End of Year & Top 100

30 – Everdell

We were late to the party on this one too, but it lives up to the hype. It doesn’t have Terraforming Mars’ card drafting, but it has great tableau building, resource management, and worker placement. It’s also better looking and has a more fun theme. My friend has the complete edition, so we have tons of expansions to check out too. The Rat Clan shall ride again!

29 – Sanctum

It might not be a dungeon crawler, but this definitely captures the look and feel of the Diablo games. It’s all about mowing down monsters and collecting loot. But the character customization with the abilities and how they unlock is actually really interesting. The endgame gets a bit clunky, but it’s otherwise really streamlined gameplay. Solo works pretty well too.

28 – The Liberation of Rietburg

Speaking of mowing down monsters. Even if it’s a pretty mathy exercise, I really enjoy LoR. This one really flew under the radar, somehow. But I love the card play and how different the characters feel. Plays great solo too. Especially as an inexpensive game, it comes highly recommended!

27 – Star Wars: Outer Rim

Doctor Aphra might be broken, but the gameplay is really fun. It’s space sandbox Star Wars and remarkably reined in for FFG. If they tried to make this around 2010-2012, it would have been a bloated mess. It can run long, but it’s a solidly enjoyable game from start to finish. We just got the expansion too, so I look forward to seeing how that changes things up.

26 – Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game

Another casualty of the split between Games Workshop and FFG. And this one barely got out of the gate. This might still be floating around for a reasonable price, but the two short-lived print-on-demand character packs are extremely rare. But it’s a really cool system and does more of what I wanted from the LotR LCG. WHQ:ACG feels immersive and has a story. But the mechanics are fun too, though more dice-driven than card driven. But upgrading the cards is still satisfying. I’ll need to continue the campaign I started earlier this year.

25 – Vinhos

The extreme version of Viticulture. It’s been a while since this has come out, but it’s a really engaging and tough puzzle to crack. A tight economy, simple worker movement that drives the gameplay, and some really satisfying late-game turns thanks to the free actions that take time to build up. I prefer the 2010 rules to the 2016 version, but it’s fun either way.

24 – Core Worlds

This was my favorite deck building game for years and is still one I will champion when I can. And after finally getting the Galactic Orders expansion, it just gets better. I really need to get a copy of the official solo mode now that it’s available. My only complaint is that the game can run long. It’s usually around 3 hours, even at 2-player. But I think this one captures the card-comboing of CCGs the best out of the deck builders I’ve played.

23 – Legend of the Five Rings LCG

I’ve only played this with a fan-made solo variant so far, but I look forward to trying it out on a 2-player game day. I love the setting and the style of gameplay. It’s a shame that the poorly thought-out release model really hurt the game; this was not a good game for the LCG model. And in usual FFG fashion, they under-printed the coop expansion, but I’ve heard it wasn’t that good anyway. I hope this has a future with another company at some point. It deserves to come back.

22 – Nusfjord

This was on my wishlist for a long time, and I eventually got a great deal on a copy with the first deck expansion. Quick to set up, fun resource management, and classic worker placement. The fishing theme matches the relaxing gameplay. And it’s interesting how drastically the game changes based on which deck you use. It really is Uwe Rosenberg’s greatest hits in a box.

21 – Lost Ruins of Arnak

The base game is good, but we’re definitely going to use the expansion from now on. Talk about satisfying resource management! The card comboing in this is really strong for a deck builder, and the worker placement is strong too. I’ve been pretty lukewarm on the research track (again, “move up on a track” is one of my least favorite mechanics), but the expansion definitely improves that too.

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