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Best Game Experiences of 2012

sean johnson
United States
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I am fortunate that I get to play a lot of games. My wife and I share the hobby of gaming, I am a game group co-organizer, and I am extremely lucky where I can occasionally play games as part of my job. I really do enjoy playing games, and that is a good thing because I play them a lot! My previous post was my top 10 games from 2012, and this will probably be my last "year in review" post. What follows are my single best game experiences month by month.

The Game:Warhammer: Invasion
In January I traveled with my friend Adam to Louisville, KY to play in a Warhammer Invasion tournament. This was a big deal for me, because I have not sought out a game tournament since my Star Wars Customizable Card Game in high school. It was a lot of fun to meet other players of this game, and it turns out that I even went to high school with one of them! The actual tournament format was a little odd where we played other decks at random. I purposely brought a kind of hard deck to play with, but several people told me they liked it. For the placement rounds, we played our own decks and I managed to finish third. Later in the year we would journey back to Louisville, and I played some of the same people at Gen Con as well.

The Game: Discworld: Ankh-Morpork
My wife is a geeky romantic. She had me pick out a new game that I thought we would both like. I went with this one. On Valentine's Day we went to the YMCA to take advantage of their child watch (2 hours of "free" babysitting), and then we went to the lobby and played this game. Being with the woman I love and doing something we both love, was a great way to spend that day.

The Game: The Hunger Games: Jabberjay Card Game
Let's be upfront: this is a terrible, dreadful game. However, this did provide my best game experience of the month. I got this game because it was cheap with intentions of playing it with the Sr. High youth group on a retreat, and that is what we did. We played the game multiple times one evening, because of the Hunger Game theme some kids who would not play a better game (like the The Resistance) played this one. It was not a good game, but the kids had fun and playing games with people who are having fun playing is always a good time.

The Game: Federation Commander: Klingon Border
This is the month when I love affair with this game started, as I played it for the first time. It was a simple duel where I played a single Federation ship and my friend Cody, who taught the game, played as the Klingons. In our initial volley against each other I took more damage, but I managed to do more engine damage to him. I then spent the next several turns outrunning him while charging up my photon torpedoes. I came back around, let them loose, and ended up doing a lot of damage. The fact that I can still remember the details of a game play from 9 months ago, is a testament to how much I enjoy this game. Even though it is counters, hexes, and charts, this game makes me feel like I am sitting in the captain's chair and that is an exciting feeling.

The Game: Empires of the Void
This is the month that Empires of the Void came out, so I tried to play it as much as possible. However, my best play of it came towards the end of the month. As part of my ordination process I had to attend conferences three times a year during the residency period. My last one was in this month, and as an outside chance I brought Empires of the Void with me. Amazingly, I got to play a four player game of it. We got some weird looks from others there, but the game was an absolute blast.

The Game: Checkers
One of my annual highlights is taking the youth group on a service trip. This year we went to Nashville, TN to do a day camp for impoverished immigrant and refugee children. This mostly involved crafts, sidewalk chalk and soccer. However, for less athletic kids we brought chess and checkers with us. During that week during a "half time" I played a game of checkers with one of the kids. We could not speak the same language, but we could play a game together.

The Game: Washington's War
Playing Washington's War on the 4th of July is a fun time. For the second year in a row, my wife shocked me by agreeing to play this game on the 4th. This is exciting for two reasons. First, any time my wife willingly agrees to play a war game is a highlight, and second if we do it this year then I think it is officially a tradition.

The Game: Diplomacy
August was the month of Gen Con, but my best gaming experience came from a youth lock in. We played a seven player game of Diplomacy. Due to a Diplomacy craze that swept the high school earlier in the year, all of the kids knew how to play and we finished the game in about 4 1/2 hours. I randomly drew France and immediately allied with Britain and Italy. We moved together against Germany, who was allied with Russia and Turkey. The Austrian player was to skiddish to trust anyone and only made temporary alliance if it greatly benefited him. Turkey proved to be a loose cannon and started fighting with his neighbors. This meant that Turkey and Austria fought each other. At their time of greatest need, Germany was betrayed by the Russia player falling asleep and ordering all of their units to hold for the rest of the game. With Germany out of the way my triple alliance turned to Austria and Russia. Italy and I secretly agreed to turn on Britain, which I did after convincing them to commit to attacking Russia in Scandinavia. Russia, being asleep was the second to go out with Britain following soon behind. At this point Turkey and Austria teamed up against Italy. The Italian player had to divert units to that front line, trusting our alliance to protect the borders he shared with me. At that moment I betrayed him, and won the game. Perhaps, this may not be the best "teaching moment" game for a youth group lock in but it was a ton of fun.

The Game: Sky Traders
My wife does not come to a whole lot of game nights because babysitting is expensive, and she is always a little worried getting pulled into a game that she will not want to play. However, in September she planned on coming to play this game, which we got from the Gen Con Math trade. We played the game together during the day to learn it, and then she helped me teach it that night. We have not been able to play the game since then, but we both enjoyed it.

The Game: Warcosm
A year and a half ago I discovered this game and I also turned someone else onto it. We played it several times then, but we had not played it together for over a year. In October we made a point to change that. We played a scenario I created where one side had to escort a convoy and the other side had to destroy so many point of convoy ships. I took the escorting side. I had great luck with my dice rolls and he had terrible luck with his. This meant that while I suffered some causalities to my escort ships, the convoy was protected and I won. We both felt the scenario was fairly balanced and fun though so that was encouraging.

The Game:Star Trek: The Next Generation – Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge
At the beginning of November our game group did a 24 hour fundraiser to raise money for Extra Life. The best game I played at that event was Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, but the best experience was this game. It is a stupid roll and move game accented by some terrible acting. However, at 3AM after playing games for 15 straight hours it was the perfect game to play.

The Game: Loopin' Louie
I played this game 29 times in December, after we purchased it in the middle of the month. This is the best game experience because a lot of those plays were as a family with my wife and three year old son. We played it so much because after each game, Connor would say "Do it again!" and then start laughing saying "Loopin Louie is a fun game!"

Of course in addition to that, my wife and I played through all of our games. So 2012 was truly a great year of gaming, here is looking forward to 2013!
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