For me, 2016 was a strange year in gaming. I got into formally reviewing games, and I’ve begun to participate as a playtester and rules reviewer for a couple of game companies. I’ve tried to maintain a critical eye throughout the year and really be skeptical when a game is extremely hyped, much to the annoyance of some other gamers.
My main goal in creating this list is to think back on my best experiences of the year and consider what games have impacted me the most positively. Of course, I have not played every game published this year, so the post/list catalogs games that I feel are necessary to play to up my street cred as a reviewer.
Awesome Games of 2016
(as of January 2017)
Great Western Trail (review)
In Great Western Trail, Alexander Pfister delivers a stellar blend of action selection and deck management in my top rated game of 2016. The combination of randomized building locations and strategies to slow down opponents and give yourself action opportunities delivers new choices with each play. The menu of points to be gained encourages considering multiple strategies and adaptive play. This makes for extremely compelling play each time you take an action.
Tyrants of the Underdark (review)
When this Dungeons & Dragons title was released, I knew it was going to intrigue me, but the board art style initially threw me for a loop. My interest turned to skepticism, it wasn’t until my second play of Tyrants of the Underdark that I truly saw the magic in this game. The combination of deck building and area control is implemented beautifully making for another game that I will never pass up.
Deck building and character movement makes its debut with Clank!. Strangely enough, another reviewer glowed about this game, and my initial interest was to see if the exaggerated excitedness of this reviewer was warranted. Interestingly enough, it was. Clank! isn’t just the game described on the box. There is a sublime deep strategy in this title with many directions. It doesn’t scream originality, and I keep coming back for more and more plays of this.
One of the games that hit the table often this year was a title that loves the art and craft of codebreaking and espionage. In reality, it’s a hyper version of worker placement and objective completion. The elegance of the design and the non-linear actions make Covert an intriguing title with each play, even if there is very little variability in the game scope.
Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
My review for Manhattan Project: Energy Empire is forthcoming, but suffice it to say, this is another great game from this year.
Most Want-to-Play Games from 2016
I didn’t have very many opportunities to play these titles, and given that I purchase most of my games, I have to make choices. I’m still eager to play all of these to see if they make it to my Awesome Games of 2016 list.
Star Wars: Rebellion
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
A Feast for Odin
Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Millennium Blades (review)
The Networks (review)
Valeria: Card Kingdoms
Via Nebula (review)
The Oracle of Delphi