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.

New Edition Frenzy

It’s a big day for new editions. First I discover Green Ronin’s announcement of Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition, then I find Smirk and Dagger plans a mahoosive new edition of Hex Hex.

I can’t say the impending arrival of a new edition of Mutants & Masterminds is exceptionally surprising. Ever since Green Ronin revealed their plan to publish a DC Adventures RPG using a version of the Mutants & Masterminds system, it seemed a reasonable supposition that a third edition of the game using the same ruleset would follow along at some point. The opportunity of allowing two way movement between the core Mutants & Masterminds crowd, meaning those who will gleefully adopt the new edition, and people who are interested primarily in the prospect of a new DC Universe RPG is just too good to pass up.

My first reaction to the news was “Isn’t it awfully soon for a third edition?” Then I checked the dates: first edition hit in 2002 and second in 2005. It’s actually been longer between second and third than between first and second. Now, I think second edition’s sufficiently robust and featureful that there isn’t a particular need to improve it so soon, but again it goes back to Green Ronin not fracturing their market with “true” Mutants & Masterminds and a variant powering DC Adventures.

Now, Smirk and Dagger’s news surprises me a little more, believe it or not. First, I didn’t realize Hex Hex‘s been out of print for almost a year. Second, it’s a really interesting choice to combine the best of Hex Hex and Hex Hex Next into Hex Hex XL. It makes sense, certainly, since each set has cards that people love to play and hate to have played on them, but it’s not something one sees too often in the board game world. Carcassonne did it a couple times with its big box editions, compiling all the little expansions, and I guess some classics like Cosmic Encounter and Illuminati have as well. In addition to the “best of” elements from the prior two versions, Curt Covert’s post on also mentions two variants that will become available. It’s unclear at the moment whether it’s all being packaged together, or sold individually.

I’ll be interested to see what this does to the image of Hex Hex on the marketplace. I’ve always thought of it as a light game with an equally light investment. The original version and the sequel sold for a price about on par with a Munchkin set, with as much, if not rather more, replay value. It’s a light, repetitive game best suited for drinking with the buddies, but that’s okay at $25, particularly since it’s completely self-contained. If the primary Hex Hex product becomes bigger, and therefore costlier, but the game itself doesn’t significantly change, I can see consumers finding that purchase harder to justify, dollar to entertainment-wise.

Curt’s thrown his announcement thread of open to questions, so I’ll be interested to see the general reaction. I feel a little funny being more interested in this than the third edition of Mutants & Masterminds, but frankly, we all knew that was coming, some day or other. This was much more unexpected.

[Tuesday Night Board Games] Bash a Dungeon, Sling a Hex

Front to back: tables of Dungeoneer, World of Warcraft: the Adventure Game and Le Havre. Unpictured: The Settlers of Catan.

Some day, I will take to heart the lesson of cramming too many people into games that I know from experience degrade in quality with an excess of participants. Dungeoneer is a case in point, as I’ve related in the past. However, that didn’t stop me from doing so this Tuesday, albeit with a mere five players, only one more than recommended.

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