Announcing the 2018 Game of the Year Finalists

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It’s December, so it’s time to start thinking about the very best things of this year. We have picked our favorite games for 2018 and soon we’ll choose the one that will receive our Game of the Year award. In the meantime, please have a look at our list of nominees and learn more about our process for selection.

Our 10 Favorite Games of 2018

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: Cryptid, Decrypto, Dragon Castle. Fireball Island, Heroes of Land, Air & Sea, Junk Orbit, My Little Scythe, Root, Visitor in Blackwood Grove, Welcome To…

Now for a little more about each game:

Cryptid 1

Cryptid

Deduction meets strategy in this unique competition between players posing as cryptozoologists. You and your opponents each have a single piece of information about where to identify an elusive creature. Can you figure out their clue before they ferret out yours? Glory can only be had by one! Read the full review.

Decrypto code card and screen

Decrypto

In this party game, teammates try to send each other codes via word clues, without the other team intercepting them. Fail getting your secret code to your team too often and you’ll lose, but intercept the other team twice and you win. Read the full review.

Dragon Castle

Collect tiles in a manner similar to Mahjong Solitaire before building your castle in a way that will score you points. There are several ways to score and many layouts, but just when you think you have the game mastered, special powers and unique objectives give this game plenty of longevity. Read the full review.

Fireball Island

Relive your ’80s childhood with this return to Fireball Island. The game features a massive plastic-formed island that has channels running throughout it for marbles to run down escaping players. The nostalgia is thick on this one! Read the full review.

Heroes of Land, Air & Sea orcs land

Heroes of Land, Air & Sea

Our nominee list gets a visit from game length and complexity with this 4X game (that’s easy to learn and play) that pits fantasy factions against each other in an epic battle of development, resources, and attacks. Real time strategy has never been this much fun! Read the full review.

Junk Orbit

Far in the future, we’ve finally managed to litter throughout the galaxy. No matter, this junk presents opportunity to scavengers like us. Junk Orbit is pick up and deliver with a clever movement system and special powers. Read the full review.

My Little Scythe end of game

My Little Scythe

Speaking of 4X, one of our favorites is Scythe. This family-friendly interpretation of that award-winning game is stripped down and … hella cuter. The game is based on a father-daughter fan-creation. Read the full review.

Root board

Root

Woodland creatures seek and adventure (and battle) in this asymmetric adventure from the publisher of Vast: The Crystal Caverns. Which faction will take root in the forest and decide the fate of their wooded home? The one with the best strategy, of course! Read the full review.

Visitor in Blackwood Grove visitor setup

Visitor in Blackwood Grove

A spaceship has crashed with a heavy force field. Some objects can pass, but others cannot. Can you figure out the pattern before time runs out in this fast-playing press-your-luck game? Read the full review.

Welcome To... final scoring

Welcome To…

Roll and write does away with dice, in favor of cards, in this challenging pattern-building affair. As an architect, you’ll have to do your best to lay out neighborhoods to meet various card demands. Do the best job, score the most points and you’ll be the winner! 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. Qualification is dependent on a number of factors: First, (and probably the biggest filter) the game must have been reviewed by GeekDad in the previous 12 months. Additionally, we must have recognized the quality of the game in the review and noted the game as a “GeekDad Approved” game, 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, although we do have one nominee that breaks that rule this year.

Third, 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.

Fourth, 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.

Fifth 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 Timeline

Our selection process gathers steam in mid-November. It is then that we begin our judging, winnowing down our list of Approved games to just ten finalists, which we announce at the beginning of December. Everyone who writes for GeekDad has the opportunity to vote in this process; our only prerequisite is that they have played the games they provide input on.

In mid-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 in late December this year.

The timetable might seem a bit odd–a 12-month calendar keyed off November, but there is reasoning behind it. By considering games released between last November 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 2018

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 late December to find out which one we’ve chosen as our 2018 Game of the Year!

Altiplano
Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Castell
Century: Eastern Wonders
Cryptid
Decrypto
Dinosaur Island
Divinity Derby
Dokmus
Dragon Castle
Fireball Island
Heroes of Land, Air & Sea
Junk Orbit
My Little Scythe
Mystery of the Temples
Prowler’s Passage
Remnants
Root
Sailing Toward Osiris
Sakura
Shaperise
Space Base
Spy Club
Storm Hollow
Sunflower Valley
Thunderstone Quest
Trash Pandas
Visitor in Blackwood Grove
Welcome To …

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 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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