7 of the Greatest Games I Never Play
On December 8th, 2015 I purchased War in the Pacific Admirals Edition from the Matrix store. In the 5 years since I’ve probably logged less than 4 hours playing the game. But I’ve spent countless hours following others as they dash across the Pacific, engage in daring battleship raids, and hunt for the elusive Tokyo Bay Fortress. WitP is not alone, there are many games I love to see others play but loathe to dig into myself.
War in the Pacific
The greatest thing about War in the Pacific, at least as a bystander, is you can watch the game play out day by day. Not just for a week, or a month, but for 5 years. One of the first Lets Plays I binged was Grey Hunter’s playthrough of War in the Pacific. Grey played through day by day from December 7th, 2009 to July 17th 2013. Each day in game was represented by a day in game. One day at a time.
Then, to top it again, on December 7th 2015 he did it again. This time as the Japanese. By the end of the LP he had thoroughly broken the AI of the game in a rather unfortunate ending given the years of time he invested into it.
Grey Hunter is also known for his War in the East playthroughs as well as a plethora of other games. If you prefer YouTube he is currently in the midst of another WitP run, but this time recorded on video and not as a screenshot LP.
Grey is not the only one, Pharnakes and Alikchi (Twitter) are in the midst of a heavily modded round of WitP where Japan has some extra tricks up her sleeve while the allies are also sporting some unique goodies. Instead of a standard start you get a really crazy initial run that has been very entertaining to watch.
What you ask is a Mega Campaign? Well, find a game that can be modded and then derive a path through history. Ofaloaf made one of the first I read through and he ran through first Total War Attila and ended in Victoria 2. In between was Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis IV.
There is also a Hearts of Iron Mega-Campaign that is amazing in execution and detail. They’ve used the game engine as a narrative method to show a world that is completely and totally different from our own reality. Blood in the Bosphorus lays out an alternate history that starts in CK2, then EUIV, Vic2, and finally a masterfully modded HOI4. How modded? How about Communist Turkey (Byzantine Commune) with baseball leagues, custom art, and a complete new world. Another great LP is the Tibet Mega Campaign.
Caveat to my list, I do enjoy playing CK2/3, EUIV, and HOI4. Vic2, not so much.
Aurora is an exceptional space game that is without peer in star faring detail and the complete lack of UI sensibility. It was recently updated from the Visual Basic version to the C# version and is having a resurgence. I played through one decent time in the VB version and vowed never again will I micro-manage so much crap.
Aurora is a game that if you work in an industrial environment you can probably play it at work and no one would question that you weren’t checking the data readouts in a steam condenser.
There are two I’m currently following, though I know there are other ones out there. The first is a version where it’s a 1970’s era Communist world complete with different factions and lots of political infighting. The second is a more conventional playthrough. In both cases I get to do the fun stuff like vote on ship designs, argue about colonization, and let my eyes glaze when they argue about the benefits of a class 3.1 shield array against live sensors beneath a 2.7 threshold.
Now I’m not talking the recent Harebrained Studios title but the uber crunchy tabletop version with almost universally bad fiction. I love the backstory, the lore, the idea of giant robots in a feudal world duking it out in hand-me-down equipment. I dislike digging through rules, to reference other rules, to append source books, to forget about what I’m actually looking into because holy shit, that spaceship looks sweet.
PopTartsNinja though has done the grueling work so that I can immerse myself in the lore without wondering how to modify that trick shot off of the jump ship.
PTN does an amazing job of piecing together a million bits of lore and smashing it into the crunchy rules system in an approachable and interesting way. Now if you like Battletech and actually want to play it, be sure to check out Flechs Sheets. This web app lets you automate the crunchy stuff and focus on whether or not to punch to Atlas, the Battlemaster, or both.
Dwarf Fortress – I’ve gotten a ton of time out of this game but I know others love to watch it played. See Kruggsmash for a great LP.
Shadow Empire – Too new to have any massive LP’s, but it has all of the hallmarks. Complex. Esoteric. UI like a Soviet computer.
John Tiller Games – I played a single massive scenario against my friend Hypnobeard and it was enough to satisfy my JTS urge for a very long time. The game doesn’t lend itself terribly well to a cooperative match, but it has potential.
Feel free to add your own in the comments or in the forums.