Top 10 Board Games of 2015

Six months into 2016 and it’s time for a look back at 2015. What are the best games, or better said, the most fun games of last year. A new top 10. Or wait, no, I’ve done something slightly different this time. I’ve made two top five lists. Wow, how innovative..

 

Top 5 Strategy Games

 

counciltop

5: Council of Four

This game was on my radar when I walk around the halls of the Spiel convention last year. Not on the to buy list, but on the ‘it looks nice, want to play it somewhere in the future’ list. An unexpected sale made me reconsider and I bought it.

No regrets here.

You have to satisfy these men in different colours in four councils to get building permits in cities around the countryside. By building a house in a city you’ll get a bonus, but you also get the bonus from your cities that are connected to the city you just built in. The creation of these bonus chains is such a clever mechanism and very fun to do.  However, you can’t just focus on building houses in a chain only, because you can get a lot of points for being the first to build a house in all cities of the same colour. Yes, you must have a plan too.

 

Check out my review here.

 

7wondersdueltop

4: 7 Wonders Duel

7 Wonders is a very good drafting game, but drafting for two is very hard to do.

How poetic.

7 Wonders Duel is a two player game that succeeded in simulating a draft. And it’s fun, really. If you are familiar with 7 Wonders you will pick it up in a second. There are multiple paths to victory, but the normal way with points is still the most used one in the games I’ve played. A military victory sometimes happens, but a scientific one is pretty hard to do.

 

Check out the review here.

 

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3: Voyages of Marco Polo

Dice worker placement is a mechanism I really enjoy.  Worker placement games can be vicious at some times, because you actively block your opponents and they block you, at least one turn, from doing something you want. In Marco Polo you, most of the time, can do the action you want, but you just have to pay for it if you are not the first player there. The different characters in the game are also very fun. All are awesome in their own way and make you able to do one specific thing better than anyone else.

It’s got it all, route building, worker placement, resource management. The voyages of Marco Polo does not stand out in one single way, but it’s just a very good all-rounder and you can have a lot of fun with it.

 

Check out my review here.

 

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1 & 2: T.I.M.E. Stories or Pandemic LEGACY

Number one.

I can’t choose between these two games, so they’re my number one and two in whatever order. They both offer a unique experience. T.I.M.E. Stories (I’m talking about the base game here) offers your group a one time evening filling adventure, a choose your own adventure. Pandemic LEGACY, cooperative, like T.I.M.E. Stories, has an expiration-date, but you can at least play it twelve times, each time telling the story of humanities survival during one month of the year.

 

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T.I.M.E. Stories puts you in this dark and dreary asylum. Pandemic LEGACY puts you in a world where a lethal disease has just been discovered. In both games you and your friends have to save the world from disaster in some way or the other.

Because the story of Pandemic Legacy has ended for me I stopped thinking about it, while I keep thinking about T.I.M.E. Stories and what the system has to offer, what kind of stories it has to tell in future expansion.

However, when we were in the middle of the LEGACY campaign the game was constantly on my mind. I just wanted to know what was going to happen next month. Opening those secret boxes, finding out what the new rules meant for us and what story elements were added to the game while going through the LEGACY deck is so much fun.

T.I.M.E. Stories put you in this dark world and turn after turn you had to figure out what was happening and how you could solve the mystery. I never felt so involved in a story, never did a cooperative game make me cooperate that much.

Both games are excellent and I cannot choose one above the other. Ask me today and I say T.I.M.E. Stories, ask me tomorrow and it’s Pandemic LEGACY.

 

Read my T.I.M.E. Stories review here.

And the Pandemic LEGACY one here.

 

Just missed the top five: Inhabit the Earth, Mombasa

 

Top 5 Family Games

 

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5: Codenames

Spiel des Jahres 2016? Maybe. Good game? Yes. A team versus team game. Split the family in two groups and try to guess as many words that belong to your team. Your team leader, the spymaster, has to give the right one-word clues though and that’s hard enough.

 

Check out my review.

 

loony50

4: Loony Quest

This, like Codenames, can also be considered a party game.

Sure it’s a party, but isn’t every game a party?

Loony Quest is a drawing game, but not a ‘I draw, you guess’ kind of drawing game. Here you find a picture in the middle of the table and you mostly have to draw a line or lines from point A to B on your own transparent drawing board and later place it on top of the picture and see how well you’ve done.

They did, however, made I a tad more difficult for you by adding walls, creatures and traps that you cannot touch or otherwise you get a handicap the next time. They also added things on the picture that you have to touch or want to touch because you then get more points or get bonuses for yourself.

Sometimes you have to draw with one eye closed or with a token balancing on your pen.

Sounds fun right? You get to play and draw lines and circles in different worlds that consist of different levels and every game ends with a boss that you have to defeat. Almost a computer game.

 

Check out my review here.

 

broomtop

3: Broom Service

The most fun thing about Broom Service is not collecting the potions and delivering them to the wizards and witches in need, but it is the way you do your actions. Or try to do your actions. Every player has the same role-cards and with every role card you can do one type of action. Move your witch pawn, get resources, clear the weather, stuff like that. However you can be brave and cowardly. Get a great result or just a decent result. To be brave means that other players, if they choose the same role, can overtake you and decide to be brave as well, or they don’t want to take the risk and become cowardly, which means that they do a lesser action, but that action can never be taken from them. Very exciting and interactive.

 

Check out the review.

 

IsleofSkye

2: Isle of Skye

Tile laying like Carcassonne, but without the area control bit, without the meeples. However it does have this clever scoring system and it adds a cool bidding system. Every game you will draw four scoring tiles and every round different scoring tiles will activate. This is cool, because everybody knows what kind of tiles they need at what moment in the game to score points, and this makes the whole bidding mechanism very interesting.

You draw tiles, three of them. These tiles have road, building and animals an them and then every player secretly sets the price for two tiles by placing their own money on them and picks one to discard. Everybody shows their prices and then you have the chance to buy a tile from other players with the money you have not placed on your tiles. You have to set the price right, because if no one buys a tile from you, you have to pay the price yourself, and use these tiles that round. Sometimes that’s exactly what you want, at other times it messes everything up.

Easy rules, familiar gameplay, but it packs a punch. Isle of Skye or Skye as it’s called here in the Netherlands is a lovely game.

 

Check out my review.

 

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1: Karuba

If you read my Spiel des Jahres 2016 article you know that I think this game should win this award. It’s quick, every player is given the same tools, the same building materials and are all told that they have to build a road from A to B. How they do it, that’s up to the players themselves. So incredibly simple, but also so incredibly simple and fun.

 

Check out my review here.

 

Just missed the top five: Treasure Hunters, Cacao

 


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