Shuck's Top Games: 2018 Edition
Author: ShuckPublished: January 23, 2019
Hello and welcome to our annual top 10 games lists. This week it is Shuck’s turn. If you want to make your own top 10 list try our Board Game Ranking Engine. And now, on with the list.
It’s one of my favorite times of the year! Time to rank every game I’ve played and see what comes out on top. This year there wasn’t a whole lot of movement in the top 10. A few games shifted around to make room for last year’s honorable mentions but otherwise nothing too spectacular. Like I said last year, my top 10 has settled in and probably isn’t going to move much from year to year without a mind shattering new game to play. It is worth noting that 7 Wonders Duel did drop off the list this year, mostly do to little play, but it’s still not far behind at 13. So, without further ado, here we go.
Honorable Mention: SignorieAh Signorie. This game. I can’t stop thinking about it. So far, as of writing this, I’ve only had one play through and it just hit all the right cylinders for me. I feel like I need a few more plays to be sure but I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up in my top 10 next year. I’m not usually a fan of dice, however, Signorie handles it in a way that makes the tension enjoyable. And there’s tension in this one. Grabbing the right die so that you can take the action you want can be difficult when you’re worried about setting up a combo or afraid someone else will take it. I’m also a sucker for games with engine building and this one has so many options. I can’t wait to get this to the table again to try them all.
Honorable Mention: Penny PressWhile using our very own ranking engine, this ended up being matched up against The Guardians: Explore. I knew at that moment that one would make my top 10 and the other wouldn’t. I struggled for a quite a while before making a final decision. But just because Penny Press missed the cut doesn’t mean I don’t love it. It’s probably one of the most thematic games I own and that’s what makes it so great. The mechanisms are tied closely to the theme and that makes for a very enjoyable game. In the end, though, (spoiler!) The Guardians: Explore just has more of the mechanisms I enjoy.
10. The Guardians ExploreThis one has fell a bit because I just can’t ever seem to get it to the table. It continues to stay in my top 10 in spite of that because it does all the things I love: Drafting, Engine Building, Worker Placement, Set Collection… When I think about this game I fantasize about creating this amazing combo of synergetic abilities strung together to create the most mind blowing display of power against the monsters invading Arthursburg. It gives me chills. I’ve got to get this to the table again. I’m making that a goal of mine for 2019. Guardians will be played again!
9. Century GolemI knew when I first played this game last year that it had a chance to end up in my top 10. Once again Engine Building gets the best of me. It’s so simple and yet so fun. I love adjusting my strategy to the available options presented to me. It’s like a beautiful puzzle. And by beautiful I mean this game is gorgeous. The artwork is fantastic, the gems are nice and chunky, and the iconography is easily distinguishable. It all makes the gameplay that much more enjoyable.
8. Lords of WaterdeepI’ve said it year after year, it will be hard to knock LoW off my top 10. It’s just so good at what it does. And so approachable for non-gamers too. This is my family worker placement. When playing with my gamer friends, the expansion allows that extra bit of meat I need. The corruption aspect adds a nice flavorful layer to the game that I enjoy quite a bit. It’s still a bit light on theme but my personal component upgrades makeup for that. Just remember, they’re adventurers, not cubes. Adventurers have feelings too.
7. ScytheScythe is my dudes on a map go-to. It’s my 4X. My big grandiose game. I know, I hear you all screaming at me. It’s really not as epic compared to something like Twilight Imperium but it sits in that medium range that I like. It’s streamlined. There’s a player board that isn’t too large or complicated. There’s just enough combat without making me anxious. It’s got a worker placement feel and a bit of area control. Did I mention the specialized abilities? It does what I want a large real-estate game to do without being bogged down by a bunch of rules. I adore this game.
6. Mission Red PlanetStill my favorite area control game. I thought Ethnos might rival it but Mission Red Planet allows more control over your outcomes. It also doesn’t have that pesky Dragon. Ugh! Anyway…just like in Century: Golem, I really enjoy that as you play actions from your hand, you become limited with what’s left. You can maximize the cards in hand or you can take a minimal action to get those cards back. I don’t know why but it’s satisfying to try and set up future turns this way. This is as close to a programming mechanism as I care to get.
5. Russian RailroadsI like Worker Placement almost as much as I like Engine Building, not to be confused with building engines as you’ll do in this game. Russian Railroads provides a unique experience in the Worker Placement genre. I really like the flexibility when placing your workers. Go early, get a discount. Wait and pay a bit more. You can even rent a worker by substituting a coin instead of a worker. Or you could use those coins to hire engineers to gain personal worker places you can use. There’s a lot of variability in how you can play and I love it.
4. The ColonistsYep. I knew this was going to move up in my list. I even said so last year. I had no idea it’d jump this high, though. This is still the most complex game that I own but it really doesn’t feel that way. It’s interesting to me how game with so much going on feels so simple while you’re playing yet overwhelming when you open the rulebook. There are a lot of rules and things to manage but having specific phases at which those happen really helps the game. There aren’t a lot of spatial worker Placement games out there and this one just takes the cake. I love it. Each Era adds more flavor, more things to do, and more of a challenge. The Colonists is a solid, albeit long, game.
3. TakenokoWhat is there to say about this game that I haven’t said before? It’s just an absolutely great family game. It’s simplistic but still provides some depth for a more experienced gamer. It’s aesthetically pleasing. The rulebook is well written and nicely laid out. Kids love this game because it’s just so darn cute. I love it because Set Collection is fun and it has a unique way of handling collections based on the board state. I highly suggest this for all family collections.
2. AgricolaIt seems as though I have a lot of Worker Placement games in my top 10 this year. Agricola is by far my favorite of them all. The complexity is not in the rules but rather the crucial decisions you must make throughout the game. There’s always something you feel like you need to do but can’t. The nice thing is that there’s always something to do. A backup plan. It’s just the right amount of tension I like in a game. I said it last year and I’m pretty sure I’ve said it on our podcast, Agricola is the quintessential Worker Placement game. Hands down. It’s the best.
1. DeusDeus is just going to be one of those games that y’all are going to have to get used to me writing about year after year. It’s going to take a lot for a game to dethrone it. As many Worker Placement games that are in my top 10, Engine Building is my most favorite board game mechanism. It’s just so satisfying and Deus does this in strides. Century: Golem fills that hole a little but only scratches the itch. Deus lets me combo off my combos. Something about being able to visually see each card spill over into the next card is super satisfying. I can’t say enough about Deus. This is my favorite board game of all time.
About the Author:
Shuck | Graphic Designer
As a child I grew up on consoles and card games. Many, many hours were logged playing the NES but my family also taught me quality board games like Trumpet and Survive. As a teenager, I mostly played Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, or Chess. It was around this time, though, that I began dabbling in web design and Photoshop. My first experience in the modern board gaming hobby was after I played Carcassonne in college and went crazy finding ultra-rare pieces in German magazines. Now I enjoy developing games by observing the world around us and combining it with aesthetically pleasing graphic design.
- Favorite Games: SDeus, Takenoko, Agricola
- Favorite Mechanisms: Engine Building, Drafting, Set Collection