Dylan's Top 25 Games (2017 Edition)
Hey everyone! Dylan here. Enjoy the list!
25. Rhino Hero - I am not above putting a children’s game on my list. A game that has yet to fail, whether with adults, children, gamers or family, Rhino Hero is a fantastic route to showing non-gamers that good games do not have to have money, dice or overly-complex rules to remain fun.
24. 7 Wonders Duel - One of the first games Marianne and I began enjoying as a couple. While drafting is becoming a more and more common mechanic, this take on laying the cards out pyramid style makes for some really interesting choices. While we’ve yet to play with the expansion, Pantheon, which could give this game some legs, one of the problems this game has is forcing your opponent into decisions you don’t want to make. Even so, this game has awesome choices that have you changing plans with each play.
23. A Feast for Odin - At one time my favorite game of all time, this game has not seen table in quite some time. Maybe it sat atop my favorites since it was my first foray into heavy Euros, but A Feast for Odin just doesn’t scratch the same itches I love in games. While I still think the game is great, teaching the game can be a drag. Plus, 65 worker placement spots is a little too much compared to other games in the genre. Still, the tile-laying that Rosenberg has become fond of is at its peak in A Feast for Odin.
22. Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation - I don’t care what people say. Even though this game is essentially an abstract, the use of the Lord of the Rings theme is well implemented. Balrog prevents the Fellowship from using the Mines of Moria. Boromir sacrifices himself in combat. Wormtongue retreats when he loses combat. Gandalf supports others in combat when he is adjacent. Those choices make sense in this abstract take on the Battle for Middle Earth. Plus, it’s a game that Marianne and I love to face off in, even though I always play as Sauron.
21. Werewords/Insider - This is even more of cheating than Nick putting Whitehall Mystery and Letters from Whitechapel as the same entry. But that’s ok. These two games are nearly one in the same, one using an app and the other without. One has the traitor leading the commoners to the word, the other has the traitor pushing them away. My true preference: Werewords, for the clean nature of the app and the customization that technology provides. But they’re both good.
20. Custom Heroes - One of my favorite purchases from Gen Con 2017, Custom Heroes is an awesome take on the traditional card games of yesteryear. While not a trick taker, this ladder climbing game is my first attempt at AEG’s card-crafting system, which works surprisingly well in their second attempt. You always feel like you have options with the modifiers instead of being held back by the fate of the cards.
19. Coffee Roaster - If you’ve seen my review, you know that this is my preferred solo game. The art, theme and mechanics are some of the quirkiest in hobby games. And really, it’s such a unique progression that almost no games can replicate. Enough said, check out my review for more.
18. Specter Ops - Hidden movement is maybe the most common mechanic that Cardboard Reality discusses. Specter Ops is one that half of us likes and half of us don’t. But one thing is for certain, it is different. This is a game that I’m more and more noticing feels different than all the others because sometimes you need to pop out from your hiding spot. It’s not one that feels as cut-and-dry in your decisions because of equipment, player powers and your opponents. I can’t wait to continue to develop a meta for this game.
17. Lords of Waterdeep - We always talk about pure examples of a mechanic, primarily Whitehall Mystery being a pure example of hidden movement. Lords of Waterdeep is a pure worker placement game. This is a game that scales well, plays quick and is easy to understand. Get these adventurers to complete this quest. Rinse and repeat. But the decisions just feel so meaty, even with such a simplistic design. Fabulous design and hope to experience the expansion soon (hint, hint Scott).
16. One Night Ultimate Werewolf - The other game I have written a review for, so another short and sweet entry. I would always prefer to play this over Werewords, as opposed to other co-hosts. This is a game that provides tons of reading individuals and lying to a group of people all in 10 minutes. Like I said for Coffee Roaster, check out my review for more.
15. Terraforming Mars - This game is good, there’s no denying that. But there are problems with it and actually other games I’d rather play to get a better feeling of engine building (listen to the list to hear what I’m talking about). But this is still an awesome thematic Euro. And this is one that will have an in-depth review in the near future, so I will save my written thoughts for those interested.
14. Mexica - The latest addition to the Top 25, this is my favorite abstract game. But why? For an abstract game, this really has a sandbox feel. There are so many choices to make and ways/times to make them. It scales well and plays up to four, which is not generally a good number for abstracts. And, in my collection, it has the best production quality, hands down. After playing this game, I want to continue to play all of the action point allowance games designed by Kramer and Kiesling.
13. Century: Spice Road - Hands down, the best family game I’ve ever played. Turns are some of the quickest I’ve seen in gaming. Getting your mental gears turning to figure out what decision is best is a really fun puzzle. Maybe reaching into the bowls and grabbing cubes helps me feel satisfied, but man, I am enamored had how simple, but fun this game is. Buy this to play with your non-gamer family.
12. Codenames Duet - Lots of people like Codenames. Most people like being the spymaster, and the others do not like the pressure that the spymaster has the entire game. In Codenames Duet, it takes the best aspect of Codenames (being the spymaster), takes away the downside and provides that for both players. Awesome stuff, and right now it’s my choice for the best game for couples.
11. A Fake Artist Goes to New York - Talk about most game in the smallest package, there’s always a sense of amazement after people play an Oink game and remember the size of the box. A Fake Artist Goes to New York is my favorite party game and a frequent one asked by the kids in my youth community group. Comparing this to ONUW, this game has a little more direction than the werewolf-themed competitor. Plus, everyone loves a good drawing game.
10. The Fox in the Forest - Before joining the podcast, trick taking was one of my favorite mechanics because it is so common in the Midwest, particularly Euchre. The Fox and the Forest is the first one that plays amazing at two. As I’ve preached on the show, this is a card game where the better player should win. Like I mentioned with Custom Heroes, the card powers and unique scoring system makes it to where the fate of the deal is not your downfall. Plus, awesome art on the cards.
9. Food Chain Magnate - I really need to play this more. After figuring out my list, Food Chain Magnate may be the game I’d want to explore the most. What I mean by that is there is so much depth in its mechanics, and for me, mechanics tend to make the game. They are what scratch that itch. Plus, because of other players exploring the restaurant biz along with you, each game has so many unique routes to victory… And really, you might end up exploring down a dead end. You can play really, really bad in this game. But I don’t care, because Food Chain Magnate is that good.
8. Yokohama - Points, points and more points. And how can I get those points in Yokohama? By doing pretty much anything. This isn’t a traditional take on worker placement. Using assistants to make a path for your president is such a cool mechanic. I spoke about Mexica being the sandbox abstract, but Yokohama really feels like the Euro sandbox. The board changes each time you play. Your orders are always different. You can grab some technologies to change how you break the game. So. Many. Options.
7. Rhino Hero: Super Battle - I think everyone knew this would be a Top 25 game, but nearly Top 5??? Yes, it’s a kid’s game. Yes, it’s a bunch of stacking. Yes, it has dice battles. But to tell you the truth, I don’t care. This game has the ultimate table presence. People watch from two tables away, thinking “that looks so fun.” The decisions in Super Battle are much more meaningful compared to the ones in its smaller counterpart. The art on the tiles and meeples are bright and colorful, which continues to make it pop. It can be very mean, which makes for some laugh out loud moments. And the original Rhino Hero fits in the box and doubles as a 5th-player expansion. Easily my favorite dexterity game. Shoutout to Batguin.
6. Race for the Galaxy - This is best pure engine building game for so many reasons. Due to the simultaneous action selection, turns fly by. And with that action selection, you have the opportunity to make a read on what other players will be doing on their turn and capitalize on it. While the art isn’t fantastic and the icons can be a bit much, they get the job done. Besides, it’s just a card game. Those things can be forgiven, as long as the game is good. And boy is it good.
5. Pax Renaissance - Remember when I called A Fake Artist in New York “the most game in the smallest package”? Yeah, I totally lied. You’ve heard Scott and Nick both geek out on Pax Renaissance. Now it’s my turn. The way I describe this game is the board game marionette experience. The units on the map are not yours, but each time you activate a card, those units play out to do your bidding. The historical nature of the game is fantastic. I can’t wait to try Pax Pamir and the rest of the Sierra Madre library.
4. Millennium Blades - Talk about a game with near-infinite variability. Even without the expansion, Set Rotation, Millennium Blades is a box packed full of cards with great art, lots of tokens and bundles and bundles of fat cash. This game presents the players with decision after decision to build your binder to help you assemble your collection and tournament deck, while also giving you trade fodder. Holy crap, I love that once you buy a pack, that card is yours and you have to decide what to do with it. Such a fun game. Only thing that holds it back: setup and take down.
3. Gloomhaven - The fantasy behemoth taking over tabletop gaming in 2017 has done the same in the few plays that I’ve enjoyed. Each time we’ve opened the box big enough to sleep inside, I’ve been fascinated by the world, the combat, the stories, the art and the races that Isaac Childres has invented. If there’s one thing you may notice about my Top 25, games with dice-chucking are primarily left off the list (in fact, I only count three in total). Gloomhaven is the answer to what I wanted in the dungeon crawl genre.
2. Fury of Dracula - The previous three entries are filled to the brim with theme, but this last thematic game is my favorite. After finding a likening to hidden movement, I stumbled upon a copy of Fury of Dracula. When I bought it, I had no idea how much I would love it. Events happen from game-to-game that are unique to each play. Combat is a tense guessing game where either side can really get the upper hand. Each decision is filled with deduction as you eliminate the roads that the pale undead could have traveled. And while the 3 hour playtime can scare off most, I would enjoy getting it to table every time.
1. Terra Mystica - The game I once feared to play, this is a masterpiece of game design. Every action, including passing, makes you feel like a genius when executed at the right time. The art, while someone cliché for a fantasy setting, resonates with me for some reason. The managing of power and the rewarding nature of building next to your opponent provides a reason to interact with others instead of playing a multiplayer-solitaire game off in the corner. The only thing that may throw a wrench in this: I might like Gaia Project more once I continue to play it…