Best Board Games of 2016
I broke a person record, I played over 200 new games in 2016. While I feel like 2015 was a better year for gaming there were so many good ones in 2016. Here's a list of a few of them.
- •ImhotepOn your turn you can do one of three things: get bricks, put a brick on a boat, or sail a boat. Imhotep is a game about building pyramids, tombs, and obelisks. It's a game about timing out your actions and pushing your luck. Oh, and it was nominated for the coveted Speil Des Jahres Award.
- •Cottage GardenWhile Uwe Rosenberg is known for his heavy games he made a great two player game called Patchwork. Players buy Tetris shaped pieces of cloth and fit them together to make a quilt. Cottage Garden builds off this idea as players now compete to make a garden of flowers, well Tetris shaped flower beds. The game adds some interesting variety and a bit more to think about. The game also adds the ability to play with up to 4 players.
- •A Feast for OdinA Feast for Odin is another Uwe game. Unlike Cottage Garden, this one is really heavy. The game uses the Tetris-like puzzle of Cottage Garden, but adds tons crazy mechanisms including his famous mechanism of having to feed your people several times throughout the game. If you're looking for a crazy big game this may be it.
- •InsiderOne of my favorite publishers is Oink Games. They make amazing games that fit in small 4 inch boxes. Insider plays like 20 questions in which the players ask "Yes and No" questions to figure out a secret word. The twist is one of the players guessing also knows the secret word and is helping everyone but if they're to obvious with their help they lose. This 10 minute game will be the hit at your next game night.
- •Key to the City: LondonOne of my favorite Euro games I own is Keyflower. It's a too heavy for my more casual gamer friends and a lot of my more serious gamer friends already own it, so my copy just sits on my shelf. Key to the City plays a lot like Keyflower, but it's a bit less dense and you get to build the city of London. Unfortunately this game is really expensive or I'd get myself a copy immediately. Maybe I'll get the next one if he does another city (I'm hoping for Los Angeles).
- •World's Fair 1893I'll admit that World's Fair caught me by surprise. I was at a convention and someone asked if I wanted to play it. This game from Renegade Games has a nice clean look that I love in a family weight game. It's cute, historical, and easy to play. It's not a run out and buy game for me, but I think most gaming groups will benefit from having it in their collection.
- •Kodama: The Tree SpiritsI sometimes want to complain about Kodama because I wish the scoring was a bit more dynamic and that the cards were a bit more balanced. But it's hard to complain after you finish the game. In Kodama you play cards in order to build a tree and by the end of the game you have a beautiful tree with all kinds of plants and creatures on it. I love the art style and I think the game will appeal to a lot of new gamers.
- •ScytheScythe isn't really my cup of tea. It's got a lot of attacking, it's long, and you can get into positions where it feels hopeless for you to win. Despite all that, I liked it... And if you like big combat games it's almost a guarantee you'll love it. Oh and the artwork is really great.
- •Animals on BoardIn Animals on Board you fill up an ark with different animals. On your turn you either split the animals into groups or you take a group of animals. Animals come with a number between 1 and 5. If you get one it scores points equal to its face value. 3 or more and you score 5 points each. If you get exactly 2 they score you 0 points, apparently someone has a patent on doing that.
- •Terraforming MarsTerraforming Mars is a game in which you talk on the role of a corporation trying to colonize Mars. The first game you play will be a monumental feat. There are a ton of cards and a ton of text, but if you power through you'll be rewarded with one of the best games of the year. I do have a feeling that now that I know the game I'll no longer want to play with newbies because the learning curve is so high.
- •Junk ArtThere is this dexterity game that I like a lot called Bandu. Bandu isn't the best game it mostly is stacking weird pieces and hoping your structure doesn't fall. I just like the way it looks. Well this year Junk Art came out and pretty much destroyed Bandu. The pieces are better and the rules are better. In fact, there's like 12 ways to play in the box.
- •Gone CuckooGone Cuckoo is a really cute dexterity game in which players build a bird's nest. It's hard to describe beyond that. Lay a stick, place an egg, try to get rid of all of your eggs. Just looks at the photo and tell me this game doesn't look cool
- •The Great Western TrailProbably the best heavy game of the year. This game is about being a cowboy... like a real cowboy who drives cattle. You pick up cattle in St. Louis and drop it off in Kansas City. There's so many decisions to make in this game and honestly my only gripe is that the game is 3 hours long and there seems to be no way around it.
- •Fabled FruitFabled Fruit is a semi legacy game that you can reset. I've never made it all the way through all of the cards but I've played the game somewhere around six times. The first game you play of it seems kind of dumb or at least a little to simple. Everyone at the table had a, "Is this it" feeling. But as we played it more and got deeper in the more and more we liked it. In fact, the player who liked it the least now owns it. This is awesome for a game about getting fruit and making juice.
- •AvenueThere's one last game I want to mention. This won't wow a lot of people, but those who like this game will probably love it. Players will simultaneously draw lines somewhere on their player boards. At the end of each round they will need to score a particular city, the catch is that each round you have to do better than the previous round.
- •The OthersMaybe 2016 was a good year for games. I didn't mention the solid Euro game, Lorenzo Il Magnifico, The Castles of Burgundy card game, The new Pandemic:Iberia, the cute party game Knit Wit, or Mystic Vale. I felt a bit weird about putting Mystic Vale on the list since I was a playtester on the game and have been playing it since 2015. I also didn't mention the party game Secret Hitler because as I was playing while Trump was elected and it's now a bit sour in my mouth. Nah, 2015 was still better.