I’ve written the past few years about the 10×10 Tabletop Challenge (see my results for 2014 and 2015), but I haven’t been doing so well, really. Usually near the end of the year, I try to get a couple more plays of the games that were near the top of my list, but this year I had a surprise trip right at the end and couldn’t bring all of those games along with me, so I decided to let it go.
However, I did want to take a look back at my most frequently-played games of the year, and set a new target for 2017.
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game – 46 plays
Once again, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game tops the list—not surprising, since it’s the only game for which I’ve got a group that meets regularly to play. This year, we finished working our way through Wrath of the Righteous, and then dove into Mummy’s Mask this fall.
Codenames – 27 plays
Codenames is another repeat winner, because it’s such a great game for large groups, for people who haven’t played anything other than party games, for kids and adults. I’m happy to start a game night with Codenames and then move on to heavier games, or just play Codenames for an entire game night. Despite the release of Codenames Pictures this year, I think I still like the original best.
Vast: The Crystal Caverns – 21 plays
I’ll admit that Vast: The Crystal Caverns is not a game for everyone: casual or new gamers may find it a bit overwhelming, particularly as you explain a completely different set of rules for each player. But for people who really love innovative game design, it’s just mind-blowing, and I fell deeply in love with it this year, continuing to play it and introduce it to new players well after my review was already finished. There’s a reason it was at the top of my Best Games list this year.
Spaceteam – 18 plays
The Spaceteam card game continues to be a fun way to get people amped up and excited to play some games. It’s a ridiculously fun cooperative game, and since it’s only 5 minutes to play, tends to get a couple plays in a row whenever I break it out. It’s the most fun you’ll have trying to repair a malfunctioning spaceship while hurtling through space.
Dead Man’s Draw – 14 plays
Another repeat winner, Dead Man’s Draw got some more plays this year thanks to the release of the newly redesigned “Captain Carcass” version, but it’s also one of my go-to games for newer players. It’s simple to teach, quick to play, and the character powers let you mix it up for a different feel each time you play.
Go Nuts for Donuts – 11 plays
Daily Magic Games has been publishing the fantasy-themed Valeria series of games (which I adore), but this cute donut game has been a real crowd-pleaser, making fans every time I play it or teach other people to play. So far I’ve been getting a good bit of use out of my Kickstarter review prototype, but I’m really looking forward to the release of the finished product—if it had already been released, it definitely would have made my Best Games list for 2016. I’m sure it’s going to sell like hotcakes. Or, you know, donuts.
Tem-Purr-A – 11 plays
Tem-Purr-A made it onto our Best Games list as a great filler game and it gets bonus points for having adorably weird artwork of cats eating Japanese food. It was also the last game I played in 2016—or maybe the first game I played in 2017.
Deep Sea Adventure – 10 plays
Deep Sea Adventure is a pocket-sized game about diving down to retrieve treasures and then trying to get back to the submarine before you run out of air. It’s from Japanese game publisher Oink Games, so it can be a little pricier here in the US, but I think it’s fantastic—I picked it up at my local game store, which imported a few of Oink’s titles. There’s a very fun press-your-luck element to it, and don’t be surprised if everyone dies and comes away with no treasure the first time you play.
Sushi Go Party! – 9.5 plays
Why 9.5 plays? Well, I got 9 plays in of Sushi Go Party! but I also did have at least one play of Sushi Go! during the year, too. I already included Sushi Go! in our “best games” list in 2014, but Sushi Go Party! is a pretty great way to play with more players (up to 8) and more variety. I expect this will continue to hit the table a lot when I have a big group.
Star Wars Carcassonne – 9 plays
I picked up a copy of Star Wars Carcassonne from my local game store at a premium before I learned that there would be a limited print run for the US—there was concern because Hasbro has the Disney license in the US, so they wouldn’t allow Z-Man to publish it here. It’s actually not just a re-skinned version of the classic tile-laying game, but actually introduces new rules, including duels (with dice!) to fight over features on the board.
Mysterium – 9 plays
Mysterium is like Codenames meets Dixit with a splash of Clue for the theme—the ghost tries to give hints to the psychics about the people, places, and weapons surrounding his untimely demise, but he can only communicate in dreamlike images. It’s a challenging cooperative game, and gorgeous to look at. Dave Banks introduced it to us at Gen Con 2015, and I had to pick up my own copy shortly after that.
2017 Gaming Goals
I had a good number of games that hit 7 or 8 plays this year, but above is my top 11, so I figure that’s a pretty good place to stop. In all the previous years, I’ve basically done a retroactive 10×10: that is, I don’t pick the games ahead of time, but instead just look at my logged plays at the end of the year and see if I had 10 games that I played 10 times each. Part of the reason is that I never know what games I will be getting in the new year, so it’s hard to decide in advance.
However, this year, I’ve been realizing that I have a lot of games that I do want to play more—some were review copies, and others were games that I bought and then set aside because, well, I needed to get to the review games first. So, this isn’t exactly a 10×10 challenge; think of it more like a tabletop games resolution for the new year. Here are a few games I hope to play more often this year. It goes without saying that Pathfinder Adventure Card Game will be on my list, and I’m also hoping that Vast gets a lot more plays—after all, I have a personal goal to play all possible permutations of characters (eventually).
Scythe was a game that I backed on Kickstarter based on Dave Banks’ say-so and the reputation of Stonemaier Games—I hadn’t played it myself and honestly didn’t even dive into the gameplay that much until it actually arrived. And even then, I didn’t play it for a while, because Dave was the one reviewing it, so it just sat on my shelf, taunting me with its gorgeous illustrations and deluxe metal coins. I finally thought, “You know what? I spent a lot on this game—I should really give it a try” and I’ve really enjoyed it, enough to buy the Invaders from Afar expansion. I’m hoping to break this one out a little more often this year.
I know, I know: how could any serious gamer not have played Pandemic Legacy? Well, for two reasons: first, I always have a pile of things I’ve been sent to review, so everything else tends to be pushed down the priorities list; and second, because I really want to have a consistent group to play through it. I finally did pick up a copy and I’m hoping I can play with my wife and two older daughters, though it’s been hard to get the four of us at a gaming table at the same time. Will 2017 be the year that we save the world from (or succumb to) horrible diseases? We’ll see. We need to finish Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle first.
I bought a copy of Robinson Crusoe after playing a demo at Gen Con—though I had to wait, because it had already sold out at the convention by the time I tried it, and it remained hard to find for a while. I really enjoy this cooperative game, but I hadn’t played it a lot with people who had already played, so I ended up playing the same starting scenario again and again. I’d love to play through the Voyage of the Beagle expansion, which I picked up over a year ago. So far I’ve only tried the first scenario in it. It’s time to get sailing. (There’s a second edition of the game out now—I’m not sure how exactly it differs, but it may be a nice way for new players to jump in.)
Shadows of Brimstone
Oh, my poor unpainted monsters. I backed the Shadows of Brimstone Kickstarter, so this is yet another one on my list of games that I spent a lot of money on but haven’t played nearly enough. A big part of the delay on this one is wanting to paint the miniatures—I got four of the characters painted, and then stalled out. But I’ve really enjoyed the game each time I’ve played, and Flying Frog has added tons of new content since then, too. I’d love to get a regular group together to play it more often, though right now I might only have time for one regular gaming session, and that’s Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. Still, maybe this year I’ll get a few more monsters painted and finally get a campaign going.