It seems that with each passing year, more and more board games are published and released providing such a variety of choices for us gamers! Last year had a few big releases and I found that I ended playing these more than most and they are in no order:
The first time I played this game I wasn’t sure if I liked it. As a non-confrontational player, I was put off by the appearance of the game – assuming there be a lot of conflict between players battling with their Mechs for territory and resources. However, I soon found out that conflict is quite minimal (depending on the players) and probably more focused on the economic engine building side as there are 6 out of the possible 10 goals you must complete to trigger the end of game. As a result, I have played this game more than 10 times and I have to say that I’m addicted. It appeals to the Euro player in me and I was quite impressed with several mechanics of the game and the player boards. Another aspect that appealed to me was that player turns moved quickly. There are essentially only two things you can do on your turn and the game can move at a fast pace, even a big 5 player (or 7 with the expansion!) game that can take up to 2-3 hrs to play doesn’t seem to drag. All in all, Stonemaier is fast becoming a favourite publisher of mine and I’m looking forward to what 2017 brings from them (*Hint: Charterstone)
Days of Wonder’s big 2016 release was a big hit of the year for me. The quality of components was impressive with the acrylic meeples being a visually nice alternative from the usual wooden meeples most games use. Despite being able to play the game in 30-60min, there is quite a lot of strategy involved. Players have to pull tiles from the central board and place them in their own cities for maximum victory points. However, there are certain building rules you must follow in what tiles you can pick up and where to place them. After you play the first time and get the hang of it, I found that I kept wanting to play to see if I could get a better score and perfect the placement of tiles in my city. Quadropolies is a great option if you wanted an alternative to playing Splendor. I’m definitely looking forward to the expansion coming out later this year as well!
Ryan Laukat’s art style always draws me in and I was very happy with game considering I bought it based on the artwork alone. It is a combination of resource management combined with a bit of deck building. The game is played over 7 rounds with only 3 actions per round. So with a total of only 21 actions for the entire game, so you have to make sure you don’t waste your turns and actions. The idea is to build up your city with buildings and conquer towns if you choose, both which give you resources. Points go to the person who controls the most of each type of resource during the 3 scoring rounds out of the 7 rounds. The deck building mechanic comes into it with your citizen and military decks which you can play as an action if you choose – these allow you to do different things to gain more resources. Once you know the rules, I have found it to be more in the mid-weight range of games and is not too complicated to play – in other words, it doesn’t burn your brain out.
I’m not known to like dexterity games however, there was something about this game that captured my attention and interest – so much so that I had track down copies from overseas as it is now out of print directly after playing. The idea is to build a race track and flick your car (a wooden puck) around the track to win. You have to go back to your last spot if you flick yourself off the track or if you push someone else off. There is definitely practice needed to play this game but it very enjoyable, if rather noisy in a large group. And with the expansions, you can try flicking your car over stunt jumps and all sorts of crazy tracks if you are feeling confident.
There is something very relaxing about trees and that’s pretty much what Kodama is – building trees in such a way to maximise points. Cards are placed as branches spreading out from a central trunk to form a tree as more cards are laid out. There is some strategy involved, though, as each card branch has certain icons on them– caterpillars, stars, flowers etc. and the aim is to place as many of the branches having the same icon to form long connecting chains to score points at the end of the round. There are three rounds total and takes approximately 30-40min to play.
Honourable Mention: And because no top played games of the year list of mine is complete without some sort of mention of Stonemaier’s Viticulture (see previous year’s lists) I have to say Moor Visitors was a perfect complement to this game. This mini-expansion, designed in conjunction with the Uwe Rosenberg, provided a tonne of new visitors with different abilities to the game – perfect for adding more depth without changing the game.