Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Best Game of 2013 (Daryl)

The year of 2013 has been a great year for games. So now that we are a week into 2014, we decided to reflect on the past year and make a top10 list. Here is my list of top10 games. Stay tuned for Eric's post on the same subject. To provide some context here is my top10 for last year.

Daryl's Top10 Games of 2012:

(1) Hanabi - I realize this was released sooner but I played it in 2012
(2) Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
(3) Lords of Waterdeep
(4) Rolling Freight
(5) Tammany Hall - reprint
(6) Village - again first time I played it was in 2012
(7) The Palaces of Carrara
(8) Coup (I liked better than Love Letter)
(9) Terra Mystica
(10) Pick-A-Pig

Daryl's Top10 Games of 2013:

1) Spyrium by William Attia (Asmodee/Ystari
This game is elegant on design and rich in strategy. It is an impressive accomplishment on design, to come up with a simple to explain mechanic, slim on components, yet generates great player interaction with various paths to victory. Also, I have a clear bias as I loved my interaction with the designer (inventor of the worker placement with his previous game Caylus). You can read about the experience HERE

2) Going, Going, Gone! by Scott Nicholson (Stronghold Games)
I will confess, I had chance to play this game in April. However, I only have myself to blame for needing to wait 8 months to try this game. I have had the privilege of meeting many famous actors, athletes, authors, etc - yet I have only experienced this once in my life and I was too embarrassed to admit it until now - I got shell shocked when I saw Scott Nicholson. It was like I was a teenage girl seeing Taylor Swift for the first time. I just couldn't work up the nerve to say hi to the man who has taught me (via videos of "Board Games with Scott") so many of my favourite games. I regret this because not only would I have gotten to speak with Scott but I would have experienced this amazing game 8 months sooner! This is now one of my favourite games! Just tons of laughs.

3) Le Fantome de l'Opera by Bruno Cathala & Ludovic Maublanc (Hurrican)
I am a BIG fan of the Mr. Jack series of games. In my opinion probably the best 2P game in the world. Atleast in the discussion. For anyone who has enjoyed the series, this is a must get because it not only feels like Mr. Jack but it fixes a major potential issue. When players of equal ability play Mr. Jack, it is fun. However, experienced players can dominate noobs. In this new re-invention of the game, you can now adjust the difficulty level for each player. Genius! If you don't own Mr. Jack you might want to buy both, but at least snag this one and find out.

4) Rialto by Stefan Feld (Tasty Minstrel Games)
This year featured 4 great Stefan Feld releases. All amazing games. However, unlike many others I thought Rialto was the best of the year (disclaimer - I have yet to try Amerigo but I hear great things). Before 2013, I was one of the Feld Fanatics. I think it was a phase. I blame Castles of Burgundy. However, in the time that has passed, I find myself less interested in point salads and more about the feel of a game. Rialto recaptured my love for one of my all-time favourite games, San Marco. Clearly I am bias but any game that makes me think of San Marco is a great game in my books.

5) Coal Baron by Michael Kiesling & Wolfgang Kramer (Eggertspiel/R&R Games)
I am a sucker for a little gimmick. It doesn't have to be much, but if I like it - I will like the game. The elevator lift into the mine shift of this game is just fun. This is a game that feels like an instant classic to me. Its overall a little dry (or may I say pure Euro style) and not very innovative, but it just does everything right. It reminds me of The Palaces of Carrara.

6) Blueprints by Yves Tourigny (Z-Man Games)
I will admit my extreme prejudice upfront and disclose that I had the privilege of playtesting/developing this game. Additionally, Yves is someone I would call a personal friend. With that said, I can proudly say this was one of the best games of 2013. I probably overreacted and bumped this game down my list just to appear fair. This might be the game I have played the most in 2013. Everyone I introduce the game to enjoys the experience of drafting and building with dice. Stay tuned for many upcoming games from this designer - he will be making some of the best games of 2014 and beyond.

7) Eight Minute Empire by Ryan Laukat (Red Raven Games)
Last year seemed to burst the bubble for micro/mini games with Love Letter & Coup. Well for me, Eight Minute Empire is my favourite of them all. Its small, compact components and rule set, let me maximize my fun to time ratio. This is an easy game to get to the table. Not to mention the game utilizes one of my favourite game mechanics (area control). I can't wait to try the expansions.

8) Russian Railroads by Helmet Olney & Lonny Orgler (Hans im Gluck/ Z-Man Games)
I had the privilege of play testing the prototype for this game back in April. However, I finally got to play a finished copy of the game more recently. This is a pure euro style worker placement kind of game. This game seems heavy on the rules, but because of the high production quality, and very thorough play testing/development - this is a solid gamers game that will last the test of time. The theme is pasted on, but if you can get beyond that, and enjoy heavier euro strategy games - I think you will enjoy this game. I am thankful the game maxes out at 4P, but even with four players the game can feel a little long with the wrong players.

9) Francis Drake by Peter Hawes (Eagle Games & Gryphon Games)
This is another game I missed the opportunity to try awhile ago. The production quality alone makes this game amazing. The game is simply HUGE. The components are great. I don't think the game does anything innovative, but it does everything well. It is like two games. The first half of each round is a classic worker placement (but I like how they shuffle locations each new round) and the second half is a fun little battle game (with some nice bluffing mechanic with location selection) with not too much violence. If the price wasn't so high, I would gladly add this game to my collection.

10) The Capitals by Thiago Boaventura (Mercury Games)
If your looking for a meaty city building euro style strategy game - then you won't go wrong with The Capitals. I will admit some bias here for Mercury Games. I would call them friends. And again, I might be guilty of pushing the game down on my list because of that. But I just really enjoyed this game. The tiles and building combinations are great. I really enjoyed the different paths to victory. My one and only real complaint is I am not a fan of the main board (I don't like the diagonal stat tracks). Also, I will warn people, don't play this game with 5 people until all players have experience (and are not prone to analysis paralysis).

Ten Games on the Bubble: Rampage, Relic Runners, Brugge, Trains & Stations, 1775: Rebellion, Le Petit Prince, Bora Bora, Kings of Air & Steam, The Great Heartland Hauling Co., & Cinque Terre.

(Potentially could have made my top10 but I have yet to try include: Nothing Personal, Kemet, Caverna, Lewis & Clark, Glass Road, Rococo, Kohle & Kolonie, Bruxelles 1893, Rockwell, Amerigo, Steam Park, Yunnah, Bang! The Dice Game, Expedition: Northwest Passage, Nauticus, New Haven, Targi, Madeira, Longhorn)

Beyond all the games I still need to try, here are the games Im looking forward to being released in 2014: Urbatecture, Sails to Steam, Captains of Industry, Akrotiri, Abluxxen, Generation Hex, and many more Im either not allowed to mention or just don't know yet.

Stay tuned for Eric's top10 list…


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