Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The best games I wished I had played in 2016

Happy (almost) New Year!

While I own several board games, I don't often get many chances to play them. Rather than post yet another "best of the year" list, here are the 10 games I wished I had gotten a chance to play in 2016.

NOTE: Most of these games on this list are still sitting on my shelf in shrink wrap.  So, these are my ill-informed impressions of what may or may not be the best games of 2016.

10. Star Wars Clue

I don't care how hokey the original game is, I still really like Clue. I have a few versions of it (still need to get the Dungeons and Dragons version) and when I took one look at that 3D model of the Death Star I had to have it! I mean, look at this thing!

I already have some cool Star Wars Command figures and that Death Star is going to double as a rad playset for them! My lovely wife got this for me for Christmas but when I asked my family if they wanted to play, they all watched "It's a Wonderful Life" instead. Maybe I'll get it out of shrink-wrap before 2017 is over.

9. Star Trek Panic

Let's get this straight. I am a Star Wars fan. Star Trek was always 2nd (actually 4th or 5th) down the line in my favorite space-centric franchises, but there is something about that cardboard Enterprise that you can attach explosions to that is just so cool!

2016 is going to go down in my book as the "year of the rad cardboard 3D models in board games" (see other entries below). I have always loved the "toyetic" nature of games and that is what drew me to Star Trek Panic. I had played the original Castle Panic (meh but my son likes it) I resisted buying this at Gen-Con because I was already lugging enough games back to California as it was. So I waited until to buy it when came out in stores. Now I am waiting to actually play this game with someone.

8. Raptor

First of all, Raptor is designed by two guys named Bruno. And they're really good game designers too. Secondly, I was working on my own "dinosaur island" themed board game (It's called "Diamonds and Dinosaurs" - I'd keep the name but the D&D acronym is already taken. Who knew?) and wanted to see how this one played. Thirdly, take a look at this game! Miniature Dinosaurs and 3D mountains!? It's like Jurassic Park in a box!

In Raptor (according to the back of the box) you are a pissed-off Mamma Raptor defending her adorable little babies from tranquilizer dart gun wielding scientists! It's actually an asymmetrical game that looks like it could be really viscous and a lot of fun, but I wouldn't know because I haven't played it yet.

7. Above and Below

I had the pleasure meeting Ryan Laukat at Gen-Con this year and he was a very nice guy. That's why I bought "Above and Below." In addition to being a nice guy, his games are beautiful (he does all of the art himself) and I hear they are fun to play. They look nice in the pictures.

I wanted to check this one out because I had been working on a design about a village that lived above a dungeon and heard "Above and Below" was essentially the same idea.I wouldn't know if it is any good however, because I haven't played it yet. One day. One day...

6. Zombie Tower 3D

Look at this thing! It is a thing of beauty! Who cares if it is yet another Zombie game? It has a 3D building!! And this is what I was thinking when I backed Zombie Tower 3D when it was on Kickstarter  Right after I backed it, I just missed demoing the game at Strategicon (they were packing it up as I got there) but once again, I am a sucker for a 3D board. It might have something to do with playing Voice of the Mummy as a kid.

 Zombie Tower 3D is a cooperative game where you avoid getting eaten by Zombies as you pass items through cracks in the building. The only thing that would make it better, would be miniatures. Maybe in an expansion. I can't wait to try it out. Maybe in 2017?

5. Orcs Must Die the board game

I've called the video game of Orcs Must Die the game that "I wish I made." The video game plays like "Tecmo's Deception" and the main character even looks a bit like Maximo. This is another game I backed on Kickstarter and it took FOREVER to arrive. I had actually forgotten that I had backed it when it showed up at my door late this year.

As far as I can tell, it's a tower-defense style game (like the video game) but in board game form. You set up traps and fight against waves of orcs with your heroes. All I know is it has a modular board and lots of miniatures - two other things I am a sucker for. But will it be any fun to play? I'll let you know when I actually play it!

4. Vast - the Crystal Caverns

This was another game I backed on Kickstarter - twice. Once for the game and a second time for really cool miniatures that the game didn't intially come with. The art on this game is stellar and the concept - a dungeon crawl (again love) where you can either play the knight, the goblin horde, the thief, a dragon or... the cave itself!! So great.

Now I've heard the game itself is a little arcane. I tried to figure out the rules to no avail - but that might have been because I was trying to read them at 2 am after a full day of attending Gen-Con. Maybe I'll get a chance to play the game before Gen-Con 2017.

3. Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space

I have heard that Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space is the "scariest board game ever" and the concept sounds like something straight out of the original Alien film. In it, players attempt to reach the airlock of a space ship (or space station) while being stalked by a horrible alien which will take over take them and turn them into aliens as well.

The challenge is that the player can't see where they are going. There is no shared board - only a battleship style map that each player use to plot the last known locations of their fellow players. Everyone is stumbling around blind until they escape or run into an alien. It sounds amazing. I hope to play it soon.

2. Pandemic Legacy Season 1

Guess who has two thumbs and still hasn't played the "best game of 2015"? I don't know much about Pandemic Legacy since I didn't want to spoil the game for myself. All I know about it that it plays like Pandemic, it is really good, it finally bumped Twilight Struggle out of the #1 spot on BGG and has some huge plot twists in it. Oh, and that there is no difference between the red box and the blue box. I heard that one straight from the designers themselves.

But if getting people to play Pandemic Legacy is as hard as it was to get people to commit to playing the also-awesome Risk Legacy, then I probably won't be playing Pandemic Legacy until 2018.

1. Star Wars Rebellion - Fantasy Flight Games

Dice Tower reviewer Tom Vasel calls this game "Star Wars in a box" Considering that we have already gotten Star Wars in a box several times over, this seems like a pretty bold claim. What Rebellion appears to be is a galaxy-spanning strategy game that features all of the heroes and villains of the original trilogy (sans Rogue One - perhaps in an update?) and lots of gorgeous and tiny miniatures of stormtroopers and rebel troopers and x-wings and TIE fighters.

The game even comes with three models of the Death Star - two built and one under-construction! This game has been topping many list of "the best of 2016" and I guess my list is no different. I look forward to spending a little time in a galaxy far, far away very soon.

UPDATE: Just as I wrote this entry, I was invited over to a friend's to play Rebellion. However, I had other obligations and had to decline. I can't wait for this year to be over.

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