I waited a couple more weeks to fill out this list because I was still waiting on a couple games that I backed on Kickstarter to see if they would make the list. I still haven’t received all my games from Kickstarter but I will not wait any longer. So, this list is my favorite games that came out in 2016 that I have played, which was around 50 games. I did not put games that I played demos of at conventions because I don’t think I got a good enough taste for the game in only one round of playing. If I did, Cry Havoc would have made the list and Mystic Vale would have come close. With that being said….here are my Top Ten Games of 2016.
10. Star Wars Rebellion by Fantasy Flight Games
I have played all the main Star Wars games including Armada, X-Wing, Imperial Assault…..I think if you really want to play Star Wars, this and Imperial Assault are the two best. Not sure which one I like more. I really love the game play and the different sides path to victory. I love the cat and mouse feel and the tension is high through out and decisions are tough. The reason it is not higher on my list is the length. It is really too long and I wish that it wasn’t. Every time I think about how good it was I remember how long it was and my desire to play falls. I don’t mind long games but for some reason this really bothers me in this game. But all in all….a great game!
9. Evolution: The Beginning by North Star Games
I LOVE the original Evolution! My wife didn’t….so I let it go. I was hoping Evolution: The Beginning would help her like the game more….not sure it did, but at a cheap price I will be keeping it. I actually think I like this version more than the original for this simple reason…..carnivores are more manageable. In the original it was so hard to turn carnivore and still make a dent because of all the defensive cards. In The Beginning, you are able to match your carnivores to meet other defensive traits much easier. The game is quick and fun but keeps its original strategies in play. One of the best implementations from a bigger game to a smaller game.
8. Builders of Blankenburg by Cobblestone Games
A huge surprise hit for me! There is not a lot of buzz out there for this game. Not many videos, not a lot of reviews…..the video I did see had me interested enough to buy it. IT is so unique and interesting that I had to put it on the list. A very cool theme and, I guess area control game, that is tight the whole way but not brutal. Every round people will be coming to Blankenburg looking for places to stay the night. Each Citizen has 3 specific places he wants to stay at. The first being their first choice the second and so on. If you control the building they chose to stay at you will get points and money. It is an awesome game that feels like nothing else you have ever played. There is just enough player interaction to make it tense. It is a solid, solid game!
7. Explorers of the North Sea by Garphill Games
I am a fan of all the North Sea Games from Garphill Games, Explorers is a close second to Raiders of the North Sea. I love the quick turns, simple rules and different strategies. Exploration doesn’t hurt also. You really feel like you are exploring and pillaging as Vikings. Your beginning Vikings will guide you to victory but you aren’t stuck doing only one thing. The interaction of other players is a fun dynamic. I want to place this tile here but that would allow other players to get there before me. Or I am going to put this tile that has pigs on it as far away from that player as possible. It’s a really good game that plays quick and fluid.
6. Fields of Green by Artipia Games
There was another farming game I got earlier this year that was pretty decent, Mi Tierra: New Era. Fields of Green completely ruined Mi Tierra for me. Fields of Green is such a great farming game. I have always been a fan of Farming Simulators on computers and Playstations. This really puts me into the farming life. This card game has tons of decisions to make while you draft cards for your farm. These cards will interact with each other for points, money, food or instant goods. Following the same idea of Among the Stars (which I was extrememly dissapointed in) Fields of Green just fits for me. I love the puzzley thinking and the decisions to make with each card. Will be playing this game often!!!
5. Liberty or Death by GMT Games
I am not a heavy war gamer. Mainly because I really don’t like conflict and randomness. In the past most war games I have played are random dice rolling and lacking deep strategy. Grant and Alexander introduced Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection and I immediately fell in love with it. I love the COIN Series and the strategies that it has introduced in the war game genre. I have played other COIN Games like Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar but Liberty or Death is better in my opinion. I like the winning conditions of each faction and feel they are better balanced. I love the different feel of each faction and how you play them. It truly feels like a war game with two distinct sides but the different nations play differently.
4. Ave Roma by A-Games
Ave Roma has been on my radar for a long time and I was just hoping it would live up to my expectations…..and it did. I love worker placement games and this one is unique. BUT, the worker placement is not my favorite mechanism in the game. The Area Influence part of the game really intrigues me and makes me want to come back for more. You can’t do everything so focusing on a couple things will prove vital. But the next time you can go back and do a couple other things. The game also comes with FIVE different modules that you can add or keep out. It really is a great game with TONS to do! Being able to interview the designer didn’t hurt either.
3. The Oracle of Delphi by Tasty Minstrel Games
This was the biggest surprise for me this entire year. Grant is the Stephen Feld hoarder in the group so he was able to get this copy from TMG for review. I had watched a couple videos on Delphi but didn’t finish them because I was not interested at all. I like Feld but his games are usually hit or miss with me. This one shocked me at how good it was and how much I liked it. Unlike his other designs, where you get points for every thing, Delphi is strictly a race game. Complete 12 tasks and report to Zeus. When I told Grant there were no points in the game, he made me repeat it. I also love the dice allocation and manipulation, I was just so surprised about how much I liked this game. Modular board is a huge plus as well as it makes each play different, along with variable player powers makes this game one of my favorites of the year.
2. Great Western Trail by Stronghold Games
I love the cowboy theme. I love Mombasa! Give me Alexander Pfister and the theme and count me in. There was a lot of hype to this game coming out of Gen Con and for good reason. It is really good. I like just about everything in it. Multiple things to do and focus on. Making the board up as you play. Interaction between players. It all hits the good note with me. There are some things that are kinda goofy but in a good way. I have only played it once but I want to play it more so I can see what else there is to do. Just so much goodness from Pfister……though I probably like Mombasa more still….I love Great Western Trail.
1. Terraforming Mars by Stronghold Games
This seemed to be the year of Stronghold for me…..YET Grant got both of the games that are my top two! We have only scratched the surface of Terraforming Mars and the things that we need to add would only make the game better. I still need to play with unique starting corporations, which is a must after the first initial play. I still want to try the drafting variation. Still have not seen over 3/4th of the cards. But it was so good that I had to put it in my top spot. I love all the different cards, I love the different end game scoring and how they interact with others. I love the tile placement. I love the end game conditions. I also love the fact that they could even expand this game by just giving you a new planet and a couple new cards. Lets colonize Neptune!!! Just a fantastic game that I want to play more of!
Just missing the Cut:
A quick deck building dungeon crawl that didn’t quite live up to the hype for it. I like the theme and the mechanisms but some of the cards seem to be much much better than others. I guess I need to play it more to see how the strategy works. You really need to pay attention to what others are doing and react to them…..getting out of the dungeon is so critical!
This had some huge buzz around it. I really like many of the mechanisms in it that make it a great game. I really enjoyed the different factions and how they worked. I also liked the actions and making them better through out the game. My only concern is replayablility. During the game I ended up doing the same things over and over and many times just copying what the other players were doing. Felt very samey and don’t see it changing with multiple plays.
Valeria: Card Kingdoms
I really like this game. I like that every one has something to do on everyone’s turn. There is very little down time during the game. I love all the different variable citizens and monsters. I just find it a little too easy. I mean by the 3rd or 4th round you are swimming in resources and can pretty much do what ever you want. I wish it was a little more tight and harder to get things accomplished. Really good family game and the expansion coming this year should help with even more variety.
Over all I had a great year in 2016 playing new games. There were a lot of firsts for me….first convention, first blog, first 18xx game, first win….ever! Over all I would say this was a great year for gaming. Here is looking toward 2017!