So 2014 marked my return to board games. I used to love playing games as a kid. I grew up playing Clue, Risk, Trouble, Life, and plenty of other games with my family, in high school I used to get together with friends and spend an entire weekend playing Civilization ; in college I spent many hours and hours playing Mafia, Scrabble, Sorry, Spades, and Euchre; and then my wife and I used to play a lot of Pente, Scattergories, and other games together and with friends. Then we had children. And the games reluctantly got packed away and put into the basement. In fact, the year before my first son was born my wife bought me Khet, then she got pregnant, and we never played it until this past year, 8 years later!
Through the years we had given some feeble attempts at playing games with our sons. We had Chutes & Ladders, Candy Land, Cooties, Don't Break the Ice, and a bunch of other kiddie games. We tried other, less typical games, like CooCoo the Rocking Clown, Hullabaloo, and Suspend, too. None of them really grabbed our kids' attentions, or ours. Then last Christmas we gave our boys (ages 4 and 7 at the time) Catan Junior as well as a couple of other games, like Cathedral. Well, one play into Catan Junior and the boys were hooked! The boys loved Cathedral as well, so we spent the couple of weeks after Christmas playing all sorts of games that I hadn't played in years. We played Pente, Quarto, finally played Khet, and a bunch more! I pulled my meager collection of games out of storage and started introducing my boys to them slowly.
But Catan Junior remained their favorite (who can turn down pirates and parrots!), and we played it a whole bunch. In fact, we found the game so much fun that even my wife and I played it on our own a few times. But playing with just two adults the game was missing something. Its options were just a bit too limited for adults. But we could see the potential in the game and that got us to thinking about what the full version of Settlers of Catan must be like. So on January 9th (thank you Amazon for keeping my order history) I placed an order for Catan. That was before I realized it was for 3-4 players. So then I spent the time between ordering and the arrival of the game researching 2 player variant rules so my wife and I could play. And play we did. For the next two weeks straight that's all we did nearly every night was play Catan. We never knew board games could be so much fun! We were hooked.
In the past year we've bought and played more games than I had in my entire life previously (and like I said, I wasn't opposed to playing games ever before). We met new friends that also liked playing games. And I even started designing my own games! And now my boys (5 and 8) have moved on beyond Junior Catan (although they still like to play it sometimes) and now join us for Dominion, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Splendor, Takenoko, Star Realms, and pretty much anything else we bring out. Yes, we've become board-game-aholics in our house.
So anyway, now on to the whole point of this post. Since getting into board games, and particularly designer or hobby board games, has been relatively new to our family, most of the games we played in 2014 weren't actually released in 2014. So I can't really do a top 10 new games from 2014, but I can do a top 10 new-to-me games from 2014. So, without further ado, here are the top 10 games that I was introduced to in 2014.
10 - Survive! (1982)
8 - Betrayal at House on the Hill (2004)
Polter-Heist. I started working on Polter-Heist before I learned about BaHotH and only stumbled on the game while I was looking for ideas for room artwork for my game. While both games take place in a haunted house and have a series of rooms viewed from above, they are both very different. After discovering BaHotH I watched a TableTop episode featuring the game. Then I watched just about every gameplay and review video I could find. I absolutely fell in love with the game without ever having played it. Unfortunately it was out of print. But then I found out that it was scheduled for reprint in just a few months! Yay! So I put in a pre-order for it at my FLGS and started waiting patiently for my chance to play. Then I found out a friend had the first edition of the game! We played and it was as great as I had expected! We played a couple of more times and then I finally received my own copy. Then we played some more. I love that every game is different after the haunt starts, however I really want to try playing with 6 players. With 3 and 4 the haunts just always seemed a little unbalanced and ended too soon. But I still love the game, both for its haunted house theme and for its wealth of replayability. No game is ever the same. I haven't reviewed Betrayal at the House on the Hill yet, but one will be forthcoming!
7 - Tiny Epic Kingdoms (2014)
Tiny Epic Defenders Kickstarter after playing the PnP version of the game, which I thought was a fantastic coop game. When the Pledge Manager information was sent I had the opportunity to add Tiny Epic Kingdoms to my order, which I promptly did. When it arrived I was super excited. Opening the package was incredible. All the bits and pieces were awesome, and so tiny! Then I got to play the game. I was absolutely amazed at the amount of game packed into a tiny little box. Tiny Epic Kingdoms is a 4x game that is simple to learn and teach and quick to play. It plays in about 45 minutes so it is accessible to just about any type of gamer: new, casual, or experienced. The game is a ton of fun, even if it does seem to end sooner than expected at times. A review of TEK will be coming soon!
6 - Kemet (2012)
I just don't have the knack. Instead of chucking dice each player has a set of military strategy cards that can enhance their attack strength, defense strength, or the amount of damage they can inflict. Plus there are limits to the size of armies. So you never have one army that completely overwhelms another army. And because each player has the same military strategies available to them during the course of the game battles are decided on tactics rather than random chance. I love that! And better yet, when you are defeated you don't lose all your soldiers. Instead they just get sent back to your city so they can be redeployed elsewhere during the game. So victories in battle are important, but they don't let you destroy opponents to the point where they have no chance in the game. It's an ingenious battle mechanic that I immediately fell in love with, so much so that I included a similar mechanic in my game To Reign Supreme. (Now listed on BGG!)
5 - Rise! (2012)
4 - Star Realms (2014)
3 - Carcassonne (2000)
2 - Legendary (2012)
1 - Dominion (2008)
FYI, the games in the top image for the 2014 date are Machi Koro, Friday, DragonFlame, and Takenoko, four other games I've enjoyed playing.
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