It’s the end of the year, and everybody in the boardgaming world is doing their “top picks of 2017” or some other variation of that.
However, I don’t play enough brand new games to make a list like that. This year was a record-breaking year with me playing 18 games that came out in 2017. Given that, though, over half of the games would be on the top ten list, and that really isn’t that interesting of a list, is it?
So instead, just like last year (on a different blog than this one), I’m going to do the “Top 10 Games Played in 2017” instead. I played a grand total of 101 games, so I think this can be a pretty good list.
This does not include any games that I only played online or in app form, so games like Race for the Galaxy and the like won’t be there (even though that app is killer and you should definitely buy it).
To prevent a too-long post, I’m splitting the list in two, and I had enough games that I was considering for my top 10 that I may even do an appendix as well.
So without further adieu, here are numbers 6-10!
10) New York Slice (2017) – Bezier Games
Designer: Jeffrey D. Allers
Artist: Stephanie Gustafsson, John Kaufmann
So good that I’ve already done a review of it.
This wonderful filler game about cutting and eating pizza is a must-play for anybody with a quick 15 minutes to spare. It’s so engaging, speedy, and fun. The decisions are actually pretty interesting for a game that’s this short.
In this game, you are basically slicing a pizza up into different sections, one for each player, but then you get to choose last which one you want (so essentially you will be getting what’s left). Everybody else gets to choose before you, so don’t make the section with the slices you want too enticing for the other players.
Part set-collection, part pepperoni-eating goodness, this game is a hit with all player counts (up to six).
I haven’t played it with two and I can see how it may not be as good at that count, but 3-5 players was perfect.
9) Azul (2017) – Plan B Games
Designer: Michael Kiesling
Artist: Philippe Guérin, Chris Quilliams
I’m not usually one for abstract games, but this one for some reason really fell into my wheelhouse. I loved the cutthroat nature of the game as you may end up sticking your opponents with a lot of tiles they don’t need (extra tiles are negative points!)
Tiles are distributed randomly from the bag onto the depots for them. Players take one type/colour of tile from a depot and put the rest in the middle. You can only place one colour of tiles on each row and any extra go down into the negative points column. The first person who takes from the middle gets -1 point, but that may very well be worth it if you get tiles that you want.
The scoring can be a little hard to fathom, which is why it’s lower on my list. But this one has just enough brain-burning that it’s fun to play, but it plays in less than an hour.
A great little game, and it’s pretty too!
My review for it can be found here.
8) London (2nd Edition) – (2017) – Osprey Games
Designer: Martin Wallace
Artist: Mike Atkinson, Natalia Borek, Przemysław Sobiecki
I picked this game up on a whim when Book Depository was selling it for 50% off with free worldwide shipping. Martin Wallace is always an interesting designer and I had heard good things about this one.
And am I glad I did.
This game is wonderful. I even managed to sneak a second play in on the last day of the year just to cement it.
In it, you are helping to rebuild London and try to make your city the most prestigious among all players. You do this by playing cards to your city tableau and then “running” your city. This is how you get the effects of the cards that you’ve played.
But look out. Every time you do that, you will gain poverty equal to the number of stacks of cards in your city plus the number of cards in your hand (and plus one poverty for each loan you have taken without repaying, because of course, it’s Wallace).
Poverty management is key in this game, because whoever has the least at the end of the game will discard it all. Everybody else will discard the same amount, and then lose prestige based on how much poverty they have left over.
It’s a really intricate system, and I love the interplay between the cards, the boroughs you can buy, and what you have in your hand.
I need to get this played more often.
7) Valley of the Kings: Last Rites (2016) – AEG Games
Designer: Tom Cleaver
Artist: Banu Andaru
This is another game I’ve done a review for.
I love me some deckbuilders (this won’t be the last one on this list) and Tom Cleaver’s Valley of the Kings series are one of the best of the genre.
Of the three, Last Rites (the latest and potentially last?) is clearly on top of Afterlife and the base game. All three are wonderful and I’ll play any of them, but this is my choice.
I love the interactions of the cards between your deck, your tomb (only cards that you’ve entombed and removed from your deck get you points) and the pyramid/stock/boneyard. This is the first of the three standalone games that has a lot of interaction with the Stock (which refills the pyramid) and the Boneyard (where “sacrificed” cards go to) and it adds so much to the game.
It does also add a bit more randomness, especially those that let you entomb the top card of the Stock, because you never know what you’ll get or if it will be a duplicate. But other cards that allow you to interact with your tomb can mitigate that.
It’s a fun game with really interesting decisions (do I keep that card because it has a great effect or do I entomb it now because that will give me a full set of 8?)
Unless you absolutely hate deck-builders, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.
6) Century: Spice Road (2017) – Plan B Games
Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi
Artist: David Richards, Fernanda Suárez
Review of this can be found here.
This is another must-play if you like some fillers at lunch, before you get into the meatier games, or as something to wind down the night.
You are traders trying to fulfill spice contracts and get the most points from those contracts. You are growing spice, trading some other
cubes spices (damn, did it again!) for different ones, and it’s a really nice engine-building game. You can get cards that will help you, but at some point, since you must use an action to collect your played cards and you can’t use a played card until you do so, you have to stop getting cards and just trade trade trade!
Even with new players, this game can take under 30 minutes if people keep things going and that makes it the perfect way to end the night.
You can also try the Golem edition, though that won’t be compatible with the upcoming expansions.
So there you go. The first half of the top 10.
What are the top games you played in 2017?
Let me know in the comments.
(Check out The Top 5 Games Played in 2017!)
(And the Honourable Mentions!)
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Right – Century Spice Road – it’s been on the list a while – I’m just going to have to get it. You have convinced me, sir!
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The Golem edition is hitting retail sometime in 2018 if you’d rather have that one!
Though no word on whether it will be compatible with the expansions. And when I say “no word,” I mean that they are currently saying it won’t be.
But they also said it wasn’t going to be coming to retail, so…
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In which case, I think I’ll go standard rather than risk it – just in case 🙂 the Golem edition sounds awesome – but I’d rather not take the risk. Thanks for the heads up!
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Personally, I’m with you. The Golem edition is fine and has great artwork, but I like the Spice one just as well.
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