Entrepreneurs Grind

Gary Vee Expands VaynerSports to the Baseball Diamond and Beyond

If there is one thing that Gary Vaynerchuk is not known for, it’s resting on his laurels. The founder of powerhouse agency VaynerMedia, a board member for multiple Fortune 500 companies, best selling author, and a serial investor, it is safe to say that Gary Vee knows the business and is smart with his money.

Ever the passionate sports fan, especially when it comes to the New York Jets, Vaynerchuk launched VaynerSports in 2016 with his brother AJ Vaynerchuk. A brand new sports agency, VaynerSports, focused exclusively on football, setting out to create a company that featured excellent contract advisory, superior service, innovative marketing and endorsements, and mentorship in the world of sports, social media, and more.

For four years, VaynerSports has done just that for its clients, but the agency is now looking beyond the gridiron to provide services to professional athletes. With the creation of VaynerBaseball, VaynerSports will be servicing players on the baseball diamond and beyond.

VaynerBaseball, this new arm of VaynerSports, will be led by Greg Genske as CEO, one of the biggest sports agents in the game. Bringing more than two decades of experience in the sports agents business, Genske has also negotiated more than $4 Billion in athlete contracts throughout his career. Genske will also be bringing his partners from the GEM Agency with him. With a combined 50 years’ experience in sports management, VaynerBaseball has all the potential in the world to become a powerhouse. Genske’s excitement is palpable, saying: “Gary’s visionary branding and marketing expertise will allow the concept behind the creation of GEM to flourish and provide our clients with access to a portfolio of services unmatched in the player representation industry.”

Mike Neligan, a sports marketing superstar who has worked at VaynerSports for over nine months, will continue his work as the parent company’s Executive Vice President. Neligan has worked with athletes, brands, and properties across numerous professional leagues, including the MLB, NBA, NFL, PGA, NASCAR, F1 racing and Esports.

He also has experience working with legendary athletes like Derek Jeter, Danica Patrick, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Ryan, Kevin Love, and Tiger Woods, so his experience, work ethic, and strategies will be invaluable to the agency.

“Today is a marquee moment in the world of athlete representation as we expand our offering into the world of baseball. When you add someone with the negotiation savvy of Greg to the disruption my brother, AJ, and I bring along with Mike Neligan’s success marketing high profile athletes, you create an absolute force to be reckoned with,” Gary had to say with regards to the announcement.

Justin Turner, All-Star third baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers, will be one of the agency’s first clients and will help pave the way for the agency to leave a giant footprint on the sports media landscape.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

With offices across the country in New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, VaynerSports—including VaynerBaseball’s—reach is extensive, and its impact will be felt everywhere.

Culture Music

Danny Hajj Talks Producing for 2KBABY and the Importance of Passion

In this week’s episode of our podcast, Monday to Monday, Mike Boyd speaks with producer/manager Danny Hajj, a frequent collaborator of 2KBABY’s. As both a producer and manager, Hajj has worn many hats, and thus provides unique insight into the hip-hop landscape. They address his past as a classical pianist, how he determines the right people to work with and the dissolving boundaries between popular genres in 2020.

Early on in the episode, Hajj spends a bit of time answering questions about the ever-evolving landscape of hip-hop in 2020. A fan asks Hajj about the importance of playing an instrument, and although Danny’s a classically trained pianist, he doesn’t emphasize needing to play a traditional instrument. “I think that’s what’s really cool to see in, you know the way music is made today. It’s like, it’s actually less instrumentation and more digital,” he says. He also chats with multiple fans about the blurring boundaries between hip-hop and other genres of popular music. “Hip-hop, now, I think is becoming pop,” he says. 

Throughout a lot of the interview and his interactions with fans, Hajj emphasizes the importance of both putting together and executing a game plan. “It’s one thing to have a product, it’s another thing to make sure that that product is put in front of people,” he says, before adding, “It’s just about executing your game plan.” This ethos has driven his managerial style with 2KBABY and is responsible for a lot of the young rapper’s success.

Later in the stream, YC—who co-manages 2KBABY with Danny—jumps on to chat. He and Hajj discuss how it feels to see all of their hard work paying off. “That is like the greatest feeling you ever can have,” YC says, and Hajj adds: “When you see it from the ground up, you really feel like you manifested everything that you put together. And that’s the coolest thing. Because you know you start seeing the dots connect.” They’re both so proud of the work they’ve put out and how far they’ve come, and it’s really amazing to watch them discuss. 

Near the end of the episode, Hajj discusses some of the qualifications he looks for in people he works with. He drops a couple of absolute dimes. “It’s not about working with the biggest names, it’s about working with the most passionate people that want to help us bring our visions to life,” he says. He follows that quote by putting it even more beautifully: “It’s about that hunger. Judge somebody on what they strive to achieve, not what they’ve already achieved.”

If you loved this episode and want to hear Mike (and the fans) chop it up with more artists, producers and managers, make sure to check out last week’s episode when he spoke to entertainment consultant Ximena Acosta.

Sneakers Style

15 of the Best Vans Shoes

The year is 1966, America is embroiled in Vietnam, Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman founded Nike two years prior in Eugene, Ore. and almost exactly 888 miles down the western coast of the United States, the Van Doren brothers are striking gold, or rubber if you will, as they introduce the world to Vans. Their first day included 12 pairs of shoes, ordered, made, and delivered in the first 24 commercial hours in existence. Their local Anaheim success was an omen of what was to come. 

The humble garage setup was just the beginning as the brand, and their iconic rubber waffle outsole, continued to craft new silhouettes, slowly but surely altering the skateboard and lifestyle footwear landscape. The Sk8-Hi, Slip-On Classic, and others all became essential equipment for the uniform of a 70s SoCal teen in the know. 

Sooner than later the whole country, not to mention the world, knew the phrase “Off The Wall”. The brand is a powerhouse. Executing simple black/white colorways on its top models, it collaborated with other skate staples like Thrasher magazine, Supreme, and others who perfectly paralleled the unbuyable “cool” that the brand continues to deliver on a steady basis. 

While cool factor is incalculable, we did our best to take a look at 15 of the Best Vans Sneakers, from the perfect wide soled skate silhouette to one-of-a-kind collabs, our list does its best to draw some conclusions about a brand that was never worried about being ranked.

1. Vans Sk8-Hi “Black/White”

All hail the Sk8-Hi. Seen in the classic and simple black/white colorway it is the Air Jordan 1 of skateboarding. Coming on to the scene in 1978 it set a precedent for skate performance. Tall and bold, the white rubber midsole pops off a textile and suede black upper. It’s taken on numerous iterations and versions but still remains a dominant force in the skate performance world all while enjoying an equally prominent place in the world of casual/lifestyle wear.

2. Vans Classic Slip-On “Checkerboard”

The unofficial sneaker of southern California, the Classic Slip-On says it all right there in the name. Classic as classic gets, the Slip-On was not only the go-to for early skating but rests easily as one of the most sought after and loved casual sneakers of all time. It’s relaxed slip-on style is the perfect encapsulation of skate culture and the relaxed lifestyle of California.

3. Vans Old Skool “Black/White”

For all of their high profile collabs and bold colorways, the thing that makes Vans great is their simplicity. Their ethos stems from their early aughts in that Anaheim garage and it seems that no matter what, the brand is still sticking to that. Black/white never looked so sharp, yet so simple on the Vans Old Skool. One of the brand’s highest-grossing models, the Old Skool is unmistakable with its bright, white jazz stripe logo slicing down the side of the silhouette.

4. Vans Era 95 DX x Fear of God “Black/White”

Whatever your thoughts may be on American designer Jerry Lorenzo or his LA-based streetwear company Fear of God, his collaboration with Vans in 2017 was an undeniable success (seriously check out those resale prices). The high-end streetwear brand put their simplified and overbranded spin on a number of sneakers including the Era 95 DX resulting in a project whose price tag hit some pretty unprecedented numbers for the simple canvas sneaker. Even the Chainsmokers got their hands on some pairs, unbeknownst to them they treated them like any old Vans and beat them into the ground.  However heartbreaking that may be, it did make for a nice anecdote on Complex’s Sneaker Shopping with Joe La Puma.

5. Vans Authentic x Supreme “White Castle”

Of Supreme’s multiple collabs with Vans, their 2013 one with White Castle is not only a personal favorite but kind of a sleeper. They put their spin not only the Authentic but a Classic Slip-On and Sk8-Hi each decked out with their own version of the burger chain’s bright and bold blue and white logo. The seemingly arbitrary joint project offered fans of the brand no answers– the randomness of the release was enough to keep demand for the pairs high and sticking true to their Quickstrike business practices, still very hard to find to this day.  ​

6. Vans Old Skool Pro x Golf Wang “Green/Pink”

Like many advocates for the brand, among us is Tyler, The Creator. A picturesque Cali teen who grew up loving the brand got his full-circle moment when Vans matched up with his creative outlet, Golf Wang in 2014. His super out-there style was a perfect match for the brand, the results; three boldly colored Old Skool Pros. They all came decked out with cool Golf Wang heel branding and cotton candy pink midsoles. The ones with the forest green uppers are my personal faves.

7. Vans Authentic x J. Crew “White Canvas”

The Vans Authentic has taken on multiple forms but none more relaxed or classic r/menswear than their collaboration with J. Crew. Despite their recent file for bankruptcy, the staple business casual brand served up this canvas classic with nylon laces, a cool detail that brings the whole sneaker together in a great yet simple way. Any self-respecting, casual-blazer-wearing, watch-magazine-reading guy has them and so should you.

8. Vans Sk8-Hi x Led Zeppelin

There’s hardly a rock band worth their salt that doesn’t count Led Zeppelin, among others, as a major influence. The band celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2019, and with it, a two sneaker release with Vans. The Sk8-Hi is a personal favorite but the brand also worked on an Era silhouette to give the collaboration a hi and low option for those looking to rock or shred.

9. Vans Authentic x A Tribe Called Quest

Of all the music-centric sneaker collabs that exist, there’s a special place for this 2018 collab with A Tribe Called Quest. The rap group has been steadily putting out genre-defining music and with that a special multi sneaker collab in 2018. The best of which, was the Authentic. The simple low cut sneaker came decked out in white and black but this time drenched with words and phrasing from the group in an all-over pattern. Want to see more music-themed kicks? Look no further.

10. Vans Comfycush Era “Marshmallow”

With a hard rubber outsole for gripping a skateboard, Vans was never the most comfortable sneaker brand but that all changed when Vans introduced the world to a more comfortable version of their iconic skate sneakers with Comfycush™. The new tech brought updates to the Era and other silhouettes. The brand even bragged that their material was as comfortable as running sneakers and although that’s a tall order to fill, the general consensus was yes, Vans are more comfortable now. The new product launch came with some new colorways like “Marshmallow” a reverse twist on the classic black/white template.

11. Vans Old Skool “Flame”

The Vans Old Skool “Flame” is a simple sneaker with a cool colorway that transports you back to the days of sneaker shopping when the only thing that mattered was if a sneaker had flames or not. Even though we’ve grown up a little bit (some of us anyway) there’s still nothing wrong with going gaga over a good sneaker with flames. If Supreme and Nike can try and make flames cool again then so can Vans.

12. Vans Half Cab Pro “Black/White”

Another great example of Vans’ seemingly flawless execution is the Half Cab Pro – for skaters by skaters. The sneaker looks best in a simple black/white colorway and came into existence in just about the most punk rock way possible. The legend centers around Steve Caballero and if you don’t know about his high top sneaker then get this – he noticed young skaters chopping off the top of his signature skate sneaks and using duct tape and stickers to close up the wounds. This makeshift version was the first iteration of the silhouette and Caballero even tried it himself to see what the hype was about. It didn’t take too long before he called up Vans with an order to manufacture the Half Cab Pro. Meeting the demand for this mid-height sneaker, the factory version was born, giving skaters and newfound street skaters a tool for performance. Watch the tale unfold for yourself here.

13. Vans Lampin x Supreme “Croc Corduroy Mustard”

The Vans Lampin is one of their lesser-known silhouettes, its upper has an arch overlay but that unusual detail made it the perfectly unique model for billion-dollar streetwear brand Supreme to use as a template for their funky and bold aesthetics. So ugly it’s perfect – the mashup of embossed croc and corduroy colored mustard is just about as “Supreme” as it gets and for true fans of either brand, this 2018 collaboration was one of several examples of the power of each wield. Together, they’re an unstoppable force of skating.

14. Vans Authentic “True White”

Coke white. “Damn Daniel.” Whatever reference you might know them by the Vans Authentic “True White” is a bright, shining example of what makes Vans so great. Their emphasis focuses on the simple performance of their trademark rubber outsole. This simple plain colorway is a must-have for anyone, whether you’re looking to shred a drained pool or looking for something to pair with a casual fit.

15. Vans Slip-On DX x David Bowie “Hunky Dory”

The Classic Slip-On with a twist, and then some. The brand’s 2019 collab with Bowie spoke truth to the daring and bold ethos encapsulated by both the brand and musician. Each trend-setting in their own right the “Hunky Dory” sees the Classic Slip-On with a velcro strap on the forefront and the classic checkerboard pattern in a soft velvet. 

Sports Strength

NFL 2020 Deep Dive: Philadelphia Eagles Edition

Here to bring you the latest and greatest professional sports gambling breakdowns. Find me on Twitter @the_odds_fellow for even more updates, picks, and insights.

What happened since I posted my NFC East division breakdown on June 15th?  Unfortunately for the Eagles, it was the news that 3-time pro bowl Guard Brandon Brooks will miss the 2020 season with an ACL tear.  

The injury along with my original lean to the Eagles under-performing against their season win total of 9.5 led me to decide a deeper dive might be necessary.  And to do so I brought in my guy, @systemofawin, to truly dig into the data and navigate this ship towards profits.  Hop on board as we get into the deep dive, broken down by a few areas of focus.

Roster updates (since we last spoke…)

Simply mentioning Brooks’ injury does not do him or the Eagles’ offensive line justice; unfortunately this latest misfortune will be one of a few factors causing a once prominent offensive line to take a step back in 2020. First, let’s look at where this line has performed and what it’s meant for Philadelphia over the past four years.

As a snapshot, below are the pro football focus offensive line rankings following each regular season between 2016-2019 (playoffs not included):

  • 2019 – 1st overall, 9-7 (won NFC East, lost Wild Card round)
  • 2018 – 5h overall, 9-7 (wild card, lost Divisional round
  • 2017 – 1st overall, 13-3 (won NFC East, won Super Bowl)
  • 2016 – 8th overall, 7-9 (missed playoffs)

It’s clear this unit consisting of mainstays Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, Brandon Brooks, and Jason Kelce, has graded very well in each of the past four regular seasons including winning the battle of the trenches for all the marbles in Super Bowl 52.

In 2016, it’s clear worst performance in the 4-year stretch, Johnson was suspended for 10 games and Brooks was in his first year in the Philadelphia system.  Now the right side of the unit loses Brooks, but don’t forget the void on the left side due to the departure of LT Jason Peters (9-time pro bowler and 2-time all-pro), who remains unsigned by any team.  His replacement is 2nd year OT Andre Dillard, who played well in spots last season but had an alarming performance in week 12 against Seattle; needing to start for Lane Johnson, Dillard was asked to make the switch from LT to RT for the game, which he compared to a person trying to write with their non-dominant hand.  With such a positive, go get ‘em attitude the switch went great and Dillard was benched at halftime. That behavior is not the kind of mental and physical toughness a fanbase wants to see from their stalwart LT.

In the recent off-season, the Eagles also did little to address the bubbling offensive line concerns, spending most of their early draft capital on other needs.  With the 145th pick (4th round), Philadelphia selected it’s first OL player, OT Jack Driscoll (Auburn).  They would go on to add another Auburn Tackle at the 210th pick (6th round), Prince Tega Wanogho.  While Prince is an exciting developmental prospect given he began playing the game of football only recently, neither player is expected to make an impact in 2020.

Two key voices are still in the mix in Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce, but if Dillard isn’t mentally strong enough to fill the void and step up into the LT role full-time than the unit that has helped keep this team relevant is going to start drifting back towards average.  These changes also could have a significant impact on the potential health of QB, Carson Wentz, the oft-injured signal-caller.  Remember, there’s no Nick Foles waiting in the wings in 2020 to save the day if Wentz goes down. 

The true strength of schedule
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

It’s easy to grab Strength of Schedule (SOS) and run with it, but the true value can be unlocked when you understand a team’s SOS is only one piece of a very, very large puzzle.  So what else matters, and why?  

One starting point includes analysis of the offensive and defensive trends for both the team in question (the Eagles) and it’s opponents for the upcoming year.

Let’s just say 2019 was not a murder’s row of offensive opponents, but heading into 2020 that will likely change for the Eagles:

  • In 2019 they faced the 8th easiest schedule considering opponent offensive efficiency, which flips to the 6th most difficult by the same metric in 2020
  • ​​​​​​​Of their 9 wins in 2019, only 2 came against teams that ranked in the top half of the league in offensive efficiency (Wk 4 @ GB, Wk 16 vs DAL)
  • The combined record of 2019 opponents: 104-111-1 (.484)

Why is offensive efficiency such a big deal?  Well mainly because John Madden once taught us that “Usually the team that scores the most points wins the game”, but in this case, in order to understand the impact of facing more potent offenses may have, we also need to look at the other side of the equation; team defense.  By keying in on the Eagles inability to get big-play stops last year, we can better understand the impact a step-up in class may drive during 2020:

  • 18th in explosive pass defense
  • 19th in explosive rush defense

  • In 2020 the Eagles will face the 2nd most difficult schedule of explosive rushing offenses based on 2019 results

If proving out that offensive matchups for a still-improving Eagles defense (especially in the secondary) are going to get tougher wasn’t enough to convince you then let’s dive into factor number two; not all stretches in a schedule are created equal, which is clearly not a metric baked into the SOS calculation.  For Philadelphia there are a few specific danger spots to look out for:

  • Wk 4 @ SF (SNF) 
  • Wk 5 @ PIT 
  • Wk 6 vs. BAL
  • Wk 7 vs NYG (TNF- short rest after facing BAL
  • Wk 8 vs. DAL (2nd straight division game, but on extended rest)

  • Wk 12 vs SEA
  • Wk 13 @ GB
  • Wk 14 vs. NO
  • Wk 15 @ ARZ
  • Wk 16 vs DAL

  • First 2 years combined home record of 15-3 (including playoffs)
  • Last 2 years home record 10-7 (including playoffs)

  • Since 2003 Divisional road teams who face the same opponent within 3 weeks or less only win 38% of the time vs. typical road DIV of 45%
  • As a positive, the Eagles come into this match-up off a bye (a situation that has occurred 8 times in the same time period)

9-Win teams; what the data really says?
Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Analyzing how 9 win teams (since 2011) performed the following season also shows that history might not be on the Eagles’ side:

  • Of the previous 4, only 1 went Over the total (2018 Chargers)
  • Teams that win 9 games in a season have a projected win total of 8.3 wins in the following season, but actually average 8.1 wins

The Bill James section (of course)
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Another indicative metric of true performance is point differential and unfortunately for the Eagles, they struggled to put opponents away despite the soft schedule. Take a look:

  • 9 win teams actually have an average margin of victory of 1.7 points so Philadelphia underperformed
  • Teams that win 9 games in a season while outscoring their opponents by less than 1.5 points per game only win 8.4 games the following season
  • Within their 2019 performance, the Eagles record in 1 score games was 3-4 and their TO Differential was -3; both metrics that typically regress towards 0 from year to year so it seems as though we shouldn’t anticipate any massive swings +/- in either category

The Pythagorean expected wins is a sports analytics formula (developed by Bill James and later adapted for use in the NFL) that allows us to evaluate over or underperformance relative to expectations even further.  The metric uses point differential to determine how many games a team should have won and has been shown to be predictive of results in the following season. Check out how the 2019 Eagles fared:

  • The Pythagorean expected win total was 8.8 wins, meaning the Eagles performed right around expectation as they had 9 wins total
  • After simulating the upcoming season 10,000 times using “expected wins” while adjusting for turnovers, the Eagles average win total came out to 8.97
The punchline

With the offensive line, the anchor of the team from the last person successful seasons, undergoing a variety of changes, the Eagles have little margin for error for a successful 2020 campaign.  When you add in the tougher 2020 schedule, notably on the offensive side of the ball along with how 9 win teams typically perform the following season, the outlook is bleak.  While neither of us expects the Eagles to tank in 2020, the points noted above unfortunately lead to a projection of mediocrity and that spells under 9.5 wins.  ​​​​

Consoles Gaming

10 Games Like Fire Emblem

Fire Emblem has garnered a massive fanbase, and for good reason. The series’ combination of turn-by-turn combat (TBT) with a fantasy RPG story is a unique marriage that has left fans wanting more. With more than 15 titles including remakes and spin-offs — Roy and Marth became beloved characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee — the series has cemented itself as a core fantasy go-to. Below are other games similar in combat and/or story to the Fire Emblem series for those who have exhausted its titles or are looking for similar adventures to embark upon.

1. Advance Wars (Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Wii U)

This game is a beloved classic that debuted on the Game Boy Advance. The player assumes the role of general commanding military branches in combat: moving units on a map, attacking the enemy, and fighting through levels of difficulty to win the war. The battles are turn-based, similar to Fire Emblem, though not fantastical in nature for those who prefer it. The games were also later released as virtual purchases on the Wii U.

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2. Final Fantasy Tactics (Game Boy Advance, PS1, PSP, Nintendo DS)

Final Fantasy Tactics is a spin-off of the acclaimed RPG series that gave us celebrated games like Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy X, to name a few. The games take place in the fictional world of Ivalice which is revisited throughout the Tactics series’ titles, unlike some of its parent series’ titles that can be more anthology-based with different worlds, plots, and characters. While it debuted on the Sony Playstation, it’s now available on a variety of platforms.

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3. Valkyria Chronicles (PS3, PS4, Windows, PSP, PS Vita, iOS, Android, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

Critics and players alike have acclaimed this tactical RPG series and its most recent iteration, Valkyria Chronicles 4. The games are set in Earth’s alternate universes during 20th-century wartimes and incorporate a specific turn-based fighting style, though the later versions are described as more strategy-based and operate in real-time. The series also has a couple of spin-off titles and has developed its own manga and anime.

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4. TearRing Saga

The origin of this series has been seemingly a legal nightmare for most parties involved. Shouzou Kaga, a Nintendo employee, left the company in 1999 after creating Fire Emblem and started his own development studio called Tirnanog. He created a new series called Emblem Saga — which would later become TearRing — prompting a series of lawsuits from Nintendo, which claimed he infringed on their intellectual property copyrights. All that said, the game was hailed as a success, primarily due to its similarities to its spiritual predecessor. The game is in Japanese.

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5. Stella Glow (Nintendo 3DS)

This game has everything: monsters, protagonist amnesia, and witches wielding elemental abilities. It operates two times: free time and battle time, allowing for its turn-by-turn play. Favorably received and featuring anime-style characters, this game is a worthy addition to the roster of anyone who loves Fire Emblem. And a bit of trivia: This title was the last made by development company Imageepoch before it filed for bankruptcy.

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6. Berwick Saga

Though it’s technically part of the TearRing Saga, Berwick — a sequel to the original game — was massively overhauled. Its plot isn’t significantly related to its predecessor, and the battling system is revamped in a fashion that is less reminiscent of Fire Emblem. (Probably in ways that would make it less susceptible to further Nintendo lawsuits.) While it is different in many ways, it takes place in the same world and still operates as turn-by-turn with skills and a variety of weapons. A GameCube version of it was planned but ultimately canceled, leaving the title available only on the PS2.

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8. XCOM (Linux, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android, PS1, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Switch)

This game is decidedly more science fiction than fantasy, but it still provides an entertaining experience. In different iterations of the series, aliens are invading Earth and the player is in charge of an organization battling the extraterrestrial life. The series has received a great deal of critical acclaim: XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, released in 2017 and actually an expansion to XCOM 2, received superb praise and was listed on multiplate “best games” lists. In April 2020, XCOM: Chimera Squad was released. Though it deals with aliens over swords and spells, it has earned its spot in sci-fi/fantasy video game lore.

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9. Pokémon Conquest (Nintendo DS)

A spin-off of the super successful Pokemon video game series, this game follows a trainer running around the Ransei region with their Eevee and battling enemy “Warriors” who can then join the group. Only a fraction of the total Pokemon in existence are accessible in this title, and they’re captured by a method of matching buttons similar to Dance Dance Revolution rather than the series’ traditional method of catching Pokemon. It was released in 2012 and reviewed favorably by critics.

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10. Disgaea Series

Disgaea is a celebrated RPG series and clever in that it takes place in an alternate world in which moral values are reversed, so the hero the player navigates is actually upholding villainous ideals. That, combined with its grid-based battle system and ability to grow one’s team and upgrade units to absurdly high levels, makes for a fun game with high replayability. It’s a little different from the vibe of Fire Emblem, but it’s a series that any fantasy TBT-combat fan should check out.

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