As members of The CR celebrate the annual Winter Harvest and end of year festivities, we’re spending this week closing out 2014 by recapping the best new games released for each of the gamer archetypes. We announced the overall winners in our podcast, but here we look at the final five choices for each group.
Always the penultimate gamblers, Daredevils like living on the edge. This group adheres to the idea of high risk and high reward, never letting a silly thing like failure get in their way of a possible victory – or a good time. It’s not that this group avoids or dislikes strategy. It’s just that they’re far more willing to take gambles in the hopes of a better payoff. That might mean chancing all of their money to end up crazy rich or committing fewer of their troops to a battle in the hopes that they can pull off some wild maneuver. Daredevils like to win, but they want to do it on their terms. They adore games giving them a wide variety of options to cross the finish line, and if they have to embrace a bit of luck to accomplish that, so be it!
And with that, here are the top five games of 2014 for Daredevils:
#5. King of New York
When King of Tokyo burst on the gaming scene a few years ago, it struck a chord with audiences because of its simple rules and high energy player interaction, as each person portrays a giant critter trying to knock everyone else out and lay claim to Tokyo as yours. With a short play time, large dice, and enjoyable premise, this Richard Garfield game was arguably his most successful since designing Magic: the Gathering.
It’s no surprise that this success led to a sequel in IELLO’s King of New York. The game is replete with many of the same things people like about the previous game, but it’s added some new areas to focus your attention beyond a location change. This includes things like being able to smashing buildings and causing a general ruckus instead of just controlling Manhattan, as well as contending with pesky humans fighting back.
While all of this adds some minor length and complexity to the game compared to Tokyo, Daredevils appreciate how they gain more wiggle room in deciding how they’d prefer to claw their way to victory with this new crew of super-sized behemoths, and they’ll certainly be willing to try laying claim to New York and its boroughs.
#4. Marvel Dice Masters
It’s a common misconception that just because a game is dice-based that a Daredevil is apt to enjoy it. While they are the archetype most willing to embrace the luck of the dice, they still have to feel that said luck has a purpose to it. Just rolling dice for the sake of rolling dice isn’t a good enough motivation. Sometimes it can be a Press Your Luck style system – as seen above – and sometimes it’s using dice to further your agenda, as seen here in Marvel Dice Masters by Wizkid Games.
Utilizing the same dice system as the popular Quarriors series, MDM infuses the flavor of known Marvel superheroes into the mix. In it, players possess a pool of dice to draft from, each offering their own traits and abilities used to attack other players, and the potency of the dice are largely contingent on how well you roll. This gives players some say over their actions since they’re the ones deciding which characters to throw into the arena, though Daredevils can appreciate that combat isn’t totally controllable.
The larger playability issue this game runs into is randomness of another nature: Marvel Dice Masters is, by nature, a collectible dice game. Although most players can enjoy the basics of the game with a simple starter set, many versions of popular character cards are randomly distributed in packs and can be hard to find. Still, so long as Daredevils don’t feel like this will skew their overall chances further, they’ll still appreciate sending Iron Man against Cyclops to see who comes out on top.
#3. Epic Death
You rush down the dimly-lit corridor, encumbered from the sack of ruby-encrusted jewelry on your back as you attempt to escape a division of angry robotic apes who shoot bees full of paralyzing neurotoxins. At the end of the hallway you veer right, only to quickly discover it’s a dead end. With nowhere to escape and your only exit now cut off, it seems here is where you make your final stand. So, let’s see how many of them you can take down with you…
That’s the sort of stylistic effect you get when playing Game Salute’s Epic Death, a flavorful card and dice game about trying to scoop up as much mega loot as possible before you finally meet your glorious end. In it, players use dice to attempt loot quests, which in and of itself is no guaranteed task, but your chances are equally influenced by the all-important fate cards. You want to use yours to ensure your characters have the most epic tales for posterity, while your opponents try to ensure no one has reason to remember your name or your paltry deeds.
Seriously, what Daredevil wouldn’t want such an opportunity to go out in a blaze of glory like that?
#2. Sheriff of Nottingham
When it comes to taking gambles, few styles of game personify the idea more than those around negotiation or bluffing. And Sheriff of Nottingham by Arcane Wonders does both.
In this simple game of bribery, coercion and flat out lying, players alternate between the roles of merchants looking to get the most profitable wares into the city in time for Prince John’s visit, and the Sheriff whose job it is to inspect the goods before they enter. Naturally, players have to decide between being honest with the lawman and bringing in safer (but less profitable) goods or trying to charm their way through the checkpoint with more valuable (and far more illegal) goods. The Sheriff can’t inspect everyone, so decisions will have to be made on both sides of the conversation, and Daredevils easily have fun testing out their silver tongue on other players.
Plus, players have to balance trying to be an effective Sheriff with a ruthless one, as everyone will get a shot in the power seat. And in Sheriff of Nottingham, what goes around certainly comes around.
#1. Imperial Settlers
Proving that games don’t have to be simple to attract the attention of Daredevils, Imperial Settlers takes the top spot for this group because it offers them the thing they enjoy most: the freedom to choose their own path. Imperial Settlers by Portal Games is a fast-paced card-based civilization game, wherein players are each doled out a series of card that afford options from making buildings to acquiring resources to training soldiers. Being card based, every game of Imperial Settlers is different and engaging, which is owed in part to it improving on mechanics first seen in 51st State.
Once the nation building is completed, however, players then clash with each other over territory and resources in the quest for more victory points. This adds a more confrontational component not seen in many civ games and gives this risk-taking group even more room to test different roads to victory.
Then, just like that, the game is over. Imperial Settlers doesn’t leave a ton of room for long term planning, but it does let you run your fledgling nation on your terms, if only for a short while. And this group couldn’t ask for more.
Be sure to check out the 2014 Top Five lists of the other archetypes!