Games I Played in 2019: The Complete and Comprehensive List (Part II)

The first part of this list saw some truly amazing games and they should only get better moving forward.


If you haven't read Part I, I'd recommend checking it out first, it'll help to set the mood.


60. Thunderbirds

Why it's on the List?


I really enjoy the cooperative experience and Matt Leacock is king of the genre.


Why this spot?


I never watched the show, but it didn't matter. The game is good, and it is actually quite different from other Leacock games, it might be my favorite of his.



59. Clacks


Why it's on the List?


I bought this a long while ago and could never get it to the table. Finally gave the co-op a shot in 2019.


Why this spot?


This game is a magical little puzzle. I would absolutely HATE to play this competitively but the cooperative mode is excellent, challenging, and brain-burning.



58. Magic Maze



Why it's on the List?


This is always one of my favorites to introduce to people because it is so unique.


Why this spot?


This game never fails to cause hysterical laughter and unrelenting anger. That "Do-something" pawn may be the best component in any board game, ever.




57. Heaven and Ale



Why it's on the List?


This was a birthday gift from my best friend, he knows me so well. As an avid brewer of beer, who also lived temporarily at a monastery, I can really get on board with this theme.


Why this spot?


The game has a couple of really neat mechanics, and while it is higher on my list than some other ones that fell in this category, I think this one is good but not great. It was very close though, just a couple design tweaks and this definitely would have been in my top 50, maybe even in my top 25.



56. The Game

Why it's on the List?


I love a small box game that really makes you think. Plus the new art edition, is much better than the old one.


Why this spot?


This is another one that I love to introduce to people. It is so simple, but extremely difficult win. It also offers a unique cooperative experience that goes over really well in almost every group.



55. Kreus

Why it's on the List?


This game was bought because I had heard it was kind of like the Grizzled, which is one of my favorites of all time.


Why this spot?


Despite being relatively simple, this game is unusually hard to teach, but once people grasp it, there is a lot of cool moves that you will pull off as a group. It is very hard, and the game is a bit on rails, but I still love it.



54. Dead Men Tell No Tales

Why it's on the List?


We have enjoyed the base game quite a bit, but wanted to try the Kraken expansion.


Why this spot?


I think the expansion is really good, and if I was playing with other people who are familiar with the game, I would definitely include it, because it offers a deeper, more difficult and believe it or not, more thematic experience.



53. Tybor the Builder

Why it's on the List?


Alexander Pfister, Oh My Goods Universe, multi-use cards, what's not to love?


Why this spot?


This game is brilliant and in my opinion it is the superior game to Oh My Goods, it feels like a smoother experience and less of a grind. I would like to see this game get more expansions going forward.




52. Colt Express

Why it's on the List?


This game is chaos and it plays so well when you have 6 people.


Why this spot?


The programming aspect is just so random and funny that I always feel warm and fuzzy when I play this game. Usually the best moments are when someone goofs and fires their gun at the air or tries to grab loot that doesn't even exist.


51. Sprawlopolis

Why it's on the List?


A satisfying solo and cooperative puzzle with just 18 cards.


Why this spot?


This game offers an amazing amount of replayability as it features 18 different scoring possibilities, and you randomly use 3 per game, It is a tad inconsistent because sometimes you get a set of scoring criteria that just work really really well together, and other times, you get ones that seem near impossible.


50. The Ancient World

Why it's on the List?


I honestly backed this game on Kickstarter JUST to get the Near and Far add on.


Why this spot?


My expectations were actually pretty low here. I honestly have never been blown away by any Red Raven game despite adoring the artwork. However, this one is such a treat. The improvements on the 2nd edition has done wonders here.


49. Claim

Why it's on the List?


I like trick taking games and not many play that well at 2 players.


Why this spot?


This one plays only at 2 and it has tons of variety thanks to a standalone expansion, Claim 2. I don't think I have ever won this game, but I enjoy it none-the-less.



48. Atlantis Rising

Why it's on the List?


This is my newest 2019 Kickstarter game. It arrived on Christmas Day, believe it or not! Somehow, I got it played before the new year!


Why this spot?


We made a small mistake in the rules for the 2 player variant and that kept it from feeling super intense, but I loved the puzzle and the use of worker placement in a cooperative game.


47. Aeon's End

Why it's on the List?


Only because I had heard good things. Let's be honest, the generic fantasy theme and artwork is not the reason.


Why this spot?


Wow, this is so good! I'm very disappointed that I judged this game by it's cover and waited so long to play. The cooperation in this game feels wonderful and it's one of the best deck-builders I've had the pleasure to play.



46. Hardback

Why it's on the List?


The spiritual successor to Paperback and another deck-building word game.


Why this spot?


I love paperback, in someways, I like it better than hardback, but the solo/cooperative mode in hardback is tremendously well made and super challenging. I also like the addition of themed letter cards in this game.



45. Claustrophobia 1643

Why it's on the List?


2 player competitive Zombicide, more-or-less.


Why this spot?


The game plays really well and I love how asymmetric it is. The dice allocation and action selection is enjoyably simple, with just the right amount of possibilities.


44. Puerto Rico

Why it's on the List?


It's one of the all-time greats, so when I was finally offered the chance to play it, I couldn't say no.


Why this spot?


I can understand how this game has stood the test of time. It was way ahead of itself in many ways, but it has this quirk that positioning of the weakest player, determines who wins the game. It is sort of like Blackjack, there is this accepted way to play, and if you deviate from that, people at the table will be very unhappy.





43. Camel Up

Why it's on the List?


I was tentative on this one because of my gambling addiction (more than 5 years clean and counting!). I usually try to avoid games that are too much like gambling remind me too much of casino games or horse racing.


Why this spot?


It is a really fun game, and the crazy camels are the best! Luckily, I can manage to avoid that shakiness I get when I see a train ad for the Japanese Racing Association.


42. Barenpark

Why it's on the List?


Designer Phil Walker-Harding may be the best streamliner in the business.


Why this spot?


This game, like most PWH games, is pure elegance. It takes a rather over-used concept, tile-placement with Tetris pieces and just somehow makes it better... I will eat these words soon enough.



41. Caper

Why it's on the List?


When Keymaster games did a reprint, I decided to pickup a copy since it was cheap enough.


Why this spot?


Wow, this was a complete shock. I was not expecting to like it THAT much but I really think it is the best 2 player drafting game out there.



40. Cacao

Why it's on the List?


Ahh, now this is a classic PWH title.


Why this spot?


This game is just so smooth, I feel like I could teach this game to anyone and they will be able to jump right in and compete. Also, the way actions trigger based off the tile placement is really clever in this one.



39. Five Tribes

Why it's on the List?


This was on the top of my list of Bruno Cathala games that I was itching to try.


Why this spot?


This game is intense because you can pickup and drop off any pawns on the board, but everyone else has the same possible moves, until of course someone else does it before you and completely shifts the board state. It is extremely thinky and very enjoyable.



38. Elysium

Why it's on the List?


This game always looked interesting to me, but it flew under-the-radar for some reason. I picked up a copy for very cheap.


Why this spot?


This game is SO underrated. There is this constant tension with every action you take and the use of the colored Corinthians is such a clever mechanic that adds loads of depth to your decisions.


37. Snowdonia

Why it's on the List?


Yet another Kickstarter Deluxe edition I received in 2019. There is so much in this box, I honestly didn't know where to begin.


Why this spot?


This game is phenomenal, I was shocked. It's not a theme I am fond of, but the way that the weather and 3rd party companies come in and snipe your work? Brilliant. Also, the competition for worker placements spots is perfect, just enough to challenge you, but not too punishing,



36. Welcome To...


Why it's on the List?


This was one of the few games that I managed to try out at the Tokyo Game Market.


Why this spot?


It is definitely one of the best flip & write games ever made. The selection mechanic and dual use of the cards is what really separates this one from the rest of the field. I also think this offers much more variability and replayability compared to others in the genre.




35. Treasure Island

Why it's on the List?


This looked like the type of game I would have loved to play as a kid. Compasses, markers, rulers, and a real map you can draw on. So cool.


Why this spot?


It is every bit as cool as it looks. I will say the component quality left a little to be desired, but the asymmetric deduction in this one is so satisfying and this game is absolutely ripe with theme.



34. Maori

Why it's on the List?


This was one of the games that I picked up during my collector's phase when I needed every out of print game.


Why this spot?


This game is just so damn peaceful. If I had to pick one game just to turn off my brain to, it's this. The tile-selection and tile-placement mechanics are good, but it really is only this high because it does something that most games don't do, which is offer a relaxing experience.


33. Doppelt so Clever

Why it's on the List?


I loved Ganz Schon Clever so naturally, had to try this.


Why this spot?


In some ways, this is better than Ganz Schon Clever, but it's sort of like The Godfather Part II. I don't think I could have truly appreciated it, unless I had seen The Godfather Part I first. Both are just so Warsching good!




32. Incan Gold

Why it's on the List?


This is my go-to game for parties with non-gamers.


Why this spot?


It's just so simple to understand and after one round, everyone just gets it. It's quick, it's easy to explain, it's got a super tight game loop. It just works.




31. Fake Artist Goes to New York

Why it's on the List?


It's an Oink game, which is enough to pique my interest.


Why this spot?


This game is a riot. Players put so much effort into not making the drawing obvious for the fake artist that they end up getting accused of being the fake artist. Nobody understands what you did or why. Then afterwards you act like they are the crazy ones for not getting your super specific reference. Perfecto!


30. Patchwork


Why it's on the List?


Not because of the app version, I swear.


Why this spot?


I may have referenced earlier how different Barenpark was, but Patchwork is the OG Tetris tile-layer. It is also THE perfect theme for this mechanic. I may have gotten mildly addicted to the app version, but I still love the physical version and that is how I am judging this here.


29. Rising Sun

Why it's on the List?


Spiritual successor to Blood Rage... Plus those minis...


Why this spot?


This game is almost as good as Blood Rage, and given a better play of it, I think it could meet that same regard. I love the negotiation aspect of this game but I think playing it at 3 players really held it back from being higher on this list.


28. Stew

Why it's on the List?


The award for most charming vagabond artwork in a game goes to...


Why this spot?


Liking Stew this much was completely unexpected, it's basically a really good version of Welcome to the Dungeon, with a better theme, pacing and better artwork, and oh yeah, better everything. I love this game.




27. Keyflower

Why it's on the List?


I had been wanting to try some games from the key series and this is the one I managed snag in a trade.


Why this spot?


Mechanically this game just hits a sweet spot for me. You have fistfuls of meeples and the clever placement rules make you constantly at odds with yourself on how to use them, but it always seems like there something good for you to do since you can place them virtually anywhere.


26. Anachrony

Why it's on the List?


This may be the heaviest game on my list, but a truly thematic Euro game is worth the rules overhead.


Why this spot?


I felt that the theme actually came through surprisingly well and while it took nearly an hour to explain, 3 hours to play, PLUS caused an hour sidebar about time travel and it's accuracy/validity in the game, it never felt like it was outstaying it's welcome. That's a sign of a good game.



25. Architects of the West Kingdom

Why it's on the List?


I love the artwork and I love that it comes in a small box, but offers big gameplay.


Why this spot?


The worker placement is excellent. You can create this ever-growing colony of workers and nobody can stop you... until they send all your workers to jail... I love this balance of good and evil in this game and it just gives you lots of fun decisions.

24. Gugong

Why it's on the List?


This game stood out to me as soon as I saw the Kickstarter for it. Insta-back.


Why this spot?


The game is beautiful and it has an extremely neat card exchange mechanic that I adore. My concerns are the required palace convoy, and it seemed TOO balanced with different paths giving the same result. I prefer to see an indication that my decisions affected the outcome. Panjun is coming soon and I think it will fix those issues.



23. At The Gates of Loyang

Why it's on the List?


This is another game I picked up during my collector's phase.


Why this spot?


I love, love, love the solo mode of this game. It is a challenging puzzle that plays quickly and gives you a more intimate feeling than the competitive mode.




22. Coffee Roaster

Why it's on the List?


I spent my 30th birthday traveling in Japan and I bought this game as a gift to myself. I knew nothing about it other than it was obviously about Roasting Coffee and that it only played 1 player and that the artwork was absolutely charming. OK, I guess I knew a lot about it.


Why this spot?


This game is without a doubt my favorite exclusively solo game ever made. It has so much charm and so many tasty decisions. I love bag-building and this executes it perfectly, from the roasting to the cup test.



21. Terraforming Mars

Why it's on the List?


What a great theme. It takes the same basic principals of most resource management/engine builders and puts it on Mars.


Why this spot?


The combinations in this game are just so powerful and exciting. My only complaint is that I think a starting draft is essential, but I didn't play with it unfortunately. This is another game that has a stellar solo mode.



20. Trickerion

Why it's on the List?


Another Kickstarter that stood out to me in 2019 due to the component quality and the unique theme.


Why this spot?


Once again, Mindclash manages to make an incredibly thematic Euro game. This one just seemed to play a bit smoother than Anachrony and that's why it jumped ahead a few spots. I am very excited to try some of the expansion modules with this.



19. Menara

Why it's on the List?


When I say "Cooperative Dexterity Game" you say "Take My Money!"

Why this spot?


This game is not without it's flaws, firstly, when you get good, it's too easy, and it's also a bit random, but my goodness is this a fun and interesting game to introduce to new players. The table presence is also phenomenal. There is something so satisfying about stepping back and admiring something you built, especially if it's 7 stories of cylinders and oddly shaped cardboard.


18. Drop It

Why it's on the List?


While browsing the PAX Unplugged library in 2017, we stumbled across this game and thought, what the hey, shall we?


Why this spot?


It was easily the game of the convention for us, it was 90 minutes of casual fun and laughter and complaining about physics not working properly. "Let me tell you why this game is broken."


17. Ganz Schon Clever

Why it's on the List?


Godfather Part I.


Why this spot?


The Ganz Schon Clever puzzle is stupendous. I've played the physical version dozens of times and the app version even more. I can't get enough of it, although I am sure eventually it will get old and then, maybe I'll spend a bit more time with Doppelt So Clever.



16. The Mind

Why it's on the List?


When I heard about this game, I remember hating everything about it, but with all the hype, I had to try...


Why this spot?


*Places hand on table*





15. Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure

Why it's on the List?


This combination of Deck-building, dungeon delve, and push your luck just seemed so promising.


Why this spot?


It was, and it exceeded expectations. There is a certain flow to the whole game that almost melts the deck-building aspect away. It's still there, and still essential, but it just feels like a natural part of the experience. Then there is the tension of someone leaving and ooph, that dragon. This game is simply tons of fun.



14. Ethnos

Why it's on the List?


This is another one I got to try at PAX Unplugged 2017, my group disliked it so much, they quit in the middle. I couldn't believe it. Well now I have a copy and a new group so *blows raspberry*


Why this spot?


This game gets tons of flack for the artwork for and it is a big reason why Ethnos is continuously underappreciated. I don't mind it, and I actually like the pastel color tokens. Artwork aside, this is one of the smoothest games you will ever play. Turns are lightning fast (boom, boom, boom) and it has an excellent game arch.



13. Unlock! Secret Adventures

Why it's on the List?


I adore escape room games both IRL and in the analog game world as well. The Unlock! series is the best there is for this.


Why this spot?


This was one of my favorites yet. While, I was not a huge fan of the Tombstone Express, Noside's story met expectations, and the Wizard of Oz way exceeded expectations. It may be my favorite Unlock! ever, although I haven't tried the new ones yet.




12. Port Royal

Why it's on the List?


The German version of the game has expansion compatibility, which sold me on getting the whole lot.


Why this spot?


I have always loved Port Royal, I consider it to be the best push your luck game ever made. Add in the "Just One More Contract..." expansion which includes a solo & cooperative variant and I'm hooked. It was difficult leaving this one out of the top 10.



11. Skull

Why it's on the List?


I kept avoided buying this one for some reason, but I tried it and now I own it and play it at nearly every party.


Why this spot?


Skull is one of the simplest games I know and somehow it always seems to result in laugh-crying. This game is very group dependent though, you have to have people who are willing to lie and bluff and take chances for it to really sing. But when it does, it's the most spectacular serenade, you'll ever hear.



10. Broom Service

Why it's on the List?


I wrote this game off due to theme and the sub-par art and production. But, my friend can't take no for an answer.


Why this spot?


This game is silly and light-hearted fun, but the role selection and choosing brave vs. cowardly might be my favorite 1-2 mechanical punch of all time. It's so simple, so interactive, and yet offers YOU the choice, one that will make you feel excessive pride, or supreme disappointment. Of course there is option 3, where you blame your friends for making stupid decisions that screwed you over.




9. A Tale of Pirates

Why it's on the List?


It is a real-time cooperative game with a gigantic 3D ship, sandtimers, and a bunch of sealed envelopes with new components in them. Hard to say no to that.


Why this spot?


I am truly torn by this, for the life of me, I am not sure how this game has ended up so high on my list, but at the same time, I can't understand why other people don't rave about this game. Sure, it's a light, family-weight game, but the cooperation, communication, and the revelation that occurs as you progress through the story is just so delightful. Games are quick, and the sense of discovery is stupendous.


8. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

Why it's on the List?


This has been, and will likely remain, my favorite social deduction game for a long time.


Why this spot?


The thing I dislike about most social deduction games are the yelling and the accusations, it honestly gives me the worse agita. This game though, offers a higher emphasis on deduction with just a dash of the social aspects. Also, the clues that you give as the forensic scientist are so vague that it is often a challenge unless the murderer servers up a beach-ball. With the expansions and promos, there is so much replayability and variability and it works really well at a wide range of player counts.



7. Quacks of Quedlinburg

Why it's on the List?


At this point, if Wolfgang Warsch shoved a banana and a rulesheet in a box, it honestly might make this list.


Why this spot?


I was surprised how smitten I was with Warsch and his games, I actually found most of them infuriating upon first hearing about them, but that is because they are distilled to this interesting point that the true genius of the game is cloaked. ONLY YOU, the player, can discover it. Quack's inclusion of rats in the game is very fitting to me, because that's exactly how I feel when playing it. Like a rat in a Warschian maze that is constantly being given piece after piece of delicious creamy cheese, and even when the cheese contains poison, it is never so much to deter me from going back and getting more cheese. I guess what I'm saying is, I love positive reinforcement and this game has it in spades.



6. Burgle Bros.

Why it's on the List?


If you haven't already figured it out, when I like a designer, I REALLY like a designer.


Why this spot?


This is by far my favorite of all Tim Fowers games. It is so thematic, almost to a fault. However, it is just so enjoyable from start to finish, you'll experience complete nonsense due to all the silly thematic touches but those are the moments that stick with you well after the game is over.



5. Bruges

Why it's on the List?


Unpopular opinion, but I somewhat dislike Stefan Feld games, so why is this here? Well I love the movie "In Bruges", and I always thought this was one of the better looking Feld games.


Why this spot?


This game should be THE prime example of how to implement multi-use cards into your game. It is absolutely perfect in my opinion. Beyond that amazingness, like most Feld's, this game offers a lot of different avenues to go down, but this one never seems to bog you down like in other games. It is smooth, perfectly unassuming, and beautiful.



4. Blood Rage

Why it's on the List?


After hearing Sam Healey talk about this game every other Dice Tower video for a year, I decided I should really experience it for myself.


Why this spot?


This game features a relatively simple ruleset that is easy to understand, but it offers you a feeling of excess power. Every card you see during each draft will seem unbalanced, in a good way. Especially when paired with other cards that make some incredibly overpowered combinations. I also love the way that it puts an emphasis on battles but not necessarily on winning them, and depending on your strategy, winning a battle may even be the sub-optimal option. I love that choice, the option to go against the grain and still have options to see your strategy through and potentially win.



3. Dead of Winter

Why it's on the List?


This is the zombie game that I want, about the people and survival, rather than zombie slaying.


Why this spot?


This game, more than any game I've ever played, offers a memorable experience. The crossroads cards are brilliant, the luck factor is right where it needs to be (high and unpredictable), and the traitor mechanic and hidden objectives fits the theme and the supporting mechanics perfectly. I could, as clear as the day I played it, passionately recall specific moments that I experienced during almost every game. For a game to have enough character to leave these sort of lasting memories, it must be very special.



2. Codenames Duet

Why it's on the List?


I love Codenames and I love cooperation.


Why this spot?


I almost feel guilty putting this one above Dead of Winter, but I think this is purely a consequence of the playtime and the ease to get this to the table. It's a game that I could pull out anytime and have a quality connected experience with one other human being. The fact that it is cooperative makes it feel much more intimate and therefore much more rewarding and disappointing when you succeed and fail respectively.



1. 7th Continent



Why it's on the List?


The base game and What Goes Up Must Come Down expansion was my most highly anticipated Kickstarter of 2018. When it arrived it was a rare joy that I only recall feeling when I was a kid. Needless to say, my expectations were through the roof on this one.


Why this spot?


This was a slam dunk. I love a lot of the games on this list, but there was not a single doubt in my mind which game would be number 1. The systematic

framework in place for this survival, exploration, and choose your own adventure game is absolutely ingenious. It is everything I could ever want in a game. 40+ hours into the game and I am still finding wondrous surprises during every session. The major flaw in this game is the playtime and "what do you do if you die?" Honestly, do whatever you feel will best allow you to enjoy the great things this game does. My wife and I chose to restart the game from the most recent "save point," which I am perfectly fine with. Do yourself a favor though, if you like adventure and exploration, get yourself a copy of this game, at least the Classic Editio, if you are unable to get the Kickstarter edition. Also, be prepared for the follow up, 7th Citadel coming to Kickstarter in 2020.



I hope you enjoyed following along with my board gaming journey through 2019.


Now enough writing, I need to get a jump on playing more games in 2020! I hope this has inspired you to do the same and maybe even check out a few new games!


Cheers!

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