I’ve played a good amount of good games this year, but here are some of the awesome ones I enjoyed most. Behold my Top 5 of 2014!
5. Red 7
This neat filler is hardly complex. In fact, there’s only one condition to follow throughout the card game: be winning at the end of your turn or you’re out! It can take a few rounds to get a feel for more efficient ways to play your cards, but once you do, it’ll keep you coming back for more with its short play time. It can also be mixed up with variants, increasing its replay value. Red 7 is everything I want from a filler: quick and enjoyable in short spurts.
Described as Clue meets Dixit because…well, it’s Clue meets Dixit, Mysterium is a challenging, murder mystery co-op game. Each player attempts to guess an item, location, and person over the course of seven days with the help of a mute ghost. That ghost will hint at elements from your dreams with cards containing abstract art to unveil what really happened in the manor. Playing up to seven people, it’s great in a larger group as you all work together to decipher the clues. Mysterium will have you (and the ghost!) scratching your head as you try to determine what exactly the ghost is hinting at.
3. Camel Up
Pure fun—plain and simple. There’s no need to overthink it, just place your bets and let the wackiness begin. Be sure to check out our review as well as Dan and Tiff’s reasoning for Camel Up making an appearance in their lists.
One of the more unique gameplay experiences of the year, for me, goes to Bullfrogs. The dynamic board atop the strategic method by which your frogs leap into and out of battle (run away!) made for an interesting take on the lilypad control genre. Most satisfying is having a chain reaction of frog battles! For a more in-depth look at Bullfrogs, hop over to our preview.
As a huge fan of abstract strategy games, Nika hits my sweet spot and takes top honors. This is a game of small battles within a larger war. Several stand-offs can occur whilst trying to outsmart and outflank your opponent. You’ll often have to make difficult decisions that could put you in a better position to advance or leave you completely vulnerable. Individual hoplite soldiers move about swiftly, while a phalanx of soldiers provide strength in numbers. At the corners, the tension is palpable! As a gamer who generally likes quicker games, abstract strategy games are the exception. Minimal rules make for an approachable game that requires skill to master. Nika makes you think. I like that.
Quantum: Those dice starships. Oohwee! More plays of this and it’d likely be in my Top 5.
Eggs and Empires: The added layer of strategy to the familiar blind bidding is a welcome one in Eggs and Empires as you attempt to avoid the dreaded exploding egg! Check out our preview for more details.