Though it’s been out for about two years, I just played Eldritch Horror (2013) for the first time last month. I was quickly won over by the game, as I happily fought nameless horrors and investigated blasphemous locations. Though Eldritch Horror only notes “inspiration” from Arkham Horror (1987, 2005), I’d call it a revision — or else a “reimagination” — because this newer game rather cleverly reinvents most of the mechanics from Arkham Horror, but using a totally new design paradigm. The result is a clear evolution of design. Continue reading
Some time ago, I wrote an article discussing many of the Cthulhu games on the market. Six years later, I’ve decided to return to the topic by looking at some of the major Cthulhu games that have appeared since. However, rather than just creating a partial list of new games, I’ve also reprinted (and revised) all my previous mini-reviews, to make this a comprehensive look at Cthulhoid games.
The one limitation is that these are just the games I’m familiar with. Most I’ve played, but for the one where I just read the rules, I’ve noted that. There are still a few notables missing, such as The Hills Rise Wild, and Munchkin Cthulhu. I may add them to this article with a quiet edit some time in the future. (And, if you’ve got a Cthulhu game that you’d like me to play and add to this list, drop me a line in the comments.)
As with its predecessors, this article is intended to talk about the games that I played recently which I’d never played before. Most of them are games that were published in the last year or so within the United States, but on occasion I play a “new to me” game that is quite older; they’re all listed here.
I usually write this article on a quarterly basis, since that tends to offer up a good selection of new games. However, my new game selection in Winter was quite poor due to a combination of sickness and vacation (fortunately, not at the same time!). So I didn’t write the article in April, as I usually would have … then got deluged by new games in Spring. So, I’ve got a lot to talk about this time …
Keep in mind these are not my assessments of whether the games are good or bad, but instead my assessments of whether they appeal to me. Generally, I like light but strategic games that are euro designs but that don’t feel like work to me. They’re in roughly descending order of interest. Continue reading
Last month I started a discussion of co-op games with an article I called “Gaming Evolution: Co-Op Games, Part One: Honored Ancestors”. It talks about some of the primordial co-op games which helped to create the genre in the 1980s and 1990s. Before I move on to more recent games, I’m going to be publishing a couple of interviews with some of the designers of those co-op originators, to further document the games that the modern co-op boom ultimately looks back to as its foundation.
This month I’m talking to Richard Launius. He’s best known for his design of Arkham Horror. He was thus perhaps the first entrant in the “American co-op” subgenre of games which is best represented in the modern day by Fantasy Flight Games … who not by chance counts Arkham Horror among its stable of American co-op games.
Over the last decade, we’ve seen the evolution of a new genre of gaming: the co-op game. Because we’re still here in the early days of the genre, we’ve had the good fortune over the last decade (and to a smaller extent, since 1987) to really see the genre evolve. It’s something that I find really fascinating, as I see new games show up and introduce new mechanics to the melting pot.
As a result, I’ve decided to talk about that evolution over the course of two or three articles, wherein I’ll be approaching the topic chronologically, looking at the major games which have appeared in a variety of time periods and what they added.
I’m not necessarily saying that each game introduced the element in question, but rather it was the one that was important enough to imprint it on the gaming psyche. I’d love to hear your thoughts, about the games that I missed (though I went through several lists as I wrote this, so if I snubbed something, it was probably purposeful) and the gaming elements that I might not have considered.
In my real life I work for Skotos Tech, an online gaming company that’s increasingly becoming an online entertainment company. Our newest site, which I launched last week, is Xenagia, a community site all about fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Thus far we’ve got a forum and a book index, with plans to add reviews in a couple of weeks.
(And, if you’re interested in the topics, please stop on by, as we’re working hard to create a community, particularly on the forums.)
Because of my work on Xenagia, I’ve been largely immersed in these three genres over the last couple of weeks, and that’s what led to this article, talking about science-fiction and fantasy (and to a lesser extent, horror) in gaming.
However ultimately I think one of the best guides of “what’s good” (or, at least, “what’s good for me”) is what gets played. No matter how beautiful and elegant a game is, if it never gets played because it’s ten hours long, it’s hard to count it as a good game. Hence the yearly “nickel and dime” lists where people talk about what games they’ve played at least five or ten times.
In past years my nickel and dime lists have been somewhat uninteresting. They tended to focus on the 2-player games that I played with my wife. Alas, my wife has largely stopped playing games this year, but on the upside my 5&10 list is a more accurate reflection of my gaming tastes (with perhaps too much emphasis on fillers).
Here’s what 2006 brought: