We have picked our ten favorite games for 2017. Soon, we’ll choose one that will receive our Game of the Year award. In the meantime, take a look over our list and learn more about our process for picking.
Our Ten Favorite Games of 2017
No messing around, Let’s get right to it. Here are the ten games we have picked as finalists for our Game of the Year award: Charterstone, Clank! In! Space!, Evolution: Climate, Ex Libris, Go Nuts for Donuts, Kingdomino, Magic Maze, Photosynthesis, Sagrada, Santorini.
Now for a little more about each game:
It’s legacy gaming for the whole family! In Greengully, the Forever King has tasked you with growing colonies within the vast lands of his borders. The game takes place over a dozen hour-long sessions and is an absolute delight with surprises and all sort of additions to gameplay as the story moves on. There’s so much to do, but only one way to win in Charterstone. Read the full review.
Clank! In! Space!
The third iteration of the deck-building adventure game is the best! You’re on board the flagship of the evil Lord Eradkius and you’re trying to loot his precious artifacts and make it to an escape pod before Eradikus notices. Will you make it out in time? Find out in Clank! In! Space! Read the full review.
Staying alive can be a difficult thing, as Evolution showed us. Predators and prey and an evolving environment put life to the test. Now, the award-winning strategy game adds in another challenge: climate. Can your species cope with scorching hot temperatures or bone-rattling wind chills? You must evolve to survive (and win) in Evolution: Climate. Read the full review.
In a wonderful fantasy town that celebrates books above all else, you compete with your opponents for the title of Grand Librarian! The mayor will judge you on a variety of criteria in this worker placement game with some twists. It’s a challenge as your imagination runs wild in Ex Libris! Read the full review.
Go Nuts for Donuts
Mmmmm, donuts! So many donuts to choose from, but pick the same one as your opponents and nobody gets any in this drafting and set collection game. How good are you at pastry picking? Give it a shot in this 2–6 player game that you can finish in under 20 minutes. Read the full review.
As king, it’s fun to build your kingdom. As a game player, it’s even more fun to build that kingdom with dominoes that have different terrains on them. The drafting mechanism makes each choice important and the end of the game scoring always leaves a little doubt in Kingdomino. Read the full review.
In this real-time cooperative game, you’re adventurers who’ve had your things taken from you and you must find some replacements (at the mall, natch). You must move fast and cooperation is key, but you must get it all done without speaking to your fellow players! Zaniness will ensue in Magic Maze. Read the full review.
In a small forest clearing, you and your opponents compete to grow the tallest trees, but your trees won’t grow if they don’t get sun. In Photosynthesis, trees must be planted and see light in order to grow–but the sun moves throughout the year and may not always be in your favor. Will there be unrest in the forest? Almost certainly in this strategic and beautiful game. Read the full review.
In this dice rolling, drafting, and set collection game, you’ll be crafting stained glass windows, just like those in the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Rules dictate what colors and shades can go in your window, but special tools let you break the rules once in a while. Just don’t break your window in Sagrada! Read the full review.
Santorini is a remake of an old abstract game, but the new version is so radically different, we included it as one of our favorite games. With your builder, you’ll move and add floors to buildings, the stark, whitewashed cubiform homes of the eponymous Greek isle. Special powers will keep your defense nimble in this 2–4 player game. Read the full review.
How We Picked Our Finalists
The GeekDad Game of the Year is an award given once a year to the game we have enjoyed the most in the previous 365 days. Overall, the 2017 process was done differently this year than we have in the past. (Read our announcement.) Qualification is dependent on a number of factors: first, the game must have been reviewed by GeekDad in the previous 12 months. Additionally, we must have recognized the quality of the game at the review and noted the game as a “GeekDad Approved” game at the time, worthy of our big, shiny metal thumbs-up.
Second, the game must be accessible to most families–a bit of a nebulous identification to be sure, but roughly a game should be one that most families would be likely to play on a weekend afternoon. This would typically rule out heavy strategy games and very light fare. (That’s not to say we’re not heavily enamored with some of those games, we just have to be more selective as we narrow games down.) For this reason, generally, games are going to adhere to an 80-minutes-or-less rule.
We also keep an eye on content, and games that have themes, language, or art that we deem inappropriate aren’t going to make the cut. The family game category, as you traditionally think about it, is a good place to start, but it’s not absolute. We recognize that families might consist of adult children or older teenagers, as well as very young children. Resultantly, our sweet spot covers a very large area.
Third, a game we select as a finalist must have come out in those previous 12 months and be currently available in wide release. There’s no sense in us celebrating a game that not many (or no one) can get their hands on. Fourth and finally, we love games that have fresh takes on old mechanics, offer great components, or otherwise have a special something that will get everyone to the table.
Our selection process gathers steam in late October. It is then that we begin our judging, winnowing down our list of Approved games to just ten finalists, which we announce in mid-November. Everyone who writes for GeekDad has a vote in this process; our only prerequisite is that they have played the games they provide input on.
In early December, a select few of the GeekDad staff get together to play the finalist games, discuss what they enjoy, and make a single selection as our game of the year. This game will be announced mid-December each year.
The timetable might seem a bit odd–a 12-month calendar keyed off November 1, but there is reasoning behind it. By considering games released between November 2 of the previous year and the first ten months of the current year, we feel as though we capture most games released during the year. Further, by narrowing our field and making a selection by mid-December, it allows our readers to consider and make a purchasing decision on a game they can have for the holidays and enjoy all of the next year.
Our Approved Games for 2017
This year’s Approved games include (click the links for reviews):
Castles of Caladale
Clank! In! Space!
Clank Sunken Treasure
Go Nuts for Donuts
Pretending to Grownup
Sol: Last Days of a Star
Villages of Valeria
Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire
Wasteland Express Delivery Service
Zpocalypse 2: Defend the Burbs
Chances are that one of your favorites isn’t on that list. Tell us which one and why! And make sure to check back in sometime in mid-December to find out which one we’ve chosen as our 2017 Game of the Year!
The Fine Print
We realize that we can’t get to every game that is released each year. For that, we apologize. There are only a handful of us and we have day jobs. But we are trying hard to review as many games as we can.
To be completely transparent, when we identify a game as Approved, the publisher is notified and we provide a logo noting the Approved designation that they are free to use and without any obligation. However, for any game that we select as a finalist or as the winner of our game of the year, we request a small fee for use of that logo and designation; again, there is no obligation to participate, nor do we consider the likelihood of a publisher paying when we narrow down our list. (In fact, several publishers on our finalist list have already told us they will not be participating. That’s OK with us.) We ask for this fee since we believe the award provides a benefit to the publishers who decide to use it, but also to offset administrative costs of running a big website and travel costs involved with a number of us getting together to play the Finalists games and make a decision on the overall winner. We’re bloggers. Financially, it’s a losing proposition–in a big way. We’re just trying to offset that a little.
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