My Top 3
Callum from @northern_dice
So.. what are my top three games of all time.. ever. It seems an impossible ask! Can't I go 50/50? Phone a friend? It's a really hard question to answer, but I also don't want to risk rambling on about the reasons for every game in my collection. With that in mind, I'm going to approach the question differently.
Which three games could I not live without?
Which are the most essential to my gaming experience?
And, surprisingly, some of these three are those I don't get to play all that often! Who'd have thunk it?
All three of these games are a bit more weighty than what I usually get to play, but that's probably why they sit as top dogs. We haven't exhausted the play, nor do we feel we could. They all have a level of randomness to them to keep things spicy, and there's never a guaranteed tactic to glory! Anyway. Enough rambling about rambling. Here are my three...
Number Three - Betrayal At House On The Hill
Now I know full well the reputation this game has across gaming communities. It is the irrefutable marmite of hidden traitor games. You either love or loathe it. The game's tremendously Scooby Doo. You go into a house, split up and look for clues, one of you turns out to be a spook, and then you either defeat the monster or are all killed. Ok, so it's not like the Scooby Doo I remember... but the vibe's similar. The game has 50 different haunt outcomes, meaning there are 50 scenarios. Within these haunts there are more mix ups. Sometimes the traitor is obvious, sometimes hidden, and sometimes there isn't one!
Why is Betrayal in my top three? The game has history for my gaming group. It's the first game we played as a collective and loved. We acknowledge its wrinkles and inconsistencies, but it's one we all enjoy thoroughly. The thrill of the hunt, the suspenseful chase and independent goals for heroes and traitors, the memories from the happenings! And the inevitable big reveal when there's a hidden traitor. We know it's all over when someone rises triumphantly from the table, arms over head, and bellows "IT WAS ME ALL ALONG!!". One things for sure, the game never has a dull moment!
Number Two - Cthulhu Death May Die
It's no secret that I'm a big, big, big fan of the Cthulhu Mythos. Elder gods, mysterious occurrences, Arkham, sanity and cults. It's a wonderfully dark and grotesque theme that is very frequent across my collection. Cthulhu Death May Die is fantastic and is my all time favourite game within that theme. It does what the rest don't, it lets you punch Cthulhu right in his squiddy face. The investigations are done, clues are collected and mysteries solved. Now you just need to disrupt the ritual and boot an Elder God back into its own void between worlds!
The game has players taking on the roles of various investigators, each with their own variable stats and a unique mental affliction. As they grow more mad, they get stronger, but testing your sanity too much will break the mind! It's a truly thematic game with some excellent, fast paced combat and investigation to it. But what makes this my absolute top Mythos game is the approach to it. Aside from being the Mythos' creator, Lovecraft was an awful bloke. It's no secret. The approach to dealing with his biases is in this game is awesome. I felt that the Mythos tales here existed without the unnecessary prejudices, but without taking it away from the Mythos itself. By removing the dated mindsets of the stories, it puts all focus on what the Mythos is about - supernatural occurrences, paranoias, and the fragility of the human mind.
Number One - On Mars
Even though this is my top all time game, I'm sure if you ask me in a month or so the list will have changed. What I do know is that On Mars will always be in my top three. The game's set both on Mars and in space, and the aim is to develop a colony strong enough to sustain life. You have to allocate workers to enact jobs in both locations over turns to contribute to building an effective colony. It's cooperative to a point, but competitive in the sense that you have to be the best at helping. The colony cannot progress until all necessary elements are at the same point. Advancing one above what's needed is a pointless endeavour (quite literally!).
On Mars is a game I don't get to play often because its weight is scary and its playtime is long. When I do manage to persuade my unwilling victims to crack it open, time flies and before we know it 3 hours will have whizzed by! There's a surprisingly ease of access to the game despite its complexity. You learn the routines and basics, and then you're good to go. I can't express how much I enjoy this game, really. All its mechanics are those that I could easily pass on, but the execution of them together make for a truly crunchy game. If you haven't tried this one, you really need to watch some gameplay... be warned though! It'll probably lead to another board game purchase!