Whoa! (In full Keanu Reeves Matrix mode) and like poop from a lubed gooses backside 2014 has up and shot past us, really this year has been a blur, probably taking the analogy to its limits a smear, sorry. So as we sit here on the edge of tomorrow with 2015 beckoning us like a friendly uncle lets take a moment to savor an interesting if not a game changer (see what I did there) 2014 has been.
There have certainly been some great games this year and if I was to assemble a list, say a top five they would be as so.. cue fanfare! (disclaimer these are games I’ve played this year and enjoyed there have certainly be a whole heap more released, some I’ve not played and a few I’ve not enjoyed.)
Mike B’s top 5 games of 2014
5 – Ivor The Engine –
Mr Tony Boydell snuck this one out on us early in the year and was his ode to a childhood hero, that little green engine that ka-chuffed his way across the welsh valleys. At first glance its a lightweight kiddie fare but as I covered in the review this has some teeth and a mean streak that would leave Thomas quivering in his train shed. The kids have enjoyed this and so have my group and its seen quite a few returns to the table since March and will continue to do so. Its just a solid and fun little game, which sometimes is all we need.
4 – Legendary Encounters –
This took a movie series I love and finally manged to give us a game we could enjoy whilst also improving on the Legendary system. This is a tense and white knuckle game that captures all the great bits from the films and manages to add a few surprises along the way. Some of the art is a bit shaky and the initial sort of the cards is a bloody nightmare but its worth the effort, it comes in a ridiculously over-sized box I wonder what Upper Deck intend to fill it with?
3 – Diamonds –
This is just a solid trick taking game from Stronghold Games, simple and great. I need to get a review up for this but If you’ve not tried it jump on now. A simple rule set, some great components and a game that anyone can play, highly recommended for gamer’s and non. really need to play more of this.
2 – Imperial Settlers –
Ignancy and Portal games have had some very interesting releases over the last couple of years, and he’s becoming a designer that I await his next creation with interest. Imperial Settlers is a solid little card game that is simple to pick up but offers some real depths and strategy with the differing factions, another one that I need to get a review out for. Really taken by this and only wish I could get it to the table more often.
1 – Dead of Winter –
This one has probably seen the most table time of all the games I’ve played this year. I may have burnt out on it a bit but I still stand by my original views in that it superbly captures the Zombie genre, tells an interesting story and has introduced an fascinating new mechanism in the crossroads system. I can’t wait to see what Plaid Hat comes up with next in this series. Believe the hype this is a solid game and for those willing to invest in the stories its telling there’s a lot of fun to be had in this box.
There are more than this obviously, Imperial Assault that I have been savoring, but it was so close to 2015 that I think it’s going to turn up on more of those lists, Mysterium is another delight (although technically its been hanging around since 2013) and Oddball Aeronauts that has become a firm pastime between me and son number 1. And the reprint of Viticulture from Stonemaier has been fascinating and I can’t wait to dig into the new Tuscany expansion. So yes other stuff played but that was the official list, and any of them are worthy of your time.
The clunkers of 2014 or those ones I played and really didn’t dig.
Five Tribes – Man this was Day’s Of Wonder doing something a bit deeper than the usual fare, I did want to enjoy this but I was just left cold. Can’t put my finger on it, but there just isn’t enough game here for me, the simple point for me was I havent had a wish or need to play this again since trying it out in the summer
Marvel Dice Masters – Let me be clear this is actually a solid game that improves on the original Quarriors in many ways. Everything I stated in my review in the summer still stands. Its a great product and game, the problem was its a collectable game that for about 6 months I couldn’t collect. I understand that WizKids were taken a tad by surprise, but I’ve really cooled on this and have avoided jumping on board the later sets for the same reasons. Quite possibly I might be encouraged back by the DC version but I’ll wait and see. If you’ve not played it, its pretty inexpensive to get a starter set to give it a try, its a neat game that may have had its wings clipped by being too damn popular.
Everything else of note that may have happened?
So dice were a bit of a thing this year, with not only the aforementioned Dicemasters clattering up a storm but also a bunch of other variations of either popular games were given the dice makeover, Pandemic, Race for the Galaxy (well just) King Of New York, Nations and pretty much anything else you could do as a dice game.
The big news still has to be Asmodee not only acquiring Day’s Of Wonder that set tongues a wagging in the summer but followup 1-2 that they had also merged with Fantasy Flight Games that sent some gamer’s into twitching fits. For my money I see 2014 as the prequel to the main event that’s coming in 2015, we could be well about to actually embark upon the much lauded Golden Age of gaming. With Asmodee having the distribution might to start to put some quality tabletop games into the mass market sector, I think the ramification’s of these deals are going to reverberate over the next couple of years and potentially bust our little hobby into the public conciseness. The signs are already there, with games popping up in places like South Park or Hollywood flicks like Gone Girl we’re getting legit and I can’t wait to see whats coming along.
The micro game bubble seems to have popped, but it was so small it barely registered. Aside from about 30 new love letter variations nothing really came of this fad. Although Coin Age was a clever take on the idea nothing of any real weight made an appearance. I think the middle weight semi-micro’s like Machi Koro and Tiny Epic Kingdoms that offer a bit more meat then their mini counterparts are where we will see this genre expanding into in the coming year.
Highlight for me this year was the UK Games EXPO, I had a blast there and met some great new buddies and can’t wait for the next one. It was a swell time managing to both be a big enough event to attract some serious industry names whilst still managing to be a small enough event that people could just find a corner and get a game in. Anyone serious about our hobby needs to get themselves to the next one and see what all the buzz was about.
App’s in games saw some developments, Alchemists has opened a window onto something that I have no doubt will leads us down some interesting paths. And there have also been some great digital renditions of our tabletop favorites, I can’t recommend Galaxy Trucker highly enough an fantastically rendered version of a cardboard favorite on a tablet, well worth taking a peek at.
And it was a banner year for the site. My favorite bits of the year would be getting the podcast up and going (and still going) getting the chance to interview some actual games designers, fanboy highlight has to be chatting to Rob Daviau about Risk Legacy and his plans for Sea Fall, and just seeing the site grow and the downloads of the podcast trickle on into the thousands (Whoot!). I have some interesting plans for the coming year and I hope to see our little corner of the UK game review thing expand some more. But just let me once again say a big hearty thanks to you, yes you reading this now all you Greg’s. Thank you for taking the time out and stopping to see what tasty treats that we have to offer and savoring the odd nibble, just don’t be a stranger. Tweet us or click on the BGG forum link, leave us some feedback anything, its nice to know there is someone out there watching or listening.
It looks to be an exciting year coming up. Just thinking now there are some exciting things on the way, FFG’s X-Com game, SeaFall (please be this year) Pandemic Legacy, The Thunderbirds game from Matt Leacock, Scythe from Stonemaier, Plaid Hats next Crossroads game, and then there’s all the stuff not even on the radar yet, who knows. Tis a great time to be in this hobby and I can’t wait to see what the year ahead brings us and I can’t wait to share it with you.
Have a great new year and let’s catch up soon.