Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Best of 2016!

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.

2. Viticulture
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.

3. Scythe
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.

4. Hounded
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!

8. Outfoxed
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.

Honourable Mentions
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?


  1. No Push It? Or did you play that last year?

  2. 1. Dice Heist

    Dice silliness with the added bonus of feeling like a wily art thief!

    2. Cosmic Run

    More dice, this time with an air of intergalactic exploration!

    3. Scythe

    It's a "proper" game. The best this year, with lots going on. Like someone made a TV series based on a board game and then this is the board game based on the TV series.

    4. Outfoxed

    Yet more dice! This time with a nice crime-solving element to it.

    5. Viticulture

    Another "proper" game, complete with frustration over lack of/too many choices and feelings of despair/elation in the final stages as you/they speed off up the score track.

    6. Fool's Gold

    It was a good year for dice.

    7. Tokaido

    So relaxing. Hardly a game at all.

    8. KnitWit

    Silly word nonsense.

    9. Billabong

    Such a simple premise, such a massive amount of analysis paralysis.

    10. Tumblin' Dice

    Every evening should start with a rousing game of Tumblin ' Dice with a tequila slammer for each player. Or something.

    with nods to Pharaoh's Gula Gula, The Grizzled, Imhotep, and La Granja.

    1. Oops, I just remembered Isle of Skye. That should be in my top ten. Somewhere.

    2. I really enjoyed La Granja for a short time, but it kinda fell of my want-to-play radar.

  3. Reposted from BGG:

    Push It - about as simple as a game can get and all the better for it. Just a set of beautifully-made wooden flicking pucks and a drawstring bag to pop into a pocket on the way to the pub.

    Team Play - nice rummy-ish partnership set-collection game.

    Imhotep - I like my Euros simple and interactive and this fits both nicely.

    Origin - as does this one, and it's beautiful too!

    Medina - yet another of those 'old-school' Euros with lots of interaction on a shared board.

    13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis - love a modern historical theme and this is a great abstraction of the Cuban Missile Crisis, full of brinksmanship as you'd expect.

    Fresh Fish - only one bewildering play so far, but I was very intrigued by the unique spatial play.

    The Ravens of Thri Sahashri - and this asymmetric 2p co-op hasn't had nearly enough play to figure it out either, but I don't know anything else like it and that's a big plus.

    Paperback - crossing Dominion-style deckbuilding with Scrabble is just such a great idea.

    Eggs of Ostrich - lovely Japanese bluffing microgame for three players only.

    1. We have to play Ravens one day.

    2. Yes please. I want to try Knit Wit too.

  4. Should have included Dice Heist in my honourable mentions. Medina too.

  5. And I still haven't played Imhotep!

    1. Remind me to bring it along in the new year!

    2. Yep; let's also do Paperback (not played yet) and Knitwit.

  6. I can't possibly have a top ten new games of 2016, they're all new to me, more or less! I'm surprised I've only played four of your top 11 Sam; I have some catching up to do! My favourite new game was Isle of Skye, I also really liked Scythe and Knit Wit. I look forward to more in 2017. Thanks for sharing games, snacks and laughs; love you guys xox

    1. I think I'm the only person who doesn't get into Isle of Skye! I just find it hard to put a value on tiles when there is so much to factor in: your Isle, every other player's isles, all the tiles, plus the scoring requirements! I enjoyed it as a 2-player but it made me feel like a dunce with more.

      Definitely more Knitwit though!

    2. I wasn't a big fan of Skye either.

  7. Paperback - inspired to track down a copy after playing the iOS version, and it's brilliant. And Charlotte and Bea like it too!

    Cribbage - doesn't strictly count as a new game but another that Cha has enjoyed.

    Scythe - the biggest proper board game I played this year I think. Only played twice but enjoyed it a lot.

    Isle of Skye - love this, and I don't think you need to get too bogged down in pricing your tiles accurately. I tend to play instinctively and, last game aside, I seem to do ok. The turn order affects things a lot, as getting first pick can be huge, but you risk not having enough money to buy anything. I'm just enjoying discovering the nuances of it, and really glad to have found a game that stays in rotation enough to get multiple plays.

    Team Play - I like a partnership card game. This is so simple, but a lot of fun.

    Captain Sonar - that game we would have played of this if is brought it would have been brilliant! This should be an honourable mention, but we did play a six player gem in Ilfracombe, which made me want to play more.

    Tumblin' Dice - has been the game of this Christmas. So simple, so addictive. It's like a lost classic pub game. Played five games today!

    Mamma Mia - played this correctly for the first time this year, and played again this Christmas. Lovely.

    Junk Art - haven't played this as much as I'd like, but just getting the bits out makes me smile.

    Adrenaline - a Christmas present to myself, and it's great fun. It's a first person shooter death match computer game as a board game, made by CGE of Galaxy Trucker fame, with all the inherent humour and silliness you'd expect. And it's really a clever area majority game to boot.

    Land Unter - despite my disgraceful fourth place shoeing in the last game I like this a lot. I prefer it to 6 Nimmt I think.

    Arkham Horror the card game - my one player rpg-ish fix, really enjoying this, if anyone fancies a two-player game let me know.

    Fields of Arle - my favourite Uwe game, but it's only two player - ditto the above.

    Special mention to Cat Box :) I also like Fools Gold. Feel like we've barely scratched the surface of 13 Days, Martin. Too distracted by Innovation and Paperback. Oh and Dream Home, I'd like to play that some more. And Jorvik. And oh boy, too many games...

    1. Land Unter, how could I forget that; I love it :D

  8. To clarify: "Captain Sonar - that game we would have played of this if I'd brought it would have been brilliant! This should be an honourable mention, but we did play a six player game in Ilfracombe, which made me want to play more." Stupid iPad.

  9. Pretty much every game I ever play at Games Night is new to me and I end up loving the majority of them. I suppose games I would like to see played more would have to be Fuse, Isle of Trains and Viticulture. I think I only saw those being played once, though that's probably down to my poor attendance record.

    1. I'm sure we could trot out at least one of those tomorrow Ben. Plus I have to introduce at least one person to Hounded - we've played it about a dozen times now and I'm still really enjoying it.

  10. Isle of Skye, Viticulture and Scythe for me.

    Knit Wit and Junk Art are in my honourable mentions.

  11. Although very late and unlikely to be read by anyone my little list as prompted by Sam..

    Cosmic Run, Isle of Skye, Fuse, For Sale - would be my top picks for the new to me category. All the others mentioned in this post and comments were OK. I've made the limiting factor of whether I would buy this game myself. I own and played for the first time Nations but if it was someone else's copy I probably wouldn't have obtained it......

  12. Nations! That was an interesting game. Euro-y but with plenty of screwage.