Hola! It's been four months since I've posted, but since I've noticed a bit more board game activity on GIO (didn't even know they had a hub!), I thought maybe it would be good to post some stuff and see how it goes.

It's the end of the year, so why not get into one of the "Top 10 of the Year" things that everybody else seems to love? (Empty Chair: "I don't").

Before I get started, these aren't the Top 10 games in 2016. I probably have played less than 10 of the ones that were published this year.

No, this is the Top 10 games that I have actually played. They could have been published any year. This also doesn't include any board games that I've only played online.

Since I don't want to make a super-long post, I'm going to divide these into two posts: 10-6 and then 5-1.

Without further ado, here we go!

#10 - Wurfel Bohnanza

What a wonderful filler game to start or end the night with. I've played it so often with my wife, as well as with others at my various game groups, that there's no way it couldn't be in my top 10.

This dice-rolling game takes maybe 30 minutes, but the good thing is you can set the end condition to whatever you want. Only have 15 minutes? Then make the winning level 7 or 8 coins. Or you can just pick up the game if people are starting to arrive.

In this game, you are rolling dice with various colours of beans on them. You are trying to match the beans that are on your card (the card beneath the other card in the pic above). When you roll, others can try to satisfy their bean goal, but they can only use the dice that you've rolled.

Once they've checked, you have to "plant" one bean in the garden to be used to fulfill your goals at the end of your turn. You can plant as many as you want and you re-roll the rest of the dice.

Follow the same rule, but the other players can only use what you've rolled, not what you've already planted. Continue planting at least one bean and re-rolling until you're done. Move your card up to cover the bean requests that you've fulfilled.

You can use a bean that you've planted for multiple goals, so it's possible to move up three levels in one turn.

Once you've reached a certain level, you can cash in your card for the number of coins on the level you've reached and start your next card (the one on top of the other card in the pic). First person to 13 coins wins.

This game is so fun and chaotic. What I really love about it is that you're never not engaged. You're always looking at what your opponent is rolling to see whether or not they roll what you need. There is no downtime in this game at all, and even when they can't roll what you have, you're still rooting against them to roll badly.

My favourite filler game of all time.

 

9) The Voyages of Marco Polo

I was introduced to this game at V-Con this year, and it's quickly become one of my faves.

In it, you are trying to maximize your points by fulfilling contracts and tracing the routes of Marco Polo on his adventures. There is a lot of trading for goods and spending of gold to get your actions done.

There are really some refreshing elements to this game.

The travel element, where you have to spend money (and sometimes even more money, depending on the route) to go from city to city, and then drop a trading post in it. Once you've done that, you can use a die to activate the ability of that city (or if it's a small city, you get that benefit at the beginning of every turn).

At the beginning of your turn, you roll all of your dice. Then each player takes turns placing their dice to take actions. You can trade for spices/gold/silk, you can get more contracts (after fulfilling the ones you have), you can get some more camels and money (you will always be wanting more camels). You get points for a lot of different things. It's very possible, depending on your opponents, to not travel at all and get all your points fulfilling contracts. But travelling can be lucrative too, depending on your travel goals and the abilities of your character.

At the end of 5 rounds, you total up your points as well as your end-game points, and then you win! (Empty Chair: "or not, as is often the case with you")

It's a really fascinating game, with a lot of choices. Since you have to pay to use a space that others have already used, which one do you want to do first?

I've played it a lot online at Yucata.de, but played it twice "for real" and thus it makes my top 10.

 

8) Trains


Ever played Dominion? If so, you will have no problem playing Trains. It's commonly referred to as "Dominion with a board."

In this game, you have ten starting cards, and you can use those cards a couple of different ways.

You can use the gold value of the cards to buy more and better cards that you do more stuff.

You can use the gold value of some of the cards as well as the "Lay Rails" cards to put one of your rail cubes into an adjacent hex to one of your other cubes on the board.

You can use your "Station Expansion" card(s) to build stations in various cities. 

You get points by having rail cubes in cities with stations. Your rail cubes themselves don't get you anything, so you are just connecting cities. There are also a few victory point cards that give you points at the end of the game, but during the game are useless in your hand.

Laying rails and building stations adds "waste" cards to your deck as well. Thus, your deck can get quite hefty.

The game ends when all of the available stations are gone, all of one person's rail cubes are gone, or if four of the card stacks that you can buy from are depleted). Most victory points wins!

I am not a big fan of Dominion, but Trains has a couple of things that really make me like it. The board really helps, as well as the fact that you can do as many actions as you have the money/cards to do. You're not limited like you are in Dominion.

I love deck-building games, though, so this one is right up my alley. The fact that they have an expansion with a couple of 2-player maps (the original maps get kind of roomy with 2 players) and more cards just adds to the fun.

 

7) Colt Express

More chaotic fun!

Players are robbers trying to get the most loot off of a train. But there is a marshal on train who's trying to defend the money in the strongbox. You could get a lot of money robbing the passengers, though.

Each player is a specific robber with a special ability. Tuco, for example, can shoot other players who are above or below him (everybody else can only shoot horizontally). Belle cannot be targeted by another robber for a punch or a shot if anybody else can be targeted.

(Belle gets the lovely purple cards)

Each player has a deck of cards that lets them do various things. Shoot another robber, punch them to make them drop loot, pick up loot, move the marshal either away from you or to hinder somebody else, or to move (either horizontally or to the roof of the train). Each round, players play cards one at a time into a stack. Sometimes you play them face-down so nobody knows what you've played. Once all cards for the round have been played, then the "story" is read by the first player that round. Cards are turned over and the results of the cards happen. The thing is, since the situation may have changed, the card you played may have bad effects. If you get punched, you move one car forward or backward, and thus the "pick up loot" card you played may not have any loot to pick up in your new location!

Because you never know what's going to happen once the story unfolds, there's always a lot of laughter as the cards are read. The 3-D train and robber meeples really bring you into the action. The game even provides desert pieces to help set the environment! As bullets fly, players' decks are filled with other people's bullets and thus sometimes your turns become dead when you have to draw cards because you have nothing useful to play. 

The winner is the robber with the most money after 5 rounds.

I first played this game at V-Con as well this year, and it's quickly become a favourite. The short playing time (under 60 minutes even with 6 players) makes this a great opening game for the night.

 

6) The Networks

The Networks is, for me, the best game of 2016 (that I have played). It came out in August and I was in on the pre-order, so I had it before a lot of people.

In this game, you are running a really pathetic television network (one of the networks you can play as is even called U-62). You spend money to develop shows, hire stars, land ads to get you more money, and get Network cards that give you special abilities, either a one-time ability or ongoing, or maybe end-game scoring.

Each show gets a certain amount of viewers (i.e. victory points) at the end of each season. Stars attached to shows add more viewers. As shows age, their viewership wanes and it's time to develop more shows to replace them.

I find I come in second a lot in this game, which I don't mind because I just enjoy the idea of building your network. Getting multiple shows in the same genre (sci-fi, drama, comedy, reality, sports or action) gives you great bonuses which really help as well. What show show you develop? Should you get that third action show to get a bonus, even though you don't have the right time-slot for it (it wants to be on at 9:00, but your 9:00 show is awesome right now and you need to replace your 8:00). 

While there isn't any real direct player interaction, taking somebody's show or star can be really annoying. I also find that the "catch-up" mechanism helps to keep the games relatively close without making them boring. Basically, turn order each turn is the reverse of the viewer totals (i.e last place goes first, second to last goes second, etc).

The winner of the game is the player with the most viewers/VPs at the end of 5 seasons plus the end-game scoring round.

I really love this game. I've played it five or six times and it's been a hit every time.

I love the show names, as they parody those we are so familiar with (Dr. What and Ultimate Fainting Championship in the pic above)

 

So that's the bottom half of my Top 10.

Look for the top half in the next day or two.

Edit: You can see it here!

And let me know what games you've been playing and enjoying as well!