So, here it finally is, the list of my favourite games from 2015. (I learned some weeks ago that one can wish people a "bonne année" the entire year, here in France (at least in some regions), not like I've been previously led to believe only the first month, so I'm not _that_ late... Heh.)
This year I've decided to introduced categories - from silly to less silly, from, for the lack of a better word, slapstick to... well, worker placement games. OK, here we go...
These are the silliest of games that still count as proper games. They manage to balance the ammount of complete bonkerness and interesting enough decisions.
Winner: Incan Gold
Incan GoldRunner up: Colt Express
is an excellent push your luck game by Faidutti
from 2006 (reimplementing Diamant
from the year before adding, basically idols, and... more interesting... components.)
|Incan Gold|Colt ExpressParty games
was the Spiel des Jahres winner
this year. Released at Essen 2014, but I only got to play this late in 2015. Excellent chaotic romp of a game. Light hearted and silly, but a lot of fun!
One step up in... seriousness... we have the party games. These are, of course a slightly different category.Winner: Mysterium
is, as many has said, a really clever mix of Dixit and Cluedo. Fascinating.
Small games -- both in time and space, but not necessarily in depth...Winner: Lost Legacy: The Starship
Runner up: Welcome to the Dungeon
Seiji Kenai of love letter fame strikes again with his Lost Legacy series. The Lost Legacy: The Starship
variant is the one I have played the most and it is really impressive how much game has been packed into those 16 cards. I think I even prefer this, ever so slightly deeper one, to Love Letter. (Although, as always, it depends on the crowd.)
|Lost Legacy: The Starship|2-player games
Another game that packs an impressive punch with few components is Welcome to the Dungeon
by fellow countryman Masato Uesugi. This game is played with 13 cards and 6 tokens and has a fascinating twist on the bluffing and push your luck genre...
|Welcome to the Dungeon|
Games for, well, two players. Only.Winner: 7 Wonders: Duel
7 Wonders: DuelRunner up: Piñata
is 7 Wonders for two -- borrowing from mahjong and... pyramid patience. I really enjoy the addition of the game ending criteria of war and science that looms through the sessions and that it still feels like a drafting game. Most excellent.
|7 Wonders: Duel|
This re-edition of Baloon Cup with the authors original theme (and some minor rules changes) has been the go to game for two player sessions in our house-hold. Simple rules, but deep enough choices. Piñata
Gateway Game: n. A game with simple rules that are easy to teach non-gamers in order to attract new players into boardgaming as a hobby.
This is the vaguest of the categories on my list, I guess. Also/so it has the most winners. (Too many, some surely could argue.)
Winner: Thurn and Taxis
The designer of, probably my favourite game of all time, Puerto Rico, teamed up with his wife some years ago (2006) to release Thurn and Taxis
. Alas, I hadn't played it before 2015! Maybe a little bit on the heavy side of the gateway game category, but it should be safe enough for most people... Great game to introduce people to the hobby -- unless competing in developing a postal system in Bavaria in the late 19th century is too... scary... a theme for them...
|Thurn and Taxis|
Runner up #1: Broom Service
Kennerspiel 2015 winner Broom Service
is another re-edition on this list. (Originally published as Witch's Brew back in 2008.) I got to play this in Essen and it was most enjoyable. The push your luck/bluffing element of risking being brave or not is fascinating and clever.
Runner up #2: Between Two Cities
I kickstarted this game based on BGG hype, lots of preview videos and reviews, and the fact that campaign was run by Stonemaier Games
. (I was very impressed when backing Viticulture/Tuscany.) And it didn't let down. This is another 7 Wonders style drafting game with its set collection combined with a kind of tableau bilder, but with a coop-twist. You are collaborating with both your neighbours to create cities together. This works due to a Knizaish scoring mechanism where you only score your lowest scoring city. Great fun! - and way less complicated than it sounds. Between Two Cities
|Between Two Cities|
Runner up #3: New York: 1901
I guess one could consider this a Ticket to Ride-competitor, in a sense that the rules are really simple and each round boils down to, basically, two (main) choices... The rules are, sadly, not as streamlined as TtR -- with some quirkiness to tearing down buildings before building new ones, but it is still an excellent game that was very close to win this category... Very close. New York 1901
|New York: 1901|
Runner up #4: Barony
Deck/bag-builder gamesWinner: Star Realms
Splendor was one of my favourites back in 2014, so I was looking forward to this new game by Marc Andre -- Barony
. Where his previous hit simplified the tableau builder, this one is a simple and elegant game of area control.
Runner up #5: Abyss
was released in 2014, but I only got to play it back in January 2015. A great game with amazing art work albeit a rather pasted on theme...
|Abyss|Runner up #1: Automobiles
Wow. This is the game I have played the most in 2015. A deep deck-builder that fits in the palm of your hand and plays in about 20 minutes. Perfect for lunch breaks. (It could/should also have won the 2-player game of the year, I guess...) Star Realms
|Star Realms|Runner up #2: Super Motherload
I played a very late prototype of Automobiles
at Messe Essen 2015. A bag-builder with seemingly lots of replay-ability. It borrows elegantly the notion of waste (rebranded as wear here) from the first game in this AEG-"series"; Trains. Looking forward to play this more when it is properly released.
|Automobiles|Worker placement gamesWinner: Viticulture
A board game based on a video game, based on another video game, heavily inspired by a 8-bit video game from the 80s -- and it plays great! This is another game I played for the first time in Essen Spiel'15, and I liked it enough for it to come with me home... Super Motherload
|Super Motherload|ViticultureRunner up: Stone Age
is another game I kickstarted back in 2014, and it arrived as a nice late January 2015 present. Admittedly, I haven't played it enough times to know if it will stand the test of time (like, sadly, most of the other games on this list), but the few times it has gotten to the table has been great. Everything is top notch - from the streamlined rules that leads to tight competitions, via the clever thematic integration, to the beautiful, beautiful components. (I have the upgraded coins from the kickstarter campaign!)
A slightly lighter, and older, representative of the genre is Stone Age
. This has been on my list of games to play for a long time, and after testing the excellent iPad version I decided to introduce it to my gaming groups. And it was great. A perfect way to introduce both gamers and non-gamers to the worker placement games genre, methinks.
Wordless murder mystery solving has never been more interesting. Great, challenging (actually, as challenging as you want due to the system of difficulty levels) fun! Mysterium
Runner up: The Grizzled (Les Poilus)
Another game I encountered at Spiel'15 - a nerve wrecking coop game with a first world war theme. The amazing illustrations are by the late great Tignous
. (I guess if I would have a best visuals award this would be on the list - along with Mysterium. And Abyss.) The Grizzled
Solo gamesWinner: Viticulture (with Tuscany expansion)
The Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture
expansion mixes things up in the Viticulture
world, but most importantly (for this category) it introduces an automata you can fight. This works surprisingly well even though it is just a deck of cards that states what positions the "AI" blocks each turn and a given goal of 20 VPs to beat.
Children’s gameWinner: L’Escalier Hante
I introduced this game to the kids over Christmas, and it worked wonder. "A magic trick" as my five-year old would say when the ghost he has made advance past the goal line turns out not to be his so that he has inadvertently made his little sister win. The players start out with normal player markers that advances on a simple enough stairway in a race to the top, but if anyone's dice-roll shows a ghost a marker of choice turns into a anonymous ghost. Unless there are no regular markers left, then you'll swap two ghosts! If you are unfocused for two seconds your game turns completely random, but great fun nevertheless. Especially via the eyes of humans with one digit ages.
Runner up: Mon Premier Carcassonne
This game is slightly more strategic, but still recommended from four years and up. It resembles the grown-up Carcassonne in the sense that you construct a medieval landscape tile by tile, but scoring is replaced by a race to get rid of your meeples by closing roads and tile-laying itself is simplified by the fact that all tiles fit together. Still, there are some strategic choices to make and interesting decisions to take. My First Carcassonne
|Mon Premier Carcassonne|
Game of the year
So, this year I decided that it would be useful to crown one game as my "Game of the Year", and that is:Viticulture
Voila. Congrats. (Not by a landslide, admittedly, but still. Great game!) Viticulture
Games that I most hope/look forward to play in 2016
Roll for the Galaxy
The dice game based on a card game based on my, as mentioned above, probably favourite game of all time, Puerto Rico. Base game comes with 111 dice. What can go wrong? Spoiler-alert: I have played it and it is amazing! Amazing!
|Roll for the Galaxy|
So much hype! BGG #1 these days! (Of course there is a very strong bias here, since players that don't like vanilla Pandemic won't play and rate this follow-up. Still! #1!) So many best of 2015 awards. (Like the BGG Awards 2015 (published this week
) where it won all four categories it was nominated.) Can't wait to play Pandemic Legacy
! (If I can convince a group of people to play the same game (at least) 12 times...)
is one of my kickstarter projects this year, so I'm looking very much forward to test it when it shows up -- hopefully some time after the summer break.Also, for reference, here's my list from 2014.
(Almost) all games and expansions I played for the first time in 20157 Wonders: Duel * Abyss * Automobiles * BANG! The Dice Game * Barony * Between Two Cities * Broom Service * Camel Up * Carrom * Celestia * Codenames * Colt Express * Diamant * Dino Twist * Dragon Run * Dragon Slayer * Eight-Minute Empire: Legends * Endeavor * Flip City * Incan Gold * Linko! * Lost Legacy: The Starship * Mai-Star * My First Carcassonne * Mysterium * New York 1901 * New York 1901: Flatiron * No Thanks! * Patchwork * Pickomino * Piñata * Power Grid: The First Sparks * Pueblo * Saboteur * Sapiens * Star Realms * Star Realms: Gambit Set * Stone Age * Suburbia Inc * Super Motherload * Sushi Go! * The Game: Spiel…so lange du kannst! * The Grizzled * Thurn and Taxis * Timeline: Discoveries * Timeline: Historical Events * Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture * Viticulture * Welcome to the Dungeon
Pictures from this article are (mostly) taken from my mortenjohs instagram account.