Friday, December 27, 2013

The 10 Best Games of 2013

Hey Folks! 2013 is almost over and here are the best new to me games I played this year. I once again played over 50 new to me game this year, so even though these all might not be my all time favorites, they still are doing pretty well to be in the top 1/5 of games that hit my table for the first time in 2013. As usual, I'll also give my "Dust Award" out to my least favorite game for the year. As usual thanks to all of you for playing these with me! Especially my wife his is a great gaming partner. Games are great, but the people you meet and interact with while playing them are better. You can find the previous year lists here: Top 10 Games from 2012 and Top 11 from '11.

10. Glory to Rome. I had a tough time deciding on this 10th slot. There were several that could've filled in here such as Bora Bora, Love Letter, Palaces of Carrara, Magic Labyrinth, and Loopin' Louie. However, I'm going with Glory to Rome, because it is an enjoyable game that I feel has great deepness in it, but quick game play. It is a card game where players are selecting roles, to build various Roman buildings, get resources, and eventually turn all that into points for the Glory of Rome! The big thing holding me back from purchasing this game is the art. The old edition is ugly as all get out. The new edition is pretty expensive and out of print.

9. Sheepdogs. A game where you try to herd your sheep to the top of the hill for the highest scoring. A unique theme got me interested in this, plus the designer is local to Indianapolis, plus I knew it would be a "mean" game. It is a very good 3 player game. You can really control what is happening, make those decisive moves to screw your opponent, and take the win. With more players than that though I've found it a bit too chaotic for my tastes. The pieces in this game are just huge, which makes it fun to see set up!

8. Viticulture. I got a chance to play this wine making game with the designer and then once again later in the year. It is a very solid worker placement game, though it doesn't do a whole lot different than other worker placement games. There is a two-season phase of the game, which makes it fun trying to determine what workers you want to play in what season. I traded my copy of this though for what I consider a much better game, so though I liked it, it won't be joining my collection right now. Though I'd take it if I could find a good deal or trade.

7. Ginkgopolis. This game has been a real big hit with my wife. It is a tile laying game where players draft cards in order to choose what tiles they get to lay, which then continues to give them more benefits. The game itself is really nice looking with great chunky tiles and beautiful art on the cards depicting a "one with nature" architectural vibe. I've played this game well over 10 times since May alone. I think I probably played it close to 10 times in just May as 2 player games with Krista. I think of this as the next step up from Carcassonne in the tile laying genre of games.

6. Terra Mystica. This game is expensive. Thus I've only played it once, because I haven't purchased it. I'm sure I'd play it more if I owned it and there is a good chance it would rise in my rankings here. It is a deep euro game with lots of options, that has a fantasy theme on it. I really enjoyed all the special player powers and how everything interlocked with each other such as the temples and the power cups. For sure one I'd like to play again.

5. Takenoko. Probably the cutest game ever. At least in the league with Shear Panic. Players are building a garden for a nice panda to go around and eat bamboo. When building the garden though players want to be sure it takes a certain shape, has a certain look, and that the panda eats the right kind of food. This is an excellent family game and one that gamers would pull out too. I'd put this on the same level as Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride as far as gateway games go.

4. Mascarade. I discovered this game on accident. I was waiting for a demo of Takenoko at GenCon and was told to play this first while they finished up the current demo of Takenoko. I'm glad I did. It is a crazy game of hidden information and guessing who is who. Sometimes guessing who you are currently based upon the card you have in front of you. Sometimes you are the king, the queen, the jester, a peasant, and all the time you are trying to make the most money. This game really shines when you get 8-13 players and there are fun surprises at every turn. Other than Avalon, probably my current favorite "party" game.

3. Bruges. I would've bought this right at GenCon, but they'd already sold out by the time I played it. It is a Stefan Feld game that is essentially a card game that uses the cards for everything. They are the buildings, the people, who you avoid the plague, and how you get money. I am glad our main gaming partners bought the game and so I have the chance to keep on playing it. Is it Feld's best game? Probably not, though it might be his most accessible game. Zero theme though. Since our main gaming opponents own this and come over nearly ever weekend to play games, I don't see an absolute need to add this to my collection.

2. Omen: Reign of War Olympus Edition. If you've followed my blog at all, you know that I love 2 player card games. This one I'd heard about, but it still really took me by surprise when I played it. It plays very quickly, usually 20-30 minutes, but offers lots of combos and crazy moves for players to make with the cards. It isn't just a straight forward math game like many 2 player card games. The art is very good in this as well, which really adds to the game for me. My wife likes it as well, which is great that I can play a bit more of a thematic card game with her, without having to pull out Invasion or Netrunner.

1. Suburbia. Have you ever played SimCity? The original one? You know the one that was on Nintendo with the squares that had just R or C in the center to represent what they were.Suburbia is basically that game on the table. It can be a little fiddly, but it is so fun to watch your city grow with factories, airports, housing projects, and fast food restaurants. As more and more people come to your city, it becomes harder and harder to keep your efficiency up, which just makes the game challenging. I've played this quite a bit in 2012 and I'm sure I'll continue to play it in the future. Such a great game!

Dust Award - Blood Bound. This game is just horrible in many ways. The art work on it is questionable and best and extremely tacky at the worst. The game is supposed to be this fun and exciting hidden information game, but turned out to be really boring for those who didn't get selected, which meant you could not be playing for quite awhile. Don't even bother with this one and instead pull out The Resistence, Mafia, Mascarade, or any other hidden role game.

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