My Top 10 (+1) Games of 2014!
My good friends over at The League of Nonsensical Gamers have been posting their Top 5 Games lists for 2014. Go check out their lists. I’ll wait here. *whistles to himself* *plays more Dream Quest on his iPad* *wonders if people will actually come back* Oh HEY! There ya are! I totally wasn’t worried you wouldn’t come back!
Anywho, I, being uninventive, have decided to copy their idea…to a degree. Click through to read my Top 10 (+1) Games of 2014!!
This list is in Alphabetical order because you’re all my favorite children and everyone’s a special, unique, precious butterfly (except for Piña Pirata. You’re grounded for your publisher-shoehorned “adventure” rules that can make the game last 3 hours+)
- Camel Up by Steffen Bogen – When I heard that Camel Up had beaten out Splendor for the 2014 Spiel des Jahres, I was surprised. I hadn’t heard a darn thing about Camel Up but had played Splendor and thought it was a really good game. Flash Forward to GenCon when I decided to pick it up after hearing the buzz about the game. It totally deserved to win, in my opinion. Some of the most raucous, crazy game ending moments for me this year came from Camel Up. It’s a very accessible race/gambling game with palpable excitement as the camels make their way to the finish line. In one five-player game, things ended so crazily that no one picked the overall winner or loser, even though both were close to sure locks up to the end. Great game for the family while still being a great game for gamers too.
- Eggs and Empires by Ben Pinchback and Matt Riddle – I love these guys, and love the games they design. I finally got the chance to play E&E at Origins this year. It’s a nice take on the deduction style game, with some similarities to Love Letter and Seventh Hero. It’s simple to teach, plays quick, has some difficult decisions to make and is just a plain fun game.
- Five Tribes by Bruno Cathala – There was a ton of buzz for this title leading up to GenCon and after playing it, I can confidently say it was worth it. The mancala-esque central mechanism, multitudes of ways to stay in contention, and brain-burning decisions on how best to pick up and drop the meeples are just a few of the reasons it’s made it onto my list. Also, the production quality is pretty stellar. It’s also one of the thinkier games to make my list.
- The Game of 49 by Mark Corsey – I really wish I could remember how I stumbled onto the Kickstarter campaign for 49. It was through some amount of random browsing. The game seemed light, and something I might be able to get the family to play on holidays, so I backed it. When I picked it up at GenCon, I got to meet Mr. Corsey, who is a lovely man who you can tell loves his game. Components-wise, it’s nothing to write home about. But it’s combination of a simple Connect Four-style mechanism, a sometimes brutal bidding mechanism, and the feeling of Bingo makes this game a keeper. Another one that’s simple to teach, but is deeper than it may appear. It’s been generating a little bit of post-GenCon buzz and I hope more people give this one a chance.
- Imperial Settlers by Ignacy Trzewiczek – ImpSet was one of my top two must-get games at GenCon along with Five Tribes. It was quite the hot item, selling out like hotcakes. But seriously though, do hotcakes really sell that well? Maybe at like an IHOP or International House of Pancakes or something, but I could think of plenty of things that sell better than hotcakes. Anyways! ImpSet is a gorgeous, card driven, engine building, resource management, civ-ish style game where by the end, you’re raking in so many little wood tokens it’s like you’ve broken the bank at some weird Las Vegas slot machine that spits out wooden bits.
- King of New York by Richard Garfield – KoNY was super buzzing at GenCon and shipping difficulties kept it from many gamers hands until later in the fall. I honestly didn’t have this one on my radar. I loved King of Tokyo, and played it a ton, but it felt kinda like fast food. It tasted awesome, but didn’t leave you full. Thanks to my BGG Secret Santa I got a copy of the game, and found out that it’s a serious upgrade from KoT. The multiple burroughs, civilian targets, and refined scoring opportunities go very far in distancing it from it’s predecessor while maintaining a very similar feel.
- Pairs by James Ernest and Paul Peterson – Psst. Pairs, come over here. Ok, don’t tell the rest of the group, but you’re my favorite on the list without a doubt. Promise not to say anything to the others, ok? Good, oh shit, here they come. Act natural. Oh hey, guys! I was just about to talk about Pairs! I will make this proclamation right now. I will play anyone, anywhere, anytime in a game of Pairs. Going back to the fast food analogy of KoNY, Pairs is chock full of flavor, but very little nutritional value. But I can’t not love this game. It is by far the dead simplest game I own to teach. And it’s very reminiscent of Black Jack. It shouldn’t be this good, but it is. Super light, super quick, but super fun. I HIGHLY recommend using the Port variant listed in The Pairs Companion to give it just a little more meat.
- Pandemic: The Cure by Matt Leacock – When I first got the original Pandemic, I absolutely loved it. It was my first co-op game, and the tension it generated was crazy good. Since then, it’s falling farther and farther down my shelves as it’s just a little tough to get to the table anymore. Well, Mr. Leacock has given Pandemic a much needed shot of steroids with the dice version. Sure, it doesn’t necessarily have the same feel to it as globetrotting to specific locations, but it still brings the stress, and it’s a much easier way to get a Pandemic experience.
- Star Realms by Robert Dougherty and Darwin Kastle – If you take both physical and digital plays into account, Star Realms eeks it out as my most played game for 2014 with a BAJILLION plays. Star Realms borrows heavily from other deck builders before it. But for some reason, it got its hooks in me and has yet to let go. Simple to learn, quick to play, and although my playtime with SR has slowed down, I still get the itch to get a game going so I can Recycle Station to draw my Stealth Needle and use it on my Ram to put a whupping on my competitor.
- Finally we come to the last game of my Top 10, Valley of the Kings by Tom Cleaver – I don’t blame anyone who may have looked past Valley of the Kings. The art is polarizing, and at first glance it’s just another deck builder. But it, along with Paperback, brought some much needed freshness to the deck building genre. The tough balancing act between playing your cards for their money value or unique powers (the likes I personally hadn’t seen in a deck builder before) and entombing them in order for them to actually score you points at the end of game is something special in my mind. The game generally comes to this tipping point, where the end is in sight, and everyone starts to wish they had more ways to get those cards jammed in that tomb of theirs. There is a significant amount of game in that little box.
So, there you have it! My Top 10 Games of 2014! It was a helluva year with a lot of amazing games. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store!
What’s that? Oh, you’re wondering what the +1 means? Well, that, dear readers, is bestowed upon…
Roll for the Galaxy by Wei-Hwa Huang and Thomas Lehmann – According to BGG this game was published in 2014, but I didn’t get it until 2015 and have only played it three times over this weekend, so I didn’t feel right putting it in the actual Top 10. I’ve wanted to love Race for the Galaxy for a long time now. For as easily as I’m able to pick up most games, Race continues to be a thorn in my side. When I heard about Roll, I was intrigued. I thought that maybe it’d let me get that Race feeling in a more accessible way. And so far, it delivers in spades. As soon as I finish a game of it, I want to start playing it again. It comes with its own quirks, but it was much easier for me to come to terms with than Race. Maybe this will be a gateway to me finally learning and loving Race, but for the time being, I just want to keep playing Roll. Side note: Roll is damn near perfect for Skype gaming!
Ok, so that’s it. 2014’s done now. Everybody make sure you’re putting 2015 on your checks. If you still write checks. Speaking of checks, I really wish my apartment complex would allow me to pay them electronically. They’re the lone holdout, with the exception of some backwards doctors’ offices, that still require me to pay by check. Seriously. It’s 2014. Let’s get with the times. SHIT! I mean, 2015! dammit.