It’s that time of year again!
Time to look back at 2019 and see what games I played this year and which ones I definitely want to play again. Also, which ones can be left by the side of the road looking all forlorn because they just aren’t that good.
I had a pretty good year in 2019. I played 107 games 192 times (not each!). Of those 107 games, 63 were new to me, which was a lot of fun. I always love learning new games (and I like to keep my cult members happy).
Surprisingly, I played the exact same number of games (107) in 2018 but 67 of them were new (and I had 201 plays).
My most amazing feat, however, was getting Eldritch Horror to the table a whopping 5 times! That includes 4 times in the last two months of the year.
Of course, there are side effects to that.
But we endure!
So let’s see what the top 10 games that I played this year are. There may be a few surprises based on last year’s rankings.
I’m nothing if not Walt Whitman.
Please note that this is not the Top 10 games of 2019. I actually did a count, and I only played 20 games published in 2019. Thus, half of them would be on that list if I did that.
No, these are the Top 10 games that I played in 2019.
This post will be broken into two parts, so here are numbers 6-10! (The Top 5 will post on Wednesday)
Designers: Shem Phillips and S J MacDonald
Artist: Mihajlo Dimitrievski
Paladins of the West Kingdom is this year’s West Kingdom game (and we already know what next year’s will be) and it is a doozy. Much heavier (or at least with more stuff going on) than Architects of the West Kingdom, this one takes up a lot of room on your table and there are tons of things you can do.
So much that sometimes your brain might just freeze with all of the options.
Unlike its predecessor, in this one most of the actions that you will be placing your workers at are on your personal board so there’s no competition for spaces (there are a few later in the game, but not many). However, many of those actions will require a certain type of worker (or a wild purple worker, though these are shady folk and will get you suspicion if you use them)
Instead, you are trying to raise three traits to the highest level you can to get points (Strength, Influence, and Faith). In addition, you will be doing things like fortifying the town walls, converting outsiders who are just wandering by, or perhaps killing them (either one works). All of these will also get you points.
It’s a points extravaganza!
I love the intricacy of the actions in this game. Each action you do requires a certain amount of one trait and will increase another one. You have to raise them somewhat evenly so that you are able to do the higher-level actions, but each turn you are choosing a Paladin that will give you a temporary boost to one or more of these traits. They’ll also give you a special ability for this round (like making certain actions free of the usual silver cost).
I also like that the Paladins and the Tavern card you choose are what give you the workers you have for that round. The worker types you get will be different. You have to balance all of that.
It’s a long game, though, which may inhibit getting it to the table as often as I would like. Maybe subsequent plays when we’re all more familiar with it will get that number down., but our two plays have been around 3 hours each. We’ll have to see.
Do I like this better than Architects?
You’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you?
Designer: Jacob Fryxelius
Artist: Isaac Fryxelius
Terraforming Mars fell a bit from last year, but not due to any drop in quality or enjoyment on my part. It’s still a fantastic game that I love to play (especially when new expansions come out). I played it 6 times this year, so you know I still adore it.
In the game you are terraforming the planet Mars (hey, I think that might be related to the name, but I’m not 100% sure…).
Through a combination of card play (called Projects) and using what are called Standard Projects, you are heating up and greenifying (Editor – Your ability to make up words is unmatched) the planet, as well as placing liquid water oceans. Soon, Mars will be a lush green forest teeming with human life as they colonize it.
Unless you are playing for the first time (even then I think you can play the Corporate Era with no problem), each player is a different corporation that has its own strengths and weaknesses that will guide you on the best way forward.
Maybe you love dropping an asteroid on planets just to see what happens?
There’s a corporation for you!
Each game plays out differently based on how the cards come out, who gets them and what corporations are in play, and that variety is why I like it. Not to mention all of the expansions (the Colonies expansion really adds a bunch of great stuff).
I’m anxious to get Turmoil to the table, but that will have to wait until 2020 now.
I have a feeling Terraforming Mars will be in my Top 10 each year. If it’s not, that means it’s been a great year for me because I’ve played 10 games that I’ve enjoyed more than this. That will mean they are great games!
Designer: Matthias Cramer
Artists: Klemens Franz, Alfred Viktor Schulz
This late entry into the 2019 sweepstakes broke into my game room in October, erased all of my tapes of previous games, and sat itself in front of me until I just had to play it.
Am I glad I did. This game is phenomenal. So phenomenal that I’ve already reviewed it.
Watergate is a 2-player card-driven game about the Watergate scandal. Players are either the Nixon administration or the Washington Post editors trying to take him down. It’s a tug-of-war with multiple ropes (thanks for that reference, Dan!) where Nixon is trying to ride the momentum to the end of his term while the Editors are trying to piece together evidence from two informants to link Nixon to the whole thing.
It’s an intricate dance.
I love the card-driven aspect of the game, with both players having their own deck of cards to use. It’s all tied up into a quick, easy to play lunch that still gives you interesting choices to make.
Well worth checking out if you can find a copy.
Designer: Gil Hova
Artists: Heiko Günther, Travis Kinchy
A review of this fabulous game is already on the site.
In The Networks, players are trying to run their own television networks, scheduling shows to try and get the most viewers (victory points). Each year, shows age and fewer people want to watch them, so you have to refresh them with different shows.
If you specialize in a genre (getting 3 or more of Sci-Fi or Drama or Comedy, for example) then you’ll get an extra bonus that may give you a boost up.
It’s a card-drafting system where Shows, Stars, Ads (which will get you money) and Network cards are on the table waiting for players to take them. The Shows you’ll have to schedule, the Stars and Ads you’ll have to attach to those Shows, and the Network cards will just let you do certain things.
The game can be a real barn-burner and it’s loads of fun, but the base game started feeling a bit rote to me. I’m not sure it would be in my Top 10 this year if I hadn’t bought the Executives expansion.
The addition of Executives to make each network asymmetric refreshes this game to a great extent. It makes it almost feel new again. The new Shows and Moguls really help too.
A review of the expansion will be coming once I get a third play of it in, but right now I can say it’s almost mandatory to buy it, but you don’t need it until you’ve played enough of the base game to get tired of it.
Easily a game still in my Top 10.
Designer: Paul Dennen
Artists: Rayph Beisner, Raul Ramos, Le Rastislav, Nate Storm, Franz Vohwinkel
Clank in Space (Sorry, my exclamation mark key is worn out) is the first deck-builder on my list and it’s by no means the last. There’s just something about playing the outlaw, sneaking on board a despot’s space ship and trying to steal a priceless artifact from his living quarters that just really appeals to me.
Like all deckbuilders, you start out with a deck of a few cards that basically suck (10 in this one). As you journey through Lord Eradikus’ ship, you will be acquiring new cards to make your deck better as well as defeating enemies that are trying to stop you.
All of this while you are trying (and usually failing) to be quiet and avoid placing “Clank” on the board. If certain types of cards come out into the Market Row, then Lord Eradikus has heard something and you’ll be drawing cubes out of the bag based on his rage level. If one of your cubes is drawn, you will take a wound. Take too many, and you will die an ignominious death (unless you at least make it back to the cargo hold with your artifact).
If you start getting bored with this one, you can add the Apocalypse expansion which adds new cards and schemes! Finally something to do with the black cubes that you draw from the bag when Eradikus attacks.
The expansion just makes this game even better, though it’s not necessary. Personally, I think the base game is just fine and has enough variety to suit my needs. However, the expansion is so good that I will not play without it unless we’re bringing new people to the party.
This game is just plain fun and usually causes a lot of laughter. It’s a bit long for some people (it’s mostly taken us around 2 hours) but for me it’s well worth it.
It also has led to some people complaining that it’s a waste of time if you have died, but I have a response to that one.
While I prefer it to the fantasy-based Clank, it does kind of depend on time. If I have a limited amount of time, I would very much like to play Clank. But if time is not an issue, Clank in Space is my choice every time.
We’re half-way there!
What’s going to make the Top 5? You know there are at least two new ones!
I know the suspense is killing me.
What do you think of these five? Or what are you top 10-6 games played this year?
Let me know in the comments.