2015 in paper and wood

by james mathias / 2016 / games

In 2015 I played one-hundred and seventy-eight games of which eighty-two were new games.

Some old, some brand new this year, but all new to me. I’m at once scared and proud of this fact. Scared, ‘cause I played more new games this year than most normal people have in their entire collection. Proud ‘cause I love gaming, and I feel like I accomplished something. (I’m easy to please)

I tried posting about the new games each month, but due to the volume it became difficult to keep up, and as you can see I just stopped in July. So this post is a catch all. A way to make up for my lack of output, but also boil it all down to the real crux, which games are good and which games are bad.

In 2015, three-hundred and nineteen board game related items left my collection. And roughly two-hundred and seven game related items entered my collection.

Biggest disappointments

All in all with the amount of games I play there tends to be some disappointing games in the bunch, this year was no exception. The following are games I was excited to play, but just didn’t live up to my expectations.

Aquasphere

Stefan Feld is my favorite game designer. This game had an underwater science lab theme, and octomeeples! It should have been a smash hit, but it felt frustrating, and tight. It wasn’t fun, it was like doing long division without scratch paper. Big bummer.

Guns & Steel

I was excited about this game, and I received it late in the year from my BGG Secret Santa. I think it’s a fine game. However, it came after 7 Wonders: Duel and that makes it look like a hot mess.

Viceroy

I was really excited for this game to be printed in English, but it was unfortunately given to one of the worst US publishers, and they botched the whole print run pretty bad. It’s snobbish, but bad components can really ruin a game for me.

Samurai Spirit

This was a game that on paper I should have enjoyed. The designer has a great pedigree, samurai, special powers, co-op. Should have worked, unfortunately it only pissed me off and I could not wait for the game to end.

Epic Tiny Galaxies

Space, dice, planets to colonize… Man it really sucks that this game wasn’t good. The dice and lack of real mitigation for the fact that four of the six sides are useless on 80% of turns really made for a boring and frustrating trip through space.


Biggest surprises

Sometimes there are games I don’t have high expectations for, or think I might dislike and instead they prove me wrong and become something I really enjoy. Here are a few games that fit that category this year.

London

This is an older Martin Wallace game. It looks like crap, but it plays like a dream. It’s so smooth and elegant. It’s one of those titles where you go, OH! I get the hype for this designer now. I like this one so much, I’m considering doing a redesign of the cards and board, to make it more pleasing to look at.

Forbidden Stars

I love Warhammer 40k as a theme. Space fantasy, it’s greatness. Although I thought for sure this game was going to be a clunky space mess with trivial combat and long complicated turns. I could not have been more wrong. The game is quick, and clever. The combat is really interesting and engaging. This is a triumph of the genre, and I’m really glad I gave it a shot.

Dark Moon

This is one of those games that I was only slightly interested in trying, but not really willing to buy. So on my wish list is sat, that is until my BGG Secret Santa sent it to me. We played it right away, it’s simple turns and mechanisms lead into hilarious and tense table talk. Whose infected? No one knows but in our first two games it was me, and both times I convinced them I wasn’t and won. Laughter ensues.

Steam Works

This game looked interesting to me, enough that I bought it, but I put off playing it as the reviews coming in weren’t too favorable, and it seemed like I was going to sell it off. Then on vacation I decided to give it a shot with my two oldest boys and we had a real blast. The game is crazy, and hilarious. Lot’s of fun, glad I didn’t sell it after all.

Eminent Domain: Microcosm

I almost backed this on Kickstarter but changed my mind late in the campaign. I thought it might be OK, but I wasn’t willing to bet on it. I ended up with a copy anyway, and I have to say I should have backed it. It’s brilliant, such a great game in such a small package.


Best of the best

Here are the games that earned permanent shelf space in Terrence. You can consider these my top ten from 2015, in no particular order. I’m not going to discuss why I like these games, ‘cause ultimately it doesn’t matter. You cannot go wrong with any of the games below.

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.

William Butler Yeats circa 1899