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2011 in games (or: I resolve to remember to post)

January 4th, 2012: Mike Sugarbaker says...
2011 in games (or: I resolve to remember to post)

Risk Legacy is the game of the year. I know, I know, but: even if the persistent nuisance of the core Risk die mechanic isn’t something you can overlook, think of the effect that Legacy will have on future games from (the wealthier amongst) other game publishers. Specifically, imagine what co-op games will do with it. More generally, look at how Legacy introduces new mechanics slowly over time and compare it to the Fluency Play model. Then think of those poor bastards who read about, say, Agricola in the newspaper’s annual board game review and decide to try to use it to institute game night with their family. They’re going to create a lot of confusion, and probably an impression that games in general aren’t for them. The same game, with most of the complexity initially hidden inside little “achievement” envelopes, would be many times more learnable and accessible. The problem isn’t confined to new or casual gamers, either; ask me how I’m doing at absorbing the rules of Eclipse. Better yet, don’t.

And that’s all leaving aside the sheer joy of playing the thing – which, to be fair, may be due in part to shock value that’ll fade once more games of this nature hit the market. (At the very least, I want to see Monopoly Legacy.) This is the new best practice for doing any kind of campaign play in a board game. Don’t just spell out a campaign in the back half of the rulebook, make it theater. Risk Legacy oozes theatricality starting when you crack the seal on the box, and going forward through just about every step (except the rulebook, which is more straightforward for obvious reasons). This is the essence of what a campaign is for, as role-players know; hell, it’s the reason role-playing was made.

This is just my pick. Allan may have a different one. Also if you don’t own Ascending Empires we can’t be friends, so don’t think you can slack off there.

So yeah, we didn’t do a gift guide. Let’s be real, you didn’t have any money to buy people things with anyway. Pook very kindly put some of his picks up in various categories; I don’t feel super qualified to make a call on RPG of 2011, in part because I seem to be doomed to stay 6 months behind, at least, on actually playing anything. I’m tempted to say that the RPG of the year is Kickstarter – if you get your build right, that’s one hell of a reward cycle.

Give us your picks in the comments. Just keep your damn Skyrim off my lawn.

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