April! And here’s finally my post of favourite games discovered in 2018 – a post that I had almost finished in early January… Here goes.

Filler games

Fittingly, since 2018 saw a revival of roll-and-write games, first out on this list is Qwinto. This is, obviously, inspired by Qwixx, as you are once again sorting numbers from small to big-ish, however it is filled with even more interesting choices, from how many dice you throw, and where to write the resulting numbers.

Favourite mechanism: The choice of number of dice and their colours, and subsequent result distributions, and how it impacts where you can place the results…

Next filler up is an ultra-swingy push your luck card game: Archaeology: The New Expedition from Phil Walker-Harding. I had been looking forward to play this game since reading the excellent Shut Up & Sit Down review back in early 2016, but it has been impossible to get hold of (without paying extortion prices). Luckily Z-Man reprinted it. It is super light, but always tense and great fun.

Favourite mechanism: The push your luck trio of set collection, collection-wiping sandstorms, and one-use tents…

Party game

The Mind, oh, The Mind. Is it a game? An activity? It’s always great to introduce this to new groups. I played it first using cards from 6 nimmt! when it was surprise nominated to Spiel des Jahres back in the day. I got m own deck when it was released in France, and has since become my most gifted game…

Favourite mechanism: Time as in-game resource. (And not in the same way as the great Patchwork does it…)

Gateway games

Stepping up to a bit more involved games, we have two more roll and writes. Even though the first one out, Welcome to…, is without dice! (It was clearly initially developed as a dice game, using two dice for numbers and two dice for colour, but this has been mapped to cards instead…) Like Qwinto we are once again tasked to organise numbers in three rows of varying length, however this time around there is a wafer-thin theme of suburbia-planning, and thematically fitting actions, added to the mix. (At least this makes the rules teach somewhat easier.)

Favourite mechanism: The ability to peak into the future at the upcoming type of cards, but not the actual numbers…

Ganz schon clever, the second game from designer Wolfgang Warsch on this list, takes us back on more familiar ground for roll and writes – the complete abstract. Six dice of different colours all with different way of scoring, and you get to chose three per round, is the core mechanics here.

Favourite mechanism: The endorphine inducing chaining of bonus actions.

Solo game 

My favourite solo game discovery, and subsequently my most played game, in 2018 was One Deck Dungeon. A great streamlined tiny-box dice-chucking dungeon-crawler. My favourite way to play this is to team up with my son and play one hero – discussing our various options of play.

Favourite mechanism: Multi-use cards as spoils of victories. I love how you have to chose between getting new equipment (new dice!), new actions, or experience points that can be used to level up. You need all of it to toughen up before the end of dungeon boss, but can only chose one…

Enthusiast games

The first heavyish Euro game I played in 2018 was a game I first came across in Essen Spiel 2013, and was intrigued by the Art Nouveau graphics, but never got around playing, namely Bruxelles 1893. That did not disappoint. A great economic worker placement game of architecture and resource management.

Favourite mechanism: The way you chose what districts are available each round and the resulting varying “market value” of the more central ones, is probably my favourite.

The 7th Continent is the first kickstarter on this list, and second best game I played in 2018, methinks. It is also the game I played the most – in number of hours. This is another game, like One Deck Dungeon above, that I have played with my son, teaming up to play two explorers. We are not very good at sticking to the quest at hand, though, so we have mainly just explored the island, and never even finished the first of the quests provided with the base game. With the freely available soundtrack to match each “area type” it has been a great, great experience…

Favourite mechanism: The way cards function as a counter for energy, and that you have the choice upfront when choosing to engage with an event how many cards to use to boost the outcome.

And this brings us to my favourite new game(s) of the year: Brass: Birmingham and Brass: Lancashire. Prior to 2018 I had only played the iPad version of Lancashire, and I was sufficiently intrigued by that, and the hype surrounding the kickstarter campaign for the new edition, to jump into it with both feet – backing both Birmingham and Lancashire. Both are amazing games, but if I had to chose one, I think I would go for Birmingham. I like the variable setup and the more varied  industries. And beer. (Also, to me, the foreign marked in Lancashire is maybe the least strong design element, so I understand why it was cut.) For now both games fit into my collection…

Favourite mechanism: There are so many fascinating mechanisms at play here, from turn order selection, to the choice between building and development to upgrade your buildings, but my favourite is probably the obsolescence of your infrastructure and low level buildings after the first age of the game. 

The games I look forward to the most in 2019

  • Blackout from one of my all time favourite designers, Alexander Pfister, was released at Essen last year, but I still haven’t gotten around playing it…
  • Underwater CitiesGugong, and Teotihuacan are all games that also were released at Essen and has gotten lots of buzz and nominations since. (The latter is even by half of the designers behind the amazing Tzolkin’…) 
  • I backed Bios: Origins, the third and final part of Eklund’s Bios-series, on Kickstarter a while back and that should arrive sometime this year…
  • In January I read Crichton’s Dragon Teeth while playing Red Dead Redemption 2, so I’m curious to see how Western Legends has captured this period…
  • Age of Steam seems to be deluxified and rereleased with the help of a Kickstarter campaign early 2019. Ian O’Tool from Lisboa fame has posted some promising artwork, and after the amazing Brass remake, this might be the time for me to try out this classic beast… (And/or maybe only/even AoS’s simplified/streamlined siblings Steam and Railways of the World…)
  • I mentioned looking forward to Evolution Oceans on last year’s list and that has finally reached kickstarter stage. (Spoiler alert: I have backed it…)

Also, for reference here’s my list from 2017.

(Photos from my @do_meeples_dream Instagram account.)

(Almost) all games I played for the first time in 2018

name year rank rating_avg weight
10 Minute Heist: The Wizard’s Tower 2017 3090 6.48631 1.1818
1911 Amundsen vs Scott 2011 2701 6.73731 1.7407
Affinity 2018 11767 6.744 0.0
Arboretum 2015 250 7.39737 2.1596
Archaeology: The New Expedition 2016 956 7.15227 1.2879
Ballons 2003 18067 5.24024 1.0
Brass: Birmingham 2018 3 8.66093 3.92
Brass: Lancashire 2007 19 8.17098 3.8643
Bruxelles 1893 2013 295 7.65157 3.5839
Bunny Kingdom 2017 313 7.45819 2.2597
CAPcolor: Les Pyramides d’Émeraude 2017 None 7.33571 2.0
CIV: Carta Impera Victoria 2018 4508 6.26562 2.15
Can’t Stop Express 1989 5895 6.30151 1.4
Cat Lady 2017 949 7.0902 1.4684
Chabyrinthe 2007 5708 6.09615 1.35
Charterstone 2017 299 7.39509 2.8171
Chop! Chop! 2017 13453 6.61515 0.0
CuBirds 2018 1376 7.16202 1.3261
Deep Space D-6 2015 909 7.29799 1.6622
Dragon’s Breath 2017 2793 6.67227 1.0769
Fast Forward: FEAR 2017 3887 6.13403 1.0667
Forest 2017 16566 5.67858 1.0
Ghost Blitz 2010 1087 6.71228 1.1495
Hero Realms 2016 198 7.60288 1.904
IGOR: The Monster Making Game 2008 11513 5.79511 1.1154
Junk Art 2016 406 7.43316 1.2222
Jurassic Snack 2018 3736 6.80591 1.125
Koffer packen 1967 17661 5.05714 2.0
Kullerhexe 2016 10232 6.588 1.5
MAUW 2017 11042 6.5194 3.0
Magic Maze 2017 489 7.05911 1.7349
Magic Maze Kids 2018 4579 6.86568 1.625
Master Fox 2015 6167 6.24594 1.0769
Meeple Circus 2017 775 7.12388 1.4328
Mint Delivery 2017 3029 6.279 1.5
Mint Works 2017 798 7.03299 1.6607
One Deck Dungeon 2016 629 7.08338 2.0457
Outfoxed! 2014 1056 7.19427 1.0952
Palm Island 2018 742 7.28504 1.7582
Panic Island! 2017 6818 6.70382 1.0
Penny Papers Adventures: Skull Island 2018 5361 6.36451 2.125
Penny Papers Adventures: The Temple of Apikhabou 2018 5049 6.40613 1.4286
Planetarium 2017 2018 7.03172 2.0732
Pokémon Trading Card Game 1996 2562 6.25702 2.0099
Port Royal: Unterwegs! 2016 4568 6.55397 1.1667
Puluc 0 16001 6.01935 2.0
Qwinto 2015 1092 7.06562 1.371
Rhino Hero: Super Battle 2017 706 7.28214 1.1224
Rummy 1887 6869 5.75265 1.4154
Secret Hitler 2016 182 7.56877 1.6861
Sitting Ducks Deluxe 2015 11706 6.27536 1.0
Skull 2011 377 7.20767 1.1411
Skull King 2013 553 7.37927 1.7624
Speed Colors 2017 7523 6.50076 1.0
Strike 2012 1555 6.81811 1.0506
Stuffed Fables 2018 429 7.56613 2.4135
That’s Pretty Clever! 2018 132 7.64153 1.8913
The 7th Continent 2017 31 8.17375 2.8655
The Hearmees 2017 11867 6.885 1.8571
The Little Prince: Rising to the Stars 2015 6949 6.10038 1.3846
The Lost Expedition 2017 776 7.07186 1.8626
The Mind 2018 608 6.92735 1.0767
Tybor the Builder 2017 2016 7.01327 1.963
Unlock!: Escape Adventures – The Formula 2017 1063 7.06348 2.3333
Welcome Back to the Dungeon 2016 1300 6.79471 1.3696
Welcome To… 2018 124 7.61677 1.8045
Who Did It? 2018 3710 6.48775 1.0

And expansions

name year rank rating_avg weight
Dixit: Origins 2013 None 7.77591 1.2647
Great Western Trail: Rails to the North 2018 None 8.51815 3.7727
Hero Realms: Character Pack – Cleric 2016 None 7.70857 2.2
Hero Realms: Character Pack – Fighter 2016 None 7.74764 2.25
Hero Realms: Character Pack – Ranger 2016 None 7.73441 2.2
Hero Realms: Character Pack – Thief 2016 None 7.75921 2.1667
Hero Realms: Character Pack – Wizard 2016 None 7.72063 2.1667
Imperial Settlers: Why Can’t We Be Friends 2014 None 7.59427 2.6
Port Royal: The Adventure Begins… 2017 None 7.17727 3.0
Terraforming Mars: Prelude 2018 None 8.82213 2.5176