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The Best In Tabletop 2017 – Near and Far

The Best In Tabletop 2017 – Near and Far

We’ve been lucky in 2017, with amazing games hitting store shelves and our tables. We saw some of our favorite developers hit the shelves yet again with a couple of fresh faces thrown into the mix. It was hard to choose just 10 games to spotlight on the list, and here is one of them.  Stay tuned to see the other games on this list and for the full list.

There are a plethora of tabletop games that have walked the line between board games and roleplaying games. Titles such as Dead of Winter, Tales of the Arabian Nights, and Mansions of Madness, all provide plot-driven choices while never totally crossing into storytelling proper. However, there’s a simple charm to Ryan Laukat’s Near and Far that sets it apart from the rest. Using only snippets and glimpses into the story, it manages to build a whimsical and profound world that is refreshing and exciting to explore.

Near and Far

Near and Far is a sequel to Above and Below, a city-building game where characters have been cast out of their home and must try to construct a town over a vast and mysterious cave system in the lands of Arzium. In Near and Far the cities have flourished and it is now time for brave adventurers to set out and explore the wastelands in search of the fabled Last Ruin, where one can find an ancient artifact that will grant them their greatest wish (a pretty fair deal, so long as you can find it).

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Both Above and Below and Near and Far are set in an original world full of ruins, caves, strange creatures, and even stranger peoples. While most player characters are human, there are a wide variety of allies that include beast-men, merfolk, robots, one strange creature with floating disc for a head.

There are several ways to play Near and Far, and the most easily accessible way is as a simple adventure game in what Laukat calls “Arcade Mode”. Players will explore a map, fight bandits, build camps, mine for goods, and get into bar-fights, until one player has placed their last camp. You’ll get a taste of the rich theme of the game through the choose-your-own-adventure-style story bits that make up encounters which you find as you travel.

story

Players will read to each other from the storybook and the active player will need to make a decision on how their character reacts to the various challenges, creatures, and people they meet. Oftentimes the results of your choices will surprise you. In arcade mode, these stories are all self-contained and this version of the game is a great way to pick up and play whenever you like; however, it doesn’t give you the true feeling of a roleplaying game. For that, you’ll need to try the campaign mode.

Near and Far

Campaign mode is where Near and Far really comes alive. In it, each player will have a character that they’ll control through the 11 games that make up the full narrative of Near and Far. You’ll have the same exploring, brawling, mining, and building game-play, but now the quests that you encounter will give you experience points that will allow you to get your characters special skills that will carry over from one game to the next, essentially letting you level up. Some quests will also give you keywords, which will get added to your character sheet and give you new choices (and consequences) in future quests.

The heart of roleplaying is the storytelling and, in Near and Far, the continuation of your character through the arc of a campaign allows you to craft the tale of your adventurer, so by the time you reach the Last Ruin, you’ve got quite a history of accomplishments (and failures) behind you!

Near and Far

Near and Far is a superb example of what can happen when you join roleplaying and board games. Its’ charisma comes through the gorgeous art and clever theme to craft what could easily be a hit with everyone from families to seasoned dungeon delvers. As a light-weight adventure game with such a fantastic world-build and narrative potential, Near and Far has secured its spot on our list of 2017 Best Games of the Year!

What storytelling games are your favorites for the year? let us know in the comments below!

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Image Credits: Jessica Fisher

In addition to Geek & Sundry, Jessica Fisher writes for Gameosity.com and produces the Gameosity Reviews Youtube Channel. Find her talking about all things geeky on Twitter @miniktty.

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