John’s 2013 Top Ten List
This is a list of my top ten favorite games I played during 2013. I didn’t get to play every game that came out in 2013, and a few of these are games I learned in 2013 that came out in previous years. Here they are:
This simple, plays in 20 minutes or less, game something I picked up because of a recommendation by a friend. After playing a few rounds I discovered quite a bit of depth. It’s a good casual game and plays best with 3 or 4, but can still be played with 2. There are a few variants of the game, the original comes in a little red velvet pouch, and 2 different special editions that come in boxes, and add additional cards that can replace the Princess card. I prefer the pouch version over the boxed version. Due to the size of the game, it’s an easy one to travel with which adds to its appeal as part of a game collection. My wife and I have introduced it to several couples, and it’s always been a hit!
I recommend that this game be played completely sober. I tried to set it up and learn it with some friends after an end of semester visit to the campus pub. Bad idea. I hadn’t had anything to drink, and ended up being disappointed, as my friends had consumed enough to eliminate them being able to comprehend any of the rules. Otherwise, this game has a nice look and feel, and plenty of play variety.
Takes a while to learn and set up. The rulebook is a mess. The game design is so well thought out and balanced; this is a detail rich game that’s worth a try! I’ve played it 3 times, and attempted 2 additional times to teach 3 other players. You need some patience, but if you stick it out, you’ll be satisfied. If it weren’t for the huge learning curve this would be much higher on my list.
A simple dice game (as you read on you’ll see I tend like simple games) that involves becoming an architect of structures made from different colored dice. It’s simple to play, but has the right amount of depth when you have 3 or 4 players as everyone is trying to guess what their opponents are trying to build.
6. Ricochet Robots
This seems is a well timed re-release of a classic. After seeing 1 to Infinity players on the side of the box, I became even more intrigued. I discovered that Ricochet Robots is a puzzle game that everyone plays together. The possibilities within the game are virtually endless. When people say, “I’ll just watch”, they inevitably become participants in the game!
Yahtzee with a better theme (in my opinion). Easy to teach, and to learn. This game is excellent for kids/teens, and pretty OK for Adults too! The Power Up Expansion and the Halloween Expansions are fun (and in the case of Power Up, a must have!)
4. Stone Age
I played this game a year or two ago, and loved it. It has one of the most skillfully delivered themes that I’ve seen in a board game. The board and pieces are so simple, and so easy to understand visually, which makes it very easy to teach (almost as easy as Ticket to Ride, but there are many more actions in Stone Age which make it more complex). The game is very well-balanced, with plenty of options and deep strategy, with some luck involved as well. This games definitely falls into the realm of a worker placement game, and it’s one of the most enjoyable that I’ve played.
Another simple game that is always a hit with those who play. Although I’ve heard some complaints about the rules being a bit confusing, everyone seems to enjoy the challenge of overcoming them. The reprint, and the Alice and Wonderland theme are both positives, as well as the 6 coasters that come in the box. I haven’t used them, but they’re nice! Good job Z-man, it’s another hit for under $20.
This really is just one game in my mind, but it sure takes up a lot of space! (thankfully not nearly as much as Dominion) The On the Brink expansion is a must, as it adds so many characters and ways to play to the game (the addition of the Bio-Terrorist is a big one). In the Lab also adds several new modes of play, as well as a Solo mode, and some new characters.
I love this game because it’s co-operative, and really requires good communication to play. I’ve seen many negative reviews of the game due to it being a “Solo Puzzle” and people saying they didn’t like it because other players took over. In response, I say, it’s very important to allow everyone complete control over their turn, but also to make sure everyone has open discussion, without taking away a players right to choose their actions in the game. Experienced players should resist the urge to take over the game, as this will effectively eliminate all fun for the other players, as eliminate the fun for the playing taking over (ultimately).
Maybe you’re looking at this and wondering why I’d put an old fairly mainstream game into this list. Maybe this game isn’t nerdy enough for you. From what I’ve seen, this game is never rarely boring, and rarely quiet. Every person I’ve played it with has loved it, and wanted to play again. It’s great for parties, and unpredictable enough to keep each game interesting. If you really need new topics to play with, there is a Party Edition with 6 more decks to keep players from getting too ‘experienced’ with the same topics. If you need a bigger challenge, switch over to Duple.
The other big plus for this game is the cost. For under $15 you get a game that has a lot of replay value, adds a lot of noise to a party, and is very entertaining for a pretty big age group.
Honourable mentions are Android Netrunner (for its fantastic asymmetric design, strong theme, and mechanics that actually fit the theme) and Caverna (for having such a heavy box) Neuroshima Hex! also had a quiet redesign. I really enjoy the game, still can’t figure out why it hasn’t taken off! Also, I had quite the time moderating games of Ultimate Werewolf this past year. It’s a game that’s hard to beat when you have a good group!