Of coursed this list is based on the games I’ve actually had a chance to play and there’s always a few games that have made a lot of buzz that I’ve still not had the opportunity to play. So before we hit the main list I’ll go through some of the games I would have liked to play but for some reason haven’t got around to:
Firefly: The internet seems to be pretty divided on the Firefly board game. I’ve read reviews that praise the game and many more that make the game out to be rather boring. As one friend who played the game at Essen pointed out, it’s a great game for 30 minutes but that’s it. I still would love to make my own mind up about Firefly but I’m cautious of buying it because of the bad reviews.
Star Trek Attack Wing: I love the X-Wing Miniatures Game so I should love the Star Trek equivalent but at the moment it isn’t drawing me in as much as X-Wing. The truth is I’m a bigger Star Wars fan than Star Trek and the miniatures for Attack Wing aren’t as visually appealing. Still I’ve heard a lot of first hand reports that it’s a great game and is perfectly re-tuned to the scale of Star Trek.
Level 7: Omega Protocol: I loved the idea of the first Level 7 game from Privateer Press but the reviews really put me off but the reviews of Omega Protocol are much more positive however this is one of those games thats a bit too expensive to take a punt on.
10: Love Letter
9: Lords of WarLords of War several times on this blog and its worth checking out the Lords of War Review for the full scoop but the short of it is the Lords of War is a quick to play, two player battle game where the location of your cards is key to victory. It may look like other games but Lords of War is a truly unique experience and with two army packs currently available and a third recently kickstarted Lords of War give plenty of points to jump in.
7: Cheaty Mages
Cheaty Mages is a great game little game where the field of play is constantly changing. Bets are made in secret so there’s a modicum of bluffing as you try not to make it too obvious which combatant you are supporting. Cheaty Mages is capable of playing a good number of people it’s also quick to play, easy to pick up and highly interactive and deserves to be in more people’s games collections.
If you boil it down Trains is nothing more than Dominion with a board but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Trains is one of the most thematic deck building games I've ever seen, every action requires the addition of junk into your deck so the more you build the more junk you have to get rid of. Although the building of railways across Japan seems like a dry it goes to show how a solid mechanics the backbone to a great game.
The best aspect of Relic is the corruption mechanic, allowing you to answer the whispers of chaos and except their gifts, but too many blessings and your character becomes corrupted and is devoured by the chaos gods. For more information check out the Relic Review.
4: A Study In Emerald
The game has players acting as either the revolutionists trying to take down the royal families or loyalists. The problem is no-one knows who's on which side, which leads to tense and sometimes frustrating game. The sheer number of mechanics in A Study in Emerald feels like throwing a bowl of pasta against a wall; some of its sticks and some of it falls off into a big mess. When it does come together it is a beautiful and complex game.
Völuspá doesn’t really look like much when you see it played; to be honest it looks like Qwirkle but with a cartoony Norse mythology characters painted over the top. But Völuspá plays like an advanced version of Qwirkle playing tiles to complete rows, scoring based on the length of the row or column but each tile has a different power based on the mythological creature it displays.
Völuspá is one of those games that plays like a multiplayer puzzle, at each point you’re equally trying to maximise your own score, setting yourself up for a future score and still not make it too good for your opponent. Once you’ve got your head around each of the various characters abilities Völuspá is a quick to play and highly enjoyable little puzzler.
2: Deadzone: Contagion
The game has only been available in retail for around a month so I’ve not had a chance to look at the finished product but the demo version showed a lot of promise.
1: Eldritch Horror
I’ll be honest; I went into Eldritch Horror expecting a good game. I’m a big fan of Arkham Horror and a game that is supposed to replicate the experience but with the opportunity to fix some of its problems promises a lot and it does not fail to disappoint.
Eldritch Horror takes Arkham Horror’s story to the global scale, the main aim and basic mechanics are the same; a giant ancient horror is attempting to break through into our dimension and enslave us all and to save the world players must solve a series of mysteries that are occurring across the planet.
Eldritch Horror is smoother, quicker, and punchier than its Arkham dwelling brother. It still takes a few hours to play but we’re looking at 3 to four hours rather than five to 6. On the whole the game is simpler and more streamlined replicating Arkham’s feel but with a more narrative structure. There is a problem in Eldritch Horror and that’s the ball kickingly annoying cards that cause a solved mystery to be discarded, basically resetting a third of your game but the condition cards more than make up for this little problem. Condition cards control conditions such as injuries or madness, but each one has a flip side and you don’t know what the ultimate affect of your condition is until you are forced to flip the card. Our first game had a player take a loan, get roughed up by a bunch of loan sharks giving him amnesia which means he couldn’t remember that he’d paid off the loan. It’s these little narrative touches that bring Eldritch Horror to life and what makes it my favourite game of 2013.