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 – September 2nd, 2019

It was cold in New Zealand!

So finally back in nice warm Queensland, but while Queenstown was gorgeous it was so cold. The only thing that hurt was it was apparently warming up last week.

But travel and a work conference couldn’t stop me from getting some gaming in. On to the games!

When travelling, there is limited space to take some solo gaming. I would love to travel with Arkham Horror the Card Game or some Tiny Epic games, but size and weight are a factor.

Deep Space D-6 has a bit of size to the box, but not much weight. In the suitcase it went!

I have started branching out with other ships. This was probably the right move, as I had my rear handed to me every game. It just shows how replayable Deep Space D-6 is – same base rules, different conditions make for a unique experience when changing things up.

Every hotel room I stay in has a table. Nothing else needed!

I really enjoy playing Quacks, but I have yet to progress to the advanced rules. I need to fix that sometime.

But while I welcome a game anytime, the arrival of the Geek Bits from the BGG store prompted a game ASAP. Possibly two games 🙂

Alpal had a slow start in the first game, mainly becuase it took me a couple of turns to realise she was adding up all the potions for an explosion rather than just the blossoms. She kicked my butt the second game though 😀

A bit of fun, Quacks of Quedlinburg was a welcome session. And now it looks prettier 😀

Same classic game, but with a touch of bling!

So Alpal nabbed this game in the Roll Player universe that I didn’t even realise was a thing. And as usual, she steered me towards a real winner.

While Lockup is set in the world of Roll Player, that just means it’s set in a fairly generic fantasy setting. Lockup is specifically set in a prison, where you need to use cunning and force to set yourself up as top dog.

The amount of elements in the game are amazing, especially for a game so simple to play. There is worker placement, a small amount of hidden information, set collection and resource management all wrapped into a simple streamlined experience.

Expect to see more about Lockup in the future.

Worker placement, card counting, set collection and bluffing - Lockup is a lot of fun

Warlock of Firetop Mountain (Switch)

Way back in the before years (2015), I backed an Australian development company bringing Fighting Fantasy back in a new way. Tin Man games did something new with the genre – actual turn based tactical combat within the set story.

I played it for a few minutes when it was in pre-release for backers, then left it alone. Because that is what happens when you don’t have much time.

Then I used my Nintendo gold to buy it on Switch, and I have finally started playing it again. It transitions well to the handheld, and all going well I will have a complete review in a few weeks.

I kickstarted this years ago. Time I finally play it, since I bought it twice!

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

I finally started the latest installment of this gem of a series. I was tucked up warm in the hotel room, my switch connected to the TV, and off I went.

Did the first encounter, the tutorial if you will. Setup a few things then began the main thrust of the game.

And got Persona flashbacks. This isn’t a bad thing – Persona is a great series, it’s just one that takes 100+ hours to ‘finish’. No idea if Three Houses is like that, and I might start again with Rabbit watching. She likes watching me play games, and there is enough story being setup it could be fun.

6-7 hours in, I am enjoying it. But like all huge RPGs, I am waiting to actually start the game ‘properly’.

Luckily, power up animation doesn't take as long as Dragon Ball Z :p

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 – June 24th, 2019

I saw the Quacks about Blitz Ball

This time of year takes its toll on me in a number of ways, and as usual, gaming is the first casualty.

I was lucky this weekend in that I got to basically flomp on the couch and just stop. I haven’t been able to do that during an end of financial year for a long, long time. I didn’t get much tabletop in, but I played the hell out of Final Fantasy X on the Switch!

I got to play this finally with Rabbit during the week, and it was a lot of fun as usual. The high luck factor meant rules and thinking were low, but it was still an enjoyable time overall.

That said, I think I am about ready to sit and start on the more advanced potion sets. This is where Quacks really shines – many games say they can be moulded into the game you want to play, but not many can pull it off properly.

I think Quacks can, but only time will tell. I need to wait a couple of weeks, but I will find out soon!

Finally got to play a couple of rounds with Rabbit. I think I am getting ready for the 'advanced' versions

Final Fantasy X

So I basically spent the weekend playing Final Fantasy X, which was great in many ways. Saturday I tried for about an hour to win the first game of Blitz Ball. I failed, and then spent most of the afternoon just playing Blitz. Tournaments were won, and I was ahead in the league. Probably about 5 hours spent in blissful zen.

Then on Sunday, I woke up very early and thought I would try the first match again. Thank you save slots. And after the pummeling I got Saturday, wouldn’t you know it first try and I win the Luca tournament!

Why spend so much time winning the cup? I ask why not 🙂

Game-wise, what does this give me? A strength sphere, a prop change and a couple of set dialogue changes. But did it feel good? You bet it did!

So then I continued off this save, completely overwriting all the Blitz progress I had made Saturday. I am now much further into the story as I have made it past that first save sphere, and I hope I can play some more during the week.

But this is one of the things I love about Final Fantasy X and Blitz Ball – Blitz is fairly optional, and even if you ‘have’ to do it for some of the benefits, you don’t have to do much in it.

Want to just relax the day away with your brain in neutral though? Go for it 😀

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 – June 10th, 2019

The Quacks of Istanbul are a Stack of Rocks.

Yeah, that one was reaching, but it’s been one of those weeks. At least I managed to get in some great play time this week!

Not mentioned below, I am finally up to the part of Final Fantasy X when I can just go and play Blitzball. Yay! But.

It’s been ages since I played FFX properly, but I lost the opening tournament 1-0. There seemed to be some harsh ‘randomisation’ happening, but still. I have won it before. Maybe I will reload the save and play it again to win? Find out what I do next week!

On to what Alpal and I did get to play this week 😀

Trivia games. One of the problems with them is you usually need a few people. But what if you could play alone?

It’s a simple premise – there are a bunch of questions, and the answers can only be 0, 1 or 2. Read the question, lock in your answer, shake the box of rocks for its answer, then see who is right.

First to three wins. Simple, right? And yet, somehow, I only won after a tiebreaker. That’s not embarrassing at all. But it was a bunch of fun 😀

It's a simple premise, and should be easy. But it came to a tie-breaker!

Dexterity games. I seem to have a love-hate relationship with this genre. But I will always come back for more!

Maki Stack is kind of a sushi themed Junk Art? In its most basic form, build a stack as outlined on the cards from the sushi wooden components. The catch? You have to use one finger from each hand as your ‘chopsticks’!

Then, you can play in teams of two, and you each use one finger each to build the stack. Finally, you can play in teams but blindfold one team member for maximum ridiculousness!

Maki Stack was a quick bit of fun and another on the list that without Alpal I would never know about.

If Junk Art makes you hungry, don't play Maki Stack! :p

Three players this time, and it was just as fun as the original game!

Playing with a brand new player that admittedly only had half a rules explanation, we settled in for a fun round of push your luck/card counting fun.

Our scores were not as high as the first game, but even with an on the fly rules explanation and no concept of end game scoring, Annabelle took the win by 1 point!

It’s one of the things I love about this 2018 Kennerspiel des Jahres winner – while there are layers of the game there waiting to be explored, played at it’s simplest it’s an amazingly fun time!

The rubber band scoring works so well in this game!

Ended games day with an old favourite – Instanbul the dice game 😀

Alpal managed to do the sneaky ‘I went from 4-6 rubies and you don’t get another turn’ win, which is one of the feelings the dice game captures from the board game so perfectly!

I do have an annoying habit from another player of trying to call the rubies red diamonds though :p

Always a welcome addition to the game night, I stand by my 9/10 review of Istanbul the Dice Game.

20190415 Istanbul Dice Game
Roll your dice, and try to get more rubies than your opponents

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 – May 27th, 2019

The Clever Quacks win the Tournament and Throne

Big new game week this week – including a game I have been trying to get a hold on for a while now.

The move is still happening (still have a few boxes left to unpack and then sorting games wise), so does real life Tetris count as a game? I think I should start thinking of it that way!

Anyway, what I have been playing this week:

Quacks of Quedlinburg

I have been trying to play this for a year, and I finally have a copy of it!

Take the randomness of Potion Explosion and the combo building of That’s Pretty Clever, and you have Kennerspiel des Jahres 2018 winner Quacks of Quedlinburg.

Alpal and I had a game, and as expected it was a heap of fun. It can be a light push your luck or a deep card counting quest, but either way, I can see many people enjoying it!

Expect to hear more about Quacks of Quedlinburg over the coming weeks.

Take the randomness of Potion Explosion and the combos of That's Pretty Clever, and you have Kennerspiel des Jahres 2018 winner Quacks of Quedlinburg

Tournament of Towers

Another Alpal special that I would probably not look twice at, Tournament of Towers was a heap of fun to play.

Anyone that has played Junk Art will feel at home.  You have to make the best possible tower and score the most points to win – simple, right?

But mash in the card drafting of 7 Wonders and the random downside element of any Arkham Mythos Effect, and you have a game that just cannot be played the same way twice.

Oh, and full disclosure – the amazing tower I built and photographed doesn’t count.  I built it after I had thoroughly knocked everything down 😀

My tower was doing OK in the first round. Second round and randomness soon saw an end to that!

Dice Throne: Season 2

I have heard bits of pieces about Dice Throne, including grumblings that Season 2 wasn’t anything special.

Well, Alpal grabbed a hero pack (specifically the Samurai and Gunslinger) and taught it to me last week.

I don’t think it deserves any real grumblings.

Essentially combat Yahtzee, with standard TCG/LCG mechanics like abilities and instants. Coming from the back of Netrunner and Arkham Horror, I thought Dice Throne was a fun two player mix and a great way to introduce players to the TCG/LCG format.

I’m going to grab more hero packs, so expect a review in the future 🙂

Take the Yahtzee roll mechanic and mix it with Magic combat and variable player powers

Ganz Schon Clever/That’s Pretty Clever

I have been hearing a lot about Ganz Shon Clever/That’s Pretty Clever over the last couple of months, and I finally got a physical copy just before the move began.

I still haven’t really given the physical copy a good workout yet, but the app and website have been given a thrashing over the last couple of weeks, and now I am ready to review it!

For today, know that if you enjoy building combos from dice combinations this is a great game for you, but come back Friday for the full review!

To date, my best game. That may have changed come the review - it's a very addictive game

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