Moments of Inertia by Rachel Crawford

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2016 in Gaming

This post is about what I played in 2016 which, as I see it, was a pretty amazing year for games.

On the tabletop front I enjoyed some fantastic games. The main one that I can think of is, oddly enough, Condottiere. I’ve owned Condottiere for years but in 2016 I spent a few long evenings playing it over and over with the same people and gained a lot of appreciation for it. It’s a tightly-designed blend of strategy, hidden information and bluffing, with nice theming and artwork to boot. It’s also very obviously the main inspiration for Gwent. I’ve a few misgivings about Condottiere – random luck can win the day sometimes and there’s a bit of a snowball effect – but despite any criticisms I have this is one of those games that’s physically small and cheap enough that I think every board gamer ought to have a copy.

This year also introduced me to Codenames. I must have played it more than fifty times so far, and it’s yet to disappoint as a quick, easy way to engage people around a table.

The Witcher III - Hearts of Stone

Meanwhile in videogame land The Witcher III continued to amaze me. The Hearts of Stone expansion demonstrated more storytelling finesse on its own than most full games with a refreshingly Witcher-y take on Faust. I’ve yet to play Blood and Wine, the second expansion, but I’m really looking forward to it.

Devil Daggers: a super-intense FPS with a super-intense aesthetic in which the only goal is to see how long you can survive against enormous swarms of enemies. Playing it in front of a crowd at Games Are For Everyone, in a cavernous old wine cellar beneath South Bridge in Edinburgh, with thick red candles strewn about, isn’t something I’ll forget in a hurry. Hopefully in 2017 I’ll live for longer than 150 seconds.

Lieve Oma

Lieve Oma was also featured at Games Are For Everyone. It’s about going for a walk with your grandmother in the woods. I found it very touching. I won’t say anymore. I hope you check it out.

This year I’ve not had much time to spend on big long games, which has given shorter-form games like Devil Daggers and Lieve Oma a chance to shine while mainstream triple-A releases have fallen to the wayside. I’m currently halfway through a replay of Dishonored, including its excellent DLC, which I want to complete before I get the sequel. As I write this I’m sitting watching Natalie play the new Doom. A lot of demons are exploding. It seems to really capture some of the design spirit of the original Doom games while confidently doing its own thing – a bit like Devil Daggers, I suppose. Also, Oblivion turned 10 this year. Wild.

There’s much more to write about here, other games I’ve played and enjoyed, but there could never be enough time to cover everything, or even remember it all. If 2017 has half as rich a crop of good games I want to play I’ll never be able to catch up. And that’s okay.

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