A couple of weeks ago, Ryan and Drew over at Sword, Board, and Pen put together a couple of lists of their Top 18 Spiel des Jahres Winners. It’s an interesting challenge, and great to read their thoughts.
There’s only one problem: both their lists are wrong.
Or at least according to my tastes.
Here’s my take:
- Dominion – Easily the smartest game on the list. Although my enjoyment doesn’t come from the first play, but in subsequent plays with the same market. Experimenting with your strategy and seeing what works, and what doesn’t brings me an immense amount of gratification.
- Azul – I agree with Drew here, in that Azul is second best. I’ve played it a lot more times since I wrote my review and it still holds up.
- Agricola – A worker placement about farm life, and keeping your family alive. The only thing I’m not a huge fan of is the upkeep between turns. Also, it’s pretty punishing if you mess up. Which is what your opponents are constantly trying to do.
- 7 Wonders – Slick card drafting with a city building veneer. A great way to spend 30 minutes. And plays up to 7 players. I’ve moved a bit away from card drafting games as they don’t elicit the feeling I want from my gaming sessions. As usually everyone gets trapped in their own world and doesn’t interact with the rest of the table.
- Carcassonne – A tile placement game that’s placed a tile in my heart. Charming, easy to play, and allows you to play the way you want. If it’s with family, have a relaxing time building. If it’s with your wife, thwart her every move. Destroy her! Carcassonne allows for both.
- Dixit – Guess which card is mine. This game is wholly dependant on the group, and for me has been a huge hit. Or a wet blanket. Read more in my review.
- Ticket to Ride – Route building in it’s most simplistic form. It’s the only game on this list I haven’t owned. But the times I’ve played it have been pretty fun albeit a bit light. I’ve played Ethnos which has a similar drafting mechanism, and I think I’d rather play that.
- Codenames – A word association party game. Easy to learn. Really fun to watch someone struggle to come up with a good clue. Likewise it’s awesome when a good clue gets pulled off. Or a team strikes out with the assassin. Great game.
- Camel Up – A betting game on crazy camels. It’s dumb fun. You never know who’s going to win. But you’re going to guess anyway. Always have a good time with this one.
- Village – A worker placement game about making your townspeople successful before they die. This is up there with Agricola in terms of heaviness. I’ve only played it a couple of times, and I remember thinking it was OK. However, I’ve been meaning to confirm that opinion for a while.
- Kingdomino – A tetromino laying game, where the goal is to make the best pattern. It’s quick and not offensive. Doesn’t have the strategic depth of any of the games so far. But it plays a lot quicker. Great for breaking out over lunch.
- Ice Cool – A dexterity game where you flick penguins and make sure they eat their fish! What gives Ice Cool its edge is that the penguins are weighted. Not only do they slide nicely, but the weight opens up a lot of ice cool trick shots you can perform.
- Colt Express – Cowboy programming. Each turn you put a card down in a pile. After the round is over, cards are drawn one at time from this pile and the actions are carried out. It’s fine but I found there’s not enough information to actually play it well. It always ends up like those old timey saloon fights. It can be fun, but definitely for the lighter audience.
- The Settlers of Catan – I think a lot of the fun of Settlers comes from trading. Without it, the game stagnates into a worse version of Machi Koro, which is a worse version of Space Base.
- Hanabi – A cooperative communication game. Whereby the difficulty is determined by the straightness of your face. I’m not a fan of this game, as it puts you in this internal struggle where to do well you want to hint to your teammates. However, the rules strictly forbid it. Someone always breaks, and when they do the game breaks with it.
- Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective – A choose your own adventure murder mystery. This is the kind of game that makes you question: what is a game? To me this is a puzzle, which is fine, but you don’t really have any affect on the game. Whether you choose option A, or option B doesn’t change anything. It only changes what score you’ll get at the end. This non-interactivity is not what I sign up for when buying board games.
So it turns out that I haven’t actually played 18 Spiel des Jahres winners. Kudos to the guys for having played so many. Also thanks for the blog prompt, it was a fun little challenge.
Now it’s over to you.
What are your top 18?
Hope you had a great Easter. I had chocolate for breakfast and lunch. Which is both awesome, and awful. I’m going to regret today…