As is the tradition here at BGQ, we close out the year with my Top 10 Games of 2017. This is always a hard list to write because there are always so many games I want to include. Plus, there are the Essen releases still trying to make their way across the pond. But regardless, this is where I get to choose my ten favorite games of the year (so far) and highlight them. Now mind you, this isn’t Board Game Quest’s consensus “best games” of the year, those come in the Spring when our entire editorial staff collaborates on our Board Game Awards winners.
I also don’t recall a year when I’ve had such a hard time ranking games. For me, there was no one game that stood out heads and shoulders above the others as in previous years. Many of these games could easily be #1.
Finally, as usual, there were a few games that didn’t quite make the list, mostly because I haven’t played them. Games such as Lisboa, Whistle Stop, Dinosaur Island, Too Many Bones, and Dragonfire are ones I’m hoping to get to the table soon. While Downforce, FlipShips, Meeple Circus, Unlock!, Civilization: New Dawn, Seikatsu, and Rhino Hero: Super Battle are all ones I enjoyed but just missed the cut. So with all that out of the way, let’s get to the games.
Top 10 Games of 2017
Honorable Mention: Gloomhaven
Gloomhaven is a legacy style, fantasy board game that overloads its players with content. You could easily play this game for 200 hours+. The fact that it has shot up the rankings on BGG to #2 (at the time of this writing) is no surprise. However, after spending many hours in Gloomhaven (with many more to go), it’s also not without its flaws. While I still think it’s a great game, it just barely misses the top 10 for me.
10. Alien Artifacts (review)
I enjoyed this sci-fi card game from my very first play. While Alien Artifacts bills itself as a 4x card game, it’s really only 4x themed. The goal of the game is to acquire victory points by building ships, researching tech, and settling planets. Alien Artifacts has a lot of things I love in a card game: engine building, multi-use cards, and lightning fast turns. This one was an instant hit for me.
9. Deadline (review)
Deadline surprised me with its excellent mash-up of the sleuthing from Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and the card play from The Grizzled. I have played through almost all the cases now for Deadline and really enjoy trying to figure out who the culprit is. The film noir setting also makes it easy for us to “play in character”, adding on to the fun we have with the game. I hope WizKids is planning on expansions for Deadline, because we are almost out of cases to solve!
8. 7th Continent
2017 might be the year I finally embraced solo gaming. 7th Continent is an incredibly unique beast with hundreds upon hundreds of cards for you to encounter. Players will wander around this strange land, trying to piece together all the clues they need to lift the curse on them. Exploration, adventure, puzzle solving, and some card play all make up one of the most unique games I’ve played in a while.
7. Spirit Island
This heavy cooperative game from Greater Than Games has players taking on the role of ancient spirits trying to drive away invaders from their island. One of the things I love about Spirit Island is how unique each of the Spirits feels. They range from easy ones who just try to “damage everything”, to the more complex spirits that engage in board control. Spirit Island has a ton of replay value and can provide a great gaming experience once you get past the learning curve.
6. This War of Mine
Translating video games to board games can really be hit or miss, which is also the case with any licensed board game. However, game designer Michał Oracz expertly captures the feel of the video game and brings it to our table top with This War of Mine. The game is highly thematic, which means that it can also be depressing at times as you realize you are not the hero in this war, just an everyday person struggling to survive. This War of Mine is not going to be a game you will want to play all the time, but it does make for a memorable time at your gaming table.
5. Clans of Caledonia
While I’m don’t often play medium-heavy euro games, much preferring a more thematic experience, I was quite impressed with Clans of Caledonia. This euro game has players controlling a unique clan earning victory points in a variety of ways. I liked how there are not only many paths to victory in the game, but also how each game felt just a little different. While there is a lot going on in Clans of Caledonia, once you wrap your head around all there is to do, you can have a ton of fun.
4. Pandemic Legacy Season 2 (review)
Pandemic Legacy claimed the #1 spot in my Top 10 Games of 2015 with its unique take on this classic cooperative title. So of course, Pandemic Legacy Season 2 was an instant buy for me and it defiantly hasn’t disappointed so far. However I’m only about 6 games into Season 2, so perhaps once I finish the campaign it will climbing higher in my rankings. But suffice to say, even only playing as much as I have so far, I’m loving it.
3. Fallout (review)
As a huge fan of the Fallout video game series, I was very excited to try this one and, thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. Publisher Fantasy Flight Games have created a love letter to the Fallout fan with this board game adaption. All the hallmarks of what makes a game “Fallout” is here: exploring the wasteland, questing and adventures, the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. leveling system, and even VATS for combat. While you don’t have to be a fan of the video game to enjoy the Fallout board game, if you are, then this is a must own.
2. The Quest for El Dorado (review)
Nominated for the coveted Spiel des Jahres award, The Quest for El Dorado immediately made headlines and it’s not hard to see why. I just can’t get enough of this excellent mashup of a deck builder and a racing game. I’m already looking forward to 2018, where it’s rumored that designer Reiner Knizia is already working on an expansion. The Quest for El Dorado is one of those games that’s super easy to learn, but still has enough depth to constantly have you coming back for more.
1. Wasteland Express Delivery Service (review)
As mentioned at the top, choosing a #1 game was a hard task for me this year compared. Any of the top 5 games could easily have slid into this spot. But when you look at the theme, presentation, and gameplay, Wasteland Express Delivery Service does it all for me. I’ve had a ton of fun earning money in the post-apocalyptic world and publisher Pandasaurus Games blew me away with the production values for the game. From the art to the miniatures to the included storage system, Wasteland Express Delivery Service gets high marks. And the gameplay itself features some clever and engaging mechanics that easily make this one of my favorite pick up and deliver games ever.