2020 - The Year in Review

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So, about 2020 eh? Instead of looking back at the flaming dumpster fire that was this year, let’s instead focus on something else. Something a bit more positive. I don’t know about you, but it’s been a weird year. So here it is, 2020, the Grog year in review.

Community

One of the greatest things I’ve seen this year is the sudden and overwhelming spread of Discord servers. There was a COVID joke opportunity there, but I think we’ve had enough of that for the year. In the span of a year you can now join one of dozens of Discord servers that cover a wide range of games, specific games, hobbies, you name it. Never before have you been able to interact with so many other people with exactly the sort of games you want to.

To be able to discuss the latest Matrix titles, Tiller games, an obscure Battletech mod, and do it all in the span of minutes without the technical jungle of IRC is amazing.

Here are some of the ones I’m in, but this list is by no means exhaustive.








The best part here is the rabbit hole. Once you join, say Microprose’s Discord, you’ll see links to individual Discords for games that may be of interest to you. At any one time you can jump into exactly the game you’re interested in.

The downside of Discord is history. You can have an amazing discussion on a game mechanic and a week later it is gone. Swept into the dustbin of digital history. I prefer Discord for immediate discussions and questions. Treat it like a conversation.

For more permanence there are forums and Reddit! Grogheads, Matrix, /r/computerwargames, WeaponsRelease (This site), The Few Good Men, and Steam has forums for each game it sells, though these tend to be less community based. If you need a slower pace, or need more permanence to your content, check them out.

Who We Watched

Admit it. The 19 in COVID19 is how many kilos you’ve added to your waistline sitting on your bottom watching YouTubers stream games. Go back 10 years ago, even 3 years ago, and it was a desert of content with virtually no one playing wargames. Today that has totally changed. You can watch some nerd stream a groggy title from 1998 then watch some other nerd complain about it. What a time to be alive.

Right now I’ll totally admit to missing “insert your favorite youtube star here” in this list. Please drop a link below.








https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGWd_NMbp7GxMg4bZO65heQ/videos

Games We Played

2020 brought a range of new titles and some time to dig into other titles.

This was my shocker of the year. To see Battlefront release on Steam in a partnership with Matrix. Well, I was impressed. It’s a welcome change. I know a lot of folks that now only buy games on Steam and will gladly wait for them to be released there. This isn’t the place for the Steam debate, but this one is really a game changer.

This one doesn’t quite defy explanation, but it’s unique in a good way. Vic, of Decisive Campaigns fame, gives you a political and military 4x game that is deep and engaging. If you enjoyed his Advanced Tactics game, you’ll love this.

CMO released at the end of 2019. Sahel Slugfest is a great look at a Live scenario that is not a US centric scenario. Playing as either the Chinese or the French offers a new set of challenges

Released around the same time as CMO, UoC2 is a great game that is 75% puzzle and 25% wargame. Approachable, replayable, and engaging.

I’m a sucker for engagements that aren’t Western Front or North Africa. Shove me into an OOB with words I can’t pronounce and I’ll dig right in. This is a solid game that plays like a streamlined boardgame. Of particular interest is the developer SGS, Philipe Thibault, the founder of AGEOD and original designer of Europa Universalis boardgame.

Instead of minuteau and rivet counting you get the big picture. Really really BIG picture. This is a really unique take on a genre that usually drives down to the lowest detail and ignores the bigger context. Worth checking out for $5.

You! Yes you, what did I miss? Do me a favor and toss it below. One of the reasons I made WeaponsRelease instead of continuing to work on TheStrategyGamer was to encourage more dialogue with these sorts of things.

Aurora C#

http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php?board=276.0

A fevered dream of 4X to the next level. One mans passion to make a detailed space combat civilization RPG. Think Dwarf Fortress meets Elite Dangerous with the operator interface of Microsoft Excel. Deep. Detailed. Rich. Immersive. And dense. If it’s your kind of game you’ll know. Like a secret handshake for grognard nerds.

I played this first as a board game and realized behind the cutesy counters is a terrifying and devilish war game. Prepare for your government to collapse as cats invade and the woodland creature guerillas destroy your empire.

I’ve spent far to many hours plotting the downfall of my neighbors, planning the marriages of my children, and deciphering the nuance of medieval inheritance law. CK3 is CK2 but better. Highly recommend what will become a long living franchise.

Conclusion

2020 brought some good wargaming and strategy gaming titles. But, no offense gaming titles of 2020, I’ll be looking forward to what 2021 brings. What are you folks looking forward to in 2021?