2021 is almost over. I could philosophize about the kind of year it was, but I assume you’re not here to read these kind of ramblings – and, despite a global pandemic, every single one of you will have made different experiences this year anyway. I hope they were good ones.
As the year comes to a close, I’ll do my usual end-of-year posts: My personal top three in a range of categories. As per usual, we’ll begin with the games that I played for the first time this year.
You can find the other posts in the Farewell 2021 series here:
It’s no secret that I like long, involved historical simulations. But who else does? – Maybe a few of you nerds out there (and it is much appreciated), but I’m not going to bring Here I Stand (Ed Beach, GMT Games) to a family gathering. What I would bring instead: This little gem. It plays in 10-15 minutes. It is very easy to teach and play, and yet there are brainy little choices to make, if you wish to engage on a more cerebral level. Finally, what’s not to like about assembling a historical all-star team of Genghis Khan, Florence Nightingale, and Plato? Or Che Guevara, Martin Luther King, Cleopatra, and Johann Sebastian Bach? The possibilities are as wild as they are endless.
Full disclosure: I wrote the mini-biographies of the historical characters in the booklet included with the game.
This game has just shipped, but I had the opportunity to play with designer Fred Serval earlier this year (via Tabletop Simulator). It ticks a lot of boxes for me: Political. Under-gamed subject matter. 30-45 minutes of play time. Besides these dry traits, it’s an elegant game full of tense decisions – you can never be strong everywhere, but where you focus your efforts and counter those of your opponent is a delicious mix of planning and risk management. Also, a game which features Otto von Bismarck, Victor Hugo, and Karl Marx cannot be bad, can it?
And my favorite new-to-me game this year was…
This three-layered defense of a fortified apartment building in Stalingrad, is the game I played most often this year. It was a great game to play in pandemic times – solo design and a good app implementation on Steam. And it’s pretty addictive. An individual game takes less than an hour (at least in the app, which does all the housekeeping (implementation of German attacks etc.) for you, and then you always want to play it again, beat your score (or, if things went awry, at least beat the Germans), and this time try out a new strategy: Keep the river banks clean for your artillery to strike the Germans. Get the sniper first thing and clear all infantry approaching the building. Bring all the leaders into the house and profit from that bonus action. And so on.
What were your favorite new-to-me games this year? Let me know in the comments!