Top 10 Board Games 2019 (That I actually played)

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My first list in over 18 months!

It has been far too long since I have done a list like this. Once thing I noticed when I compiled my list was the numebr of games I meant to review but didn’t get around to! So these lists have helped from a roadmap for a lot of reviews this year already 🙂

As you may have guessed from the title, this list is made up of games I actually played this year. I tried to also restrict it to games that were released in 2019, and no expansions. As I didn’t do a 2018 list I kind of fudged that rule a bit though as you will see.

Think I missed a great game? That is a possibility. It might also be on tomorrow’s list – Top 10 Games of 2019 I Wish I Played!

Any list like this is very subjective. Even without bending the rules a little bit for eiligability this year, I may have played a game you loved but it didn’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean I don’t like that game or think it’s bad – I just liked these games better. I would love to hear what games you think should be on this list!

All that said and done, let’s get on to my favourite games of 2019.

Number 10 – MegaCity: Oceania

MegaCity: Oceania is an exciting game. Not quite a dexterity game, not quite a city builder, but something in-between. And it is better for it.

Right off the bat, MegaCity: Oceania won’t be everyone’s first choice to play. It might not even be their second choice. But I can’t see many people that wouldn’t play it if it was in front of them.

Not into deep strategy games? Just have fun building your cities. Not the greatest at building blocks? Go for the ‘safe’ buildings and use location to your point advantage.

I played this right at the end of 2019, so it has the ‘fresh in my mind’ advantage. But while a review will be coming, if you get the chance to try MegaCity: Oceania, give it a go and enjoy a light but fun experience.

MegsCity Oceania

So I heard a lot this year that Pandemic: Rapid Response isn’t a ‘Pandemic’ game. That it’s theme was not there or too hard to immerse yourself in.

I don’t understand most of these arguments. These are all things I will cover in the full review later. For now, all I can say about Pandemic: Rapid Response is that is was a fun time on the table. I felt that the theme made sense for the gameplay, with certain leaps of logic that Pandemic already asks you to make in other games.

Was it perfect? Nope. But we did have a lot of fun, and that is what counts most of all.

Pandemic Rapid Response

Number 8 – That’s Pretty Clever

So I really got into That’s Pretty Clever last year, both physically and digitally. A tremendous mental puzzle that allowed you to zone out while playing, I really enjoyed playing this game.

My biggest complaint about it has nothing to do with the game at all. What was my gripe? I always played solo. You can play against other people, but I just never really found the time to start a group game. And the digital implementation is basically solo only, so there goes that idea.

For my full review, click here.

Thats Pretty Clever

Number 7 – Disney Villainous

Well, Villainous took me by surprise. I only got to play a few rounds with Alpal, but they were really, really fun.

There are usually two drawbacks to multiple themed card games. The first – learning curve. You have to learn all of the decks to know what works and what doesn’t. Secondly – mashing the ‘wrong’ cards together. Having Genie face-off against Snow White’s the Hunter doesn’t always work.

Prospero Hall took care of both issues with elegant simplicity – you pick a deck, and your opponents use your cards against you. You are even given tips on how to win/what to watch for on all of the other characters.

Is Disney Villainous a top tier competitive game? Of course not! But it is a quick and fun game that you can have new players getting into straight away, and that is always appreciated.

Disney Villainous

The first Roll Player ‘universe’ game I played, I was a little confused about Lockup when I first saw it. How could you take the dice placement of Roll Player and make it work as a bluffing worker allocation game?

The answer is you don’t. You let it be its own game within the world of Roll Player and enjoy.

Lockup was a game that I wouldn’t have seen for a while without Alpal’s influence, and I can imagine a lot of other gamers being in the same boat. If you get the chance, give Lockup a try – even if you didn’t like Roll Player. The game is entirely different and deserves to be judged on its own.

Lockup A Roll Player Tale

Ahh, Funko Pops. I have too many, and not enough. I will not let myself buy any Kingdom Hearts ones though. If I get just one, I will need to get the rest. And we already don’t have enough room!

Why am I going on about Funko Pops? Because now they have their own strategy game! Games? They have lots of things coming out!

The Funkoverse Strategy Game is no Memoir 44, Warhammer, or even Imperial Assault. It is very streamlined, quick to play, and with an expanding universe of characters and missions, here to stay. The only pack I am missing so far is The Golden Girls. I knew I had to try this when on the internet someone was complaining that Bea Arthur was the most overpowered character in the game.

Just let that sink in – Bea Arthur is seen as stronger than Batman, Rick Sanchez, The Joker, or even Voldemort.

Whether in amusement or disbelief, you must be smiling about that. And that moment of silly suspension coupled with simplified tactics and Pops replacing minis makes Funkoverse a great experience.

Number 4 – Escape the Dark Castle

So this one may be seen as a cheat, as I have definitely played it before 2019. But 2019 is when I got the collectors big box and expansions. I also didn’t do a 2018 list. So, it’s on the list!

Escape the Dark Castle is a light narrative dungeon romp that is still fun to play. Similar to a Fighting Fantasy/Choose Your Own Adventure game with randomised ‘pages’, each run is different. And that is just with the original base cards!

For my full thoughts, you can check out my review here. For something a little different, you can listen to Alpal and I playing here 🙂

Escape The Dark Castle

Wolfgang Warsch seems to have come out of nowhere in the last couple of years. The Mind, That’s Pretty Clever, Twice as Clever, and now The Quacks of Quedlinburg. The man has yet to design a game I haven’t enjoyed.

Quacks of Quedlinburg is my favourite to date though. It contains a ‘rubber band’ catch up mechanic similar to Mario Kart. What is this? If you are behind, you are given some advantages to help you catch up to the leader, keeping it competitive. And it is implemented so seamlessly, it was a couple of games in before I realised how good it is.

Yes, there are some random elements. Push your luck is also a more significant part of the game than I usually give it credit for. I enjoy it so much, and we are yet to play an ‘advanced’ game.

If you have a mixed group of players and are looking from something different, play The Quacks of Quedlinburg.

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

Another game not released in 2019, but I have had a ball playing it through the year. Also, this would have been on my top games of 2018 list, but that didn’t happen! Replacing the mancala like movement strategies of the original board game with dice rolling sounds disastrous, but it works well.

I know plenty of players that love the idea of Istanbul but get frustrated at various aspects of the gameplay. For these people, the dice game works wonderfully. You get the same sense of tension and racing your opponents as you do with the board game but in a fraction of the time.

If you are new to gaming, Istanbul: The Dice Game is a fun introduction to an intense euro game with a natural learning curve. The tactics you learn in the dice game can carry to the board game quite easily, even if it doesn’t look like it at first.

If I want to play a game, Istanbul: The Dice Game is usually on the list of options. For more information, check out the review here.

Istanbul The Dice Game

Number 1 – Chronicles of Crime

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective remade for the digital age. There are plenty of new deduction games out there, including Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game and Detective: City of Angels, both with their own twist.

Chronicles of Crime is probably the most accessible to play and works well in small sessions. Lucky Duck Games have outdone themselves with this setup.

The use of QR Codes makes reading easier to digest for most people. Instead of being faced with a wall of text, everything is in smaller bites. Plus you can actually interrogate people about items, something that is very difficult in the preprinted document format a la Consulting Detective/Legacy of Dragonholt.

The look on new players faces as they use their phones to actually examine a crime scene is priceless as well.

I am yet to make it through all of the original cases. I also have both expansions to look forward to. Chronicles of Crime is easily my choice for the best game of 2019, and I look forward to playing it through 2020 as well.

Chronicles of Crime

Honorable Mention

Deep Space D-6

I was really tempted to give Deep Space D-6 a spot on this list. A solo game only game that came out a few years ago, I still love to pull this out now and then.

Released in 2015, I only got my hands on it this year. By my bedning of the rulesfor thiis year, I could have found a way. The main reason I marked it off the list is that it is only solo, where as every other game on the list you can play with others.

All that said, for 2020 the follow up is now live on Kickstarter – Deep Space D-6: Armada. Check out my review of the original Deep Space D-6 here., then check out the Kickstarter here.

Deep Space D-6

What do you think? Is there a game you saw me talk about in Last Week’s Gaming that you think should be on this list?

Or even better, what were your Top 10 games of 2019? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – October 28th, 2019

Oh, it’s great to be back at work. No really :p

The downside to PAX Aus being sooner is in the middle of my post PAX blues, I am now getting Facebook reminders of what we got up to last year. Boo!

But PAX is over. Reality steps in. Or I can escape to The Outer Worlds…

Funkoverse – Harry Potter (4 Piece Starter and Expansion)

What can I say. Funkoverse has managed to capture my imagination a lot more than I thought it would!

I ended up going out and buying all of the DC and Harry Potter sets after playing with Alpal. Now I just need to track down Rick and Morty and The Golden Girls 🙂

This week we played a capture the flag scenario using 3 characters each. This increased the time of the game quite a lot, but not in a terrible way. If we were playing with two pieces, I would have been more inclined to play another game, but one took a fair bit of time.

Hopefully I can get a few more games in next weekend, and a full review will be coming soon!

My team of Hermoine, Bellatrix and Voldemort was definitely weird, but it was fun!

The Legend of Zelda – Link’s Awakening (Switch)

So I have cleared the second dungeon, but I still have a long way to go!

Wednesday night, I came home from work and just needed to chill. Link’s Awakening was the perfect game for this. It took about an hour to find where I was and clear the dungeon, without stretching my tired brain overly.

I did spend a bit more time fishing, but not as long as I thought I would in the claw game. Considering it’s based on a 26 year old GameBoy game, everything is holding up gameplay and story wise really well. It’s no Witcher, but it’s a great bit of fun 🙂

It was fun running around with Chomp Chomp. Need to time when to wait for him to attack better though!

Warriors of Waterdeep (Android)

So I have been having a lot of fun playing Warriors of Waterdeep, but the frustration level is steadily rising.

A new type of quest came with the last update – Battle Quests. Similar to the PvP battles where you can unlock chests and get a rating, Battle Quests unlock prizes when you win a certain number of battles.

You get 3 tries, then you can pay for another entry if you wish. 600 coins intially, now 30 gems. Sounds good, right?

Well, check out the match image. My team is at the bottom, the person I played against up top. Level 8, 9 and 10 characters against a team of Level 4s. It was a rollover. And it’s a match that should never be allowed to have happen.

And this is my biggest problem with Warriors – to compete, spend money. A lot of money. And while I am not saying devs shouldn’t be paid, Warriors of Waterdeep is asking way too much.

I have cancelled my subscription now, and I will stop playing near the end of November when my current bonuses stop.

So going against an opponent half my level, in a pay to compete match. Nope.

The Outer Worlds (XBox)

Fallout in space. I have been looking at The Outer Worlds for a while, but honestly I expected less on launch.

Fallout: New Vegas was far from bug free when it launched, to the point I didn’t play it for 2 years while patches and DLC came out. But when it all came out, New Vegas was an awesome game.

As The Outer Worlds is included in Game Pass, I thought I would give it a go. And what a go I gave it. Playing for 12 hours straight on Saturday, I am really, really enjoying it.

Everyone has been raving about The Outer Worlds, and I know why.

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – October 21st, 2019

PAX AUS WAS AMAZING!

Well, post PAX blues have come and gone, and reality is knocking. Back to work tomorrow – boo!

But PAX Aus was amazing. Thanks to everyone that joined in the PAX XP Hunt as well – it was a lot of fun!

I didn’t get to play quite everything I wanted to, and I only played a few ‘standard’ games this round. But it was a heap of fun, but I made one major mistake. I didn’t record most of them! I will talk about a few of them that I can remember, but PAX was PAX. A whirlwind of fun and activity and lines!

On that note, here are some of the gaming highlights I want to talk about 🙂

Cyberpunk 2077

So we got to watch a live demo in the main theatre. I thought I was excited for Cyberpunk before – now I can’t wait!

Role playing video games are great, but there are rarely any games with true ‘do what you want’ mechanics. This isn’t being said as a complaint – the amount of work involved in developing such a thing is phenomenal.

This means games with choices and skill trees tend to get min/maxed by the internet hive mind. Again, not a bad thing, but it is how the games tend to run.

Waiting in the theatre for the demo to start. It was worth the sore legs!

Cyberpunk 2077 looks to change all that in a truly meaningful way. We saw a mid game quest and boss battle that was tackled by a netrunner (hacker) and a tank. And the changes were definitely there.

Anyone that played Deus Ex has an inkling of what I am talking about. Run and Gunner? Build yourself up and kick in the front door. Stealth player? Look for the vent/window/whatever to work around the opposition.

Cyberpunk 2077 takes this freedom and cranks it up to 11. The different builds lead to very different experiences, meaning players will have a very unique play experience. It makes the Witcher series look like it plays on rails!

I wish I could have taken some pictures of what we watched, but we were asked not to. Short version though, if you want an immersive world where you can truly make your own way – Cyberpunk 2077 will be for you!

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Another game where I wish I could have taken pics, the only game I queued up for was Final Fantasy VII Remake. And I am glad I did.

I have played Final Fantasy VII to death over the years. And I pretty much always will. It was my first Final Fantasy game, so it holds that special place for me as a fan.

What can I tell you from my hands on with the remake? It’s not the same game. It’s like Resident Evil 2 and it’s remake – yes, it shares theme, characters and experiences but it’s a completely different game and experience.

If you have doubts about it, I understand. But what I played has changed my mind. I have gone from “Yeah, I will wait until it’s on special” to “Yes please take my preorder”. It was that fun.

Don’t go looking for a pretty version of the game you already know. Be prepared to be playing a new game that shares a world, but is it’s own game.

The Legend of Zelda – Link’s Awakening (Switch)

I have never played the Zelda games, short of a quick round on the NES mini and a bit of Breath of the Wild.

While I really want to play all of them, time has been an enemy. But Link’s Awakening looks to be the game that will change that.

I have only been able to get a couple of hours in, but the game is great. Old school gameplay that is holding up so well. It did make me realise how much I have been relying on objective markers.

One dungeon down!

Link’s Awakening is a beautiful return to old school gaming, accessible to everyone. I am looking forward to trying to finish it off before Luigi’s Mansion 3 comes out!

The Witcher 3 Complete Edition (Switch)

So I have played the opening of The Witcher 3 about 5 times. I started streaming it a couple of years ago, but couldn’t keep a regular schedule up so had to give it away. I am hoping that playing it on the Switch will help with this, especially as I am going away for a week in November for work!

Before anyone starts, yes it looks bad compared to PS4 Pro/Xbox One/PC. But it doesn’t look terrible. NPC’s move funny in the distance. Grass doesn’t part when you walk through it. But really these are little things to have all of the Witcher 3 on Switch!

Blown up you can see blur and jaggies, but on the Switch screen - glorious!

Expect to hear more on Switcher 3 over the next few weeks, including a look at the mClassic I grabbed from Indiegogo and how it works with such a game!

Asphalt 9: Legends (Switch)

So just prior to PAX Aus, Asphalt 9: Legends was released on the Switch. I had heard of the series before, it has a pretty solid following on mobile. So as it was free, I thought I would give it a try.

And then played for about 12 hours.

Take simple Burnout style races and work them into small races perfect for mobile play. Yes, there are microtransactions. You can speed up improving your car by purchasing random booster packs. But I have yet to be tempted to put money down, and I have unlocked quite a bit of the game.

Some types of race have you hurtling down a mountain. It's amazing 😀

Give it a go, if you like arcade style racing games you will get a fair amount of play for free!

Warriors of Waterdeep – Android

One last push was apparently all I needed!

I have started progressing through the main explore dungeons again, but man was that a huge slog.

The grind is definitely there, and the online battles are becoming incredibly frustrating. I either face players that have little to no chance, or others I can’t even scratch. There is rarely a middle ground for a well balanced game.

At the moment I have a couple more weeks of this month’s VIP subscription, but I am pretty sure this will be my last month of playing, as great a diversion as it has been.

Given the amount of cash I have had to spend, and the prompts to buy more for a chance to be competitive, I am nearing the end of my playtime. Next set of dungeons where I meet a wall, I will be uninstalling.

I can finally take a room like this on to progress. Took a month though!

Even though it’s not the same sort of game, I would be giving the free Asphalt 9: Legends a go over Warriors of Waterdeep now. The amount of fun that I have had has been worth it, but it’s hard to recommend a game that you have to pay as much as a new game each month in comparison.

Funkoverse Strategy Game – DC

I saw these games at Minotaur games, and was interested. Such a simple concept – a strategy tactics game using Funko Pop minis. I saw them at PAX, but didn’t buy any as I wasn’t sure.

Luckily Alpal bought the DC starter pack, and now I want to buy ALL of them!

Simple enough turn based tactics, with variable player powers. Some of the rules I was a little worried would be to ‘bookkeeping’ for a simple tactics game, but those fears were unfounded.

Prepare to hear more about Funkoverse over the next few weeks!

Who wouldn't want to play a game with pieces like these?

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD