Greetings lovely readers!
Today, we’re going to be looking at the top ten new games on my want to play list . With GenCon come and gone, the market is flooding with exciting new titles, and if you’re not sure where to start, check out what I feel are some of the most interesting new games. It’s quite a mixed bunch, with a mix of light and heavy, lucky and strategic, serious and whimsical. 2016 has been a wonderful year for games, and hopefully this list will help to showcase why.
(A quick disclaimer; I haven’t included any card or miniatures games in this list. If I had, Arkham Horror: The Card Game would most definitely be on it, but I’ve spoken about that enough already. You can check out my thoughts here and here)
And now we begin with:
10: The Dragon & Flagon
Of similar ilk to Colt Express, The Dragon & Flagon is a fun filled, chaotic game of silly fun. From what I can tell, Dragon & Flagon doesn’t appear quite as simple or elegant as Colt Express, but what you sacrifice in simplicity and ease you make up for in far greater replayability and variation. The fact that the game comes with a cool 3D double sided board and rules for team play only makes me eager. More mayhem than I normally like, but if I’m looking for just plain silly fun, this may be the perfect game to scratch that itch.
Captain Sonar is the game on my list that I’m not sure I would purchase. Not at all cause of the quality, but for the simple fact it plays a very specific amount of players. That being said, the idea of two teams of four pitted in a hectic, real-time undersea battle, with each player on each team playing an integral but different role sounds like an unparalleled experience. I’m not sure when I’ll play this one, but I’m sure that’ll be an incredibly fun time for all involved.
8. A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King
What interests me is about this game is not the theme (which I suspect will be paper thin), but that it is the latest game by Bruno Cathala, easily in my top three favourite designers (I love Five Tribes and 7 Wonders: Duel). Hand of the King seems to be a similar style of puzzle game, one that is easy enough to explain to newcomers but complex enough to reward solving the puzzles it offers. It certainly won’t be for everyone, but I do love me a puzzle game, and Mr Cathala has more than earned my trust.
7. Star Trek: Ascendancy
Star Trek: Ascendancy promises an epic, asymmetrical space adventure that has definitely piqued my interest. Finally, players will be able to take command of a great empire from the source material and boldly go where no-one has gone before! Whilst I haven’t seen much of the series, I’m interested enough to see if the “epic space 4X” shaped hole in my cupboard can be plugged with this beast of a game.
Ryan Laukat is an absolute weapon; it’s not often you get the same person being the designer, artist AND publisher for a game. The Above and Below universe offers a whimsical journey of light-hearted fun, and the nautical theme of Islebound is an attractive glimpse of the world. The game promises various routes to success, such as being a pirate or befriending the happy people of the world. I’m constantly on the lookout for lighter, family friendly games and Islebound is certainly ticking all the boxes it needs to.
5. Terraforming Mars
A fairly deep euro game, players take on the role of corporations trying to terraform Mars the best. The game will involve engine building and card drafting, allowing each corporation to form unique machines of world-altering power. It’s not the prettiest game, but that almost adds to the very gritty, real-world science feel of the whole thing, and it’s an experience I’m very much looking forward to.
4. Vast: The Crystal Caverns
One of the games that came out of nowhere and took Gencon by storm was Vast: The Crystal Caverns. Touted as “the most asymmetrical game ever”, the game plays wildly differently at different player counts and with different combinations. You may be the Knight trying to slay the Dragon. Perhaps you’d rather be the Dragon trying to eat the Goblins? Maybe the Goblins tickle your fancy and you’d rather defeat the Knight. What about the Thief, who’s not even involved in that triangle? Well, if none of those tickle your fancy, why not play the CAVE ITSELF and try and crush everyone? While not the most unique theme ever, this ambitious title is something I’m very much looking forward to tabling.
We’ve had space exploration. We’ve had terraforming. What about good ol’ combat? Cry Havoc is yet another sci-fi game, this time taking place on a contested planet. Each player takes control of a very unique race in this area control game, with vastly different powers and play-styles. With a sprinkling of deckbuilding and one of the best combat systems I’ve ever heard of, Cry Havoc looks like a serious contender for many people’s game of the year. With hype like that, can you blame me for jumping on the bandwagon?
2. New Angeles
I’m not a huge fan of Netrunner, but I love the cyberpunk universe of Android. New Angeles’ premise. The game reminds me of Archipelago; players need to work together to ensure the populace are satisfied and don’t riot (well, not too much at least). The draw of this game for me is finding out whether the “collaborative” component of the game will succeed. From what I’ve seen, I’m excited (though I worry it may seem a bit too vicious) and I suspect it will be a mega hit if not too expensive.
Among these games, there have been some pretty fantastical themes; a bar fight, a dystopian future, outer space and foreign planets, and even above and beneath the sea. Yet strange as it may seem, the game I’m most looking forward to playing is about living a normal life on Earth. No spaceships, no magic, no oceans, no megacorps. Just life and:
1. The Pursuit of Happiness
Touted as the euro-lover’s game of Life, The Pursuit of Happiness seems like an absolute ball. Have a relationship and a family or work hard at winning the Olympics and live a lavish life filled with megayachts. In The Pursuit of Happiness, you can do it all as you try and live the happiest life possible. The game oozes theme, and I can’t wait for all the stories each game will tell about the characters.
Easily the most conspicuous game absent from the list is SeaFall, the first standalone legacy game. Plaid Hat are a great company and Rob Daviau a great designer, so SeaFall should be a great game. However, my enthusiasm for this title is dwindling quickly. Why? Because I’ve yet to hear any reviewer tell me how great the game is. Because most reviewers seem to be waiting for the game to get better. Because most reviewers seem like they’re losing hope. And that makes me sad.
I could go on for ages about SeaFall, but I want to end this article on a positive note. Every game on my list is something I believe to be very special, each of them offering something exciting. It was a hard list to construct, and there are many more games than ten that have my attention. Which ones have yours? What are you looking forward to playing?
Until next time!