Those of you who know me well or follow my writings through Doomtown: Reloaded know I’m quite a bit of a gamer. I don’t really do video games, partially because I stare at a screen enough for day job and writing, partially because I have pretty bad tendinitis in my wrists/elbows so video games will cripple me, but I love board games, dice games, card games. I try out tons of them regularly and here’s what 2015 brought to the table!
5. Epic (White Wizard Games)
http://www.epiccardgame.com/ White Wizard Games’ second foray into making a nice little small box set that’s playable out the box and great for casual gamers with a bit of strategy. Epic basically takes Magic The Gathering, removes mana, and removes crappy cards. They add in the cool allied abilities (with a twist) from Star Realms to make a really smooth game. Now the game can be drafted, constructed, you can just use all the cards of one of the 4 colors for a deck or do what I do — shuffle the cards and deal each player 30 cards off the top. If someone knows magic, this game is easy to pick up, and if not, it’s a better version of the game that’s much more casual. Lots of fun!
4. 7 Wonders: Duel (Asmodee)
http://www.coolstuffinc.com/p/217594 I’m staying away from expansions on this list, because these are games out the box but this is its own game. Most of my games here will be 2-Player games because I find i mostly have 2 players to play with. This game is also easy to set up, quick to learn to play (both of which are pluses for me) and you draft all the way through. It’s got 3 different win conditions, which is fun for me, though one is much easier to attain than the other two. You set up little tiles and draft for resources which get you to victory points is the crux of it.
3. Tail Feathers (Plaid Hat Games)
http://www.plaidhatgames.com/games/tail-feathers This game is going to get a little less plays than the others from me because it takes a bit to set up and requires a bit more time to play (I typically like “lunch break” games where I can play in 30-45 minutes, this is about 90 minutes a play). It’s at its heart a skirmish miniatures game but you’re flying birds around, transporting mice from tree to tree in order to destroy your opponents’ nest. Birds that get entwined with each other go into “death spirals”… mice can float across the map on leaves cut from trees, it’s about as cool as it gets. There’s a story to it too which started in the game Mice & Mystics, but that’s not required to play this game (and the story is wonderful). I really love the quality of the mice and bird components, they’re very pretty. It’s super, super fun, a bit difficult to get the hang of but I look forward to playing it more.
2. Above and Below (Red Raven Games)
https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/172818/above-and-below Red Raven Games’ designer and artist is someone I follow like a rock star. I’ve enjoyed everything he’s put out, but this game really takes the cake. It’s worker placement like most of his other games, with his unique brand of art style that makes everything pop. But there’s a twist! You get to roll dice and go on these little choose your own adventure quests in a story book. That makes the game. It’s awesome, and we’ve played it far more than other board games this year.
1. Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn (Plaid Hat Games)
http://www.plaidhatgames.com/games/ashes I wasn’t in the market for a new deck building game, by which I don’t mean a deck builder, but game where you build your decks prior to the game then play against an opponent a la Magic, Netrunner, Doomtown. I play far too many as it is (all of them) and frankly don’t have time. I picked this up anyway because the art was so gorgeous I had to have it. What I found was a game that is again similar as a Magic variant, but with the best fixes I’ve ever seen for balance. Mana has been replaced by dice, which both thins the deck so you are always drawing useful cards and makes it so everyone has an equal amount of resources per turn. The strategy then becomes how BEST to use the resources not who gets the perfect draw of resources, which is much more fun. It solves the “bad hand” by you picking your starting hand as well, so you’ll always have what you want for your matchup. The dice offer other mechanics as well and it is very, very smooth. You’ll have to change your mentality for strategy a bit because that exact amount of resources that both players have access to means that you need to maximize your strategy to a greater amount. It’s such a slick game on every front, I can’t speak highly enough about it.
And that’s it! Some analysis on my psyche: I really like card games, I really like 2-player games as can be seen. Good strategy is paramount. Rolling dice makes everything better. What’s amazing is this is the first year in awhile that an AEG game didn’t make the list. I have a feeling Dice City will be an honorable mention (I mean dice! and a city! it’s dice city! what more could I ask for?) but it’s still in the wrap as it’s a Christmas gift for me. I’m sure some are surprised Game Of Thrones 2.0 isn’t on here too — honorable mention for sure.