2014 Top Picks

2015 is here, and all this week we’ve been looking back at 2014 to see what we did well, what we did not, and of course to find our favorite games released during the year. Looking through the list of games released in 2014 at first appeared challenging since boardgamegeek lists over 4000 new titles. But a large number of those were never available to US consumers through normal channels, many were reprints, and most were small runs from new publishers. Still, we were looking at around 2000 new titles for 2014, but our top picks all came from within the top 100. Here are our picks, with Star Realms Dead of Winter vying for absolute best game of the year based on all-around experience:

Kirsten’s Top Picks
1. Star Realms (a surprise hit that will continue to please. Look for the expansions sometime this month)
2. Red7
3. Dead of Winter
4. Camel Up (Easily a great light, fun, and very social game)
5. Doodle Quest (A game made for kids, but strong enough for adults!)

Not played that could make the cut:
1. King of New York
2. Cubist

Games from any year that she wants to play more of:
1. Merchants & Marauders (so amazed she like this game, one of my all time favorites, with an expansion on the way!)
2. Lords of Scotland (A great tactical card game, with a reprint coming this year)

Ben’s Top Picks
1. King’s Forge (Another surprise hit from Kickstarter, some great fresh mechanics in this one)
2. Warhammer 40K Conquest Living Card Game (Lots of depth but easy to jump in and play)
3. Imperial Settlers (A very simple to play card game with lots of depth and great combo options to play around with)
4. Abyss (One of the prettiest card games ever made)
5. Camel Up

Not played that could make the cut:
1. Linko
2. Nations Dice Game
3. Patchwork

Games from any year that he wants to play more of:
1. Snowdonia
2. Blood Bowl Team Manager
3. Chaos in the Old World
4. 7 Wonders Babel

James’ Top Picks
1. Dead of Winter (Not my standard genre of interest, but this game’s design is just too good to ignore)
2. Imperial Settlers
3. Doomtown: Reloaded (played it wrong the first 10 times, I love the way this one hurts my brain)
4. Red7 (Oh Chudyk, you madman. Red7 is now another great 2-player pub option)
5. 7 Wonders Babel (7 Wonders is now a pillar of the hobby, and this expansion takes the game in an interesting new direction)

Not played that could make the cut:
1. Castles of Mad King Ludwig
2. Kanban
3. Star Wars Imperial Assault

Games from any year that I want to play more of:
1. CO2
2. Archipelago
3. Imperial Settlers
4. Snowdonia

There you have it, our favorites. Since we’ll have only a few significant new releases during the first and second quarters of 2015, the games on these lists are what you’ll likely see us trying to bring to the tables during upcoming game nights.

As for what we did well and what we did not, we’re still working through some of that. We’re pleased that we did continue to grow, despite some contraction in our product diversity, dropping our regular Saturday game nights, and instigating a permanent pay-to-play policy for our space. We also experienced a massive increase in the use of our game rental library and will continue to focus on the quality and diversity of the library this year, including an expanded kids and family rental section. We firmly believe in the philosophy of the game rental system and want to continue to provide the best library and service to Portlanders.

Our regular Wednesday game nights experienced a lot of turnover this year with many great new faces, and the loss of a number of great folks who moved away. It feels like the qi is still trying to settle after the turnover, but that’s how communities operate. There is some concern that the games played at game night are now slipping towards the lighter end. We’re not sure that this is truly the case, but we’ll keep an eye on it. We consider the game nights as somewhat community owned, so the games played are largely those that the group has decided to play. Personally, I love my meatier games, but since I’m actually a primary host at game nights, playing the big boys is generally not an option for me, we’ll see if I can work something out. Finally our Last Saturday Metagame nights have been interesting. About half the attendees like the weird themes while the other half do not. I think we’ll experiment with mixing some straightforward themes with the unique ones to get everyone smiling.

Here’s to a great 2015 gang, time to get ready for some gaming!

Posted: January 2, 2015 at 6:42 pm
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