Brant Guillory, 1 January 2019
In a tradition carried on from past lives, we’ve reached out to some friends in the gaming world, and asked a pair of questions about the year in gaming.
What was your best game-playing memory, moment, or experience over the past year, and what made it so great?
Part 2 today, to close out 2018, and part 1 yesterday.
Peter Bogdasarian – Wargame designer
Best gaming moment was probably committing the Imperial Guard in Pub Battles: Waterloo and having them shatter the Allied left so I could roll up Wellington’s army. Just found it very satisfying to see them strike such a decisive blow.
Best gaming experience was completing our campaign of Gloomhaven. I thought Cephalofair delivered the most polished RPG experience I have ever received from a tabletop game.
Jim Owczarski – Dragoon!
I am almost offended you would ask: the 1824 Kriegsspiel, as modified by Dr. James Sterrett, as played at the Wargame HQ at ORIGINS 2018. Seeing that many people excited about my favorite activity, much less game, was very special.
Close runner-up was starting up the 1809 Vol de L’Aigle operational Kriegsspiel currently running on the Armchair Dragoons forum.
Harold Buchanan – Game designer & podcaster
Morgan Guoyon-Rety and Volko Ruhnke take on all commers at Pendragon at the San Diego Historical Games Convention in 2018. They played the Barbarians and battld at 5 tables playing 11 players (including Mark Herman) as the Romans. 8 hours of gaming fun.
Jeff Tidball – Game designer and GAMA board member
My biggest personal thrill this year was the release of our boardgame, Cursed Court. It’s one of the best games I’ve ever developed, and the critical response was amazing. If you haven’t tried it, you should!
Byron Salahor – Dragoon!
Computer gaming: Although I had many great multi-player sessions of ARMA3, or victory-pulled-from-the-jaws-of-defeat moments in some of my casual games, such as Faster Than Light or Kerbal Space Program, perhaps my best moment of 2018 occurred when I finally got around reinstalling Steel Beasts Pro PE on my new gaming rig. For the uninitiated, Steel Beasts is the hallmark modern armored fighting vehicle simulator. Originally released in 2000 and seriously overhauled in 2006, I played Steel Beasts until a graphics upgrade exceeded the capabilities of my crappy home computer. About six months ago, in a mad flurry of thesis-writing procrastination, I reinstalled this utter gem-of-a-game and settled in for some tank-on-tank action. Grabbing the joystick felt like shaking hands with an old friend, and within minutes, I was rotating the turret, switching to thermals, lasing targets,and sending APFSDS rounds downrange. Playing a single-player mission successfully requires an above-average knowledge of strategic planning, map reading and orientation, situational awareness, and tactical maneuvering, as well as good practical skills like spotting, driving and gunnery. This is what all computer simulation gaming should aspire to.
Board gaming: On International Board Games Day (it’s a thing), I was invited to play a game of GMT’s Panzer at a local Canadian Legion branch. Although I always look forward to the opportunity for some face-to-face gaming, I began to doubt my decision on the drive up to the venue. The last time I played a detailed tank-on-tank game was over 30 years ago, and Yaquinto’s stack o’ charts and tables made for a somewhat slow and “bookish” game experience. I couldn’t help but wonder how would I fare with this new, updated version…especially since I had left my reading glasses at home. Upon arrival, we jumped right in (my generous host had already set up the game) and starting playing. To my surprise, the game was an utter delight. Game play is relatively intuitive, and determining initiative, spotting, movement, and combat was much easier than the original version. There was still lots of table look-ups necessary for determining armor penetration rates and damage, but GMT’s kind use high-definition data cards and a handy, two-page player reference chart made navigating the rules and mechanics quite easy. The net result is a game that is both satisfyingly detailed and eminently playable. I imagine – perhaps naively so – that this game provides a good representation of all those factors that perhaps a real tanker would need to consider: movement, over-watch, cover and concealment, effective range, and target facing. Three hours later, we had to call the game on account of an impending Cub Scouts sleep-over (the bane of all armor commanders!) and both the British and German leaders politely and graciously agreed that the resultof combat that day was a definitive draw. The next day, I went browsing through the wargames section at my FLGS…and decided to pick up GMT’s modern war version of the game, MBT. I haven’t had an opportunity to play either game since that then, but I am already doing some planning for a double-blind game of Panzer sometime in 2019.
Anthony Gallela – Game designer and industry insider
I loved learning more than 20 games at PAX Unplugged. The verity and excellence available to us today would have astounded my teenage self.
Brian Train – Wargame designer & GAME THEORIST
Game-playing, huh… you know, I don’t play these things much at all, I spend all my time testing my new ones, or just talking about games and what they are for.
One of the best moments I had was just last night, when I sat down to play Meltwater with my son.
This is a remarkable small game, that starts out feeling a little cramped and then gets downright claustrophobic as the poisoned oceans close in, driving the antagonists closer together and the choices get tougher.
So much theme, in not many rules and stark graphics.
Erin Lee Escobedo’s game design debut, and I recommend it.
Brant Guillory – Dragoon Commander
My personal favorite game-playing moment was actually pretty late in the year, with a modern-age comes-from-behind victory in a Civ5 game as Morocco, when I was getting pummeled early on. I was able to get a couple of key wonders built early, but was way behind on points until I hit the modern age and was able to rapidly garner a vast amount of city-state influence over a short period of time and turn the World Congress to my bidding.
But more relatable to the wider audience, I had a great time reconnecting with my regular Wednesday game group and getting in a weekly game with some folks I’ve been fortunate enough to play with for a decade now. When you’ve got the right people around the table with you, which game you’re playing is almost irrelevant.