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Store Forged: Volo + Xanathar

New store-built commander decks Volo and Xanathar now available in-store!

Read our deck tech article on our blog here.

Adventures and the Return of In-Store Events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventure Begins (Returns)!

It feels soooooo good to get our backroom back open!
Though our play space is still somewhat limited, and our events are currently capped at 16 players, we can't wait to have organized play return!

Join us July 16th at 6pm, July 17th at 1pm, or July 18 at 1pm, for our first PRERELEASE EVENT in more than a year!!

Masks are recommended for the unvaccinated and the play space will be cleaned in between each event for the rest of 2021 and beyond.

Modern Horizons 2

MTG Modern Horizons 2 Prerelease!

Event Info:
We will be announcing additional information June 1st, but we are hopeful that Modern Horizons 2 will be our first in-person event since early 2020.
IF we are able to host an in-person event, masks and social distancing will be required.
Events will be restricted to a 10-person limit and reservations are encouraged!

Modern Horizons 2 prerelease kits, in-person or at-home, will be $49.99.

At-home participants will not receive prize support as Wizards isn't providing it for MH2.
More info June 1st!

+ Product will be limited! +

Preorders on Set Booster Boxes will require a $50 deposit and the full price of $269.99+tax must be paid-off by June 10th.

Draft booster boxes will not be available for purchase and our very small allocation will be used for drafts throughout the summer.

Unlike standard set releases, we do not expect to have a lot of extra product for MH2. Preorders are strongly recommended.

Best Co-op Games of 2020


Not us. This picture needs a dog and way more snacks. The creepy faces are pretty close though

2020 will likely go down as the year people spent the most time at home and indoors. Gaming provided a much needed escape from the craziness that was life.

There were a few games that helped bring people together in a time we were all so isolated. Here is a list of the best co-op games 2020 had to offer. It's unranked and there is a combination of online and couch co-op for those in all quarantine styles.

In the case of all these games, my player two was my husband. We only needed couple's counseling after one of these titles, I promise.

Drake Hollow


Developer: The Molasses Flood

I'll be honest. I was originally only drawn to Drake Hollow because of the Drakes. I'm a sucker for creatures with cute character design. But Drake Hollow was more than just a "cute" game.

Players are transported to the world of The Hollow where plant-based creatures called Drakes live in the shadow of deadly beasts. It's the player's job to provide shelter and food for the Drakes while defeating enemies who aim to destroy everything you build. You hunt for resources and battle foes all while keeping your Drakes happy. They will literally die when hungry or bored.

This game was a perfect co-op experience in my house. Hubby likes games with resource management. He enjoys building and crafting the perfect village. I like games in spite of resource management. I much prefer to beat up waves of incoming enemies. This game was a nice balance of both game styles. It's a must play if you're looking for a game session that is long but casual.

Risk of Divorce: 2/5. Just make sure you agree on how to spend resources

Spelunky 2


Developer: Mossmouth/Blitworks

Spelunky 2 is a roguelike platformer with randomly generated levels. You play as explorers on the moon, making your way through traps and enemies in the search of treasure and your missing parents.

We didn't get very far in Spelunky 2, although not for lack of trying. Someone (husband) kept triggering traps and someone else (me) would summon the ghost. The enemy ghost appears when you take too long looking for the end of the course ooooor forget which button is let go vs throw and you break the cursed vase (only happened a few times I swear).

I'm very much a "look before you leap" kind of gamer. My motto is 'slow and steady wins the race'. My husband is a full steam ahead kind of guy. His motto is, 'why aren't you holding the run button?!'. I'll admit, Spelunky 2 is definitely a game that punishes standing still. Linger in one area too long and you're guaranteed to be hit by a hidden enemy, drop through a platform, or anger a vengeful ghost. BUT, charge forward too fast and you won't see danger until it's too late. Quick and chaotic is Spelunky's M.O which made for a hilarious (and only slightly salty) game night.

Risk of Divorce: 4/5. "SLOW DOWN GOD DAMMIT!"

Unrailed!


Developer: Indoor Astronaut

Unrailed! is a seemingly simple game. Gather resources to build an endless track through procedurally generated worlds to keep your train from stopping.

But rivers, animals, enemies, fire, and poor communication skills will stop your train dead in its tracks. This is the one co-op game I played this year that gave me serious Overcooked vibes. The way to succeed is for each player to execute their individual tasks as if they were cogs in a well oiled machine. If communication breaks down and all players harvest wood when someone needed to gather rock, you can kiss your train goodbye. I might be speaking from experience on that one.

I wouldn't put Unrailed! on our "Always and Forever" game list, but it's a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Risk of Divorce: 3/5. Stay on your side of the screen

HyperParasite


Developer: Troglobyte Games

My introduction to HyperParasite was my husband jumping on the couch next to me and saying, "Want to play HyperParasite?". If anyone ever asks you the same question, the answer should always be YES.

HyperParasite is an arcade style roguelike mix between a shooter and a beat 'em up. You play as an alien invading 1980s America by snatching bodies and fighting the other citizens. Each character you possess has different attacks and abilities.

As you've been reading, my husband and I have many different play styles. A big difference is he likes range and I like melee. HyperParasite is great because we were each able to target characters to possess based on our preferred method of combat.

Like any good roguelike, half of the fun is unlocking new characters and learning new tricks to progress farther through the game. This is definitely a game we'll be picking up again.

Risk of Divorce: 2/5. The struggle is what makes it enjoyable

Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time


Developer: Toys for Bob

Crash 4 is N. Sanely fun (sorry). For those unfamiliar with the franchise, you play as Crash, a bandicoot tasked with defeating Neo Cortex and Dr. N. Tropy before they conquer this dimension. The game is a 3D platformer where you jump and spin to destroy enemies, break crates, and explore for hidden paths on your way to the end of the course.

Local co-op works by handing the controller back and forth between deaths, levels, or checkpoints. The switching is handled by the game itself which is great for keeping controller hogging siblings (or spouses) in check.

The level design in this iteration of Crash is fantastic. It's difficult but smooth and rewarding at the same time. Co-op is particularly fun. Expertly moving past an area your partner died is supremely satisfying... until they do the same to you!

Risk of Divorce: 2/5. I don't recommend comparing death counts

Last of Us Part II


Developer: Naughty Dog

OK. Hear me out on this one. Last of Us Part II should be played co-op.

The game takes place years after the events in The Last of Us. You play as Ellie and new-comer Abby. The game is an action-adventure with all the shooting, stealth, and melee indicative of the genre. It's hard to say much more without ruining the story, and let me tell you, you do not want the story to be spoiled.

We have a problem in our house. My husband and I both enjoy single person narrative games. This isn't a big deal for cross-platform titles like Assassin's Creed as he prefers PC and I prefer console. But when a game is a console exclusive, we're in trouble.

My husband and I have similar schedules so if one person plays the game the other has to hide in the bedroom or risk the story being spoiled to the point where playing it themselves is kind of pointless (RIP Spider-Man, I'll love you from afar). As we were both really excited about TLoU2, the only fair thing we could come up with was to pass the controller.

Oh man. Right move. The Last of Us Part II has an incredible narrative. I was worried I'd get bored watching him play on his turns but I was completely engrossed. It's raw and emotional. All of the character felt real and relatable. All elements of gameplay tie perfectly with the story, making it hard to take my eyes off the screen. For once, we were able to talk about the story as it unfolded instead of worrying about spoilers. The game is linear, so there was no fighting over things like which way to go or what quests to do. It ended up feeling like an interactive movie experience. I highly recommend going through this game with another person if you haven't played it already.

Risk of Divorce: 1/5. But only if you're not a jerk about passing the controller

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout


Developer: Mediatonic

We picked this up on PlayStation+ not really expecting much. It's platformer based which we both love but also a battle royal which neither of us are particularly into. It quickly drew us in and we became addicted!

We turned this into local multiplayer by handing the controller back and forth between either rounds or deaths, depending on the mood of the night. Eventually we got PC copies so we could play together. Both methods were equally fun. The levels are so silly, the person not actively playing still had a great time watching the other. If you watch shows like Wipeout, Fall Guys is for you!

Risk of Divorce: 0/5 if playing separately or passing the controller between deaths. 5/5 if passing between rounds. Don't fuck up!

Morkredd


Developer: Hyper Games

This is the only game in 2020 that made me say out loud, "WTF is this game?".

Well. It's a physics based puzzle game for two people. You share an orb of light that must be pushed through the world along with you as you progress. To enter the darkness is to die. And Morkredd takes the concept seriously. Even crossing into the shadow of the other player is instant death. Considering the shadows move as you move, this can be incredibly frustrating. My husband and I would frequently cast a shadow on the other player and we'd have to start the area over. Our dog may be scarred from the shouting.

The game is only a couple hours long. Over the course of the narrative, the characters travel from abandoned monuments to a world that was as strange as it was terrifying. In the last few minutes of gameplay the mechanics shift completely and feel slightly discordant with everything up until that point.

I'm genuinely unsure how to feel about this game. That being said, I recommend it and will be checking out anything else Hyper Games comes out with in the future. It felt unique and weird and was very different from things we've played in the past. It's worth taking a few hours to experience. Turn off all your lights, get your counselor on speed dial, and play this ASAP.

Risk of Divorce: 6/5. BRB. Off to destroy every light in our house.

Spiritfarer


Developer: Thunder Lotus

Did I say this list was unranked? I lied. Spiritfarer is my personal GOTY. The art is incredible, the music is perfect, and the entire game is just so damn wholesome.

In single-player mode you play as Stella, the new ferry-master of the dead. Co-op makes Stella's cat Daffodil playable.

The game is about coming to terms with death. You gather resources to improve your ferry and fulfill the last wishes of the spirits. You learn about the lives of the dead as you travel across the map. You grow food, cook, weave, and smith.

I said previously that resource management is not my jam but it's done so well in Spiritfarer. I never get bored of playing music for my plants or catching jelly fish.

The addition of Spiritfarer in this list is a little bit of a cheat as I played mostly single player. But if playing with someone else gets you to pick up this game I'll gladly promote the co-op version.

Risk of Divorce: 0/5. It's just too cozy.

Honorable Mentions - aka, games we didn't get a chance to play but are considered great, games that we didn't like but others might, and games that can be multiplayer but aren't at its core.

Sort of Multiplayer:

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons - I know it's blasphemous to some to not put it on the main list, but other than buying/selling turnips and showing off your island, multiplayer seemed pretty pointless. Don't let a lack of friends to play with hold you back from this title.
  • Ghost of Tsushima - We tried to play this at launch like we played TLoU2 but its open world style doesn't really lend itself to that kind of game play. Now that official co-op has been released we're going to have to try again. I very much recommend single player though.

Games We Didn't Play:

  • Phasmaphobia - Our friends loved it, we just haven't picked it up. I'd recommend it on their recommendation alone.
  • Moving Out - This one bums me out. It was a highly anticipated release for us. Soon.
  • The Dark Picture Anthology: Little Hope - We enjoyed Until Dawn and Man of Medan. Honestly, this one will probably have to wait until Halloween 2021.
  • Grounded - OK, we played for like an hour and didn't get back around to it. It's hard to recommend it on the little I experienced. General internet consensus is that it's pretty good. And anything that will let me nerf spiders is OK in my book.

Games that were only OK:

  • Totally Reliable Delivery Service - I was really excited for this leading up to its release. It looked up our alley (silly physics, fun animation). Unfortunately it got repetitive pretty quick for us and there's not enough story to get by on that alone. You should still check it out, just maybe wait for a sale.

 

Were there any great multiplayer game released in 2020 we missed? How about co-op games you're excited for in 2021? Let us know!

 

 

- Shayn

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot (Pt. 2)

Happy 2021 everybody!

Alright, enough context. I promised you a list in Part 1 and tonight I'm cleaning out my closet on the games that made me rubberneck in 2020. The ones that got away.


Is this how you meme?

Here are the Top 25 games.. I DIDN'T play, that I probably should of found time for.

25. Dreams


Full English Breakfast created and rendered in Dreams
(Image credit: John Beech / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

I love me some game makers. And Media Molecule's Dreams is one hell of a game maker. I did actually purchase the early release of this game and dabbled in it a little, but overall it may of just been the wrong time (or wrong platform?) for Dreams. I think that if I wanna make something fun over a weekend I still might gravitate to games like Super Mario Maker 2 and if I wanna go a bit deeper I probably want to have a mouse in my hand and the resources of a PC, not a PlayStation. But boy, it sure is neat. Just look at that English Breakfast!

24. Chicken Police: Paint It Red


I mean just look at it!

Apparently I'm a sucker for photo-realistic animal characters in human situations - looking at you Hatoful Boyfriend. Only releasing in November 2020, The Wild Gentlemen's narrative-driven noir adventure looks like a great way to spend a rainy weekend. It's got some pretty great voice acting, ridiculous cut-scenes, sexy lemurs, and it seems to really leans into its schtick.

23. Treachery in Beatdown City

Between this game and #18 on this list, it was a pretty good year for people who like retro-themed beat-em ups and brawlers. NuChallenger's Treachery in Beatdown City puts a slight twist on the usual beat-em-up formula by adding some turn-based RPG-style combat. Plus it's got a ton of style, showcased by the dance-move combos that zoom the camera in with each successful hit.

22. Unto the End

Released on December 9th, I haven't heard much about Unto the End by 2 Ton Studios but boy am I hopeful! Following a simple story of getting home to your family in a cruel and minimalistic winter fantasy world, the combat looks intense and precise and seems like the kind of game you could beat in a weekend if it grabs ya. Hopefully I can cozy up with this dark game sometime in January.

21. Bloodroots

2020 was quite a year for players who enjoy heavy action in a winter themed, Nordic medieval setting. Developed by Paper Cult, the high adrenaline Bloodroots is reminiscent of other fast-paced top-down action games like Hotline Miami or Ape Out. You'll utilize every weapon you can to not lose momentum on your path of retribution as one hit from an enemy takes you out.

20. 13 Setinels: Aegis Rim

Though I don't actually dislike them, I've always found it fun to kind of dunk on "overly" anime games or JRPGs in general. It's something about how crazy passionate their fanbase is that I can't help but poke the weeb from time to time. But even I can't deny how cool Vanillaware's 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim looks! With the gameplay divided between beautifully rendered side-scrolling adventure segments and real-time strategy battles it's presents tropes like high-schoolers and kaijus in a way you likely haven't seen before. Currently only available for the PS4, with an expected PC and Switch release in 2021.

19. Paradise Killer


Yo you like weird games?

Now here is a unique title. You play a detective - or a "investigation freak" - in a strange open-world vaporwave city with characters like Lady Love Dies and Doctor Doom Jazz. With most reviews calling it a new standard for detective-games this utterly strange game might be one of the best hidden gems of the year.

18. Streets of Rage 4

Possibly the first entry on my list that would be considered blasphemous by some for not playing before my Game of the Year decision. I've generally heard nothing but praise for the retro throwback that is Streets of Rage 4. Even though I was always a bit more of a Final Fight kind of guy, I'm hoping to get some co-op going on this game and River City Girls now that both are available on Game Pass.

17. Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition

I've been hearing people praise Cardboard Computer's Kentucky Route Zero since the first episode released on phones back in 2013 and never picked it up. Critics drool over the story, calling it one of the best in modern gaming, but like a critically acclaimed oscar-winning movie I've just found it too intimidating or too slow to really jump in. Maybe 2021 will finally be the year I do now that I know it has finally released its final chapter after seven years.

16. Among Trees

A bit of a cheat, as I did play Among Trees for maybe an hour or so back in June 2020. Another game this last year that made me feel more hesitant about early access games than I used to be - as it ran very poorly on my PC. However, I'm a sucker for survival games, especially those with a gorgeous artstyle, and plan to be chopping down trees and monitoring my temperature again in 2021!

15. Phogs


Alone in the world is the little Catdog - erm - Phogs!

The only reason I haven't played this fun and mechanically-goofy game is it's just a bit spendier than I like my single weekend husband-wife co-op games to be ($24.99), so we're holding out for a sale. But if you like couch co-op games that force you to work like Heave-Ho! or Overcooked than this game looks perfect!

14. Maneater


"Nom"

There would of been a lot of years where I found the time to play a game like Maneater, it is just so pure-and-simple, like a Destroy All Humans or Hulk Ultimate Destruction. Sometimes it is fun to just play a "video game" ass video y'know? This will be a play-right-away kind of game the weekend it hits Game Pass or gets discounted below $19.99.

13. Moving Out


Boomer joke: "Pivot!"

Another charming couch co-op "work together" game. I was actually given a gift card at my wedding by a good friend who knew that my wife and I loved Overcooked to purchase Moving Out back in 2019, so this game is ready to go on my hard drive and just needs the free time. With Q1 of 2021 looking somewhat slow it may be finally time to move in with some Moving Out.

12. Cloudpunk


Cyberpunk 1997, eat your heart out.

From everything I can gather, this might be the second-best cyberpunk themed game that came out this year, and no the first isn't Cyberpunk 2077 - more on that in another article. Developer ION LANDS created a minimal approach to the genre with their neon-noir game about a delivery driver in a rain-drenched cyberpunk metropolis, rendered in a beautiful voxel graphic-style. Honestly even just writing about this game makes me want to check it out, so don't be surprised if you see this one on another list later this month!

11. Deep Rock Galactic

Mining, gathering, survival? Check. Fighting off waves of enemies L4D-style with friends? Check. Dwarves!? Double check. This game was practically made for me and the only reason I didn't get around to it is many of the friends I normally would play this kind of game with had full parties upon release! With it now on Game Pass, I'll be doing some dwarven delving sooner or later, you can count on that.

Side note:

Now things get spicy, these are the games that I fully acknowledge need to be played before really deciding on a Game of the Year. These are the kind of games that if I wrote about games as a living I would treat playing them as a "crucial" part of the job. If you loved any of the games on this list, please harass me to get me to play them, because I know I should!

10. Astro's Playroom


Don't skip the fantastic PSVR Astro Bot Rescue Mission!

...and Demon's Souls and anything else worth playing on a PlayStation 5. Because I don't have one! But to be frank, the stuff I hear about Astro's Playroom has been the only thing that has given me that fear-of-missing-out. Demon's Souls and new hardware are really cool and exciting, but the only thing that really matters to me with a new generation is innovation - and it sounds like Astro's Playroom has that in spades mostly thanks to the haptic feedback experience provided by the game and the PS5 dualsense controller. Unless Ratchet and Clank takes that haptic feedback baton and runs with it, Astro's Playroom will be the first thing I boot up upon getting a PS5.

9. Desperados III

This game made by Mimimi Games really snuck up on me. Coming out in June, right around the time we were re-opening shop after 3 months of lockdown, it completely went under my radar until later in the year. Even then I largely dismissed it as just another wild west game or XCOM clone. Now after seeing it on many people's best of the year list I think I may have underestimated it! Divinity II Tactician Mode taught me a love for turn-based single-combat encounters that can take hours to complete, which seems to be the bread and butter of this game from what I can tell. Every year gives PC gamers one truly-great isometric game, either tactics or CRPG, and this just might be 2020's.

8. Wasteland 3


When I see that bird's eye view, isometric gameplay, I come runnin!

Or perhaps Wasteland 3 is our isometric game of 2020... and yeah, maybe I took the easy route by putting them side-by-side of this list, but hey - my list! Unlike Desperados III this isometric game is a good ol' classic RPG (Divinity II, Fallout 1-2, Baldur's Gate I-III, etc.) a genre near-and-dear to my heart. With great reviews, Game Pass, and co-op - I'm not really sure why I haven't played this yet.

7. Paper Mario: The Origami King

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the all-time great SNES RPGs, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is incredible, and the first couple Mario & Luigi RPG games on GBA were also fantastic. But those were all a long time ago, and 2012's Paper Mario: Sticker Star might be one of the worst purchases I've made in the last ten years.

After watching my better-half mostly bounce off of Origami King around launch, with its slow start and a seemingly obtuse combat system, I was ready to skip this one. But the more and more I hear about the charming dialogue and the places you go in the game the more I think I might need to find time for it.

6. Spider-Man: Miles Morales


Swinging in a snowy city sure does look pretty jolly.

In 2018, when most people were arguing God of War vs. Red Dead Redemption 2 for game of the year, my personal pick was easily Spider-Man - with maybe Celeste as a close 2nd. You would think a follow-up staring Miles, who I had just got to know in the best-of-its-kind Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse movie, would of been a day one game for me. But it wasn't. I'm not sure if it was the shorter experience at a fairly high cost, roughly 8 hours for $49.99 - or that they made such a big deal about the no load times thing with the PS5 and I decided to wait - even when I do get a PS5 I expect this game to slide down the priority list with every Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart or God of War Ragnarok that comes out. Sorry Spidey.

5. Final Fantasy VII Remake


Did anyone else just wanna do combat as only Tifa the whole time?

Remember how I said JRPGs don't really click so much with me lately? I really didn't want that to happen with this one. During my teen years I maxed the game clock on Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX. With FF9 being one of my favorite games of all-time, and 7 and 8 being fairly upper tier, I really, really, wanted to fall head-over-heels for this one.
But then I didn't...

This game is probably the biggest cheat on this whole Games I Should Of Played list, because I put about 3-5 hours into it. Not nearly enough to make a verdict, but if I had to give one off the little that I played, well it wouldn't make my Top 25. Yes, it was gorgeous, and the combat system was interesting - though certain characters certainly felt better than others - and for a short moment, when I was running through the Mako Reactor at the beginning of the game, it had me groovin'.

Jump cut to a few hours later, and I'm chasing cats and finding myself lost in the slums of Midgar and honestly kind of bored. I just set it down and never went back. Any game of this list could be "right game, wrong time" where I just wasn't in that proper state-of-mind, I just really wanted to like this game.

4. Doom Eternal


I don't know if this is a spoiler? But it sure screams Doom Eternal to me.

Talk about buyer's remorse. Not because I played it, but because I didn't until it was free. I've mentioned Game Pass a few times on this list because it is really changing how I, and a lot of people, play and purchase games. The fear of missing out around launch can be now equaled by the regret-of-buying-and-not-playing a game until it's free or subscription.

It isn't fair to Doom Eternal that the first paragraph I mention on it has to do with stupid game market stuff, but here we are. I generally liked Doom 2016, though not as much as most of the industry or my friends (Titanfall 2 is the real shooter of 2016 - just sayin'), but I was excited to get into Doom Eternal. But here we are today, game clock is at zero, even after telling myself how perfect of a Halloween game it would of been.

Maybe in Halloween 2021? Sorry Cain.

3. Nioh 2

It's been sealed and ready to go on my TV stand since last Spring! And I loved the first Nioh! After mostly banging my head against Demon's Souls on the PS3, the first Dark Souls, and Bloodborne - I had a great respect for their design but overall kind of sucked at them. Something about the first Nioh not only worked for me, but I felt like it trained me how to play "Souls-like" games. How to position yourself, how to find your play and weapon style, etc.

I have very little doubt in my mind that I would of loved Nioh 2 and it could crack the top of my list. If I am going to play any of these games in the next couple of weeks before I finalize my Top Games of 2020, I'm going to be playing Nioh 2 and the final two entries in our list.

2. Spiritfarer


To all the pretty kitties and fat cats out there.

These kind of games are important to me right now. It's indie, it has co-op, beautiful and unique art, and good positive vibes. In all mediums, I believe we needs more optimistic view points. But most importantly, the person whose opinion I respect above all others - has this as one of her favorite gaming experiences of the year - and that's enough for me.

In 2020 my year was defined by a disease that starts with the letter "C" - and it sure as hell wasn't Covid-19.

I'm actually not sure if I really am quite ready to play a heart-warming game about "Learning to Say Goodbye" right now... but someday soon I might be, and when I am I'll be sure glad that a game like Spiritfarer exist.

1. Half-Life: Alyx



















I'm one of those Half-Life people. Y'know the ones, they played Half-Life or Half-Life 2 at just the right age and at the right time and nothing will likely ever come close to the golden child that is Gordon Freeman and his little gravity gun that could.

It will forever be the measuring stick that all games, especially those that claim to move an industry or genre forward, are measured by to me. Half-Life 3 confirmed is an "arrow-in-the-knee" tier overused meme because of the fools like me who went into every E3 for the last 15 years going... yeah but what if they did?

This might not be Half-Life 3, but it sure sounds incredible. The worst part about this is that I do actually have a Oculus Rift right here, next to my computer as I type this - but apparently I'm also one of those people who finds plugging in a few wires and standing up a "chore" - yikes.

I'm grateful that Half-Life: Alyx is getting so much love across the industry this awards season, I need that last little push to get my lazy ass to jump in. If this game isn't mentioned in my Top 25 Games of the Year list - know that one way or another, this game is actively haunting me.

In The End

Well there you go. I've confessed my sins and laid my cards out on the table. If your favorite game of 2020 isn't mentioned in my Final Top 25... then this list will tell you that I'm at least a little bit aware that it's good. If your favorite game isn't on either list...
Well that's on you.

Thanks for at least scrolling down to the bottom! We'll keep the 2020 fun going and start looking ahead to 2021 in the next few posts. Cheers!

- Cameron

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot (Pt. 1)

Cameron makes peace with his 2020 backlog.


"The flames of Love extinguished, and fully past and gone."

I often wonder if I enjoy thinking about or discovering video games more than I enjoy playing them. The research, the window-shopping, the thrill of the hunt.

At the end of each year, we focus heavily on the beginning of the next. But with this article, I want to focus on finishing 2020 and finding closure, before jumping into 2021.

Whenever a game catches my eye during a studio presentation or a game sounds interesting on a podcast I add it to my yearly list. To make sense of this chaotic year, we need to trim the fat off this list.

I played about forty of the nearly one-hundred games that made my list this year. There are at least ten games on that list that I need to play before ranking my top ten of the year, more on those in Part 2.

But first, we'll make our peace with those 50 games that will likely be left behind.


We all love Helen, even if most of us didn't play Watch Dogs Legion.

The Hard Cuts

Maybe these games get patched, or maybe I'm just underestimating them, but these games are sitting on my wishlists right now and unless they fall into my lap via a massive discount or Game Pass, I don't see myself finding time for them.

For the sake of context, we'll loosely categorize them instead of ranking them:

LAUNCH DISAPPOINTMENT:

The momentum got sucked out of these games after a rocky start. Maybe they pulled off some sort of No Man's Sky or Sea of Thieves turnaround, maybe they don't.

  • Battletoads
  • Deadly Premonition 2
  • Marvel's Avengers
  • Port Royale 4
  • Torchlight III
  • Warcraft III


2020 started with a mediocre remake of my favorite RTS of all-time. Sigh.

Good (just not for me):

These games are good, they might even be your game of the year, they sure aren't mine though.

  • Legends of Runeterra
  • Star Wars: Squadrons
  • Valorant


I promise I actually like League of Legends and Star Wars - just not this stuff.

TOO MANY INDIE GAMES:

These games could haunt me. I play more "indie" games than the average bear, but it's an embarrassment of riches for gamers who like interesting, artsy, unique experiences and one man cannot play them all.

  • Dandara: Trials of Fear
  • Lair of the Clockwork God
  • Ooblets
  • Paper Beast
  • Shantae and the Seven Sirens
  • Umurangi Generation

(Please comment if I'm really sleeping on a gem with these though!)


Umurangi Generation. Pokemon Snap + cool-weird-ass art... perhaps it's not too late...

RIGHT CONCEPT, WRONG YEAR:

These are games that ten years ago I might have found time for. Maybe they lost momentum or simply lived in the shadows of better games released within their respective genres. But these games had all the right pieces to grab me but just never got there.

  • Bugsnax
  • Immortal Fenyx Rising
  • Minecraft Dungeons
  • Resident Evil 3 Remake
  • Total War Saga: Troy
  • Watch Dogs: Legion


Bugsnax: More detective/adventure game than the Viva Pinata game I had hoped it was.
Plus no PlayStation 5, so GG.

Honorable Mentions

These three games I decided to excluded from the Top 25 List in Part 2.

Horizon zero dawn - pc version


Someday Aloy, someday.

A game that like many fell under the shadow of Zelda: Breath of the Wild during it's initial release, it is one of my wife's absolute favorite games of the last decade. I'm a believer in the games that the people I believe in love, as you'll see in my list of regrets in Part 2, and this game will always be a "Don't Stop Believing" title for me because of that.

Unfortunately, this game had a pretty rough launch of PC, especially regarding framerate, and the game was largely unplayable at first. There have been some patches and things seem smoother now, so I'm hoping to give this game the good honest shot it deserves in 2021. *crosses fingers*

Iron harvest - early access


Artist: Jakub Rozalski

Wherever the artist Jakub Rozalski goes, I will follow. I just got the board game Scythe for Christmas and am loving it!

But regarding the Real-time Strategy game based off of his art, Iron Harvest, I've become pretty cautious with early access games as of late. Both Baldur's Gate III and Cyberpunk 2077 released very early builds that I enjoyed a ton, but because of their flaws I kept getting booted out of an experience that could of otherwise been Game of the Year worthy.

I've decided to be patient with games I think might have that secret sauce for me. I'll wait until they are fully cooked and give them the honest shot they deserve.

world of warcraft: shadowlands


An expansion about death in a game that may never die.

I'll always love WoW. When the horn calls with a new expansion, I tend to answer.

Not this year though. Maybe WoW: Battle for Azeroth left me feeling meh. Maybe I played to much of my other lifelong comfort food game, Minecraft, during lockdown. Maybe.

I've been hearing above average things regarding Shadowlands, especially regarding quick leveling, if the early months of 2021 are slow I might find myself hanging out with friends in good ol' Ironforge again.

Until we meet again

As strange as it is to write an article about the games you wanted to play, but didn't...
I'm sure glad you're here! Thanks for reading! This process helps organize my thoughts and I mostly want this blog to act as an archive of those processes.

If you enjoyed this, please check out my Top 25 Games I should of played in PART 2!

- Cameron

2020 Year in Review articles:

 

2020: The Year That Was

Find this an other articles on our new blog!

Good riddance.


Obligatory dumpster fire representation.

A year that was both fascinating and horrifying. Let's frolic through the burning landfill that was 2020 one last time together shall we?

A year that saw E3 get cancelled, a new Half-Life release, the acquisition of Bethesda by Microsoft, death-threats, delays, and disappointments. We'll go through the year quarterly and try to make sense of the this very strange year.

Q1 (Jan, Feb, and March)

The year started off with a whimper, as reports of a contagious disease in China began to first appear in our headlines, many of us were going to the movies to see what just might be the last film we would see in theatres: Sonic the Hedgehog!

It was actually pretty alright for a kids-focused movie, and it went on to become the highest-grossing video game film adaptation of all time in North America.

Video game releases were pretty underwhelming throughout January and February. Journey to the Savage Planet, Dreams, and the re-release of Tokyo Mirage Sessions on the Switch stand-out among a handful of disappointing titles including Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics, and Warcraft III Reforged.

March, however, brought the sun. Possibly the best month of the year for games, we got Black Mesa, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Granblue Fantasy Versus, Nioh 2, Persona 5 Royal, Doom Eternal, and Half-Life: Alyx.

Though no game dominated the first quarter, or even the first half of the year, more than Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

A game that will forever be attached to the covid-19 pandemic, so many of us found ourselves under lock-down just in time to explore a bright cheerful world of animals and islands.

By the end of the year it would become the Nintendo Switch's second best-selling game to date, and in Japan would become the second-highest selling game of ALL-TIME! Behind only Pokémon Red and Blue!

Q2 (Apr, May, and June)

The second-quarter of the year started to feel the impact of the pandemic.

Games like Cyberpunk 2077 were delayed until September, only to be again delayed until December. Annual video game industry tradeshow, E3, is cancelled for the first time since 1996. Microsoft shuts down Mixer, Sony unveils the PS5, and Dr. Disrespect got banned from Twitch.

In the last few years E3 has lost publishers, leaked private information, and skipped a year due to pandemic. Will E3 2019 be remembered as its last year?

We saw a ton of big titles between April and June, including the largely well-received but still slightly polarizing Final Fantasy VII Remake and Last of Us Pt. II.

Naughty Dog's Last of Us Pt. II was especially controversial, as many fans took to the internet to voice their displeasure over story and character decisions, even sending death threats to the incredible actors behind these characters.


Ellie and Abby. Unforgettable characters from 2020.

Other strong releases include: Valorant, Resident Evil 3, Streets of Rage 4, Minecraft Dungeons, Xenoblade Chronicles D.E. and make sure to check-out Deep Rock Galactic, Huntdown, Monster Train and HyperParasite if you haven't!

Q3 (Jul, Aug, and September)

Misconduct and controversy continue to dominate headlines going into the second-half of 2020. The Smash Bros. and EVO community face the repercussions of a toxic and sexual abuse allegations, Halo Infinite is delayed after a poor showing, and EPIC and Apple begin their legal disputes.

Big rich company calls out another big rich company by using a dated reference.

One of the biggest moves came in September when Microsoft announced it would be buying Bethesda for a record $7.5 billion. This move would bring the studios that make some of the biggest franchises in the industry (Skyrim, Fallout, and Doom) under the Microsoft brand.


That's a lot of nuts.

The third quarter is always big for game releases, critical darlings like Ghosts of Tsushima, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Crusader Kings III and the final release of Hades, debut to critical acclaim. Paper Mario: The Origami King, Wasteland 3, Tony Haw's Pro Skater 1 and 2 all release positively.

We got sleeper hits and sticky wickets. Fall Guys completely took over 2020, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other 2020 phenomes like Animal Crossing and Among Us. Games that should of been sure-fire hits like Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Marvel's Avengers managed to garner bad press due to either their limited release or lack of overall polish. While Nintendo would find a profit, as of writing this three months after the release of Avengers, Square Enix still hasn't turned a profit.


As of late November 2020, Square Enix is reporting a $60+ million loss on Avengers.

Spelunky 2, Spiritfarer, and 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim were standout hits for the indie or smaller game scene. Other great titles that came out this quarter you should be sure to check-out include: CrossCode, Carrion, Roki, Grounded, Risk of Rain 2, Unrailed, and one of my personal favorites, Little Big Workshop!

Q4 (Oct, Nov, and December)

The end of a very strange year saw both BioWare and Ubisoft continue to struggle. The former seeing the departures of key members like Casey Hudson and Mark Darrah, the latter continuing to face toxic workplace accusations and controversy surrounding their "Women Don't Sell" fiasco involving the lead character in 2018's Assassin's Creed Odyssey.

However, two storylines stand alone at the end of the year, the messy release of the Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 consoles and the even messier release of Cyberpunk 2077.

We already covered those Cyberpunk screw-ups here. As very few friends or customers have been able to get a PS5 or XBOX due to horrible internet queues and scalper-bots, more on that in 2021 I guess?


Are we really sure these consoles actually exist hmmmm?

While some lucky people were playing Astro's Playground, Bugsnax, or Demon's Souls. The rest of us finished out the year with games like Yakuza: Like A Dragon, Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, Star Wars Squadrons, and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Call of Duty BLOPS Cold War, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, and Pikmin 3 Deluxe all came out to above average scores but none seemed to set the world on fire.


This one goes out to all them kitties.

We end the year with a few odd balls.

Among Us completely took over Twitch.

Cats around the world are terrorized by Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit.

While Cyberpunk 2077 can sometimes be a neat experience if the stars align for you, the real best cyberpunk game of 2020 goes to smooth as silk Ghostrunner.

Smaller but focused games like The Survivalists, Raji: An Ancient Epic, Carto, Empire of Sin, and Immortals Fenyx Rising give us something to stay cozy with during the holidays.


Game of the Year that didn't come out this Year: Among Us

Button. 2020. EJECT.

 

- Cameron

Yuletide Peril: Holiday-themed MTG

Find this and other articles at our blog.

In Christmas past, when we could gather in the game store, we made a fun little holiday-themed MTG add-on.

Artist InHyuk Lee

As a game add-on or modifier, much like Explorers of Ixalan or Planeschase, it can be added to any existing Magic format.

I consider this an alpha build of the concept, it was only played once or twice in-store and several cards and mechanics need to be tweaked a bit. Its closest related official product would be the Explorers of Ixalan annex set that came out in 2017. Let's take a look.

How to Play

Players battle their way to the top of the Christmas Tree by paying mana to flip over face-down cards, each with their own powerful holiday-themed effect.

An example of what the "tree" or game board looks like at the start of the game.
With a Serra Angel on top of course.

Types of Achievements

There are three kinds of face-down achievement cards: events, quests, and landmarks.

  • Events: These achievements give an immediate effect. Often creating tokens or giving some form of card advantage.
  • Quests: These achievements remain in their command zone, providing a reward the next time a player does an action or task.
  • Landmarks: These achievements grant a continuous effect , but can be taken by other players.

Mechanics and Themes

Quests and Landmarks: Both achievement types are unique, with the former occupying the command zone until it is triggered and the later changing control between players similar to the Monarch mechanic.

Gift: Put this card onto the battlefield face down as an artifact with "(1), T: Turn this card face up, then put it into your hand."

Themes: Dark Holidays - some traditional references, but there is a lot of Nightmare Before Christmas stuff going on in this set. Mechanically: artifacts-matter, face down matters, exchanging control of permanents and tokens are found throughout the set.

Artist: Rob Sheridan

Rules

Like most board game rules, the following rules should be referenced when needed and not memorized. Each card should provide reminder text of what to do.

  • You build the ‘tree’ by placing the 10-cost card face-down at the top of the tree. Then place two 8-cost cards beneath it, followed by three 6-cost cards, nine 3-cost cards, and thirteen 1-cost cards. 7 rows all together.
  • Once per turn, at sorcery speed, you can pay the cost on a tile to reveal it, and flip it over to resolve its effects.
  • A card can only be revealed if no other cards are touching it from beneath. So a 3-cost card on the third row from the bottom would have to have any 1-cost cards below it cleared before it could be revealed.
  • Whenever your reveal would make a 3-Cost or higher card available, you can put your Little Helper marker on that card, and claim it for yourself. Until your next turn, no one else can claim that tile. You don't have to take it either, but no one else gets a shot before you do.
  • Events fire immediately. They cannot be countered, but their effects can be responded to with instants or abilities. Once they are finished, they are removed from play.
  • Quests remain with the player until the criteria are met, and then the ability resolves. This can be responded to by instants or abilities. Once they are finished, they are removed from play.
  • Landmarks sit in front of the player and resolve whenever the ability says it can.
  • Landmarks may be "Conquered" from other players. If one or more creatures deals direct combat damage to a player with a landmark, the controller of those creatures can take up to one landmark from that player. Only one site can be conquered per combat.
  • If a player loses the game outside of combat damage, the landmarks they control are removed from the game.

The Cards

Enough rules, seeing is believing, so let's get to the cards. We'll look at the three achievement types and the showcase the rares and mythics. There are 50 cards in total, with some duplicates found in the commons.

Event cards

Event cards happen immediately, tend to be powerful because they are revealed face-down and random. All achievements have a mana cost equal to their face-down reveal cost.

Quest cards

Quests remain with the player until the criteria are met, and then the ability resolves.
This can be responded to by instants or abilities. Once they are finished, they are removed from play.

Landmark cards

Landmarks may be "Conquered" from other players. If one or more creatures deals direct combat damage to a player with a landmark, the controller of those creatures can take up to one landmark from that player. Only one site can be conquered per combat.

Rares and mythics

The card Yuletide Peril is always our tree topper and the card beneath the Serra Angel topper. We try to attach the most exciting booster pack we have in stock for this big finale. Nicholas, the Old Saint is powerful and meant to impact the board like a Karn or Ugin. Love that art! (InHyuk Lee).

There was also another mythic called Winter Wonderland that was a Landmark card utilizing ice counters and untapped lands but it felt clunky during the initial playtest and needs to be totally reworked.

Christmas Yet to Come

This Christmas I hope to get a few more playtests in and really polish some of these cards and mechanics. But overall I feel pretty happy with this mini set add-on. A friend and I are also talking about taking this and turning it into a full holiday/seasonal themed set with all the big holidays against each other, Easter Bunny vs Santa.

I'll post a follow-up with a recap of how some of the games went and what changes were made. We'll post a printable .pdf for everyone to playtest at home.

Any questions, comments, or rule questions/improvements are appreciated.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone! May we all be able to gather together to play some magic by Christmas 2021! Cheers!

 

- Cameron

New In-Store Hours!

 

New Hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday - Saturday: 11:00am to 7:00pm

Sunday: Noon to 6:00pm

Come say Hi!

 

New Consoles in November

Now that the Xbox Series X (S) and the PlayStation 5 have FINALLY gotten a price and date, it's time for us to talk about allocation and availability this year.
 
Playstation 5 - November 12th - $499.99 (Digital only, $399.99)
Xbox Series X - November 10th - $499.99 (Series S, $299.99)
 
Covid has had a massive impact on our distribution network. Though much of the world has reopened, shipping is slower, allocations are lower, and products that we've never had trouble ordering in, like controllers or first-party Nintendo titles, are rarely available.
 
Because of this we are not offering preorders for either Xbox Series console or either PlayStation 5 console until sometime after launch.
 
We really appreciate all of the customers who try to shop local with us over other retailers whenever they can. We still plan to stock games and accessories for these new consoles at launch.
 
As a bonus to all of our customers who are jumping into the next generation this November with either console, we are offering $20 off any purchase of $100 or more with proof-of-purchase of a new Xbox or PS5 from ANY retailer. Offer begins November 10th.
 
Thank you for shopping with Game Play!
 
PS5 / XBOX