Honorable Mention: Princess Academy YEY! at Conception
I wasn't even playing! As Conception 09 was winding up and I was recovering from a monster bout of flu that had floored me during the entire convention. I was playtesting a great little battle cardgame with Iain McAllister and trying out some 'War on Edam' to no great level of satisfaction. In the rest of the room a gang of mad people were playing Primetime Adventures and just creating the most insane, wonderful madness. Utterly entertaining. Oh, and the Steelers won the Superbowl that night too. Woot!
Honorable Mention: Duty & Honour at Games Expo
So I'm at the end of a very long two-day convention and I am timetabled to run Duty & Honour - and its fully signed up. To be honest, I wasn't in the mood and I was all ready to just cancel and refund the players their cash but, you know, the show must go on. What made this so special? Well, it was because the players were all D&H newbies and they grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and rode it to a fantastic finish. Players who can turn up at the end of a con and ravage a game within an inch of it's life? Priceless.
Honorable Mention: The Voyage of the HMS Acaster
I was the gaming whore. In order to playtest Beat to Quarters 'semi-blind' I recruited another group of players - Martin, Shane and Nate. These guys have serious gaming and military chops to back up their play, so I was a little nervous about reffing for them but the game couldn't have gone any better. It was only three sessions but I really really got a kick out of it. Things move on and I guess I won't get the chance to play with those guys again but it was a really memorable game.
Number Three: Mouse Guard at Furnace
I have never really 'got' Burning Wheel but I have been very curious about Mouse Guard and I like the comics. Additionally 'Indy Pete' has a reputation of being an exceptionally dynamic GM and I sat and watched him GM at Conception and I wanted a piece of that action. Him and Mouse Guard seemed a perfect match and it was. It wasn't the amazingness of the story that marked this out for me, or the brilliance of the players (it was Sunday morning!). Rather it was an example of how an enthusiastic, prepared and communicative GM can truly inspire you to higher levels of play and understanding. In three hours I learned exactly how the game worked and went straight home and ran the game for my group. It was a watershed moment between me and BW technology!
Number Two: The Irish Rover at Furnace
So I had this idea - why not use Beat to Quarters to run a game based around the Pogues song 'The Irish Rover'? What could go wrong? Its hard to describe really - to say that the group was 'diverse' would be a massive understatement. To say that it was drunken would be an undeniable truth. The game was loud, raucous, bawdy, brutal, imaginative, laugh-out-loud funny, abusive, exhausting magic. People just walked by and then did a double-take, just looking at the madness with an expression of denial. One of the players even put a sign up warning people that the game was not representative of BtQ. It was just mayhem. You know when you hear people talk about games at a con that they have 'heard about'? This was the first time I have ever ran one and it felt soooo good. So tiring, but so good.
Number One: D&d 4E, The City of Kings Heroic and Paragon Tier
Like there was ever going to be anything else in the #1 spot!? Our entire years gaming has been taken up with an utterly brilliant D&D campaign. My paladin has had a crisis of faith and reverted to type as a pit-fighting gladiator and then sortied across the world hunting the hearts of the Primordial Gods in order to open the tomb of the last of these Primordials and slay him in his prison. Morn, the fighter, has grown from a very confused and ignorant brutal character into a stalwart defender and champion of mankind, found his homeland, secured his own niche in the world and is about to ascend to his Epic destiny of being 'He Who Stands Before the Chaos'. The game was been enthralling with every session adding a new twist and turn to the campaign. Anyone who dares say that 4e cannot be used to create excellent, character and story centric experiences is simply ignoring the potential of what is a great system.
So there we go - I wonder what everyone else's will be this year?