Jason’s Top 10 Games of 2017

I’m not really one to put out a lot of Top Ten Lists. I will probably explain why in a future episode of Every Night is Game Night.
But the people like lists! Especially around this time of year. So, without further ado, here are my top games of 2017.

10) Century: Spice Road

I can’t think of a single thing this game does that’s different, or better, than so many other games out there. Start with cubes, change them in for different cubes, build up certain cube combos for cash-in, repeat. However, Century: Spice Road does this in such a smooth way. It’s a frictionless game. You sit, learn, and play. I bet they could have baked a tutorial into the game itself with a few cards and not given you a rulebook at all. Yet it still offers great choices and depth.

9) Alien Artifacts

I admit that I’ve placed this game so high because I like engine building card games. However, having admitted my bias, it’s really good! Alien Artifacts uses double sided cards and LOTS of decks to give you tons of options, yet keeps things tight and organized to where the choices don’t feel overwhelming. It would honestly have been higher on my list, but luck plays a bit too big a factor in victory for my tastes.

8) Fate of the Elder Gods

An under-the-radar gem! The game that was released at the same time by Greater Than Games – Spirit Island – has earned all of the hype and praise it has gotten. However, I feel that all that hype took away from a very solid worker placement game here. The solo mode has lots of potential, as well. Maybe people are weary of even more Cthulhu? I dunno.

7) Pulsar 2849

Check me out, liking a point salad Euro with a completely tacked on, generic space theme. I would normally go running for the hills. However, I love the dice rolling and dice placement. You can manipulate your turn order so that you draft high dice when you need them, but there’s plenty to do with low dice, as well! When I finished playing, I found myself wanting to play more.

6) Spirit Island

The first time I played Spirit Island was with four players. We spent around 2.5 hours with the game, and you could probably have fried an egg on my skull afterwards. Again, not normally a game that would appeal to me. However, further plays have really open up all of the options and combos. And it has a really, really awesome theme! Truly a keeper that has dethroned Robinson Crusoe as the go-to heavy-ish strategy cooperative game, at least for me (still keeping Robinson for the Lost City of Z expansion coming soon).

5) Planetarium

My surprise of 2017! First of all, three space games in 2017 made my top 10. If you know me, that’s surprising in and of itself. But the theme integration, accessibility, and gameplay on this light strategy game are all wonderful wonderful. I love how the game leads you to play little planet cards at the beginning, but then builds up by midgame to where you can play a whole bunch of bigger planet cards at the end.

4) Near and Far

Now we move from games I’m excited about to games I truly loved. As Ryan Laukat said on our podcast, he made Near and Far to answer some of the criticisms that gamers had for Above and Below. The story is more interesting and tightly integrated into the game, and the mechanisms strike the right balance between providing some challenge and while giving the story some room to breathe. Campaign mode is excellent. Next year, the Amber Mines expansion will add true co-op!

3) Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

Having finished the campaign, I can make the final judgement that PL: S1 was probably a bit better. However, I still rated S2 a 10 out of 10! It’s certainly a very different experience than S1. Heck, it’s a different game than Pandemic – they really pushed the boundaries of what the Pandemic system is capable of. Can’t wait for Season 3.

2) Untold: Adventures Await

One of the best storytelling experiences that uses game mechanisms that I’ve ever played. Heck, it’s probably the best. Untold takes Rory’s Story Cubes and helps you and your family tell stories with more structure. It also caps the playtime at an hour or so!

1) Gloomhaven

How boring of me to put the #1 game on BGG as my #1 of 2017. However, Gloomhaven completely and totally deserves all the praise it gets. It scratches both the adventure and strategy itches many serious gamers have, and layers in a campaign that allows for some serious variety and replayability. Now to figure out a cost-effective storage solution…

Honorable mentions:

  • Codenames: Duet – My preferred way to play Codenames.
  • First Martians – So criticized for being overrated, it is now underrated.
  • 7th Continent – An amazing adventure experience. Just wish the “intro” scenario wasn’t so long and grindy.
  • Sword and Sorcery – A straight upgrade over Descent with the companion app, IMO.
  • Dresden Files: The Cooperative Card Game – Bias alert: I love the Dresden Files. Don’t know that this would be here without that theme. But it has that theme, so here it is!
  • Fox in the Forest – One of my current go-to, quick, two player card games. I play a fair amount of these, but this has still risen above that pack.
  • Delve – A Launius-ized (aka, dice, fantasy theme) version of Carcassone. My preferred way to play the Carcassone system.

Want to play:

 Kitchen Rush, Otys, Dinosaur Island, Folklore: The Affliction, Claim
  • I'm a psychotherapist by trade, practicing in CT. I play games to restore my life balance. I like thematic games with lots of narrative and story, usually cooperative but I love good thematic strategy games as well. As a game evangelist, I also like card games and anything else I can easily tote with me.

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