Another year down. Another year of Hungry Gamer bloviating on YouTube, and occasionally writing a shoddily written article. On the plus side though, it means another end of the year list of games that I think are the bee’s knees, crackerjack, swell, and (dare I say it…bully). As I say every year, my game of the year nominees are where I am completely subjective. The rest of the year I try to highlight things that certain players will like, and things that might trip up another type of player. However, here is where I just get to talk about the games I want to play the most. If reading is boring to you and you would rather watch the video version you can do that below.
The last thing before I hop in is what will come next. After this publishes I will spend the next few weeks replaying all the games as many times as I can. This helps balance out the games that may not have gotten much play in the past few months as new stuff came in, and as I had to cover newer games. Then, whichever game I decide was the most fun…will be the winner. It’s just that simple. So let’s jump in. The games below are listed in no particular order.
A recently released euro that takes place in the post apocalyptic future. “Humanity” is now crawling back out from under the frozen tundra that is Earth and attempting to repopulate the world. I am very intrigued by the core mechanics where your workers are multi-use cards, which allow you to gain resources, or upgrade your various engines as you play. The mechanics are delightfully smooth, and so far it seems that all the potential paths to victory are valid. It has the additional bonus of having a 5 game mini campaign that introduces more advanced mechanics and shares a bit more of the story.
A space game about terraforming an unknown planet to be sustainable for human life. But really it’s a polyomino game with a butt load of tracks attached to it. However, what makes the game really pop is the simultaneous play. The game has a lazy susan in the middle of the board and each round a single player gets to rotate it how they wish, which chooses tile options for all the players around the table. Then all players select and play their tiles at the same time. This keeps the game moving at a quick clip and keeps downtime to an absolute minimum. The speed of the game combined with the very satisfying puzzle of the tile placement and the extremely satisfying moving up on the tracks makes this game just a delight. Bonus points for having an awesome implementation of it on Sovranti (my digital overlord).
A light weight euro with just about the best art ever to grace the cover of a board game. This is a game about placing small dragons in shops where they would most like to work. Mechanically, you are playing a bit of a worker placement, contract fulfillment, and shared tableau building game. The game is absolutely adorable with wonderful production value, and its exceedingly easy to get to the table. This is a game that does not overstay its welcome, and is just a delight to play.
A huge boss battler, with epic story and a fully narrated app. This is the type of game that always has my attention. This one, however, does a lot of things that really grabbed me. It effectively gives you the option of using cards or dice in a way that seemed silly to me at first, but the more I play the more I appreciate. Each combat is truly a surprise, at least the first time you play. You never know what is coming, and the mechanics are always unique. This keeps each fight fresh, and you are always on your toes. However, as delightful as the combat is, the story mode in between is equally well done. There have been several times that the story kicked me right in the feels.
Rise of the Gnomes: I am usually wary of a game that has both co-op and competitive play. Usually because I often find the co-op has a tacked on feeling. In Gnomes however that is simply not the case. In fact, the co-op in this game is simply stellar, making it one of the best convention games I have ever played. At the same time the competitive mode is intensely cutthroat and competitive. However, as a fellow that enjoys micro-breweries I can appreciate trying to win market share from the horrible gnomes and their terrible beer that floods the market. Mechanically, what makes the game pop is the combination of worker placement and area control, a combo you do not see too often. The worker placement pops for me because of the regular rotation of order spots are resolved and which spots are available. Just a very clever game from a small publisher.
This is the latest from the prolific Jerry Hawthorne of Plaid Hat Games. This time the story book adventure game is fully narrated by a companion app. In this game the story comes to the forefront as you take on the roll of the 4 wizard familiars tasked with saving the princess, who is a baby. The game plays out in three eras which sees the princess become a toddler, and then a young adult. In each successive era her powers and behavior is based on your actions in the previous era. The familiars are all controlled by basic deck building actions.
Honorable Mentions: Roll Player Adventures, and Stars of Akarios