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2015 Game of the Year (Group Style)

edited December 2015 in Games and Gaming

Since things have been pretty quiet around here lately, I thought I would start another discussion about my favorite topic – board games!  We played a lot of different games in 2015, so I thought it would be fun to see what everyone’s favorite game of the year was.  Typically these types of discussions are for games that came out during the year but I figured it would be better to do it more generically and basically limit it to a game that was new to YOU in 2015.  Below is a list of most of the games I played this year and how many times I played them (I did cull some solo games and all my kiddie games but left on some games I may have played with family).  I starred the ones that were new to ME, though some of the other ones might have been new to you (i.e. Terra Mystica I played in December with just Mi & J so it would have been new to Ma & C in 2015).  If you have any questions about the games or if you played them, let me know as I probably logged it.   [In case you care, the list is sorted by amount of plays, then alphabetically]

*The Resistance: Avalon – 7

*Machi Koro – 6

*Roll for the Galaxy – 6

Ticket to Ride – 6

Coup – 5

*Pandemic – 5

*Star Wars: Imperial Assault – 5

Ticket to Ride Map: India & Switzerland – 5

*Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game – 4

Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries – 4

Cards Against Humanity – 3

*Splendor – 3

Ticket to Ride Map: The Heart of Africa – 3

Cyclades – 2 (played with Titans expansion which was new in 2015)

*Dominion Adventures – 2

*Exploding Kittens – 2

Kingdom Builder – 2

*Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island – 2

Terra Mystica – 2

Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar – 2 (played with Tribes and Prophecies expansion which was new in 2015)

7 Wonders – 1

*Betrayal at House on the Hill – 1

*Blood Rage – 1

*Cacao – 1

*Concodia – 1

*DC Comics Deck-Building Game – 1

*Dominant Species – 1

Dragon Slayer – 1

Flash Point: Fire Rescue – 1

*Hyperborea – 1

*Jaipur – 1

*Kemet – 1

Love Letter – 1

Mascarade – 1

Small World – 1

*Star Fluxx – 1


*New to Aron in 2015


  • 17 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I was actually somewhat surprised by the results in that there wasn’t a clear choice for me.  Most of my favorite games (Tzolk’in, Agricola, Cyclades, ect.), were either unplayed or weren’t new to me.  My highest rated game on boardgamegeek is Dominant Species.  The only problem with that game is the time commitment to play it, means it can’t get played that often.  But all that being said, I do think it was the best game I played this year and one that I would love to play again.  Mostly I just really enjoyed how smooth the game played despite how much difficult the decisions were.  A real brain burner but easy to understand once you got going!  Honorable mention for me goes to the Cyclades Titans expansion which really added to and improved the game, IMO.

    So what was everyone else's favorite game of 2015? (I could probably guess but that wouldn't be much of a discussion. :) )

  • I echo Air's sentiments. Dominant Species was easily my favorite. I'm hoping it comes up again this coming Table Top Day!

    I'm partial to Exploding Kittens for fun "short" game (which *would* have been Blood Bowl if it were new in 2015).

    Second place is Pandemic, and I am psyched for the follow up.
  • I didn't play all the same games as you guys (and not nearly the variety), but there are a few that really stood out for me.

    My to co-op game of the year, by far, is Shadows of Brimstone.  I wrote a lot more in another thread, but it is basically the Warhammer Quest successor I'd been searching for in every co-op dungeon crawler for the last decade. Even it's "flaws" are mostly things I see as strengths.

    Competitive is harder to decide, but I'd probably give the edge to Evolution (second edition) at this point. It is simple to learn, yet highly strategic, and the mechanics nail the theme perfectly. In fact, besides having Nature name it their favorite evolution themed game, my biologist dad complemented on how well the game demonstrated the principals of evolution. In fact, most of the complaints I read about the game come from someone not realizing how the mechanics follow the theme - that is, you need to adapt your strategy constantly based on the evolving eco system.  
  • Blood Rage is probably close behind Evolution, but I haven't played enough games to compare. Either I games I'd play anytime they are suggested.

    The other stand-out for me this year is Imperial Assault, but I feel like I need to get through the whole campaign (or more missions) to say where I rank it. So far most of the games have been pretty close between Rebels and Imps (although the last one was overwhelming success for Imps).

    Finally there are two co-ops I haven't played which I will probably get to by the end of the year. While I doubt either will top SoB, they could come close.  These are the Warhammer Quest card game, and Pandemic Legacy.  I really enjoy basic Pandemic, so I am pretty sure Legacy will add lots of nice twists with the legacy mechanics.
  • My favorite, by far (big surprise), is Dead of Winter. I've come to the conclusion that I need a story that tracks through the game to really capture my interest. I think this is why I don't enjoy Star Wars: Imperial Assault as much as I'd like, because the story is tacked on at the beginning at the end.  So the co-op gameplay, tied with bits of random story throughout really help me to stay focused and engaged in the game. Plus there are events that have occurred in this game that I still smile about every so often (robbing a dog, kililng Russ's horse, being saved from a heart attack, etc.) which, like the few times we played the Star Wars RPG way back when, I suspect will stay with me.  That I truly enjoy - the camaraderie.

    My second favorite is Pandemic.  What a great game that is fun, flys by, and has a great, naturally building challenge.  I REALLY want to play Pandemic Legacy, but, knowing the structure of our group nights, wonder if that could ever really work for us (since we play different games from week to week to week).  

    My third favorite is Rock, Scissors, Planet (or, as it is known by the heathens "Roll for the Galaxy).  It's pretty easy to pick up, fun to play, and flows fairly quickly.  Speed is the key to keeping my attention, and some games don't work as well "Fast" as others.

    One of my challenges with any game, is that we may play it once and then go months without playing it, which is why I don't enjoy them as much as I could because, for me, I'm a "slow burn" when it comes to mastering some of these (unlike others in the group) which tends to lessen my enjoyment, unfortunately.
  • Maybe it is the missions we played, but one thing I liked about Imperial Assault is actually different from what you experienced - that the story develops while you play the mission (and can develop differently based on the Imp player decisions and Rebel actions). There are multiple events during each mission that evolve the story as you play, and within the "fluff" text there are even clues that may help the rebels prepare for what is to come. So I'd say there is story during the missions, not just at the beginning and end - in many cases critical story that can affect the results.

    I will agree that I think enjoyment can be enhanced by focusing on one or two games for a while. At least, that is what my Syracuse group does, and it works out well.
  • edited December 2015 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Airdog, I am curious when you give ratings on BGG, do you go by the text that BGG suggests for what each number means, or do you just go by how you'd rank things compared to other games.  I've been going by the BGG text, but that tends to make few things rate lower than 7, and most rate 8 or 9. Of course part of that is selection bias, since I tend to only buy games I like / know I will like, and most of the games I end up playing are ones I own:)
    Post edited by BakaKuma at 2015-12-13 15:47:59
  • edited December 2015 Posts: 103Vote Up0Vote Down
    Wow, lots of great discussion here!

    Pandemic Legacy - yeah I think it is obvious that everyone would enjoy this game given that every likes pandemic and Legacy is probably on track to take over the number 1 spot on BGG at some point.  Mike is right that it isn't a good fit for our group, but it isn't because we play different games each week (that could be changed) it is because we never have the same group and we usually have more than 4 players.  This isn't a game that can just be played by the people that show up that night, similar to Imperial Assault we would need to wait until the same group showed up.  My personal plan is to just buy this and play through it solo.  If people really wanted to play this though, I could be convinced to host a separate night where we play through just Pandemic Legacy.  Those people would have to commit to coming regularly (either weekly/bi-weekly) so that it would be the same group.

    Imperial Assault - I will readily admit I didn't do a good enough job making the story come through, especially on the first mission where I was concentrating on getting the rules straight.  However, I will point out that there are story elements throughout the missions but you have to be paying attention to the game to hear them. ;)

    Slow burn vs. Variety - Yeah clearly I like to play a variety of games but I can see how having to learn or relearn games all the time can be not as fun for some.  What would you think if we changed the structure of game night so that we committed to playing the same game for two weeks in a row?  Something like that might allow a little more mastery but also allow us to get different games in.  Just a thought that I came up with after reading your post.

    BGG rankings - yeah like you (Baka), I use the BGG guide.  That has led to 55% of my rated as a 7 or an 8.  I do have 30% rated below a 7 but that includes a lot of kids games (i.e. Pop Goes Froggio is my only 1).  There is of course some selection bias as most of the games I buy, I have researched enough to know that I enjoy them.  I am trying to be a little more judicious though, now that my amount of games ranked is over 100 and I should probably go back and relevel them.  For example, I gave Hyperborea a higher ranking than Blood Rage but I probably pick Blood Rage if I had a choice to play either.  I just played Hyperborea much earlier in the year when I was a little more generous with my rankings.  What is your username on BGG, Baka?

    Post edited by airdog at 2015-12-13 13:13:31
  • I'd be in for Pandemic Legacy. Life makes any kind of certainty of availability difficult, but I can try.

    I have enjoyed Imperial Assault, actually. I'll try to listen a little more next time. :-)

    I have no interest in "Dead of Winter" after last Table Top Day.

    As an aside on game nights in general - I have enjoyed the cornucopia of games unleashed this year, but it is cumbersome spending the bulk of game nights learning new games. I mean, it's not like I'm *upset* or anything. For me, I just like hanging out, having a few beers and being silly with y'all. But when we first started playing, we would play a game a few weeks in a row, then switch to something new for a few weeks, and so on. Sometime after Table Top Day, that dynamic switched and it was a new game every couple of weeks, or every week in some cases.

    So yeah, your suggestion is a good one, Air. Basically a new game every month or so. I prefer that idea. I also think it'd be good to rotate in old "classics," like that time we played "Small World" after not playing it for many months. We played the crap out of that game and wore it out, but it was kinda refreshing to break it out again. I can only hope that, someday, we'll do the same with Seven Wonders. :-)
  • edited December 2015 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Mr. Doo, I'm really surprised that you don't care for Dead of Winter, but I guess that's what's great about these types of things is that we all have our preferences and bring our own favorites to the table.  

    That being said, when we have our month-long play through of Seven Wonders, I may be out sick that month. :) (Totally kidding, I'd give it a shot if only so I could master the mystery and wonder of "Beartrap").

    I suppose that's the only downside of sticking with the same game for a month or two is if one or two us don't like that game, we kind of have to suck it up.  I suppose we could always drink beer, eat pizza, watch youtube and make Knight Rider references in that case...oh....wait... :)

    Side note: We've talked about this before and I know it's difficult, but it would be fun if we had a "Video Game Night" once in a while just to mix things up.  Though, I may be the only one that still prefers that type of "gaming" in the group, so if I'm the only one that would be interested, I'll quietly withdraw my suggestions. :)

    Bottom line, for me it's more about the camaraderie.  We could be doing competitive baking for all that I care, as long as we are chilling and catching up, I'm in!
    Post edited by TheLion at 2015-12-13 17:01:54
  • Side Note: It's cool that that the last couple of forum posts have generated us posting on the forum more often. Kind of fun!
  • I do like how the 3rd one has only one person who rated it and they gave it a "1". :D
  • airdog said:

    I do like how the 3rd one has only one person who rated it and they gave it a "1". :D

  • Obviously an astro-turfer, hired by the manufacturers of one fo the other games in an attempt to descredit the competition!
  • BakaKuma said:

    Obviously an astro-turfer, hired by the manufacturers of one fo the other games in an attempt to descredit the competition!

    It's the only reasonable explanation, really! :)
  • edited December 2015 Posts: 0Vote Up0Vote Down
    Just saw this thread, so here are my 2 cents on all the topics from above:

    1) I agree with Matty-Doo that sometimes learning a new game every couple of weeks or so can get cumbersome. So I am in favor of Aron's idea of maybe doing one game a month. Unless someone flat out HATES the game we are doing. Then we can just move on to something else.

    2) I'm definitely down with that video game day. I know we've talked about it before. I think we just need to pick a day and make it happen. Either one of our Friday Game Nights becomes a Video Game Night, or we pick a whole other day (like Table Top Day).

    3) For games this year, the three that really stand out to me are Imperial Assault, Pandemic, and Dead of Winter. I would put those three in the same category as Cyclades, 7 Wonders and Dominion - games I am pretty much always down for playing any time. I can't seem to remember anything about Dominant Species. Was I there for it? The only game I didn't really care for much that I played this year is Machi Koro. I felt it was like a really dumbed down version of Dominion. Just wasn't a big fan.

    4) Games I'd like to see more of in 2016: BetrayalCat, and Flashpoint Fire Rescue. I miss Cat, and I really enjoyed Flashpoint last time we played it. I really, really like coop games.

    On a final note: Thanks to Air, Mike, and Russ for buying pretty much all the games we play, and to Air for hosting most of our Game Nights and for coming up with the idea in the first place. I love the fact that I get to see you guys every other week. This was a tremendously awesome thing for us to start doing :)


    Post edited by SuperCDad at 2015-12-17 00:52:34
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