2016 Top 25 10-6 (Brandon Kempf)
#10 Exit The Game - The Abandoned Cabin designed by Markus & Inka Brand
Last Played on 8/11/17
So this one may seem a bit odd, but don't worry, it's not. I know most folks would have put the entirety of the series as the entry, but I can't do that as I've only played this one title. We own the other two, and will eventually get them played, but up till now, it's only The Abandoned Cabin that gets the nod.
I tried all three of the initial Unlock! Escape Adventures and quite literally hated almost every moment of playing them. They felt nothing like a puzzle, they felt nothing like an escape room, they felt to me like looking for minutiae on a card that was too small to show the minutiae. But Exit worked, it felt like you were working together to solve the puzzle and the puzzles weren't ridiculously obtuse. They were actually a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the time when we get to sit down and play the rest.
#9 Fabled Fruit designed by Friedemann Friese
Last Played 11/5/17
I STILL HAVE NOT GONE ALL THE WAY THROUGH THIS!!!
Okay, now with that out of the way, I still enjoy the heck out of this game. I just cannot convince anyone to keep going with it after 3 games or so. Not that they aren't having fun or enjoying it, but I just don't have the group that wants to commit that much time to it, not even my family, which kind of makes me sad. But each time I play it and restart from the beginning, I absolutely love the uniqueness of this off-beat "worker placement" game. At two players it seems to definitely favor the first player, but I won't say that too loud as I can't completely vouch for that fact. But I do really enjoy playing this and some weekend hopefully we have enough time to just sit and run through it as a family.
#8 Capital Lux designed by Eilif Svensson, Kristian Amundsen Østby
Last played 3/18/17
Capital Lux is kind of a difficult game to explain, both in scoring and just about every other thing involved in the game, but once you do explain it, and you see everyone's eyes at the table light up about halfway through the game once they figure it out, you've got 'em hooked. It's really at it's heart a card based area control game with some really wonky scoring. You are fighting for control of the Capital, when you play one of your four different cards to the Capital you get to use the power of that card. If you don't want to play to the Capital, you can play one card in front of you in your City. You see, after each round you are going to score each area in the Capital, and if your score in that area is more than your score in your City, you lose all of those cards in the Capital. Thing is, if you do it right, those cards stay out till the next round. End of the game, every card in your City is also worth points, so you gotta balance on that edge each and every card you play. It really is a phenomenal game. All that and I didn't even mention the wonderful Kwanchai Moriya art and the fact that this design duo currently is garnering attention for the well received Santa Maria.
#7 Vast - The Crystal Caverns designed by David Somerville & Patrick Leder
Last Played 10/15/16
Wow, it has been that long since I have played this?!?!
Vast hit me like one of those Summer thunder storms, just kind of hit me out of nowhere. Picked it up at Gen Con after talking with Patrick and getting a demo and then immediately played a 4 player game in a crowded Hotel room and enjoyed the heck out of it. Played it two more times and enjoyed each and every bit of it. It's just such an investment though for new players to jump in. It's also a huge investment for the teacher to be able to teach each and every character that is chosen, so that hinders it greatly. But there is something absolutely wonderful here, and wholly unique. Everyone has a different goal, and everyone has different ways to obtain that goal. Just absolutely a testament to the team there at Leder and David Somerville that this even works at all.
#6 Flamme Rouge designed by Asger Harding Granerud
Last Played 2/21/17
I love racing games and I love hand management and Flamme Rouge is all that and a bag of chips. This is the final Stronghold Games title on the list, but man alive, this is by far my favorite one. The way you accumulate fatigue cards if you are leading the race or not drafting is a brilliant way to simulate the energy you expend during a cycling race, at least I would figure it does. It really is just a lot of fun, now if I could just convince my family that racing games are fun they'd get played a lot more.