by David W.
| published Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Yesterday I looked at the five stories that, to me anyway, were the most significant in terms of their effect on the Tabletop industry. Tomorrow I’ll list my five favorites from this year.
But for today, I thought I’d list five games (in no particular order) that I’m most looking forward to receiving and playing in 2022. I’ve backed all five on one crowdfunding platform or another, so I have a personal stake in each.
Ascension Tactics. I’ve played Ascension hundreds of times but only digitally. The app was one of the first to effectively port to tablets (why it’s taken Dominion so much longer to find a stable home is really a mystery) and every physical expansion release has been matched by a digital one soon after. It’s such a simple system yet robust to so many variations on a theme. And then the folks at Stone Blade figured out how to make the deckbuilding an engine for a tactical combat game, including PvP, co-op, solo, and campaign modes…well shut up and take my money. I tried the game out on Tabletop Simulator and it was the real deal. Copies are shipping now and I’m hoping to get mine sometime next month. Believe me, I’ll share my thoughts with you when it arrives.
1941: Race to Moscow. I’ve played easily a dozen games covering the Barbarossa Campaign, Germany’s surprise three-pronged stab against the unprepared Soviet army in the fall of 1941 hoping to knock the USSR out of the war. It almost worked, but fortunately for us the Wehrmacht, like Napoleon’s armies on 1812, could not cope with Mother Russia’s punishing winters. So if I’ve gamed it before, why back yet another version? Because PHALANX Games’ 2014 game Race to the Rhine was one of the few that looked at modern war through the lens of logistics–in that case looking at the 1944 dash from the D-Day beach-heads to the German homeland. Such an elegant and unusual design–designed optimally for three players, each co-operating to push the Germans back but also out for personal glory. So when PHALANX announced they would be transposing the system to the Eastern Front, which also happened to be amenable to a three-player treatment (coincidence? I think not), I was on board immediately. This should be arriving in the spring.
Paperback Adventures. Yes, another deckbuilder–I am weak for deckbuilders. 2014’s Paperback was the best possible hybrid of word-game and deckbuilder; arguably 2018’s Hardback tweaks the dial to 11. And then Tim Fowers announced a solo campaign-driven version? Shut up etc etc.
John Company 2nd Ed. I would basically look at any historical game Cole Wehrle would take the trouble to design. I so admire and respect his takes on tackling complex and problematic historical themes–not to mention the games themselves. I bought the first edition of John Company on the strength of the first edition of Pax Pamir–but then I saw what he did with the Second Edition of PP, burning a game to the ground to build it up better and more reflective of his true vision of the story the game had to tell. Then I knew I had better snag a copy of the Second Edition of John Company, too. I happen to believe that Wehrle’s thesis is overtly anti-colonial; far from celebrating Great Britain’s despoiling of the Asian subcontinent, John Company2nd Ed explicitly games out the rot at the heart of the enterprise–not in a sensational or exploitative way, but so as to educate those interested in the roots of modern racism so that moving forward we can, I hope, avoid making the same mistakes. But ymmv.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim the Adventure Game. Given that I just wrote about this extensively, it should be no surprise that Modiphius Games’ latest makes the list. I was on the fence for a long time about backing this, but you can read my thoughts about the game here.
So those are the five packages I can’t wait to open next year. What about you? Tomorrow I’ll discuss the five games of 2021 that most impressed and inspired me. À demain.