“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; We grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw
My favorite games list is ever evolving. However there are games that are permanently on the list. Here are my top five games currently:
- Pathfinder RPG. This is an extension of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition. When D&D 4th edition came out, the company that was making excellent third party adventures for 3.5, Paizo, was left out of the loop for development even though they were the publisher of Dragon and Dungeon (D&D’s magazines). So when it came time to create an adventure series for the new edition, they didn’t have any information with which to make it. So they went with the 3.5 ruleset. Afterwards, Paizo found that the new edition was not compatible with previous editions. All these books that people bought for 3.5 were obsolete. Paizo decided they were going to update some rules in 3.5 and streamline others and create an extension of the 3.5 rules. The result, after one of the largest public playtests ever, was Pathfinder RPG. It is compatible with 3.5 so you can still use information from those books, but Paizo still puts out great content. Their world building is really what makes the game. Some of the adventures have half of a page explaining some information about the dungeon that the players most likely will never find out. The game play has been the same since 3.5 debuted in 2000, so 17 years of knowing the rules helps. Plus I have made more friends through this game than any other.
- Magic: The Gathering. This game has the distinction of being the game I have continuously played the longest. I started in 1995. There have been some breaks, but no longer than a couple of years each time. It is a card game where you build decks containing spells and land. The land provides connection that gives you magical energy to cast the spells with can summon creatures, shoot a powerful fireball into your opponent’s face, or bring forth powerful artifacts. The variance in the game is what makes it great. The red wizard is brash and shortsighted, while a blue mage is thoughtful and careful. Many different cards are available for the game to collect to create your decks that there’s no limit to what you are able to play.
- Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. This game is made by Paizo as well, but definitely different than the RPG. It is a cooperative game in which you are playing against the villains and henchmen of stories that Paizo comes up with. The overall game plays out over several sessions, with each session lasting about 4 hours of 2-3 games each. Generally there are 30 different rounds of the game, each with slightly different rules. You explore locations, fight monsters, gather weapons, allies or items. The overall game is a deck builder but you build it over several games rather than just for that game.
- Cryptozoic Deck Builders. These games are practically similar with only the intellectual property different with small rule tweaks. My favorite is The Lord of the Rings due to my interest in that IP rather than comic books. The basics of the game is you start with 10 cards and draw 5. You have “power” that you use to purchase cards with are added to your discard pile. When you can’t draw cards you shuffle your discard pile and it becomes your needed I. So you are constantly getting better cards which you’ll draw to defeat the game. It’s easy to learn and fairly quick to play.
- GURPS. That weird word stands for Generic Universal Role-Playing System. This role playing game has one set of rules for playing in different genres. You can have players that are an alien engineer from Darden IV, an elf wizard from the kingdom of Morback, a human gunslinger from Dodge City, and a ogre hacker from post-apocalyptic Seattle. And you wouldn’t need anything but the player’s guide and gamemaster guide. Granted you may have additional books that refine the rules for certain things like hacking computers or casting spells, but these aren’t needed. The combat rules are customizable in the sense that you can make them simple or complex. The issue with the game is twofold: if you have inexperienced players their skill lists tend to be small instead of varied; and there are no good published adventures for the game requiring GMs to create content. GMs can use stuff from other systems but they effectively have to convert everything over which is a chore otherwise it would be the game that would rate as my most favorite game.
These are just a few of the games I have in my closet or on the shelf. I will try any game once but the issue comes down to when people have time to play. I do currently have two weekly game nights, but those are generally used for Pathfinder RPG, or Magic. Occasionally we’ll playtest my game, but this will get harder once the kids are born. We’ll see how that goes.