Board Gaming · Top Ten List

Top 25 Games: #5-1

At last we’ve come to the portion of the list everyone’s been waiting for: the best of the best in my opinion. These five games are the five I would choose if I could only have five games in my collection, as they all hit on very different aspects in gaming. Each provides a different experience from the other and demonstrates some of my varied taste in board games. The true positioning could be shifted on a daily basis from 3-5, and even 1-2 could flip-flop on a given day. I’m pretty happy with this ranking right now as going down as the official ranking, though.

So if you’re ever wanting to play one of these, let’s make it happen! I don’t know that I could play any of these “enough” times!

#25-21

#20-16

#15-11

#10-6

***

#5 – Kingdom Builder, published by Queen Games. Designed by Donald X. Vaccarino. 2-4 Players.

I’m going to say something controversial. Moreso than stating that Caverna is better than Agricola, or that Century: Spice Road is better than Splendor. You ready for this? Kingdom Builder is the best game Donald X. Vaccarino has designed. Period. I’m not trying to ruffle your feathers, Dominion fans. That is a fine game, and worthy of all the praise and acclaim it receives. But you’ll never convince me that it is a better game, and this is coming from a self-proclaimed lover of the deckbuilding genre.

What I love about Kingdom Builder is the variability and the simplicity. It is variable with the four boards and powers that will be available each play and with the three scoring conditions that will be present. It is simple mechanically in that you’ll place three settlements on the board on the terrain type matching your card. But that settlement must be placed adjacent to one of your existing settlements on the board, if able. That right there is the crux that makes this game shine.

Why? Because you can feasibly lose the game on Turn 1. That first placement matters. It matters so very much, both in terms of potential powers you gain and in terms of your options in future rounds. A really poor placement can leave you floundering in the same area of the board until the game ends, and don’t even try claiming it is because of the restriction of the card draw. That 1 card is what makes this game hum. If you add in a 2nd card, or a hand of cards to play from, the game loses its excellence and allows for sloppy planning. As Edward from Heavy Cardboard would say, “Plan better. Play better.” For such a light and simple game, there are so many excellent and meaningful decisions to be found with those early placements.

Every time you can place in a new part of the board, you’re faced with a similar challenge: find the optimal placement that will keep future options open while maximizing the point potential. It isn’t always easy. It sure as heck isn’t always obvious. I lose way more than I win in Kingdom Builder, but I always want to play it again. The game is the perfect time for setup and gameplay. The shifting of just those scoring objectives makes the same board play out in a completely different way. Seriously. Change those three cards but keep the same board and don’t shuffle those land cards and you’d see different decisions happening along the way.

Maybe I’m the biggest advocate for this game. Maybe no one else thinks it is as absolutely brilliant as I do. But I am yet to teach it and have someone dislike the game. In fact, the majority of new players are wildly enthusiastic about the experience when it is over and immediately want to dive back in for a second play.

And 50+ plays into this game, I’m still loving it. I don’t see that changing over the next 50 plays and beyond.

#4 – Lignum, republished by Capstone Games. Designed by Alexander Huemer. 2-4 players.

Every other game in the Top 5 gave me a strong reason to believe I would like the game before playing it. Lignum, on the other hand, came out of no where. I expected a fun game based on the description and my previous history of success with a Capstone Games title (Haspelknecht). But this game blew past each and every expectation I had going into the game and then some.

What is it about Lignum that I love? It is that perfect Euro game with management of resources, balance of short-term and long-term planning, and a feeling that you’re never doing enough to succeed. You need to plan the path you take each season, as many spaces can only go to one person. So if you really need that Sled, you’re faced with the decision of how fast should you jump to where that is located. Everyone you hire costs money, and they last only for the season, so you need to account for gaining enough cash flow to pay those seasonal costs. Winter seasons are tough to plan for, as there is so little you can do that season, yet that one decision can have waves of impact.

You can plan seasons ahead to execute a stronger action, but you need to really make sure that action is what you need and when you need it, while also ensuring that doesn’t prevent you from adding in another action on the next season when you travel around. Food and saws can be scarce resources, unless you’re willing to pay for them. Collecting sets of tokens can be ways to cash in for some much-needed funds or turned in for some powerful extra actions.

There is so much in this game that I love. It burns my brain in the right ways, and is that one Euro game I’ll want to grab off the shelf first if someone wants to play a Euro game. There may be ones that come along later that do it better, and ones like Lisboa might claim that crown with more plays. But right now, I love what Lignum manages to accomplish over the course of a session. It is far, far from that BGG Hotness and deserving of your immediate attention.

#3 – Mystic Vale, published by Alderac Entertainment Group. Designed by John D. Clair. 2-4 Players.

I love deckbuilding games. If I had to choose a mechanic that is mine, this would probably be the one I would claim. The improvement of a deck over time, combined with generating an efficient engine, is something that I really enjoy. My wife, on the other hand, has never been a big fan of them. Back in the day we owned Dominion and her tactic was, without fail, to simply buy money until she could buy a Province. Sure, she might buy 1-2 cards from the market on occasion, but she never crafted engines. And it was frustrating because I was spending my time trying to hone an engine that would run effectively based on the changing market of cards that could compete with that Big Money strategy. Too often I was 1-2 turns too slow, and her repetitive tactic combined with my disappointment against that tactic saw us sell off Dominion.

Imagine my excitement when I discovered that she actually enjoyed playing Mystic Vale. What followed was a solid week of playing this time and again while it was being borrowed. It was the first game I reviewed that I didn’t own (yet). And it is one of my favorite games in my collection to this day.

What she appreciates is a static deck in terms of cards. You’re not making a small deck bigger. You don’t need to trash cards in order to make things efficient. You start and stay at that same number of cards. But the strategies to pursue outside of that are where this game shines. This is very much a game of adapting to what appears. Tier 1 cards are cheap, but in a 2-player game only a dozen will ever appear. Worst case scenario, that is 4 unique cards (in the 3 different slots). Best case scenario there are 12 unique cards. But whether or not that card you need is in the place you need is never a guarantee. And you can’t just place it over something already existing, either, meaning every purchase and placement of an advancement is important in the long term. And you can’t always plan for what will show up in the game.

The game has a limited timer that is wholly dependent upon the purchases players make and how risky they choose to play. I’ve seen games go long and scores hit the 50-60 range. I’ve seen fast games where everyone is in the low-to-mid 20’s. Even though you are building your own engine, the game really rewards paying attention to what else is purchased and how fast those VP chips are being taken. Some of the best cards come with either greater risk of spoilage or less reward in end-game VP.

And those Vale cards are absolutely a viable strategy to win the game, even if they are frequently overlooked and can be difficult to obtain consistently. Early in the game, I’ll usually take an advancement with 1-2 of those symbols over one that generates more mana. Many times that pays off with those Vale Cards.

This is a game that is innovative in the realm of deckbuilders and a lot of fun to play. I’m always excited to see what direction the game takes as I begin to look at the cards flipping out for purchase. If you dislike deckbuilders but haven’t tried this, take my wife’s enjoyment of this as a hint that there is something a little different about Mystic Vale. You might just find yourself loving this game. And if you enjoy building engines or deckbuilding, this is very much the game for you.

#2 – Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, published by Fantasy Flight Games. Designed by Nate French. 1-2 Players.

In terms of number of plays, this game is king of the mountain. I logged about 50 solo plays of this one in about 5 months last year, and it is still my #1 played game of 2018. I have a feeling it will always be my most-played game, and it is my most-expanded game (and I’ve hardly scratched the surface on my collection). But the #1 overall spot isn’t necessarily the game you play the most, but rather the best and your favorite overall game. And this one falls just a little short in that race.

But let’s focus on what this does so freaking well: diversity in playthrough. Allow me to define that for you, because it is what makes this game shine for me, although it is dependent upon expanding a collection. Even by just picking up a single cycle, you gain 8 more heroes to use. A wealth of new player cards. And 9 scenarios to play through. Add that to the 12 heroes and 3 scenarios in the base game, and suddenly you have a ton of variability right there. You use 3 of the 20 heroes to run through a scenario. There are many combinations you could try and run through an individual scenario. Or all of the scenarios. Now take this and multiply by half a dozen cycles, two saga series, and some print on demand scenarios. Almost a hundred heroes. Almost a hundred scenarios. Hundreds of player cards to construct decks to play with. And the ability to play 1-4 players…and this game is a blast at all four player counts.

Some people dislike the deck construction aspect. I personally don’t understand that, as I think that is the best thing about this game. Building something and running it against a known (or unknown) quest to see how it fares over repeated plays. Swapping out a few cards to see how that affects the effectiveness of the deck. Getting slaughtered by the game and then trying to puzzle out how to overcome the obstacle. That high of making it past after banging your head in frustration for several plays.

Filling roles in a group setting, allowing you to diversify the content of the decks so everyone can contribute without needing everyone to do everything.

And when a quest gets too easy, there are Nightmare decks to go around and crank the difficulty to 11. They present new and interesting challenges as you work your way through the familiar quests!

This game is one I don’t think I’ll ever stop playing. I’m working to build a local community of gamers on this one, and that is going to be something I’ll continue to do. It isn’t cheap to get into this game, but it also doesn’t require you to collect everything, or punish you for not getting things in order or not having everything. I can play and succeed against the newest cycle without needing to purchase everything up to that cycle.

This game is my type of game. Long live the LCG, but even if it died today I could easily play the content that exists for a lifetime and not have it grow stale for me.

#1 – War of the Ring, Published by Ares Games. Designed by Robert Di Meglio, Marco Maggi, and Francesco Nepitello. 2-4 Players (but really 2 players…)

If you look at the number of plays a year that a game receives, this one would fall short of the top billing. However, as Joel Eddy has mentioned in defense of Caylus being his #1 game, your top game doesn’t have to be one you’re playing all the time. It is rather what game do you enjoy the most when it hits the table, and for me it is easily War of the Ring by Ares Games. This has it all for any Tolkien fan (or any Tolkien super fan like me): two sides vying with different goals, hidden movement of the Fellowship to destroy the ring, active hunting for the ring by the shadow player, endless hordes of enemies for the shadow player, a feeling of dread and despair for the free peoples…

It feels like I am playing Lord of the Rings out on the board when this game hits the table. Sure, the rules are complex and I’m still not 100% certain I am playing everything perfectly. I’d have to dive back into that rulebook, now that I am better at learning and teaching games, to see what little things I may have missed. I’ve missed a lot of things over the years and have corrected them along the way, and every correction makes the game more and more interesting.

The sides are as close to balanced as you could hope for in a game like this. Seriously, there are discussions on BGG where it demonstrates that both sides have a win rate that is remarkably close to 50% overall. Will a skilled player win more times against a new player? Absolutely. But it isn’t a guaranteed thing.

The cards in here are outstanding, with thematic and fun effects at times. The dual use of the cards really shines, making you decide what manner you want to utilize them. Sometimes it is needed short-term to help win a key battle. Other times you know this card is going to be played for the main effect using one of your dice.

I’ve rolled my eyes at the complaint about the political system. It is thematic. The Free Peoples nations were resistant to the idea of a real threat, unwilling to believe that the land was being overrun by Sauron and his armies. You need to spend time and resources to convince those nations that there is a real threat before they are willing to grow their armies and march to war. Sending someone from the Fellowship can speed up that process, just like a battle or two within a territory can convince them that the threat is there and impacting their nation. This isn’t tacked on to add a funky mechanic for complexity’s sake. Read the books. The nations all dragged their feet at first regarding Sauron and his forces. This mechanic is thematic. Period. End of discussion.

There are interesting decisions on both sides throughout the game. Can a string of bad rolls ruin your plans? Sure, it happens. I’ve had all of my progress as a Shadow player wiped in a matter of a few battles gone wrong and had to backpedal and reevaluate where to strike and when. I’ve had to abandon conquests because it would take too long and too many dice to reach the previous conquest site with reinforcements (or a new force). I’ve seen the Free People win by conquering Shadow Strongholds and win by Dunking the One Ring. I’ve seen the Shadow armies win by conquering Free People Cities and Strongholds and seen them win by corrupting the Ring Bearer. I’ve seen Minas Tirith and the rest of Gondor be a crucial battle site and I’ve seen it ignored for the entirety of a game.

While each game follows the same overarching narrative path, the route taken to victory on both sides will change from game to game based upon opening moves and the cards being dealt. And that is what is wonderful about this: I’m witnessing my favorite story being played out on a board, where I can make unique and interesting decisions that alter the narrative.

Add in the two expansions and the experience only gets better for me. I’m saddened that I didn’t get the Special Edition of the game when it was being run, but my standard version of the game is still the perfect game. If you want the best experience in board games, I’d argue it can be found at the table with this game and one other player, vying for the fate of Middle-Earth. Now you’ll have to excuse me, I think it is time for Second Breakfast.

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Board Gaming · Top Ten List

Top 25 Games: #10-6

We’re into the territory where the best of the best begin to reside. These are, 100%, games I would always say “yes” to playing if the opportunity were to arise. Including this surprise appearance by the #10 game here, which got a small bump last month when I got in another play of it as a 2-player game and was reminded of how much I liked the game and got to see how differently it can play based on player count and familiarity with the game.

Previous installments:

#25-21

#20-16

#15-11

***

#10 – Nations, published by Lautapelit.fi. Designed by Rustan Hakansson, Nina Hakensson, Einar Rosen,  and Robert Rosen. 1-5 players.

This game was lower on the list, and then I played the game once again right before I ran my rankings one last time. And boy, did this game benefit from that recent play, which served to remind me just how much I enjoyed this one. While I could lament about the MSRP of this game ($100), the honest truth is that the gameplay probably is worth that price tag even if the components themselves are not. And now I can confirm that this one plays solidly as a 2-player game, which was yet another reason for the gentle nudge up the list.

I played a LOT of Civilization II on the PC in my younger years. One of my earlier purchases was the Fantasy Flight version of Sid Meier’s Civilization which, while good, was never able to deliver the experience I was looking for in a civ-like board game. Combat was uninteresting and most of the early game was exploring the map while the rest was just spamming up whichever track could lock in a faster victory. This game is far more interesting, with a diverse range of cards that you’ll see a fraction of in a 2-player game (yay replay value and inability to depend on Card X to appear, forcing you to adapt your strategy to what is there rather than what you know is coming).

It also happens to have a mild worker placement aspect on your own board, and I use the term loosely. But you still assign those workers there and reap the benefits and penalties of said spot. You have to manage a few spaces for upgrades on your board while also juggling your resources efficiently. This is a Euro gamer’s Civ game, and I absolutely love it after a handful of plays. I can’t wait to dive into the solo mode on this one, and to get this to the table with my wife. I think this would be one she’d enjoy and completely dominate at, much like she did with Sid Meier’s Civilization.

#9 – Argent: The Consortium, published by Level 99 Games. Designed by Trey Chambers. 2-5 Players.

Fun fact: I’ve been writing this list backwards (#6-#10) and a theme for #7-9 could easily be “games I absolutely love but my wife does not”. And that is best exemplified in this game right here, a game she should absolutely love but does not. Yet. I’m still holding out hope that she can be converted if she gives it another chance now that I have some 2nd Edition upgrades in the box. Everything about this game should be right for her: worker placement, its like Harry Potter, ability to interfere with your opponent directly. And, truthfully, I know the one hangup that killed it for her: the end game scoring.

But that is what sets this game apart. You have 10 voters, only 2 of which are common knowledge. Over the course of the game you’ll hopefully be placing down marks, which let you see the voter card underneath that mark and will provide you information about one of the scoring conditions in the current game (such as most Mana at the end of the game, or most Knowledge tokens, etc.). There is an Influence Track which looks like it should be victory points, but it isn’t. It is used to gain Merits, but also importantly to serve as a tiebreaker if you both have the same number of X on a voter. First edition rules it was simply the higher influence wins the tie. I think she’ll enjoy 2nd edition a little more, which makes the 1st tiebreaker go to whoever put down a mark on the voter’s card and the influence be the 2nd tiebreaker if necessary.

This game is big. And long. It ramps up and become ridiculous as you gain better spells and max them out. Yet a round could end in a few turns, because it ends when all of the belltower cards are taken. The game has replay value, as each mage character has two sides, and there are six different ones to choose from. Every generic spell power has two sides. Every tile for the board has two sides. You can mix and match and play this game dozens of times and never have the same experience. And I absolutely love it. Easy enough to teach how to play it in 15 minutes, deep enough to take a full game to truly understand the game’s scoring and how to maximize your progress toward objectives. This game can appeal to both the Euro and Ameri-gamer camps in equal measure. Play this game. It is worthy of at least that. One play. That may be all it takes to hook you like it did for me.

#8 – Race for the Galaxy, published by Rio Grande Games. Designed by Tom Lehmann. 2-4 Players.

There was a moment in time when this was probably my #1 game. You have to rewind back to 2014, a very early time still in my gaming growth. My wife and I played this probably 20-30 times in the first few months we owned the game. This game was what got me into solo gaming, as I wanted more…more…more. It remains a game I love dearly, even though it rarely hits the table anymore, as I’ve found a new solo love that consumes that attention and my solo gaming on this one made it so my playstyle ruined the game for my wife. You see, in order to beat the Robot in solo you have to get an engine going fast. Really fast. So you start to see combos that are not overpowered, but are efficient enough to end the game before a larger engine can take off.

Part of me still regrets playing this one solo, as she used to love the game. She’s won the last few times we’ve played, but I still see that reflexive cringe if I mention the game. This game offers a lot of fun, synergistic combos, some interesting action selection mechanics (especially with 2-players!), and a great multi-use card system. I haven’t expanded beyond the first expansion, and that was primarily for solo mode. And, to be honest, the game hasn’t really needed anything beyond that. I will probably pick up the new Start Worlds promo at some point, but this is a gem of a game right out of the base box. Don’t let that iconography scare you away from experiencing an outstanding game and a true classic.

#7 – Oh My Goods, published by Mayfair Games. Designed by Alexander Pfister. 2-4 Players.

This game came out of nowhere and swept its way up my list. The game reinforces everything that I already suspected: I like engine builders which is something you can see repeated on this part of my Top 25 list. This game simply clicks for me in ways I still don’t understand. I can see those combinations and what I need to keep and build in order to use those production chains. I tend to fall behind in the early game and then roar back to life for a strong end of the game. Unfortunately, I think this game is destined to follow the same cycle as Race for the Galaxy and become a game my wife won’t willingly play very often.

I like the press-your-luck aspect in this one, which is only as big as you want it to be on some rounds. You set your worker, and how well they will work, after seeing just half of the market. That half can be as small as 2 cards or as many as 10+. Every card is multi-purpose, which is another thing I love. This game has all of the delightful heaviness and brain burn of a medium Euro game, but it compacted into a deck of cards which makes the setup and teardown fast. The game is easy to explain, apart from the production chains, and can go from on the shelf to playing in 15-20 minutes with a teach included. And it will often finish in under an hour per play. This game put Alexander Pfister on my radar, even moreso than Isle of Skye, as a designer to watch. It is utterly delightful and a game I absolutely love to play and need to get the expansion to add solo play into the mix.

#6 – Hanamikoji, published by Emperor S4 and Deep Water Games. Designed by Kota Nakayama. 2 Players.

It isn’t easy to put this one at this spot. The game is deserving of more, of making that final cut into the top 5. But the games ahead of this one simply cannot move. If I could make a 5a. and a 5b., this one would slip right into that slot.

But I can’t and therefore I will not.

It amazes me how many agonizing decisions you are given every time I play this game. you have four actions per round. They are the same four actions, and each can only be done once. You’re never going to have perfect information. Four of the cards you see in your hand over the course of the round will finish on your side of the board. Three will go to your opponent’s side. Two will be removed from the game, and your opponent won’t know which cards they are. One will come out at the very end and be on your side, but your opponent won’t know which card you selected until the end of the round. So much imperfect information that provides incredibly challenging decisions throughout the entire game. I love this game so much and the challenge it packs into a small footprint and a simple decision space. I get delighted when I teach a new person and I realize the game has clicked because they are letting out agonized sounds while trying to determine which action to choose and which cards to play. The game is as graceful and elegant as a geisha, and deserves to be in every collection. Unless you never play games with 2 players. For a 15-minute experience, this is always going to be my #1 go-to game.

Board Gaming · Top Ten List

Top 25 Games: #15-11

Welcome back to my countdown of my top games. I was going to have this live tomorrow (Friday), but I have another post coming tomorrow that I think you’ll like. Therefore this gets bumped up by a day.

You can check out my previous entries here:

#25 – 21

#20 – 16

***

#15 – 878: Vikings – Invasions of England, published by Academy Games, designed by Beau Beckett, Dave Kimmel, and Jeph Stahl. 2-4 Players.

The only game I have backed on Kickstarter, and it is likely to remain as such. Not because of any disappointment in the Kickstarter experience, but because I just don’t need to preorder and pay for a game months in advance. Especially if it is hitting retail afterwards. But this game has been anything but a disappointment. The base game itself is a little lighter than I wanted to find, but there is so much extra content in the form of mini-modules that I can mix & match to get the experience that I want from the game. I love the asymmetric win conditions for the sides and that one starts with forces on the map and the other comes in each round with raids. The game is light and fast enough that it can be picked up easily and played through in an evening after work, which is something I can’t say for a superior war game that will appear higher on this list. I’m a huge fan of the Viking theme, and this definitely plays out with some great historical flavor. If you like Vikings, or are even remotely interested in owning a war game, this is definitely one to consider checking out. It’ll be a part of my collection for a long, long time to come.

#14 – Raiders of the North Sea, published by Garphill Games & Renegade Games, designed by Shem Philips. 2-4 Players.

I love Vikings. My wife loves Worker Placement games. When this game hit my radar, I knew it was one we’d have to eventually check out and so I was really happy when Renegade Games released this in the States. It seems counter-intuitive that you will be playing a worker placement game where you will only ever have one worker to use. But it really works! You take the action when you place a worker, and then you remove a different worker to use the action of its space. Simple. But brilliant in both design and execution. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the expansions, and those will eventually be ones I need to pick up…after I get the rest of the North Sea trilogy into my collection (Explorers & Shipwrights). What is even better is hearing that an official solo mode is open for preorders now by Garphill Games (http://postks.tictail.com/product/raider-solo-variant), which is definitely something I need to obtain soon so I can play this one even when my wife doesn’t feel like playing a game.

#13 – Ora et Labora, published by Lookout Games, designed by Uwe Rosenberg. 1-4 Players.

Oh Uwe, what a magnificent game you have designed. How can I ever return to the recent designs of Caverna, A Feast for Odin, and others after playing this work of brilliance? What’s that, you say? It is out of print? Well, a Twitter exchange with Lookout Games has me really excited at the prospect of this hitting the shelves once more and this will become an insta-buy for me. There is resource management, building of your own personal tableau of structures on your board, a resource wheel like that in Glass Road (which also serves as the game timer), worker placement with two style of workers, a light take-that element where you can bribe another player’s worker to use them, and so much more. This game scratches every itch and burns my brain in the most delightful of ways. I played so horribly in my first game of this, but unlike some other games where that happened (I’m looking at you, Terra Mystica), this one left me excited to try it again and soon. Plan better, play better. And I need to do both of those when I get a chance to get a second play of this one in. This one definitely has a great chance at cracking my Top 10 with some more plays, which is also true about the next few games on this list.

#12 – The Ruhr: A Story of Coal Trade, published by Capstone Games, designed by Thomas Spitzer. 2-4 Players.

Haspelknecht was a surprise hit for me, so much so that I wanted to check out the rest of the Coal Trilogy being rereleased by Capstone Games. I knew they were all very different, and that Haspelknecht was the “lightest” of the games in that trilogy. What I didn’t expect, upon playing The Ruhr, was to discover that this was an excellent game that takes a mechanic I don’t usually like (pickup & deliver) and adds some really fun and interesting elements into the experience. This is the definition of a dice game that my wife and I enjoy: they are never, ever rolled. They simply are used to represent the value of the coal being transported down the river. There is some simple action selection in here, but it plays a key role in the gameplay. The components in the box, and the board upon setup, all feel overwhelming at first blush. This game is not my typical sort of game and I’m yet to feel like I am doing well at this one, especially since my wife grokked the game mechanics from the first play. I constantly miscalculate by a turn in this and end up wasting two turns to get back on track while she zips ahead and unlocks all those great actions/abilities before I can catch up. Yet throughout all of that, I constantly have fun with this game. It move surprisingly fast with two players, and I cannot wait to try this with more to see how that enhances the experience. And to try the flip side of the board and experience The Ohio! This game fills a spot in my collection that I wasn’t aware I needed, but I am grateful that it is on our shelf.

#11 – Lisboa, published by Eagle-Gryphon Games, designed by Vital Lacerda. 1-4 Players.

There are few games that make you sit up and take notice, but this game possesses that capability. I first heard about it via Heavy Cardboard, and we now know this game won their 2017 Golden Elephant Award. That is a huge statement for this game in itself. This has beautiful artwork on all of the components, from the board and player boards to the cards themselves. Unless you have something against the color blue, that is. The theme is super-interesting as you are trying to rebuild the city of Lisbon after it survived a multitude of natural disasters in a very short span of time.

But none of that matters once you sit down to play the game. I played in the worst of conditions: with two other people, one prone to serious AP and hadn’t played the game before and the other teaching the game but having only played it once and that being months prior. Not even joking when I say the first hour was just setting the game up and figuring out the rules in semi-independent ways. The next hour was painfully slow and clunky, as we fumbled our way into trying to understand what was going on and how to make it function. But then the third hour came upon us and it clicked. And wow, it took my breath away when I could finally see what was going on and how it all was interconnected. The depth of this one game is staggering, especially as a game that is, as the designer said, “just play a card and draw a card”. That playing a card part triggers several things, including the opportunities for your opponents to join in on the action by paying for it. Which doesn’t always happen, but is something you should plan to try and do as often as you can to get more done in the same number of turns. The cards can be used in different ways, depending on if you slide them under the top of your player board or tuck them underneath the bottom. I could keep going, but I won’t.

This game is large and unapologetic about how much complexity and depth is in here. It is the game with the highest rated BGG weight on my Top 25, and I definitely agree that this is the meatiest game on here. But if you like thinky euro games, this is one you don’t want to miss. I couldn’t justify the placement of a game I played 1 time in my Top 10, so here it appears. But, honestly, it is probably around #7 or so on my list after the next play, and a third or fourth could possibly crack the Top 5. Especially if the solo play in this is as good as advertised.

Twice I’ve had a chance to get this game and, stupidly, blew it. The first was in describing it to my wife and mentioning that the VP are wigs. Apparently she was going to get it for me for Christmas, due to my going on about the game, until that point. Then, after the holiday, I had almost $100 to drop on new games. Lisboa was what I should have purchased. Instead, I picked up two $40-60 games into my collection. I don’t even know which ones they were, but I do know they aren’t higher on this list than this game. So I’m still seeking that second play, waiting to confirm that this game has held up to every expectation lingering in my mind.

Board Gaming · Top Ten List

Top 25 Games: #20-16

Fun fact: there are 5 games on this list I’ve played exactly 1 time. Those first impressions were strong, and this portion of the list contains three of those games (with the other two appearing next week!). Several of the 1-play games came out higher on the rankings and I bumped them down a spot or two, giving preference to a game I’ve played more often in order to provide a better balance to how this list should be.

Like the previous list, these are all pretty equal in terms of quality of game. There is a small jump, I think, coming next week and then small jumps up after that. But really, this list could be fluid enough to where #20 could be #16 or even #24 at any given moment. You can be sure that if a game appears on this list today, I’d be willing to play it with minimal effort to convince me. Most of these games I’m craving more plays for, and would be the games I’d give strong consideration to pulling off the shelf to teach and play with someone.

#20 – Glass Road – Published by Mayfair Games/Lookout Spiele in 2013, Designed by Uwe Rosenberg, 1-4 Players.

This game blew me away. I thought I knew what an Uwe Rosenberg game was like. I had played Agricola, Caverna, and A Feast for Odin before I met this game. This is so radically different, mechanically, while also being nice and similar in a few areas to make it feel like Rosenberg. The action selection mechanism is brilliant, and the fact that you’re choosing 5 for the turn and playing 3…unless you can “follow” another player, is amazing. I love the resource wheel and how that mechanic changes and evolves as you take different resources. It was, after playing the game, easily my favorite game by Uwe Rosenberg. It was all I could think about for the rest of that game night, and I’m still thinking about it even now. I really need to play this one again, because it is so much fun.

#19 – Trajan – Published by Passport Game Studios in 2011, Designed by Stefan Feld, 2-4 Players.

I haven’t met a Feld game (yet) that I didn’t like, and this one stands atop the mountain as being the best of the Feld games I’ve played. There are still many more to try, but I think they will be hard-pressed to dethrone this one if I can get in some more plays. I really enjoy the personal mancala mechanic in here for your action selection. It presents some fun and interesting decisions and restrictions along the way. I love the time tracking mechanism in the game, and how it uses a different track for each player count. There appears to be many paths to victory out there on the board. My opponent, who taught me the game, claimed there was an unbeatable tactic and I managed to defeat him without following that path (it was close, though!). This was the hardest game out of all of these to place accurately on the list, as I feel like I’ve only begun to scratch the surface on this game.

#18 – Rococo – Published by Eggertspiele in 2013, Designed by Matthias Cramer, Louis Malz, and Stefan Malz. 2-5 Players.

The theme, admittedly, put me off from the game at first glance. I had seen it being played at my FLGS and was just like “meh” toward it. But then I found Heavy Cardboard and listened to their podcasts. While it was only as a reference point for the weight of a game, I kept hearing Edward mention this game on countless review episodes. I later found out it was a Golden Elephant nominee, which piqued my interest enough that it became a game I really wanted to try this year. And holy smokes, what a first impression this made! I’m in love with making suits and dresses now, and I made a special request for this one to be brought for my birthday gaming celebration. I really, really want a second play of this. It has a light deckbuilding element, but you get to select the cards from your deck that you put into your hand. But once they are used, they go into your discard and so you need to play the rest of your deck to get them back. There are three types of workers, and only certain ones can do the better actions, so managing that is critical. There is area control on the board to get bonus scoring. Recipe fulfillment. There are so many excellent mechanics at work here, and it just scratches all the right spots for me as a gamer. Sadly, it is out of print at the moment so it is hard to get a copy. But this is definitely worth seeking out.

#17 – Seasons – Published by Asmodee, designed by Regis Bonnessee. 2-4 Players.

This game suffers from the same problem as Terraforming Mars: if you don’t know the cards well, you’re at a disadvantage. Especially here, since you’re drafting all nine cards at the start of the game that you’re guaranteed to see/use over the course of the game. It seems strange that a card-driven game like this only gives you a guaranteed 9 cards, but it somehow works. There are ways to get more over the course of the game, and I like that you have to then take those 9 cards and break them down into groups of 3, dictating what year they will go into your hand. The dice are chunky and great to use. There is so much room for strong engines to be built with those cards, even when you get just 10-12 out on average. Every card feels overpowered in the right circumstances, which makes it fun. There is a fair number of take that cards, but you can easily play without adding those into the deck if that is something you don’t enjoy and you’ll still have a wonderful game experience. Unlike Terraforming Mars, this one never overstays its welcome on the table, making it a much more enjoyable experience overall every time it gets played. Every time I play this game I remember just how much I enjoy it, and this one benefitted from back-to-back plays right before I made the list. This one is fantastic, plays really well with two, has some great card drafting, strong engine building opportunities, interesting decisions almost every turn, turns move quickly, and involves some clever resource management along the way. It checks so many boxes that it can’t possibly miss this list.

#16 – Firefly: The Game – Published by Gale Force Nine, designed by Aaron Dill, John Kovaleski, and Sean Sweigart. 1-5 Players.

This game has fallen from my Top 10, and with good reason: the game hates me. It literally takes an active role in dealing my demise time and time again. Dead serious. Case in point: we were playing a 4-player game. I completed Goal #2 and had a sufficient crew to get Goal #3 finished and had about a 5 turn lead on the next two players. It took 2 extra turns to fly to Goal #3 due to Nav Card misfortune. Then I proceeded to go 0/5 on completing Goal #3, eventually losing to the next player to arrive who passed it on their first try. I almost always enjoy the game. As a Browncoat, this is a great immersion into the Firefly world. So many people I know love this game. I’ll rarely turn down a play of the game. But man, it is rough when everything goes wrong. This is that one game where things almost always go wrong for me. Some people might be turned off by the length, or the table space, or the setup/teardown time (that broken token crate is a godsend!), but if you are a fan of the show this is the game for you. Hauling cargo, completing jobs, just you and your crew in the Big Black of the ‘Verse. I’m really excited to try Firefly Adventures, as I think it might be the next great game using this IP, but this one will forever be a part of our collection. And if you ever want to win a game of this, just play against me. It’s a pretty sure thing that I’ll lose.

***

Like last week, feel free to comment on the games listed, ones that surprised you, what you think you’ll see next week, or anything else of relevance! We’re one step closer to getting into the fun of that Top 10, but don’t overlook the other games being mentioned. These are all excellent games, and ones that are likely to remain (or finally enter) my collection for a long time.

Board Game Lists · Board Gaming · Top Ten List

Top 25 Games: #25-21

I’ll likely be making videos to correspond to this as well, going with a more off-the-cuff approach to explaining what I like about these games and why they make my list. So if you’d rather watch than read this, be sure to hop on over and subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

The reason to do a Top 25 is simple: there are a ton of great games outside of my Top 10. I haven’t played enough games to merit doing more than 25 (yet), and there are many games I want to play a second (or third) time to really nail down where they belong on the overall list. These rankings were determined about two weeks ago, and already there feels like there could be some fluctuation. This is a fluid list. The difference between #25 and #15 is, overall, marginal at best. The real jump in rank doesn’t come until around #5-6, with those being the absolute elite games for me. And, as I play more games (I’ve gotten to just under 250 unique games so far) that range might expand to the entire Top 10 and beyond.

So without further ado, here we go! Come back every Friday for another batch of games:

#25 – Harvest, Published in 2017 by Tasty Minstrel Games. Designed by Trey Chambers. 2-4 Players.

This is my one and only audible I’ve called on the list since its creation. I enjoyed Harbour enough that I was immediately interested in this game since it was set in the same “world”, but I was assured the two games were nothing alike beyond that. And boy, did that turn out to be very true. This is a small box worker placement game that has so much fun, depth, and replay value that it blows my mind thinking about it. I love this one so much that it has temporarily worn out its welcome with my wife, and that is saying a lot for a worker placement game. I clearly like this one way more than she does, and I’m okay with that.

What convinced me to audible this in here happened last night, actually. I taught four new players the game, which sadly left me out of playing it. But I enjoyed teaching it and hearing them all talking about it afterwards. They all enjoyed the game and wanted me to bring it again in the very near future to get a second play of the game. So much is packed into five rounds (with only two workers!) that it seems like it should be impossible to accomplish as much as you do. The action cards, the initiative cards, the buildings…all of these things work well together to make one of the best farming-themed games out there. Go ahead and tell me I’m wrong. If you haven’t tried this one, you need to. For the price of this game, it is hard to find a better value out there.

#24 – Viticulture: Essential Edition, Published in 2015 by Stonemaier Games. Designed by Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone, with the solo Automa by Morten Monrad-Pedersen. 1-6 Players.

This game blew me away with just how much I enjoyed it. Sometimes a game comes along where the theme is so embedded into the mechanics that they flow well together, and this does it better than any other worker placement game I’ve ever seen. This is a tough one for new players – it really takes a few years of play to see how your early actions synchronize to allow you to harvest grapes, make them into wine, and then sell them as an order to gain regular income. Once it all clicks, though, this becomes a game that is easy to enjoy and get behind. The visitor cards can feel swingy, but they all can feel that way depending on your situation. I love that it is possible to win by focusing just on wines, and it is also possible to win by not filling any orders at all.

This happens to be one of the worker placement games that I do well at, which isn’t a common thing to say. This game rewards planning ahead as well as being able to adapt on the fly based on the cards you get into your hand. I’ve played once with the Tuscany expansion and, I have to say, it is going to be a must-buy for me. It’ll add even more complexity and depth to an already fun and enjoyable game, and after some time playing this with the expansion it will likely be a climber on this list.

#23- Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King, Published in 2015 by Mayfair Games/Lookout Games. Designed by Alexander Pfister and Andreas Pelikan. 2-5 Players.

This game effectively made it so I never need to play Carcassonne ever again. Not that it is a bad game, but rather this adds so much more meaningful decisions along the way in the same amount of play time. This is one of the few games in our collection that really plays a lot better with more than 2, but still works fine as a 2-player game. I love the integration of building your own little kingdom (and I do mean little!), bidding on tiles, and shifting scoring objectives. It is Carcassonne meets The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, the latter being a game I really love and it is one of two games that I truly regret removing from my collection. This game put the designer, Alexander Pfister, on my radar as one to really watch. It turns out that I really enjoy all of his games that I have played. And no, I haven’t played Great Western Trail…yet.

This is the best of the tile-laying genre of games for me. Having to set your pricing right to either keep the tile(s) you want without overpaying or to price it just right to get every penny you can for it makes the game really interesting. This game likely has a forever spot in my collection, and is a go-to grab if we need a game to play in under an hour with 4-5 (as long as we aren’t playing with someone who has serious A.P., which is something this game can really encourage…)

#22 – Aeon’s End, Published in 2016 by Indie Boards & Cards and Action Phase Games. Designed by Kevin Riley. 1-4 Players.

When my wife says she likes a co-op game, I take notice because that is about as uncommon as her liking a dice-rolling game. I played it a few times, hitting solo, 2-player, and 4-player games of this and my initial reaction was lukewarm. It was a fine game. I liked the deckbuilding and how it never shuffled (even though a few times I caught myself shuffling out of habit!). This was a game that needed to soak in.

It has climbed up steadily based on memories of the game and a desire to jump back in again and experience it more in-depth. I’ve faced down two of the base Nemesis bosses. There are more to face, and a ton of expansions to try out. And boy, I want to try them all. I love a deckbuilder game and this is one of the better ones I’ve played. It was also the hardest one to place here. The first time I ran through PubMeeple’s ranking system I did every game I played, and somehow this one landed at #7. That stuck out like a sore thumb. It didn’t seem right. A game I didn’t own, and hadn’t played in months, being that high up? It was enough to make me take notice, though. I think this ranking is probably closer to where it belongs…at least until I get the game into my collection and can explore it at greater length…

If you like cooperative games or deckbuilders, this one is unique and interesting enough to merit some serious consideration.

#21 – The Castles of Burgundy, Published in 2011 by Ravensburger Games. Designed by Stefan Feld. 2-4 Players.

Remember the remark above about dice-rolling games? Yep, this one shocked me when she proclaimed she liked the game. We got it from the guy who taught it for $20, and it has been worth every penny. It is a game that has gradually grown on me, much like Aeon’s End needed to. But I’ve come to not only enjoy the game, but want to actively try and play it.

Some say this is best with 4 because you’ll see so many more tiles, making it easier to plan for what will eventually come out. I feel it overstays its welcome at that player count. The sweet spot here is 2, as it comes in at about an hour to play the game. I love the various paths you can take to victory, and that there are alternative sides to the player boards. They really alter how you approach what is available, and that makes this even more fun and replayable. I want to look into those mini-expansions, at the very least getting the new player boards into the collection. This is one of those best work night games, to bust out after the little one goes to bed, because it taxes the brain enough while also being quick enough with 2 players. There is a reason so many people talk about this game, although I wouldn’t say it is my favorite Feld game…

 

And there you have it! The first five games. Were there any that surprised you? Feel free to discuss, either in the comments here or over on a thread designed for discussion of this Top 25 over on BGG!

Board Gaming · Top Ten List

My Top 5 Board Games with Monsters

It has been nearly a week since my first full novel, Monster Huntress, released on eBook and Paperback. It is a really fun book with a young female protagonist who you’ll love to cheer for as she goes off on a few adventures and runs into complications she never dreamed about. As a fun tie-in, I thought I would list my Top 5 games that feature monsters in some way, because my protagonist desires to be a professional hunter of monsters when she gets older (just like her parents).

You can pick up a copy in a multitude of places, but I’ll give you the link to Amazon:

 

5. Space Hulk: Death Angel – Let me set the scene for you: you’re aboard a space station and there are these beasts known as Genestealers in the ship with you. As you’re leading your crew of Space Marines to the front of the ship, these Genestealers are growing in number and swarming your marines. Things are tight in there, so you can typically only affect those who appear in front of each specific marine. There are few group attacks. But they will group up and attack you. The more a cluster grows in a spot, the harder they are to eliminate (and if you succeed, it only decreases the cluster by 1 for each hit) and the harder it is for that marine to survive. This game executes that growing threat in a perfect way, and by the end you usually realize it was hopeless from the start. This is a repeat offender in the top portion of solo board gamers’ lists of top games, and with good reason. So long as you don’t mind rolling a die to try and hit/survive.

4. Unbroken – This is one that just crept its way onto this list because it does monsters so very well. The premise is that you and a party of adventurers were exploring a deep cavern when you all got ambushed. Your friends are all dead and you were somehow overlooked and left for dead. Now you’re working to avenge your fallen companions and, perhaps, even make it out alive. You’ll end up fighting 4 monsters on the way, each one increasingly stronger than the last one. At the start you have nothing but your fists and your resolve, but if you’re resourceful enough you might be able to gain weaponry and other things to help you survive the series of monster encounters. This is best summed up as “Die Hard in a dungeon”, and it does an outstanding job. This is a solo-only game, and is perfect in its execution.

3. Hero Realms – I don’t know much about the base game for this one, as I’ve played the game only once. And what I played included some later boss monster packs, and that is exactly why it appears here. See, there were three of us sitting down to play this deckbuilding game. But one of us was the dragon, and the other two of us had to work together to kill that dragon. When the monster you’re fighting is controlled by a person instead of  a game system, and said monster can gain benefits from purchasing/using those same cards as the players…that is a brilliant concept. This game is high on my wish list for this reason alone. Will I be the dragon, or will my wife? 🙂

2. Aeon’s End – There is so much I love about this game’s approach. You’re a group of mages fighting one big, bad boss-monster. And boy, these things can get NASTY in what they do. Not only does this game have a unique twist on deckbuilding, but it is a ton of fun to play. I’ve seen record of people “campaigning” through all of the bosses that have been released, and I really want to pick these ones up so I can do the same thing myself. This game does monsters right with that boss battle approach, and having that boss generate minions that you might want to clear otherwise the boss ramps up in their difficulty by a lot. But as fun as this is, nothing can hold a candle to…

1. War of the Ring (Second Edition)/Lord of the Rings: The Card Game/Middle-Earth – Tolkien’s universe has it all covered, even monsters in the form of Mumakils, orcs, goblins, wargs, giant spiders, trolls, dragons, Nazgul, and so much more. So this placement should be no surprise to anyone who knows what a Tolkien fan I am. Rather than letting these games take 2-3 of the 5 spots, I thought it might be best to consolidate them all into one entry. While War of the Ring gives the least “monster” feel of these three, it is still very much present through the Shadow forces combined with some of the cardplay in there. And, in my humble opinion, all three of these games are amazing implementations of Tolkien’s world in a board game format.

 

So there you have my top 5, and there are so many others that just missed the cut (like One Deck Dungeon). What are some of your favorite games with monsters in them?

Board Game Lists · Board Gaming · Top Ten List · Wish List

Ten Games I Want to Play in 2018

Last year I made a list of a ton of games I wanted to be sure to play in 2017. Overall I did a respectable job at trying most of those games, although I did miss a few of them. I thought I would make the same approach this year, but going with ten games to fit into ten different “categories” of my choosing. There are so many great games out there, but these are the ones highest on my list to try right now.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to go to HeavyCon and knock a few of these off my list…

1. A Capstone Games game – Three Kingdoms Redux

This game intrigues me so much. A heavy game for exactly three players. Asymmetric sides. Shifting of power over the course of the game. A dynamic tension that will come from having the presence of three sides vying for power over the course of the game. This is a game that is likely to be difficult to bring and play at a random game night, but is the perfect game to coordinate a play. It is a Capstone title, which means I already am inclined to give it a try (thus the category for a Capstone game!) I definitely hope to play all of the Capstone games out there, but this one stands at the top of my list of their games I hope to play.

Which of the Capstone Games titles do you enjoy the most?

2. A Top 10 Game – Terra Mystica

As of this writing I have played only four of the top 10 games listed on BGG. I definitely want to try a few of the others in there, but the one that stands out most is Terra Mystica. It is that game I hear talked about so often, yet I am lacking a play of the game. It sounds like my type of game, one that I think my wife would enjoy playing as well. I know the new hotness is Gaia Project, but I would rather start with the game which paved the way for some of the other current games.

Which group should I play as for my first game? Let me know in the comments below!

3. A Train Game – Age of Steam

Hoo boy, I know I need to eventually tackle a train game. As in an 18XX game, not just Ticket to Ride or Whistle Stop. Before plunging into the deep end, I think it’d be beneficial to visit this classic in the genre. It is long out of print, but hopefully someone local has a copy that they’d be willing to pull out and teach. With around 160 maps to choose from, this is the ultimate game for variety out there.

Let me know which map(s) are best to learn on for each player count! I’m sure the teacher will already have an idea in mind, but if I could only play one map at __ player count, what should it be?

4. An Uwe Rosenburg Game – Ora et Labora

There are a handful of Rosenburg big-box games I haven’t played yet: Fields of Arle, Glass Roads, Le Havre. But the one game I want to try more than any other right now would be this out of print classic. I fully blame Edward and Amanda at Heavy Cardboard for this one, as their review of the game last year sucked me in and made me want to play this. The opportunity never came up last year, but I am going to work hard to get a chance to try it this year. I know at least one local player has a copy, which means there is a chance.

Let me know which Rosenburg game is YOUR favorite!

5. A COIN Game – Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain

Like the train games, this will be the year I try out a COIN game. There are plenty of them to choose from at this point, although only two of them have a strong theme appeal to me (Pendragon & Falling Sky). I was so excited about the release of Pendragon when I heard about it last year, and this one has a strong appeal with both a solo mode and what should be a great 2-player experience. I’m a huge Arthurian/Middle Ages fan, and that makes this the ideal game to reel me into the COIN system. I’m letting myself buy at most two games this year. This one has a very high chance of being one of those two purchases.

Which COIN game in the series is your favorite so far?

6. A Filler Game – Arboretum

Let’s go ahead and blame Heavy Cardboard for this one as well. Out of print? Check. Thinky filler? Check. You can never have, or play, too many fillers, especially of the variety which engage your brain. I’ve heard nothing but strong responses about this one, and I can’t wait to try this out. There were a few others that came close to stealing this spot, especially after watching a little of Heavy Cardboard’s live stream of Iron Curtain last night. But I decided to stick with my initial resolution of seeking a play or two of Arboretum. Maybe this will be a game that Capstone can bring back into print on their Simply Complex line…

What are some of your favorite filler games? Let me know in the comments below!

7. Golden Elephant Winner – Food Chain Magnate

This game was going to make the list already, but I decided to shift it here in order to open #9 for a different title. I have heard a ton of great things about this game, and I know of a few locals who own the game and at least one person who proclaims it as their favorite game. This might be among the easiest games on this list to get a chance to play. This is one of those games that, initially, I had no interest in playing when I heard about it. Thankfully, my tastes and interests have grown over time and now this game easily makes my list of ones I can’t wait to try out.

Let’s have some fun with this spot…2017 is in the books and soon we’ll learn the games Edward & Amanda will be nominating for their Golden Elephant awards. Any guesses on what games we might see as finalists for the award?

8. A Vital Lacerda Game – Vinhos

I played my first Lacerda game last year when I tried out Lisboa. I still crave a second play of that game. I’ve heard mixed opinions on which of his games are the best, but the one that seems to be universally proclaimed as being good is Vinhos. I really enjoyed playing Viticulture, which is that other wine-making game out there. And yes, I know the two games are as different as can be. This game will probably melt my brain, much like did during Lisboa, and I can’t wait to experience the game that kicked off Vital’s career as a designer. I am reasonably certain this should be an easy game to find a willing teacher for, and I have a feeling that 2018 might turn into a quest to try all of Vital’s games so far.

Which Lacerda game is your favorite? There seems to be a great divide over this question, so I am curious which one you love most and why!

9. A Splotter Game – Antiquity

Splotter is a company that holds a high reputation for games in the industry. I haven’t played a single one yet, and if this list works out I will have played at least two when I finish these ten games. It was a struggle to decide between this, The Great Zimbabwe, and Roads & Boats for the spot. TGZ was just mentioned by Edward as a Gateway to Heavier Games. Travis at Low Player Count sings the praises for Roads & Boats on pretty much every other episode of their podcast. At least it feels that way! But I think the recent reprint of Antiquity signals a good time to try this one out. I’ve seen a few locals posting about the game, which means it is being purchased and has people who would likely want to play the game. The theme grabs me more than any other Splotter title, as well, so I’ll be looking forward to trying this one out.

You know the drill by now: which is your favorite Splotter title?

10. People’s Choice – Keyflower

Yesterday I created a poll with ten games. Essentially, the next ten in consideration for this list. The ones that didn’t quite make the cut. What I didn’t expect was for one of the games on that list to win by a landslide. It was an overwhelming majority voting for Keyflower, which was a game I hoped to play in 2017 (it made honorable mention on my list) but the one time I cam closest to playing the game, it didn’t pan out. Too many people wanted to play a game and, rather than splitting into two groups, we played Bohnanza with 7 players. Oh, how I wish it had been Keyflower instead. This is one I know my wife would enjoy, too, as it is a unique worker placement game. What better way to hook her onto the Key-series, just like she’s hooked onto Rosenburg, than by playing this title with her?

Wide open question on this one: if someone said you could play only one game this year, which would you pick and why? It could be a new game, something new to you, or your overall favorite game!

The next 10

Here’s the next ten that would make the list, not sorted in order or by category:

11. Twilight Struggle
12. Caylus
13. Le Havre
14. Rococo
15. Dominant Species
16. Trick of the Rails
17. Iron Curtain
18. 1846: The Race for the Midwest
19. An Infamous Traffic
20. Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia