This year began with so many plans to attend Gen Con, grow my existing rpg campaign, run a new rpg campaign, play all kinds of new games, and try some game writing. THEN…a pandemic began and looks to continue into 2021 quite a ways. Even with that disruption, I have managed to fit in some fun games that have really stood out for me. This is not a top 10 list of new games this year, nor my all-time favorite games list. These are games that impacted me personally in 2020, no matter when they were originally published. Why did these games impact me and thus stand out for the year? As I share about my standout games of 2020, I hope you will gain some insights into why I am so passionate about gaming.
I grew up loving Pop-Tarts, snagged them in college when I could, had them as snacks early on in my career, then had to back off because, you know what? They aren’t that healthy. Now I only have them as a very occasional treat because I still REALLY like them, especially Cherry. So, when I saw a Pop-Tarts themed card game with this wonderfully designed box, I had to try it. It is a fun little game that my wife and I have enjoyed two player. The theme is light, but I really enjoy it. I am very curious to see how it plays when we can have more people over to play it.
My wife and I are always looking for fun games to play as a couple with themes she will enjoy. This year we heard about Trellis on a podcast, so we looked into it. We enjoy the tile laying game Tsuro, and this has a similar feel with its own unique tactics and theme. The growing flowers and give and take of the game are a lot of fun, and it is pretty on the table.
Even with the pandemic, I still managed to find time to keep one of my monthly D&D 5e campaigns (homebrew set in Greyhawk) moving forward by moving it online to Roll20, D&D Beyond, and Zoom. During the early stages of the pandemic, we even shifted this to a weekly campaign to provide us some time to be together, at least virtually. We were missing our monthly gathering where we shared a meal and gamed together. So, keeping this game going helped each of us in our own way stay sane in the early, very uncertain, times of the pandemic. As the pandemic has worn on, we shifted back to monthly with occasional extra sessions. D&D 5e will likely keep showing up in my stand out games periodically because it brings me happiness and provides me a great creative outlet to experience with friends and family.
Always enjoy finding a game I can enjoy with my twin daughters, and Masks became a new favorite. My daughters and a friend have enjoyed saving the world, one mission at a time, as the Vindicators. We started out face-to-face gaming, and this slowly evolved into a game we use to continue playing together online during the pandemic. We haven’t had a lot of sessions so far, but we talk about doing another one soon, so this game is definitely a keeper for us.
Being huge fans of the world of Harry Potter, this game intrigued me so I pre-ordered Kids on Brooms. Arriving during the pandemic, it provided an escape for one of my daughters and me to hang out and be creative. Over a few sessions, we brainstormed the Manitou Academy in the Upper Peninsula and have enjoyed a school year together. I am hopeful this can come to the table (virtual or face-to-face) again soon, as it is a very lightweight, story-heavy rpg that I think has a lot of potential.
I used to really be into computer games, but set many of them aside. As the pandemic grew onward, my weekly rpg group shifted more and more into playing the classic computer game Baldur’s Gate on Steam. We needed something to release the stress of the work week and just didn’t feel up to an rpg as much. We have played some rpg sessions at times, but much of our time was spent playing and completing Baldur’s Gate.
Trine: Ultimate Collection and Divinity: Original Sin 2
My two brother-in-law and I were looking for a way to spend time together during the pandemic while we were separated. We decided on co-op games on PS4, so I returned to the world of console gaming after a long hiatus. Over the year, we have finished Trine 1, 2, and 4 and are now playing Divinity: Original Sin 2. Even after the pandemic, I see us continuing to play some type of online co-op game, as we are really enjoying our time chatting and gaming together.
Honorable Mention – Betrayal Legacy
My gaming group cannot wait to get back together so we can return to our Betrayal Legacy game and finish up the story. We were nearing the end when the pandemic stopped us from meeting.
What games stood out for you in 2020, and what made them stand out? I am curious what makes a game special to you.