ones upon a game

I am almost exclusively a solo gamer and look at the gaming scene seen through those eyes. I also literally like alliteration. TWITTER: @onesuponagame

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May 2016 - Top Played Solitaire Games

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Below are the top 10 played solitaire games for May 2016 based on their activity on the SGOYT Aggregator. These are based on unique entries for the month where a unique entry is one entry for a game counted per user each month. So while one gamer may have played and listed multiple times, the count is based on only one entry for that user.

This month we have a pair of titles exploring survival on a deserted island and two sibling games seeking to help the human race survive against infectious diseases. And one of these has dethroned the top game of the last several months.

Top Played Solitaire Games for May 2016 (LINK)
(rank. uniques - game)
1. 18 - Friday
2. 12 - Apex Theropod Deck-Building Game
2. 12 - Pandemic: The Cure
2. 12 - Shadowrun: Crossfire
5. 11 - Imperial Settlers
6. 9 - Leaving Earth
6. 9 - Star Realms
6. 9 - Viticulture Essential Edition
9. 8 - Hostage Negotiator
9. 8 - Pandemic
9. 8 - Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island

The always popular deck-builder Friday is back on the top of the chart since June of 2015. Perhaps the summer weather, travel and its very portable footprint make this a perfect candidate for a vacation game? It was not even close with 18 different gamers logging a play on the SGOYT, the most for first place since Hostage Negotiator registered 22 in January.

The Van Ryder Games hostage rescue simulation not only was unseated this month from atop the list, it actually fell to ninth place overall with eight uniques. It had held the top spot for the previous five months in a row.

Two games in the Pandemic family both made the list this month. The original Pandemic (not Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, shock) tied for ninth place and returned to the list for the first time since August 2013. The younger Pandemic: The Cure tied for second place with 12 gamers logging plays. This surge was brought on by a SGOYT challenge for June that actually kicked off a few days early, resulting in eight of those 12 players logging on or after May 28. The dice-chucking medical game was last in the Top 10 back in December 2014.

Space exploration seems to be the new frontier and self-published space-race puzzler Leaving Earth continues to thrill soloists and made the top 10 for the second month in a row. A new expansion, Leaving Earth: Outer Planets also just shipped, so expect even more exposure for this one. Portability may also explain the return of Star Realms to the top 10 for its best month since July 2015 and appearance on the list since last November.

Viticulture has been a hit since its release and the more compact Essential Edition has made it even more so for soloists, adding the Automa previously found in the Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture expansion. It too has been on the chart the last two months running.

Finally, the other Crusoe themed title, Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island returns for the first time since last October to round out this month's list.

If you're enjoying these top 10 lists, let me know with a thumb if you would (I'm easily pleased) or add your comments below. To keep abreast of gaming from a solitaire perspective, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow me on (Twitter @onesuponagame) or Facebook
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Tue Jun 7, 2016 2:40 pm
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Thank You...

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Mon Jun 6, 2016 2:02 pm
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How Do You Handle Your B.A.D. Self?

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Edit 2016-04-27: The term B.A.D. for boardgame acquisition disorder apparently did not come from my own mind as I thought, but was planted there back in August 2015 via this thread: My tips for fighting B.A.D. (Boardgame Acquisition Disorder). I just regurgitated here without proper attribution. Sorry Steve!

Like many of you I'm sure, I struggle with boardgame acquisition disorder (B.A.D.). This is not something that's as tough on gamers who are dedicated, co-dependent group gamers -- you have your own issues. But for the soloists out there, it can be a problem. We're a group of one. While session gamers can share games with their other members, solo gamers have to buy for themselves everything they want to play. So we're always on the lookout for the next great solo or solo-friendly game. And while it's awesome that designers and publishers now recognize the huge market for solitaire playable games and variants, this leads to a problem for those of us with B.A.D. intentions.

The main problem with B.A.D. is that you end up with more games than you can possibly play. There are many obstacles to playing the games already in your collection -- and replaying the games you really like. But really one of the main culprits in the struggle is actually:

New Games

Unless you're a chess grand master, you cannot play multiple games at once. And even then, they are simply moving from game to game and not physically playing more than one at a time. So you have to have a lineup of games scheduled (or in your mind as "next").

* Those on the front burner.
* Those you love and will play again one day.
* Those you snagged because of a great deal and you will get to them. One day. Really you will. You promise.

However the next shiny object comes along and you have to have it. You must. But then where is this game going to go? No matter where you put it on your list, everything else below it gets shoved down and deferred yet again. And the stockpile grows further eclipsing the actual amount of game time you have in your life.

I have just (for the moment) talked myself off the ledge of getting a couple of new games from GMT Games. The two games were (are? were? are? were?) Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar and the reprint of A Distant Plain. Now to be fair, GMT games are very elusive. Their recent titles Churchill and Talon and Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection sold out in very short order. The games are so well done they are highly sought after. But the reprint queue for GMT can take a long time -- they have new games to print too, you know. So you're either waiting a year or more -- or you buy it for an inflated price on the aftermarket.

Or you just buy it when it's available and sort it out later.

But then I think of all the goodness I already have -- both unplayed and worse underplayed -- there are far too many waiting in the wings:

Combat Commander: Europe - One of my top games, period. I've played it maybe four times. I have everything for it, but due to backlog and time it just never gets out enough. So much goodness right there in a single game.

Churchill - Unopened. Grabbed while I could and was waiting for verdict of those for solo only play.

Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942 - Opened and started once, but got lost and need to get back to it. And of course the follow up Wing Leader: Supremacy 1943-1945 is coming soon.

Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection - Opened and waiting to start. Like Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar and A Distant Plain, part of the GMT COIN Series. Love the mechanics, but until this one (except for ADP which was unavailable), there was no theme I cared about. Played Fire in the Lake to learn the system, but Vietnam is not my thing. But do I need multiple, differently themed, long-playing COIN titles? Do I? Yes, you say? STOP IT!

Enemy Coast Ahead: The Dambuster Raid - Another great solo title that sits there mocking me.

Star Wars: Imperial Assault - Bought some time ordering the solo Emperor Deck on cowcow.com... so I'm in a bit of a reprieve.

Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Operation Barbarossa 1941 (second edition) - Another great WW2 title that with the Conflict of Heroes: Eastern Front – Solo Expansion needs more table time.

Operation Dauntless: The Battles for Fontenay and Rauray, France, June 1944 - Loved Red Winter: The Soviet Attack at Tolvajärvi, Finland – 8-12 December 1939 and this is supposed to be even better. Gorgeously produced too!

MERCS: Recon – Counter Threat - Excellent game if you can ignore some minor production issues (that may or may not affect your copy).

The list goes on... Lock 'n Load Tactical, Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division, Next War: Taiwan, Core Worlds, Power Grid, Star Wars: The Card Game, Enemy Action: Ardennes...

ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes. #FirstWorldProblems no doubt. But problems nevertheless.

There is the part of me that is worried about "the one that got away". I hear Tom Vasel talk about "don't worry about it, there are plenty of other good games to play if you don't get X or Y or Z". And he's right. But he also gets everything in the world sent to him for review, so stick it Tom (kidding!)

Sometimes I try to view B.A.D. as simply "renting" the games. Get them, try them, and sell them. Even if you lose $10-15 on the deal, it's like you "rented" the game. And that's true enough. And I do get rid of games I don't like or that are too expensive (or valuable) to keep around. Of course this sometimes results in mistakes I call "boomerang games" (There and Back Again - Boomerang Games Explained).

I have to really want to try it or have found that I really love it in order to keep it in the collection. And even then, if the sell value outweighs that desire, then out it goes. Again, sometimes to my folly.

I know others are trying a current wave of B.A.D. austerity measures. Not acquiring anything new or limiting themselves to a set number of new titles for a given period. Like those people, I already have several on order from Kickstarter -- so I cannot halt the shiny objects cold turkey. Perhaps this is the answer. Or perhaps a "one-game-in, one-game-out" strategy?

Wait where am I? How did I get here?

How do you handle your boardgame acquisition disorder? Or do you even feel you have it? Or maybe you're in denial?

Now I'm going to head back up to the ledge that is the GMT site to stare at a cart full of goodness and try to talk myself back down.

Or jump.
Might as well jump.
Go ahead and jump.

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Fri Apr 22, 2016 6:43 pm
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Remembering the Challenger - 30 Years Later

Kevin L. Kitchens
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The earth beneath us starts to tremble
With the spreading of a low black cloud
A thunderous roar shakes the air
Like the whole world exploding

Scorching blast of golden fire
As it slowly leaves the ground
Tears away with a mighty force
The air is shattered by the awesome sound

Excitement so thick
You could cut it with a knife.
Technology high,
On the leading edge of life.

Like a pillar of cloud
The smoke lingers high in the air
In fascination
With the eyes of the world
We stare...


from "Countdown" by Rush, lyrics by Neil Peart



As a teenager when the Space Shuttle program began and from the first launch in 1980 (of which the above song was written), I'd watched nearly every one of the first launches. Having grown up on Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, as well as watching many of the Apollo missions and being a astronomy buff, this thing was right up my alley. However by the 25th mission on January 28, 1986, I was 19 and the launches had become passé and I no longer was as glued to my television.

I recall that I was with a friend at their bank when the Challenger explosion occurred. I'd heard the tellers remarking that something had happened, but wasn't entirely sure. As I made my way back home and listening to the news reports, the reality sank in that our space program wasn't immune to human error. I remember getting home, going to my mom and bursting into tears on her shoulder. I'm not sure why I personally took that so hard, but that's what happened. This was definitely one of those type of moments that your where, what, who, etc. is indelibly imprinted in your memory.

Our then president Ronald Reagan, cancelled the scheduled State of the Union speech for that night and instead addressed our country (and the world) ending with the following words.

We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of Earth' to 'touch the face of God.'

Today marks the 30th anniversary of that tragic event. Where these seven brave souls lost their lives here on earth.

Francis R. Scobee, Commander
Michael J. Smith, Pilot
Ronald McNair, Mission Specialist
Ellison Onizuka, Mission Specialist
Judith Resnik, Mission Specialist
Gregory Jarvis, Payload Specialist
Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist (and teacher)



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Thu Jan 28, 2016 5:39 pm
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Subs Sighted! Nemo About to Submerge, DVG Leads Again

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Two noteworthy and solo-friendly Kickstarter projects to be aware of.

First the fancy schmancy reprint/new edition of Nemo's War (second edition) by Victory Point Games is drawing to a close. The project funded in only 12 hours after it was announced and now sits at $210,253 (553% of its goal). Kicktraq projects it to reach $217K or so, but the last day is usually the busiest, so who knows?

There is a little over one day to go as of this post (28 hours). For $56 (plus regional shipping) you'll get a full copy of the new and improved version of the game. New rules, upgraded cards, tokens, board and more. Shipping to the US was $11, Canada, UK, Germany $14 and the project is EU friendly as well.

My thoughts: I'd always heard wonderful things about Nemo's War, but then heard a second edition was forthcoming, so I didn't want the first with the old style VPG counters. Then instead of their regular way of producing games, VPG shifted gears and went the Kickstarter route. So I checked it out when first announced and was hit by the sticker shock. $56 and it didn't include shipping? Ouch. Okay. So I told KS to remind me again before the end. If I didn't get on KS, then I'd just order from the VPG store later or via an OLGS.

Alan Emrich wrote:
Well, assuming we have extra copies to send out to stores (we'd need to hit some serious stretch goal-age for that), then yes, that enamel pin is currently the only slated difference.

Then I come to find out the it's most likely not going to available for retail sale. Kickstarter is it. Your one chance to get this edition of the game. Not sure I liked that at all.

Alan Emrich wrote:
Size does matter, which is why we're on Kickstarter raising the money to print NEMO'S WAR second edition overseas instead of printing it using our print-on-demand components. This game really deserves the best of everything we can give it, and we think enough of you will agree to make this project worthwhile. Artist Ian O'Toole has certainly done his part!!

As I replied to Alan then (and hope they heard), when the KS is over and the madness has settled down, I hope they'll print a "normal people" version with their regular in-house methods. VPG's latest "gold" treatment of games with laser cut counters and maps is really excellent and nothing to be scoffed at.

Then as I was writing this and trying to make a final decision (KS or not KS), I saw that the game for all its cost won't even be including the great (and only minorly sooty) laser cut thick counters. If you want those, you have to pony up an extra $25! Seems those would have been a better stretch goal that a cute but superfluous Nautilus miniature.

So in all, I think the stranglehold of hype and desire to play this game has been successfully silenced. Perhaps one day VPG will release a normal version, but if not there's always the possibility of a trade.

UPDATE: With about four hours left in the KS... I decided to go ahead and back this project. Looking at other things I've backed and the reputation for this game, I just couldn't miss the (ahem) boat. At the very least, if it ends up not at retail, I can probably sell it and get most of my money back. Time will tell.

That said, this is still supposed to be an amazing game, so if you don't want to miss out, your time is almost up... The game is scheduled to deliver in November of 2016.

Kickstarter Link


Just announced last night is the combined project from Dan Verssen Games (DVG) to (re)publish Gato Leader and U-Boat Leader. These two WW2 submarine games expand on the successful solitaire "Leader" series with North Atlantic and Pacific undersea adventures.

This project is a little slower out of the gate, only reaching $3000 (16%) of it's conservative $18,000 goal. But with 29 days to go as word spreads I'm sure this one will torpedo that target out of the water. Kicktraq projects a nearly $47K finish or 259%, so back with confidence.

A copy of your choice of game will be rewarded for a $65 pledge (plus regional shipping). The project is EU friendly. For $120 ($10 savings) you can get both titles with no increase to shipping. Also many of the previous DVG games are available as add-ons to your reward and they will not charge any additional shipping for those (list of games and price at the bottom of the KS page).

Quote:
In Gato Leader, you commander US submarines prowling the warm blue waters of the Pacific ocean during WWII in search of Japanese merchant ships and warships. It is up to you to engage the enemy and destroy the vital stream of supplies going out to their island empire.
Quote:
In U-Boat Leader, you command German U-Boats braving the heaving gray seas of the the storm tossed North Atlantic while attempting to sink the US freighters carrying the war supplies England desperately needs to fend off a German invasion of its island homeland.

U-Boat Leader 2nd edition adds more counters and a detailed submarine damage system, that brings it up to the new standards set by Gato Leader.

My thoughts: There is no doubt DVG makes quality games and no reason to expect that these will not be. However, past history has shown that the games will be available at retail for usually a much cheaper price. DVG and established companies using the KS method is similar to GMT Games P-500 program. You want to insure the games get made and support the company. So while you may not get something at the best price, you get to participate in the process and keep good games coming. I've starred this one and will review again near the end.

The game is slated to ship in June 2016.

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Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:09 pm
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A Few Thoughts on the Asmodee North America Attack on Online Retailers

Kevin L. Kitchens
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This is in general response to the following two BGG news posts concerning Asmodee's new distribution plan going into effect April 1, 2016 (bad date to start what appears to be a joke, but whatever).

Starting in 2016, Asmodee Will Operate as Asmodee North America, Cut Off Distributors, and Limit Online Sales
Asmodee Clarifies Its Changes for 2016: Online Sales Will Continue, No Price Floors Will Be Imposed
(warning: lots of comments on those posts to wade through if you want)

My basic opinion is this:

* Asmodee can do whatever they want (legally).
* Consumers can do whatever they want (legally).

Their plan won't get me into an LGS because I don't need/use/want/see value in an LGS. Others do. Those that do should certainly support them. I don't have any value in a local barber as my wife cuts my hair. I can see how others do, but if all the barbers around me close down, I will still get a hair cut. If all LGS in my area close down, I'll still get games. I don't want to see all LGS or barbers go out of business, but it happens and is the normal part of doing business.


BBV Christmas
Party 1988
I've said before I used to work at Blockbuster Video. Remember them? Been to one lately? No? They all closed down. They served a purpose during the 80s and 90s and slightly beyond and then couldn't adjust to the changing video entertainment industry. I loved working there. I met my wife of now 26 years there. I was sad to see them go, but as online streaming became a reality, I no longer went there. They tried to increase revenue from other sources with popcorn, candy, sodas, toys, magazines, etc... and then it felt like I was going into a cluttered mall kiosk. They had their time and ran their course.

I won't declare an out and out boycott of ANA titles as some have suggested. They are a business making a business decision. A stupid one in my opinion, but I'm not a business or economics major, so what do I know? My biggest claim to economics savvy was giving my brother and I each 3x $500 bills to start Monopoly games because that's what all the small bills totalled up to and we'd just make change as needed. Streamlined setup!

What I will do is assess the price online stores are selling whatever ANA product for and decide if that price is something I want to pay. I'll shop around as I do now, find the best price and make my decision. If ANA is putting hurdles in the way of online stores then that's their problem to resolve.

If they were really out to help the B&M only LGS stores, they'd give them a price break to allow them to sell cheaper than MSRP instead of penalizing the online stores with higher prices. It'd be a lot more palatable to many gamers (warning no empirical data here) to see a discounted title in person and make an impulse buy. But when I'm in an LGS and see things for full price that I know I can save 30-40% on by waiting an extra day or two, I side with my wallet. Narrow the gap between the online store and the LGS pricing and the impulse will get stronger.

In most cases, LGS can and do offer services to their customers above and beyond what the cold, impersonal OLGS website will ever be able to manage. But that service only adds so much value. Finding other realistic revenue streams -- as many coffee/cafe/gaming hybrid stores have done -- is the key to the LGS not becoming the next Blockbuster. Not penalizing the online stores and their customers.



Wow, what a difference!
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Mon Dec 28, 2015 8:17 pm
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2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part D

Kevin L. Kitchens
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5. Race for the Galaxy (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #7
In and of itself, Race for the Galaxy is an excellent game (iconography aside) But adding the gold standard in AI bots found in the Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm expansion (Review: Eminently Racing for the Gathering Domain of the Stormy Galaxy) and the solo play in this game is fast-paced and full of strategy. You cannot go in with a preconceived plan, you must determine your course from the starting cards. If playing with the bot isn't your cup of tea, there is a downloadable PC opponent (http://www.keldon.net/rftg/) you can square off against. A classic that will stand the test of time (in gaming and in this top 100).

4. Stonewall's Sword: The Battle of Cedar Mountain (Prediction: Will NOT Make the Top 100) 2015 NOT ON LIST
Another American Civil War game from designer Hermann Luttmann via Revolution Games (II). This one is first of the "Blind Swords" system which uses (tada!) a variation of the chit pull mechanic to mix brigade activations and random events and create a unique experience each time. Future titles include GMT Games Longstreet Attacks: The Second Day at Gettysburg and another from Revolution on the Battle of Pea Ridge. Sadly, this won't make the top 100 this year due only to limited awareness.

3. Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #10
Building on the excellent deck-building system of Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game and making it even better (theme, interaction, hidden enemies), this game just oozes the Alien-verse. Perfectly playable as a solo game (two handed is harder than just one), Alien Legendary is a fun and frantic romp through the two great Alien movies as well as two sequels that bear the trademark. Love for this game will insure it's in the top 100 this year. Now we just need a version based on Bladerunner.

2. Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Operation Barbarossa 1941 (second edition) (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #64
Originally this game was just a six or a seven rating for me. The staccato interchange between each units action led to more involvement during all points of the game, but just got monotonous. Then Academy Games, Inc. (finally) released the Conflict of Heroes: Eastern Front – Solo Expansion (Review: Solitaire's The Only Game In Town - A Ones Upon a Game Review) and CoH rocketed up. The solo expansion includes 10 missions that allow the player to face off against an smart yet unpredictable AI. Additionally it introduced the idea that after a unit takes an action, you determine if the unit is spent based on how much that action cost. This single change takes the base system (without the solo expansion) and makes it much easier and exciting to play both sides as a standard wargame. CoH has always been a popular system, but the addition of the solo box cements it being in the top 100.



1. Combat Commander: Europe (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #77
Surprised? You don't know me then. Chad Jensen's card driven WW2 wargame is simply amazing to play. Yes, there are other games that simulate war better or to a finer detail. And there are other games that are more abstract and easier to pick up games covering the same topic. But in Combat Commander: Europe (Review: If You Love It So Much, Why Don't You Marry It Then? - A Ones Upon a Game Review), you have the PERFECT blend of fun game and strategic simulation. It's not too heavy and it's not too light. It's easy enough to pick up and the rulebook is second to none for layout and clarity. As for playing the game solo, there are some variants, but they aren't needed at all. The best advice is to just play both sides and when you draw cards don't look at them until your turn unless you're checking for another purpose (opportunity fire or assaults). I could say there is no doubt this will make the top 100, but it's already been revealed to have done so... but I did mark my predictions prior to the official postings. What's great is that it climbed so many spots as so many more people submitted their top 20 this year.

So there you have it. My top 20 solo games in my collection. I hope you've enjoyed reading this and sharing your thoughts. Will do this again next year as many of the new games I've acquired (and are coming) get played (more) and bump down some of the others.

These include:

Enemy Action: Ardennes, Enemy Coast Ahead: The Dambuster Raid, Battles of the Bulge: Celles, Operation Dauntless: The Battles for Fontenay and Rauray, France, June 1944, Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection, MERCS: Recon – Counter Threat, Burgle Bros.. Churchill, Salvation Road and Hostage Negotiator

My List 20-16: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Uno
My List 15-11: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Zwei
My List 10-6: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Gimel
My List 5-1: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part D
Official Results: 2015 People's Choice Top 100 Solo Games
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Fri Dec 4, 2015 6:12 pm
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2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Gimel

Kevin L. Kitchens
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ממשיך את הספירה לאחור של 20 משחקי סוליטר העליונים שלי ...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Continuing the countdown of my top 20 solitaire games...


10. Across 5 Aprils (Prediction: Will NOT Make the Top 100) 2015 NOT ON LIST
They say don't judge a book by its cover, but I'm guilty of judging games from the 1980s by their components. For some reason playing with old, bare bones counters just doesn't thrill me. So I almost passed up this classic game of the American Civil War. The title refers to the April 1861-April 1865 period of the ACW, the five battles included did not all actually take place in April. This game features my favorite "makes a game soloable" mechanic: the chit pull. This keeps things fresh and interesting throughout the game. Add in that a side cannot attack until their combat chit is pulled. Great title and definitely worth picking up. Won't make the top 100 because I don't think enough know, remember, or think of it.

9. Thunder Alley (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 NOT ON LIST
Add my voice to the "I'm not a NASCAR fan" chorus who love this game. Watching real cars driving in circles would bore me to tears (about as much as playing YahtzeeSubs), but this title from GMT Games abstracts the thrill and chrome (yeah, I said it) of racing to an awesome card driven (yeah, I said it) boardgame. There is an amazing amount of strategy to the cards you play, the car you activate, and the maneuvers you can perform. If you don't have it already, burn rubber and get it (yeah, I said it). Will make the top 100 because it's so darn good.

8. Snowdonia (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #16
Another of the early recommendations from the SGOYT crowd that I never regretted picking up. While there are train games galore, this worker placement title about building a track up a mountain offers the right blend of tough choices and variability of play to make it an excellent solo game. Highly replayable. The mechanic of restocking the supply yard and drawing event cubes is genius. Love it. Will easily make the top 100.

7. Cruel Necessity (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #46
Victory Point Games has released many titles in their States of Siege line, but none so brilliant or captivating as this one. I know some people prefer the (ick) zombie one, but the SoS series works so much better with the historical narrative. Set against the backdrop of the English Civil Wars, the game offers multiple tracks to manage and the conundrum of "what can I do with my limited choices" and "why does this stupid die hate me so much" (ala Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game). When battles break out there is a cool mini-battle board that adds a respite from the standard gameplay and shouldn't be missed. I bet it will make the top 100, though it might be lost in the shuffle.

6. Viticulture (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #18
As the worker placement genre has expanded it's hard to make things that seem fresh. Jamey Stegmaier's Stonemaier Games however has done just that with this one (along with the Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture). A game about winemaking? I don't even drink! But this one is a really good time. Sets up and plays very quickly. Add in the Automa AI created by Morten Monrad Pedersen and the solo game is just amazing. Whoever thought of the glass gems to do double duty as grapes and wine bottles was genius. I smile every time I see them on the player mat. So cool. No whining (yeah, I said it) from me on this one -- except maybe for the annoying mini-cards. I don't care about upgraded coins, but man, give me normal sized cards! On the strength of this game, it's made Stonemaier titles a nearly instant buy for me... the quality is that good. If this doesn't make the top 100, the voting is rigged! And I know it's not rigged.

Tomorrow... my personal top 5 are revealed...

My List 20-16: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Uno
My List 15-11: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Zwei
My List 10-6: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Gimel
My List 5-1: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part D
Official Results: 2015 People's Choice Top 100 Solo Games
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Thu Dec 3, 2015 1:03 pm
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2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Zwei

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Gainesville
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Quote:
A listener in Seattle writes...

Dear Casey

My boyfriend and I just love Settlers of Catan. We play it all the time, every chance we get. In homeroom, waiting for the school bus, sitting out of gym class because of our allergies. I love my boyfriend for playing Catan with me. He's awesome. Catan's awesome.

Would you please play Queen's "Play the Game" in honor of our love of Catan. And of course each other?

Yours truly.
Trulie.


And now... on with the countdown.

Picking up where I left off yesterday, here's the second set of five in my Top 20 Solo Games...

15. In Magnificent Style (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 NOT ON LIST
Hermann Luttmann's press your luck take on Pickett's Charge at Gettyburg combines strategy, random events (good and bad), and horrible die rolls to create a quick filler game full of solid options. One of Victory Point Games best as well. More to come in this series of fighting against overwhelming odds. Happy.

14. Star Wars: Imperial Assault (Prediction: Will NOT Make the Top 100) 2015 NOT ON LIST
Star Wars fever has been escalating over the last couple of years and this month's release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is only going to increase it. Last year Fantasy Flight Games announced Imperial Assault, improving on the engine used by some fantasy game, upgrading the theme to not only Sci-Fi, but to Star Wars! The game comes with two modes: campaign and skirmish. The Skirmish mode, like any tactical wargame is easily enough played solo right out of the box, simply by playing both sides. However, the campaign mode relies on two players: unless you use one of two different AI decks created by RedJak7. The RedJak's Automated Emperor Variant or the Redjak's Automated Imperial Variant. Don't see this making the top 100 because of the perception it's only good for two or more players.

13. Pandemic: The Cure (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #39
Takes all the fun of fighting worldwide disease outbreaks and puts it into dice form. Definitely killed its older brother Pandemic (review: I Want a New Drug - A Ones Upon a Game Review) for me. So much so that I have no interest (at this time) in Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 in spite of how much "fun" there is in buying a board game to destroy it (seems like a "trash the dress" wedding concept). I think this will still make the top 100 on its merits alone, but the only thing that may hurt it is the current infatuation for the Legacy version.

12. Friday (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #3
Quick and easy to play card game where you're Friday helping the imbecilic Robinson Crusoe survive several challenges. As he wins various fights, he improves his deck to prepare for the tougher battles to come. Game includes many levels of difficulty too. Cute artwork, tight design, compact package. What's not to love? Easily the best game of all time showcasing the Robinson Crusoe theme. Yes, this includes that other one (which will also make the top 100 and sadly the top 10).

11. Navajo Wars (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #14
A slow burning, thinking game where you lead the Navajo (Dine) tribe through different periods of aggression against them. Some excellent mechanics and variability make this a unique and interesting play. And educational. Will make the top 100 because there is still a lot of love for this one and rightly so.

Will break the top 10 on the morrow...

My List 20-16: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Uno
My List 15-11: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Zwei
My List 10-6: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Gimel
My List 5-1: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part D
Official Results: 2015 People's Choice Top 100 Solo Games
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Wed Dec 2, 2015 1:15 pm
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2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Uno

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Georgia
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The second annual 1 Player guild 2015 People's Choice nominations have ended and the big reveal is now underway of the Top 100 Solo Games for 2015.

You can follow along as the choices are made public (2015 People's Choice Top 100 Solo Games), initially in batches of 10 then trickling to an agonizing 5 per day until the top game is finally unmasked. IMO the community got it wrong last year (I'm clearly in the minority on a certain game), but since I didn't vote I cannot complain (yeah, right).

So this year I promised myself I'd do the hard job and submit my own top 20 to the competition. Doing my small part to knock that game from its perch.

Compiling such a list for me is difficult. I tend to see the games in my collection as a dichotomy of "Love It" or "List It". If I play a game and it clicks with me and there is just something unique about the mechanics or experience, then it falls into the "Love It" camp. As for "List It" (meaning it will be sold or traded ASAP), those are games that are boring to play, feel like puzzles without any fun, just bad games in general, or simply great games that aren't my cup of tea (too long, too many plays required to understand them, etc.). I don't stockpile games that I don't enjoy. While sometimes that leads to the boomerang effect (There and Back Again - Boomerang Games Explained), most of the time, like not attending my senior prom, I have no regrets.

So then when I look at all my kept "love it" games and try to sort them to bubble up a top 20, it's such a hair-splitting act of frustration, that I walk away and do something else. Like play a game. But this year, I made myself do it so I could take part. So now, for your enjoyment, criticism, or just something to do, I present my Top 20 Solo Games (part one)...

20. Gears of War: The Board Game (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #9
Never was a player of the old or new video game series, but this one was recommended very early in my return to boardgaming and for good reason. A great little miniatures boardgame that can be brutally tough. The choice of COGs in the game as well as fan made characters along with the variable setup of each mission give this one excellent replay value. Sadly, Fantasy Flight Games has cancelled the game, so grab it if you can find it. Hopefully we'll see this one picked up again or have the system converted to another property. This with Star Wars or even Lord of the Rings (swarms of Orcs!) would be amazing.

19. Freedom: The Underground Railroad (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #29
Academy Games, Inc. makes some really beautiful games and Freedom is no exception. This game take a very heavy subject matter and tactfully creates a "game" out of it. All with proper respect as well as educating the players.

18. Flash Point: Fire Rescue (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #17
When I first saw this one I couldn't take it seriously. The little "Fisher Price" looking firefighters made it seems like a kids game. Which it can be. But with the advanced rules and expansions, this game is just amazinging fun and difficult.

17. Forge War (Prediction: Will NOT Make the Top 100) 2015 NOT ON LIST
Finally a fantasy game I can get into. Instead of the stereotypical high fantasy with wizards and magic and "gods" nonsense, this one is about the fighters. More directly, the smithy who is equipping the fighters to do battle. It is beautifully produced with a cool mini-game for resources each round too. There were a couple of weapons cards that made me uncomfortable, so I just chunked those in the trash.. but the rest of the game, epic or short is a lot of good thematic fun.

16. Ambush! (Prediction: Will Make the Top 100) 2015 #76
I managed to score a copy of this classic solitaire title during a math trade and so glad I did. While the counters are pretty hokey by today's standards, the game itself is a rock solid WW2 wargame experience. Using a neat system of cards, hidden data, and narrative paragraphs, this is truly the best combination of gameplay and story generation I've seen. Many rely on doing one or the other, but Ambush by John H. Butterfield does both at the same time.

So that's the first five of my 20. I'll reveal the next five tomorrow.

My List 20-16: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Uno
My List 15-11: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Zwei
My List 10-6: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part Gimel
My List 5-1: 2015 People's Choice - Compiling my Top 20 Solo Games - Part D
Official Results: 2015 People's Choice Top 100 Solo Games
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Tue Dec 1, 2015 5:41 pm
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