As you can probably tell from the annual barrage of comments on how much the ENnie awards suck, it’s that time of year again. The ENnie nominees were announced early last week. Over the last four years the ENnies have become my shopping guide to new RPGs. It’s not like it was when I was a teen and I could beg my parents to buy me every second game in the back of Dragon Magazine (and then buy the other half with my own money). There are a lot of games out there, and the ENnies manage to distill the lists down to some of the top dogs – games you should really check out.
Here’s my top picks from this year’s nominees from the products I am familiar with. There are manynominees that I don’t own, so I’ll be off to Fandom II in the next few weeks to buy them.
This book got nominated for best cover art, interior art and production values with good reason. It is gorgeous, freakish and cool. If there was one game that I wish played half as good as it looks, it’s CthulhuTech. I bought it to drool over it. Turns out it is a pretty cool game too – even if only half as good as it looks, that puts it ahead of a lot of games out there. But it reminds me of Alpha Omega last year – sexy but just not quite living up to the hype of the gorgeous production values.
4. Mouse Guard
With nominations for product of the year and best production values, this was a total “out of left field” game that caught my attention this year. It’s cute, but don’t let the cuteness mislead you – it holds a pretty smooth system that shows how much the Burning Wheel mechanics can be refined and simplified over the years since their original release. I love the format, love the art and love how well the concept and execution work together. It wouldn’t be my “Game of the Year” pick, but it is something that you should definitely take a chance on and read.
3. Kobold Quarterly
Nominated for best aid or accessory, Kobold Quarterly is also nominated for best writing – which is well deserved. This is the current pinnacle of RPG magazines. It reads well and is consistently excellent. It reminds me of some of the sweet spots that Dragon went through where every issue made me go ‘wow’ at least once while reading it. If you haven’t seen an issue, get out there and find one.
2. 0One’s Blueprints – The Great City
True, only one particular part of the Great City got the nomination for best cartography. But this whole set of products is incredible and a must-have if you run fantasy games in a city setting. Excellent cartography and a whole city laid out clearly and concisely. I put the Great City on my Top 5 Fantasy City Sourcebooks for a reason. Sheer awesomeness.
1. Dark Heresy
Best Rules. Best Production Values. Best Game. And a bunch of other books in the game get nominations in a bunch of other categories including product of the year. We waited 20 years for the Warhammer 40,000 RPG. Now that we have it, it would be heresy to not buy it and play it. This is dark, gritty science fantasy gaming. Take the darkness of Warhammer Fantasy and turn it up to 11 and give everyone automatic weapons.