Most years, I get to play at least 100 unique games, based on conventions and my Sunday game days.
Sadly, due to COVID, that didn’t happen in 2020. My wife willingly played a bunch of games with me during our lockdown, so the fact that I managed to get at least 60 games played is an accomplishment.
Part of that is because I somehow made it to three conventions in the two months before the lockdowns were put in force. OrcaCon, Cascade Con, and Dice Tower West were highlights of the year!
However, 60 games is not really a good pool of games to make a Top 10 list.
So how about a Top 5?
Yes, this post is going to be about the Top 5 games I played in 2020.
Adaptability! That’s my middle name.
Those who say it’s “Brian” are heathens.
Note that these games weren’t released in 2020 (None of them were, in fact). These were just games I played in 2020. There’s no way I could ever (even in a good year) play enough 2020 games to actually have a Top 10 games of 2020 list.
I know that it may appear that I’m on Renegade Games’ payroll, but I’m really not! It’s just they happen to make (or license, since all of the games below from them are also produced by another company as well) great games.
Looking at last year’s Top 10, it’s sad that the other 5 games on that list I didn’t get to play this year.
Maybe next year!
On that note, let’s get this post started!
Designers: Shem Phillips & S J McDonald
Artist: Mihajlo Dimitrievski
I managed to get a play of this in at Dice Tower West with a couple of strangers to me.
That’s what I really love about conventions. The ability to just sit down at a table with people you’ve never met and play a game.
And unless they’re assholes (because I’m certainly not one), it will be an enjoyable experience!
I’ve played Paladins of the West Kingdom four times now and it’s always a blast.
It’s also a very long one, though my game at DTW actually did finish in just over 2 hours. That was with three players, though. The one knock I would have against Paladins compared to its predecessor is the length of the game.
I sort of went over how to play in my “New to Me” post when I first played it, so I don’t think I will go through it again.
The West Kingdom series from Shem Phillips and S J McDonald is just so amazing.
I have Viscounts of the West Kingdom but it arrived after COVID hit, so I haven’t had a chance to play it with people. I did a learning game of it though and it’s also very good.
I will always be willing to play Paladins of the West Kingdom but maybe not compared to at least one other entry in the series (he said, not wanting to spoil anything).
Paladins of the West Kingdom is a big hit, though, and I definitely want to get more plays of this game in.
Designer: Jacob Fryxelius
Artist: Isaac Fryxelius
This game has always been in my Top 10, even of all time. It’s amazing considering that my first couple of plays of the game were just kind of “eh.” In fact, my first play, I was wondering what the heck all of the hype was about.
All of my friends who had played it were raving about it and when I played it for the first time, I just couldn’t see what the big deal was.
My second or third play, though, it just clicked and now this is a game that I’m always willing to play (unless I’ve played it so often recently that I just want to try something else).
My friends who have the game have all of the expansions so we never play with anything but.
I’ve played the Turmoil expansion a couple of times but I’d love to get more plays of it in.
When COVID is over and we’re back to regular game days, I am wondering if my buddies picked up the Big Box on Kickstarter.
If so, it will be a whole new experience!
I can almost guarantee that the first time we can all get together, this will be one of the first games we play.
Until then, we have the app!
Designer: Matthias Cramer
Artists: Klemens Franz, Alfred Viktor Schulz
Here’s a game I actually have a review for!
This card-driven game is just excellent. Thankfully it’s not one where you have to wonder whether or not you should play a card because it has the other player’s event on it.
Instead, Nixon and the Reporters each have their own decks and their own cards.
Nixon is trying to keep the momentum going while the Reporters are trying to tie evidence to Nixon along with a couple of informants to bring down the presidency before he can ride out his term.
I love the interesting interplay with the cards and what you’re trying to do. You can try to deprive the other player of what their strength is (Nixon can try to accumulate evidence to block the chains on the conspiracy board) but that’s not always in your best interest.
If you’re playing defense only, you may not be able to win!
Watergate is a relatively quick 2-player game that is pretty easy to learn but really hard to master.
It’s an ideal lunchtime work game but I’ve also introduced my non-gamer wife to it and we’ve played 3 times! Once at Dice Tower West and then twice at home after COVID hit.
She seems to enjoy it.
This will always be played if it’s offered and I will definitely suggest it too.
Designer: Paul Dennen
Artists: Rayph Beisner, Raul Ramos, Le Rastislav, Nate Storm, Franz Vohwinkel
This one will always be in my Top 10 unless I play a lot of other very cool games.
I managed to get a game of it in with the CyberStation 11 expansion at CascadeCon in January, and then my wife and I played with two other random people (without expansions) at Dice Tower West.
The CyberStation 11 expansion is really cool and I can’t wait to get more plays of that in. Maybe with the wife while we’re still at home.
The expansion adds some interesting paths because the board is totally changed from the base game.
But even without expansions, this is a really fun game.
I love the deck-building aspect, but really enjoy how it incorporates moving around a board as well as building your deck.
The cards will give you movement as well as other effects. Compared to the fantasy Clank, what I really enjoy about this one are the factions.
Like many deckbuilding games, if you play cards of the same faction on a turn, you may get even more effects.
It’s so cool!
This is a game that has divided many people. Some people hate the fact that, if you die early, you’re out of the game and you get no points.
I can live with that.
I am always willing to play this one, and will definitely get some more plays of the latest expansion so I can actually review it.
Designers: Shem Phillips & S J Macdonald
Artist: Mihajlo Dimitrievski
Architects of the West Kingdom will also always be near the top of my list of great games.
I just love it to death.
So much so that I’ve also done a review!
I think what I really like about the game is the intricacies of the worker placement aspect.
The more workers you have at a location, the more powerful the action you take.
However, other players can pay to send this large group of workers to prison.
It can be a way to make money but also to inhibit players from getting spaces doing *too* good of a job getting resources.
You may spend resources to help build the local cathedral and get points, or maybe you’re going to be building your own buildings and getting points that way.
I love how the Black Market works, getting you corruption (which can be bad, except it can also make it that you don’t pay taxes for spaces).
The Age of Artisans expansion is very cool, though I’ve only played it once (the weekend before the COVID lockdowns hit).
I really want to play with it more and check out how Tools and Adornments work. The one game I did play, they really added to the strategy of the game.
Even though I’ve only played it once, I don’t know if I would play the base game without the expansion again (unless I had to). It seemed to work pretty well even with a player who had never played the base game before.
And I can’t wait for the Works of Wonder expansion!
Those are the Top 5 games I played in 2020.
What about you?
Have you played enough 2020 games that you can actually do a Top 10 2020 games?
Or are you like me and you have to limit it to games you played?
What was your favourite game you played this year?
Let me know in the comments.
Category: Board Games, Top 10Tags: Architects of the West Kingdom, Capstone Games, Card-Driven Game, Clank in Space, Deckbuilders, Dire Wolf Digital, Fryx Games, Garphill Games, Jacob Fryxelius, Matthias Cramer, Paladins of the West Kingdom, Renegade Games Studios, Shem Phillips, SJ MacDonald, Stronghold Games, Terraforming Mars, Terraforming Mars: Big Box, Tile-Laying Games, Watergate, Worker Placement Games
This is a blog about board games, with the occasional other post for a bit of spice.