The games in this were released between October 2016 to the start of October 2017. So if your wondering where Azul is, it’s at #1 on the 2018 list!
1.Great Western Trail
First things first, let’s get this straight. This game is a beast and not for the faint of heart, a lot of rules, 3 hours of game play for 4 players and moments of true brain melting agony. That being said, this one won by a landslide and is truly a piece of genius. A mix of route building, deck building, engine building and a host of other ideas all mashed together into a cow herding and shipping dream. There are multiple strategies to employ and a host of tough choices a long the way. Alex Pfister, the designer is at the top of his game right now and I can’t wait to see what is next.
2. El Dorado
A deck building, race game from the man Dr. Reiner Knizia. I’ve written about this is previous blogs, but after further playing I find it gets better with age. The tension of the race really builds as you decide whether to hold on to get one more good card into your deck or go for the finish line. Expansions on the way, this could be an evergreen game.
3. When I Dream
Whoop, a party game up at the top. It also comes with a little plastic bed to hold the cards as well! A mix of all things popular right now, hidden roles, word games (well done Codenames) and pretty cards. It’s twist on all that is the sleep mask! The dreamer will wear one and be given one word clues to try and guess a word visible to everyone but them. Some players will be helpful (Fairies) others not so much (Boogeymen) and some will flip flop throughout the 2 minute round (Sandmen, not the Star Wars kind). Good guys get points for all the correct guesses, bad guys for the incorrect ones and the Sandmen for the number of Speeders they ransack (or for equal number of correct/incorrect guesses). The fun part is that the dreamer doesn’t know if they got them right until the end and will have to try and disseminate who is being helpful and not while blindfold. Very original and very fun.
You haven’t heard about this yet? Are you dead? I’ve written many times already about this bad boy.
Its pretty, easy to play but makes for a devilish little dice drafting puzzle. Its great as a two player and up to four. So far demand has far outstripped supply of this game, but it’ll become more readily available and everyone will get to play this great title.
6. Magic Maze
When I found a copy of this real time, silent play co-op in the UK and put it in the library, not much happened. Then late one night after we closed, the staff were having their game night at the cafe and I came in the next morning and found that all our Magic Maze had been sold. They had played it the night before and all loved it so much they bought it all. I bought a lot more and they have been enthusiastically been singing its praises to all our customers since. Its not for everyone, some find it too stressful, but its so unique and if you like it, its more likely you’ll love it.
7. A Feast for Odin
Another game from the tail of 2016, this is a humongous game in size, taking up a lot of table and shelf space, and even though the 60+ actions spaces seem overwhelming the game play is actually very intuitive and smooth. Unlike many worker placement games you always feel you have choices even if your ideal spot is gone and the tile laying aspect (from which the game Patchwork was inspired) of your home board is a great puzzle that you can work on when its not your turn. Another Uwe Rosenburg classic and his last ‘big’ game for a while as he claims he is going to take a break from them as his kids are becoming a priority for a while….bless him.
8. Century – Spice Road
Take a card, take another, then another and another and then use them to get cubes, and use a different card to get better cubes and then trade the cubes in for a points card and then pick up your cards and use them again to get more cubes…AAAAARRRRGGGHHHH. That is the lay mans version of the game. It’s fast, cardy and cubey, but great. The second game in the series has announced, Century Eastern Wonders, due out later this year.
The heavier game, sleeper hit of Essen 2016. Its a little like Istanbul and looks as confusing as all heck when you set it up. It plays beautifully though, with just enough pressure from your opponents to make tough and tense game play and tonnes of variability with the variable board set and paths to victory. Plays awesome as a 2-player up to 4, highly recommended.
10. Flamme Rouge
So much fun. This streamlined bike racing simulation mimics all the great bits of a ‘Tour’ without over-complicating things and still maintaining those nail-biting finishes. It plays up to 4, but you can easily play in pairs and make it an 8-player game with no extra down time.