Last year, I logged 240 plays with 139 games, 78 of which were new to me.

2017 was a great year for gaming overall. Which is terrific, considering it made for a great distraction from the world’s woes, and things I can’t control, but inevitably worry about.

Fred got older, and sassier. Cameron has been giving me a legit run for my money in heavier and heavier strategy games. We discovered that Bryce likes games with less luck and requiring more skill. And Liam still loves Fallout!

In 2017, two-hundred and sixty-seven board game related items entered my collection. And roughly one-hundred and seventy-one game related items left my collection.

Let’s talk about the year.


Ex Libris

Ex Libris is a game with potential. A game that could have been amazing. Unfortunately, it was released with some poor graphic design choices, that made the game nearly impossible to play without constant rulebook referencing. The complexity of the game shifts dramatically each round, which with the graphic design issues makes the game an exercise in frustration.

A real shame, this one.


Sigh. Feld and Rieneck individually make some of the best Euro games on the planet. Together, and teamed up with Queen (publisher), they created a real flop. This game is roll and move, with no control. When mitigation is possible, it almost is never worth using.

Huge bummer, this one.


On paper this game seemed to be a real winner. In practice it was boring, and monotonous, and like Merlin had a problem with high luck, low mitigation. We found ourselves rolling and rolling and rolling, and basically making no progress towards the end game.

A real slog, this one.


GIPF Series

Prior to 2017, I’d only played a small handful of abstract games. I’m mostly not interested in them. But the GIPF series changed all that. From the first game I picked up TZAAR, to the last LYNGK the series is solid, strong, and infinitely interesting. All seven games have permanent residence in my collection.


I enjoyed Paolo’s previous games, but none had earned a shelf space. So even though I had interest in Ethnos, I assumed it would be a short lived stay in my collection. Was I ever wrong. This game is quite the keeper. I recommend checking it out, if you can look past the boring game board, and the pastel player colors, you’ll find yourself knee deep in one of the year’s best releases.

Mini Rails

On your turn you get to do one of two things. On your next turn, you do the other. You do this 5 times. Then score. I’ve not seen a game with this much depth with so many restrictions. Love it. It’s only failing is it requires at least 3 players.


This game is ridiculously simple, but it’s a small box full of big laughs and tense decisions. Keeper for sure. Lu loves it. It’s a game she asks to play. That’s big praise.

Fantasy Realms

I was expecting this game to be a “play once and sell it” type game. But it turned out to be quite a fun little hand manager. trying to build your best score with 7 cards before the game ends is incredibly interesting and tense. Then winning or losing by a couple points cause you couldn’t find that one combo piece is incredibly satisfying and frustrating at the same time.

Check this one out. It’s a good time.

Best of the best

10: Alien Artifacts

Portal makes great games. So many great games, right in my wheelhouse, that any time they announce something my ears perk up. Cry Havoc was my number one game last year. Add to that Imperial Settlers, Neuroshima Hex, and Theseus the Dark Orbit and you’ve got a company worth watching.

This year’s Alien Artifacts from Portal makes my list at 10. And It’s a wonderful game.

Why 10 instead of number 1? Well, mainly because this year had so many games that turned out to be keepers it was hard to narrow it down. This is number 10 out of 139 games. So, yeah, awesome.

9: Bunny Kingdom

I love drafting. I love Iello games. I love Richard Garfield’s designs (mostly). But most of all. I LOVE bunnies.

This is a top tier drafting, and area control game. And did I mention it has bunnies?!

8: Pulsar 2849

I’m a fan of Suchý‘s Last Will, and Prodigals Club. I’m a big fan of space. This game is so good. Tight, tense, fast, fun, and combos!! Check this one out if you get a chance it’s well worth the time.

7: Keyper

I didn’t discover the Key Series until Keyflower, which is in my all time top ten. So Keyper was a no-brainer. And Man alive, is this a terrificly clever and delightful gaming experience. Farming and fairs without animal cruelty? Sign me right up!

6: Sid Meier’s Civilization: A New Dawn

One of my weaknesses in games is Civilization building. Putting things on maps, and growing an empire is just the bees knees. I never tried the original, as I was intimidated by it. But after getting a taste of this game, and reading great things, it’s on my wish list.

A New Dawn is streamlined and fast playing. It’s a very good abstraction of empire building, and it was love at first play.

5: Game of Thrones: LCG

I started and finished A Game of Thrones on HBO this year, and about half way through I thought I should try the Living Card Game. I figured since I’d understand the world a bit better now, it’d be worth a try. I bought a single core set, threw together a few decks and played.

Five Core sets, and ALL the expansions later. It’s easily my favorite 2 player card game. I really enjoy it a ton!

4: Transatlantic

I’m a big fan of Gerdts. I’m a huge fan of boats (another board gaming weakness). So this was not a surprise. But it plays so smooth and fast. I really, really love it. My favorite thing about it? It comes in a normal sized board game box! Gerdts fans know what I’m talking about!

3: Gaia Project

Terra Mystica is my all time favorite game of, well, all time. So a game named Gaia Project: A Terra Mystica Game is pretty much a shoe in for a top 10 list. But why 3? well I didn’t get this game until December, so I didn’t get as much time with it as the top 2. But it’ll likely move it’s way onto my all time list soon.

2: Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire

As I’ve mentioned before Warhammer is a favorite thematic setting for me. As I’ve not mentioned before I really like tactical skirmish style games. This is both, together, with asymmetrical teams, bashing brains for three rounds.

There are 4 teams available, and many more to come. I’ll be collecting them all. This game is so wonderful. It plays fast, and furious and it can burn the brain against a solid opponent. The fact that fighting is not always the best way to win in a game that is about fighting shifts my brain into overdrive.

1: Rum & Bones: Second Tide

The first time I played this game it took 3 hours, and about halfway through I told my wife that I loved it. And love it I do. It doesn’t take 3 hours to play anymore, but every minute spent with this game this year was well worth it. There is so much here to explore and it’s just fun.

Pirates fighting across ships, with minions and heroes galore! Lots of fast dice action, with a real strong underlying tactical mind game.

Rum & Bones: Second Tide is my game of 2017, by a wide margin.