Friday, January 1, 2016

My Top 25 Board Games Played in 2015

Pandemic: Legacy blue box
By my count, I played 120 different board games and role-playing games in 2015. I played most of them more than once, and I know I played some of them ten or more times (Telestrations, Wrath of Ashardalon, Codenames, other classics), so we're talking probably 300 or 400+ gameplays in the past year. That is a crazy amount. I really tried to explore games this year and play as often as possible with lots of different people. It was a good year!

Anyway, here are the BEST 25 GAMES I PLAYED IN 2015! Only a few came out in the last year -- most are a bit older and one hasn't even been released yet -- but these are the ones I liked the most. These are the ones I recommend. Throw your Monopolies, Risks, and Cards Against Humanity into the basement and play these much, much, much better games instead:

1. Pandemic Legacy. My wife has been playing a Researcher named Barbara ("Don't call me Barb") and we have not yet let the world become overrun with the Chabola virus. We are heroes.

2. Seafall Legacy. I got a chance to playtest this with designer Rob Daviau early last year and even though it wasn't yet finished, it was my 2nd-best board gaming experience of the year. This one is more complex than Pandemic Legacy and far, far deeper than Risk Legacy (which we played through and found that, in the end, it's still Risk, which means its still kind of terrible), and I look forward to the real deal in 2016.

3. Imperial Settlers. Ignacy Trzewiczek is my favorite game designer and I will play this game any day. The Egyptians may be good at hoarding gold (and my daughter beats me by doing so), but I like playing the barbarians and making lots of babies and putting them to work. Life is hard.

4. Dead of Winter. Oh, what's that? We're supposed to be working together to survive the zombie apocalypse but the rescue dog is secretly a serial killer? Awesome.

5. Codenames. Vlaada Chvatil makes complex games that some people think are fun because they like to write boring computer programs or use Excel to chart their hobbies. But Codenames is a Vlaada design that actually IS fun. It's also kind of a word game, but not really. It's a spy game! With words. And assassins, so watch out!

6. Telestrations. This game is endlessly hilarious as long as you have players who will write what they literally see in the drawings and things get seriously out of hand. Also fun when recurring characters begin to appear in the drawings. Especially if they are offensive.

7. Carcassonne. I always feel tranquil playing this game. Unless other players are taking forever to make their decisions. Then I fantasize about sacking their cities with my little blue dudes.

8. Robinson Crusoe. Sometimes I say this is my favorite game ever. Maybe it is. Ignacy took the harsh living of Agricola and made you beg for the harsh living of Agricola as you try to survive on a deserted island that is trying to kill you. It is pretty awesome.

9. Rampage. Not-Godzilla will crush your buildings and eat your meeples. This game looks like it is for children. But it will make adults cry.

10. Splendor. I am pretty sure I have played this game about 20 times and I have won maybe once. Maybe. I change up my strategies, but wealth and prosperity elude me. Maybe I should learn from this.

11. Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon. My wife loves these D&D board games which are kind of like role-playing games against programmed moves by the monsters, but she won't actually play D&D. Weird. But we had fun going through all the adventures in this set, even though the Legion Devils are the worst and I will never be their valentine. Also, she played a Paladin as if she were playing a Rogue, and I was all like, "heal me up," and she pretended not to hear any of my words. We still killed that Dragon, though. We killed him up.

12. Netrunner. I love this game and rarely get to play it because it cannot be played casually. You need another obsessive player who really wants to explore the strategies and build decks and nerd it up. It is more fun than Magic: The Gathering, exponentially less popular, and yet...I cannot look away. If mirrorshades didn't give away my hand, I would wear them.

13. Colt Express. I don't even own this, but my brother does and sometimes when I play Django I punch the air and pick up no bags of money from the ground. Sometimes.

14. Abyss. This is the Star Wars Episode I of undersea civilization board games, except it's actually good and you get to recruit starfish to help you hire weird aquatic wizards.

15. Roll for the Galaxy. Build a cool civilization that you mostly ignore because you are trying to figure out what combos have emerged in your space tableau. This game is Puerto Rico for folks who find rockets and kryptonite reactors more fun than harvesting indigo.

16. Ticket to Ride: Europe. Ticket to Ride deserves its place as the game that should replace Monopoly as the go-to family game at gatherings, and it's always fun. I'm into the Europe map these days, mostly because it involves tunnels and weird geography.

17. Pandemic: The Cure. The dice version of Pandemic is better than the board game version once you've figured out how to beat the board game. Because the dice cheat you and make you want to crush them into submission. Can't stop. Won't stop.

18. X-Wing Miniatures Game. I finally got to put my X-Wing miniatures to use at the end of 2015 and it was great to pit Chewie vs. Boba Fett and have Biggs zooming around providing support. I will play this anytime too. Come over for a Netrunner/X-Wing evening of fun. Bring cookies.

19. Wits & Wagers. This is the default game of choice at family gatherings. (Though Codenames has dethroned it this year.) I should learn to bet heavy when I know the answers. But I don't. Don't bring me to Vegas with you.

20. The Resistance. I thought maybe Dark Moon would replace this game for me, because it is just like this game but it has stuff to do during your turn other than be suspicious, but no one else seems to like Dark Moon but me. So Resistance it is, where everyone is a liar. Even your allies.

21. Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot. All the board game experts on the internet have complained about how disappointing this game is. Listen: it's another Ignacy design, so I'm going to be inclined to like it. But I also like it because you can pimp your pirate ship and use your grappling hook cannon to shoot your friends' ships (their dice) out of the water (cardboard). I love this game, suckers!

22. Marvel/DC Dice Masters. I have no idea what the strategy should be for this game but I sometimes build teams based on who would make the coolest Suicide Squad lineup. It's fantasy baseball for comic book fans, but instead of just passively hoping your players have good at-bats, you get to roll Starhawk and say catchprases and taunt your opponent with your colorful fist of dice.

23. Camel Up. Sometimes the best simulation of betting on dog racing is this game with an upside down pyramid and some camels. Actually, I have no idea what it's like to bet on dog racing, but I imagine it is exactly like this, with oil slicks and chits.

24. Castles of Mad King Ludwig. You get to build the worst castle floorplans ever to win the favor oft the king. (Psst...he's crazy.)

25. Eclipse. This game is supposed to take 2.5 hours but it always takes 5 hours and the strategy everyone knows is to buy missiles or you lose. I always buy missiles, and I rarely win. Still, exploring space and conquering it is always fun, unless you go up against those jerky space civilizations who are all like, "I will form an alliance with you" and then they destroy you two turns later with their missiles.

Play some games!

1 comment:

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