Sunday, March 12, 2017

Obligatory End of 2016 Post Part II: The “Late-ies” Awards (Best of 2016)

Alright, I’m back with my “End of 2016” series and this post is one of my personal favorites!  This is going to focus on my “awards” for 2016.  I don’t really take this post incredibly seriously due to the fact that I haven’t even come close to playing all of the games that came out in 2016.  This basically just means that I can’t state the overall best but I can make my own guesses, conjectures and assumptions regarding these games!

Most of the categories that I choose for these awards are ones that I don’t need to have played all of the games to make a decision on.  These are often categories that have to do with art and components and cards design instead of making a decision as to which the best card drafting game is or something along those lines.  Before we move on to this post feel free to check out my previous post in the series where I take a look at the end of the year statistics for 2016 at the link below.

Alright, I think that is enough of the intro so let’s go ahead and move on to the meat of the post, my awards!  Thanks so much for read and enjoy the second annual “Late-ies” Awards!

Best Overall Art:
Second Runner Up – Millennium Blades (Level 99 Games)
First Runner Up – Islebound (Red Raven Games)
Winner – Scythe (Stonemaier Games)

Wow, this game just oozes art all over the place and doesn’t let up!  The overall art in Scythe is some absolutely amazing work!  Jakub Rozalski’s work is not only great, it is the very reason that this game exists!  Jamey Stegmaier saw his work and ended up creating an entire game around it.  These are the reasons this game takes home best overall art!

Best Card Art:
Second Runner Up – Millennium Blades (Level 99 Games)
First Runner Up – 51st State: Master Set (Portal Games)
Winner – Arkham Horror: The Card Game (Fantasy Flight Games)

This was an extremely difficult category for me as there are so many great card artists out there now.  In the end I ended up choosing Arkham Horror: The Card Game for its incredibly thematic and immersive art that really evokes the horror theme well.  I can’t wait to see how good the art is in the upcoming (and already released) expansions as I’m sure it will be either just as good or better!

Best Board Art:
Second Runner Up – Great Western Trail (Stronghold Games)
First Runner Up – Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu (Z-Man Games)
Winner – Scythe (Stonemaier Games)

Yup, win number two for one of the biggest hits of the year.  This board is just chock full of absolutely amazing art by Rozalski.  I know that some people think it is too busy, and perhaps it is from a functional sense, but you have to admit that it looks absolutely incredible!  Plus, it has a ton of really cool Easter eggs and how cool is that?

Best Box Art:
Second Runner Up – Arkham Horror: The Card Game (Fantasy Flight Games)
First Runner Up – Islebound (Red Raven Games)
Winner – Scythe (Stonemaier Games)

Well, that’s now three in a row for the big hitter and the “Late-ie” awards keep on coming!  This was actually a bit of a disappointing year for covers in my opinion but these three games really stood above the crowd and in the end I have to give it to the fabulous art of Jakub Rozalski.

Best Graphic Design:
Second Runner Up – 51st State: Master Set(Portal Games)
First Runner Up – Villages of Valeria (Daily Magic Games)
Winner – Great Western Trail (Stronghold Games)

For me this was a no brainer.  I absolutely fell in love the graphic design of this Alexander Pfister game.  Besides the game being absolutely amazing and a joy to play, the design work that was done on it is amazing.  Once you’ve taken a turn in this game you know how to play and I think a big part of that is the clear design work that was put into the board, cards and other components.  Bravo design team, bravo!

Best Components:
Second Runner Up – Scythe (Stonemaier Games)
First Runner Up – Hit Z Road (Space Cowboys)
Winner – Mechs Vs. Minions (Riot Games)

Okay, there was absolutely no doubt about this one; I had no doubt which game would win.  When this game was announced everyone took a step back and was just amazed by the components that were packed into this huge box and for good reason!  Every single component that is put into this game was obviously created and chosen with a love for the hobby.  This game is great and the components just help to get the fun across!

Best Miniatures:
Second Runner Up – Mechs Vs. Minions (Riot Games)
First Runner Up – The Others (Cool Mini or Not)
Winner – Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower (Games Workshop)

This was a harder category for me to choose a winner in due to the fact that I don’t subscribe heavily to miniature games.  In the end I think the models for the new Warhammer Quest game are amazing.  They are just like any of the models that Games Workshop puts out, heavily detailed and incredibly thematic.  The only reason I don’t have this game is that fact that I’m not interested in putting models together or painting them!

Best Artist:
Second Runner Up – Vincent Dutrait (Medici: The Card Game/Mythic Battles: Pantheon/T.I.M.E Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons/When I Dream/Venice/Broom Service: The Card Game/HMS Dolores)
First Runner Up – Kwanchai Moriya (Capital Lux/Days of Ire: Budapest 1956/Kodama: The Tree Spirits/Fish Frenzy/Prospectus)
Winner – Mihajlo Dimitrievski (Valeria: Card Kingdoms/Villages of Valeria/Explorers of the North Sea/Cavern Tavern/City of Spies: Estoril 1942)

Wow, Mihajlo’s art is right up my alley and thus took the top spot this year!  I fell in love with his artwork when I saw some gameplay for Valeria: Card Kingdoms and Raiders of the North Sea and have followed him since.  This year he put out a ton of artwork and it all looks amazing!  Can’t wait to see his future work!

Best Designer:
Second Runner Up – Alexander Pfister (Great Western Trail/Broom Service: The Card Game/Port Royal Unterwegs!/Oh My Goods!: Longsdale in Revolt)
First Runner Up – Martin Wallace (Via Nebula/Hit Z Road/The Arrival)
Winner – Uwe Rosenberg (A Feast for Odin/Cottage Garden/Bohnanza: Das Duell/Agricola: Family Edition)

There were so many great games and so many wonderful designers that year that it was really tough to narrow it down to just one.  In the end I went with Uwe because he released so awesome games this year!  A Feast for Odin is absolutely amazing and Cottage Garden is an amazing lighter weight tile laying and pattern recognition game.  Along with those he released a two-player version of Bohnanza called Bohnanza: Das Duell and a lighter weight version of Agricola called Agricola: Family Edition.

Best Publisher:
Second Runner Up – Z-Man Games (A Feast for Odin/Beyond Baker Street/Knit Wit/First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express/Pandemic Iberia/Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu/Nautilion)
First Runner Up – Renegade Game Studios (Clank!/The Blood of an Englishman/Apotheca/Lotus/Covert/Doggy Go!/Dicey Goblins/World’s Fair 1893)
Winner – Stronghold Games (Great Western Trail/Terraforming Mars/Bear Valley/City of Spies: Estoril 1942/Animals on Board/Fabled Fruit/Fields of Green/The Dragon & Flagon/Fuji Flush/The Fog of War/La Granja: No Siesta/Sola Fide: The Reformation/Stronghold: 2nd Edition)

Wow!  What a year from Stronghold Games and owner Stephen Buonocore!  This year marked the first year that I really sat up and took a really good look at every single release that Stronghold was putting up.  Many of the games on the list I own and a few I probably will own!  Honestly, just Great Western Trail would have made Stronghold a contender.  Instead of just the one good game however, Stephen got his hands on a bunch of fantastic releases and I look forward to seeing what they’ll do this year!

Best Box Insert:
Second Runner Up – Quadropolis (Days of Wonder)
First Runner Up – Via Nebula (Space Cowboys)
Winner – Mechs Vs. Minions (Riot Games)

This is another no brainer choice.  The box insert for Mechs Vs. Minions is a work of art in its own right.  The box was made perfectly to hold all of the game’s beautiful components and miniatures and the work on the insert was obviously a major part of the overall look and feel.  The designers obviously wanted to make an amazing insert and wow did they ever take that to heart when making this game.  Check out the insert if you have a chance, it should change your outlook on what a box insert can be!

Best Game Mechanic:
Second Runner Up – Deck Building (Great Western Trail/Inis/Clank!/Aeon’s End/Codex: Card Time Strategy/Hero Realms/One Deck Dungeon/Tramways/Mistfall: Heart of the Mists)
First Runner Up – Area Control (Scythe/Cry Havoc/Star Wars: Rebellion/Inis/Imhotep/World’s Fair 1983/Adrenaline/Islebound/Guilds of London/Ulm/Lotus)
Winner – Multi-Use Cards (Arkham Horror: The Card Game/Terraforming Mars/Cry Havoc/51st State: Master Set/Guilds of London/Villages of Valeria/Tramways/Mistfall: Heart of Mists)

This was another tough category as there are some many great games within the different mechanics.  I decided to go with one that isn’t “officially” recognized on BoardGameGeek but I think it should have its own category at this point.  The idea of multi-use cards has been around for a while but it is really starting to pick up more and more steam and more designers realize what a great idea it can be to make each card a couple of different things within the game.  Because of the sweet decisions that multi-use cards can bring to a game it gains it place as my award winner for best game mechanic.

Best Use of an App:
Second Runner Up – Descent: Journeys in the Dark (SecondEdition): Road to Legend (Fantasy Flight Games)
First Runner Up – World of Yo-Ho (IELLO)
Winner – Mansions of Madness: Second Edition (Fantasy Flight Games)

This was one of the categories that I didn’t have any problem finding a winner.  Mansions of Madness was revamped into a second edition which uses an application to do the work of the dungeon master.  This made the game something absolutely wonderful.  The only reason I hadn’t gotten the game before was that I don’t really like one-versus-all games that much.  However, when this was announced I jumped on it and don’t regret it at all as the app creates such and smooth and fun game experience.

Best General Game Theme:
Second Runner Up – Secret Agents/Spies (Covert/Codenames: Pictures/City of Spies: Estoril 1942/AssassinCon/Checkpoint Charlie)
First Runner Up – American Western (Great Western Trail/Tiny Epic Western/Saloon Tycoon/Legends of the American Frontier/The Oregon Trail Card Game/Gads Hill 1874)
Winner – Lovecraftian Horror (Mansions of Madness: Second Edition/Arkham Horror: The Card Game/Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu/Tides of Madness/Mythos Tales)

Here is another category that I thought the winner pretty much ran away with it.  The best general game theme this year was Lovecraftian horror, otherwise known as the Cthulhu mythos.  There were so many good games with this theme on them this year that I just had to go ahead and give it my “best of” for general game theme.

Best Specific Game Theme:
Second Runner Up – Whaling in the Mid-1800’s (New Bedford)
First Runner Up – Running a Television Network (The Networks)
Winner – A Collectible Card Game Simulator (Millennium Blades)

Personally I think last year’s specific themes were overall better than this year’s, but there were a few stand-outs.  The best of them had to be Millennium Blades which is why it to the “Late-ie” for best specific game theme.  It would have been difficult not to give it to this game as it is a boardgame that simulates the collectible card game hobby.  Plus, it’s a great game which is what it should be.

Best Dice:
Second Runner Up – Hit Z Road (Space Cowboys)
First Runner Up – Star Wars: Destiny (Fantasy Flight Games)
Winner – Tiny Epic Western (Gamelyn Games)

The “Late-ie” for best dice in a game was an easy pick this year.  The winner was the awesome bullet dice that were created for the game Tiny Epic Western.  I don’t even know if these dice function that well, but man do they look good!  The guys from Gamelyn Games did a good job in creating some incredibly thematic and cool looking dice.

Best Innovation:
Second Runner Up – Ulm (HUCH! & friends/R&R Games)
First Runner Up – Mystic Vale (Alderac Entertainment Group)
Winner – Fabled Fruit (Stronghold Games/2F-Spiele)

And the “Late-ie” award for best innovation goes to Friedemann Friese for the second year in a row, this time for Fabled Fruit.  The “Fable System” as he is calling this style of game is a clever way of adding cards into the game.  This game changes every time you play as different cards come into and leave the game thus giving you a differing experience.  We’ve already finished the deck and will soon start it back up with some friends to play it again.  I look forward to seeing what he does with the system in the future.

Best “Gimmick”:
Second Runner Up – Folding Cloth Puzzle (Fold-it)
First Runner Up – Scratch & Sniff Components (The Perfumer)
Winner – Virtual Reality Mask for Phone (Mask of Anubis)

And the final category of the “Late-ie” awards for 2016 is for the best gimmick in gaming this year and goes to Mask of Anubis.  This game won for its included virtual reality mask that the player puts on in order to see a 3D rendering of the dungeon they are attempting to figure out by telling the other players what they see.  It is a clever component and my favorite gimmick used this year.

Well folks, there you have it!  These are the “Late-ie” award winners for the year 2016.  It has been a blast figuring out this year’s winners and I look forward to being able to do this again for the games in 2017.  If you can think of any categories I should add in next year feel free to let me know!  My next post in the “End of 2016” series will start looking at the games from 2016 that I haven’t been able to try yet and which ones I am most interested in.  Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!  Until next time, game on!


  1. Fantastic list! Found the blog on BGG but I really do need to subscribe. Great categories—all the ones I care about. Cheers!

    1. thanks so much chris! i just love seeing people enjoy the read! :-)