2015 was a big year for games for both myself and Emmet. Our monthly board game meetup entered it’s second year, attendances were good, new games were bought and explored. For me, living in Dublin, I joined two different board game groups, where people bring games to play. This lead to me experiencing a wider spectrum of games.
I’ve picked out some of the top games I played in 2015. This might be a bit unconventional, but not all of them are 2015 releases. In fact, the first one has been out for about 6 years, and it had been sitting on a shelf in my brother’s house for 2 years gathering dust because we didn’t think it would suit our group! So, without further ado, here’s my pick of the games I played in 2015.
The Resistance is one of those modern classic games. You and between four and nine other players have a secret role, either as a member of the Resistance (good guy) or as a spy (bad guy). Each turn, one player takes the role of the leader, and sends a number of players on missions. The success or failure of these missions gives you the information you need to try figure out who the bad guys are, avoid sending them on missions, and win the game!
I had never played social deduction games before playing The Resistance, and they never really appealed to me. But at one of the meet ups in Dublin city centre I played The Resistance and got hooked. I played a lot of it in a very short period of time, and I quickly got over The Resistance, graduating onto Avalon and One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which are better games. But The Resistance was my gateway to a whole new type of game I had been ignoring, and that’s why I mention it.
Roll for the Galaxy
Race for the Galaxy is a mind bending game. You’re trying to build your space empire by adding planets, discovering technology and growing your empire’s economy, all of which is represented by cards. But the currency used to pay for these cards is the very cards you’re trying to add to your empire! It’s like trying to pay for a ring donut by getting rid of the custard and jam donuts in the box, which you don’t want immediately! It’s an elegant design, but not very intuitive, and there was a lot of iconography to learn.
Roll for the Galaxy has a similar premise. You’re building your space empire, but it uses dice instead of cards. I liked Race for the Galaxy, but it seldom got to the table, and I was intrigued by the central dice rolling mechanic. Your roll a satisifyingly large fistfull of dice, see what results come up, and try to come up with the best strategy you can based on what you rolled. It immediately grabbed me and pulled me in. Trying to optimise your own little dice empire in your own little tableau, trying to make the best decisions with the resources given, it just stuck in my mind for days after every time I played it.
Deck builder is a relatively new genre of game which was popularised by Dominion. Basically you start with a limited number of cards, which give you abilities or generate money. You then use these cards, to buy additional cards, which will eventually lead to some kind of point scoring.
Flip City is a quick, cute little deck building game where you’re trying to build the best city. It uses clever double sided cards, with one side representing a basic version of the building and the flipped side representing the upgraded version and it’s a pretty easy game to pick up and play within half an hour. It mightn’t be the most incredible, deepest game ever, but I mention it here because it was the game that finally made deck builders “click” for me.
A game I Kickstarted, much delayed, but eventually delivered. You’re a Viceroy in a fantasy kingdom, trying to build your power base (usually a pyramid) by hiring all sorts of pirates, mages, engineers and fey folk. Basically, you’re building a company organisation chart, but the company is a fantasy kingdom and your employees are fantasy stereotypes. The building of your pyramid is a bit of a head scratcher, as you try to balance short term versus long term benefits into a coherent strategy, all with limited resources.
What I liked about Viceroy is that it was trying something new with cards, which often appear in games. I like to look for innovative or new uses of existing mechanics. Also, the art was gorgeous, the theme looked cool, and it really got a lot of traction quickly with the group.
Another game I Kickstarted, which I’ve only managed to play 2 or 3 times. As Emmet mentioned in his introductory post, Lords of Waterdeep was one of the first games that really grabbed the attention of everyone who played it. Brew Crafters was great to me for a few reasons; it was similar to Lords of Waterdeep in the way it played, but a step up at the same time. Also, it’s about brewing beer!! I can live out my home brew fantasies without stinking up my kitchen!
What really impressed me though, was when I opened the box and saw how much replayability there was in there. 21 beer recipes, but only 6 used each game. 24 worker cards, but only 9 used each game. Double sided research tracks, with different research available on each sheet. 5 optional modules for “complex actions”. Use none, some or all of them to change your game. As you can imagine, this all combines to give the game a huge amount of replayability.
So, there you have it, my top games of 2015. Have you played any, or all of them? What do you think? Any of them appeal to you, any you would like to try? Let us know in the comments below. Also, tune in on Friday, for Emmet’s top games of 2015!