The 12 Lists of Christmas – Top 5 Games of 2016

It’s been a great year for new games, and it was pretty tough for me to narrow down my list to just five. It probably doesn’t help that I’m something of an omnigamer so I had a lot of games to decide between. But I had to be ruthless, and so here are my top 5 games of 2015 followed by a bonus list of the Top 5 Games of 2016 I Want to Eventually Play since I didn’t even come close to playing everything released during the last year.

#5 – Lotus

It’s quick, it’s small, it’s beautiful, and it deserves all the praise it’s been getting. I’ve introduced this game to multiple types of gamers and never had it flop. It won’t be one of my most-played games probably, as my game nights tend towards longer fare, but this is a game that I can staying in my collection for a long time, perfect for taking to meet friends for lunch or for playing after dinner.

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#4 – A Feast for Odin

Uwe Rosenberg’s latest big box offering takes the spatial puzzle aspects I adore in patchwork and combines them with worker placement. This game has the most placement options in a worker placement game I’ve ever experienced, makes the dreaded “feeding your people” mechanic so important that the game is named for it, and features random die-based “combat” when hunting & whaling, and I adore it all. It comes together amazingly, the occupation cards add direction without forcing you down a particular path, and the huge amount of variety means I just can’t imagine the game getting stale. I haven’t tried Cottage Garden yet, but for now this might just be my favourite Rosenberg.

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#3 – The Oracle of Delphi

It’s from Stefan Feld, so the chances of this game not making my list were slim. what is surprising is how different this Feld plays. It’s a race game, with players vying to finish their tasks first, and so there’s not only no point-salad, there are no points at all. I love the relative speed of the game, the hugely variable set-up, and the fact that while my available actions are determined by the dice, this isn’t actually nearly as limited as one might think. My only beef with the game is in some severely questionable production choices, in particular the colours. I’ve already repainted all of the red wooden bits in my copy plus the red borders found on the tiles in an effort to increase contrast, and yet there were still some colour issues during my last game both with the red/pink and with the green borders on shrine sites being indistinguishable from their backgrounds. For a game with such great initial table presence, it’s really unsatisfying to realize during play how poor the design choices were in certain areas. I still really like the game, but couldn’t place it higher in good conscience.

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#2 – Flamme Rouge

I barely even paid attention to this bicycle racing game until Eric brought it over to my house one weekend when we held an impromptu mini-RUTHCon. Having learned it that day, later taught it that same day, and played and taught the game on a couple more occassions, I have to say that I love this game. The drifting mechanic works beautifully and makes for interesting choices when deciding on which card to play, having a team of two cyclist leads to some interesting turns when you get them to cooperate, and the game is a dream to set up and teach. The 2 racers for each team could be easier to tell apart, though paint may help, but that’s a tiny niggle for a wonderful racing game.

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#1 – SeaFall

This legacy game features 3-5 provinces vying for glory as they explore the seas to the west of home, hoping to find new islands and gain the power to become the next ruler. During the course of the campaign, a player’s total amount of glory obtained will determine their rank for each session. It’s like Merchants and Marauders combined with a CYOA book, and I love it! Players have tons of options on how they’re going to play but the guilds system limits which choices can be combined, meaning that individual turns don’t bog down. We’re playing with the full complement of five players and so far, everyone is getting increasingly attached to their province, its leaders, and the story they’re building. I thoroughly enjoying every play session, and the only sad part about the whole thing is the fact that at some distant point, the experience will come to a conclusion.

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Bonus Content – Top 5 Games of 2016 I Want to Eventually Play

  • Trikerion
  • Cottage Garden
  • Clank
  • Honshu
  • Roll Player

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