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.
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…
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…)
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.
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…
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 Cities, Gugong, 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
|10 Minute Heist: The Wizard’s Tower||2017||3090||6.48631||1.1818|
|1911 Amundsen vs Scott||2011||2701||6.73731||1.7407|
|Archaeology: The New Expedition||2016||956||7.15227||1.2879|
|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|
|Deep Space D-6||2015||909||7.29799||1.6622|
|Fast Forward: FEAR||2017||3887||6.13403||1.0667|
|IGOR: The Monster Making Game||2008||11513||5.79511||1.1154|
|Magic Maze Kids||2018||4579||6.86568||1.625|
|One Deck Dungeon||2016||629||7.08338||2.0457|
|Penny Papers Adventures: Skull Island||2018||5361||6.36451||2.125|
|Penny Papers Adventures: The Temple of Apikhabou||2018||5049||6.40613||1.4286|
|Pokémon Trading Card Game||1996||2562||6.25702||2.0099|
|Port Royal: Unterwegs!||2016||4568||6.55397||1.1667|
|Rhino Hero: Super Battle||2017||706||7.28214||1.1224|
|Sitting Ducks Deluxe||2015||11706||6.27536||1.0|
|That’s Pretty Clever!||2018||132||7.64153||1.8913|
|The 7th Continent||2017||31||8.17375||2.8655|
|The Little Prince: Rising to the Stars||2015||6949||6.10038||1.3846|
|The Lost Expedition||2017||776||7.07186||1.8626|
|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|
|Who Did It?||2018||3710||6.48775||1.0|
|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|