It’s time to put 2017 back in the box and on the shelf! I didn’t play too many new games this year, but I’d like to start a yearly tradition of highlighting the ones that were new to me. These won’t be full reviews or rules overviews, just some preliminary thoughts on how the games felt. Check out the links to Board Game Geek for more info if any of these games catch your eye!
Honorable mention to the games I received as gifts or bought late in the year that haven’t hit the table yet
- Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper and West End Adventures
- I’ve always enjoyed a good mystery and even though I never finished case 1 of the original Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, I knew I wanted more cases to crack into. Sherlock Holmes unfolds a mystery in a “Choose Your Adventure” sort of style. In this cooperative game, you investigate an area, read a passage from the manual, and try to find clues. After discussing next steps with the team, try your best to follow the story and investigate a new area. When you are ready to solve the case, the game asks you to answer a handful of questions. This game has a points system based on efficiency, but the most important thing brings to the table is a great experience solving a mystery with friends.
- Mythos Tales
- The same style game as Sherlock, but set in H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. Stop the cultists from summoning the Elder Gods and solve all sorts of macabre mysteries. Sounds Fun!
- Bottom of the 9th
- A dice rolling game for 1-2 players that simulates the last inning of a baseball game. As a baseball fan, I was pretty excited to pick this one up. The rules never clicked for me so I have not felt confident enough to get this to the table. The game is available as an app and on Steam which may help with learning the rules.
- 2017’s Spiel des Jahres, the German Game of the Year award. Previous winners Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Kingdom Builder, and going all the way back to the first winner, Hare and Tortoise, are some of my all time favorites. I’m excited to see how this twist on the classic game of dominoes plays.
- My first Legacy game. Legacy is a type of game where the decisions from one game have meaning in future games. They typically involve ways to permanently alter the game board or components, and have a set number of plays before you are left with a board truly unique to your group’s experiences. Seafall is set in the pseudo Golden Age of Sale time era. The denser rule set may leave this one on the shelf for awhile.
- A Christmas gift and more accessible and easier to understand Legacy game about building and expanding a village. I’m extremely excited to see how this one plays out!
- Rick and Morty Total Rickall
- A game based on the hilarious Adult Swim Rick and Morty cartoon. This werewolf-esque game revolves around the “real people” trying to identify and destroy the “parasites” before the parasites take over.
- Smash Up Cease and Desist Expansion
- An expansion to one of my favorite card games. I’m interested to see how the spoofed Star Roamers (Star Trek), Astroknights (Star Wars), Changerbots (Transformers), and Ignobles (Game of Thrones) play with the Robots, Wizards, Zombies, Ghosts, Super Heroes, etc… from the game franchise.
Clearly, I have a backlog to work through in 2018! Here are my thoughts on new games to me that did see play in 2017.
- Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin
- The 2017 Kennerspiel des Jahres, or Advanced Game of the Year, winner is an escape room in a box. Unfortunately, this game has no replay value since once you solve the series of puzzles and escape, you know the solution. Fortunately, a price point of under $15 makes it cheaper than a movie for an evening of entertainment, and there are 6 different scenarios with more in the works.
- Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego: The Card Game
- Talk about a nostalgic blast from the past! Players play the role of gumshoes trying to track down Carmen Sandiego, what she stole, and where she stole it from. By rolling dice and using light deduction, gumshoes match Location Cards to Loot Cards and arrest classic villains such as Rosa Sarrosas-Arroz (A rose is a rose is a rose) and Sam O’Nella until Carmen is finally apprehended. There’s a bit of luck and dice dependent rolls, and the game has a chance to gridlock until someone is forced to make a winning move for another player, but it’s a fun trip down memory lane. Bonus points for having dry erase markers as a component!
- Treasure Hunter
- When Richard Garfield makes a drafting based card game, I pay attention! The creator behind the world-wide phenomenon Magic: The Gathering has created a simple yet clever game of drafting cards across 3 locations. Each location has a set of hero cards that are combined with additional cards to form a central stack. Each round, the players receive a hand of cards. They pick one and pass the rest around the table until all cards have been drafted. Each location has a randomized treasure that is awarded to the player with the lowest amount of total card points in that area, and one that is given to the player with the highest. Some treasure is cursed, so it takes some planning and drafting finesse to get the make sure you are highest, lowest, or neither. A Goblins Attack phase that can result in lost points forces players to pick between the Hero card, support cards, or watch dogs to defeat the Goblins each round. Treasure Hunter is a great intro to drafting game that is just a little too simple. It’s a step up from Sushi Go and Fairy Tale. Perhaps the expansions add some additional dangers and decisions making
- Bomb Squad Academy
- A great press your luck game about defusing bombs. Stay on a bomb until the end for big points and risk losing it all in a detonation, or play it safe and get out and pray for an explosion next turn? It’s up to you and your risk tolerance! This game reminded me of another press your luck favorite, Incan Gold, and is exactly the kind of complexity and fun level game that I aspire to create myself.
- A well known and hyped game in gaming circles, Jamaica asks players to take on the role of retired pirates, racing around the island to collect treasures. You have to carefully manage your food and gold supplies, as they are crucial to moving. And what kind of pirate game would it be if you couldn’t attack the other players! Jamaica has an interesting movement mechanic. A rotating start player, The Captain, rolls 2 dice and assigns one as a daytime die, and one as a nighttime die. Each player than decides to play a card from their hand that has a day time action and a nighttime action. Actions could be movement along the race track, but they can also be ways to stock up on food, gold, or cannons for fighting in later rounds. Land on the same space as another player and you get to fight! I’ll definitely need to play this a few more times, but my initial impression is that it’s a light and accessible race game that’s good for all ages. Frustration can mount based on how the dice and action cards line up. The rule book, which thematically unfolds as a treasure map, is actually a pain to read and reference.
- Monopoly Gamer
- An attempt to spice up Monopoly with a Mario twist. Players get power ups and items that can be used to attack other players. Very random, wide variety of power levels of characters, and the classic and repetitive Monopoly roll, move, buy pattern. If you want to play a Mario game, check out the next item
- Super Mario: Level Up
- This game surprised me on so many levels. Players take turns moving the characters of the Mario Universe up or down the staircase at the end of a level. When a character reaches the top, all players vote on whether to end the round, or kick that character out of the game. If the round ends, players reveal their hidden agenda and get points based on how high certain characters are on the staircase. Super Simple! Super Fun! Super Mario Brothers Power Up!
In additional to getting some games to the table, I also bought apps or Steam versions of some popular games that I had not played before.
- Colt Express
- Players rob a train in the Old West! What a theme! The Easy and Medium AI on Steam don’t always play sensible moves, but it’s a great way to learn this programming game. Each player has a hand of cards and programs 4-5 moves in advance. The robbers try to steal from the train and each other by punching and shooting. It’s a game of guessing and some memory work and more often than not you will be punching the air or attempting to pick up loot that isn’t there.
- A solo card game. Your goal is to open 8 doors (2 each of 4 colors) and escape the Dream World before the Nightmares deplete you of all your cards. You open doors by matching a key to it’s colored door, or by arranging 3 of the same color cards in a row, with some placement limitations. Keys also help you peer into the deck and plan your next few moves. It’s an interesting little game that I’ve played almost 200 times, but mostly as a time filler.
- A cooperative game I picked up on Steam Sale, Mysterium adds a bit of game play to the Dixit card matching mechanic. Most players are psychic investigators communicating with a recently murdered victim. The ghost tries to guide the psychics using clue cards that somehow match up to the murderer, weapon, and location. The fantastic and surreal artwork makes being the ghost a real challenge.
It will be fun to share these and other digital ports on my Twitch channel in the coming year.
Happy New Year from CheeseViking Games! What games were new to you this year?