It's that time of year again!
A quick (20 minutes!) look back through the blog revealed that we - partly at my (Sam's) behest, apologies - have played a lot of new games in 2016. I think upwards of 30. Many were visited once before falling by the wayside, whereas others stuck around, finding favour with at least two people.
Here in no particular order is my top ten of new games (new to me, not necessarily published this year) of 2016.
The ten-minute game of co-operative bomb defusal, complete with annoying/non-annoying countdown voice and explosion timer. Tense, fast-decision-making fun, that can pep up a flagging gamer at short notice.
Nothing new mechanically, but a rather sweet and unpredictable (because of the Visitor cards) game that combines blocking tactics with a little luck. Even the best planners can draw non-matching order cards... but I'd rather that than a zero-sum game. We thought the scoring was like a bell curve but Adam disproved that theory when he obliterated Andrew and I on his first play.
Again there's no gamer's USP here, but it's a medley of game elements put together in a seamless and beautifully-presented way - like Caverna, you always (should have) a productive option, so frustrations are usually self-inflicted... but at the same time there's room for combat, and combat includes options for bluffing, and best of all the game just plays very fast. Possibly my favourite.
This was a game I bought for Stan's birthday just before Christmas and it's already had several plays. One player is the fox, trying to survive the hunt by outlasting the hounds. The other is the hunter, controlling the master of hounds and three different types of dog. What became clear to us was that the hunter plays very differently to the fox: it's no good chasing the fox around the board because it's much more manoverable - instead, you need to try and 'trap' it by guarding a corner of the board, enticing it in (the fox needs to flip tiles to win) and then pouncing. Late entry, but a top game!
5. Cosmic Run
The cosmic push-your-luck hit of the Autumn.
6. Micro Robots
A very divisive game for it's demands on you: you're trying to work out how to move a robot around a board quicker than anyone else can, which really puts the pressure on. I've played this a lot with the boys.
7. Riff Raff
Stacking game based on a gimbal. With bidding!
Another fox-related kid's game, but a co-operative one with genuine tension. It's also scalable to older ages: simply make the pie thief move faster as you scramble to work out which fox committed the crime...
9. Junk Art
A stacker to rival Bandu.
10. Terraforming Mars
Collaborate to prepare Mars for human habitation, only do it "the best" by ending with the best terraforming rating. A nice combo of hand-management (buying cards, then paying to play them) and racing, with a bit of screwage and gambling thrown in. Downside is it is rather long.
11. Pandemic Legacy
It's at 11 because we haven't finished it yet, but Stanley and I have completed January and February and are very excited about continuing.
Rhino Hero - fun, silly, stacker
Pueblo - fun, head-scratchy, builder
Knit Wit - fun, venn, game of words
Billabong - just mad
Fool's Gold - luck-pushing gold-gathering, where your 'best' gold haul is actually worthless
That's mine then - what's yours?