Category Archives: Best of List

Top 10 Dungeons and Dragons Modules of All Time

Ok so with my last theory article about the art of GMing, I thought it was about time I created a top 10 list on the subject of RPG’s.  Top 10 Modules seemed like a good choice and while I understand that new generations of players might froth at the mouth with a list that insults them by putting old school modules on a pedestal, the fact remains that as an old school player for the most part the modern age of D&D has been largely disappointing.  But don’t fret too much, some new-ish stuff made the list as well!  Enjoy the list.

Oh and I’m doing this backwards from now on so we are starting at number 10 and working our way down 🙂

10) Queen of Spiders

The Queen of Spiders is actually a module series and it is the only module on this list I have never personally run, but rather participated as a player which kind of makes it both unique for this list and of a different perspective than the others.

The Drow are among the most memorable villains in D&D, a favorite among DM’s to use as antagonists.

I think my favorite aspect of this module was of course the introduction of Dark Elves or The Drow if you will.  I recall this being my first experience encountering them and unlike today where we are quite familiar with the species, back then they were truly unique and GM’s weren’t exactly sure how to envision them resulting in some pretty fun interpretations.  I had a really great DM who cave the Drow a less sinister and more “Moriarty” vibe, kind of that super intelligent type of villain.  It imprinted this module in my mind for all time and I just knew it had to be on this list.

This module featured a compelling story that escalated upwards from start to the most climatic and unexpectedly epic ending, it featured lots of tough fights, lots of dungeon crawling and exploring and plenty of unique role-playing opportunities and problems to solve.  These modules are definitely among my most memorable campaigns I experienced as a player and unlike many modules on this list, it has been converted to several modern D&D systems.  I had the pleasure of playing both the 1st edition and 3rd edition versions.  Both were excellent.

9) Keep on the Borderlands

Nothing says classic D&D to me like Keep on the Borderlands.  To this day their is a copy of this module among my collection of books and while I don’t think its a particularly extraordinary module even for its time, what it lacked as a module,  it made up in the purity of its D&D’ness.  It is the essence of classic D&D game-play and has served as an introduction to D&D for just about every group of players I have ever DM’ed for.

Classic modules like Keep on the Borderlands are nostalgia bottled up, its as much a piece of D&D as the funky dice themselves.

While it was a simple cliche it did feature a sort of open endness that I think Gygax was trying to convey, a sort of mini campaign module rather than a linear story.  The idea was that you would explore the keep, areas around the keep and ultimately find your way to the Caves of Chaos.  Each area with its classic D&D moves like Giant Spiders, Mad Hermits and those lovable Kolbolts.

More than anything though Keep on the Borderlands is a great introduction to being a DM as its easy to run, offers plenty of workable NPC characters all the while keeping things nice and simple.  Great module that has created many great memories, worthy of finding a place on this list.

8) The Tomb of Horrors

There are a lot of reasons to love a module as either a GM or a player but for me personally The Tomb of Horrors is the module I pull out when it’s time for a campaign to end.   When characters have become so powerful that there really seems like there is no way to challenge them anymore.  In comes Tomb of Horrors, sure to challenge any player no matter how god like they become.  The truth is that, there has never been a more sure fire way to ensure a painfully and horrific end for an adventure party then this largely mean spirited, but wonderfully designed module.

A more appropriately named module/dungeon has never existed, it really is one of the most impossible adventures to complete. Even in 4e it was stupidly hard, a recipe for a TPK if there ever was one.

Now of course to the players this is the ultimate challenge, if you can simply survive it and walk out with treasure you have done well, if you can reach any level of success beyond that as far as I’m concerned you have won D&D.  Pulling it out and setting it on the table lets the players know that, this is the big show, it’s time to put on your big boy pants and most importantly to hug your character sheet one last time.

My groups in the past that I have run this game for have always taken it in the spirit for which it is intended, it’s a challenge, it’s the end of a campaign and everyone simply looks forward to discovering the horrible way their characters meets their maker.

One other thing, as it is a great challenge to be a player in this module, it is also the ultimate challenge for a DM to run.  Its an absolute blast to see how this massive dungeon crawl is connected and intertwined, it requires a high level of understanding of the module and for the sadistic GM who loves a challenge, its just pure joy.

7) Dragonlance Series (Dragons of …)

In D&D there are several very famous and recognizable names, Weis and Hickman are among perhaps the most recognizable after Gygax.  The Dragons of Novels are among my favorite and of course to be able to re-create the story in an a D&D module series using unique characters creates an opportunity for an epic campaign, and epic is exactly what Dragonlance is all about.  There are tons of modules to this series that will take you through the entire storyline, it would be hard to pick a favorite, but as a whole it’s an absolute blast even if you have read the novels and know the story.  It’s a little like watching Star Wars, there is a comfort to the story that supersedes the need for something new.  It sort of taps into that inner child.

If as a DM you want a complete story driven campaign that is sure to be memorable, you really can’t go wrong with the Dragons of series.

For me personally however it was always an adventure series that introduced us in great detail to the Dragonlance setting which was a kind of cross between being more down to earth middle ages Europe with a extremely high fantasy twist, full of Tolkien epic level storytelling.  Of course the core of the story is a great war that involves Dragons giving players an opportunity to face the ultimate in D&D enemies.  There is something magical about knowing at a early humble beginning of an adventure that to finish it you will need to fight dragons.

Absolutely love this series and if you have a group of players that don’t know the story, its really a must run campaign!

6) Hollowfaust: The City of Necromancers

I remember when 3rd edition was first released very clearly because the era of D&D being first in line at game tables had come and gone.  White Wolfs World of Darkness was front and center, everyone was playing Vampires and the company itself was jam packed with amazing writers who where creating stories unlike anything we had ever seen before.  It was very dark, there was a sense of dread to everything put out by White Wolf, in a sense, they evolved the genre of RPG to include adult themes and the timing was perfect as all of us old school RPG’ers were quite a bit older then in the days of D&D.

The Scarred Lands is without question one of the most unique settings for D&D, for some it might almost be too bizzare. Places like Hollowfaust really break the mold of what a Fantasy City is.

When White Wolf announced that they were going to create a D&D setting, it was a very exciting moment and really brought us back to high fantasy D&D.  What would a White Wolf D&D setting look like!?  Well they gave us the wonderful Scarred Lands, without question one of my all time favorite D&D settings.  Among some of the themes and concepts of Scarred Lands we got what really is without question one of my favorite places in any setting, Hollowfaust, The City of Necromancers.

Now while its technically a source book and not a module, the Hollowfaust source-book for Scarred Lands was jam packed with adventure ideas, hooks, locations and characters that were more then sufficient to run a very long and exciting campaign.  It’s a page turner, one that will inspire you to run a type of D&D adventure no other module could ever really do.

Easily one of the most memorable D&D supplements of the 3rd edition era in what is without question one of the best and most creative D&D settings to be created.  No surprise to me at all that it was created by brilliance of White Wolf Publishing who at the time was quite literally the center for creativity in the RPG market.  This book is so good that even if you don’t like RPG’s but just like to read fantasy its worth getting and reading, its that good.

5) Ravenloft

If Hollowfaust is one of the most memorable places in D&D, certainly Count Strahd Von Zarovich has got to be one of the most memorable villains in D&D.  A rich, fleshed our character that brought a sense of renaissance to D&D, and really showed off how much more creative the game can be beyond the standard fantasy cliches.  This module was all about the infamous vampire with whom the players must play a cat and mouse game, one left up to the a wide range of circumstances for which it was impossible to prepare for.  I think really that’s what made the module so memorable for me, every time you faced Strahd it would be in unexpected circumstances that no matter how hard you tried to prepare for you never could be quite ready.

Strahd makes a return in 5th edition, I’m not surprised. 5e was really trying hard to capture the old classic feel of D&D and nothing says D&D like a return trip to Castle Ravenloft.

While certainly Strahd took center stage in this module, really this entire module is filled with vivid and imaginative writing that really inspire and give you a sense of place and time.  The lands of Barovia, Castle Ravenloft and the rich history written into the main NPC’s of the story gave the entire thing almost a sense of proper literature. It inspired an entire setting that was created around it.  In my humble opinion this was among the best ever written for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, a part of D&D history that no fantasy fan should miss.  Its as valid and exciting today as it was way back then.

4) The Red Hand of Doom

In my humble opinion while the amount of material, in particular modules that where written for 3rd and 3.5 editions for D&D was enormous, there actually where very few that truly stood out from the crowd.  The Red Hand of Doom was definitely among them and comes in at number 4 of my top favorites.  There is no doubt my love for Richard Baker’s writing and style played a big part in my appreciation for this module, but it was in fact one of the most unique and challenging modules to come out of 3rd edition era.

Red Hand of Doom really put the players in the position of leadership, its about the equivalent to a D&D version of Star Wars: A New Hope. A rag tag group of rebels fighting against impossible odds.

The Red Hand of Doom was really much more then a module, it was really the basis for an entire campaign, one driven by concepts like mass combat, politics and open ended conflict.  It certainly had a structure going from A to Z, but really it gave the players an enormous amount of freedom.  It was one of those open play modules that really could and most likely did go just about anywhere for every group that ran it.  It was generic enough to fit into any fantasy setting world, yet specific and unique enough to really inspire the imagination and set a strong sense of time and place.

Of course this in itself would not have been enough to catapult it this high on the list, it also boasted some wonderfully written characters and places, memorable not only for their personalities, but for how they where designed mechanically.   Among my favorites was the Half-Dragon commander of the force that stood against you Azarr Kul, oh what a bastard he was.  This is one of those modules that really had a bit of everything in just the right proportions to keep it fresh, thinky and fun to both run and play.  More than any other module on this list, this is one that still very much begs to be played regardless of which D&D system you prefer.

3) Test of the Warlords

Ok into the top 3 now, this is definitely among the best of the best.  For me, Test of the Warlords was an absolute must add to this list, I knew the moment I decided to make it.  Test of the Warlords is a high level campaign adventure built around the concept of exploration and settling of a wild frontier.   Players take on the roles of kingdom builders, working their way from humble explorers to kings of country.  This is another end game module, one that will not only test the skills of the players but their ability to conceive and create a D&D empire of their own, one among a politically heated environment designed around some truly fantastic characters.

Its truly a rare D&D campaign I run that is not influenced by this module in some way even if I’m not directly running it. For such a slim product, its amazing how much you get out of it.

This was Game of Thrones before there was a Game of Thrones full of life and plenty of room for a GM to get creative.  I have run this module as a campaign more times then I can count, its an absolute masterpiece in my eyes.

2) Temple of Elemental Evil

This shows up on a lot of top 10 lists and its no surprise to me.  This classic master piece is without question the best module created during the TSR era.  It really is the foundation for everything that D&D stands for and aspires to be.  From the humble beginnings of would be adventure wet behind the ears to heroes of the realm facing gods themselves.

I have run this adventure/mini campaign at least a dozen times at this point, no group has ever succeeded to date. It’s a true role-playing challenge.

This is a module that covers the entire spectrum of fantasy adventure from mystery, horror, to dungeon crawls and politics.  Players can approach this campaign from a uncanny amount of angles with its open ended experience, with new tests of courage around every corner.

Sure at this point perhaps its a walking, talking cliche, but D&D cliches were invented somewhere and there is no doubt in my that this module defined many of them.  Absolutely love it, as valid today as the day it was written.

1) Morricks Mansion

Ok here we go, my top, favorite module of all time for D&D absolutely has to go to Morricks Mansion brought to you by the masters of darkness, White Wolf Publishing.  Without a doubt one of the most creative story’s ever put to paper into a D&D module, its creepy mystery, fantastic back story and awesome NPC characters make this adventure absolutely pure joy to run.  White Wolf really put their best foot forward with this one, yet oddly I rarely find it on anyone’s top 10 list.

Morricks Mansion is in that sweet-spot level wise (3-5) in which 3rd edition was at its best.

If you really want to surprise the hell out of your players with a true master piece, this is one of those movie moment adventures that will more then deliver.  Its certainly very different from your typical fantasy trope adventure and this definitely one of the core reasons why it sticks out in my mind, but more then that its about the fantastic back story that delivers on all pistons.

Pitch perfect must play module!

Top 10 Table Top Games of All Time 2017 Edition

Its time once again to refresh my top 10 best table top games of all time list.  Its been an exciting year, the last time I did this was back in August of 2016 and a lot has happened since then.  In fact, I think this will probably be one of the most significant updates to the list I have ever had with a ton of changes and several new games arriving to the list.

I do want to say one thing about this latest list, much like everything in life, my gaming preferences are driven by new experiences and while I don’t consider myself a cult of the new type of gamer, I do believe that in the last few years the gaming industry has improved in so many ways and there are so many new game designers and design concepts being introduced that it was inevitable that I was at some point going to experience a changing pallete.  I think this list is a reflection of a culmination of experiences over the last 2 or 3 years, but it has only now sort of arrived.

Ok no sense in stalling any further, lets get to the list.

1. Through The Ages: A New Story of Civilization

Making its second official appearance on my top 10 list and driving up to number one, this is perhaps the most jarring and biggest surprise even for me.  The truth is that I have always loved the Sid Meier PC game series Civilization, as long as I can remember being a gamer I have been playing it.  I have also been on a never ending search to find the perfect board game version of the game, a road ripe with disappointments.  Finally I find Through The Ages, a game that brings that PC game feel to the table.

There is no question in my mind that the original Through The Ages was a great game, but when people refuse to play it because it looks like a prototype excel sheet, its hard to justify for a top 10 list.

Now why was 1st edition never on my list?  The truth is that while the changes in the 2nd edition are subtle, they were vital and they brought the game out of that weird space it existed in for a long time. I always liked the game, but I just felt that the 1st edition was so ugly and so unforgiving and stringent that it was impossible to bring it to the table with anyone but the most die hard fan, to the point where people didn’t want to try it based on appearances alone.  This new version changed all that.

With new visuals, streamlined rules and important design fixes it brought this classic game out of the closet and while I won’t say it made it mainstream, it did make it a lot more approachable.  I was able to get it to the table, I got plenty of excitement and requests to play it again.  Its now part of the line up of games I can pull out to my gaming group without getting a lot of groaning and moaning.

For me personally it grew on my slowly, very slowly in fact, but when I consider this list I always think to myself, if I had a chance to play any game right now, tomorrow or next week, what would it be.  Through The Ages is now that game.  I would rather play this one on any given day then anything else and as such it simply belongs in the number one spot.

Its a brilliant game that demands a lot, while maintaing that spark of thematic presence culminated with years of PC gaming and a sense of nostalgia.  I absolutely love it the feel of this game and I’m happy to put it at the top of my list.

2. Star Wars: Armada

When it comes to FFG games, there are always going to be a few on this list, but if you had asked me a year ago that Star Wars: Armada would dethrone X:Wing on this list I would have laughed.  What can I  say, While Star Wars: Armada was having an epic year with awesome new ship releases, not to mention the fantastic campaign box, X-Wing was floundering with weird and out of character releases like a Rebel Tie Fighter which left the game wanting.  X-Wing was just not that exiting anymore, the power creep and ambush tactic releases just made it less fun to collect and play.

Wave II game Armada a much needed boost, but it wasn’t really until Wave III I felt the game had achieved FFG’s vision of a proper capital ship battle game.

In the meantime Star Wars: Armada has finally grown into the epic capital ship combat miniatures game we have been waiting for, it took a while, and there was a lot of waiting but its here, its amazing and with recent announcements, its definitely going to get even better.  I love this game and while I consider it a bit exhausting, requiring regular breaks, I can’t think of a whole lot I rather being doing on any given game night.

3. Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

My review of Lord of The Rings: The Card Game might have offered some clue that it would make an appearance on my top 10 list but to be frank and honest the first time I tried this game I was sure I wasn’t going to like it, let alone have it make my personal gaming shelf.  To make it into my top 10 list in the top 3 spot is nothing short of amazing.

This game’s art work is amazing, it really helps to bring out the theme.

Its a cooperative card game set in the Lord of the Rings universe, for me personally this is a mixed recipe as I tend to not like cooperative games,  I’m usually luke warm on most card games and while I like the Lord of the Rings universe, I’m not what you would call a super fan.  In the end however there were three key factors that really allowed this game to break out and become not only among my favorite games, but hands down the most played game on my shelf this year.

First is the fact that the game can be played solo, not something I ever thought I would do for any other reason than the occasion boring night or to test a deck, but it turned out I love it.  In fact I have played this game solo an almost obsessive amount of times and I never seem to tire of it.  Secondly is the fact that the story elements of the game are vibrant, engaging and addictive.  Not a month goes by where at least some of my fun money doesn’t go to a new adventure pack or expansion set.  I just love how everything is strung together and each new adventure pack offers new mechanics, new angles and in many cases an entirely different approach to the game as a whole.  Finally and perhaps most importantly this is without a doubt one of the most challenging games I have ever played.  Each quest adventure is unique, offering new puzzles to solve, puzzles that you solve via intricate deck building, tactical play and often a little bit of luck.

I absolutely adore this game, I travel no place without it and on any given weekend I often find myself pouring a glass of wine, lighting a candle and spending my evening shuffling cards.  A well deserved appearance on this list.

4. War of The Rings

There is nothing like the feeling of a epic scale game that captures a story, War of the Ring is the best of its kind.

I claim to not be a huge Lord of the Rings fan, yet there are two LotR games on my list and both are here largely because of their amazing connection to the Middle Earth story’s theme. I have said this countless times, but this is Lord of the Rings in a box and there is no other game on this list that has as rich and has as engaging gameplay linked to the theme as War of The Rings.   Without question of one of the best adventure/war games in existence, no serious LotR fan or board gamer can live without this on their shelf.  A Classic!

5. Blood Rage

This is a game that has been on my “must review” list for quite a while but every time I play it, while I absolutely love it, I don’t feel quite ready to define it in a review.  Suffice to say however its appearance on my top 10 list should give some indication of how this review is going to go.

Blood Rage miniatures are absolutely beautiful, I’m not at all surprised people take the time to paint the mini’s.

One of the most intriguing strategic games of the decade, Blood Rage blends the fine tuned and thinky mechanics of Euro Games with a thematic, Ameritrash appearance and while I would not call this an overwhelmingly thematic game, it has it were it counts and it looks beautiful on the table.  For me personally though this game is all about gameplay, with endless strategies,  mind games and an astonishing amount of replay-ability, Blood Rage is without question E. Langs masterpiece.

6.  Game of Thrones: The Card Game (2nd ed.)

For a guy who is “not that into card games” this last year has definitely changed my mind about a lot of games. While we see it drop on my list, its definitely not an issue with the game.  This is one of the most intense, challenging and thinky games I have ever played.  It draws out not only the advanced gamer in me, but it pulls out the emotional inner child as well, one that wants to kill you in all manner of horrible ways.

My relationship with this game is…. complicated. I love it, I love hating it, I’m pretty sure it hates me back, but I can’t stop playing it.

Much like the books and show, Game of Thrones the card game is a game of deceit, a game of maneuvering and above all else a contentious, confrontational game of war, one fought not just with the cards but with all of the mind games you can muster.  I both  love and love to hate this game, its as infuriating as it is rewarding.  A must own for any serious card player, but really for any gaming group that loves to get in each others face.

7. Game of Thrones: The  Board Game

Another GoT game on my list, this one effectively accomplishing the same thing as the card game but in a more direct and perhaps classic way.  Its a game of control, both of your emotions and the battlefield, one in which players jockey for position of power through alliances, betrayals and outright war.

This is a game that is played in the minds of the players, the board and pieces are mostly distraction.

GoT is the Diplomacy of my generation, one that taps into the same basic concept mechanically but draws on a modern theme that is both relevant and super fun.  Now I will say this about GoT the board game, you really need to play this with friends, this is not what one might call a family game or a game to play with work colleagues or at a local game store.  Its a bit too personal, you are going to be doing things that are out of character for a typically morale person.  Telling someone that you will help them and then screwing them the next moment is a normal part of the game, in fact its a very good strategy in many cases.  That’s not something you want to do to someone who signs your paychecks or baptises your kids if you get my drift.

To me however this is the perfect game and while it is truly a rare occasion that we actually get around to playing it, its always a memorable one and looking back at the years of gaming I have personally done, I can very vividly remember the many great moments this game has produced.

8. Star Wars: X-Wing

X-Wing takes a pretty dramatic fall and truth be told it has not only fallen out of favor for me personally but in the last year has all but disappeared for the majority of my local gaming group.  There was a time when my only question when it came to gaming events was, when is the next X-Wing game night, but today I have cooled my jets and haven’t touched my figures since K-Wings were released.

Still an amazing game, light, fast, easy to learn. What’s not to love.

I often wonder why that is and while I haven’t come up with anything concrete, I do believe a part of it is simply the fact that I have played it so much that its simply played out.  That happens to games, even games I love.  I don’t think my opinion about the positive qualities of X-Wing have changed any, I can certainly say that I don’t love all of the releases that have been put out this last year but that has always been the case since the very beginning.  I think in the end I just played it too often and too much, certainly not a bad quality for a game and I do know that games that held my attention for as long as X-Wing did tend to come back around.  Its certainly in no danger of being culled from my collection, I love it, but some of the fire has been vented through the plasma manifolds.  I do believe some of the issue is that i’m often put to the test when it comes to purchases and right now I’m far more excited about getting Armada miniatures then I am about X-Wing.

In either case, it had a good run, I still love it and if you have not played it yet, all I can say is, what are you waiting for.  It was a fantastic experience for me, so it still comes highly recommended to newcomers.

9. Empires: Age of Discovery

A new comer, or perhaps more accurate to say, a late comer given that it has been out for the better part of a decade as Age of Empires III is Empires Age of Discovery.  This little Euro style worker placement game is without question one of the best of its kind.

I predict we will be seeing a lot of this one in the coming years.

My review of the game says everything I really have to say about it, other than to mention that the fire is still hot, I’m always aching to play it and every game I have had at this beauty it has been absolutely fantastic.  Its just one of those  A+ titles no one should miss.

10. Shogun (Queens Games Version)

I love it when an old game that I have loved for years is introduced to new players and suddenly it just comes back around again like its fresh and new.  Shogun is without question one of my absolute favorite games and I love watching new players discover it.  The nuances, that split style environment of quiet contemplation followed up by explosive action is just something you don’t want to miss.

I predict this game will always have a place on my shelf and for now it still has a place in my top 10 list.

In my humble opinion this is one of the best designed games of all time, its simultaneously clever, strategic and “roll the dice and see what happens” fun, while being built into one of my favorite themes, medieval Japan.


The Fallen & Honorable Mention

Certainly the biggest drop out this time around is Twilight Imperium, a game that has been on this list for over a decade,  it was a tough decision for me to finally remove it.  The truth of the matter is that I haven’t played this game in well over 2 years at this point (maybe more) and while I certainly have a desire to, I’m not losing any sleep over it.  Its a classic, its an epic and its amazing but with a 6 hour time frame, high level of complexity and a big table space requirement its an event game to say the least.  For me part of the issue as well is that I don’t have a good core TI3 group anymore and this game is just not that much fun when your a veteran and your always facing novices.  It takes several plays to fully understand this game and turn yourself into a challenging opponent and right now I don’t have the group willing to invest that kind of effort into TI3, so it sits on my shelf and collects dust.  I would never get rid of it, I always have and always will love it, but it no longer belongs on this list.

On the top 10 list for over a decade, it had a pretty damn good run, but its retirement was inevitable.

We say good-bye on the list to Dead of Winter and Fury of Dracula.  Now Dead of Winter I’m not all that surprised, it was an infatuation, a hot love affair if you will.  I still enjoy it and think its a great game but its definitely not long term top 10 material.  Fury of Dracula on the other hand was a tough choice.  This is a game that has been along with TI3 on the list for a decade, but while I would never say an ill word about it, it just doesn’t have the chops to stand up among the rest of these giants.  When games move up, something has to go!

There are a number of games however that were definitely up for consideration for the list.  The first that comes to mind is Fleet Captains, a game that fell off when I made my last list, but man its still so strong.  Among the most thematic games I own, I love this game not just for its amazing gameplay and tightly connected theme but for all its nostalgic glory reminding why I’m such a huge Star Trek  fan.   That said however there are a few faults with the game that can’t be denied.  Component quality is a bit disappointing for one and there are several mechanics that are a bit wacky and unclear.  Still to this day I’m not 100% certain I’m playing it right.  Definitely a great game though, in particular if your Trekie!

Roll For The Galaxy was also considered and actually may still make the list in the future.  I discovered this game quite late, its been out for quite a while but man it had an instant impression on me.  I have always been a fan of Race For The Galaxy but there was always something about its logic that just didn’t sit right.  More than that though its just a real bitch to teach. Roll for The Galaxy clears up both the logistics and the difficulty to teach while simultaneously holding on to everything that makes Race For The Galaxy a great game.  In the end though I couldn’t bring myself to put a dice chucker into my top 10 list, not that there is that much luck in the game but it just feels wrong somehow, in particular among a list of games like Through The Ages, Star Wars: Armada and Blood Rage.

It already stole the number 1 spot in my top 5 dice games list and while it didn’t make this list, I would not be surprised if it made an appearance at some point in the future.

Well that’s it for this years updated list, at least for now.  I always have and will continue to update this list anytime I feel its run its course, but for now…. Gamersdungeon out!


Top 5 Dice Games

Dice games are a really mixed bag, suffice to say, there are a lot of really bad ones.  In fact up until the last couple of years I doubt I would have been able to scrape together 5 dice games I actually liked.  That however has definitely changed in recent years.  Not only are there a lot of great quality dice games out there, some I would even categorize as reaching well beyond the simplicity that is usually associated with the genre.

Enjoy the list

1. Roll For The Galaxy

This was one of the biggest surprises for me in a very long time, absolutely love it.

While the review is still pending, I can give you a preview, in short, I loved it.  In fact Roll For The Galaxy inspired me to make this list.  It is effectively everything I love about Race For The Galaxy, but with dice.  Its far simpler to learn and play then its predecessor, yet maintains that intensity and theme that makes Race For The Galaxy such a fun game.

I love the fact that despite beyond a dice game, there is actually a tremendous amount of control over the game.  You are not going to lose this game because you “rolled bad”, it’s definitely a strategy game, one that rewards clever players.  My absolute favorite aspect of Roll For The Galaxy is that it brought to the foreground that mind reading aspect of Race for the Galaxy, being far more prevalent here.  You really want to guess right about what your opponents are going to do and what they want you to do so you can throw them for a loop or when the tables are turned leverage their actions on your turn.

Absolutely fabulous game, I was hesitant to try it and I’m very glad I did, it really earns its interstellar stripes.

2. Nations The Dice Game

Clever and quick, its one of the few games that does justice to both the dice and civ building genres.

Its no secret that I’m a big fan of Civilization building games, both Through The Ages and Nations are in my collection not to mention many others like Twilight Imperium.  Unfortunately when it comes to replicating civilization building games in dice form there are a lot more disappointments out there then pleasant surprises (I’m looking at your Roll Through The Ages!)

Nations The Dice Game however was not only a pleasant surprise, it’s become one of my favorite games to play on where I have at least 3-4 games going at any given time.  Oddly its one of the few games on this list not on my shelf yet, a problem I will be remedying in short order.

Now I will admit, this was one of those games that sort of grew on me over time.  It wasn’t love at first sight, but I definitely consider this one of the best dice games out there not only doing justice to the genre of civilization building but in its own right being a fantastic strategy game.

3. Star Wars: Destiny

FFG could have made lots of money from me, instead they got zero thanks to the decision to make this a CCG. Too bad!

Of course Fantasy Flight Games needs to have a moment in the sun on this list too, but well deserved.  Star Wars: Destiny despite disappointing me horribly for being a CCG rather than an LCG, still earns its rank in the number 3 slot.  Really well constructed design that pits classic and new heroes and villains against each other in a weird abstracted format where the Millennium Falcon can for some reason attack Darth Vader?  Whatever, Its weird but its a really well designed, very easy to learn, quick and dirty and just plain fun.

Now I will admit I’m not a collector, this is strictly an online affair for me so perhaps I’m cheating but I simply can’t get over the CCG thing with this game, especially coming from FFG where they have this wonderful, proven LCG concept.  Oh why or why did you do this to me FFG!

4. Dungeons and Dragons: Dice Masters

D&D feel with the D&D time frame.

The Dice Masters series is one of those oddities where the game didn’t win me over until I found the right theme for me.  I tried the various super hero versions and it just didn’t do it for me, not until I tried Dungeons and Dragons.

Call it nostalgia or nerdiness if you like but I love D&D and while I consider the mechanic to be fun, its really the thematic representations and how it flows through the game that I love in D&D Dice Masters.  It really captures that D&D essence and its an absolute blast to pit a variety of D&D factions and monsters against each other.  It conjures up imagery and sings thematically.  There is nothing quite like dropping an Owl Bear to counter that pesky Elf Wizard!  Quick, simple, really the perfect filler.

5. King of Tokyo

Instant classic!

King of Tokyo is a take that game, one that is so simple and so to the point and so thematically perfect that I can’t help but add it to this list.  You roll dice and attack the guy who foolishly decided to be in the middle.  Its just fantastic and while I would say of all the games on this list, this is the only one that I can say with 100% certainty will work with any group, any time.  This is not a gamer’s game, its a game for everyone, making it an easy add to anyone’s collection.

Honorable Mentions

We really need to squeak in a couple of honorable mentions, it would be criminal not to.

I didn’t put it on the list because strictly speaking you can make a fair argument that its not a dice game but a worker placement game, an argument that justly kept it off the list.  None the less, I think its a fantastic game and while it was culled from my collection it had nothing to do with the quality of the game and everything to do with the tough standards I have for my personal shelf.  A really great game, one I highly recommend to new comers and while its “dice game” status is questionable, I still think it deserves mention.

Voyage of Marco Polo
Another questionable choice for a dice game list, but Voyage of Marco Polo is a game I like mainly because of the dice.  I think its such a clever way to make use of a dice mechanic and while it definitely leans more towards the Heavy Euro zone, its clever dice mechanic design cannot be ignored!


Year End Review 2016 Edition

Its a new year by my count and abandoned new years resolutions aside there is only one thing left to do on the checklist.  Its time look back at 2016 and make’s choices for the best of the year.  Like last year we are going to pick the best designer of the year, best game company of the year and of course the best game of the year.

Like last year I have asked some members of my gaming group to anonymously throw in there two cents so we will have a look to see what some of my friends think as well.

Enjoy the article!

Best Game Designer Of The Year

Corey Konieczka

It was a very competitive year, a great year for a lot of designers but the work horse that is Fantasy Flight Games greatest asset had a hell of a year.

Star Wars Rebellion is the kind of game that Corey specializes in. Big, bright and epic.

He kicked off his year with the highly anticipated Star Wars Rebellion which for most game designers would have been a lifetime achievement, but for Corey that’s just another stripe on the battle suit.  He was knocking out content for Star Wars Imperial Assault all year long including The Bespin Gambit the third expansion major expansion.   He topped that off with a number of Mansions of Mandness expansions for the new second edition while simultaneously dropping FFG’s new addicition, Star Wars: Destiny that has risen in popularity to a ridiculous degree.

Suffice to say the man had a good year and while most of the games mentioned here are not exactly what I would call my personal favorite, you can’t deny Corey’s amazing productivity.

Honorable Mention

I think its important to name a few of the up and comers who might not have the amazing support of a large company that guys like Konieczka get yet still manage to put out some amazing games.

Jamey Stegmaier for the smash hit of the year Scythe definitely deserves a slap on the ass for a job well done.  Scythe again, I find myself saying this all the time, is not my personal favorite but I recognize the amazing design work and sheer amount of testing that must have gone into that game.  Really great achievement.

The jury is still out on this one for me, but you can’t deny its hype and the love people show it. Its definitely an attention getter in 2016.

Jacob Fryxelius who gave us the amazing Terraforming Mars.  Now personally I have just played one game of this so far, but what a fantastic design.  The balancing effort that went into this game, the dynamic and unique mechanics that its based on, it all deserves praise and if this is going to be the quality of work from Jacob in the future, he has a very bright one ahead of him.

Best Company Of The Year

Fantasy Flight Games

Ok so they are getting it two years in a row from me and yes maybe I’m playing favorites here but if you look at it objectively you just can’t make this stuff.

Clearly I’m a bit biased when it comes to FFG, I love their stuff pretty much always, but there is no denying the amazing year they have had in 2016.

Not only did they complete a major merger that rose them to one of the most economically powerful table top gaming companies in the industry with world wide control, they are also responsible for hands down some of the best games of 2016, not to mention the continued growth of their existing lines, in particular their miniature games X-Wing and Armada.

Forget the endless stream of Android Netrunner, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Star Wars and many other LCG’s.  These countless expansions are barely newsworthy yet they amount to more content then any 5 of the top companies out there would even be capable of producing from a production stand point let alone a talent stand point.  What I’m really talking about here is the new stuff.

Star Wars Destiny, Star Wars Rebellion, Doom: The Board Game, Mansions of Madness: Second Edition and New Angeles.  I’m talking about wave after wave of X-Wing, Armada, Battlelore and Imperial Assault.  Fantasy Flight Games is a machine of productivity, yet the quality of the work never faulters and I think this is the most amazing aspect of FFG.  Most companies that get into their late “McDonalds” stage of development start to break down, in particular in the area of quality but not FFG.  The content they produce is always top notch and while I’m not always a fan of every game they put out there is no disputing how well they fair.

In my humble opinion Star Wars Destiny was near perfect with one exception that pretty much killed it for me. Its a CCG instead of a LCG. A minor difference, one that determines if I’m going to buy into a collectible game or not.

Today FFG has no less then 17 games in the top 100 games of all time on  Its really important to understand the significance of this number, is traditionally a veyr conservative Euro game audiance.  Consider that today among the top 10 games of all time you have bore fests like Terra Mystica, Caverna, Castles of Burgandy and Puerto Rico.  No offense to fans of these games, they may be great games but you can’t possibly expect anyone to take you seriously in the idea that these games out ranks the likes of X-wing, Armada and Imperial Assault just to name a couple.  These games aren’t even in the same league.

Star Wars Armada continues to get support from FFG and it had an amazing year as a game. Completely revived the game for me.

Ok I’m not going to go on a BBG rant here but suffice to say in my humble opinion no one does it better than FFG and this year they have already proven what I have already known.  They are taking over the board gaming universe, so sit back and enjoy the occupation.

Honorable Mentions

Z-Man games definitely deserves an honorable mention and its not because they had some sort of amazing year with their releases, though Feast of Odin should not go unrecognized, but its really there general support of their existing lines.  You just have to love a company who stays dedicated to the games they make and continue to support them via new content and expansions.  So many companies create great games and then quickly abandon their audience as soon as they realize that maybe its not quite as big as they had hoped.

This year Z-man put out expansions and added content for Cacao, CamelUp, Carcassonne, Merchants and Marauders, Stone Age, and Pandemic.    Some of these games are over 10 years old and Z-Man continues to support their fan base knowing its appreciate it and frankly I can’t think of too many companies that would put out an expansion for a 10 year old game, it certainly wouldn’t be Fantasy Flight Games.  Noted and appreciated!

Game of The Year

Terraforming Mars

Picking game of the year is always a tricky proposition as I did not play all games that came out in 2016 and there are quite a few on my list that might deserve this spot more then Terraforming Mars.  That said I can’t think of a game that captured my attention more then Terraforming Mars.  In fact it was on my, most anticipated games of 2017 list because I had missed it last year, it went out of print and I wasn’t sure when I would get to try it.   Well I finally did and it was love at first sight.

This is the must own game of 2016, there is no question in my mind.

I think the most notable thing about Terraforming Mars aside from the really cool theme of terraforming a planet is that its so well balanced and tested.  You can see that a lot of love went into this game to ensure its as perfect as it can be.  There is a lot going on in this game on many levels and while I would not call any of the mechanics revolutionary, I would say that they are the offspring of some really great concepts that have been evolved here.  You have elements of 7 Wonders and Race for the Galaxy put to really good use in this game.

In the end though I think the reason why I chose Terraforming Mars is because it combined fantastic mechanics with a really great theme to create a truly unique release in 2016.  As a gamer above all else I want to be surprised by a game.  I want that moment where you pick up a game because you are interested in the theme and then discover that its everything you hoped it would be and more.

Honorable Mentions

Star Wars Rebellion definitely gets a nod from me as the Star Wars story in a box game, though personally I felt that it was a little less exciting then I hoped it would be.  Its definitely no War of the Rings and while I can’t quite put my finger on it, it just wasn’t 100% fully there.  Great game none the less and I think if it was not the last minute play with Terraforming Mars I think I may have chosen Star Wars Rebellion in its place.

Another honorable mention has to be Tides of the Underdark.  This highly underrated deck builder saw a lot of play time in my gaming group this year and it was unanimously hailed as a great game, which I completely agree with.  Its a simple to the point deck builder with area control driven by a great theme.  If you love D&D this is definitely among the best board games in the line along with Lords of Waterdeep.  Really looking forward to seeing an expansion to this one in 2017.

D&D is a great franchise to base games on and I’m glad that Lords of Waterdeep wasn’t just a one hit wonder. Tyrants is a fantastic game.


The Crew

Like last year I have asked members of my gaming crew to throw in their own two cents here and like last year I have kept their identities secret.

Player 1

Game of The Year: Tyrants of The Underdark

Company Of The Year: Fantasty Flight Games

Designer Of The Year: Rodney Thompson (Tyrants)

All good choices, I considered Tyrants of The Underdark for game of they year myself.  I would argue that releasing one good game doesn’t qualify a person for Designer of The Year, but Rodney Thompson is also responsible for the wonderful Lords of Waterdeep which I know this player favors as well so I can understand the choice.

Player 2

Game of The Year: Star Wars Rebellion

Company of the Year: Fantasy Flight Games

Designer of The Year: Corey Konieczka

Great choices all, pretty in line with my own.  I think if we did a consensus of board gamers there is a good chance Star Wars Rebellion would be the peoples choice given the attention Star Wars has gotten in 2016.

That’s it for this year, hope you enjoyed our picks!

Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of 2017

Well its official, its 2017 and the apocalypse has not come yet although thanks to Donald Trump you won’t have to wait too much longer. In the meantime, we may as well presume that the human race will survive another year and talk about games coming to us in 2017.

So here is my list of top 5 most anticipated games of 2017.

Rising Sun by CMON

These miniatures are begging to be painted, but I love that CMON went with a light brown color as this is a very Japanese hue that really works for the game’s color scheme.

I absolutely love Blood Rage, it was definitely the sleeper hit of 2015. Eric Lang is an amazing designer in his prime but anyone who knows me knows that while I appreciate all themes, when it comes to my list of favorites medieval Japan definitely has to be at the top of the list. Rising Sun is dubbed the spiritual successor to Blood Rage based in Medieval Japan and that combined with being an Eric Lang games makes this an auto buy! Eric Lang has recently tweeted that the game is complete and is now in development, the final stage of testing and preparation for release. I’m giddy with excitement!

The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire by CMON

The concept of running your own mafia crime family in a competitive board game that offers the opportunity to “wack” your friends is not something I intend to pass on.

I said he was in his prime but Eric Lang is really more like on literal fire making his second appearance on the list with The Godfather. Now I love mafia stuff but mafia games like Star Trek games are typically very bad. My hope here is that Lang behind the wheel The Godfather can be to mafia games what Fleet Captains was to Star Trek games. I’m already in love with the concept and the art work, so assuming Lang is the genius we all know he aspires to be, the addition of fantastic gameplay should not be a problem. Really have high hopes for this was, I want to wack people!

Tau Ceti: Planetary Crisis

I’m a sucker for 4x games, but I have actually passed on most of them over the last few years. Twilight Imperium is a tough act to follow, but I have a good feeling about this one.

A game by unknown game designers, published by an unknown publisher, Tau Ceti’s is yet another among a sea of games that attempts to re-invigorate the 4x space game genre. Now the odds are against it here but the reason I put Tau Ceti on the list is because I really like that “Archipelago” of players competing against each other, but having to cooperate on certain elements in the course of a game. In the case of Tau Ceti, players are effectively trying to do all the usual expansions, technology research, trading and politics that you might find in games like Twilight Imperium, but at the same time they must deal with the crisis that take place on the different planets and colonies in the Tau Ceti system or deal with the consequences for failing to do so.

I love the concept, I don’t know that these designers and publishers are going to be able to pull this off, but they have done a great job of creating a solid concept and developing nice visuals for a game of this type, so it just leaves the really important work of actually designing a good game. I will definitely be keeping an eye out on this one.

Raise Your Goblets

It just reminds me of the princess bride, one of my all time favorite movies. I love the concept of trying to slip one past your friends.

Ok this one caught my eye mostly because of its original (I wish I thought of that) concept. Basically it’s a game where players are sitting around the table drinking from goblets in an imaginary kingdom and the goal of the game is to poising each other by slipping special poison tokens into each other’s goblets. Like a scene from Princess Bride the goblets will be shifted around, players can put antidote into their own goblets as defense and a few other little quirky bits of randomness. It’s a bit of a funny party game for shits and giggles but like is often the case these simpler “focus on fun” type of games usually go over quite well and it could end up being the Sheriff of Nottingham of 2017.

Terra-forming Mars

I don’t know how this one got past my radar, but it went out of print fast as hell and has received nothing but rave reviews. I MUST OWN IT.

Ok this is actually a game that is already released but it was received so well by the time I had heard about the awesome concept of a game of terraforming planets, it was already out of print. For those of us that missed the train, we have to wait for god knows how long for the next printing. The game is very pretty, great concept, already getting amazing reviews, people are raving about it like it’s the second coming of Christ. Very excited!