Best RPGs of 2012

Shoot the breeze...

Moderator: Paul

Best RPGs of 2012

Postby Luke » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:00 am

So each year I put up a post to get a feel from Wellingtonians what RPGs published that year have been their favourite. Though this thread is aimed at RPGs published in 2012 only, please feel free to mention supplements or any other RPG you encountered this year that stood out.

Last year's thread is here: http://nzrag.com/nzrbb/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=186. This one is a little earlier than previous years (I tend to post in late November) as my two other contenders have been pushed back in 2013, meaning that I am confident that the following will be the case for the remainder of the year.

I have been spending less on RPGs with each year, which in the last few years made it difficult for me to even fill out 5 places. However, this was not the case this year with what is IMO my best year for RPGs in at least 5 years if not more. I think the biggest influencing factor in that has been the growth of Kickstarter which has allowed a number of new and exciting RPGs to see print (or electro-print). To give an example of just how strong this year has been, my top 3 RPGs would have all been winners in their own right in most previous years (with D&D4e, Cthulhutech and The One Ring the only other RPGs that would contend with them).

My top five for 2012 are:

1. Tenra Bansho Zero: I am still absorbing all there is to absorb with this game. Its like a segment of my brain was turned into an RPG by someone over 15 years ago and kept secret until today. It exhibits astounding mechanical design, a sublime understanding of setting, and more fun than any three other RPGs combined. I love Japanese stories from old fashion Samurai movies to Japanese horror (from Kwaidan to Ringu) to modern anime shows. The translation by Andy K is also insightful, bringing a frank and easy understanding of Japanese culture that I find myself never really understanding depsite my plentiful exposure to it. Time will tell, but I have a feeling that TBZ will hold a top spot on my shelf for many years to come.

2. Shadows of Esteren: This RPG is just plain great. A conventional RPG that manages to bring my love of horror and fantasy together successfully. It reminds me of a modern translation of the love I had (and have) for Dragon Warriors. The setting is beautifully presented and has enough real world history to provide inspiration and enough fantasy to avoid it seeming like a hurdle. The system is also excellent with a simple yet well thought out design that is easy to play, yet flavourful too. Its very much in the vein, and one the best examples I have seen, of White Wolf RPG style of RPGing with a strong focus on character drama, whilst also bringing the best of most classic horror and fantasy horro games.

3. Marvel Heroic RPG: I can't believe this RPG is sitting 3rd on my list this year but thems the breaks :) I have always struggled with Super RPGs and MHR is the first that I feel confident to run, enjoy and get the comic book feel just right. I also love the move away from heavy setting exploration to immediately playable events allowing me to run it fast, free and easy. The only thing that held it back from the top two spots (other than the amazing games that are there) is that the initial hurdle of the system can be a challenge and I feel that the design team sometimes lose focus bith in the mechanics and the adventures.

4. Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone - 2nd edition: Greeks in space. Not much else needs to be said. You throw in the OTT nature of space opera with the OTT nature of Greek heroes and it ignites into pure awesome. You can tell its a true labour of love and one of the finest examples of one out there. The second edition brings a streamlining to the system which takes it from being straight forward but a little crufty to straight forward, decent and with some moments of real shine. This also removes the only hesitation I had for getting this RPG previously.

5. Legends of the Wulin: This is a revision of the Weapon of the Gods RPG, but with a more generic Chinese wuxia setting. I had gone on record that Weapon of the Gods 2e would be one of the best RPGs but this ultimately proved me wrong. This is a good revision in almost every way that I wanted and is now my "go to wuxia RPG". However, despite this and being more playable than its predecessor, it still feels a difficult game to play. It would require a bunch of wuxia fanboys who loved the system's approach to succeed.

A notable mention goes to Monster of the Week created and published by Mike Sands. I haven't had chance to play it, but it stands out amongst the various games of the Apocalypse World phenomena and seems more playable too. It feels well crafted and designed.

My 2011 choices: The One Ring, Mistborn Adventure Game, Fabled Lands RPG, Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition, Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2e.

My 2010 choices: Eclipse Phase, Gamma World D&D4e, Dresden Files, Eoris, Icons.

My 2009 choices: D&D4e, Mouse Guard, Summerland, Anima, WFRP3e.

My 2008 choices: CthulhuTech, Dragon Warriors, D&D4e, Dark Heresy, Grimm.

My 2007 choices: CthulhuTech, Star Wars Saga Edition, Monte Cook's World of Darkness, Savage Tales of Solomon Kane and BlissStage.

My 2006 choices: A Game of Thrones OGL, Spirit of the Century, Qin, Burning Empires and Agon.
Last edited by Luke on Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Playing: Star Wars Saga Ed
Running: Mutant Year Zero
Planning: Voidheart Symphony
User avatar
Luke
 
Posts: 443
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:13 pm

Re: Best RPGs of 2012

Postby Mike Sands » Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:47 am

For me, I didn't play too many new ones. Here's my picks:

1. The One Ring. Yes, it came out last year, but I played it this year (and have an ongoing campaign in which our heroes are turning into Beorn's trouble-shooting squad).
2. Durance. Not in my hands yet but I've read the PDF and I'm excited to try it out. It's a science fiction take on the first penal colony in Australia: you play marines, settlers, and prisoners in an unstable colony. By the people who brought us Fiasco.
3. Dungeon World. It's not exactly how I would have hacked Apocalypse World for D&D, but I've had a lot of fun with it. In particular, while playing with my daughter.

And, to throw another category in... I'm looking forward to:
1. Left Coast
2. The Sprawl
3. Bad Family
4. Numenera
Mike Sands
 
Posts: 426
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:33 am

Re: Best RPGs of 2012

Postby Anarchangel » Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:50 am

Preliminary thoughts:

I haven't read enough of the games that came out this year yet (Durance in particular, but I still have to read They Became Flesh, Our Last Best Hope and Tremulus)

Monster of the Week and Dog Eat Dog are definitely in my top 5. I love the former for its fantastic action-focused interpretation of the AW engine and the latter is probably the smartest game about a serious topic that has been written to date.
Dungeon World is likely to count (although they're running out of time). My love for this is well known, and some of you have felt it.
Love in the Time of Siedh and Witch: The Road to Lindisfarne are tightly-focused situation-based story games that are well worth the effort of tracking down.

Microscope and Monsterhearts would have been in contention, but they were 2011 publications.
Last edited by Anarchangel on Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Ardens Ludere
My games: The Sprawl; Conquering Corsairs.
Con Rotation: The Sprawl; Dungeon World.
User avatar
Anarchangel
 
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:37 pm
Location: Lewiston, Maine

Re: Best RPGs of 2012

Postby Anarchangel » Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:02 am

I'm looking forward to:
Motobushido: The Motorcycle-Samurai Roleplaying Game (10 days left on the kickstarter!),
The Regiment (Squad-level WW2 AW hack),
Undying (AW hack of Vampire: the Masquerade as a battle of beast vs humanity rather than superheroes with fangs).
Ardens Ludere
My games: The Sprawl; Conquering Corsairs.
Con Rotation: The Sprawl; Dungeon World.
User avatar
Anarchangel
 
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:37 pm
Location: Lewiston, Maine

Re: Best RPGs of 2012

Postby Steve Hickey » Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:59 am

Keeping my same qualifications as last year (that a draft published online counts as published),

In a Wicked Archipelago: A mash-up of In a Wicked Age and Archipelago, this game gives you just enough guidance when setting up characters to create a strong situation, and the way the scenes play out gives you a nice balance between structure and freedom. Ivan described it (and I paraphrase massively) as indie gaming done right.

Companions: a hack of Apocalypse World to tell stories of what happens after the Doctor dies (which gives the Doctor Who setting an amazing subtext and emotional resonance). I’m looking forward to playtesting a refined version of it (perhaps with rules for creating your own adventures), and to meeting the Master again.

Bad Family (revised): My game of animated family sit-com hijinks. Turns out this game can help you generate sweet studio audience 'awwww' moments and terrifying black comedy.

The Quiet Year: More of a map-building game than a roleplaying game, you play the various forces in a post-apocalyptic community struggling to get its act together before winter comes. It's a great game that's undergone a fair bit of work since the playtests I was involved with. Its rules elicited a lot of different opinions from our group about how our village should survive and prosper. We failed. Badly.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: This is something I did a bit of homework for before I ran it. It's a bit more system-heavy than my group usually likes, so I created (and am refining) a cut-down version of the rules for people to play through a first adventure - and in subsequent sessions I'm introducing other parts of the rules as-and-when they're needed (or when people are interested in them). I'm also developing a process for introducing the game to people (I may post about that later, because I'm interested in how others approach this).

Also played in 2012 for the first time:

Grace was a wonderful little one-page game and the characters we created have stuck in my memory.

Until We Sink was a series of melancholic and low-key conversations that my group really wants to try again.

My 2011 picks (in no particular order): Monsterhearts, Monster of the Week, Microscope, S/lay w/me, Murderous Ghosts
Steve Hickey
 
Posts: 133
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:19 am

Re: Best RPGs of 2012

Postby Anarchangel » Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:00 am

Steve Hickey wrote:The Quiet Year: More of a map-building game than a roleplaying game, you play the various forces in a post-apocalyptic community struggling to get its act together before winter comes. It's a great game that's undergone a fair bit of work since the playtests I was involved with. Its rules elicited a lot of different opinions from our group about how our village should survive and prosper. We failed. Badly.


I'm very interested to see how this turns out. I didn't get a chance to play it at Big Bad Con unfortunately.
Ardens Ludere
My games: The Sprawl; Conquering Corsairs.
Con Rotation: The Sprawl; Dungeon World.
User avatar
Anarchangel
 
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:37 pm
Location: Lewiston, Maine

Re: Best RPGs of 2012

Postby Mike Sands » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:57 pm

Anarchangel wrote:Monsterhearts would have been in contention, but they were 2011 publications.


No it wasn't! It came out around May 2012 I think - definitely this year, anyhow.
Mike Sands
 
Posts: 426
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:33 am

Re: Best RPGs of 2012

Postby Steve Hickey » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:20 am

I'm pretty sure Mike's right: I put Monsterhearts into my 2011 choices because I was playtesting a fairly complete version.
Steve Hickey
 
Posts: 133
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:19 am

Re: Best RPGs of 2012

Postby Anarchangel » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:37 am

For all that Indie game designers love to insert colophons elaborating on their choice of body font, they're very bad at including basic publication info in their books. I was going off my memory of a ton of people playing it at Kapcon, but you're right, I got in on the crowd funding campaign, and that was this year.

So add Monsterhearts to my list.
Ardens Ludere
My games: The Sprawl; Conquering Corsairs.
Con Rotation: The Sprawl; Dungeon World.
User avatar
Anarchangel
 
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:37 pm
Location: Lewiston, Maine


Return to Chat

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron