2017 has been a fantastic year for the board gaming hobby once again. With so many great new releases hitting the shelves of our local game stores, it’s becoming a mammoth task to keep up with it all!
With that in mind I’ve had the pleasure of playing a total of 158 different games a total of 765 times in 2017 (as of writing this!) with 71 of those games being new to me. (All stats courtesy of the Board Game Stats app)
Amongst all these new games, what has caught my eye, grabbed my attention and, most importantly of all, found a space in my collection this year. Of course I have not had the luxury of being able to play any and every game that has come out this year (especially this year’s Essen releases) however I’ve had a good ol’ go!
Here’s my pick for the top 10 games of 2017!
A game that was shown off at the UK Games Expo this year, Untold: Adventures Await is a storytelling game that uses Rory’s Story Cubes. The game sees 1-4 players create a TV show, with story arcs, characters and events that will be unique in every game you play!
The game is extremely free form, but adds a greater structure to Rory’s Story Cubes. Players work out questions they wish to ask about anything that is currently happening in a scene or they can take an action.
Actions are resolved through cards that let the player know if they succeeded or failed, as well as potential rewards or consequences to those actions. All of this is decided by the imaginations of the players.
I saw the potential of using this in Board Game Club and I’m looking forward to trying it with them in the new year. So far I’ve played with friends and despite some initially thinking this is a children’s game, they really got into it and the game can go anywhere your group wants it to go. A very good game!
Ryan Laukat is developing an increasingly fantastic reputation in the hobby. The man behind Red Raven Games has some beautiful looking and fun playing games in his portfolio such as Islebound, Artifacts Inc. and Above and Below. All of which are designed, drawn and published by him! Amazing!
Near and Far might just be the pick of the lot. The game is similar to Above and Below in a lot of ways but adds a few extra layers for players to get stuck into. Think Above and Below Legacy.
There are a number of ways to play the game, however the main draw for me was the storytelling/legacy aspect, where choices from game to game could effect later decisions and outcomes.
In essence, Near and Far is a worker placement game. Players take actions in the main city and then explore the world using the wonderfully designed maps that come in a ring bound book. Each page provides a new map and new stories to be told.
I can’t wait to play this more! Near and Far probably would’ve been higher in this list if I had! If you’re a fan of Above and Below, Red Raven Games or just legacy style games, this is certainly worth a look!
Sometimes it’s nice to play something easy going. Whether it’s to start off a game night or to end it, Rhino Hero has been one of my go to filler dexterity games for a long while. The announcement of a new Rhino Hero Super Battle game which sees the construction of bigger, better and more interesting structures had my attention immediately.
The game plays exceptionally similarly to the original, but has a few extra twists. Players play wall and roof cards like before, but some walls are different in size. This creates different levels. Players each have a hero that they will be placing, as opposed to a universal rhino every player moves.
Each turn the player rolls a dice to determine where their hero character moves. This can be up the levels of the structure. Should you share a level with another hero, a simple dice roll battle decides your fate. Lose, and your hero moves down a level. The player at the highest point when the structure collapses wins! Unless of course you collapsed the tower while leading, then everyone else wins!
A lovely twist on a classic stacking dexterity game. Rhino Hero Super Battle takes a little longer to play than your basic Rhino Hero, however I feel the extra time is well spent!
A game certainly gathers some attention if it gets nominated for the Spiel des Jahres and that’s exactly how 2017 nominee Magic Maze came to my table. I had heard of the game at the time, but wasn’t that interested if truth be told.
“Just another co-op” was what I thought to myself, but when I’m wrong, I’m not ashamed to admit it! I’m very grateful that I was shown this one at a game event set up by my FLGS!
The game sees up to 8 players work together to guide 4 adventurers through the Magic Maze and escape within the time limit. Each player can move any adventurer, but may only move an adventurer according to the rule they’re given at the start of the game.
These rules include moving North or East, etc. While others have the ability to move an adventurer through portals, up/down escalators or search for new tiles in the maze. Sounds easy? How about the rule that players cannot talk to one another while performing these actions…
That’s where the interesting aspect comes in. The way to gain another players attention is to place a red pawn in front of them. However, that doesn’t guarantee that they know what you’d like them to do!
Magic Maze has provided so many laugh out loud moments in the short time I’ve owned it and with an expansion recently released, these moments will be continuing for a while to come. A must play for co-op fans, or if you’re looking for a new party game!
Puzzle games are certainly becoming a favourite of mine. I enjoy the challenge behind them, and NMBR 9 provides that in a suprisingly high amount!
Players are placing number tiles in front of them simultaneously (think like Karuba) in an attempt to earn points. Tiles must be placed either adjacently to other number tiles or directly on top of two or more different tiles.
Points are awarded to tiles that are on certain levels of your design. Level 0 (ones on the table) score nothing. Level 1 is 1x the number tile, level 2 is 2x the number tile and so on. The player with the highest score wins!
An easy-going game that plays at a great pace. In fact, the game can be played with multiple copies. The simultaneous tile placement means that NMBR 9 can accomodate many players very well. An excellent game!
Renegade Game Studios has had a very good past few years with some great games added to their repertoire. Flip Ships is just one of those games and the box art alone was a selling point.
This lovely looking game is a cooperative dexterity game. Yes, you read that correctly. With some of my favourite games including Ice Cool, Pitch Car and Flick ’em Up it was inevitable that Flip Ships was a game for me.
In a similar vein to the retro video game Space Invaders, players are working together to fight off the threat of an alien invasion through flicking/fliping discs/ships. Any disc that lands on an enemy card deals it damage and potentially eliminates it.
Once each player has taken a turn, the remaining alien ships move towards the city. Should they enter it, they deal damage to the city and get shuffled back into the draw deck. To win, all of the ships in the deck must be destroyed.
In all this chaos there is an intimidating sight at the other end of the table. The Mother-ship. Players also need to flick their ships into this a number of times (depending on difficulty) in order to win the game.
Flip Ships is a great dexterity game that really brings out co-operation. Discussions of where to aim, how to best use abilities, and flipping techniques have all been present in my many games of this one. If you’re looking for a new co-operative game that has a different feel to it, look into this one!
When I read about what game was being played the most at any convention this year, Century: Spice Road is always mentioned. The game was number two in my most anticipated games at this year’s UKGE and it has not disappointed.
The ease of play and ability to learn the game so quickly is a main contributor to why this game is being played everywhere! Although, the game does have some depth to it.
Players are playing and purchasing cards in an attempt to get the most points. On your turn you play a card, buy a card or pick up your discard pile. It really is that easy! However, it’s how efficient your engine is that determines your success in the game.
Century: Spice Road has drawn comparisons to Splendor from many reviewers and players. For me, the game all but sentences Splendor to a life away from my collection.
There’s enough going on in this game for gamers, non-gamers and families to enjoy. In fact it’s probably my Dad’s game of the year by a mile! I highly recommend you give Century: Spice Road a go!
The game that I was most excited about playing and buying at the UKGE ’17 was Bärenpark. The combination of Tetris-style gameplay and a Zoo Tycoon theme was enough to peak my interest.
Players aim to build a Bear Park with the highest amount of points through placing enclosure tiles on their player boards. Whenever a player covers up a particular icon, they take a new tile from that section of the marketplace which they will place on a later turn.
The game is very similar to others such as Cottage Garden, Patchwork and the recently released Indian Summer. All of which I have yet to play (mainly because the themes behind them haven’t interested me). However, I am not going to turn down a game of any of them due to Bärenpark’s brilliance.
I’ve played the game with children as young as seven years old, older family members and players from my regular game groups and all have enjoyed tackling the puzzle! Bärenpark is a delightfully simple game that hits that puzzle itch superbly.
From light games, to an absolute monster. The 7th Continent raised a whopping €1.2 million when the campaign finished on Kickstarter back in October 2015. This exploration, card-based game sees players attept to lift a curse on The 7th Continent.
The game is extremely unique. Each playthrough of a scenario is going to take many hours of exploration. But don’t let this deter you! The game has a save mechanism which allows players to save their progess as and when they see fit.
This gives The 7th Continent an RPG video game feel (think like Skyrim or Fable). In our plays we have chosen to save under two circumstances; after a certain time frame has elapsed (90 min usually) or if we’re invloved in an event or ‘feel close’ to achieveing something we’ll save once we’ve done that!
Like legacy games, The 7th Continent has the potential to be spoiled (which is why I’m very apprehensive with what I write here!) and every group will have a unique flavour to their experience.
This game is not for the faint hearted. Although there is nothing overly complicated to learn to play, there is A LOT to learn to play. After a few play sessions these rules and mechanisms all make sense and become second nature.
Overcome that and you’re looking at a memorable tabletop experience unlike anything else out there!
NO SPOILERS HERE I PROMISE!!
The game that will be sitting proudly at the top of most game of the year lists for 2017 is Pandemic Legacy: Season Two.
For those who are unsure of what Pandemic Legacy is (where have you been?), the game is a story based experience that sees players attempt to overcome viruses that are plaguing the world. The world, mechanics, characters and everything else really has the potential to change as you play through. For better or for worse.
I write this while entering May in my campaign. The game has a fair few differences compared to Pandemic Legacy: Season One and the base game of Pandemic. However, I firmly believe that these differences have benefitted the experience!
Season Two feels like Pandemic, while straying towards a much more unique feel. The legacy aspect from Season One is similar with boxes and doors being opened to unveil new bits and bobs, which is great!
I thoroughly enjoy playing Pandemic Legacy and suggest everyone gives it a try. Season Two does not need players to play Season One first, although I would recommend doing so! Season One is great too! A game doesn’t reach number one on Board Game Geek for nothing. Maybe Pandemic Legacy Season Two will dethrone it? Only time will tell..