2019 was a very solid year in board gaming for me and over the next few weeks as we wind down the year I’m going to post the odd blog or two to round out the year.
To get started I wanted to sit down and think about my best game of 2019, that is the best game that came out this year. I’ve played 40 of the 1000s of games that came out this year. I will likely play a few more 2019 games before the year closes out, so I might come back and take a look at those as well.
Here’s my list!
Villagers is such a fun little package. You are drafting from an open supply and trying to build a village. It’s cool to see your village come together and towards the end and when the game comes to a close you can look down and say “wow, that’s cool, I build that”. The game goes for around 20 bucks and is fairly easy to teach and get to the table.
9. Fantastic Factories
Another game that involves drafting. In Fantastic Factories you are drafting cards, rolling and using dice to activate your cards. The cards, when activated, generate resources and do other fun things (like drawing more cards, changing the values of your dice, etc). It plays super fast, is easy to teach and I could see this becoming a shelf staple for those who game with their families. It’s hard to get a hold of now but if you can get a copy, snag it.
8. Detective City of Angels
What a cool experience this was. You sit down at the table to solve a crime. The problem is the others at the table aren’t trying to help you solve the crime, they are competing LAPD detectives who want to steal all the glory for themselves. There’s a twist as well – one of the players is The Chisel. That player’s role is to throw you off the scent. I played this at Origins and it was a blast. The game is pretty pricey and can be difficult to track down but if you have a group who would be interested in something like this and could dedicate the time to it, it’s a brilliant, and unique gaming experience.
7. Edge of Darkness
Oh boy am I so sad this is so far down the list. This game is by one of my favourite designers (John D Clare) and one of my favourite mechanisms (card crafting – where you actually make cards better by adding to them throughout the game). I waited with bated breath for this to arrive and I wasn’t disappointed when it landed (even though my hype for the game was off the charts), but I haven’t been able to play it as much as I’d like because the game is huge (big box is hard to lug around) and it’s a bit of a bear to teach, so it limit who I want to get it to the table with. Those are a lot of caveats – but let me be clear. I love this game and it’s worth the effort!
In Edge of Darkness players are running a guild and trying to make their guild the best in the city. You are recruiting the people of the city to your cause and building up your wealth and power.
6. Point Salad
There were quite a few light weight games that came out this year that are quite good (LLAMA, and Sushi Roll) but Point Salad stands above them. In Point Salad you are drafting cards – on one side of the cards are a vegetable and on the other a dish, that gives you a scoring objective. You need to balance taking the vegetables with the dishes because one without the other will not get you any points.
Point Salad will fit on any table. If your family plays Uno or other card games you could easily make this work. Playing with your gaming group but need a light pallet cleanser? Point Salad’s got you. Highly recommended for everyone.
Tapestry was one of the most hyped games of the year, and with good reason. Tapestry is a civilization game (think of the computer game with the same name) where you are making your way up four tracks (military, exploration, science and technology) to build up your civilization. Each player has special powers that defines what their civilization is good at. The game is quite deep and thinky BUT at any given time the only decision you have to make is which track you want to go down. So there’s usually 4 options. It walks that line between being deep yet having a narrow decision space and it does it quite well.
4. The Taverns of Tiefenthal
Taverns of Tiefenthal is like a warm bath – I find it extremely relaxing to play. You are running a Tavern trying to attract guests who will give you money that you will invest the profits to improve your Tavern, making it easier to serve bigger and better customers. It’s very satisfying to build your deck, giving you new powers (like rolling an extra die, being able to change the values on the die, etc) and adding new customers that come to visit you.
3. Paladins of the West Kingdom
Paladins is easily the most difficult and deep game on this list. In Paladins you are defending the realm against attackers and trying to build up your defenses. Every round you select a paladin who will help you, which will give you a special power for the round. You will then place your workers and use cards you’ve already played into your city to do a range of abilities from building walls, fighting off invaders and making your future actions easier by building automation. The game takes around 3 hours to play and your brain will be on fire by the end, but it’s a very satisfying puzzle.
2. Clank! Legacy
I love Clank! Anyone who has followed along with the Charity Challenge or followed my social media will know I love Clank in all its forms. Clank Legacy adds a legacy component to the Clank formula (in Clank you build a deck and explore a dungeon. The cards in your deck let you move in the dungeon and also let you buy more cards and fight bad guys.). Legacy games are games that permanently change as you play based on your decisions (you place stickers on the board to change the board, you rip up cards if they get destroyed, etc). My group is only 2 games in but I love this game and am itching to play more. I can easily see myself buying another copy of this and playing the campaign again when we’re done too.
1. Marvel Champions
I’m a sucker for a card game. Magic the Gathering is probably the reason I found my way to board games and I’m constantly looking for games that capture that magic (ho ho) without the investment of time and energy that’s required to stay competitive in Magic. Marvel Champions is a Living Card Game, a format where every month the card pool of the game expands, so its constantly evolving.
In Marvel Champions you take on the role of a Marvel super hero (Black Panther, Iron Man, Spiderman, Captain Marvel, and She Hulk come with the game) taking down bad guys. The game comes with pre-constructed decks but as the card pool evolves you’ll be able to customize how your heroes play more and more.
The game is just a lot of fun. You can play it solo or with groups up to 4 and it’s incredibly enjoyable across the different player counts. I’m not even the biggest Marvel fan, but playing Spiderman and having it feel like spiderman is neat, ditto across the various characters.
This is easily my number one as I see myself playing this many, many times over the coming years, both solo and with groups.
And that’s the list! I’ll likely post my full list at some point, but for now that’s my Top 10! Thanks for checking it out.