These are the best games i played in 2013. They include releases prior to 2013 but which i only got to play this year for the first time.
Games which i have only been played once i have taken out consideration as i think it’s difficult to assess a game after just a single play. Unfortunately this has taken out games for which i had excellent first impressions such as Suburbia, Coal Baron and Sentinels of the Multiverse. A final thing before i start with the list is that the short comment that accompanies each game is positive. I know there are negatives for all 10 of these games but i’d rather just mention the positive stuff today.
Hanabi (32 plays)
There was never any question that Hanabi would be my game of the year. Simple enough that i can teach it to anyone in 5 minutes but still manages to tease the brain just enough. It’s the only cooperative game i never have trouble getting to the table and above all it generates so much table talk after each play.
Stronghold (2 plays)
Unfortunately, although i love 2 player games, i don’t get to play many nowadays. One of the few i did play for the first time in 2013 was Stronghold. This is an asymmetric euro/war game where 1 player takes the side of the invader (Orcs/Goblins/Trolls) and the 2nd player is the defender (humans) of the Stronghold. You use cubes to depict your units but there is so much theme in this game it’s incredible. Fantastic game. (not owned)
Space Cadets: Dice Duel (3 plays)
Played this for the first time at Essen and won me over immediately. A team based game with a maximum of 8 players split into 2 teams. It’s also real time i.e. there are no turns. Everyone plays at the same time. There’s so much tension and it’s incredible that your heart is beating so fast while playing a board game. It generates so many emotions. Anger, frustration, joy, laughter, camaraderie. I love this game for this reason.
Trajan (3 plays)
Out of the 10 games on this list this is the only game that i consider a solitaire game. That is, a game with limited interaction where the focus of all players is mostly on their individual boards. However, the mancala mechanism located on these boards is such a wonderful brain burning puzzle. A beautiful sensation when you manage to pull of a few combination of actions.
Neue Heimat (5 plays)
An auction game that comes in a shoe box. Players bid against each other to build a small town and with components so easy on the eye. Yet, it’s probably the most vicious new game i’ve played this year. I love the bidding. the simplicity of the rules but also the physicality that is offered with the components. A great game to play, watch and touch.
Keyflower (3 plays)
Keyflower combines a few mechanics together that i really like. Auctions, tile placing and worker placements. If it wasn’t for Trajan’s mancala mechanism this would have been my favourite new medium/heavy euro of the year. (not owned)
City of Remnants (6 plays)
Dudes on the map games are rare with my people. Most of them prefer cubes! However, i did manage to play CoR quite a few times considering that it takes around 3 hours. In this game you can create your gang with a lot of flexibility. Each gang starts off with different advantages but you can still mold them as you play. It has given me some long and excellent gaming nights.
Firenze (2 plays)
Andrea Steding is the designer of Hansa Teutonica. He is also the designer of Firenze, FivePoints: Gangs of New York (below) and is one of my favourite game designers. His games have clean, straightforward rules but provide a lot of depth and demand replayability. Firenze is one of his lighter games but it’s such a joy to play. Building towers, using cards to sabotage other players and placing those bricks! Those beautiful, colourful brick towers..
Love Letter (10 plays)
Many gamers are commenting that this is the year of the micro-game. Love Letter is such a game. With just 16 cards is definitely one of the best filler games of the year.
Five Points: Gangs of New York (2 plays)
Another Andrea Steding game and another Essen purchase but this time an area control game with a few twists. A game that plays well with 3 to 5 players, incredibly replayable, fun and mean. It’s a game that generates a lot of interaction between players and usually that’s what i’m looking for when playing games.