Chris' Favourite Games of 2014

What an amazing year! I had a hard time keeping this list brief, but I wanted to highlight my recent favourites and a few games that I haven't mentioned before. Note that a couple of these games were not new releases in 2014, but they were new to me!

 

Machi Koro

With an appealing art style and simple to learn gameplay, Machi Koro is winning a lot of fans. This Japanese "build your town" game combines set-collecting with a bit of luck 

 

Star Realms 

This is the year game designers figured out how to make small, streamlined deck-building games that don't take 15 minutes to set up. You start with a few basic spaceships in your hand, and each turn buy new ships and bases to improve your fleet. Star Realms has a ton of depth for a very small game.

 

Splendor

I love simple, elegant games. Splendor is both, in spades. On your turn you either take a gem, or use your gems to buy a card. Cards are worth points, but also increase your buying power for future turns. It's a race to 15 points, but trying to get there first is such a delicious challenge!

 

Concept

This is the type of party game that some people will want to play all night. It's incredibly simple, but enormously fun, especially in larger groups. Pick a clue from a card, then try to communicate that clue to your team using only one word ("Yes") and the symbols on the board. Play it once and you'll be hooked.  

 

Camel Up

My regular gaming group has six players, and it's hard to find something that can play that many people without dragging on. Camel Up combines some good tension with a nice dose of strategy and some really neat components. It's kid-friendly, too. 

 

Helios

Helios is a fairly abstract game, but with a beautiful fantasy design. Players build a world and try to score points through a variety of mechanics. Should you build temples? Acquire more land? Recruit new characters? What makes Helios feel very different is the tight timeline - each player only has 4 rounds of 4 actions each, so every decision is very important. If you want the feel of a "big" game in a short time (under an hour) this is a good pick.

 

Spidmonsters

At the other end of the complexity spectrum... my favorite new 5-minute filler and/or game to play with kids. It's a frantic race to match cards and empty your pile. It's high-energy fun in a compact package. I love it!

 

Kemet

I almost didn't include this one because it's currently out of print and may not be available for a few months, but... Wow, what a great game. It combines the "take that" confrontational attack of a classic Risk wargame, adds a ton of theme and wraps it up in a Euro-style action-management game that actually plays in under two hours. With a gorgeous Egyptian Fantasy theme, you build your army to include monsters like giant scorpions and teleport around the map to take control of temples. Worth waiting for!

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