another year has passed and for boardgaming, 2015 has been a great year. There were a good amount of games that could have made the cut into this top 10 list and that’s not even taking into acount the games that I didn’t play yet. I will only list games that were released in 2015, so some games I played for the first time in 2015 (Vinhos for instance) won’t find a place on this list.
Some games that were great, but didn’t make the cut to top 10: 7 wonders duel, Grand austria hotel, porta nigra. There are also some games I’ve yet to play sadly, including: Time stories, Blood rage and the dilluvia project.
10: Arcadia quest
To be completely honest, I’m not much of an ‘ameritrash’ gamer. I don’t usually care for the randomness of dice and I generally don’t like backstabbing and the likes outside of wargames. Arcadia quest however, just hits the right spot for me. I got pulled in by the awesome miniatures and backed this on kickstarter a couple of years ago. Apart from the gorgeous components I’m really enamoured with the humor that’s dripping from everywhere. From the blatantly ripped off characters, to the funny campaign notes and entries in the rulebook I just fin this game hilarious. I hope to play it some more during 2016, while eagerly awaiting the inferno expansion I recently backed.
This game was somewhat of an impulse buy during Spiel in Essen last year, mainly because I thought the theme was interesting. After playing it a couple of times though, I’m growing really fond of this game. One mechanic I really like in this game is the bidding for turn order with actions. There are some other clever and pretty uncommon aspects of this game and somehow it gels together really well for me. Consindering Ystari’s track record, this game really surprised me.
What’s your game is a company I can almost buy games from without looking and the 2 games they brought out this year have really cemented that opinon. Signorie uses dice in a novel way and that’s what really makes the game shine for me. It offers plenty interesting choices during play and there are many viable paths to victory. There are a lot of moving parts in this game, but the clear round structure gives it a real sense of ease when playing. This game seems to fly a bit under the rader because of WYG’s other big 2015 release, but I highly recommend you try it out.
Elysium was released earlier in 2015 and I think that that’s the reason why it’s not really on a lot of people’s radar anymore. It’s a shame really, as this is a pretty awesome card game. The artwork is absolutely stunning and the whole game is visually very appealing, including the really smart and well thought out box insert. The game has a ton of replayability, since each game only uses 5 out of the 9 greek gods available. I really hope they will expand on this game in the future, even if it would only mean adding some additional gods. The thing I like most about this game is the card selection process you have every round. it uses 4 pillars of different colors and after every selection you get rid of one of the pillars. really nifty!
6: The voyages of marco polo
I love this game! The main idea is that each player represents a traveler on the silk road, each with a very unique power. All of these powers are very strong and it has happened to me quite often that when I use a new one I feel it’s the best power ever! That is, until the next play with a different character. The game uses a dice placement mechanic which I always enjoy very much. Couple this with the variable setup and many paths to victory and you have a game that will allways keep fresh to me. Another plus is the relatively short playtime of 1,5 hours.
5: Viticulture (Tuscany)
Viticulture is a game from stonemayer games, a company that I like to call the kings of kickstarter. They always run very well and very succesfull kickstarters and I’ve enjoyed nearly all of their games so far. Before I learned about Tuscany, I never played Viticulture. My first experience was with the collector’s edition where you ‘uncork’ new features to the game after every session. We played the game extensively and were increasingly happy with the evolution of our games. Nowadays, I always play with the same setup, mixing and matching some of the added features, while staying clear of others. (for instance, I never use the arboriculture or the other expansion using an additional player board. ) One more thing I have to say is that this game features some of the most stunning components I have ever seen. The metal coins are so gorgeous I can’t stop playing with them during the game.
Mombasa came as a total surprise to me. Every year I prepare extensively for the Spiel fair in Essen, but somehow this game slipped under my radar. When I was introduced to it by a friend who picked it up, I immediately fell in love. Mombasa is basically a stock game, where you can invest in 4 different companies in Africa. The value of the stocks can be changed by the actions you take on the board. This makes it a very interactive game. The way you select actions is also very nice and I have not seen it in another game yet. Basically you play cards on 3 different slots (can be increased up to 5) and after a round ends, you place the cards in seperate discard piles. You’re only allowed to take 1 stack back to your hand, so this means you really need to plan out your turns. I love the way this game makes my brain hurt. My only turn off for this game is the presentation, the board and components feel very bland to me.
Like Signorie, Nippon is also publishedby what’s your game. It’s from the duo that also made madeira and panamax, both very succesfull games as well. I picked this game over signorie, mainly because of the sandbox feel that the game has. The length of the game is dictated by a worker (dis)placement system, something I had not seen done before. I’ve played on all player counts and I really like it as much with two as I do with four. This is difficult to pull off in my eyes, but it was done very succesfully here. I will talk more about the gameplay in a future review, but I can sum it up as pure awesome.
2: pandemic Legacy
Let me start off by saying that there aren’t too many coöperative games which I find enjoyable. I will even say that I don’t care too much for regular pandemic, even with some of the expansions. Somehow, 2 of my friends suckered me into chipping in on buying this game and playing it through. And I’m really gratefull for that. The game is played over 12 months, where you have 2 tries to succeed every month. There are bonuses for doing so, but being succesfull also comes at a cost of losing ‘funding’ (or action cards). Where the game shines though is the legacy deck, which dictates what happens every month. I have to say that this was the most immersive game I’ve ever played and might be my best gaming experience ever. This game made me feel happy, angry, sad, betrayed scared and basically very enthousiastic. (mostly in the same play even). You unlock additional content after every game and it was really fun seeing the game change over the course of the year. We ended up playing the game to completion in 17 sessions and ended with a pretty respectable score. If you’re into coöperative games, don’t pass this one up!
1: The gallerist
And then we come to my favorite game of the year. Vital Lacerda has become my favorite designer by far over the last 2 years. With Kanban and Vinhos as two of my favorite games of all time, I was really excited for this game. At Spiel this year I got to talking to one of the guys from Stronghold games during dinnner, Paul Incao, and when I told him my most anticipated game was the gallerist his eyes lit up. He told me he developed it with Vital and he would help me get a signature on my copy. Both Paul and vital’s autographs grace the cover of what is easily the most beautiful game in my collection. I don’t want to delve into the mechanics too much (as I’ll cover that in a review) but the way all the seperate parts come together to form a sleek and elegant game is just brilliant. A lot of work has gone into the design and it’s all very thematically sound. (for the most part). Component quality is out of this world, from the box, to the tiles, to even the insert. Everything about this game is awesome. If you haven’t played it yet I would suggest you stop reading this article and start tracking down your own copy.
That’s it for now guys. Leave a comment on what you think about this list and tell me what you enjoyed playing last year. Is there a game you look forward to in the new year, please let me know.