Once again, it is the season of Gamesmas – that time, with year’s end approaching, that I get a little selfish and want to make sure I get in as many of “my” games in as I can before the new year. “My” games are the ones that I am particularly fond of that may not get as much love from my normal gaming group – either they’ve moved on to something more shiny and new, or have forgotten how much fun “my” games are. And while I normally acquiesce to their gaming preferences, I am more insistent on mine hitting the table during Gamesmas. Anyway, since I write game related articles, I shall now share this year’s list with you. These are my gaming highlights over the last month. So, on the first day of Gamesmas…
1) 12 Days (Calliope Games)
Trick taking fun with great Christmas art and lots of interaction. Players move through the 12 days of Christmas bidding on a gift each day worth increasing points. Everyone plays a card simultaneously and lowest card wins. In a twist, at the end of the game the players with the highest cards in hand get bonus points. This causes a bit of strategic tension that is fun but easy enough for non-gamers to grasp.
2) The Arrival (Cryptozoic)
Protect mythological Ireland from the Fomori by building and holding cities to prevent the demons’ spread across the land. While players don’t attack each other directly, they use the Fomori to attack instead. There are multiple end game scenarios that place more importance on different scoring tracks (corruption and honor) so players are in a constant push and pull as to which strategy will win out. A unique game that I’m glad I got a chance to finally play.
#TheArrival @cryptozoicentertainment #dicedropgames #boardgames #victory
3) Camel Up (2018 printing) (Eggertspiele)
Betting on a camel race taking place on a beautiful 3-D Egyptian themed board is as crazy and fun as it sounds. But what takes this game to a different level is the short bursts of tactical decisions you need to make in order to best hedge your bets. I was surprised at the euro style feel the game play provided. Also, dropping dice out of a pyramid is pretty cool.
4) Soul of the Empire (Chara Games)
It’s 33 A.D. and the Romans, Christians, Jews, and Germanic tribes are in a struggle to survive. The unique theme alone made me want to try this game, but the asymmetry in the factions and the winning conditions for each made it even more intriguing. Then, once I got to play it, the intensity won me over completely. The game does a great job at placing players right into the fray, and conflict is present from beginning to end, just as I imagine it would have been historically. A great combination of theme and mechanics unlike any I’ve seen. Highly recommended. Read my full review, here.
5) Santa’s Workshop (Rio Grande)
Great worker placement fun as players become elves trying to make the most toys in the week before Santa’s big night. The art is beautiful and the game is a bit meaner than it looks because space availability becomes tight, especially toward the end of the game. But that just rewards the elf who better plans ahead! It’s a super fun and thematic holiday game.
#Santa #Letters #Elves #ohmy #boardgames #christmas @riograndegames #dicedropgames
6) The Golden Ages (Stronghold Games)
Every time I get to play this euro style civilization-builder I marvel at how streamlined the mechanics are. Turns move quickly with very little down time. Player interaction feels more like a cold war than a world war – almost transactional in nature. Technological advances take precedence over direct conflict, and yet the few wars that happen (though quick) matter. One of the most elegant game designs out there. If you like civ games, it is a hidden gem.
7) Brew Crafters (Dice Hate Me Games)
I got to play this with a couple of my serious gamer friends (over some brews of course) this holiday season. Players create breweries and vie to make the best beers to earn the most reputation points by game’s end. While this game is very brain burning, with constant tough decisions that have far reaching effects, its theme shines through very well. This transforms it into a satisfying experience whose sum that is greater than its parts. It has become one of my favorite games.
8) Space Park (Keymaster Games)
One of the prettiest games I played all year, Space Park is a quick action selection/set collection game with relatively simple rules, that requires enough strategy to win. This has been a hit among different game groups this season. A solid game with little down time that pairs well with the holiday beverage of your choice.
#SpacePark #boardgames #pretty @keymastergames Solid game and beautiful components.
9) Deadwood 1876 (Facade Games)
What better way to celebrate the holidays than gunfights in the old west? 2-9 players square off trying to be in the location with the most gold at the end of the game. Then, the winning “team” will have a shootout to determine the REAL winner, because, well… this town ain’t big enough for the both of us. Deadwood is silly and fun and makes a perfect family party game that suits larger player counts. Facade Games also does a great job with their art, components, and boxes. Read my full review, here.
10) Moons (Quick Simple Fun Games)
This is a trick taking game with a bit of twist, as players are trying to use their cards to collect moon tokens in order to make sets. The game is designed so that sometimes losing the trick is better than winning in order to gain the token you need. Overall, Moons injects enough interesting choices into the trick-taking genre to make it worth checking out. It is easy to teach and plays quickly, which should make it more likely to hit your family table during the holidays.
11) 878 Vikings (Academy Games)
Isn’t every day a holiday when you’re a Viking? The answer is no, hell no. I never pass up the opportunity to play a game published by Academy Games. Their “Birth Of” series employs some of the best mechanics in board gaming. In this one, the English play the turtleing defenders, trying to hold off the hoards of invading Vikings as they land in wave after wave. The game often goes back and forth, with each player certain they are going to win and/or lose (is that “swingy?”) until someone actually does. Great dice chucking fun.
12) Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done (Tasty Minstrel)
In this action selection/area control game, players move around the board collecting tokens and placing buildings in order to upgrade their crusading machine and gain the most influence. Actions are chosen using a rondel, which is a pretty clever mechanic that worked very well. I am not sure that I’ve played an area control game with no direct player conflict before, but I was ok with that in Crusaders. I really can’t wait to try this one again. Maybe next year!
Well, that’s it. Happy holidays and Merry New Year, nerds. Wherever you are this season, I hope you get the chance to enjoy family and friends, and also games.
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