End of Year & Top 100

50 – Merchant of Venus

While I like some of the ideas of FFG’s new version, we definitely prefer the classic mode. It’s about as straightforward of a pick-up-and-deliver as you can make. The exploration is fun, and the efficient routes can be satisfying to figure out. Who knows if this will ever see the light of day again. Might have to wait another 14 years (making it the same wait from the ’88 printing and the 2012 version since it’s already been 10 years).

49 – Maracaibo

This looked like a nightmare in photos; components all over the place. But it’s not that difficult to learn. While the theme is pretty awful as you are rewarded for helping European countries conquer and colonize the area, it’s mechanically really fun. I love the multi-use cards, the tableau building, the economic elements, and the tech from upgrading your ship, creating player asymmetry. It can be a pretty long game, though.

48 – Agricola

I’ve only played the app for Agricola, but it was the first heavy Euro I played, and it’s a tight, challenging game. I really enjoy how the cards create an asymmetrical game but offer a lot of options right from the beginning. It’s definitely not a good-looking game, but the gameplay is great. It’s a classic Euro for a reason.

47 – On Mars

Talk about heavy Euros. I think this is still the heaviest game I’ve completed (we’ve attempted High Frontier a couple of times). As much as I’ve enjoyed Vital Lacerda’s games, I wasn’t really sure about this one after our first play. It hadn’t clicked yet. But everything clicked for the second game, and I really like the split worker placement board and how the cards work. It even has a little bit of that growing asymmetry but has a really unique element where it’s possible to use an opponent’s card. This is my second-favorite game where I don’t care about the theme whatsoever.

46 – Mansions of Madness: Second Edition

Even though some scenarios can be really long and one of the puzzles has wonky instructions, this has so far been my favorite Cthulhu game and it still tries to feel like Lovecraft’s work. The exploration is great, and the scenarios so far have been really interesting. We haven’t gotten any expansions yet, but I look forward to delving back into this one some more.

45 – 7 Wonders

It’s not quite a civilization game since it only covers one era of history, and without the expansions, there’s not much theme (and Armada is really the only one to bring much theme anyway), but the gameplay never gets old. The second edition production is really nice too. But I think for me, Armada is what really puts this higher up. It adds such a fun new element to the game and is probably my favorite “move up on a track” mechanic, which I often find really boring.

44 – Res Arcana

I was surprised how much I enjoyed Res Arcana. We only first played it recently, though I do enjoy Lehmann’s other popular card game (at #53). But RA is so snappy, and each game can feel wildly different due to each player’s unique deck. I like asymmetrical games, and this one throws you in with completely different starts. And with such quick gameplay, I hope this one will get played often.

43 – Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles – Episode 2

I’m being very specific here because while I enjoyed episode 1 more than I thought I would, episode 2 is much better. But it is a monster of a game, not just in size, but there’s so much going on and so many things you can do. This is another one with “tech” upgrades that allow players to specialize differently. And the game is so big, each player can go off and do completely different things, almost playing different games, but the dice placement and assemblies (not to mention possible dino attacks) still offer plenty of interaction.

42 – Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)

I’m so glad they released the coop modules and the app, otherwise, I would not have gotten to play this much (my brother decided he didn’t like the 1v1). While there has been no shortage of other, maybe more modern dungeon crawlers pouring out of Kickstarter, they’re in a competition for who can be bigger and more expensive, so I won’t be partaking. The writing in Descent (like a lot of FFG games) is pretty bland and forgettable, but the gameplay is fun, and there are so many characters to choose from and classes to customize them with. I wish I could afford to buy more for it (I only have a few expansions).

41 – Folklore: The Affliction

While the rules and gameplay are messier than Descent, the writing is better, and overall Folklore more successfully captures the feel of playing a tabletop RPG. The setting is also better than the watered-down generic fantasy of Descent. There are a lot of hurdles to get over, including poor scaling, but if you can get over the issues, the game will reward you. I definitely plan to get more, at the very least, the Dark Tales expansion which adds the rumor cards.

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