I can't believe Kelsey is the only one to have this on their list.

Our most anticipated games of 2018: Kelsey Rinella

[Right around New Year’s, I’d asked all the writers to pen something about games they’re looking forward to in 2018. I had assumed one or two from everyone, which would lead to a single article with everyone’s picks and that would be it. Instead, each writer sent me a bevy of games making me realize that one article probably wouldn’t cut it. Hey, I love 4000 word articles as much as the next guy, but it’s easy for games to get lost in something that vast. So, I decided to split it all up and give each member of the Stately Staff their own day to shine. Today, Kelsey. -ed.]

iOS Games

The Room: Old Sins

[Yes, that’s a trailer for the last The Room game. Turns out they haven’t released the trailer for Old Sins yet, but the gameplay isn’t far off. Sue me. -ed]

Every game in The Room series has been tremendous; it’s the series people have used for years to demonstrate the potential of the platform. I expect more effective use of varied touch interactivity which helps players solve marvelously designed puzzles without the need for any sort of manual or explanation. So far, they’ve managed to walk a fine line, creepily revealing enough to evoke dread without offering so much detail that the mystery fades and players feel in control of their fate.

The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game

I think literally every Fantasy Flight LCG is at least good, and some are excellent. Like Star Wars, the LotR property seems so well-served that it seems like I ought to be tired of it, but I never quite get there. I tried out the core set of this one in tabletop form, and enjoyed it, but didn’t want to play it often enough to keep up with each new release. But, with no record-keeping, setup, space requirements, or shuffling, this looks very appealing. Perhaps even … precious?

  • Coming in 2018 for PC/Mac, iOS, Android

One Deck Dungeon

This is shame. I already own a tabletop copy of ODD, setup is a breeze, the record-keeping is not burdensome (even kind of clever), it’s already more portable than the iPad—I have no excuse for wanting this digitally. I’m flaccid on a couch, like a Dali clock, desperately wanting to watch TV but too lazy to go find the remote. But, man, it looks like a perfect remote. Not some 96-button monstrosity, just everything you want, exactly where you want it, and nothing you don’t.

  • Coming in 2018 to PC/Mac/Linux, iOS, Android

Door Kickers 2: Task Force North

The original Door Kickers gave us squad-based combat with a teflon-smooth real-time/turn-based hybrid control scheme. The action felt urgent and thrilling, but still completely under players’ control. Add to that squad management with a robust set of customization options which significantly affect in-game tactical options, and it was an absolute winner. I have some concern that DK2 has been delayed, which leaves me worried about the potential to drop or further delay an iOS version, but with experience in the platform and a superb original, I’m hopeful that any obstacles will be overcome.

  • Coming in 2018 to PC/Mac/Linux, iOS, Android

Here Be Dragons

Red Zero Games includes a co-founder of Big Daddy’s Creations, a name which still has some cachet around these parts. They’re bringing us an antique map-styled adventure, in which we’ll be hunting the titular dragons and other monsters which would murder lesser explorers. We’re still speculating somewhat about gameplay, but “swashbuckling cartographer” is a hat I desperately want to wear.

  • Coming in 2018 to PC/Mac, iPad and Android tablets

Honorable Mentions

  • Impossible Bottles – neat looking puzzles
  • Donut County – Katamari Donutcy?
  • Photographs – how have 88 Games not learned from 10000000 that one should make searchable names?
  • Wartile – if it makes it to iOS this year
  • Duelyst – if IT makes it to iOS this year
  • Sigma Theory – a Mi-Clos production; last I heard, they employed the artist formerly known as Owen Faraday
  • Harry Potter: Wizards Unite – Pokemon GO was great for getting the kids to go for walks, and I never really cared for monsters in pockets

Four games which make me wish I wanted to sit at a computer more

  • Battletech – Harebrained Schemes look like massive Battletech dorks who understand how to preserve it while giving it an interface that keeps play speedy.
  • Overland – long-awaited beautiful low-poly tactical genius wonderfulness.
  • Phoenix Point – X-COM creator Julian Gollop has a present for us.
  • Into the Breach – The FTL creators do, too.

Tabletop Games

Mr. President

Solo game about running the USA. I don’t know that I could ever quite muster the will to study political science for real, but put it in a game from GMT, and I tremble with interest. Virtually everything I find hateful about politics seems related to getting elected or public relations, so the fact that most political games seem primarily focused on elections or on multi-party negotiation has turned me off to them. Public policy seems like it would be tremendous if one had no need to do politics to get involved.

Victorian Masterminds

Eric Lang. Antoine Bauza. Semi-programmed actions. Evil. Restrictive morality (and clothes). Steampunk. The death of Sherlock Holmes. Massive Hype. That’s about all I know, but Land + Bauza + programmed actions is singing my song so loud the neighbors are complaining.

Stuffed Fables

I’m going to say I want this for my kids. But, while I loved painting the Mice and Mystics miniatures and found the story and setting charming, the game never struck me as mechanically that innovative. Take everything I loved about M&M, but put it in an innovative new structure in which you play in a literal book, and I have a strong candidate for a Christmas gift. You know, for the kids. Totally.

AuZtralia

I still haven’t played my treasured copy of A Study in Emerald, the Martin Wallace game based on a Neil Gaiman story based on Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft. But it is treasured, and, some day, I’ll have a group to whom it will appeal [I have an unplayed, cherished copy as well. Both first and second edition, actually. We need to put together StatelyCon to get these out of shrink -ed.]. And, on that day, I’m likely to already have the sequel, AuZtralia, with its Great Old Ones, solo option, economic elements, and exploration. I’ll probably play AuZtralia a lot more, because of that solo option.

Root

I confess, I’m not totally sold on Root. It sounds like GMT’s COIN series for kids, a project to which I’m deeply sympathetic, but it also sounds a little too complicated to play that role well. If that concern proves ill-founded, though, the upside possibility for Root is the beginning of a decade of COIN games with my children. Then they’ll go off to college, where their preparation as nerds will be so complete they won’t do too many drugs or get pregnant or anything.

Honorable Mentions

  • Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar – Restoration Games do marvelous work, and games with a significant toy factor are always a draw for younger players.
  • Endeavor: Age of Sail – a game which supposedly captures the feel of exploration, long out of print and now the target of game necromancy.
  • Tooth and Tail – Fowers, of Paperback fame, making an animal RTS-based board game. Naturally.
  • Ghandi: The Decolonization of British India, 1917-1947 – fascinating to see COIN mechanics applied to such a peaceful struggle.
  • Imperial Struggle – Twilight Struggle is expecting a younger sibling!
  • Rising Sun – Eric Lang again, this time trying his hand at streamlining Diplomacy-style negotiation and war. [Rumor has it Dave received his copy of this yesterday, which means a Cardboard Critique about it should be in the works if he can get off his lazy ass. -ed.]

Console 5 (that is, not the usual Stately Play fare)

A Way Out

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is in my top five Xbox 360 games, which is astounding for such a short game. Its director has a new, exclusively co-op game coming out, and there’s very little else I need to know. Escaping from prison sounds like not really my bag, but fetching medicine for my sick dad wouldn’t really have fired my imagination, either, so I’m going with trust on this one.\

  • Coming in 2018 for PC, Xbox One, and PS4

Shadow of the Colossus

I bought a PS4 this Christmas, but it seems like half of what I want to play is PS3 games. I’ve already checked off The Last of Us and Journey, but SotC is a tremendously well-regarded classic I never had a chance to try. The beauty of Ico in a game with moral ambiguity and pathos sounds pretty great.

  • Coming in 2018 to PS4

Wargroove

Stardew Valley talent applied to the Advance Wars formula in a fantasy setting. I don’t care for pixel art, generally, but for a solid tactical battler, I can accept it. On the Switch? Even better. Now I just have to get my son to be done with Zelda so I can have a turn.

  • Coming in 2018 to PC, Switch, Xbox One, and PS4

Call of Cthulhu

Eternal Darkness, way back on the Gamecube, persuaded me that Lovecraftian horror can work brilliantly on a console. Call of Cthulhu seems set to capture a game which takes the emphasis off the sort of combat which lends itself to a murderous power fantasy, and puts it on exploration and (increasingly horrible) discovery.

  • Coming in 2018 for PC, Xbox One, PS4

Far Cry 5

The Far Cry games are kind of a guilty pleasure for me. I never feel much connection to the story—I don’t think I even finished the main quest line in Far Cry 3—but so much else about them tickles me. I love that they make a point of having nice scenery, I find the climbing puzzles surprisingly satisfying, and the combat puzzles presented by each outpost combine planning and action in a way I find oddly rewarding. And the middle finger aimed at white supremacists seems delightfully bold.

  • Coming in 2018 for PC, Xbox One, PS4

Honorable Mentions

  • Ghost of Tsushima – Feudal Japan is hella pretty. Gameplay is a little vague at this point, probably involving some amount of stealth, but I’m halfway to not even caring, it looks so good.
  • Metroid Prime 4 – will probably be great, even though it’s not my style of game.
  • We Happy Few – in a world where everybody’s on hallucinogens all the time, would a game with a premise like this seem normal?
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 – I dig westerns, but hate horses in games. I’ll probably find a way to suffer through this likely masterpiece.
  • Psychonauts 2 – not sure how well this idea will have aged or how they’ll update it, but the original is so beloved it’s hard not to be interested in this one.
  • The Last of Us, Part 2 – Or this one.
  • Death Stranding – I don’t even know, man.
  • Monster Hunter World – another popular series that’s largely avoided my platforms of choice, but its rabid fans make it sound kind of like a job.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3/Ni No Kuni 2 – look like they might be fun RPGs to play with the kids in the room telling me what to do.
  • Sea of Thieves/Skull and Bones – the video game demigods have decreed that it is time for a pirate game, so I guess we’re doing that, now.
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Notable Replies

  1. I, too, am looking forward to Stuffed Fables. I love the spiral-bound map design. Near and Far also uses a similar book. It got me thinking how many games out there would benefit from a large spiral-bound book of maps. Mmmm....

  2. Hey man, I don’t think this is comprehensive enough. Can you go and do a rewrite and cover all the bases you’ve missed :wink:

  3. I love A Study in Emerald!!!

    And I am Kickstarting the ass out of Auztralia when it comes up in March.

    That game looks so cool.

  4. rinelk says:

    You laugh, but that’s totally how I feel!

  5. Root's got that strong asymmetry going on, but the rest of it is quite different from COIN. Looks lighter and simpler but knowing Wehrle it will be devious and brain-corkscrewing.

    Ghandi I'm keen on. I didn't bother with Pendragon, I'm really not happy with its depiction of history. See also All Bridges Burning which looks like being the first 3P COIN.

    Imperial Struggle is simply a must. Just to find out what it's like. I'm playing 1750 in the meantime.

    A Way Out looks like it could be special as long as it doesn't go Dayvid Cayje on us.

  6. I also got in on the P500 for Imperial Struggle.

    No idea if I'm going to get to play it at all, but it will be nice to have in my collection.

  7. Jules says:

    Looking forward to Lord of the Rings LCG. Watched some old streams on twitch. They plan to launch into early access q1, most likely March. Early access wont last for ages. They dont want the game to live and die in EA. So ea is gonna last a month of 6 probably and they want decent version to start with so people keep playing.
    At the start there will be 4 hero packs:
    Rangers of Gondor: Faramir (Lore)
    Faithful Servant: Sam Gamgee (Leadership)
    Shieldmaiden of Rohan: Eowyn (Spirit)
    Prince of Mirkwood: Legolas (Tactics)

    With another 12 hero packs to be released white in early access.

    They plan to add content like these hero packs and new adventures on a regular base.

    They get complains about the needed internet connection but they state it is needed when the game becomes cross-platform. (One account to rule them all and in the darkness bind them :wink: )
    and the connection is also needed when buying hero packs /valor cards to prevent duplicates beyond the max allowed in a deck. (Valor is an in game currency you get by playing.)

    Leaderboards, co-op etc wil be implemented at a later point.

    Edit: I better post this info in the dedicated LOTR topic for those interested and to keep the discussion about this game in one place.

  8. I P500'd it without even looking at any details based solely on COIN + Britain. Just curious, (and too lazy to go research it myself) what did they muck up?

  9. Feel free to check out at any point.

    The main textual account we have is Gildas. Bede based his work on Gildas. The Anglo-Saxon chronicle is not only based on Gildas, it's written 400 years after the events. So we have one story, repeated.

    The problem is that Gildas wasn't writing what we think of as history. Gildas constructed a sermon out of historical events, and he remixed them at will. The weak Britons are conquered by the strong Romans. The Romans pass on Christianity. The Britons rebel against the Romans. The Romans conquer them again. Any rebellion, whether military or religious, is crushed. The Romans build a wall and leave. The Saxons come and are recruited to defend Britain. The Saxons rebel and crush Britain. The Last Roman General arrives and crushes the Saxons.

    All this stuff happened, but not in the order Gildas says it did, because Gildas is sketching a lesson the equivalent of shouting "DO YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU REBEL AGAINST GODDDD." directly into someone's face.

    Gildas and by extension others write of certain areas being settled by certain groups. This is where the textual and the archaeological converge. We've found various styles of jewellry in various places, and some of it is of x style, and some of y, but some of it is closer to contemporaneous styles in Germany, and some of it is a hybrid. Let us say you assign one particular style to the Jutes. So if you find a lot of those brooches in one particular river valley, what does it mean? Does it mean that place was only settled by Jutes and the Romano-British were either exterminated or forced to move? Gildas says so, and by extension so do those who copy him, but we know he is an unrepentant bullshitter. Perhaps it means that river valley was settled by Jutes and those brooches were traded? Perhaps it means locals who were non-Jutes were assimilated?

    Being a Saxon or a Briton or a Jute didn't mean having your ethnic group written on your forehead. It was more about language and culture, and people can change those, especially if incentivised.

    Gildas says that the Roman cities were destroyed by the Saxons. Unfortunately, the archaeological record doesn't show this. What it does show is Roman buildings slowly falling into disrepair because the necessary expertise was no longer there, and either being repurposed (sometimes even building other structures inside them) or just falling apart. Not to mention, this slump mostly occurred before the post-Roman Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain.

    One of the interesting things we see is the adoption of certain heritages as a kind of cultural appropriation. Kings of Wessex adopting Anglo-Saxon names in the 7th century, as a way of taking on a different, more relevant/powerful 'origin story'. They didn't actually have that lineage, nor were they all murdered and replaced by Saxon doubles.

    There was definitely a migration of people (not just from the east, but also the west, according to studies done on oxygen isotopes in dental enamel) which is oddly missing. There was definitely violence, but it was on nowhere near the scale depicted in Pendragon, and doesn't deserve the term 'invasion' or 'conquest'. In reality you had a slow flow of migration for hundreds of years, with small communities and farms run by close kin groups, mostly consisting of whole families rather than all of them being warriors, and that migration making inroads from the coast.

    The scholarship behind Pendragon is at least a decade out of date for the newest stuff, IIRC. The designer talks about the 'Dark Age' but that's a term from Petrarch, a 14th century scholar who loved giving the Romans the old historical oily handjob whenever he could. There were absolutely some devastating changes, most of them actually wrought by the Romans themselves (the shifting of Roman administration east, to provinces already on the edge of empire was not good). There were many religious, cultural, social, economic, and technological changes. Not a fall. Not a Dark Age. Not an incredible wave of violence brought by 'barbarians'.

    Please see

    Britain After Rome, Robin Fleming. (2010)

    The Ruin of Roman Britain, James Gerrard. (2013)

    Worlds of Arthur: Facts and Fictions of the Dark Ages, Guy Halsall. (2013)

    The Anglo-Saxon Way of Death, Sam Lucy. (2000)

    Ithangyew.

  10. I played the Imperial Struggle prototype in October. It might not reach the same level at Twilight Struggle, but I think most of you will love it.

    Also, Apocalypse Road!!!

  11. rinelk says:

    @OhBollox, you’re a treasure. I suppose one can still enjoy the game by imagining it to model Gildas’ propaganda rather than actual events, much as Twilight Struggle deliberately models the Cold War as it’s participants largely saw it (without disputing those who claim that the domino theory of the participants was mistaken). But it’s good to know where the history ends and the sermon begins.

    Along similar lines, I was mortified to learn that Rising Sun seems to do rather a poor job of capturing its subject. CMON seem like they might benefit from a bit of corporate culture evolution.

  12. I think I'm spoiled because looking at the previous COIN games, I was quite happy with their rather level treatment of the conflicts and they were fairly well-informed when it came to the history. Pendragon...it's as if the designer looked at the most recent work on the subject and just decided to not read it. I can understand why, because that then doesn't really give you a COIN game (or perhaps a very different one), it just doesn't sit well with me in a series I respect for its approach to history.

    You can of course enjoy the game, by all accounts it's very good and I doubt they'd let the series slip in that regard. I'm confident COIN can do other eras than just 20th C. Falling Sky is excellent and fairly depicts the swathe the Romans cut through the Gaulish population. Liberty or Death is superb.

    Regarding TS, I think integrating the world view of those contesting is a chunk of genius, and it's also why I like Labyrinth so much (the War on Terror one, not the codpiece one).

    Rising Sun I don't know much about but CMON may have set it in a fantasy world as an escape clause.

  13. That's fine and all, but when does Merlin battle Madam Mim while Arthur is shapechanged into a squirrel?

    '#LearnedHistoryViaDisney

    (Seriously, though, holy shit! And thank you!)

  14. Well, there are monsters and gods walking around, so I think they have the whole "fantasy world" thing to cover them up when one of their gods is actually a Kiwi and Kyoto appears as a province in the center of Japan.

  15. Wow guys, I could really have done without seeing that p500 page. Can someone do me a favour and get the men in black mind wiper out. Ive just paid the car off and I was planning on doing something a bit more productive with the extra cash. Maybe one little treat won’t hurt. I have earnt it after all

  16. I know....I just went and logged in on my account to see if I had P500'd Imperial Struggle and nearly choked when I saw how many games from GMT I have coming in the next year. My wife is going to kill me.

    Of course, I could cancel some of them...but I'll just pretend I didn't see the list.

  17. My favourite thing about P500 is it's like a disease spread by the internet.

    I say chaps, have you seen At Any Cost: Metz 1870?

    It's Hermann Luttmann doing chit-pull warfare (fun, quick, easy, exciting) on a lovely map!

    What's that? You're not interested in the Franco-Prussian War?! Neither am I.

  18. Unfortunately, I will never be able to buy a wargame because there's no way I will get it played.

  19. I'm in the same boat. If I were to get one, Root definitely looks like the one that would earn it's place on my shelf.

    Aside from Twilight Struggle, anything that's themed around military history bounces off me like jello on a trampoline.

    I don't doubt the mechanics are interesting, it's just not my particular cup of tea (I don't even like tea, why am I in the UK?)

  20. I'm the exact opposite.

    I would love one, but the only person I play 2-player games with (except for perhaps 30-45 minute games with a co-worker at lunch) is my wife.

    Who would not like a wargame at all.

  21. Solo! Solo! Solo!

  22. Nowhere to really do that in our small place.

  23. rinelk says:

    Now I want a solo Star Wars game involving disposable cups.

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