2017 Top 25 15-11 (Brandon Kempf)
15. Rajas of the Ganges(1 play) - And the last of the single plays shows up and I liked this one quite a bit more than the others which is how it made it all the way up to 15 on my list. At this point, I should probably just pick up everything that Markus and Inka Brand design, they always seem to have a very specific touch to them, the aging of family members in Village, the wonderful giant rondel of action selection of Murano and actually making an “escape room” game that worked for me, Exit. But yet I still hesitate for some reason. Rajas of the Ganges is good, even in spite of it’s troublesome lack of awareness, theme-wise, it’s really good. I love the two converging tracks that you are working on, trying to make more money and become more prestigious and converge those tracks before anyone else does. I’ve only played it 2 player so far, and I imagine that at 4 player the game can get a bit tighter and maybe a bit more interactive via denial, but we’ll have to see if that’s a good thing or bad thing. All in all, Rajas of the Ganges really seems like it is an absolutely rock solid Dice Rolling/Worker Placement game, even if the ability to manipulate dice to your needed face value is quite limited.
14. Flip Ships(4 plays) - Oh Renegade Games, you alone are going to end up responsible for about 20% of this list it seems and this is the first one on the list. It’s a dexterity/flipping game that really gives off the feeling of a cardboard Space Invaders where there are waves of aliens invading and you are flipping your ships to try to land on them or hit the Mothership in order to save the world. Such a simple premise, with such beautiful Kwanchai Moriya artwork to top it all off. Any game that can give off the feeling that this game does when you are down to your last ship and need just one more ship to hit that Mothership, needs to be in a Top 25.
13. Flatline: A Fuse Aftershock Game(5 plays) - Not to sound like a broken record, but here is Renegade Games again. This one had a soft release at Geekway to the West and I was one of the first 50 people to pick it up there. We played it a couple times with Adrian, Zach and Paul and had a wonderful time with it. But this one survived the long summer and the many games that were released in between and is still somewhat in rotation. It’s real time, and that’s normally a no go for me, but this is done right. The entire game isn’t real time, just that frantic one minute per round where you have to match up the right dice to the right areas to save patients that hopefully will provide even more benefit for you based on when you save everyone on that one section. It’s frantic fun and it is absolutely brutal and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
12. Century Spice Road(10 plays) - So, Plan B did a soft release of Century Spice Road at the Gathering of Friends, and it just so happens that I had a friend attending and he knew that I wanted it so we started playing this in April and had a fantastic time with it. It’s really such a simple concept, building your hand of cards which is your trading routes and you play those cards to trade the spices that you have for the spices you need to fulfill orders. Really simple, fun, thinky game that packs a whole lot of punch in such a short timespan. I am a bit worried about it’s longevity in the collection as this was a horrifically deep year for games of this weight and play in that same timeframe(as you will see in the next couple days) and Century Spice Road doesn’t get reached for nearly as often as it used to. But still, it’s an absolute gem of a game.
11. Ex Libris(3 plays) - This was my big Gen Con 2017 excitement. I’m sure there were other games out there that folks wanted more and garnered far more praise, but for me this was the one. Wonderful art and a fun theme centered around books. It’s premise is only hampered by the fact that unless you play this game often, you have to consult the rule book or pick up the locations nearly every round just to read them and figure out what they do. But still, even with that fiddliness and poor graphic design choices, this one manages to shine in that hour long Worker Placement time frame. The premise is simple, you are a collector of books and you are wanting to get the most valuable collection around, but you also have to take care to keep your shelves neatly balanced and organized or things may fall apart for you. Wonderful art, which makes complete sense since it is from artist turned designer Adam McIver who had some help from the wonderful Jacqui Davis on this one. Such a great production from Renegade games, which makes that weird 1st player marker even more befuddling.