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board games, card games, top 10 2015

Top 25 Games – Honorable Mentions

Welcome to my Top 25 Games as of 2015! These are my 25 absolutely favorite games to play and share with others. Some of these games are ripe with conversation about social justice. Others, I use to get folks into the board gaming hobby to build relationships.Today, I write about five games that barely missed my top 25.

These honorable mentions are in no particular order. Either, these are games right outside the tope 25 or these are games I really enjoyed but only played once or twice.

 

 

cover_elysiumElysium

Elysium is right outside the top 25. I don’t think I’ve played the game enough to place it in the top 25 but I have enjoyed my plays of this game. In Elysium players are essentially drafting cards from the different Greek God’s families and turn order. These cards have special powers and allow the players to take different actions. Players draft cards by using different colored pillars (players start with four) – in order to take a card, the player must have in their posession the color pillar indicated on the card. After taking a card, the player must discard a pillar of their choice. Each drafting round, a player has less options based on which pillars they have remaining.

The crux of the game comes with scoring. A card only scores if the player moves the card into their elysium. However, when a card is in the elysium, the special power is not longer in effect. This provides players with hard decisions about when to transfer cards to the elysium and provides strategic thinking about the end game scoring.

 

 

loyang-coverAt the Gates of Loyang

My fiancé and I played this one at a board game café when we were first getting into board gaming. This game has remained on our wishlist ever since! Our experience was positive – the rules were straightforward and the game played smoothly with two players. In At the Gates of Loyang, players are attempting to grow vegetables in their farms and sell them at the market to dedicated or one time customers. If a player neglects a dedicated customer, their reputation drops! The scoring mechanism in the game is unique in my opinion. Money is worthless at the end of the game and the player with the most prestige wins the game. To get prestige a player must pay money to move up the track. The first step on the track is always cheap per round; however, if a player wants to move up multiple steps per round, they must pay much more money!

The auction/draft phase of the game also spices up the experience. These cards can be helpers with special abilities or customers wanting to buy vegetables from a player. A player must make calculated decisions to maximize their profits to increase in prestige. One decision to take a customer that cannot be fulfilled can be crippling for the rest of the game.

At the Gates of Loyang is a game I want in my collection. We enjoyed our play and look forward to playing again!

 

 

pic2197124Aquasphere

Ahhhh Feld-tastic. I’ve only played this game once but recently got a copy for my own collection. I really enjoyed my first play and was probably the first heavy game I played in the hobby. This game is a brainburner where the player takes on the role of a scientist and an engineer doing research in an underwater station or aquasphere. On a players turn, they are able to do one of two things, program a robot with the engineer or execute an already programmed robots action with the scientist. There is a really interesting timing mechanic between the engineer and scientist a player needs to pay attention to in order to complete all necessary actions before the end of the round. In Feld fashion, almost everything you do gets you points… I need to get more plays of Aquashpere in order to comment in more detail about the rules and about my enjoyment of the game.

 

 

pic2031777La Granja

I wish I played this game earlier in the year, but alas, I played this game a couple weeks ago and LOVED it. This game makes the honorable mention list and would probably make the top 25, maybe even the top 10 if I was able to play it more. La Granja is a game for 1-4 players and plays in 90-120 minutes. Players take the role of farmers building up their homestead by adding new fields, farm extensions, market barrows, and farm helpers. Players compete for the best market stalls and deliver goods to the different craft buildings to score points. At the end of the day, all players take a nice siesta J

This game really intrigued me with the card play to start each round. Each card can be used four different ways: as a field to increase crop production, as a farm extension to increase space for pigs, as a market barrow to vie for control in the central market, or as a help which gives the player a special power. The cards provided the players with many options and direction in the game. Next, the dice selection mechanism for actions pulled the game together for me. Players draft dice in turn order which corresponds to different actions allowing the player to produce goods, play/draw cards, take money, deliver goods, or take a longer siesta.

The theme is a little weak but the mechanics are really strong. After one play, I think this game is fantastic and I cannot wait to play again.

 

 

Flash Point Fire Rescuepic1129370

This game is probably my number 26, right outside of the top 25. Flash Point puts each player in the shoes of a firefighter and cooperatively all the players are putting out a fire advancing in a building and rescuing people and animals! The game plays 2-6 players in about 45-90 minutes. For me, this game is like Pandemic except I actually feel like I am doing things. In Pandemic, I feel like my character is removed from the disaster, moving around the world and removing disease cubes from the board. I think Pandemic is a great game, but when I play Flash Point, I feel like I am in the building putting out those fires and dragging civilians out with me. I don’t have any of the expansions and I am guessing they will only add to my liking of the game. 2nd story and extreme danger expansions are definitely on my wishlist!

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