Now that we’re just over halfway through the year I figured I would make a list of my top five board games of the year so far. These titles may have been released prior to 2022, but I have not played them until this year. So here we go.
5. A War Of Whispers (Starling Games)
I’ve been waiting for this game for quite some time given its epic look and also its reliance on deception and negotiation. Set in a quasi Game of Thrones world, you’ll try to manipulate cubes on a map to help ensure that the 5 game factions finish in the order they were randomly assigned to you at the beginning of the game. Since each player’s ranking of the factions remains hidden for most of the game, players may or not be helping each other with their respective moves. This adds a satisfying amount of tension and lots of fun.
4. Brian Boru: High King of Ireland (Osprey Games)
This game uses trick-taking with a view toward area control. Since those are two of my favorite mechanics I had to give this one a shot and I was not disappointed. The cards you play have both a win and a loss condition so even if you don’t take the trick you may be able to position yourself to gain control of the various areas on the board nevertheless. It is a pretty unique concept as far as I’m concerned and it comes together perfectly for me. I also find the artwork intriguing.
3. Wallenstein (Queen Games)
This area control game is an older one, but it is new to me so it gets on my 2022 list. I picked up the big box version recently and so far I love it. I think about it quite often, actually. It has a programming aspect for your 10 actions. Everyone takes the same action at the same time, but the location of where the action is performed is secretly pre-programmed and then revealed. Decisions get tough real early in this one. There’s also an excellent combat mechanism that should be used in more games, and that is the cube tower – think dice tower but for dropping in cubes. Whoever has the most cubes making it to the bottom of the tower wins combat. Making it more exciting is that the tower is designed so that some of the cubes get stuck in nooks and crannies until future combats when they can be dislodged. It seemed like a novelty at first, but much of the excitement in the game comes from that damn tower. So don’t be deceived by the box art. This game is a classic.
2. Brass: Birmingham (Roxley Games)
I know, I know, this game set in the industrial revolution is an all-time classic and the new printing makes it even better. So why is it only number two so far? ‘Cause it drains my brain in a good but exhausting way, and that makes it less attractive than number one on this list for me. I’ve played it a couple of times now and I do love it. And even though it hurts my brain as much or more than any other game I’ve ever played, I can see why this game is a classic. While the mechanisms are pretty simple (play two cards and draw two cards) there’s no doubt that the level of strategy required to excel at this game is as high as any out there. Every decision feels like the game-winner or loser. After each game, I keep replaying things I did well and things I didn’t do so well in hopes of having another chance to improve upon my last game. That’s the sign of a great one. Martin Wallace is a design genius and a game like this proves why.
1. First Rat (Pegasus Spiele)
You’ve probably never heard of this game and neither did I until a couple of months ago. But I have played it numerous times since then and for a game with very few mechanics, the level of thinking and planning and trying to be as efficient as possible is a challenging (but tolerable) exercise for the mind. Also, the concept of the game is that we are rats in a junkyard trying to collect resources to build a rocket and place our Ratronauts on it so that we can launch it to the cheese moon. There’s something somewhat melancholy and poignant about that. It is an impossible task but we believe it to be our destiny. To quote Bill and Ted, “whoa.” First Rat is a great game that deserves a lot of acclaim and one I continuously hope to get to the table in the future. You should definitely check this one out.
Anyway, that’s my list so far of games that are new to me this year through the halfway point. I hope this gives you something to chew on and maybe a few ideas for games you want to check out. What are your top five so far? I’ve put links below to any videos I’ve done on the above-mentioned games. Be a sport and subscribe to the Fenirob YouTube channel. And most of all, keep nerding on.
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