Each year, as we wrap up our end-of-the-year video game coverage, I also like to offer up some selections from the other side of the gaming world – the ever-growing field of tabletop games. As has been the case for several years now, the tabletop scene continues to offer some phenomenal social and strategic games. Whether you’re looking for cooperative or competitive, simple or complex, the tabletop scene in 2014 has you covered.

In recent years, I’ve kept role-playing games classified in the same broader tabletop sphere, but this year I’ve selected 10 excellent board, card, and miniature games, along with a separate selection of four of my favorite role-playing game experiences. Selections include games that saw their major public release in the United States sometime in 2014. Each list is alphabetical. 

The Battle at Kemble’s Cascade
Publisher: Z-Man Games

While this outer space ship combat game is a fantastic experience in its own right, it should have particular appeal to video gamers, thanks to its pitch-perfect tabletop emulation of a classic arcade shoot-em-up. 

The Battle At Kemble’s Cascade casts each of its two to five players as a pilot heading out to do battle in deep space. Your ship has a unique set of weapons and abilities, and each player even has their own missions to undertake as they fly along. 

The coolest feature is the scrolling game board, which aims to replicate the feel of a scrolling arcade screen. Card trays each hold a selection of ships, asteroids, mines, black holes, and other objects and obstacles, and you must shoot through the fray to win glory. As any given tray scrolls to the bottom of the table, all of its cards are removed and the tray is put back up top with a new set of cards, so you never really know what’s next. 

With a pixel-art visual presentation, and plenty of '80's arcade style to burn, The Battle at Kemble’s Cascade is a delight, whether you remember the good old days of darkened arcades or not.

Ca$h ‘n Gun$ (Second Edition)
Publisher: Asmodee

My favorite party game of the year is actually a modest refit of an earlier title. The original Ca$h ‘n Gun$ was a fun title, but a few tweaks have helped to make this heist game about bluffing your friends more balanced and a lot more fun. 

You are one of a crew of gangsters who has managed a successful heist. Now comes the hard part – splitting up the take. Up to eight players gather around the table and grab a miniature foam gun. After that turn’s mob boss sets out the available loot, each player loads up his gun with a “Click! Click!” or a “”Bang!” card (by laying it facedown on the table). Afterwards, everyone aims their gun at someone else. Is your fellow criminal bluffing, or are they about to actually injure you? Chicken out, and you lose your share of the take, but only the player with the most money who is still alive at the end can win. 

Silly, fast, and raucous, Ca$h ‘n Gun$ is a great fit for players new to tabletop gaming, and is an idea filler in between longer games for experienced crews. 

D&D Attack Wing
Publisher: WizKids Games

Ever since I read the Dragonlance fantasy novels as a kid, I’ve had a fascination with the idea of midair dragon duels. In cooperation with Wizards of the Coast, WizKids this year continued the successful formula established by Star Wars: X-Wing and Star Trek: Attack Wing, and added a dragon-fighting game into the mix. 

The excellent FlightPath game system governs your movements and actions in Attack Wing, offering a dynamic game of guessing your opponent’s strategies within the limits of their unit’s capabilities. 

A base starter set includes three gorgeous dragon miniatures to get your game started, but there are already a number of expansion figures to take your game to the next level. In particular, the addition of ground troops like giants help to change up the feel of the game. Add in some beautiful card art and other solid components, and this is one game that’s going to fulfill a lot of childhood fantasies.  

[Next Page: My favorite tabletop game of 2014, plus a game that combines physical minis with a digital app]