading →
I’ve been playing Eurogames regularly for over 20 years. Like many gamers, there are certain designers I really like and others I avoid. But what’s interesting is that this changes quite a bit over time. Part of that may be alterations in my tastes. But I think a lot of it is that it’s hard for creative people to consistently maintain a high quality of work over an extended period. In addition, they may switch from creating one type of game (a type I like) to another class of titles that I’m less fond of. Whatever the reasons are, I find that when people ask me who my favorite designer is, one of the questions I have for them is “from when?”.
Something else I’ve noticed when I look back at my years in the hobby is a phenomenon I call the “Hot Designer”. There are short, 2-4 year periods when certain designers are exceedingly productive and produce a huge number of games I love. Knizia had a period like this in the late nineties; Wallace did something similar ten years later, and there are other examples. It’s as if they’re amazingly inspired over those years. The thing is, no human being can continue that level of quality for too long. So the hot periods aren’t extended, but they sure are great while they last.
Anyway, I was thinking about this and I thought it might be interesting to examine the ebbs and flows of various game designers over the years. I’d love to do an objective study of something like this, based on some Geek data or something similar, but I haven’t figured out how that would be possible. So instead, what you’re getting is a list of my favorites from 1990 to the present. That’s less universal, but still should be of interest to folks with tastes similar to mine. More to the point, I think it illustrates how much the gaming landscape changes through time, probably much more so than those new to the hobby realize. Continue reading →