Whew! After telling you the first half of my Top 10 games played in 2019, I needed a break. Being surrounded by all that awesomeness can be tiring!
But now I’m back with the bottom half of the list. These are the 5 best games I played in 2019, and you know they’re going to be good because I have the best taste (seriously, you do know that, right?).
Please note that this is not the Top 10 games of 2019. I only wish I had played enough actual 2019 games to qualify to have a Top 10.
That would be a great year!!!! But my fellow cultists would be really miffed.
No, these are the Top 10 games that I played in 2019.
You can find the first half of this list here.
So let’s get this show on the road!
Designers: Shem Phillips & S J Macdonald
Artist: Mihajlo Dimitrievski
Well, there’s that question answered. I do like this game better than Paladins of the West Kingdom.
Architects of the West Kingdom continues to be an amazing game. It even jumped over Clank in Space to stay in the Top 5 this year.
There’s just something about the interesting worker placement mechanics and the lack of downtime in the game that really appeals to me.
Each turn you place a worker on a space. If you already have workers there, then you get an even greater benefit than if you only have the one. However, if you end up with a lot of workers in that space, they’re subject to other players arresting them and sending them to the Guardhouse for money.
You can also go to the Black Market which will harm your virtue but give you some great abilities.
It’s all about managing your virtue and collecting points by either building the building cards that are in your hand or building in the Cathedral.
Architects of the West Kingdom is a game that doesn’t overstay its welcome yet it packs quite the punch. I love the different avenues to explore for obtaining points. Some people think building in the Cathedral is overpowered and some people think that it is useless.
That’s the sign of a good game!
And it’s why it’s #5 on my list.
Designers: Peter Lee, Rodney Thompson, Andrew Veen
Artists: Steve Ellis and others (I assume)
My review of this game can be found here.
Tyrants of the Underdark still remains my favourite example of a deck-builder with a kind of ugly palette yet awesome game play (ok, that is kind of a narrow category, but it definitely excels at that!)
The art is dark as Hell and can be hard to read sometimes, and whoever chose to have both black and purple as player colours should re-examine their life choices.
The board, while also dark and dreary, does make for an interesting game space as players vie for control of various areas of the Underdark.
It’s a neat design decision that the “neutral” troops that all players can kill indiscriminately are white.
I love deckbuilders with a board and Tyrants is my favourite of the bunch (A future entry on this list is more of a wargame with a deckbuilding mechanic than an actual deckbuilder).
This game is so in your face with you attacking other players that it may not be liked by some people, but you are always attacking for your own betterment so it’s not a bad thing overall. (Seriously, if you bring real-world issues into this game and attack somebody for something else other than bettering your position, you will lose badly).
It also is reasonably short, being done in 1.5-2 hours.
This game deserves a lot more attention than it got (including an expansion where the card quality is so different from the base game that it’s almost embarrassing).
It also deserves another expansion! But that probably won’t happen.
Enjoy it for what it is, get it on a discount (they really overpriced it on release, but you can find it fairly cheaply now), and love the hell out of it like I do.
Designer & Artist: Cole Wehrle
This is one of the games that came out this year that everyone is talking about.
Pax Pamir – 2nd Edition is a reworking of the first edition, apparently making the victory conditions somewhat easier to understand and implement (I think that’s what my friend said).
I love so much about this game and I’m sad that I haven’t had the chance to play it again this year. Will definitely happen next year.
I love the neat little cloth board. I love the explosion of colour that can be out on the board when all of the factions (British = Pink; Russians = Yellow; Afghans = Green) are prominent. I love how in a very simple (yet complex in strategy) form the game represents the Great Game in Afghanistan, with two superpowers and various Afghan warlords vying for power.
The scoring is really cool, where it depends on whether any particular faction is dominant on the board and who supports them (or just who has the most stuff out if nobody is dominant). The fact that the game can end early if somebody is running away with it is also neat.
Basically, Wehrle’s design is so intricate that it’s a pleasure to play. Everything makes sense and it’s easy to pick up.
Yet it’s hard to play well, so it’s a really thinky game too.
That’s why this game instantly jumped to the almost top of the rankings.
It will probably stay there assuming I play it again next year.
Designers: Brad Johnson & Wray Ferrell
Artist: Rodger B. MacGowan
My review of this game can be found here.
Oh no!!!! Somebody knocked the head honcho down a peg!
I still love Time of Crisis. It’s a wonderful sort of Euro-Wargame blend with a unique deck-building mechanic where you can buy cards to improve your deck and where you choose which 5 cards will be in your hand next turn. The only thing is that you have to use your entire deck before you can put your discarded cards back into it. Thus, you have to plan your turns well or your overwhelming turn this time around will be followed by the damp squib turn of five of your starter cards.
Each player is a Roman noble family who is trying to install one of their family members as Emperor of Rome. You are trying to have other family members appointed as governors of other provinces in order to solidify your power in the Empire.
You will be raising armies and perhaps attacking other players in order to make yourself even more powerful. You’ll also be fighting off the inevitable Barbarian invasions as they flood over the borders because Rome has become weak.
I managed to get this to the table a couple of times in 2019 with the Age of Iron & Rust expansion and these new cards along with new Emperor possibilities (are you going to be a military Emperor or a Popular one?) makes the game even more intriguing.
This game deserves its high ranking. It is a marvelous game and only its 3-hour play time keeps me from playing it even more than I do.
So which game usurped the Emperor and became my new #1 game played?
Designers: Christian Leonhard, Jason Matthews
Artist: Josh Cappel
Surprise! It’s another GMT game!
I bought this game because Twilight Struggle has always intrigued me and I liked some aspects of this one even more (like the fact that you don’t automatically have your event played when your opponent plays one of your cards).
It was solidified, though, watching the Heavy Cardboard playthrough on Youtube. (Edward, Edward, my pocketbook hates you).
However, I don’t really have a chance to get a long 2-player game to the table too often. In my game group, we tend to shy away from 2-player games, so it took forever to get to the table.
When I finally did in May of 2019, I got two plays in with the same guy, all in the space of three weeks.
And I was in love.
I love me some Twilight Struggle (if I ever actually play it on the table, it could very well make my top 10 but I have only played the app so it doesn’t count), but for me this one is so much better!
Partially it’s because of what I mentioned above regarding the events. In most card-driven games, the deck of cards is divided into three types: events that favour one side, events that favour the other, or neutral events that are beneficial to both sides.
Each card also has points that are used for some sort of action. You can either use the points or the event on the card.
Typically, if you play a card with an event that favours the other player, that event will automatically take place (to your detriment) and you can only use the points.
However, in 1960, in order to have your event take place, you have to spend a Momentum token. Thus, you can decide whether or not you want to use this valuable token to have the event occur. Perhaps your opponent is saving a card that has an even better event for you? So maybe you should hold off?
Or maybe you don’t have any Momentum tokens left? Then you just don’t get your event.
The other reason I like this better than Twilight Struggle is that ultimately you are just vying for control of a number of states to give you enough electoral votes to win the election.
You’re playing all the way up to the election, so there’s no automatic victory at any point. It’s a hard-knuckle brawl for influence as your candidate flies all over the country to drum up votes (including maybe some dead ones in Chicago!)
The game takes about two hours and the ebbs and flows are legendary. There were rounds where nothing seemed to be going right for me and I was sure I was losing, and then next round my opponent was saying the same thing (maybe he was just trying to make me feel better).
I also love the support check system. There are no dice. Instead, there is a bag full of cubes from both players. You can add more cubes with the “Rest” that’s on the card you play. When you need to make a support check, you just draw a certain number of cubes from the bag. If they’re yours, they go on the board. If they’re your opponents, they just get returned to their cube pool.
This game is just so good. I’m definitely taking it to the next couple of cons I go to this month and we’ll see if we can get another play in.
Hmmm…two of my top 10 games played involve Richard Nixon. Not sure what that means.
Anyway, we’ve now reached the end. The Top 5 games I played in 2019.
What games did you play in 2019 that you really enjoyed? What do you think of these games?
Let me know in the comments.