Ever since I started working at Pasadena, discovering and learning new games has become a real thing. The more I play, the more I think about what games I like. In fact, I have to really narrow my choices if I want to buy a game. I can’t just collect games willy nilly…I have to really think about it. And even though the list below is what I consider my top games of 2016, I won’t necessarily buy them.
The 2016 Top 10
- Pandemic Legacy, Season 1
- Pandemic Legacy, Season 1 – July
- Pandemic Legacy, Season 1 – October
- Survive: Escape from Atlantis
- Captain Sonar
- Sushi Go Party!
- The Game of 49
- Secret Hitler
- Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
- Penny Press
- Dead of Winter
- Flick ’em Up
- Space Cadet
- Leo Needs a Barber
- Burgle Bros.
- Champions of Midgard
- Francis Drake
- Alien Frontiers
The Worst Game of 2016
- …and then we held hands
#1-3: Pandemic Legacy
After a little bit of turmoil in personnel on my team last summer, my coworker suggested we play the epic Pandemic Legacy, Season 1. Pretty much all the message boards ranked it as number one and is highly recommended in among gaming reviews.
And let me tell you, the game did not disappoint.
Imagine playing your favorite board game where the results of the game influenced how you play the next game. The roles each of the players play gain additional powers, and the rules told you to open up secret boxes only if certain events happened? What if at the end of Monopoly, certain properties became more difficult to purchase. Or what if after a few games, the game rules told you throw away the six sided dice and to open up a secret box with twelve sided dice?
The coworkers and I normally play different games each every other day or so, testing out new games and sometimes revising old ones. This was the exception. We played Pandemic Legacy, Season 1 and unprecedented 18 times in a row. Bottom line? We ended pretty much losing the game as a whole. The world ended in chaos, with the potential for recovery.
However, I would love to play the game with a bunch of new players to see how differently things would come out in the end.
I can’t wait for Pandemic Legacy, Season 2 to come out.
#4 Survive: Escape from Atlantis
The largest consideration for me when deciding to purchase a new game is whether or not my wife would enjoy and/or would want to suggest playing the game. This is one of those games. It’s highly competitive, back-stabby, negotiate-y, has a lot of variation and many paths to victory. Everyone tries to escape the island, which is sinking, by trying to f*ck over the other players or draft off of their strategy.
It’s great. Still need to figure out how to play with the expansions though. But, she enjoyed the game so much, that she suggested her parents buy it for me for Christmas.
AND, we were all surprised to learn that this game is 35 years old!
This is another board game that my wife enjoyed (highly competitive and has a traditional board game feel)
It has a high replay value, as you have to invent a strategy on every turn. And of course, the goal is to get as much gold, I mean points, before someone hits the finish line on the other side of the island.
The artwork is amazing. The packaging is amazing. The instructions are amazing.
#6 Captain Sonar
If you imagine Battleship, but with one ship which you can move and the only way to hit your opponent is by listening to them call out the directions that they are travelling. It’s tense. It’s strategic. The ship is constantly breaking down.
The real only downside to the game is that you need a minimum of 6 players (3 vs. 3) to play, as each team has several roles that need to be filled in order to win: Sonar Operator, Engineer, Systems Operator, and Navigator.
Karuba is so simple, that you don’t really need any of the other players to play. Since everyone has their own board, your game decisions don’t affect the other players. So, if you fail to get the treasure, then it’s your own fault.
The best way to describe its simple mechanic is: imagine bingo. One player draws a random tile from the pile and reads its number, then all the players locate that tile and place it on the board. Assemble the tiles to form pathways for your guy to get to the treasure. However, you also have to decide when to discard a tile instead of placing in order to move your guy.
#8 Sushi Go Party!
My wife and I loved the original Sushi Go, but for me the limitation of the game is that it’s a little annoying to have to keep track of the points on phone or scrap piece of paper. The other problem is that, Sushi Go is so fun that we want to play with more people. The Party! version fixes that. There’s a game board where you can track your points and the number of players can go up to 8. AND there are new cards in the menu to change up the game play each time you play it!
#9 The Game of 49
My coworker pitched this game as “the gamer version of Connect 4.” It’s more or less accurate, but I think a better comparison is Bingo, but where all the players share the same board. A number is revealed and all the players have to make a bid in order to be able to place their piece on the board. Then if you can connect 4 squares, you win.
This game definitely has the feel of a classic game. The artwork even looks like it might be a classic game. Purchase it at Target.
#10 Secret Hitler
If you’ve ever played Mafia, Werewolf, Resistance, or any kind of “secret role” game, then you’ll get this game right away. What places this game on the list is the theme. Liberals vs. Fascists. And one person is the Secret Hitler. If the Fascist team can pass enough fascist laws and Hitler can get himself elected, then they win. If the Liberals have to pass 5 liberal laws in order for them to win.
The game plays best with at least 7 people, so that Hitler’s identity is truly a secret.
The Worst Game of 2016: “…and then, we held hands”
Let me just quickly discuss what I consider the “worst game” of 2016. It’s really a bad game, it’s extremely difficult to win AND you’re not allowed to discuss strategies and pathways to victory with the other player. Both players (it’s a 2 player game) have to discard cards in order to move their piece from space to space, eventually finishing in the center of the board. But if you discard too many cards in your move, you or your partner might not be able to move on the next turn, then you lose the game. If you discard too many cards, you might not be able to draw any cards at the end of your turn, which then means you might not be able to move to another space, then you lose the game.
It might be too intellectual and too much of a puzzle game for it to be “fun”. I mean, it’s fun. Just a real challenge.