Damon’s Top 10 Games of 2017

January 8, 2018

Another year has passed and with it a plethora of fantastic board game releases. After attending several conventions and getting to play many of the hot new games of the year, I’m ready to cover my Top Ten Board Games of 2017.  There were so many great games that came out this year, with a lot of new and interesting mechanics and themes.  It was a challenge to come up with my top ten but I’ve narrowed it down to the games that should be on your radar.

#10. Sagrada

1 – 4 players, ages 14 and up, 20 to 40 minutes, by Adrian Adamescu, and Daryl Andrews

Sagrada is a beautiful dice drafting and set collection game, in which players are trying to create stained glass windows for the windows of gothic churches.  One player will roll all the dice, and each player will take a turn drafting a die to their player board following some simple rules.  Players cannot place dice that are same colors next to each other, and they may not place dice with the same numbers next to each other.  Following these rules, the players will also be trying to utilize their secret scoring card, which will give them scoring options for the end game.  Sagrada is a wonderful family weight game that is easy to teach and addictive to play.

#9. Century: Spice Road

2 to 5 players, 30 to 45 minutes, ages 8 and up, by Emerson Matsuuchi

In this game, players are spice merchants, travelling along the spice road trying to draft new cards to their hands by paying spice for them.  Then playing those cards out of their hands to acquire new spices, or to trade different colored spices for other spices.  Ultimately, players are trying to collect enough spices of specific types to complete some mission cards.  Once a player has completed five mission cards, the game ends and the player with the highest score wins.  Century is a great family weight game, that is easy to teach, but challenging to master.  It plays very quickly and players often want to play multiple games in a row.

#8. London (Second Edition)

2 – 4 players, ages 14 and up, 60 to 90 minutes, by Martin Wallace.

In London, players are business men who are trying to help rebuild London after the fire of 1666.   Players will be buying plots of land, and businesses from a common market.  Players then place cards in their tableau by discarding another card of the same color from their hand.  After their tableau is of a good size, they may run their buildings by tapping them and collecting their power.  The player who employs the most people, builds the best buildings, and controls the unemployment in their regions, wins the game by getting the most points.  The second edition has been streamlined a bit, and the art has been updated to a beautiful water color style artwork.  London is a great game for people who enjoy hand management, tableau building, and city building.

#7. Import/Export

2 – 6 players, ages 8 and up, 45 to 90 minutes, by Jordan Draper.

Import/Export is a role selection game in which players try to fill up tankers with containers that can help complete contracts.  Each completed contract gives players a  new ongoing power.  Each turn the main player will select a role to activate, and all other players may share this power if they give up cards out of the their hand that matches the role.  There is also auction bidding where players will bid money for tankers of containers, so that they can add those containers to their shipments.  The first player to reach 50 credits wins the game.  This is a great game for gamers who likes games like Mottainai, Glory to Rome, Uchronia, and Container.

#6. Quests of Valeria

1 – 5 players, ages 14 and up, 20 to 45 minutes, by Isaias Vallejo.

In Quests of Valeria, players are taking up the role of Guild Masters who are recruiting adventurers to your player tableau, and then sending them out to complete quests and collect victory points.  After a player completes five quests the game ends, and the player with the most points is the winner.  This is a very light and fast card game that is good for families, and gamers alike.  It is very ideal for gamers who are fans of the game Lords of Waterdeep.

#5. Istanbul: The Dice Game

2 – 4 players, ages 8 and up, 20 to 40 minutes, by Rudiger Dorn.

Istanbul: the dice game, is a very fast and addictive game where players are rolling dice Yahtzee style.  However, to get a re-roll players must spend clear crystals, and they can do this as many times as they have crystals for.  Ultimately, players are in a race to create sets of symbols that will allow them to collect red crystals.  The first player to get six red crystals wins the game.  The game is very easy to learn, and fun and exciting to play.  Players will not be satisfied with just playing one game.

#4. Tulip Bubble

3- 5 players, ages 10 and up, 45 to 60 minutes, by Kouyou.

In Tulip Bubble, players are speculators getting into bidding wars over tulip bulbs in the Fall of 1637 in the Netherlands.  Players will spend their turns bidding on tulip bulbs and hope to collect sets of bulbs to sell to high end buyers.  The market will constantly be in flux, with some bulbs going up in price, and others going down.  Players will have to bid and sell their stock wisely and try to beat the market so that when the market collapses, whoever has the most money wins.  The game has beautiful art work, and great components, and it is a great family weight auctioning and bidding game.

#3. Rajas of the Ganges

2 – 4 players, ages 12 and up, 45 to 75 minutes, by Inka Brand, and Markus Brand.

In this game players are Rajas or nobles of the Indus Valley,  trying to build up the prestige and wealth of your provinces.  Each turn you will be sending out workers to do different tasks, and some of those tasks require specific colored dice of certain values.  Some workers can build different types of buildings, others can sell spices, wheat, and herbs, others move boats up the river for certain powers.  Players must use their workers and dice wisely to build up their fame and wealth, and win the game.  The game has some similarities to Carcassone, Castles of Burgundy, and Lords of Waterdeep.

#2. Merlin

2 – 4 players, ages 14 and up, 75 minutes, by Stefan Feld, and Michael Rieneck.

In Merlin, players are knights of the round table, and you are all trying to convince King Arthur to name you the new king at the end of the game.  Each turn players will be rolling four dice, and using these dice to move their knight around the board, on a circular roundel.  A roundel is like a large pie that has been cut into a lot of pieces, and each piece, or space has a unique power that can be activated when players land on them.  The game combines roll and move mechanics with set collection, worker placement and area control.  Each turn players will also have a chance to complete secret mission cards from their hand to score more points.  The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

#1. Innovation Deluxe Edition

2 – 4 players, ages 14 and up, 30 to 60 minutes, by Carl Chudyk.

In Innovation, players will be going through ten ages of decks going from age 1 to age 10.  Age 1 is the Stone Age, and Age 10 is the Information Age.  As the players go from age to age, the cards will become more powerful, and provide for many interesting combinations.  Each turn players will be deciding what cards to play from their hand to their tableau.  Then once the cards are on their tableau, players will be deciding which powers to activate.  Every card has multiple uses and many different strategies, so no two games will ever be the same.  The Deluxe Edition card game comes with new art work, and the cards have been updated and re-balanced from the first edition.   The game also comes complete with the base game, and four new expansions that all fit in the box.  The game is a fantastic strategic card game that provides a lot of depth, and back and forth strategies and tactics for two to four players.