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 2016.
My top five games are Captain Sonar, Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure, Kingdomino, Secret Hitler, and Terraforming Mars.
Honorable mention include: Flamme Rouge, Great Western Trail, Imhotep, Junk Art, Mansions of Madness Second Edition, Pandemic: Iberia, and Scythe.
A big theme of my year in review is games that can play a lot of people but don’t follow the trope of a tradition party or social deduction game. Captain Sonar creates an experience that I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing in a game before or since. It has table presence, it creates a memorable experience and when played with the right people, it’s one of the most fun times I’ve had.
I love Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure. It’s one of my favorite games of all time and I’m glad I pushed pass my prejudices of deck-building games to give it a whirl. For more glowing remarks about Clank!, check out my review here.
For all the games that I put down as just being social deduction games, Secret Hitler takes the genre and creates a tense, thematic experience as each round passes. The theme can be hard to get around (and there are fan made variants to help get passed having to play as Hitler) but after the obstacle is overcome, this is a dramatic tour de force for up to ten players.
Terraforming Mars was not a game I loved at first play but has since grown on me. The hype and following of TM is downright crazy considering the game has been out for several years now and there doesn’t appear to be any slowing of its engine. While there were some great games released in 2016, the longevity, fan-backing and gameplay help Terraforming Mars standout as my pick for game of the year. For a closer look at my initial thoughts, check out my review here.
2016 was a banner year for the board gaming community as my honorable mentions include Flamme Rouge, a bicycle racing game that deals with the exhaustion of riders; Great Western Trail, one of my few 10/10 scored games and a testament to what modern board gaming can be; Imhotep, another new age gateway game (review here); Junk Art, one of the best dexterity games ever made (review here); Mansions of Madness Second Edition, which re-implements a first edition and offers a spooky experience as players try to solve the puzzles in front of them; Pandemic: Iberia, a stand alone in the Pandemic universe that makes two big changes to the gameplay that creates one of the most iconic (and beautiful) versions of the game; and Scythe; which is similar to Terraforming Mars in what it brought to the hobby (review here).
If I stuck to my previous year in review lists and only had three (or two) games mentioned, 2016 would be Great Western Trail and Imhotep (with Mansions of Madness Second Edition being the third choice). Scythe seems like the obvious answer but it never really resonated with me and thus it sits on the outside looking in.