With the close of 2014, I tend to setup a budget for the next year of game purchases especially around GenCon time. I decided to look back at last year's budget and noticed I went a tad over my initial estimates. This was mostly due to an amazing year of games and not just board games. I picked up more RPG and board games than I had in previous years. As I looked at the list of purchases, my mind started to sort them into a list. Here is the following list of my top board games from 2014:
10. Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game - I've been a huge fan of the Legendary system from Upper Deck Entertainment. The latest game with the Legendary tag centers around the Alien universe. Upper Deck captures the horror aspect quite well, for instance, scanning cards as they move down the corridors that could expose any sort of danger is intense for the players. People can play mix all the cards, but I prefer the method of playing through each film (Alien, Aliens, Aliens 3, Alien: Resurrection). I stood in line for this game at GenCon and do not regret that decision in the slightest.
9. King of New York - If one has played King of Tokyo, it should be no surprise that King of New York made anyone's "Top Ten List of 2014". Iello took Tokyo with the Power Up expansion and put everything in New York. The only downside to the new game is the Super Star bonus card which I feel tends to break the game due to the amount of VP someone can rack up quickly on their rolls.
8. Lost Legacy: The Starship - Alderac Entertainment Group released a handful of small sized games this year. Lost Legacy: The Starship was one of those great titles. It is a draw one, play one in the same vein of Love Letter. The difference between the two games is an additional "Investigation Phase" where any remaining players try to find The Starship. The extra phase adds another layer of deduction without it feeling forced onto the players. There have been additional Lost Legacy sets released that can be combined into The Starship in order to bring the player count to six. It is one of the few games I keep on hand when I travel to conventions like PAX.
7. Sheriff of Nottingham - Have you ever played Liar's Dice or Bullshit? Do you enjoy games were bluffing is encouraged? Are you okay with backstabbing your neighbors? If you answered yes to any of those questions, this game is right up your alley. Sheriff of Nottingham from Arcane Wonders is a game about bluffing (or not) goods past the Sheriff in order to make a profit at the market. Each player will have two turns to play the Sheriff while others try to get all their goods past her/him. The amount of social interaction in Sheriff has made this one of our go to titles when we're all in the mood for a thematic game with a chance of roleplaying a character.
6. Tiny Epic Kingdoms - One of the best 4x games in a tiny little box from Gamelyn Games arrived to masses of Kickstarter backers around October of 2014. The pocket sized game packs a ton of strategy due to all races and maps. It is crazy to think about the amount of depth packed into the game. Over the past couple months of playing the game with various numbers of players, I've not been able to formulate a standard strategy. If you like 4x games, this is a must own for the collection. If you want a fantastic travel game, this is one to add to the collection. Gamelyn Games is looking toward a great future and it is only going to get better with Tiny Epic Defenders and Tiny Epic Galaxies.
5. Istanbul - When I went to GenCon 2014, Istanbul was on my "MUST HAVE" list from Alderac Entertainment Group. Istanbul is a pick-up-deliver game set in the bazaars of..well...Istanbul to collect rubies. The combination of worker drop off plus a slice of resource management with a dash of strategic movement makes this one game for the collection. The three different difficulties of tile placement make the game easy to teach new players, yet difficult for experienced players. Sadly, I've only been able to get a couple games in since GenCon.
4. Sons of Anarchy - Gale Force 9 has done it again with capturing the essence of an IP in a board game with Sons of Anarchy. The player is running one of the many MCs (Motorcycle Clubs) trying to amass the most cash by the end of the game from running guns and selling drugs (Guuci bags for those that played the demo with me at Gencon). One has to do all this amidst the rival MCs trying to take out your club at various locations. Just like Spartacus, it one of the few games where I've seen players get sucked into and behind the theme of the game without being fans of the show.
3. Star Realms - Everyone who has played games with me knows that I adore any game that is primarily a card game (mostly because I grew up playing MTG and Decipher Star Wars). As an avid deck builder fan, I picked up Star Realms while at Gencon 2014. The rules are simple and straight forward without too much complexity. Instead of amassing honor/victory points, the player's goal is to eliminate the other opponent/s. Each of the four factions has an ability like life gain or discarding cards from opponents that can lead to great combos. The games can be quite competitive which shows promise for an organized play scene.
2. Doomtown: Reloaded - With the recent boom in the LCG/ECG/WTFCG, Alderac Entertainment Group comes into the scene strong with Doomtown: Reloaded. Doomtown is the updated version of Deadlands: Doomtown from the 90s CCG Boom. The uniqueness of the Downtown game was not lost in its modern update. Players will still need to position their gang members, build up their town, and have a decent hand for the poker mechanic. One of the key reasons the game is high on my list is multiplayer aspect of the game. Doomtown scales remarkably well and provides for great moments. Do not let the learning curve scare you away, pick it up and get ready for some shootouts.
1. Splendor - I could spend hours gushing about this great title from Space Cowboy, however, I'll try to sum it up in a paragraph. GO BUY THIS GAME! There, simple, right? Splendor is a resource management game that has a ton of depth and strategy. It has become a staple for board game night since it is a great warm up or closing night game. Honestly, we've had a couple nights of just Splendor because of the replayability of it. Did I mention you should just go buy this game?
Games that did not make the list because I did not get to play them:
- Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game - I continue to hear people rave about this game from Plaid Hat Games. The event-card mechanic has intrigued me since I've noticed it has motivated people to role-play a bit more than an average thematic board game. Plus, I always enjoy a good game where you have to debate the moral decision of your action. Do you save the group or go rogue by sacrificing them to an oncoming hoard of flesh eating creatures.
- Five Tribes - I keep getting told to buy this game from Days of Wonder without being told too much about it. I've heard it has a new spin on worker placement genre. It will be on my list for games to pick up in Q1 of 2015 since everyone will not stop raving about it.
- Star Wars: Imperial Assault - I initially did not play attention to this game when I walked past it at GenCon 2014. I thought it was going to be Star Wars the Descent flavor. However, the more content released for the game has caused an increased interest in the game since it does not look like a copy of Descent. Fantasy Flight Games released it later this year, so I'll probably pick up a copy early Q1 of 2015 to try it out.
Let me know your thoughts on your top games of 2014. Leave a comment or reach out to me on Twitter!