Every year around this time, I think back to all the games released over the year (no easy task) and try and decide what my ten favorite games were. With as many new releases as there are now, this is becoming an increasing harder challenge. Now mind you, these are my top 10 board games of 2018, not the collective votes of the whole BGQ team. Those consensus rankings come in the spring with our annual awards. I should also point out, that my current game tastes lean more towards a game with a solid theme, usually in the medium weight spectrum. So while I’m sure Brass: Lancashire is a wonderful game (it certainly looks nice), it’s just not a game I’d gravitate to.
Before we get to the list, I just wanted to give a few shoutouts to games that barely missed the cut. Wildlands, GKR Heavy Hitters, Menara, Villainous, Gizmos, and Tokyo Highway were all games I really enjoyed, but just missed the cut.
Finally, as always the case, there are some games that I really want to try, but haven’t played yet, so they couldn’t be considered. Monolith Arena, Betrayal Legacy, Western Legends, Nemesis, Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress, and Rising Sun are all ones that piqued my interest and look forward to trying.
Honorable Mention: Evil High Priest
I remember seeing the Kickstarter for this worker placement game and didn’t think it would be a game for me. After finally getting a chance to play it this summer, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I love how unique each of the cult boards are, and that you need to protect your resources (which also double as your victory points) from being raided. It all felt really thematic. However, as I recently started doing graphic design work for the publisher, I decided to remove it from consideration of this list to avoid the appearance of bias (even though I didn’t work on this game). That being said, I think it’s a great game.
10. Architects of the West Kingdom
I always love it when a worker placement game tries something new and unique. Many games are comfortable rehashing the same mechanics, yet Architects of the West Kingdom takes things in a new direction. In this game, players start with a pile of workers to use, with the action spaces improving the more often a worker is placed on the location. However, your opponents can also stop you from building up too big of a bonus by rounding up and capturing your opponent’s workers, selling them back for a ransom.
9. The Quacks of Quedlinburg
Winner of the Kennerspiel des Jahres, The Quacks of Quedlinburg was brought to the US by Northstar Games. In this push your luck bag building game, players are trying to earn points by creating potions each round. The rules are easy to learn, but there is a lot of potential for combos through the bag building mechanic. While the game can be a little swingy at times, its variety and easy of play get it to the table often.
8. Treasure Island
To be honest, normally I don’t have much interest in hidden movement games, especially of the 1 v Many variety. Yet Treasure Island piqued my interest with the great Vincent Dutrait artwork and its piratey theme. After giving the game a go, I was immediately hooked. One player takes on the role of Long John Silver who has hidden his treasure somewhere on the island. The other players are each pirates seeking to find that treasure first. Players will be drawing directly on the game board, getting clues from Long John Silver and even misleading other pirates as to which clues are true or not.
So it’s a beautiful looking worker placement game that’s heavy on the engine building? Sign me up. Everdell only gives players a handful of workers to use, yet buildings and citizens played into your city can launch combos that helps to make the game ramp up over its four rounds. I liked how simple the mechanics were, yet the amount of cards and events you can play gives the game a ton of replay value. Everdell is a great offering for fans of the genre.
6. Welcome To…
Welcome to… has taken the “roll and write” genre by storm this year. While it’s actually a choose and write, because there is no dice, the game play still fits with the standard roll and write genre. Each round, three cards are flipped over and players have to choose one set to write into their city. Each card will give you a number to write, and also an action you can take. It’s the variety in these actions that help make Welcome To… such a great game with a surprising amount of depth.
Veteran game designer Martin Wallace takes a eurogame about route buildings and gives it a Lovecraftian theme. Set in the world of A Study in Emerald, players at tasked with building a rail network and collecting resources in the Australian outback. However, they must also fight off a variety of the Mythos Monsters who want to blight their farms and kill their soldiers. With a few modes of play and two different maps, Auztralia has the potential to keep the game fresh for many plays.
4. The Reckoners
The Reckoners is one of my favorite books series, so when I heard they were making a game about it, I was all in. The books are set in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by super villains who have carved up civilization into city-states. This dice rolling game has players step into the shoes of The Reckoners, a group guerrilla fighters trying to kill super-villains called Epics. The production values of The Reckoners are excellent, and this cooperative game will have players rolling dice, upgrading their abilities, and trying to kill as many Epics as possible.
3. Seal Team Flix (review)
This combination dexterity/tactical movement game is one I didn’t expect to love as much as I did. While I do normally enjoy dexterity games, I don’t like when they get overcomplicated. Seal Team Flix blends just the right amount of rules overhead to keep the game interesting, while at the same time, making things really fun by not taking itself too seriously. In Seal Team Flix, you play a group of SEALs trying to stop terrorist plots. Combat is handled by flicking wooden discs around the board, and an AI controls the actions of the terrorists. While the game did have a few component issues, the gameplay itself is very entertaining.
2. Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game (review)
I blasted through the 5 game campaign of Detective in no time at all. While the first two games providing a nice entry into the game’s inner workings, it was the third mission that really hooked me. Detective is a crime deduction game that puts you in the shoes of a modern day police detective. It’s unique in that Portal Games has built an integrated, online website that acts as your police database. You’ll be using that to log evidence, look up suspects, and even research things on the web. While the writing is a tad verbose at times, the gameplay is more than enough to keep you coming back for more.
1. Root (review)
As a big fan of asymmetrical games, Root was an easy choice for me here. The more I played this game, the more I loved it. Publisher Leder Games seems to learned a lot from their ambitious first offering, Vast, as this time around Root is much easier to learn and to get to the table. Each player controls one of four unique woodland races trying to dominate clearings and earn victory points. Even though each faction will approach the game differently, the overall core mechanics of the game are similar enough that players should easily be able to pick up on basics of the game play. Root is a game that you will want to play over and over, not just to try out each of the factions, but to try and master each one with the best strategies.
That wraps up the year for us here at Board Game Quest. What were your favorite games of 2018? Let us know in the comments below.