Top 5 Table-top Games 2020

Here are the table-top games I look forward to playing in 2020!

The last decade has been an amazing time for table-top games. An explosion of new and interesting systems hit the shelves. Designers redefined the genre with new mechanics that focus on the narrative of the story. We play a variety of games at our table and we have several campaigns we are taking into 2020. I’ve compiled a list of the 5 games we will be playing during our late night Saturday sessions.


Dungeons and Dragons

Publisher
Wizards of the Coast
Release Date
2014
Genre
Fantasy
Recommended Players
4-6 players

We’d be lying if we didn’t include Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition on this list. Released in 2014, the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons capitalized on growing trends in the industry. By adding traits, inspiration, and ribbon abilities, the game saw a resurgence in its use as a story writing tool.

Shows hit the scene like Critical Role and The Adventure Zone and these stories catapulted table-top games into the public consciousness. It became “cool” to sit around the table and play with your friends.

Going into 2020, the designers plan to continue this trend with their newest book, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount. A book set in the setting of the aforementioned stream, Critical Role.

WotC adds player options to the game every year! As these options grow, so does the game’s amazing potential for fantastical storytelling.

Dungeons and Dragons is a system that has proven it’s staying power. We look forward to playing it in 2020.


Dungeon World

Publisher
Sage Kobold Productions
Release Date
2012
Genre
Fantasy
Recommended Players
4-6 players

Adam Koebel and Sage LaTorra brought us Dungeon World. A table-top game built on Powered By the Apocalypse. It joins the ranks of many other amazing PBTA hacks including Monster of the Week, Urban Shadows and The Sprawl.

What can I say about Dungeon World that hasn’t already been said? The game brought the PBTA system to the forefront of table-top gaming culture. It recontextualized the system in a way that DnD players could easily understand.

On top of that, the gameplay is polished with a clear design goal. The flavor is deep and quirky. They wrote a great handbook. For light-hearted one-shots, this is one of my go-to games.

Most noteworthy, the rules are open-ended which lends itself to a creative narrative. On the other hand, the vagueness of the terminology can lead to rule squabbles.

Dungeon World has a growing community of players who have provided an incredible font of content. The one-page adventure primers are something I wish more table-top gaming communities adopted into their own homebrew culture. I recommend checking out the subreddit for guides and game tools!


Lasers and Feelings

Publisher
One Seven Design
Release Date
2013
Genre
Science Fiction
Recommended Players
3-6 players

A fast-paced Sci-Fi themed game put together by the people at One Seven Design. This game is so light and fast-paced that the rules are all compiled into a single page pdf!

First, roll a D6 to resolve actions. Add a D6 if you’re prepared for the action. After that, add another D6 if you’re an expert on the topic at hand. If you’re rolling the game’s titular “Lasers” skill you want to roll under your “Laser” number. If you’re rolling “Feelings” you’ll want your result to be over your “Feelings” number. Depending on the amount of dice that succeeds, you suffer different consequences or enjoy different boons!

The short pdf includes all the rules you need to play, a small table to help the GM quickly build the adventure and it’s all available for free on their site!

If you’re looking for good examples of the game in action, The Adventure Zone podcast has run the game and it was one of their best episodes to date!


Kids on Bikes

Publisher
Renegade Game Studios
Release Date
2019
Genre
Science Fiction
Recommended Players
4-5 players

Kids on Bikes exists as a wonderful rules-light game steeped in 80’s nostalgia while at the same time taking advantage of the recent boom in the horror genre. The game takes inspiration from shows like Stranger Things and movies like IT and manages to capture the charm, wit, and humor of those properties while at the same time incorporating some fresh new ideas into the mix.

It implements a totally novel way of determining checks and rolls. The higher stat you have in an ability, the larger the dice you roll. This keeps the game simple and intuitive while at the same time incorporating some of the more niche dice that every player is always itching to roll. Rolling the highest result on the dice causes it to “explode” allowing you to roll it again and add to the result.

It had a successful Kickstarter and managed to reach several stretch goals including additional adventure modules written by big names like Matthew Colville and Ross Watson. This means there is no shortage of high-quality content!


Cthulhu Dark

Author
Graham Walmsley
Release Date
2017
Genre
Horror
Recommended Players
4-5 players

Finally, there is Cthulhu Dark! A dark horror game designed by Graham Walmsley, a designer known for his work on Trail of Cthulhu and Cthulhu Apocalypse. Cthulhu Dark exists as a lean and quick table-top game that hits the same notes as Call of Cthulhu while avoiding the rules bloat D20 systems typically suffer from.

The game features a simple resolution system that incorporates several D6 dice. You roll one dice if the task is within human capabilities, one dice if it fits your character’s expertise and a third “insanity” dice if you’re willing to risk your sanity to succeed. Your highest result determines whether or not you succeed. Getting a 1 means you barely succeed while a 6 means you do amazingly.

Determining failure is where the system brings suspense into the action. If another player believes a failure would be more interesting than a success, they roll their own dice and if their result beats yours you fail.

The rules book is clean and does the extra service of including several chapters of advice for writing adventures that can be applied to any roleplaying game.


Conclusion

I’ve recently built a new space dedicated to gaming at my house. I look forward to spending late nights filling it with fun adventures! As people get busy it grows harder to keep a campaign going. I am starting to rely more and more on a rotating group of players and short one-shots. This has opened up opportunities to play new games and this list compiles some of my favorites!

With that said, it isn’t comprehensive. There are many more great table-top games out there and more coming every month. I’d love to hear from you. What games will you be playing through 2020?

If you want to follow my table-top adventure, check out my DnD podcast and DnD comics!

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