Games I Played in 2019: The Complete and Comprehensive List

Updated: Jan 22, 2020

The year 2019 has been a wild year for me personally, I moved from the United States to Japan, leaving behind all my friends and family. I left my job and put all my energies into freelance board game design. Oh and I've been battling the worst bout of depression of my entire life.


Despite, all that, I still managed to play a whole lot of games in 2019.


119 Unique games to be exact.


I've ranked every single one of these games, based off my personal enjoyment, but rest assured, every minute I spent gaming this past year was joyful, as much as it could be anyways, and I can honestly say, there is not a bad game on this list. In fact, many of these games would be contenders for my all-time top 100 list, if I had the constitution to make such a thing.


It is truly amazing that we live in an era where we have access to this many unique and interesting games, and if you only takeaway one thing from this post, I hope THAT will be it.


Anyways, I think this meat is tenderized enough, let's get cooking.


119. 1775: Rebellion

Why it's on the List?


I played it once before and had a bad experience, I thought it deserved another shot.


Why this spot?


We played the 2v2 version of the game and some early bad luck put us in an impossible position. I think the game has very good mechanics, but its now 2 for 2 with bad experiences.



118. Liberation

Why it's on the List?


I like button shy games, a lot. I was enticed by the idea of an epic 2 player galactic struggle that fit neatly into their 18 card wallet series.


Why this spot?


It just fell a little flat for me. There is a wheel-spinning nature to it, where actions often get undone by your opponent's action. Not to say it's a bad game, just didn't quite work for me and left me feeling a bit dissatisfied.



117. Pocket Baseball

Why it's on the List?


My wife is a huge baseball fan, so I snagged this Mad Pack game as a stocking-stuffer for her.


Why this spot?


It is a fine game, in fact, it is a good game for what it is. A small scale baseball simulation. I would just prefer something more like Bottom of the 9th to get my archaic Blernsball fix.




116. Pataruta

Why it's on the List?


It was an instinct purchase from the Tokyo Game Market and it turned out to be easy to translate the rules and get it played.


Why this spot?


The game is fine, it uses a neat pattern recognition mechanic that I enjoyed. However, it incorporates a speed element which I am not a huge fan of and there were some graphic design issues with the Venn Diagram "universe" that made cards confusing.



115. Libertalia

Why it's on the List?


It seemed like a perfect game for my group and this is many's people's favorite Paolo Mori design, a designer I enjoy.


Why this spot?


I gave this game many chances, every time I played, I had a bad experience. I thought, maybe a different player count? maybe a different group? It's a mystery I will never solve, but it failed repeatedly.



114. World of Yo-Ho

Why it's on the List?


Really clever concept to bridge digital and analog gaming here.


Why this spot?


Video games let you grind through side-quests to get an awesome item or to level-up for the main story. Well, that is World of Yo-Ho, except, there is no main story.



113. Cosmic Run: Rapid Fire

Why it's on the List?


My wife bought this on a whim back in 2017 and we FINALLY got a chance to play it once we realized we actually kind of enjoy roll & write games.


Why this spot?


The game is decent, but I was expecting a quick and frantic space race with some tense decision making, but found most decisions were obvious and lacked intrigue.



112. The Wizard Always Wins

Why it's on the List?


It was available for like $7 at Target, as if my collection wasn't big enough already.


Why this spot?


The game is not bad, but it is a bit repetitive and while it has a similar base mechanic to Quacks of Quedlinburg, it lacks that constant turn-to-turn satisfaction.




111. Korrigans

Why it's on the List?


St. Paddy's Day (need I say more?)


Why this spot?


My expectations were low and were easily exceeded. It's a nice family game and if I had little ones, it might be higher. But for now, I'd only use it to break from the St. Paddy's Day binge-drinking.



110. Shadows in Kyoto

Why it's on the List?


I loved Hanamikoji and I was interested to see what the next in the line would bring to the table.


Why this spot?


This is a decent game, but MAYBE I just don't like Stratego games all that much. One other problem was one of the meeples had a split in it so it was easy to tell apart from other meeples. I'm sure EmperorS4 would take care of that, but I haven't cared enough to ask, which says a lot.



109. Rising 5: Runes of Asteros

Why it's on the List?


I was extremely excited when I heard about this one. Co-op Mastermind? Yes, please.


Why this spot?


Frankly, this one is a huge bummer. The game plays well and everything works as planned, it's just WAY too easy, on any difficulty. No challenge = boredom.



108. Thunder & Lightning

Why it's on the List?


I had heard nothing but good things about this one.


Why this spot?


This is definitely the closest I've gotten to liking a Stratego game, but it just drug on for way too long for what it was. I think it was about 90 minutes? The juice just wasn't worth the squeeze, here.



107. Mezame no Sora

Why it's on the List?


The nice box and art style drew me to this one. Truthfully, I didn't want to buy the game, it was at the tail end of an expensive Tokyo Game Market. However, the designer was so damn nice and friendly. I really wanted to support him and his game.


Why this spot?


The game is actually better than I expected, although it is essentially a slightly more complicated space version of "Hey That's My Fish." I don't regret the purchase and it is better than some other games that I had much higher expectations for.



106. Blend Coffee Lab

Why it's on the List?


Saashi & Saashi is my favorite Japanese Publisher and Coffee Roaster is my favorite solo game ever and here we have a trick taking game, set in the same universe.


Why this spot?


The game is OK. It's not a bad trick-taker, but the rules that are in place to make it unique are a bit convoluted and unlike it's big brother, Coffee Roaster, it fails to bring the theme through as well as I would like.



105. Piepmatz

Why it's on the List?


Riddle and Pinchback have some quality designs under their belt and this one has cute artwork and theme.


Why this spot?


You know when you experience something that you accept is good, but it just doesn't do anything special. That's how I feel about Piepmatz. I enjoyed my play of it, but it didn't do anything to resonate with me.



104. Shifty Eyed Spies

Why it's on the List?


Party game that somehow showed up, as you may have guessed, at a party.


Why this spot?


You know when you experience something that you accept is bad, but it just does something special. That's how I feel about Shifty Eyed Spies. It was a mess, in a good way, and I still recall specifics of the mess nearly a year later.


103. That's Not Lemonade

Why it's on the List?


A friend of mine lost his mind when he heard that the Kickstarter was coming with tiny red solo cups as a component. *lowers head in shame*


Why this spot?


Tiny cups aside, the game is actually kind of fun. It's ridiculous and there is no denying that. But I also can't deny that I enjoyed playing it and we even played it a few times in a row.



102. Yamatai

Why it's on the List?


Bruno Cathala is one of the best designers in the world and this one is a beauty to look at.


Why this spot?


It is a brain-burning game and there are some satisfying moments throughout, but it mostly felt like work rather than play.



101. Naval Battle on the Board

Why it's on the List?


The game seemed to have a lot of charm and I decided to pick up a copy of it at the Tokyo Game Market.


Why this spot?


The game is a relatively good abstract strategy game, includes a bit of programming and forethought to be successful at it. I walked away from the experience thinking well of it, but just haven't had much urge to come back to it.



100. Dimension

Why it's on the List?


I picked this up in a trade because it seemed like a fun puzzle game.


Why this spot?


It is indeed a fun puzzle game, but boy, is it stressful. I think there is also limited replayability because once your good at it, it's not AS much fun.



99. Shadows Over Camelot

Why it's on the List?


It's a classic that I have been meaning to try for years.


Why this spot?


It's a good game, but I think time has done a number on it. There are just better hidden traitor games and co-op games out there at this point.



98. Murano

Why it's on the List?


I had an obsession with trying to get this one while it was out of print and I finally did, but it wasn't cheap. It's beautiful and it's by the Brands. I had to have it.


Why this spot?


It's a real shame that my playthrough of it didn't live up to what I had hoped. It felt like a real grind and it slightly outstayed it's welcome. It also felt like I could see the mechanical bones of the game a little too well.



97. Monster Crunch! The Breakfast Battle Game

Why it's on the List?


I have a friend who, like some Tom Hanks or Robin Williams movie (I can never remember which), is a kid in an adult's body. He loves nostalgia and his favorite brand is cereal mascots. So I buy this game, wrap it in some glittery paper and say "Merry Christmas ya filthy animal!"


Why this spot?


This game is a sweet treat disguised as a breakfast cereal. Just don't play too much or you'll get cavities.


96. Pandemic: The Cure


Why it's on the List?


I have a soft spot for Pandemic games as they played an integral part in me taking to the hobby. I always try to play the offshoots at least once.


Why this spot?


This game was pleasantly surprising, it captured the Pandemic feel in a lighter dice game, but it just lacked the tension I felt when I first played the original Pandemic.




95. Getaway Driver

Why it's on the List?


I love the theme and once again, Ryan Goldsberry hits a homerun with his illustration and graphic design.


Why this spot?


It's a good, but not great game. Though the theme is great and does come through quite well, doing so makes the game quite a bit fiddly. I also have my reservations about the balancing although I haven't played it enough to say.




94. Trapwords

Why it's on the List?


Another word game coming from the publisher that brought us Codenames, hopes are high with this one.


Why this spot?


It's good, but it's quest to implement "theme" actually subtracted from the fun for me. Also, the mechanics behind Trapwords have a lot of promise, but in reality, you end up with people just staring at each other, while one player stutters and stumbles to say a single word.



93. Zany Penguins

Why it's on the List?


A friend of mine is obsessed with Bruno Cathala.


Why this spot?


I went into this game with very low expectations, but found it to be quite fun and while it looks like random, zany fun, there is actually a decent bit of strategy to it.





92. Neta-Tanka

Why it's on the List?


I love worker placement and this one seemed to have a unique twist where you are linking actions together.


Why this spot?


Another game that fits into the "good but not great" category. I thought the twist would tie the theme together and make for interesting decisions. Truth is, it actually just makes your optimal choice much more obvious.