Starting with the most recent and following in the order of me remembering them:
- Owl Hoot Trail takes a stripped down D&D based system and applies it to a fantasy western setting. Lots of great flavour in the classes and the western-ified versions of hobbits, dwarves, elves, and goblins. A good chunk of the book is devoted to a meaty introductory adventure that looks to have a good two or three sessions to kick off your game. I haven't played this yet but I can't see anything that will break in play, and I intend to get some play arranged as soon as possible. 5/5 (provisional).
- I got my pretty hardcover of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Rules & Magic book from the IndieGoGo campaign last year. It is very pretty and nicely bound. Still my favourite old school game, too. Note that it includes even more hardcore-shock imagery than previous versions I have seen; not for kids. 5/5
- I've read the PDFs of Numenera, from the Kickstarter last year, but still awaiting the book (hopefully it is on the way). Basically cool, and the character generation is quick and very neat. Planning a one-shot for my regular crew's next game to see how it goes (the main book has a few introductory adventures, plus I have one funder extra; I'll play one of those). System is fairly simple but with a few knobs and levers. I like the setting, but it might have been a little better described in broad strokes and the rest inferred from the rules and gadgets. Worth a look if weird far-future science fantasy is appealing (especially Dying Earth or Book of the New Sun). 4/5 (provisional).
- I got Carolina Death Crawl which is a lovely set of cards and great (if horrible) scenario. I played this with the regular crew when someone was absent (preventing regular The One Ring episode), and it fell a bit flat. The problem comes from having to set your own scenes and create your own opposition (although the cards help with both). Having a GM to do that might make things run better, for my tastes at least. 3/5.
- Dungeon World is good! That said, I've mainly run the stripped down World of Dungeons instead (generously seasoned with things from the main DW book) using Planarch Codex: Dark Heart of the Dreamer (both may be found in the treasure trove). Also, let me give a shout out to Adventures on Dungeon Planet, which is a kick-ass sword and laser science fantasy supplement with a huge bag of awesome stuff. 5/5
- And while we're on dungeon crawls, Torchbearer is also really cool and on the "to be played" list, as soon as the book is finished and shipped here. It's a spin on the Mouse Guard system which focuses on dungeon crawls as a primarily resource based problem: how do we do achieve our goal with the supplies and abilities we have available? 4/5 (provisional).
- Dog Eat Dog is a really elegant, simple system that deals with colonialism, resistance, and assimilation in a (by default fictional) Pacific island nation. Although reading it through, it seems a super light system, in play there's just enough to make the story really work. I've only played the one game, but it quickly became emotionally hard-hitting. There weren't any simple answers for our people, and that was with a fairly black and white contrast between occupier and native cultures. 5+/5
- Another Apocalypse World descendant, tremulus, takes on Lovecraft. There's a lot of great stuff here - in particular the Ebon Eaves setting, where the group answers a questionnaire and the answers allow the GM to look up what's really going on in the town based on the results. It looks like it will make a good setup for a one-shot, and has loads of great seeds for stories in the entries. Some of the other parts I'm not so keen on - I feel like the classes and basic moves didn't move far enough from the source: to really get a Lovecraftian game, the changes need to go a bit deeper. 3/5
- Speaking of which, I have the PDF of Sagas of the Icelanders, which also uses the Apocalypse engine. This is a fantastic historical game, with a focus on 9-10th century Iceland. Bursting with cool stuff and with a really neat take on the moves (there aren't any general basic moves: men, women, and children each have their own sets). Looks great, but haven't had a chance to play yet. 5/5 (provisional).
- I've now had a chance to play fellow-Wellingtonian Dale Elvy's EPOCH survival horror game. It's great, really gets a good survival horror vibe right away and the flashback mechanics to flesh out characters, as well as it being your own choice how badly you get hurt in each act of the story, work well. I've even written a scenario that's going to be in the upcoming war story-themed collection (it's set during the 1939-1940 Winter War, when the USSR invaded Finland). 5/5
- Stalker is a great setting book, but I really didn't like the diceless system. I ran a one-shot with a World of Dungeons variant as the rules (inspired by Jason Morningstar's AP reports for a game doing this), and that went pretty well. Fair warning: the main text of the book is in Comic Sans, which is disconcerting and a little hard to read. 3/5
That's most of my games this year. I'll keep you posted when I run the provisionally rated ones.