2017 Top 25 25-21 (Brandon Kempf)
So, you know how difficult it is sometimes to just pick a game for game night? You have the entire game group just saying, pick anything, we’ll play it and have a good time, but yet you sit there and you search and search for the perfect game? Well, that’s kind of what happened to me here. I was originally going to do a Top 10 Games of 2017, but my fear of commitment to 10 games, caused this to blossom into a Top 25 Games of 2017, which I think may be more interesting. This way we know where I stand on more games, not just my 10 favorites. You may notice some notable absences here, 7th Continent I do not own, Gloomhaven, not enough invested in it to give it a fair shake or even get a good feel for the game, Ethnos which is just bad, Pie Town which left us wanting less(?) & Nusfjord, which I have played twice, but I just don’t think it’s a good game(for me).
I think you are going to see a natural progression in plays as we get closer to number 1, these first few titles are going to have fewer plays. I think this is normal, at least for me. I really don’t feel comfortable ranking a game that I have only played once, too high on the list. Although there is one that I am tempted to move up, we'll see where it ends up staying.
We’ll try to revisit this list in 2018 at some point and we’ll see if anything has changed, but for now, here is my Top 25 Board Games of 2017.
25. Dropmix(dozens of plays) - Oh Dropmix, more like Dropping Prices. I’ll admit to being a sucker a lot of the time, but as soon as I saw Dropmix, I knew that I had to have it. I love fun tech, especially when that fun tech has some fun game play tied to it, and Dropmix had that. So I located a Target within 30 miles of home, packed up the family and drug them out to pick up my birthday gift to myself. While I do enjoy the game, I don’t think that the game is enough to warrant a spot on this Top 25. The Co-Op mode is fun, it can be a bit frustrating at times just due to 4 people trying their best to do as well as you can, but being fast causes mistakes and mistakes cause frustrations and these frustrations can’t be changed just due to the nature of the game. BUT, Dropmix’s saving grace is the freestyle mode where you really get to feel like you are a DJ. Hook it up to some wonderful bluetooth speakers and rock the house, or if you are me, rock the dining room, by yourself. Just too bad the cards are so hard to find and they are kind of cheap quality.
24. Viral(1 play) - Viral suffers from being played only once at a game day at our local library. I had heard of the game before and the fact that it was a successful Kickstarter, but that’s about all I knew about it, but after one play, I could see this being a very welcome addition to a lot of people’s game collection. Sure, it’s just area control with a bit of deck building, but it has a theme that you just don’t expect to see and the mechanisms interact wonderfully with it. You are viruses and you are invading the human body and trying to do your worst. The reason it’s so low on my list is just my lack of plays, I want to know if the game is actually good enough to move up, or if I have a fond memory of it because of winning that game by causing some pretty severe stomach issues.
23.Coldwater Crown(2 plays) - If Coldwater Crown had been played closer to the end of the year, it probably would have had a strong case to be higher up on the list, but as it is, my two plays at Geekway in May are a long ago memory. At its heart, Coldwater Crown is really just a set collection game, much like Brian’s previous design, Paradox. But it’s how you collect those sets that really makes this one feel different. The placing of your baits and then bringing them back in really is kind of fishing like and I remember it having me completely enthralled throughout my couple of plays back in May. I’d also be doing a disservice to the game if I didn’t mention the wonderful art by Beth Sobel here, it’s a beautiful game.
22. Clans of Caledonia(1 play) - Here comes the “ONE PLAY” caveat. I know folks are already irritated that this one is down this far, and it really seems as though I am the only person who doesn’t have it in their Top 10, if not Top 5 for the year. This is a really well designed game, and it’s obvious that the designer felt a strong attraction to Terra Mystica, but just wanted to add a lot more flavor, and they succeeded, but my one play of this didn’t hold up its end of the bargain. Yes, I played my Clan power incorrectly, but no, I don’t think it made much of a difference in the long run. This game really felt to me more spreadsheet like than the game it is modeled after. There were so many times that I felt like I was giving up 2 points, to gain 1 point, to eventually get 3 points, that it just made me really unhappy. Especially that last round, whoo boy was that a fantastic number crunching time. But in all fairness, the game was played towards the end of a long gaming day and it was a bit noisy, so not the best learning and playing environment, so I do want to play it again, and that alone is the reason it isn’t in the also rans.
21. Pulsar 2849(1 play) - Another “ONE PLAY” caveat here. But this one I had a far more positive experience with. Looking at Pulsar 2849 on the table, this thing says space battles. But, what’s the one thing you don’t do in Pulsar 2849? Space Battles! This game is possibly the most Feld-y of games not by Feld to have ever Felded. This is a space themed, Dice Placement Space Exploration game, but in all honesty, it could have been set anywhere, and maybe should have been elsewhere, because once we started playing it and realized there was no “Pew Pew”, it lost a bit of its luster. This is really a point salad space game, and it works pretty well. There is little to no interaction amongst the players, really the only interaction is via denial, which can be fun, but it felt a bit of a let down. There are a lot of fun things to try in this one, and I actually have this one sitting on the table in hopes to get a play or two in this long holiday weekend, plus I’ll be bringing it to Geekway Mini. I want to see if it can overcome that deceptive theme and capture my attention, as I think Pulsar 2849 has some definite possibility.