Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Best Games of 2014

Every year I keep track of the "New to Me" games for the year and then make the Top 10 List of the year. So here is that list. I think this might be my favorite blog to write each year. I played 71 new to me games this year, so all these games I'm going to list are good games and it is usually tough to narrow it down to just 10. I actually rate all of these games 8/10, so the difference between number 1 and number 10 is really small. Honorable mentions include: Copy Cat, King of New York, Caverna, Gonzaga, Nothing Personal, Rampage, Snow Tails, Five Tribes, BraveRats, and Voluspa. Thanks to everyone who has played games with me all year!

10. Diamonds
I like trick taking games. Diamonds is exactly that. What is so great about it though is that every hand is a good hand. It is all just how you play it. Each time you win a trick, you get a special action, however you get a special action each time you throw off too. So throw off or win the trick, but be sure to protect your diamonds. This has been really successful game with family and friends (even my mom liked it and she isn't a huge fan of the games I bring). I'd love to do a trick taking game day and pull this out with The Bottle Imp, Tichu, Haggis, Clubs, and Euchre.

9. The Castles of Mad King Ludwig
This is was a tough call for me to put on the list. I only played it once, in the dealer hall at GenCon, where it was loud and tight, but I liked it a lot. Players are building castles for the king. Simple boring theme.  I love the free form building of the castles, the I cut you choose of the master builder, and the room combinations that can occur. It seemed different enough from Suburbia that I think if I'd played this more it would be higher on my list, but with just the one play will remain at number 9.

8. 1775: Rebellion
An American Revolution game for 2 or 4 players. The board is amazingly awesome in this game. There are four groups of armies that have unique dice. The theme oozed out of the game. My one experience with the game actually was a poor one due to another player, but depsite that the game really really shined. This is one I've picked up several times to buy, but just haven't yet, but it is on my wish list for a future purchase.

7. Felix, Cat in the Sack
This one really surprised me. It is an auction game where you start bidding on a small amount of information and as more people drop out more information becomes available. It can be pretty punishing, but it is really fun. It also brought about the only time this year in gaming that I was laughing so hard tears were rolling down my face.

6. Arctic Scavengers
A math trade acquisition I've been very happy with. The year is 2097 and a new ice age has destroyed 99% of the worlds population. You are scavenging the left overs, building your deck in order to add members to your tribe, fight against other tribes, and win the game. This is a unique deckbuilder, that when played with the expansions included in the box, really gives you a different feel than say Dominion or Ascension. The theme is really cool as well. The instert in the box though is possible the worst one ever.

5. The Battle of Five Armies
The prequel to my favorite game of all time, very difficult for it not to make this list. It is tough to know where this will actually end up though, since it is very similar in thought to War of the Ring. However, I'm looking forward to many more plays of this one. The very unique damage mechanism really makes the game shine. All the various player powers, fast moving units, in general I'm very happy with this game and glad it is in my collection. It seems more wide open than War of the Ring, though that also makes it less large scale, just like the Hobbit.

4. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
I've always loved Werewolf (or Mafia as I've always called it), but I've realized there are some problems with player elimination and sitting around while a 20 person game concludes. One Night fixes that! You get enough information to make logical arguments and excuses, you vote to lynch someone, then you find out who one. Really fun and really quick. I'll still play Mafia on long bus rides, but this is a great filler game in the vein of the Resistance.

3. Heroes Wanted
Players are crazy super heroes trying to get a spot on a second rate Justice League or Avengers type team. I really enjoy this game for its tactical card play, the fun combos of heroes and villians and the light hearted theme. As you play, you try to make the best move for that turn, but set yourself up for future turns to take advantage of where the villian will be or maybe give a cheap shot to another hero. The scenarios are great as well. Who doesn't like preventing bootleg DVD production? I do not like the quirks in the game, but simply don't play with them.

2. Sheriff of Nottingham
As soon as I read the description of this game I knew I'd like it. I bought it and I did really like it. Basically it is a bluffing game where you try to convince the sheriff not to look in your bag of goods and thus make the most money. It makes for some really fun situations where you try to read your opponents or bait your opponents. A great game for all kinds of people.

1. A Study in Emerald
This game is expensive. It was nearly $100 with shipping when it was Kickstarted and so I didn't back it. Now people on Amazon are trying to sell it for $260. However, a friend of mine owns it and I was able to play it twice this year and loved it! The board is beautiful, the game play isn't just like any other game ever. The deckbuilding is a large part of the game, but in no ways all of the game. I love how when you attempt to collect a card you have to have the most influence on it at the start of your turn, which means you always have to wait a full turn to collect a card for your deck. Players are on teams (randomly determined and secret) either fighting to destroy monsters (think HP Lovecraft) that have ruled the world for hundreds of years or fighting to keep those monsters in power. The best part of the game is the winning conditions. There is only one winner, however if a player that is on your team finishes in last place, then your whole team loses, and so you cannot win. That adds some great tension to the game. I know this one isn't for everyone, but for me it hit all the right spots.

Dust Award: The worst game of the year for me goes to CV. I really wanted to like this game. I love the life theme, after all I'm in human resources and think CVs or resumes is a good thing, since they essentially are my job. This game was horrible though. Somehow they figured out how to shove 20 minutes of fun into 2 hours. They made a role and move game without dice. This game was just not good at all and to make it worst I had such high hopes for it. Blah!

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