We ended last year with a series of posts where we picked our favorite games which we had played for the first time that year. Now we are back at it again highlighting our top picks for 2015 out of the games which we played for the very first time…
By our count I (Drew) played 64 games for the first time this year and surprisingly Courtney had me beat having played just one more game than I, though we each had about a dozen or so which were not yet played by the other. That’s well over a new game every single week of the year which is pretty wild! I’d definitely be interested to hear what some of your favorite firsts were this year and also if you are excited to have a chance to play any of mine, so be sure to let us know.
If you’ve made it to any of our recent events then you probably already know that this is my favorite game played this year. Vault Wars very closely mimics the television show Storage Wars. You all play as aspiring adventurers who need some loot and it just so happens that some folks out there abandoned their treasure vaults, which contain literal Junk alongside various items of value. Just like the show the players are all auctioning / bidding for the vaults and what they might contain. I am starting off with Vault Wars because it is my favorite game of the year but the others will be in no particular order.
Twilight fans need not apply! Fury of Dracula is a thematic hunt featuring Van Helsing and crew which takes many cues from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. One player is Dracula himself who operates with a hidden movement mechanic meanwhile the other four characters work together to find his trail and bring the villain to an end. The game was just recently reprinted this past October and I can’t wait for another opportunity to play it again in the new year. If you’re in the mood for an truly epic gaming experience I highly recommend checking this one out!
I remember receiving a demo disk in a PC Gamer magazine and discovering one of the earlier X-COM games when I was probably twelve. While Fantasy Flight’s recent release shares the name it bears similarities to the much more recent reinventions of the series. X-COM the board game is a co-operative game which integrates the use of a digital app from your tablet (or phone). You are part of a super secret international agency tasked with defending earth from an imminent alien invasion. The game has a real-time element to it which requires strong communication and decisive action from the players in what becomes the most stressful board game I think I have ever played… IT IS GREAT!
Cosmic Encounter has become quite a phenomenon and I really have no excuse why I hadn’t played it sooner. A regular to our events brought it out one night and I was practically begging her to bring it out again. Its stab your neighbor in the back style game play is great for larger groups and is very approachable for newer gamers.
A card game which came out during the middle of this year. It uses a model similar to Fantasy Flight’s “living card games” and has absolutely AMAZING art. Really though the art is amazing, it sold us on the game instantly and lucky for us it turns out that the game play is also exceptional. Plaid Hat Games has recently announced a whole slew of expansion content and we can’t wait.
My favorite deck-building game played this year. Having a board that is effected by the cards you acquire makes things really interesting and perhaps a little bit more tangible for people who are new to the genre. I also particularly like the “Waste” cards which work as a sort of price of progress style mechanic.
Alchemists feels like a game that people will either love dearly or hate deeply. You are all squabbling alchemists trying to discern the mystical properties of various ingredients and it involves what feel like a series of mini-games which all form this very tight logic puzzle that fits the theme perfectly. It involves all sorts of ups and downs throughout the game. My favorite aspect of Alchemists is that it often rewards players for participating in “bad science.” The complexity of the game means that it caters to a very specific type of gamer and I’m still learning new things about the game each time it comes to the table.
I used to play a lot of tactical miniature war games when I was younger and X-Wing really scratches that itch. It doesn’t help matters that after seeing the most recent movie all I want to do is play this game more and more. In essence it is a dog-fighting game that feels like something that could almost as easily be themed around World War 2 era aerial combat. X-Wing stands out in that is incredibly simple to learn but also has game play which is deceptively intricate if you want it to be.
Okay, so I put the two of these back to back and I have no shame in admitting that Star Wars fever caught on very hard for me late this past summer. Imperial Assault is a narrative driven dungeon crawler pitting a team of Rebel players against a solo player controlling the Imperial menace. The game takes the Star Wars franchise and puts it into this great choose-your-own-adventure style experience.
The locals have dug perhaps a little too deep in this Wild West meets H.P. Lovecraft themed dungeon crawler. It is incredibly brutal and the theme of this game really comes out in an incredibly satisfying way. If unloading your six shooter on a spider monster or creating a chaotic maelstrom of death by chucking dynamite down the mine shaft sound at all like fun you should definitely wrangle a posse of friends together and give this one a go.
Honorable mentions for two games which I need to dedicate some more time for in 2016 so that I can fully appreciate them: