Tuesday, May 16, 2017

And...My Most Played Game of 2016 is...

[We now return you to the re-broadcast of the 2016 Willie Awards already in progress.]

*Dramatic drumroll*


*Surprise applause*

Since they're out at this time, I'd like to accept this award and say a few words on behalf of this game.

At 21 plays in 2016, this mid-Summer purchase had captivated my solo heart. I still remember the day I was at my local FLGS, scouting out for new games. It barely stood out against the big box games, and had a small note in the back touting a very unique and challenging solo variant. With not much more information to go on other than that, I bought the game on a whim at a meager $14. I soon found out what a remarkable deal that was.

Why did it get so many plays? Well, it's all because of the AI player A.A.R.O.N. GIVE HIM A HAND! *more applause* You see, the game's take on a solo variant differs from most other solo variants in that it's a constant catch-up game. You see, Aaron's just a set of 5 stacks of cards (3/4/5/6/7), and for every round, the corresponding stack is revealed and laid out. In this set-collection game, Aaron earns points for full sets, and bonus points for getting those sets first. Then, as the player, I have to play that round such that my points FOR THAT ROUND match or surpass Aaron's score, just to continue playing. If at any round I can't do this, I lose the game immediately.

No high score. No range of points to look up and compare. No earning a title for earning this many points. No, you either keep up with Aaron, or you're out of the game. With only 9 wins under my belt out of those 21 plays, it's certainly a challenge to keep up. Sometimes, you become complacent after the first 3 rounds because Aaron hasn't completed any sets. But after the 4th round starts and he completes a bevy of sets and bonus points, you're up the creek without a paddle. And you feel so ALIVE.

Of course, we can't just go on talking about Aaron without addressing The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game! *more applause* The duality of the cards make the game very thinky in nature. In your hands, the die values are all that matter, but on the board, they're only secondary to the actual card itself. I'm sure a fair amount of card counting might give you an advantage, but overall the usability of the cards make each game so full of conflict and stressful decision-making. Don't have the precise value? Use your workers to increase/decrease the value (and yes, the 1 and 6 loops to each other!). The amount of leverage you have gives you so many outs to take, but with only 6 cards in your hand per round, it can be quite the brain-buster to max your scores to match Aaron's.

*Award music begins to play*

What else? Oh yes, while the first few plays sees you taking a lot of space on the table, you'll *ushers take arms* quickly learn to efficiently utilize your playing space so that *struggles to stay on camera* you can play on any surface anywhe-

Announcer: "Thank you and congrats again, The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game! After the commercial break, we'll reveal Willie's game he wished he played in 2016. The answer will surprise you! Stay tuned for more of the 2016 Willie Awards!"

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