Saturday, December 24, 2016

Obligatory Favorite Games 2016 Edition Post Part I: My Favorite Games: Honorable Mentions

Alright!  It is that time of year…the time when my wife and I sit down and make our top 10 lists!  Honestly, at this point in time I could easily make a top 20 or 25 list but I’ve run out of time this year so a top 10 it is!  These few posts in this series are some of the toughest to decide.  There are so many great games and so many that we really like!  I do a ton of research so I know that the games we’re getting are one that we will like.  It is very rare that we have a miss so our collection is full of really good stuff!  This post will focus on my honorable mentions.  These are all games that I’ve played enough to feel as though I can fairly put them in my top 10 list.  The next couple posts will be my actual top 10 games while the last post in my part will be games that I haven’t played enough yet but I feel could crack the top 10 with more logged plays.  Read on and I hope you enjoy!

Above & Below is a city-building, story-telling, action-selection game designed by triple threat Ryan Laukat and published by his company Red Raven Games.  This game is a fantastic little gem where you are a group of survivors who has made it to a new land and must band together to rebuild their civilization.  They find an underground network of caverns which they must explore in order to build both above the ground and below the ground.  This 1-4 player game sports some absolutely incredible artwork as Laukat has done it again.  I am always astounded by his art as it really somewhat gives me the same feeling as a good Studio Ghibli film a la Spirited Away.  The action selection is fairly simple by the story telling really adds in a very cool element to the gameplay.  Finally, the game has an interesting scoring mechanism where you can decide what goods to put on your track and where which can give you some really great end scores depending on your decision.  I love this game and wouldn’t be surprised if further plays pushed in higher on my list!

Carcassonne is a classic tile-laying, territory building game designed by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede and published by Z-Man Games.  As I was making my list I realized that this game is always fun!  Every time my wife and I pull this game out along with the multiple expansions that we have for it we have a blast.  I love the tile placement in this game and the simple but fun ways to score.  I am also a fan of the tile art and really dig the first editions of the game before they redesigned them and made them busier.  This game will always be one that remains on our shelf due to the simplicity of play but the fun decisions that you get to make during the game.  It is one that we can break out with just the two of us and have a great time or pull it out with others and teach them to play in just a couple of minutes!  I would highly recommend this game to anyone who is new to modern board games as it is a fantastic representation of what the hobby can be.

7 Wonders is a modern classic card-drafting, civilization-building, set-collection game designed by the fantastic Antoine Bauza and published by Repos Production along with Asmodee.  This game continues to stay up near the top of my list even though we don’t get to play it very often anymore.  This game is one of my favorite games that includes card-drafting.  We got this game at the beginning of our collection and it has been in ever since.  I love the simple idea of taking a hand of cards, playing one to the table and then passing them to the next player all while hoping you get something good from the person passing you their cards.  This is such a great game and one of Bauza’s greatest designs which is really saying something considering his pedigree!  Just writing this post makes me want to break it out and plays a few games of it!  I love this game and would highly recommend it to anyone in the hobby if they dig a solid card-drafting game.

Mysterium is a deduction style, co-operative game designed by Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko and published by Libellud along with Asmodee.  This game hit the scene hard in 2013 as it was released by Portal Games under the name Tajemnicze Domostwo.  The game was grabbed up quickly and became pretty hard to find until Portal made a second edition of the game in 2014.  Finally, it was Libellud/Asmodee who picked up the rights to print the game in the United States and they renamed it Mysterium and made the best edition (in my opinion) of the game so far.  They really pulled out all the stops as they made some new card art for the “who, what, and where” cards that are used in the game.  They also made some nice player envelopes, plastic crystal balls, and other ancillary pieces that really integrate in the theme.  The game itself is just an awesome co-operative game and I’d highly recommend this one to any gaming group who likes a good, asymmetrical co-operative play.

Mottainai is a card-drafting, set-collection, multi-use card game designed by Carl Chudyk and published by Asmadi Games.  This game really surprised me when I picked it up.  We got it about a year ago for Christmas and I have loved playing this oneCarl Chudyk is the designer of the popular Glory to Rome and this game is basically the spiritual successor.  Honestly, when I was doing my list I thought this one would absolutely be on the top 10 but it just missed.  I think if I got to play it even more it may crack the top 10 at that point!  The game really has an amazing feel as it is simply a deck of cards with a player board and that is it.  You will draft these cards using powers from the cards you play to your floor.  This is when the game starts getting interesting.  Each of the cards in the deck has multiple uses and the crux of the game is really optimizing your usage of the cards in the most efficient manner during your turn.  I love the card play, I love the decisions, and I love the art.  I would recommend this one for any serious hobby boardgamer who wants a crunchy card game to really sink their teeth into.

Other honorable mentions of note:

Well, there you have it!  These are my honorable mentions!  So many good games and we still have 10 more to go!  After I finish up my list I’m going to do another post in the series which will be some games that I think could crack my top 10 at some point with enough plays.  These will all be games I don’t feel as though I’ve played enough to really put them on the list but I want to continue playing to find out.  Please join me for my next post which will tackle games 6-10 on my top 10 list.  As always, thanks for reading!  Until next time, game on!

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