We finish our year here at 2 Generations Gaming with a renewed sense of purpose. I started a new podcast. We rebooted the original one. I updated our YouTube on a more regular basis. And the page got a fresh new look and content every month. Next year marks 10 years of the page and I want to bring even more. But, for today, we finish with the tabletop game of the year 2023.
For once, I actually played more tabletop than console or PC games. I wanted to say electronic games there, but I played plenty on my phone. Mostly just Hearthstone, Marvel SNAP, and MTG Arena, but daily. So, when I wrote the contender’s article the other day, I mentioned five or six games.
Before I reveal the big winner, let’s take a TLDR look at the contenders.
3 Honorable Mentions: Shadowrun, Pathfinder, and Dreams and Machines all received only a tutorial play through or read through. So, while I enjoyed all of them, I can’t really give them proper consideration this year. Maybe next year.
Dungeons and Dragons: One of my favorite tabletop games from when I was a kid. I tried sharing it with my family a couple of years ago, but that failed miserably. Then, Quinn and I played through a duets adventure and he got hooked. I will try again on Sunday when Aiden’s girlfriend is over for New Year’s Eve.
Magic the Gathering: MTG, it’s not just for phones anymore! Chris, Jason and I, as mentioned more than once here, put together a playgroup for Commander that met twice or three times. Chris is coming over tomorrow to record the podcast and I suggested getting the boys together to play some Commander, too.
Warhammer 40k: Like the honorable mention, I only played this once for a tutorial lesson. But, it kick started my newfound obsession with miniatures. I even painted a few and entered a painting contest. I signed up for another one, but a time commitment prevented me from going.
Tabletop Game of the Year 2023
Magic the Gathering has been part of my life since the beginning of the game. I played during my brief first college career. I tried to show Christine how to play with the Portal decks. When Chris and I started hanging out and we both realized what nerds we were, we played every couple of months. Now, with another friend to play on a semi-regular basis and the possibility of getting my kids involved, Magic the Gathering is my obvious choice for tabletop game of the year.
Next year, I want to try again to play Dungeons and Dragons with the family. I just found a New Year’s Eve adventure for Sunday. I’m hoping that leads to more adventures next year. Perhaps it even becomes a monthly thing and next year I get to tell you all about it. One step at a time, young grasshopper…
As mentioned in the previous article, 2023 brought many opportunities for tabletop gaming. Given that, there obviously should be more tabletop gaming contenders 2023 for our game of the year. While technically true, many of the tabletop games I tried only as a solo venture. These games are intended to be played with friends and family.
You get a group together. Put out some snacks. Start with the intention of being serious this time. Eventually, one of you breaks character and you all laugh hysterically. Things didn’t go as planned, but you don’t care. You’re having fun with the people you love.
Three games I played strictly on a trial basis, Pathfinder, Shadowrun, and Dreams and Machines. And, I never truly played Shadowrun. I only perused the reading material that I received through one of my Humble Bundles that I purchased several months ago. As you may know, Humble is both a boon and a bane to cheap gamers like myself. You can buy many games for cheap. Then, unfortunately, many of them sit on the shelf (both real and virtual) and get forgotten.
The other two games, I ordered physical copies. I think Pathfinder came as part of another Bundle. Dreams and Machines crossed my news feed and I purchased it. 40 or 50 bucks. Not bad, and made by the same people who made the Fallout tabletop RPG I bought a few years ago. Of the two, I liked Pathfinder better. The play style of Dreams and Machines is more unique and story driven. Pathfinder, though, is based on the D&D mechanics and, as a result, plays more familiar to me. The true test, though, comes if I can convince my family to play either.
Dungeons and Dragons
Quinn and I played Dungeons and Dragons last year after I researched ways to play the game as a duo. I put together a dinosaur adventure for us and we played through. As I wrote the adventure, I got a quick idea for a follow up and wrote that one, too. We haven’t sat down again to play, but I think I might try to get him to sit down this weekend and then I can give you a report next month. I also reviewed each of the new books that released this year until the latest release, Deck of Many Things, delayed until next month. I’ll pick up the reviews again then.
Magic the Gathering
Other than just playing Arena, as I’ve written about a few times, Chris, Jason, and I formed a playgroup for Commander. Both Chris and I enjoy the format. Jason tolerates it for the sake of being able to play Magic. We played twice this year. I hope that our schedules align and we get to play every other month or so in 2024. While I’m terrible at the game, I have fun and enjoy hanging out with the two of them That’s my Christmas wish, Santa.
I only played the game once. Somehow I acquired a beginner box with a Space Marine and Necron army. I painted the Necrons and thought long and hard about which Space Marine faction to paint. I never actually settled on one, so they lie in my pile of shame. And, that, primarily is why I’m considering this one for game of the year. Even though I only played once, it inspired me to assemble and paint more than a dozen of my models. Plus, now that I work closer to home, I have more time than ever to paint the rest. I think my next project will be the Space Marines and then I can run another tutorial for the page.
Three tabletop gaming contenders 2023 enter. One leaves on Friday as our Tabletop Game of the Year. But, one more thing before I leave you in suspense for a few days. I completely forgot to mention that Quinn and I picked up Roll Player adventures again and played through a couple more of the books. If we played that more, it would definitely be on this list, too.
Surprisingly, we played more tabletop games this year than anything else. With the soldering mishap on the XBox, we saw a definite lack of opportunities to play console games. And, my mobile games are mostly just the same games I play on the tabletop. So, truly, tabletop gaming is a gift in 2023.
in addition to the literal gift that I bought my family for Christmas, Catan, I made alist of six different games that I played or tried through the year. So, the contenders article tomorrow is going to be busy. So, for today, let’s just kick our feet up and celebrate the relaxation that comes with Boxing Day.
What Are Those Six Games?
Well, I will go into more depth tomorrow with the games and their case for tabletop game of the year for 2023 here at 2 Generations Gaming. Today, I will just give a quick list and leave it at that. I have a ton of other things that I want to get done today. Wait, didn’t I just say that I wanted to relax? Well, thankfully, none of the tasks are terrily taxing, so I can get everything done and still relax.
I started the year with the Voidspark Chronicles, a daily RPG calendar from Sundial Games. That becamse a YouTube series that I intend to finish up this week and start on the next one on the first. Chris, Jason, and I got together to play Commander (including the brand new Lord of the Rings decks!) a couple of times and hope to do so again as soon as possible.
I wrote reviews of each of the new Dungeons and Dragons books as they released. Quinn and I played some D&D, but not as much as hoped. I tried out Pathfinder, Shadowrun, and Dreams and Machines to add to the new games that I played this year. Finally, I spent quite a bit of time painting minatures (even entering a contest) and played through one of the tutorial missions of Warhammer 40k
I told you. So much tabletop gaming this year. I think you all might be able to figure out which one is the actual game of the year just based on the articles this year. However, I will continue to keep you in suspense over this one. One more time I can say that tabletop gaming is a gift 2023. See you tomorrow with the contender’s article.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from Humble Bundle. It contained information to receive a free (or discounted) copy of the Pathfinder Beginner Box. Always on the lookout for new games (especially since we are in New Year, New Games), I filled out the required information. The shipment came a week or two before Christmas. I spent part of Christmas looking through the set and learned about the Pathfinder solo adventure.
Like the D&D counterpart, it comes with some premade characters, an abbreviated version of the player’s handbook and dungeon master’s guide, a set of dice, and additional character sheets. Unlike Dungeons and Dragons, it also includes a solo adventure for those of us with no friends. Okay, that’s not entirely true. Quinn likes to play RPGs with me.
Choose Your Own Death
I took some time the other day to play through the adventure. In fact, it took far less time that anticipated. The Pathfinder solo module runs like the old choose your own adventure games with some dice rolls mixed into the fun. Obviously, the mode lacks role playing. Unless you count the “WTF Dice” comment that I put in my notes as I was playing through.
Okay, I think I got ahead of myself a bit here. First, I needed to find the adventure. I lost the insert that told me where to go, so I searched online. That brought no answers. I finally found it after looking through both books in the box. Then, I started. It played like a choose your own adventure at first. Do I want to search for the thing killing wildlife for 10 gold? You betcha! Then, suddenly, I found myself in combat with a mangy old wolf.
Wait? Do I need to use one of the character sheets? I picked Wizard at first until it felt like keeping track of spells might be too much for a newbie like me. But, no, no character sheet needed. They give you all of the relevant information in the adventure. Okay, wolf, no problem. Dead in one round. Do I want to continue? You bet I do.
A giant snake? Ha! I laugh at the “challenge”. Also dead in one round of combat. But, the dice low rolled me a bit. Take this as a warning adventurer. Between this and the RPG calendar, solo adventuring amplifies bad luck. You can’t rely on your party members to help you out when things go wrong.
Things went wrong quickly. I disturbed a living statue. The dice rolls blew up in my face both ways. The statue killed me in spectacular fashion. Go to #17, the book instructed. “Yeah, you’re dead”, it said. No saving throw. No do over. Just died. But, hey, try again, loser.
Overall, I mostly enjoyed the Pathfinder solo adventure. I missed the interaction with other players and role playing aspect of the game. But, the action moved quickly enough to keep me interested and rotten dice rolls gave me the necessary danger to make it exciting. I think I might take another shot at it. Also, seeing the structure of the adventure inspired me to put together a series of my own to go with the duos I developed for me and Quinn.
I thought about specifying RPGs in the title, but I also want to talk a little bit about my humble beginning as a miniature painter. But, then specifying RPG and miniatures seemed too clunky for the title. So, I take the risk that anyone searching ends up finding the page because they are looking for board games, which are probably the most popular option. Just a bit of a look at how the sausage is made and how I arrived at the title, 2023 tabletop games look ahead.
While I really only play Dungeons and Dragons on a regular basis, I always want to branch out and try the various other role playing games available. I also often look at the miniature games forlornly and hope for a day that I have an actual army to bring to the table. Alas, right now I only have a single skeleton archer and an ogre barbarian. I also painted an elven archer a few years ago at a local learn to paint class, but I think that one is buried in the closet somewhere.
Pathfinder in 2023
I discovered Pathfinder via recommendation from a former student. I bought some books on Humble Bundle. However, I still need to actually play the game. Luckily, Humble Bundle also recently offered a starter set. Once I play that, I can have a better idea of what the future holds.
Miniatures in 2023
Earlier, I searched “How to get started in miniatures.” I, then took some time during Aiden’s soccer practice to go to the local nerd store. Instead of starting at the comics like I normally do, I went to the miniatures section. Without any guidance (because I didn’t read the article), I decided to wait on that purchase. Good call. I spent just under 120 dollars on comics. Explaining another 75-100 on miniatures to my wife would be a bad scene.
So, I currently plan to read that article. I also want to buy the rule/lore book for Warhammer 40k. I figure that it differs from D&D. Normal Warhammer looks too much like general fantasy. 40k offers a more science fiction vibe that I find intriguing. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks I can offer an update on the army I chose with some pictures.
Dungeons and Dragons in 2023
I told the story more than once that I took over both the middle and the high school Dungeons and Dragons clubs at my old job. Consequently, starting in the summer of last year and through the rest of the year, I spent a stupid amount of money in an attempt to get all of the 5th edition source books. I started with the campaign settings because I enjoy reading about the lore. Then, I moved on to some of the collector’s sets before finishing with the adventures. I got every one of them except for Rise of Tiamat (and I hear they are re-releasing that one) and the Stranger Things module, which I found a free PDF that surely violates copyright law on at least one level.
Even though I know longer work there and the books now sit on my bookshelves upstairs, I’m still glad I bought them. They brought joy to several of the students in the half year we played together. Just the other day, I said that I might ask the D&D advisor at my current job if he wants me to help. So, maybe they live to fight another day.
As a result, this year I focus on the new releases. In addition to the previously mentioned Tiamat reissue, this page has a few others. None of them grab me other than Planescape. But, as the release, I will buy them and probably review them here. Also, D&D One remains on the horizon. No idea what it actually involves, but keep an eye out regardless.
Of the gaming genres I discussed this week, tabletop looks like the one with the most potential for growth this year. This month alone, I planned an article about my solo adventure in Pathfinder and my new army in Warhammer. Add in a possible return to D&D club and Planescape and you have a recipe for fun this year. The PC article brought me down and I think the console might have a similar effect. But, the 2023 tabletop games look ahead gives me hope for this year.
Last night, I finally received my official Pathfinder introduction. A few months ago, Humble Bundle ran a deal that included a coupon for the Pathfinder Core Rule Book. I forgot about it until nearly the expiration date, then finally ordered the book. Yesterday afternoon, I pulled into my driveway. Several packages waited on the porch.
I assumed they both belonged to my wife. I thought one of them might finally be the anime Loot Crate that we ordered for Aiden for Christmas. He didn’t receive the one for Christmas because they were back ordered. The box read Pazio.com and a slogan that had something to do with an ogre or orc. I could look it up, but the box is all the way downstairs in the pantry waiting for dump day. I don’t have the time or energy to walk down there right now.
That only strengthened my assumption that it belonged to Aiden. Then, as I carried in the groceries and put them away, a thought occurred. Oh, this must be my Pathfinder book. Sure enough, that’s exactly what was in the box. Admit it, you read it in Brad Pitt’s voice. And, so, during dinner I read through the book to get my Pathfinder introduction.
Additions: Spoiler Alert: I’m going to talk about how familiar Pathfinder feels to D&D in the next section. You will see that I consider that to be a strength. However, why would I play this in addition to D&D (as I plan) if it was just a complete clone? Answer: I would not.
The first thing I noticed about the difference between Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons was the player character classes. More or less, the races are the same in both games. Also, Dungeons and Dragons expanded their offering of character classes, especially with some of the new Magic the Gathering worlds. While reading through the book, the alchemist and champion classes both jumped out to me. I mean, the champion is basically just a paladin. Perhaps I’m grasping at straws with this one. What can I say? Sometimes I’m an easy mark.
Is one class strong enough to propel this section? I leave it too you to decide, but give you the following as evidence. “The alchemist throws alchemical bombs and drinks concoctions of their own making.” That sounds pretty sweet to me.
Additionally, I enjoyed reading about the various subraces in the game. Finally, skimming the spells excited me at the possibilities. Yes, Pathfinder is a D&D clone. However, there is enough new content in the game to make it feel less like and expansion and more like another game I want to introduce to the family to see if I can get them to become a regular RPG play group. Yes, I refuse to stop trying to make fetch happen.
Familiarity: Regular readers of the page know all about my history with Dungeons and Dragons. So, please, bear with me while I catch up the newbies. I received a novel from my mother as a gift, Firstborn. It is the first book of the Dragonlance trilogy, The Elven Nations. Fun fact: I originally, for weeks, read that title as The Eleven Nations. Imagine how much more sense it made when I figured out what it really said.
That book led to me discovering the game upon which it was based. As is my personality, I became obsessed. I purchased the 2nd edition Player’s Guide and Dungeon Master’s Guide. Then, I got several of the monster manuals and other supporting books. I branched out into Spelljammer and Dark Sun. A friend and I played several of the MS-DOS games released at the time.
As I experienced my Pathfinder introduction, it took me back to those simpler times. I often say that I’m above nostalgia, but it’s simply not true. While I don’t experience it often, when I do it is strong. Pathfinder triggered that nostalgia strongly. I don’t want to say that it is a rip off of D&D, because that has a negative connotation. But, the similarities are strong. I believe that to be a good thing in this case.
Complexity: Dungeons and Dragons simplified their rules over the years. They removed some things completely and tweaked others. I believe most of it is in the service of the player experience. At least, they explained most of the changes in that context.
I refuse to be one of those “things were better during D&D edition *fill in the blank*”. I grew up and played mostly 2nd edition, but I have dabbled in 3, 3.5, and most recently 5 when I played with the family. All I have to say is every edition feels like D&D, except for the d20 phase. I never could understand the reasoning behind that. Give me all the polyhedral dice.
The point of all this is that Pathfinder seems to have kept most of the complexity from D&D. I remember when I first learned of Pathfinder, via another Humble Bundle with adventures that I purchased, a friend told me that the game was more complex than current Dungeons and Dragons. Again, while not a deterrent to me, I found that even the minor bit of rules enforcing that I did during our family’s play group slowed the game down and made it feel like they weren’t having fun. Perhaps, it’s just something I needed to learn as a DM of a first time group. For now, Pathfinder will remain a game that I research until the family can put together an entire adventure in D&D.
It sounds like I already gave the verdict in the previous paragraph. So, what will I write here? That’s a good question. I honestly don’t know. My Pathfinder introduction was a positive one. Until we become more used to D&D and each other as a play group, I won’t try to play the game with the family. However, maybe I can use the game in the meantime to generate content for the page and try to extend reach.
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