Crafting Annihilation 12/20

Behind-the-scenes DM-only live stream of building and preparing our ongoing Tomb of Annihilation series.

Streamed live every Thursday.

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My Top Ten Games of 2018: #4

My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Dead Cells
#9 Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
#8 Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee!
#7 Frostpunk
#6 Jurassic World Evolution
#5 Into the Breach

#4 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

smash bros.

Developer: Bandai Namco Studios, Sora Ltd
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Switch

The Super Smash Bros. series has been among my favorite games of every Nintendo console generation since the Nintendo 64. I’m not even a big fighting game fan, but Smash Bros. deftly weaves an intuitive, easy to pick-up arena brawler where everyone’s simply trying to knock each other off the stage amid a total chaos of Nintendo fan service. It’s a winning formula that’s served the series well for over two decades.

It may be too early to tell if Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the best of the series, but it’s certainly one of the best games of the year. With over 70 fighters, 100 stages and hundreds and hundreds of music tracks it’s well-deserving of its ‘Ultimate’ designation.

Steadily unlocking fighters from the original roster of eight grants a constant drip feed of progression and excitement, whether it’s with standard local Smash, battling through each character-specific Classic mode gauntlet, or trying fun new modes like Smashdown and Tag Team.

The new Spirit Battles and World of Light adventure mode provide dozens of hours of single player entertainment as I level up and equip lots of fun easter eggs from countless video game series in order to battle fun and challenging new twists, like electrified floors, or hordes of Warios who only use their motorcyle attacks, or a gigantic giga Bowser boss fight. The World of Light map is huge and fun to explore, and unlocking new fighters and spirits is yet another rewarding progression system that keeps me hooked.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate falters when it comes to its barebones online options, but it’s a testament to how damn good the game is that it only fell to #4 on my Game of the Year list. Hopefully Nintendo can improve and expand its online gameplay modes, as I plan on playing this game for a long time.

DMs Guild Review – Undermountain: The Lost Chambers

Nearly a dozen mini-dungeons designed to fit into the much larger Dungeon of the Mad Mage – or any underground area.

A review copy of “Undermountain: The Lost Chambers” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work via Patreon.

Published by: Pyromaniac Press (with Phil Beckwith, Alex Clippinger, Elise Cretel, Ashley May, Luciella Scarlett, Christopher Walz & Micah Watt)

dms guild reviewWaterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage is absolutely massive. Yet it’s also ripe with opportunity for even more dungeon-crawling adventures, thanks to numerous dead ends and off shoots in each level. “Undermountain: The Lost Chambers” provides nearly a dozen such locations from seven different DMs Guild authors.

The mini-dungeons could easily be dropped into any underground or underdark area, with most acting as boss monster lairs or divine shrines. It’s a solid variety, though most of the actual connections to Dungeon of the Mad Mage are tenuous at best.

Continue reading “DMs Guild Review – Undermountain: The Lost Chambers”

My Top Ten Games of 2018: #5

My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Dead Cells
#9 Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
#8 Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee!
#7 Frostpunk
#6 Jurassic World Evolution

#5 Into the Breach

Developer: Subset Games
Publisher: Subset Games
Platforms: PC, Switch

Chess is one of my favorite games growing up, and still is to this day. It’s also a big reason why I frequently fall in love with tactical, turn-based RPGs and strategy games.

Into the Breach is basically Chess but with time-traveling mechs battling Godzilla-sized insects in a pixelated art style. Every battle is a tiny square made up of grids, and you’re given all the information immediately, including enemy movement, turn order, and attack abilities.

Each turn is filled with agonizing yet wonderful decisions about saving the people versus minimizing the damage to your mechs. Every round is a critical choreography of damage as I have to carefully anticipate which squares will be hit, and how best to eliminate or move enemies around. Nothing is more satisfying than moving an enemy so it attacks its own allies.

Each campaign cleverly lets you choose the length by letting me decide when I want to tackle the final assault, and the action scales accordingly. Individual missions and tasks vary from saving a train to avoiding acid baths, while much of the replayability comes from unlocking and using new mech teams with fun themes and synergy.

Out of all the games on this list Into the Breach is the one I plan on returning to the most.  Its delicate tactical balance splashed with just the right amount of RPG elements make it more than a worthy follow-up to Subset Games’ previous hit, FTL.

Let’s Play – Darkest Dungeon Episode 18: The Shuffling Horror

I reach the end of my patience with Darkest Dungeon, and head into the titular final dungeon – or at least my first attempt at it. Things go predictably badly.

Weekly video game adventures. Streamed live twice a week.

Support the channel at via Patreon.

My Top Ten Games of 2018: #6

My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Dead Cells
#9 Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
#8 Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee!
#7 Frostpunk

#6 Jurassic World Evolution

jurassic world evolution

Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher:Frontier Developments
Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO

I have fond memories playing Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis back in the early 2000s. It was basically a dino-themed Sim Theme Park but with excellent use of the official license and a truly impressive dinosaur AI. Fast-forward a decade and a half later and we finally get the spiritual successor we deserve.

Frontier Developments streamlined much of their also excellent Planet Coaster to make a more console-friendly theme park game, but thankfully they kept the intricate dinosaur AI that makes managing, caring for, and dealing with dinosaurs so rewarding and fascinating.

The campaign is broken up into multiple islands, each with their own specific challenges and objectives, like extremely limited building spaces, or tropical storms that knock out your power grid and soon cause running and screaming. DNA progress and unlocked research carry over between islands, letting you hop back and forth and essentially play multiple games at once.

Figuring out how the most efficient and effective ways to manage the dinosaurs is a satisfying puzzle, as each species has specific requirements towards foliage, social herds, and enclosure size. It’s even a viable strategy to feed herbivores to carnivores and let dinos duke it out, increasing their star rating and boosting sales, turning everyone into the callous, nature-strangling overlords that Dr. Ian Malcom warned us about.

I admit that 2016’s Planet Coaster is ostensibly a better, and more robust theme park game, but I’m a huge sucker for dinosaurs and Jurassic World Evolution is the closest thing to a Jurassic Park dream game I’ve been waiting over a decade for.

My Top Ten Games of 2018: #7

My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Dead Cells
#9 Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
#8 Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee!

#7 Frostpunk

frostpunk

Developer: 11 bit Studios
Publisher: 11 bit Studios
Platforms: PC

I was a bit late to the party with This War of Mine, a unique sim-survival game that played out like a strategic board game with a harrowing real-world theme about the horrors of war upon civilians. This War of Mine put 11 bit Studios on my personal radar, and I was very much looking forward to Frostpunk when it released earlier this year.

Frostpunk did not disappoint. Like This War of Mine it takes some very heavy survival themes and treats them with the cold-hearted seriousness that befits surviving during an apocalypse.

Your haggard survivors have found a geothermic reactor and established a city amid a world blanketed in sub-freezing temperatures.

The real-time strategy game forces you to manage precious resources like coal, wood, and food, but also regulate the happiness and morale of your people. Stuffing food with sawdust will help ration meek food stores but your people won’t be happy. A 24-hour shift could be just enough to make it through the night, but injury and exhaustion will spread like a plague.

Little story events force you to make tough decisions, like giving leniency to a mother stealing food for her children. Ultimately you’ll need to choose either a zealous or totalitarian path to unlock new laws and edicts and keep everyone in line, a sobering look at how humanity survives extreme conditions.

Thanks to its incredibly immersive atmosphere, haunting string soundtrack and compelling writing. Frostpunk is more than just a thematic city builder. It’s one of the best games of the year.