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Matt Thrower
January 18, 2021
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January 20, 2021
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January 19, 2021
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January 19, 2021
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January 15, 2021
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Tinderblox Review

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January 15, 2021
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January 14, 2021
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January 12, 2021
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January 10, 2021
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Play Matt: Inkling Review

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January 08, 2021
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Oath

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January 07, 2021
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January 07, 2021
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Bugs Update: Recent Topics & Main Menu (11 Dec 2020)

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Barnes Best 2020

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17 Dec 2020 13:33 #317302 by Michael Barnes
Well, it looks like it’s time to drag out that...

Here For You in These Unprecedented Times

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17 Dec 2020 17:07 #317303 by ChristopherMD
Replied by ChristopherMD on topic Barnes Best 2020
Is this Felli's second GOTY from you? I recall Shadows was when it came out.

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17 Dec 2020 18:21 #317307 by Andi Lennon
Replied by Andi Lennon on topic Barnes Best 2020
Legit selections. Still waiting on my copy of Cosmic Frog and Cobble and Fog has definitely been on my radar. As for Mork Borg, well - I'll see you in Sarkash. You nailed the appeal here.

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17 Dec 2020 21:36 #317311 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Barnes Best 2020
Enjoyed the read.

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17 Dec 2020 23:58 #317312 by Dr. Mabuse
Replied by Dr. Mabuse on topic Barnes Best 2020
Thank-you Andi for your Mork Borg review, as it was the first RPG I have ever owned and ever wanted to play/run. So effin' good it's the winner on my annual, never published prestigious Game of the Year list.
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18 Dec 2020 15:13 #317324 by Josh Look
Replied by Josh Look on topic Barnes Best 2020
Kind of surprised to not see Pan Am on here. I'm still playing it months later, which as much as I love them, can't be said for most Prospero Hall games.
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19 Dec 2020 01:02 #317333 by Michael Barnes
Replied by Michael Barnes on topic Barnes Best 2020
I wanted to keep it winner/runner up this year. But Pan Am was definitely a top game this year: the best game in its class since Power Grid. Undaunted: North Africa and The Crew could have also made a longer list.

Well hell, there it is, my top five then.

Cosmic Frog
Cobble and Fog
Pan Am
Undaunted: North Africa
The Crew
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19 Dec 2020 12:20 #317334 by dysjunct
Replied by dysjunct on topic Barnes Best 2020
Great retrospective.

I was lukewarm on MORK BORG, which kind of surprised me -- I usually like dark games with tongue-in-cheek humor, but for some reason this didn't grab me. Maybe I just want something more lighthearted after the general dumpster fire that was 2020. I thought the layout was great as a work of art, but not focused for usability at the table -- weird fonts, weird contrasts, weird color choices, text going in different directions ... get off my lawn, maybe, but I just want clear and easy to read rules that I can easily find.

Systemwise it is fine, but there's so many excellent rules-light systems these days that it doesn't stand out.

My RPG of 2020 was TROPHY DARK. One-shots about doomed adventurers, also rules-light but in a very different way than the OSR style of things. The rules punch way above their weight; for how sparse they are, they do a masterful job of bending the narrative towards the desired end.
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21 Dec 2020 10:36 - 21 Dec 2020 10:37 #317376 by barrowdown
Replied by barrowdown on topic Barnes Best 2020
I just ran my first game of Mork Borg this weekend and it went fairly well. Even with the rules-light setup, I was further streamlining combat as the d20 style combat is still boring (though thankfully much more lethal so it has consequences). I love the setting, book, and layout. I can see how people would find it difficult to use in play, but I thought its index and cheat seat being the inside back cover was a brilliant design decision.

Like dysjunct, I do prefer Trophy Dark for how great the sessions are compared to rules overhead.

My 2020 RPG selection would be Ultraviolet Grasslands and the Black City, which is a fantastic setting sandbox to play in. My group is nine sessions in and still have lots to play with. They work very well with a sandbox, but I can see there being issues if your group does not handle a complete lack of rails.
Last edit: 21 Dec 2020 10:37 by barrowdown.

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21 Dec 2020 11:28 #317377 by Michael Barnes
Replied by Michael Barnes on topic Barnes Best 2020
Great to see you Beau!

I think Mork Borg comes across as difficult to use not so much because of the layouts...but because there really isn’t much there! The rules are almost negligible, you could likely fit them on a single spread and write “use DM judgment” at the end and that’s it.

One of the things I love most of all about it is the Calendar of Nechrubel...those readings, if you get one, are such a fun way to get inspiration or to challenge yourself as a DM. We rolled one the other night that was just -perfect- and it completely solved a story issue I was working on. I also love that the Calendar can just end your whole campaign.

UVG is -stunning- for sure- it’s an incredible book and truth be told I could have slated that as runner-up. I got the package with the big map, screen and all that and I just love it. I haven’t run it yet though, I was hoping to after our Alien game but my buddy piped up out of nowhere and offered to run Stars Without Number, his first time GMing. I have not played as a PC since the 1990s.

I need to take a look at Trophy Dark, I’ve got a scenario for it in Dissident Whispers and it seems interesting.

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21 Dec 2020 11:54 #317378 by barrowdown
Replied by barrowdown on topic Barnes Best 2020
Yeah, my posting really fell off of a cliff with the whole COVID isolation thing.

I really like "use DM judgment" style rules so Mork Borg works well there. I tend to hack anything to be that way anyways. The group I run for really leans towards the story game end of the spectrum and prefer when the rules go away. They have no inclination to power game metagame anything and just play interesting stories even if it will obviously lead to their own PCs death if it makes sense thematically. My brother-in-law chose to join the Mork Borg game which was his first experience with an RPG and he seemed to enjoy it.

UVG is definitely worth a run, but it really needs a campaign and not one-shots or short linked adventures to really shine. It needs minimal prep and I have pulled in a lot of the Trilemma Adventures stuff in as possible deeper adventure areas if needed (not my own idea, but stealing it from Coins and Scrolls). My group has only barely touched on the Trilemma stuff as they have created their own complex conspiracy laden web that I can play with. It's one of the easiest groups to run for and only one of them has played a TTRPG before.

The Dissident Whispers adventures for Trophy are actually for Trophy Gold (the slightly crunchier variant meant for longer term gameplay a la Mork Borg). The Gauntlet does have a free copy of the rules and two adventures for Dark on the Kickstarter that would give you a taste. The additional ones in Codex are fantastic and worth checking out, though I think many if not most of them will be in the printed copy resulting from the Kickstarter.

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21 Dec 2020 12:28 - 27 Dec 2020 12:17 #317380 by ubarose
Replied by ubarose on topic Barnes Best 2020
UVG is amazing. We started playing this summer, but then our DM had to take a break for personal reasons. As a player I really don't know what the hell is going on. I'm just enjoying the ride.
Last edit: 27 Dec 2020 12:17 by ubarose.
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21 Dec 2020 19:44 #317407 by Andi Lennon
Replied by Andi Lennon on topic Barnes Best 2020

dysjunct wrote: Great retrospective.

I was lukewarm on MORK BORG, which kind of surprised me -- I usually like dark games with tongue-in-cheek humor, but for some reason this didn't grab me. Maybe I just want something more lighthearted after the general dumpster fire that was 2020. I thought the layout was great as a work of art, but not focused for usability at the table -- weird fonts, weird contrasts, weird color choices, text going in different directions ... get off my lawn, maybe, but I just want clear and easy to read rules that I can easily find.

Systemwise it is fine, but there's so many excellent rules-light systems these days that it doesn't stand out.

My RPG of 2020 was TROPHY DARK. One-shots about doomed adventurers, also rules-light but in a very different way than the OSR style of things. The rules punch way above their weight; for how sparse they are, they do a masterful job of bending the narrative towards the desired end.


I received my physical copy of 'SUNKEN' for Trophy recently, along with its accompanying zine expansion and it's a thing of beauty.

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21 Dec 2020 21:40 #317411 by dysjunct
Replied by dysjunct on topic Barnes Best 2020

Andi Lennon wrote: I received my physical copy of 'SUNKEN' for Trophy recently, along with its accompanying zine expansion and it's a thing of beauty.


Yes, me too! The designer’s design experience really shines on that one. It’s really amazing how the PDF has the same layout and color (etc.) yet somehow as a physical object it really pops. Looking forward to taking another look at it.
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26 Dec 2020 16:20 #317524 by Matt Thrower
Replied by Matt Thrower on topic Barnes Best 2020

Michael Barnes wrote: Well hell, there it is, my top five then.

Cosmic Frog
Cobble and Fog
Pan Am
Undaunted: North Africa
The Crew


One reason I haven't bothered to post a top X list this year is that it would look very similar to this, just a different order.

Cobble & Fog isn't out in the UK yet but I can imagine it deserves its spot based on the boxes of the system I do own. Pan Am isn't either, which is annoying.

And speaking of annoying games I can't get in the UK Blitz Bowl would make my list: but Barnes mentioned it and had already played it. Would quite like to get Season 1 for the boards and the Orc team.

Perhaps I should put a US order together for all three. Might make the shipping worthwhile :D
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