Games of the Year

Computer game: Slay the Spire. There is nothing I have played or enjoyed more. It is a great rogue-like deckbuilder at an indie price, with lots of variation and replayability. It has a very high skill ceiling, and you can also dial up the randomness if you prefer that.

Board game: Spirit Island. It is a deep strategy cooperative game with variable powers and strong theming. It places you in the opposite of the usual game role, driving off the settlers. This can also be played in modes that are almost purely predictable or with increasing randomness. It also plays excellently as a solo game. I have played Spirit Island every two days since I learned the game. It is great, although difficult to introduce to large groups.

What are your top games this year?

: Zubon

6 thoughts on “Games of the Year”

  1. How difficult to learn is Spirit Island, and how difficult is it to do well? Looking for a TT game to play with the wife. We got Agricola and honestly even after watching videos online, could never figure it out (we might be missing a key piece, not sure). We enjoy Carcassonne and, to a lesser extend, Citadels. Also is 90min+ accurate for how long one game takes? That seems a bit lengthy.

    1. If you want two-player Agricola, “Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small” is reportedly the way to go. I haven’t played it myself, not being enormously fond of Agricola, but it’s the recommendation.

      Spirit Island is many simple pieces. The complexity comes from having many of them, so many that they moved several pieces of what was the original game to the first expansion. But! It also has several means of introducing complexity gradually. For example, there are low-complexity spirits, and you can make them simpler by having a fixed power progression rather than picking from the deck, and your first game(s) have simplified blight and no adversary.

      I found Spirit Island intuitive. Most people do not seem to, but then I love games that combine many simple pieces. If you pick up Tabletop Simulator, I’d be happy to walk you through the game.

      90+ minutes is fair, although the low complexity spirits tend to be faster since they have fewer options, offset by trying to remember the rules each step in your first game of anything.

  2. God of War hit all the right notes for me. 2nd in terms of overall playtime would be Monster Hunter World.

    I played a lot of Escape: Zombie City with my kids this summer. It’s a complete mess of frantic dice rolls, with only a small bit of strategy. Good enough to get the kids to want to play nearly every weekend though.

  3. I’ll second Spirit Island, no contest honestly.

    Video game-wise, I’ve really enjoyed CrossCode. It’s an isometric action puzzle platform RPG (which, fitting to the blog, takes place in an MMO.) All aspects of it mix well, from the action style combat, customizable movesets, exploration, puzzles, and well written and endearing NPCs. Dungeons feel as complex and interconnected as a Legend of Zelda temple, and the puzzles take a mix of logic and timing. Solving one feels amazing, and the game slowly teaches you over time, letting you become an expert at it’s mechanics. Combat is smooth and satisfying, with enemies often being small puzzles themselves. In addition, the few times in the game where you duel another player in PvP actually feels like a real MMO showdown.

    The biggest downsides are, firstly, that it’s not a game that can be easily played in small chunks. While you can pop in and make progress in a few minutes, you’ll want to have some time set aside to advance the plot, as jumping in and out often may make it hard to follow. In addition, there’s not yet any ‘post-game’ content added, so while the ending had a satisfying climax, the denouement consists most of “yay, you did it.”

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