Brian's Top 9: 2021 Edition
Author: BrianPublished: March 10, 2022
Hello, and welcome to the new Pub Meeple site! We thought it would be nice to kick things off by updating our top nines. If you want to rank your games head on over to the ranking engine
It has been a while since our blog has been active but we felt that launching a new site was good reason to change that. These last couple years have been strange ones in the world which impacted my gaming and other habits. But we know that there are many ways to enjoy your games and reflecting on my favorite games and sharing them with you is one for me. So let’s get to it!
9. Dune: ImperiumDune Imperium is the new guy on my list this year and for good reason. First, I am a fan of the Dune books and the new Dune movie so it is nice to be able to play a game that can bring that story to life. Second, the mix of mechanisms in this game is right in my wheelhouse. Worker placement plus deck building? Yes please! I also really enjoyed the way it handled the different factions in the Dune universe by way of the influence tracks. The combat in the game (not your typical combat) is all about building your power and knowing when to make your move. Dune Imperium is a super fun game that does not overstay its welcome and has the right mix of mechanism and theme.
8. AnachronyAnachrony has popped back up into my top 9 this year. It seems then when I get to play less, I really crave that big game experience (as you will continue to see). I love this crunchy yet quirky worker placement game. There is so much going on that you have to keep in your head and plan for but it never feels overwhelming. Make sure you have right right workers active. Keep your time travel in check. Make sure your borrow enough from the future but not too much. And the game does have a sense of humor. Need some more water but not your scientist? Just send your scientist into that building over there. They won't come out but water will.... You tell me what happened. Anyway. Anachrony will keep your brain working while engaging you in a story of post apocalyptic survival.
7. Twilight Imperium 4th EditionSee? I told you! Another big-experience game, one of the biggest you can find in a box. Honestly, what's not to love here? Politics, technology, trade, conquest, 6-8 hours of sitting at a table with people who get progressively hungrier. Oh, well there is that little gottcha to the game. But when the game is done and all the anger from being back-stabbed has subsided, I feel like I've had an epic experience.
6. El GrandeEl Grande really is the game that kickstarted my board game hobby and it has stood the test of time. Many games from those early day have faded some or didn't feel quite the same when I played them again years later. Not so with this area majority game. It still has that sizzle of decision tension at all times - whether you are bidding on turn order, trying to get the right action card, or reading what your opponents are going to do next. This is a modern classic that if you have not played, you must.
5. Lords of VegasOne of the things I appreciate most in a game is its ability to make you feel the theme through its mechanisms. While play can be swingy and a random (you throw lots of dice) but hey, its Vegas! You will be building up your casino empire but beware, you are not alone. All the other players will be cutting into your dealings and you into theirs. Taking over a casino when you had only a small stake in it is so satisfying. In Lords of Vegas luck and strategy are a match made in heaven.
4. Star Wars RebellionIt is hard to come up with new things to say about games that I have already said so much about. This game has been called "Star Wars in a box" by so many people but right now I am glad that it is the original trilogy in a box. I recently watched through episodes 7-9 and, while there are some great elements to them, there are just so many missed opportunities in them. Oh well. This isn't a movie review but I am glad that the game I have is Star Wars Rebellion and not Star Wars Resistance.
3. ConcordiaConcordia is one of the biggest jumps I've ever had in my rankings for a game - especially one I've been ranking so long. It has sat solidly in my top 40 or so games for a long time but this past year it got quite a bit of play time and is now at my number 3. I have always liked the hand building mechanism in the game but I appreciate it even more now. Trying to get as many cards played as you can before you are forced to take them back makes for some great decision tension. Concordia is one of those games that I will always be willing to play and will always be in my collection if I can help it.
2. ShogunThere is much to love about Shogun but my two favorites are the variable action order (with a bit of randomness thrown in) and the wonderful cube tower used to resolve conflict. Each round a set of action cards is dealt up showing which order they will take place in the coming round. Five are face up and five face down. The face-down cards are revealed as the round progresses. So you know some of what is to come but there is still some unknown which means you can plan, just not perfectly. The cube tower is the best way I have seen to resolve combat. All you do is drop the cubes representing the units in combat through the tower. Some get caught in the tower, some previously caught get knocked loose, and what falls out the bottom shows the result. It is quick, less random than throwing dice, yet still produces excitement at seeing the outcome. And since some cubes can get caught in the tower your past conflicts can impact current ones. I love it.
1. EclipseAnd to top off my list this year, Eclipse - yet another big 4X game. When this game first released there was a big gap between "Euro" and "Ameritrash" games. You were one or the other. This game showed what a bridge between the two should look like. It maintains all of the hefty interlocking mechanisms and economy of an excellent Euro with the narrative experience, spaceship minis, and stand up dice-throw moments of an exciting Ameritrash game. These days, I am sure the distinction still exists in some corners of the hobby, but it is not the center of debate it once was. In a way, Eclipse showed us what the future of board games would look like. And now here we are, living in that future. Thank you , Eclipse for paving the way. And for being my number one game of 2021.
About the Author:
Brian | Webmaster
There are few things in life that I enjoy more than gathering around a table with people to make new shared memories through the interactions board games create. I have been playing board games my whole life, but I have been focused on them as a hobby for the past 15+ years. Board games offer a unique medium for social interaction and fun. I really look forward to playing these games with my kids as a way to interact and stay connected with them. In the last several years, I have been teaching myself web development - this site and the Ranking Engine are direct results of that effort. I also have a love for board game design but that has taken a back seat for this time of my life.
- Favorite Games: Eclipse, Gloomhaven, Shogun, Skymines, Star Wars Rebellion, Carcassonne
- Favorite Mechanisms: Worker Placement, Resource/Financial Markets, Deck Building
- Childhood Favorites: Clue: The Great Museum Caper, The Omega Virus, Mystery Mansion