This is my completely arbitrary take on my favorite games from this year.
The top honor goes to Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.
Specifically, Curse of Strahd
which my game group has been playing for all of 2018 and probably most of 2017. It has a good balance of role-playing, puzzles, and fighting and the atmosphere is just different enough
from the default D&D world to keep you guessing without feeling completely foreign.
Best Board Games
I've had a lot of fun playing Blood Rage
lately. It's set in the land of Norse myth and at first glance it looks and sounds like a classic player vs. player fighting for area control game—and it is that! But there's a surprising amount of strategy involved. There are some great mechanics around losing area control which makes it tough to know how to block other players. It's a great combination of analysis and action.
is another very different kind of area control game. It has asymmetrical play which means each player is using different mechanics to get victory points. It takes some getting used to and I had to play through a game before I even started thinking about how to optimize my turn. Having an experienced Root player on hand to answer questions is also a plus. Once you make it though those barriers, the game has a lot of turns and surprises and gives you a lot to think about. I found myself going over potential Root strategies days after playing.
The classics are classics for a reason. I played a lot of Settlers of Catan
this year because it's my family's favorite game. Even kids who can't read can get the hang of Catan pretty quickly. It's also a great way to introduce someone to Eurogames
if their only experience with board games is Monopoly and Scrabble. (Which are fun too but not the full spectrum of what's possible!)
Best Card Games
A friend brought a self-printed DIY version of The Mind
to a game night because he'd heard it was popular in Germany and there wasn't a way to get a copy in the US. We played this weird game where you put cards in numeric order with sly communication and luck and we were genuinely cheering our successes. I'm not sure it counts as a game, but whatever it is it's dramatic and everyone has fun.
I've been having fun playing KeyForge
with my son as a nice change of pace (for me) from Magic
. KeyForge has a clever design where every deck has a unique set of cards and is evenly matched against other decks. The deck names are algorithmically generated, sometimes with humorous results
. It is a nicely designed resource-gathering game where you can use cards without an energy-style mechanic. It feels a lot lighter than Magic but it has some complexity with different styles of play (fighting vs. stealing vs. spells) possible through the different factions. If you think you'd enjoy Magic without the deck building/collecting aspects you'll probably enjoy KeyForge.
That's it—happy gaming!