With the decade coming to a close, I wanted to look at my top games of the past ten years. As someone who got into the hobby in 2011, this seemed like a perfect reflection of not just the hobby, but of my decade of playing as well.
Without further ado, lets look at 2014.
My top five games are Camel Up, Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, Patchwork, and Spyfall.
Honorable mention include: Five Tribes and Orléans.
I actually want to start talking about 2014 by talking about the honorable mentions first. Similar to 2013 with Concordia, Five Tribes and Orléans are two revered games that I have not gotten to the table ever. Also like Concordia, I ended up with both in the past week and expect to play them sometime in the near future. Both have had incredible staying power and I would have been remiss not to include them. Of games I’ve played, my honorable mentions would include Sheriff of Nottingham and Paperback. Sheriff of Nottingham is another simple-ish game that appeals to certain groups (as it involves bluffing) and Paperback is a re-implementation of the beloved Scrabble but in the modern board gaming format.
Anyways, on to my actual top five. Camel Up might have a lot of randomness involved with the dice rolling but it has an incredibly appealing and vibrant table presence that intrigues almost anyone. The stackable camels and pyramid dice container help this game stand out as well as the easy to follow rules. Most importantly, it plays a large amount of people which can be helpful when you don’t want to play a social deduction game. I’ve written about the base game here and the expansion here.
I was never a big fan of the Dead of Winter game but I cannot ignore the hype that the game had and the interesting mechanics that were the crossroads deck. The game was incredibly thematic and offered more gameplay than past thematic games, such as Tales of Arabian Nights or Betrayal at House on the Hill. The traitor aspect (and the ability to play without) created satisfying games as you were never truly certain who you should be keeping a close eye on. This felt like a more accessible Battlestar Galactica game. Like other games mentioned in this brief paragraph, it is heavily dependent on the group playing and that could turn what would have been a great experience into a sour one.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong makes the list as it offers a group of up to twelve players the opportunity to play a murder mystery game with social deduction aspects that has more meat than most other social games. The game isn’t as morbid as the title makes it seem and the gameplay and difficulty lead to quick games, which lets parties have a second or third crack at tackling a tough case. It’s a great game for when Resistance is too light but Secret Hitler is too heavy.
Out of all the games I’ve ever played, Patchwork might be the most accessible that has ever hit the table. It’s easy to learn and play. It plays quickly. It’s thematic and unassuming. I have introduced this game to friends, families, colleagues, and more and it has always been a hit. For that reason, Patchwork is my game of 2014. For a deeper dive into my love with the game, I ask you to check out my previous review of the game here.
Rounding out the top five is another party game, Spyfall. Spyfall is great until it isn’t. A veteran group may overshadow new players or they may be too familiar with the locations for the game to be fun but when it hits, the game is an absolute blast. This is an incredibly quick, social game that works perfectly as a filler or as a key component to a social game night. For more, check out my review here.