2019 Staff Picks | 2019 & All Time Favorites
A Year in Games (Final) Part 3
This final 2019 Look Back blog will cover our favorite Wizards of the Coast releases from 2019 as well as each of our all-time favorite games!
With these final few games, we bid 2019 adieu. Here's to more games, more play, and more joy in the new year!
Every year, Wizards of the Coast expands the ever-growing world of Dungeons & Dragons. We run as many of these settings and supplements as we can and we inevitably end up with favorites. All of the 2019 releases were represented in our results, but there was a clear winner.
Staff Favorite | Eberron : Rising from the Last War
Eberron packs a steampunk punch, with updates to locations, new abilities, and the first new class since the launch of 5th edition, the artificer. Keep an eye on our calendar for Eberron events so you too can explore the war torn, techno-magic world of Eberron!
Mattie: "Do you love ROBOTS? Do you love CHANGELINGS?! Do you love ORCS?!! Do you love DISMANTLING CORRUPT GOVERNMENTS and SEIZING THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION?!!!! Then you’ll love Eberron! I was pleasantly surprised by the uniqueness, depth, and breadth of the new toys and tools to play with – and I was even more surprised to discover that I actually liked the setting, too. Check it out; I think it’s one of Wizards of the Coast’s most creative books in a long while."
Lauren: "Noir is one of my favorite genres and I never had the chance to play in the original setting so I am so glad that Eberron has been revisited! Bringing it into 5th edition has this magical effect of again expanding what players and DMs believe they can do. Eberron is also a great option to modernize games and add more diversity.
Honorable Mention | Baldur’s Gate : Descent Into Avernus
Explore the first layer of the Nine Hells and race your way to freedom! Baldur’s Gate introduces, among other things, Infernal War Machines - which we had a lot of fun with during out October Baldur’s Gate campaign!
Johnni: “I’ve never been so excited by mechanics in an RPG. As someone who tends to shy away from “crunchier” mechanics, I was surprised at how manageable the new rules were and how much fun they added.”
Of course, Magic the Gathering continues to grow as well, releasing new sets and cards several times a year! There was a clear winner in this section, though nearly all of the sets were at least mentioned!
Staff Favorite | Modern Horizons
The first Magic set designed specifically for the Modern format, Modern Horizons has proven to be an amazingly versatile set, with useful cards and beautiful artwork!
Luis: "Full-art snow lands and more mechanics than you could possibly count! If you want a set that has a lot of depth and interesting mechanics this is the set for you. It's great for draft, has tons of cards for Commander and has changed older formats like Legacy and Modern. One of our favorite sets in recent memory!"
Honorable Mention | Commander 2019
Another release for a specific format, Commander 2019 includes four decks for the fan-favorite Commander format, a way to play Magic in a more casual, multiplayer setting! Come learn to play or try out the newest Commanders at our Casual Commander event!
Max: “I think Wizards really nailed it with this year’s commander decks. Each one is a fully-realized and exciting gateway into this increasingly popular format, and comes packed with three exclusive foil commanders and a bunch of groovy reprints. Strong and super fun right out of the box, regardless of whether you’re a commander neophyte or a grizzled EDH veteran.”
Johnni: "So I don't play Magic, but did you know there's a Commander that hatches dinosaur eggs???"
All-Time Favorite Games
The most contentious question of all in a board game store… “so which of these is your favorite?” We knew outright there would be no agreements here - most of us struggle to define which game we like best as it is, with too many games vying for our hearts at any given time.
However, answers have been made! See below for the Twenty Sided Staff’s All-Time Favorite Games!
Johnni | Kids on Bikes
“D&D might be my first love but Kids on Bikes is the true love that I never expected to find. Kids on Bikes has similar mechanics to D&D but stresses learning through failure, teamwork, and roleplaying flawed characters.
"Every game of Kids on Bikes begins with dedicated worldbuilding and relationship building that I think should be adopted by every system - and I have shamelessly stolen for my home games of D&D. Thirty minutes of this collective, collaborative worldbuilding immediately immerses everyone at the table into a fun, exciting world that is directly tied to the ragtag group of friends you have created.
"Kids on Bikes hits that Nostalgia bone as you play as kiddos just trying to make sense of the strange world around them. I don’t get to play this game as often as I like but when I do, it’s set to my favorite 80s playlist, punctuated by uproarious laughter, and usually ends with a sentimental tear or two."
Luis | Magic the Gathering
"Magic has been around for over 25 years and could legally rent a car!
"Magic is unparalleled in its strategic depth and its richness of lore. If you haven't played before, it's like a combination of chess and poker in a fantasy setting. Grab a free deck on us anytime!
"If you have played, check out one of our events! They range from purely chill and casual to fun, challenging tournament play."
Lauren | Deception Murder in Hong Kong
"This is one of the best social deduction games which, I must admit, is my favorite genre. What makes this game different is that you don’t need a lot of people to play and you don’t need to be a great liar. If you are guilty of the crime, it will have to be proven in a court of law, and that is where the fun comes in… in finding the proof you need to convict someone.
"Being the Forensic Scientist lets you present the case to the investigators as you craft a story without using words in hopes that the rest of the group can pick up what you are placing in front of them. This plays out in three rounds so the clock is ticking.
"If you like social deduction games and you enjoy Codenames, Mysterium, Dixit… you will love Murder Deception in Hong Kong."
Mattie | Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition
"I have played many digital role-playing games (RPGs) over the course of my life; Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls were an escape from my increasingly-stressful and lonely everyday life. In these worlds, I was something more than just a high-schooler with too much homework and shitty friends – I was a mage, a warrior, a commander, a champion. It was like reading a book where I was the main character. But my choices were always limited, a few options all leading towards the same or similar ends. I wanted more.
"I first played Dungeons and Dragons almost two years ago, in Richmond, Virginia, on a freezing and windy night. I clutched my newly-made character sheet nervously as I stepped into the warm little game shop and made my way to the back, where an equally-nervous DM greeted me with a smile. What if no one liked my choices? What if no one listened to me? What if I sounded awkward, or weird? Would I have to do a voice?
"My fears melted away as the game started. I came to life as Saibh, a plucky half-elf druid fresh from a sheltered grove deep in the forest. The only limits I had in this world were the limits I placed on myself: what would my character do? What information does she have? What does she want?
"I left the game store that night knowing something incredible had happened. Dungeons and Dragons inspired me to take charge of my own life, to make my own decisions, and to indulge myself in the fantastical creativity that can only be found in telling a story with others."
Max | Android Netrunner
"A perfect marriage of theme and mechanics. Multidimensional strategic depth. More tension and drama than your favorite Netflix show. In this two-player customizable card game (designed by Richard Garfield), one player is a ruthless megacorporation in the not-so-distant future, advancing its agendas and sowing capitalist dystopia. The other plays the Runner, a wily hacker seeking to successfully navigate the Corp’s defensive software and disrupt their schemes.
"Fully asymmetrical gameplay, a strong emphasis on bluffing and getting inside your opponent’s head, and a fascinating action-economy system, there’s truly nothing else like it (and believe me, I’ve checked).
"Though it has been officially discontinued, like a ghost in the machine the game lives on through the fan organization NISEI, who continues to support organized play and release new cards."
There it is - our favorite games we played in 2019! Visit us at the store to tell us what you think. You still have five days to submit your favorite games and earn 10% off your order!
Tune in tomorrow for the first day of our 12 Days of Gifting series!
Written by Johnni Medina