End of Year & Top 100

20 – Formosa Tea

Another hidden gem. Not only is the worker placement really interesting here with two types of workers and spaces that limit which worker can be placed, but the puzzle of refining your tea is really engaging. Even the old Euro standby of “spend resources to complete contracts” is elevated with different point payouts based on tea quality and with keeping a completed contract versus giving it up by spending bad tea. And the history that comes from the events and characters is really neat too. This was a totally overlooked game, but anyone that gets a chance to play it should!

19 – Civilization: A New Dawn

I enjoyed the base game, but I really enjoyed the expansion. I never did get a chance to play the previous Civilization from FFG, but I’m glad they returned with this one. The card row mechanic is so much fun. Exploration is great, too. I will say, though, that even with the expansion, combat is a bit of a weak point for the game. I really think they could have done better there. Still, it feels like a full civilization game and doesn’t take 3+ hours.

18 – Champions of Midgard

I’ve only played online on Tabletopia, but everything clicks for me. Great worker placement, resource management, with just a touch of push your luck. The art and theme also do a lot for me. It’s really satisfying running your Vikings around, slaying monsters, then preparing for another raid. I must have this one someday!

17 – Stroganov

Production issues aside, this has been a really fun game. Setup can also be very slow and fiddly due to the location tiles and the animal tokens. But the action-selection mechanic is fun, and I like the variety of things to interact with. I worry a little bit about replayability over time, but I’ve definitely been enjoying it so far. Maybe one really good expansion will come along and keep things fresh. Don’t let the production stop you from checking this one out!

16 – Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga

It’s got some rough edges, but Fire & Axe is a smooth-playing game that feels like a proper Viking game. There’s also a good fan-made solo mode for it. If you’re okay with less competitive gameplay, it even plays at 2 just fine (just use fewer saga cards). The IDW board is a pain, though.

15 – DinoGenics

This is the Jurassic Park board game I always wanted. Yet another worker placement game, but I really enjoy the set collection, trying to make dinosaurs by having a set of DNA cards. And the expansion is a must-have, adding aquatic dinosaurs and wild DNA that makes it easier to get the dinosaurs you need. The solo mode is pretty interesting too with a series of scenarios to play through. And a great production too!

14 – Magic: The Gathering

After finally getting into Arena (the online version), I’ve played a LOT of Magic recently. Maybe less so the past couple of sets, but still a lot this year. And now that we have a good way of doing 2-player days, I look forward to getting some new cards (all mine are old) and playing it in person again. Just in time for everyone to say the game is dying…

13 – Rurik: Dawn of Kiev

Not only does it have a really nice production and a solo mode in the box, but it also has a really unique core mechanic with the action board. It’s a little bit of worker placement and a little bit of area control. But the rest of the game is very much an area control game but with a lot of other things thrown in. Yet it’s still very approachable and easy to get into. We’ll definitely have to try out the expansion.

12 – Cartaventura: Vinland

This is so up my alley. Small, inexpensive card game, and a choose-your-own-adventure game. And Vikings! Sort of (technically not, but in spirit). The writing could be better, but it’s otherwise a really neat little game. Definitely more of a solo game, though. Not even sure how they came to the idea you could play it with up to 6. That seems bonkers. I’ll definitely be getting more of this series. I hope they do something in Japan.

11 – Raiders of the North Sea

I was a bit lukewarm on the base game; I just found it a bit simple and repetitive. But when we threw in the expansions, it fixed everything. It fixed it so much, they released a sibling game, Raiders of Scythia, that has all the fixes included in the box. I love what the expansions add, from the mead, a character offer, easier resources, more ways to use resources, and new raid options and rewards. I can’t believe the app doesn’t have the expansions!

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