I'd love to make this as short and painless as possible, but will probably end up with a huge wall of text anyway, so, sorry for that in advance!
My Birthday is coming up and I feel like I've earned a little something this year. I have a couple of games I've been really wanting for a while, but I'm super picky with games and I often find something that bothers me (I'm a video game designer myself).
Here are some examples of games I found *almost* perfect, but that still had something that annoyed me:
My Fair Princess - Almost the perfect worker placement game for me, since I'm a huge Princess Maker fan, and if there was an official 2-player mode and it just had a little more story content and polish, we'd play it sooo much more.
The Big Book of Madness - would need more variation and flavour texts to get us to come back to it more often. It's just a little too bland on theme somehow.
Legendary Encounters: Alien - I love it.. and even my better half likes it. But it's too long, too fiddly, too bothersome to set and pack up.. we just never find/make the time to play it. And while we love the Alien movies and the art of the game, the theme just doesn't do it as much for us as we'd hoped. I think if they did a Legendary Encounters: Adventure Time game, that would hit the table quite often tho.
Imperial Settlers - too much downtime between turns, but otherwise we love it. Civ building is our thing, but we usually prefer how PC games implement it.
Dream Home - It's my hidden gem filler game, I just adore it! Wish there was more depth and variation tho. Bigger houses to decorate, more rooms, more tools... official solo rules. Expansions.... ;__;
Oceanos - Good filler for us, I adore the art and components. Lacks a little depth, just like Dream Home.
Hero Realms - We've played it a couple times now and like it but are still waiting for the co-op campaign stuff that's coming in 2017. Hero replaced all other Realms games for us for now.
Mage Knight - mainly for playing solo, wish it would be a bit quicker, but I quite like the mechanics. Not too fond of the fantasy theme, thinking about replacing it with Star Trek: Frontiers.
The Pursuit of Happiness - So far my fav game. I love making up stories about my life, love the idea of blocking yourself, instead of others and I've found it easy to teach to non-regular gamers. It's just a little long and requires a bit too much table space for my taste, game board could have been half the size imo.
T.I.M.E. Stories - we love it to death, it was just a bit too easy for us (2 girls growing up on point & click adventure games and a programmer, who we regularly force to play point & click adventures with us), hopefully the add ons add some more challenge for us. We played it 5 times anyway just to absolutely see everything there is. ;)
The 7th Continent - It's not out yet. But from playing the demo and watching the development of the game I can say that this could be VERY close to the perfect game for me.
That being said...
Most important to me is that games play well with 2 and 3 players (more is a plus, but not neccessary) and if possible also offer solo options, as I often play solo games while my SO plays video games. He and my son are much more video gamers, while I'm a fan of both video and board games. If I could find a game that would get them more often to the table, that would be another "nice to have" feature.
We like games were we either get to read each other quirky story bits or where the game invites you to make up your own story as you go - we're pen & paper roleplayers, so some level of roleplaying is usually always involved when we play. We love games that encourage this.
I'm cursed with dice, so I'd rather not get any dice heavy things unless die manipulation is a big thing in it (I'm fine with things Elder Sign or Bravest Warriors)
I've been thinking of ordering Heroes Wanted + all the add ons except for Stuff of Legends, all of that would cost me around 100€ - which is the usual price for just the base game over here. Adding Stuff of Legends would make the total 150€ and that's a bit too much for me without having played first. (If anyone thinks I really NEED SoL to be able to enjoy the game, please make your opinion known!) I've watched a few gameplay videos and I think we will enjoy the game for it's quirkyness, but I would love to hear some opinions from others, why they like it or not etc.
Next on the list is Arctic Scavengers: Base Game+HQ+Recon - I love deckbuilders and this has an interesting theme + the option to play solo. But I know next to nothing of it. It's not that expensive tho, so I'd give it a go, just because it seems like a good choice, unless someone can make a good argument why the game sucks. ;) Or maybe there is some other deckbuilder I haven't heard of yet that plays solo and can be played in less than an hour?
We've been looking at a few of those choose your own adventure games like Tales of the Arabian Nights and Agents of SMERSH, but so far Above and Below is the one that caught my interest most (bf prefers Tales tho) and the only one that's available in German. I think I prefer the theme of Tales, the co-op of SMERSH and the gameplay of A&B and since that one's in German I'll probably just go for that for now. But If anyone knows of other story games that are really good and available, please tell me! We are fluent in English, so English versions aren't generally a problem, we just hugely prefer reading to others in German tho. ;)
Last on my list is Hostage Negotiator - I heard it recommended over and over again as one of the best solo games out there and since I found it + the 4 abductor expansions for 75€ I'm quite tempted to get it. This is usually something I'd deem as way too expensive normally, but since the circumstances are right, I feel like jumping in. Any pros/cons for Hostage Negotiator?
These are the 4 games I've been thinking about getting for a while now, but if anyone has other recommendations that fit the style of these 4, please leave all of your suggestions here! In any case, anyone who's still reading already got my eternal gratefulness for conquering this massive wall of text. Thanks for that! :)
"Arrange whatever pieces come your way." Virginia Woolf
We like games were we either get to read each other quirky story bits or where the game invites you to make up your own story as you go - we're pen & paper roleplayers, so some level of roleplaying is usually always involved when we play. We love games that encourage this.Definitely check out Of Dreams & Shadows! There is reading in it (and that's the reason the designer says 2-6 instead of 1-6. It plays excellently solo as well.) Fantasy theme; top notch components down to the plastic standee thingys. Highly recommended.
About solo-able deckbuilders... Shadowrun: Crossfire is fun, but you really have to make up your own story there, as it does not offer much (other than what is happening in the game).
Gloomhaven seems like a game you should take a closer look at. This video is a great start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdRirVHY3Qc
That is a great suggestion as well.