I managed to play 100 games in 2017. That’s a record for me, I think. Some were new to me (58 of them) while others were old favourites.
Seven of my Top 10 games played were actually new to me, so they couldn’t have appeared on my list last year.
When I was going through the 100 games, I marked off the games that I felt might make my Top 10 and then checked to see how many I had chosen. Turns out that I had chosen 16. From that, I formed my Top 10, but that leaves 6 really cool games that could conceivably have made the Top 10 but didn’t quite do so.
So why not tell you what those are?
Hell, I need content, so why not?
Here they are, the Top 11-16 games I played last year, in no particular order.
Great Western Trail (2016) – Stronghold Games
Designer: Alexander Pfister
Artist: Andreas Resch
This is a game of cattle ranching and building your deck (I do seem to like deck-builders, don’t I?)
It’s a game with lots going on and numerous ways to get points. Of course, whenever I get into a game like that, I end up with a little of everything and I end up not doing well at anything.
You are taking the cattle car(d)s that you have from your ranch to Kansas city where they will get shipped out west (why not east? Who knows?) by train. The better the quality of your cattle, the more money you get, and the more points.
It’s quite an intricate balance of card play, spending money, choosing resources (should I buy another engineer, or maybe another cowboy so I can get better cows?)
I love this game, but I still don’t quite grok it. The second time I played it, I did much worse than the first time. I need to play it again.
Except when I do, I get an uncontrollable craving for hamburgers.
I’m not sure why.
Anyway, moving on…
Hanamikoji (2013) – EmperorS4
Designer: Koto Nakayama
This two-player card game came out in Japan in 2013, but I seem to recall that it just made it over here to North America this year (published by Kosmos). I could be mistaken.
Anyway, it’s a neat, quick little card game where you are basically businessmen trying to earn the favour of various Geisha masters. You do so through a variety of different card plays.
Each round, you have four actions you can take, and you can only do each one once. Cards in the deck represent items that each Geisha likes.
Two of the four will give some benefit to your opponent, so you need to figure out what works best for you.
You can play a card secretly face down in front of you. It will count as your card for influence purposes at the end of the round.
You can choose two cards from your hand and place them face-down. These are out of the game this round and won’t be scored.
You can choose three cards from your hand, placing them face up in front of you. Your opponent gets to choose one and place it on their side of the appropriate Geisha. You then place the other two on your side.
Or, you can choose four cards from your hand face-up, dividing them into two sets of two cards each. Your opponent chooses which set of cards to take and places the cards appropriately. You do the same for your pair.
That’s it. At the end of the round, you move the influence marker on each Geisha towards the player who played the most cards on that Geisha.
If a player has influenced four Geisha or 11 (or more) Charm Points worth of Geisha, they win! Otherwise, begin another round, keeping the influence markers where they are. They will never move back to the center, though they can change sides.
This is such a charming game! I love the artwork and the quiet simplicity of the rules. Yet the tactics of the game can be nail-biting. Two of the four actions, you’re going to be giving your opponent their choice of a card or two.
What are you going to concede?
If I played 2-player games more often, I would definitely pick this one up.
You can find my full review of it here.
Herbaceous (2017) – Dr. Finn’s Games
Not much more I can say about this beautiful little card game that I didn’t say in my review, but I haven’t actually had a chance to play it again since my review.
I shall have to change that soon.
Beautiful card art, fun “pick a card and decide where to put it before choosing the next one” mechanic, this one has it all.
A perfect filler game for just before or just after the long, tedious one you’re going to play.
Modern Art (2017) – CMON Games
Designer: Reiner Knizia
Artists: Carole Carrion, Manuel Carvalho, Chen Cheng-po, Mike Doyle, Pete Fenlon, Paul Laane, Ramon Martins, Daniel Melim, Rafael Silveira, Sigrid Thaler, Zeilbeck & Natzeck Design Company
In this entry, I’m talking about the new CMON Games edition that was published in 2017. The game itself was first published back in 1992.
Can’t really add too much to my First Impressions post, though I should probably do a full review soon as I’ve played it enough recently.
I don’t generally care for auction games, but Modern Art seems to grab me like no other auction game will. It’s a nice combination of market speculation and manipulation, as you are auctioning off paintings and buying them, trying to make sure that the paintings you buy are by the most popular artists that round while maybe the ones you auction off don’t end up being that popular.
What do you care? You made your money.
It’s the auction game for those who hate auction games, and it’s definitely a great game.
Queendomino (2017) – Blue Orange Games
Designer: Bruno Cathala
Artist: Cyril Bouquet
My final game played in 2017 almost made my top 10!
Not quite, though.
This is a more complicated sequel to the 2017 Spiel des Jahres winner Kingdomino, which from what I understand is a pretty good rendition of Dominos. Basically, you are choosing “dominos” with various terrain on them, trying to link your dominos in a way so that you have a large territory of the same type connected, and a number of crowns in that territory.
That’s basically Kingdomino, but Queendomino adds town-building with the red tiles, where you can use money to purchase certain town tiles that will give you bonuses, either end-game scoring points or during the game. You can put knights on territories to tax them, earning coins equal to the number of tiles in the territory.
These town tiles may also give you towers, which you spread through your territories and if you have the most towers, the queen comes to visit your kingdom (she must really like her towers). She gives you a discount on town-buying as well as letting you use her as a crown in your largest territory if she’s visiting at the end of the game.
Since I’ve never played the original, I can’t really compare them. However, from what I’ve heard, Kingdomino is a nice, simple game that’s easy to teach and very quick to play. Queendomino does add a few more complications that may make it not quite as “gateway” as some people would like.
I happened to really love it, though.
It also has rules to combine the two games if you wish, which may be cool to try.
I’d definitely play this again. Maybe it’s because I won the second game with a full 56-point swamp territory (along with other territories too for more points) that prompted some great Monty Python jokes.
Worlds Fair 1893 (2016) – Renegade Games
Designer: J. Alex Kevern
Artists: Jason D. Kingsley, Adam P. McIver, Beth Sobel
This game has the honour of being my first-ever game review. It was a brand-new game to me in February 2017 and got played a bunch.
It’s quick, it’s easy to teach, but the decisions are nice and juicy as you take cards that you may need from an area, and then put an influence marker there.
But maybe you need the influence in that area more than you need the actual cards that were there? It’s a tricky decision as you balance set collection and area control to figure out the best way to amass points in three quick rounds.
That ferris wheel seems to go around quickly, ending the round when it reaches the bottom again.
The artwork is beautiful, the design is elegant, and it’s just a lovely little game.
At the beginning of the year, I thought it was easily in my Top 10.
I just played so many great games this year that it was hard to crack it.
It’s definitely up there among the best, however, and it’s one that I need to play again.
So there you have it. You have my Top 10 games played in 2017 (in two different parts) and now the ones that almost made the list.
Looking forward to a wonderful 2018 full of games!
If I could stop getting sick.
Top 10 Games Played in 2017 (10-6)
Top 10 Games Played in 2017 (5-1)
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