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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 – January 13th, 2020

Pokemon Shield

MORE GAMES PLEASE 2020!

So it’s been a big 5-6 weeks here. Rabbit and I have moved, end of year work crunch, all the fun stuff has been happening.

That said, I did get some gaming in – including finishing a couple of video games! I even got a platinum. Yay!

So considering the huge welcome back article earlier today, let’s jump straight into what I played.

The Tokyo Series (and indeed most Jordan Draper games I back) are games I love, but always have trouble pitching to others why they excite me. The come in plain boxes, have small components, and usually can be multiple games in one box.

Michael Fox (no, not that one) and Jordan Draper have collaborated on expanding Tokyo Jutaku, a dexterity game in the Tokyo Series. The fruits of this collaboration is MegaCity: Oceania. It also doesn’t hurt that thematically it’s played just off the Gold Coast πŸ˜€

MegaCity: Oceania
Combining stategy with dexterity sounds strange, but this was so fun to play!

There is a dexterity component of building up your city on a tile according to a random plan. Then, you have to move your completed section into the central MegaCity, all while trying to maximise points.

It sounds like two genres that shouldn’t work together, but it did. MegaCity: Oceania was fun while having deep stratagies hidden away. Building your city is fun, and you can take your time to a degree. Moving your city without anything collapsing is tense, without being frustrating. Give it a look if you get the chance.

I think this will be a great way to get people to look at other Jordan Draper games I own

Deep Blue

Days of Wonder knows how to present games well. Best known for the Ticket to Ride series, Days of Wonder publishes a staggering amount of well-known games. For example, Memoir 44, one of the most popular tabletop war games, is also a Days of Wonder game.

Deep Blue is a push your luck game crossed with hand management/deck building. That can sound daunting, but like Ticket to Ride a wide range of gamers can jump straight in.

I didn’t think about it at the time, but on reflection I definitely got a ‘Quacks of Quedlinburg lite’ feeling about Deep Blue. I think the games are different enough, but a lot of those base ‘do I or don’t I?’ moments dominate both games.

What can I say? I am just going to have to pull more people in for some more games and really give Deep Blue a workout πŸ™‚

Deep Blue
Deep Blue is a Days of Wonder game. The components are so fun to play with!

I have talked about Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time before. You can see my review of it here. A puzzle in a board game, with a lot of replayability – sounds good to me!

While taking a break from starting to catalogue the library, Alpal and I sat down for a game. And for some reason, absolutely smashed it. I can’t see anything we did wrong, and we didn’t use an optimised team – we just did really well.

So now I suppose I am just going to have to track down the expansion. Professor Evil and the Architects of Magic adds new characters, powers and objectives. It even adds time portals, meaning the Professor himself can take multiple turns in a row if you aren’t careful!

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time
It's been too long since I played this. And an expansion is coming!

I didn’t know what to expect when Alpal showed me Atlantis Rising. I had heard mostly good things about it in the past, but I didn’t realise it had a revised edition.

Playing three players, we dove into the cooperative worker placement game. The idea is simple – Atlantis is sinking, and the players must work together to build a cosmic gate (cough stargate) to escape.

During setup, I joked that we should pay on Forbidden Island to get used to it. Turns out, I was kinda right. The board sections get flipped when they sink, and player powers can bring them back.

Atlantis Rising
Atlantis Rising was a lot more stressful than I thought it would be!

The other similarity is that lovely ‘have your turn, now deal with bad things’ mechanic. If you don’t like games like Pandemic or Forbidden Island, Atlantis Rising won’t be for you.

If you are a fan of these sorts of games though, give Atlantis Rising a try. I will need to try it at different player counts, but I can feel a full review coming at a later stage.

Pyramid of Pengqueen

On paper, Pyramid of Pengqueen sounds like a lot of fun. One player takes the role of the Pengqueen/Mummy, and the other players have to steal the treasures.

This plays out on a two-sided magnetic board, with the Pengqueen on one side and everyone else on the other. The Pengqueen can’t see where the player pieces are, but the players can all see where the Pengqueen is.

It’s cute, and the theming with the Icecool isn’t terrible. Feels a little like a wannabe Ducktales comparison, but that might be my age talking.

Pyramid of Pengqueen
An entry level one vs all, but a little lacking in gameplay

While this is aimed at younger players, I would say to the older person watching the young ones play to be prepared for fights. The Pengqueen has most of the advantages, and there is going to be inadvertent cheating by everyone.

I am going to review Pyramid of Pengqueen very soon, watch out next week to get my full thoughts.

Pokemon Shield – Switch

I FINISHED POKEMON SHIELD! I AM CHAMPION!

And that’s about as far as I think I am going to take it. I am not really interested in the usual post-game cleanup to fill my Pokedex. The battle system sounds interesting, but I am not really invested in that either.

What I did have was a fun time playing through the story. There is a lot of love and hate for the new entry in the series. Like any opinion, both sides have fair points. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say one side is right.

Pokemon Shield
I beat the unbeatable Champion! OK, almost everyone will. But it is where I call the story ended.

Pokemon has excelled for me as a light RPG experience. Pokemon Shield lived up to this for me. Yes, I would have liked some story holes filled in, but I can say that for any of game in the series. Bottom line is I had fun, I enjoyed the experience, and you will see my full thoughts in a couple of weeks πŸ™‚

And, since I wrote all this, it looks like I’m not done with Shield. Friday, Nintendo and Game Freak announced the first ever Pokemon DLC – there will be more story later this year!

Terminator: Resistance – PS4

My first Platinum trophy since Kingdom Hearts III in February 2019. Well, that’s not technically true. I finished Access Denied in March, but I don’t count that Platinum Trophy. Why not? You will have to wait a couple of weeks for that tidbit πŸ˜€

Enough teasing, I finished Terminator: Resistance. The two and a bit weeks of no gaming with the move didn’t diminish the experience a jot.

Now, Terminator: Resistance is not what I call a shooter – at least at easy or normal difficulties. You shoot at things sure, but this isn’t a twitch shooter like Call of Duty. Conversely, while there are stealth elements, this isn’t a Metal Gear Solid either. You have a lot of freedoms when it comes to the machines recognising you.

The story itself isn’t exactly groundbreaking either. But it did make me want to keep playing it and explore the world. Terminator: Resistance is fan service done well, in my opinion. Set characters, set events, but a unique story that enhances the whole.

For more, you will have to wait until Friday for my review.

Terminator Resistance
Exploring the post-Judgement Day world shows the love this game was developed with.

Final Fantasy XV – PS4

Oh, I have wanted to play this for years now. Open-world RPGs are games I love to play when I can really sit back and take my time with them. Hence, a massive backlog of 80+ hour games waiting to be played!

I started a while ago not too long after the initial release, then had a bad thing happen during my first play. It took almost four years for that annoyance to stop creeping in as I loaded the game! But now I am happily working my way through it.

I have probably spent almost 10 of the 30ish hours played just letting the Regalia drive me around. This doesn’t sound very good, but it is how I have been playing. When I could lie back on the couch, do a few hunts or explore an area, then kick back and relax and watch AP build up – why not? The point of a break is to have a break after all. Final Fantasy XV has let me do that.

Final Fantasy XV
It's not news anymore, but just watching how beautiful the world is bringing me much joy.

I am only up to Chapter 7 for people that have already played through it. Seriously, I am taking my time. So this will probably pop up as my video game for the next few weeks, especially on PlayStation. So sorry in advance for lots of pictures of bros in a car πŸ˜€

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – PS4

So one of my favourite YouTubers is Jirard Khalil, aka The Completionist. I had already heard mostly good things about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but his review convinced me to get it that night.

And I had fun with it. Playing on easy, I died multiple times in the start/tutorial section of the game. This didn’t put me off playing though, as I loved the world and the pace of the story setup.

I finished the beginning section, then played long enough to open up flying to another world of my choice. By now, most of the controls were in muscle memory. I had a feel for the rhythm of the gameplay. I wanted to sit and really get into it. Only one thing stopped me.

I am one of those gamers that hates significant actions being assigned to L3/R3. Clicking a stick does not come naturally to me, and R3 all but replaces X in Fallen Order.

I have a plan though. I have already preordered one of the newly announced Dualshock 4 Back Button attachments. Come mid-February, I will be able to play Fallen Order and use those buttons mapped to L3 and R3.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order
Umm, hello. Nothing to see here. Well, that's not true. This isn't a cut scene, so it gives you an idea of how beautiful the world is.

Victory is Mine! Well, hopefully it will be :p

What about you?Β  I hope you got some great games in.Β  Or are you looking forward to a new one?

Let me know!Β  Shout out in the comments below, on FacebookΒ or @JohnHQLD me onΒ Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD