That time of the year has arrived. Christmas music is playing, Michael Buble has come out of hibernation, and Cadbury’s Heroes make the majority of their yearly sales. We are all preparing to eat, drink, and be merry over the next few days (if you are reading this post-Christmas 2017 then just change that to the past tense). Naturally, now that it is too late to get anything delivered online for the big day, it is the best time to talk about what our recommendations are for 2017. Hooray for being organised.
This year has been a great one for our gaming hobby. We have played so many awesome games that we want to recommend, but I know I will be writing forever if we recommend them all. So, with that in mind we have worked hard to limit the games by whatever criteria we can to whittle down this list a little bit.
So, in no particular order, this is a list of the top games we discovered and played for the first time in 2017. They are not necessarily games that came out in 2017, but they are games we enjoyed. Viva la meeples…la meeplusion…viva la…screw it, let’s just talk about some games.
Scythe (by Jamey Stegmaier)
Having Scythe on this list should not come as a surprise to anyone who has read this blog for the past couple of months, and I, on a personal note, have really enjoyed writing articles about it. Hands down, Scythe wins any award we may have (note to self: invent awards) for just being an all-star game. It has everything you may want from a game, from great gameplay to amazing miniatures, awesome artwork to an incredible production value, all the way to a great scope for strategy. Yes, Scythe deserves to be talked about and adored by all board game players. It is simply beautiful.
So, what is Scythe about? Well, that could take a while to explain and we still have a load of games to get through, so here are the core points. At its core, Scythe is a territory control, resource management, conquest game based in an alternative Eastern Europe where The Factory has been boosting local technology to create giant mechs. Doesn’t make sense to you? Trust me, it will as soon as you collect your first piece of metal. You’ll have an epiphany moment where you just need to play more and more and more.
Scythe is one of those game that keeps on giving this year. It is currently ridiculously high in the top board games of all time list, and the asymmetrical nature of the game means that every player has a different experience every time they play. Each faction has their own strengths and weaknesses. Each series of actions is unique to that player. This makes it highly accessible, and although not a light game it is well worth playing. Scythe isn’t easy but it is a challenge that board games players will relish having.
The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game (by Eric B. Vogel)
A relatively late addition to our table, we have played The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game a lot over the past couple of months, so much so we have also purchased two of three expansion packs and are considering both the third and ordering the Kickstarter additional material off the Evil Hat website.
The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game takes its name, it may come as no surprise, from The Dresden Files book series and, it has to be said, it acts as a faithful companion for the written word. That being said, the game is so much more. It is a whole game within its own right, whether you are a fan of the books or not. It is a glorious romp into the realm of the Nevernever and all it may throw up onto the world. It is because of this that we recommend it.
The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game deserves recognition on lists such as these because it is such a well made and well rounded game. Ranging from one to four people, the players take control of one (or more depending on the number there are) heroes from the Dresden Files universe. Together they must overcome obstacles, and use magic, weapons, and skills to defeat the enemies of the mortal world. It has been beautifully put together to form a fast-moving, story-driven card game that is more than just a franchise plug.
Scrawl (by Big Potato Games)
Scrawl is one of those games we end up recommending to everyone for one very good reason. It is, without a doubt, the easiest to play game on this list. What is more, it is both a great party game and a great equaliser. Everyone we have played it with, whether hardcore gamer or relative newbie to the gaming scene, has enjoyed playing and had fun within the weird Dali-esque nightmare that is Scrawl.Scrawl is a drawing game, similar to Telestrations, in which players will draw a card with a random phrase on it, physically draw it on a mini whiteboard, before covering the picture up with another whiteboard. The concoction is then passed onto the next player who will guess what it is on the new whiteboard, before covering it again. The next person has to draw what that person wrote, and so on.
What really makes Scrawl fun is twofold. The first is that noone can draw well with a 5mm felt pen, no matter who they are. The other is the nature of the cards – some are innocent enough, however some are dirty and some are outright weird. Scrawl is certainly not a game for kids, but instead should be considered an evolution in the adult party game world.
Gloomhaven (by Isaac Childres)
Where to even begin with Gloomhaven? Just last month my regular gaming group and I started our first Gloomhaven campaign, and it is an absolute riot.
Gloomhaven has spent most of 2017 being amongst the most discussed games on Board Game Geek (up there with Scythe and a few other awesome games) and, I have to admit, rightly so. Isaac Childres has made an incredibly smooth game.
Gloomhaven, for want of a better way of describing it, is a Euro inspired RPG designed to create the ultimate tabletop experience. No expense has been spared in creating an adventure that really feels epic in this board game, which I am fairly sure is currently retailing for over £100.
There are certain games that, as a blogger, I just love writing about and, I have to admit, Gloomhaven is one of those games. In a way that is the highest compliment I can pay a game.
No, Gloomhaven is more than just a game that is fun to write about. It is an adventure, in which you guide a character through a world of missions and monsters, to accomplish their ultimate life goals. To do that you have to make decisions that have a real impact on the campaign, fight monsters and strategies on missions to the absolute best of your ability. Gloomhaven throws you in at the deepend and watches you start to drown before it starts to teach you how to swim. It is great fun and a real water-cooler game – everyone has a different experience.
Sub Terra (by Tim Pinder)
One of our go-to gateway games this year, we originally discovered Sub Terra at the UK Games Expo. Since then, since buying it completely blind and based purely on how popular it was, we have ended up recommending it to almost everyone we know – regular gamer or not.
So, what is Sub Terra about? Well, Sub Terra is a cooperative tile placement and exploration game based around the notion of cavers. You, as a team, have gone to explore caves and, in great horror traditon, avoiding everything from cave ins to giant monsters. What is more, you have to work as a team to complete your goal, as if there are too many of you who die in the caves then the whole game is lost.
Sub Terra is a thrilling game that really helps evoke the feeling of isolation and panic that makes it stand out as an entry in the horror genre. This has been one of the stand out games of the year, especially as a game that succeeds so well at provoking a constant state of fear of losing the game and being left behind (this is best imagined in an announcing voice) in THE CAVE.
Sub Terra is a really good game because it achieves the emotional response that it sets out to reach. Namely, it is a horror game that actually captures that feeling of a good horror movie. That is really hard to do within a board game and for that we commend it.
Star Wars: Destiny (by Corey Konieczka and Lukas Litzsinger)
It wouldn’t be a recommendations list without mention of (a) a Star Wars game and (b) talk of one of the hottest CCGs to hit the scene over the past couple of years. Yes, this year we played Star Wars: Destiny and we loved it.
The question really becomes “why?” and I think the answer is really simple. Star Wars: Destiny is a deckbuilding game with a huge amount of versatility for change. The whole idea behind Destiny is to simulate combat between two teams of Star Wars characters. As such the game is incredibly fast-moving, with a standard game lasting no more than 20 minutes. Each side battles it out to force the other team into defeat through any number of means.
Where we really like Destiny, however, is that the premise, the fact each deck is only 30 cards and there are so many combinations, is such that it is easy to try any style of deck you want without huge amounts of investment. Instead, all it takes is a few choice cards and a couple of characters, and from there you can have a mill deck, an aggro deck, a control deck – whatever you want. The fast playtime makes it really easy to refine a deck to precisely what you want it to be.
What is more, Destiny is produced by Fantasy Flight, meaning the production quality is incredible.Everything, from the artwork to the components are incredibly well made.
Star Wars: Destiny uses dice as a core mechanic to the game and can include both artistic strategy in regards to playing the player, as well as purely mathematical strategies in playing the odds. It is truly a game where the player can make it their own and for that we have to recommend it.
So there you have it – our top recommendations of games we have played in 2017. It’s been a fun ride, and with a few days to go until 2018 we can only look forward to the games ahead. All I can say is thank you to everyone who has read my articles over the past few months, helped me write them, research them, and who I’ve played games with.
Happy holidays folks, and I’ll see you on the other side.