Top Plays of 2017

My game plays in 2017 really dialed in on my personal preferences. Lots of the new Arkham Horror LCG and the Northern Crown role-playing campaign. Cat Tower is the weird outlier, because it’s easy to play 3 games of that in one sitting, especially when observing International Tabletop Day at the local barcade.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game 36
Northern Crown: New World Adventures (Pathfinder) 15
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu 9
Sentinels of the Multiverse 8
Betrayal at House on the Hill 5
Eldritch Horror 5
Codenames 4
Night’s Black Agents 4
Cat Tower 3
Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate 2

On the Skids in Eldritch Horror

A painted miniature of a male in a peacoat and cap, standing on a game board designed to resemble an archaic map of the world.
Last week, I carved out time to play the new Eldritch Horror expansion, Signs of Carcosa, with Alex, Rachel and Tom. Tom kindly hosted, meaning we got to enjoy his game table, previously seen here and now fully mounted on wonderfully sturdy legs. We also swapped out the cardboard standees for painted miniatures. Above is the figure I used for Skids O’Toole.

Seeing as he is the star of this new expansion, we played against Hastur. With two mysteries to win and a starting doom of 11, he seemed like he was meant to be a relatively short game, one way or another. The first mystery we solved fairly readily, and were well on our way to completing the second when we fell into that magical zone of the game taking away the one last thing we needed to win, over and over again.

I don’t know how Eldritch Horror manages it, but that game is really, really good at targeting just the right resource to make the players scramble and come up with a new strategy for getting their ducks lined up. In the end, it came down to the wire between solving the second mystery and doom advancing to zero. We shuffled some assets around to satisfy the mystery’s requirements and held our breath all the way through the mythos phase, waiting for that one last thing to snatch victory from our grasp again. Amazingly, the investigators managed to hold back the darkness a little while longer.

Top Plays of 2015

I keep track of the games I play over on BoardGameGeek, and its role-playing-focused sibling. So as the year winds down, I decided to take a look at the game I got to play the most in 2015. These will be all board games, as all my role-playing this year has been of the one-shot variety. Perhaps that will improve in 2016. So, counting up from fewest to most plays:

5. Eldritch Horror

Clocking in at 7 plays[1], Eldritch Horror is a game I would love to play still more often than I managed in 2015. While it hasn’t reached Arkham Horror-scale sprawl, this game has a number of expansions I haven’t gotten to put through their paces properly. Most of the time, I find myself playing with one or two players new to the game and we opt for a simpler mode of play. For 2016, my wish to get some serious play time with the Antarctica and Egypt expansion boards.

4. Hex Hex

This caught me by surprise at first glance, but then I recognized that Hex Hex is a game where you can rack up a lot of plays very quickly, depending on how you count. All eight of my logged plays came from one sitting at the Fletcher Free Library’s board game night.

3. The Resistance

Popular among one group of friends because it can readily accommodate a larger number of players and wraps up readily before Game of Thrones comes on, The Resistance is one of those games I play because it’s being played and otherwise you’re coming across as a spoilsport.

2. Sentinels of the Multiverse

My energy for the tabletop version of Sentinels waxes and wanes. Usually it peaks slightly after an extended bout of playing the computer version. There’s still so much more content available in the tabletop version than the digital implementation that I haven’t even gotten to crack yet that I would love to try out. I got to play tabletop Sentinels 10 times in 2015.

Sentinels is one of those games that benefits from having some dedicated fellow players who are down for a deep dive session, where you work the heroes and strategies until you crack the seemingly unbeatable villain and find amazing combos emerging from developing a rich understanding of the game and its elements. With yet another big expansion on the way that deepens the Vengeance play mode, Sentinels is another game I would really like to enjoy more in 2016.

1. Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game

Perhaps surprising no one at all, my log shows 72 plays of the Cthulhu living card game, including store events and playing for Decked! The announcement of the line’s discontinuation took the wind out my and the local players’ sails. I don’t think I’ve played the game since September, maybe.

There are still decks to build and matches to play — and prize support store owners wish to move from their inventory — but for now, I’m letting Cthulhu lay fallow for a while while the sting fades.

Honorable Mention: Digital Sentinels of the Multiverse

The honorable mention for top plays of 2015 has to go to the digital implementation of Sentinels of the Multiverse. Since I bought the season pass, the periodic infusions of new characters keep me coming back to try them out on their own, and in conjunction with all the older content. Steam tells me that I’ve played 148 hours in total of digital Sentinels, and since the game launched in November 2014, I think the vast majority of those hours were in 2015.

Since the game launched, they’ve rolled out a number of expansion packs and added an online multiplayer mode, which I wished for back then. Handelabra’s weekly live streams including previews of upcoming releases have done a lot to keep my interest piqued and give examples of how to think about the game and play well, so that’s been helpful. Can’t wait to see them explain the niceties of Captain Cosmos.

[1] The seventh play eking under the wire starting at 6pm New Year’s Eve and ending around 12:30 on New Year’s Day. We lost against Yog-Sothoth in a pretty spectacular way. I didn’t realize we’d have to keep solving mysteries after the ancient one awoke.