What an awesome year 2014 was for board gaming! With nearly a full year under our belts running this site, I am very happy to be associated with a fine group of lads and ladies. Being fairly new to the hobby my collection was small, but over the past year my game collection has grown drastically. Unfortunately for this list, I can’t include some of the older games that I was introduced to and added to my collection. This year, though, there have been some really great games released and without further ado, here are my favorites.
Splendor is a light, engine building game that involves using gems to buy different cards to garner points. Cards are separated into different tiers each with escalating costs providing you with permanent gem resources, points or both. The components are high quality and the poker chips in the game are very cool.
4. Tiny Epic Kingdoms
Gamelyn Games has had an amazing year and the Tiny Epic Kingdoms Kickstarter was hugely successful. In Tiny Epic Kingdoms, you are working to complete different quests throughout the kingdom to be the first to advance your chosen civilization. Alliances are formed and battles for tiny territories and resources are common place. I have yet to play this game with more than two players but I can only imagine it gets better since the two-player variant is already enjoyable. Everything about this game is tiny and epic!
3. Camel Up
Camel Up has become a crowd-pleaser with it’s ease of play appealing to the different types of gamers in our group. After playing, I was surprised with the balance between luck and strategy. There are a number of cool mechanisms in the game that work beautifully and are a ton of fun: the pyramid for rolling the dice and the camel movement allowing them to hop on top of each other. I have played Camel Up with a variety of player counts, including 2-player, and each time it was enjoyable. This game gets really exciting when you absolutely know for sure that the blue camel is going to win the race and you go all in; then the stupid orange camel jumps on his back and rides atop him to victory! Check out our full review here!
2. Five Tribes
If you enjoy camels, deserts, and genies, then you need to check out Five Tribes. This is a giant, AP prone, point-salad, but I love it. The game uses a Mancala-esque mechanism to move pieces, claim tiles and score points. The different colored meeples you collect offer special actions and help you acquire Djinn cards to gain special abilities. The game also scales very well with different player counts and works particularly well as a 2-player game. The components and quality are top notch, which is what we have come to expect from a Days of Wonder title.
My wife and I absolutely love Istanbul. The game scales perfectly for two players and offers a couple different variants to keep the game fresh. When I first played this with the League I knew I had to have it in my collection. I was a worried that it would be on the difficult side for casual gamers, but so far it has been a hit with all types of gamers. The concepts of the game are easy to grasp yet it offers a good amount of strategy for the seasoned gamer. After many many plays, I can see the growing need for an expansion to keep it fresh but I will always love when Istanbul hits the table.