July is the Time for GameRT President’s Picks!

GameRT’s New President, the Amazing Rebecca Strang has made us a list of her favorite games right now. These games look really fun!

Legacy of Dragonholt

• Designer: Nikki Valens
• Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
• 1-6 player
• 1+ hours
• 14+

Legacy of Dragonholt is a GM-less narrative adventure RPG. I played this with my partner as a 2-player experience and FELL IN LOVE with this game. It comes with story characters. complete with stats, for you to choose from to play and then operates as a sort of choose-your-own-adventure story. Each character has strengths and weaknesses that will affect the choices you make during the story. The narrative is beautiful, the choices can be difficult. I cried. More than once. I want to go back and play it again to make different choices to see the storylines that I didn’t experience during my first play.

Mansions of Madness (2nd Ed.)

• Designer: Nikki Valens
• Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
• 1-5 player
• 2-3 hours
• 14+

Okay, I know my list is starting to look like an ode to Nikki Valens, but they are an amazing designer and storyteller. Mansions of Madness is part of the Arkham Horror world, but you do not need to be a Lovecraft fan specifically or know anything about the Arkham universe to enjoy this game. You do need to like fantasy and horror themes. This board game is driven by an app, which facilitates combat, object interactions, and fun puzzles. There are several storylines you can play. It’s great to play solo, 2-player, or with a full table, so it’s fairly versatile. I love the music that plays through the app while you’re playing and the art is great. The puzzles are fun. It feels like an immersive experience, complete with tension and suspense while making decisions.

Stray

• Developer: BlueTwelve Studio
• Publisher: AnnaPurna Interactive
• 1 player
• 2+ hours
• 10+
• Available on PC via Steam, and PlayStation 4 & 5.

Yes, this game has only been out since July 19, 2022… and I’m still working through the chapters… but I ADORE it. Yes, I was reeled in by the fact that I get to play as an adorable cat that looks a little like my own cat, Bacchus.

I’ve been loving the gameplay, though. There is an achievement for finishing the game in 2 hours or less, but there is so much exploration to be done beyond the straight-to-finish path! I don’t want to give away spoilers since the game is so new, but there are so many adorable interactions. This isn’t just a cute game, though – there is a story of climate change, excess, human rights, and empathy. The setting is a decayed cybercity where you must distinguish between threats and curiosities. There is a bit of horror and it is possible to die, though you shake it off and start again at your most recent checkpoint (there is even a 9 lives achievement!). There is also a lot of humor, especially for anyone who loves cats and their behavior. Go be a cat and explore!

Mystic Vale

• Designer: John D. Clair
• Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
• 2-4 players
• 45 minutes
• 14+
• Also available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store

Mystic Vale uses a fun card crafting system where you draft transparent cards into your deck to build upon existing cards in your deck by layering up to three transparent cards to form a single card. It’s a clever system and a great spin on traditional deck building games. You need to balance the process of growth and decay in your deck, as well as various icons that build and play off of each other in order to achieve the most points by the end of the game. I love playing the game in person with people, but I also really love playing the digital version of the game against the AI on my iPad. Sometimes instead of reading before bed, I’ll play Mystic Vale before bed. Overall, I find the game very relaxing – you start to see a method to building your cards and it’s very fulfilling to see a plan together when your cards begin to work like a well-oiled engine.

MiniMetro

• Developer & Publisher: Dinosaur Polo Club
• 1 player
• 20+ minutes
• 4+
• Available on Steam, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, PS4

Continuing on the “games you can play alone that are relaxing” line… I can zone out for hours playing Mini Metro. You can play for shorter periods of time, but I get sucked in trying to plan out my metro maps and making sure all the passengers get where they need to go. Mini Metro is a simulation where you try to plan out subway routes in as efficient a manner as possible. You are scored on how many passengers successfully arrive at their destinations before passenger demand causes your system to crash. You can play several different cities, each posing their own challenges (large expanses of space, rivers, need for hubs, etc.). There is also a second game in the series, Mini Motorways, which is just as fun.


Rebecca Strang is a Children’s Services Librarian at a public library in the Chicago suburbs. Her passion is tabletop gaming – her husband and she run a local gaming group and she uses games in a lot of her library programming. She writes about gaming and library things on her website, To Play is Human. You’ll find game reviews, program plans, storytime resources, and more.

She co-hosts Playability, an interview-based podcast at the crossroads of gameplay and accessibility. Episodes run 15-20 minutes — something people can listen to during a commute, a lunch break, a walk, etc. Full transcripts are posted with each episode.

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