GregHowley.com

Best of 2017

Wednesday, December 20th 2017

It's amazing how quickly 2017 went by. I guess in some ways that's good. While it certainly could have been worse, 2017 was not my favorite year. Likewise, the favorites are less impressive than in other years. But here goes...

Best Television: Stranger Things 2. While there wasn't as much new material to introduce as there'd been in the first season, I really enjoyed the show's second season. Everything else I've got to say about it I've already said here.

Runner-ups for television include Game of Thrones, which had an especially good season. Somehow, the show is in many ways better now than it was earlier. This may have to do with the fact that the writers are finally tying up loose ends in preparation for some kind of finale. Also, Star Trek Discovery, which while nothing like Next Generation, (a.k.a. best Trek) is still very good. The second Harry Mudd episode was a high point for sure. Lastly, the Defenders. Pretty good.

Best movie: Thor: Ragnarok. While the Thor movies have long been my least favorite of the big Marvel trilogies, behind Iron Man and Captain America, this latest iteration was easily the best of the Thor films. Spider-Man: Homecoming was likewise far better than I'd expected. In a field of big blockbusters, Marvel continues to knock things out of the park.

Best Video Game: I've got so much less time for video games than I had in years past. The only "real" game I got to play in 2017 is the new version of Doom, and I haven't yet completed that game, although I'm enjoying blowing up demons. The three video games which tie for my favorite of the year all have a lot in common. They're all a few years old, they're all decidedly casual games, and they're all games I'd played a lot prior to 2017.

Firstly, the video game version of the Sentinels of the Multiverse card game. I've played it lots before, and I've written about it before as early as 2014. I spent the early parts of 2017 playing the crap out of this game whenever I got ten minutes free.

Secondly, Neuroshima Hex, which I first bought probably five years and three phones ago. I still play this game almost daily. You can finish a game in well under ten minutes, and while it's quick, the strategy is very deep. When you first pick it up, there's a bit of a learning curve, but if you stick with the game, it's rewarding and very addictive. I'm currently signed up for the Neuroshima Hex Rhode Island state championships in February, despite having never played the cardboard version before.

Lastly, Pixeljunk Monsters. This is a fun tower defense game I was playing earlier than either of the other two here. I first bought the game on Playstation 3 back in 2010, then later bought a PSP specifically for the game. When a PC version came out on Steam, I quickly bought it a third time, and I'm working my way through all the game's achievements. I hope to eventually have 100% on the PC just like I do on the Playstation. It might just take a few years.

Best Book: Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson. I'm not yet finished with this one, but I'm enjoying it. I'm a fan of fantasy epics, and the Stormlight Archive certainly fits that bill. It may not quite match up to The Eye of the World or Song of Ice and Fire, but it's very good.

Best Board Game: Dead of Winter. I'd wanted to buy this game for years, and finally did this past January. We played a number of times, and learned the hard way that you need to play the game sober or you lose pretty hard. It's not an easy game. It's even tougher when you suspect that members of the group are traitors and kill other players who turn out to have been trying to help. The game is fun, and brutal. We've lost more than we've won, but it's always a good time.

Runner up: Skull, originally known as Skull and Roses. This bluffing game is dead simple, plays in ten minutes, involves up to six people, and is a lot of fun. Each player gets a set of beer coasters which includes all roses and one skull. You take turns going around and laying down the coasters face down. After the first round, you can continue or bid. Once bidding starts, no more laying coasters down. When you hit the highest bid, the winner needs to flip that many coasters, beginning with his own. If you flip a skull, you lose a coaster permanently. Flip all roses and you get a point. Two points wins. Such a great game.

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