Reader’s Choice Game of the Year 2016: Pathfinder Adventures01 Jan 2017 9
As games writers, we can have all the opinions we want but none of it really matters without you, the readers. You’re the ones who indulge us, you’re the ones who support us and, ultimately, you’re the ones who deserve the final say.
There was a respectable spread of nominations, especially In the Runner-Up position of this award, but there was also no doubt as to who the winners would end up being. Which order was quite a tense affair, but Pathfinder Adventures narrowly came out on top.
This game narrowly missed out on winning Card Game of the year amongst the staff, but we can’t pull the wool over the readers’ eyes - they have made their preference known. As well as his earlier contribution, we asked Kelsey to share some words here as well as he also did the review for Pathfinders:
My understanding of homeopathy is that an active ingredient is diluted, then diluted again, and so on, growing stronger each time. Pathfinder Adventures takes roughly the same path, with the active ingredient of Dungeons and Dragons going through various dilutions through the Pathfinder tabletop RPG, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game for tabletops, and finally the digital release we could finally play this year. Except, in a Lord John Marbury-approved twist, rather than diluting each time with water, they’ve used the equivalent of fine Scotch whiskey. It retains numerous nods to the various ways in which modern players might have encountered the genius of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in the past, but with a streamlined and very slick card-based approach which evokes a story with various difficult tactical choices and long-term consequences, but fits an evening’s worth of adventure in a quarter of an hour. Marvellous post-release support has smooshed what was an initially dismaying profusion of bugs, and given us a very great deal to do in the game to help us complete the arcs of characters that, it must be admitted, start off as the top eleven adventurers in a town with eleven adventurers.
We look forward to seeing what plans Obsidian have for the game in 2017! Maybe it’ll win next year as well?
Runner-Up: Twilight Struggle
Winner of the Board Game of the Year Award, Twilight Struggle also did extremely well amongst the reader votes, coming in just behind Pathfinder.
The physical game is an amazingly tense and strategic affair, where not only do you have to carefully select which cards you want to play, you also have to make sure they get played in the right order. Coming out on top is obviously the best out-come, but if the situation deteriorates to DEFCON 1, everybody loses. Although you have to ask yourself, what’s better – that your opponent wins, or that nobody wins?
The few concerns I have about the app, that it doesn't support multi-tasking and that there is only one level of AI, simply cannot outweigh its excellence. Also, Playdek have their exterminators at DEFCON 2, and deployed their rapid bug-response teams already just three days after launch. With response time like that, I'm inclined to believe their claims that they're working on exactly those concerns. Their long investment in their own multiplayer system has paid off with what has, for me, been a flawless cross-platform experience. This game makes me feel, not just like the world is walking a tightrope and it's my job to hurry it along, but also like the pressure of grappling with another mind for the highest of stakes is irresistible to me. In real life, I'm a stay-at-home dad who reviews games and largely shuns power, but in Twilight Struggle, I'm arrogant enough to think the world is safest in my hands, and aggressive enough to enjoy it.
Well-deserved awards on both accounts, and thank you to everyone who sent in their nominations.
Wildcards & Honourable Mentions
Readers were also allowed a ‘Wildcard’ vote that covered games that didn’t meet the criteria. We had as many wildcard votes as we had voters, but here are some of the highlights:
Patchwork – “It earned only a 3 star review on release because of weak AI and patchy online play, but updates have transformed Patchwork into an excellent online experience, both for games with friends and random players.”
Plants vs Zombies Heroes – “A deceptively simple yet enjoyable card battler with some great humour, asymmetrical gameplay and a passable payment model.”
Human Resource Machine – “Because it makes me feel like a genius when I figure out a level.”
Many of the games readers voted for echoed staff picks as well and won awards accordingly, but here are some games worth mentioning that sadly didn’t make the cut:
Congratulations to everyone who won something during our 2016 Awards. There were so many great games out this year, it’s a shame we couldn’t honour them all. Bring on 2017!
To keep track of all the winners and runner-up’s in the 2016 Awards, please see the Awards Index Page.