Happy New Year, gamers! Andy is still flying solo, celebrating the 20 games that got us through 2020. Bush's Board Game Thing sees Andy Bush celebrating board games and the experience of gaming with friends Jess Temby and Brian Murphy. Each week, expect passion, enthusiasm, and multiple trips through gaming wormholes. This podcast is powered by Zatu - we're making sure the board game cogs keep on turning. Each week, I'll be bringing you the best bits here on the blog and letting you shop the podcast! Today, we're recapping Bush's Board Game Thing Episode 12 and Andy's top 20 games of 2020.
With Brian and Jess still on their Christmas break, Andy is back with another bite-sized episode. 2020 was undoubtedly a hard year for everyone, but we have received so many messages telling us how important gaming has been over the year. Whether board games get you away from a screen of an evening or they although you to connect with others, it's clear that 2020 has marked a gaming resurgence. Join me as I recap Andy's top games of 2020, you might even find a few games to try in 2021.
Kicking off our list is Elizabeth Hargrave's Wingspan. Coming from Stonemaier Games, this game is one of the most beautiful and compelling games on our site. Winner of the prestigious Kennerspiel de Jahres award in 2019, Wingspan is a game that you will take to like a duck to water! With stunning components and great replayability, this is a game that offers a relaxing playthrough whilst also being a genuinely enjoyable playthrough.
Over on Zatu Games Instagram, you can find out what Keala Seattle thought of Wingspan!
Continuing the trend of beautiful games, Jaipur is up next. Offering a blend of tactics, risk and luck, Jaipur is a clever two-player trading game. And yes, there are camels in this game! Each turn you will have to choose if you want to take cards or sell cards, it's as simple as that. This is the perfect game to play whilst you are spending more time at home.
This one comes with a recommendation from one of Andy's board game buddies, placing 18th is Disney Villainous. Filled with tactical charm, Disney Villainous gives you the chance to embody your favourite Disney antagonists in this 2 - 6 player, asymmetric delight. Fill the shoes of Captain Hook, Jafar, Maleficent, Prince John, Ursula or The Queen of Hearts as you fight to complete all of your unique objectives before those pesky heroes get in the way.
One of the most popular games amongst our followers, Arkham Horror: The Card Game creeps in at 17. Oozing with art deco mystique, this living card game encapsulates the spirit of its boardgame sibling whilst being a more accessible ode to Lovecraftian horror. This LCG is perfect for intrepid players that are looking for a gateway game into a dark world of mystery and horror. Fantasy Flight Games have produced one of the highest-regarded card games on the circuit with this one.
Despite being out for a while now, Mysterium is maintaining it's place at 16 and rightly so! Coming from Libellud, Mysterium is a game of deduction in which players must work together to decipher the cryptic visions sent from a ghost. This is a game that needs to be played to fully understood as Andy points out just how bizarre it sounds on paper. Dust off your crystal ball and enter a haunted house like no other with our 16th ghostly entry.
15: Ticket to Ride
A recent discovery for Andy, Ticket to Ride pulls into the station at 15. Ticket to Ride, from Days of Wonder, is one of those simple yet compelling gateway games that continues to prove its place in the world of board gaming. You'll be competing against 2 - 5 players as you race to establish train routes across the United States of America. Not only is this a great game to play, but it also doubles up as a fun geography lesson during this era of home-schooling!
Disclaimer: This is not a game about ducks as Andy quickly discovered. Although if you are in the market for that, why not try the Untitled Goose Game? Instead, our 14th game focuses on Quack doctors, being wonderous and creating a cabinet of potions. Quacks of Quedlinburg has tons of variety, a great catch-up mechanic and is just plain old fun for 2 - 4 players. Be sure to check out this masterpiece from Wolfgang Warsch.
13: Codenames Duet
Coming from the family of Codenames, the Duet edition is ranking at 13th. This co-operative rendition sees you and one other operative taking on a secret mission in a crowded city meaning your only form of communication is that of coded messages. Whilst Codenames Duet is primarily a two-player game, it can be played in teams with four or more players. But, if you’re looking to play Codenames with a larger group, then you can always check out Codenames: Pictures, or any of the other themed games in the Codenames range.
12: The Mind
Another entry from Wolfgang Warsch, The Mind is a simple yet addictive game. Transcending gaming, The Mind is often regarded as more of a shared experience or an experiment in mind-reading. This is a co-operative card game that is so brilliant in its simplicity. Players are dealt a card, numbered 1-100, and have to simply lay them onto the table in the correct numerical order. The big kicker is that no one is allowed to speak! You must stare at each other and attempt to lay your cards in the correct order.
At 11 we have the rather splendid Splendor! A fast-paced card development game, Splendor sees players take on the roles of gem merchants. You'll be battling through the renaissance to mine raw materials before transforming them into precious jewels for the wealthy to buy. This is a game that you can pick up and play at any moment, a staple in any gaming collection.
We're at the halfway point with Azul coming in at number 10. Azul, the Spanish word for blue, is a game that honours the beauty of mosaic tiles whilst allowing for gripping gameplay. A drafting game in it's truest form, Azul is an easy game to learn and the perfect game to inject a bit of colour into a rainy afternoon.
Described by Andy as Scrabble on steroids, it is Bananagrams! Reminiscent of a school pencil case from the '80s, this game is fast-paced and full of fun. The first person to use all of their tiles to make words is the winner! Stuffed with banana puns, this is a great game to grab if you are looking to fill an hour or so.
8: Pokémon TCG
Andy wants to be the very best like no one ever was. To catch them is his real test. To train them is his cause... If you haven't guessed already, Pokémon is at our number 8 spot. Emerging from its pokéball in 1996, this TCG is a classic that is being expanded year by year. We have everything your inner Pokémon trainer could ever want, not to mention the almighty Hidden Fates tin set.
Rather aptly, 7 goes to 7 Wonders: Duel! This is not an expansion or variant of its popular parent game, 7 Wonders. Instead, a separate card game all on its own. This game is specifically designed for just you and one other opponent to battle it out to construct man-made wonders of the world.
One of the highest-rated games on BGG, Carcassonne is coming in at position 6 in our top 20 best-selling games of 2020. Let this tile and worker placement game transport you to the medieval, hilltop town of Carcassonne. This game will satisfy the needs of beginners and veteran gamers alike. Bush's only wish? That they would consider making Carcassonne: Swindon edition.
Back in 1995, Klaus Teuber released his masterpiece, The Settlers of Catan. For many people, this route-building and trading classic was the ‘gateway game’ that introduced them into the hobby of modern board games. Fast-forward 25 years to 2020 and it’s sold more than 32 million copies worldwide! While these days it’s known as Catan, don’t worry – it’s still the superb game it always was. One of Jess's favourites, this game of hexagonal tile placement is a must for any gaming fan and a great way to get the family hooked.
And now for the original! Codenames makes another appearance on this list. In it's truest form, Codenames gets you working alongside your teammates to figure out where your fellow agents are in the field and uncovering the secret assassin in your ranks. This top-secret word game is a party game that will bring many laughs and hilarious moments.
Don't worry, we mean the board game! Pandemic takes the bronze in our best-sellers and has to be one of the most '2020' games on this list. Take on the role of a disease-fighting specialist as you come up against the deadliest diseases ever known to man. Take back control with Z-Man Games' Pandemic... socially distanced, of course.
Another re-entry is taking our covered silver medal, it's Ticket to Ride: Europe. Travel restrictions may be in place but this game gives you the chance to interrail across Europe whilst challenging you to be even more cunning and strategic. So, what are you waiting for? Hop aboard and make sure you have your Ticket to Ride!
1: Muffin Time
Our top spot undoubtedly belongs to Big Potato's Muffin Time! Muffin Time is a chaotic card game with more twists and turns than you can shake a spork at! Battle your friends, family, and hyper-intelligent pets by drawing and playing from a deck of unique cards that’ll either help you, thwart others, or mix things up for the sheer hell of it! asdfmovie, created by Thomas 'TomSka' Ridgewell, has been making people giggle and guffaw for over a decade and now that high-energy randomness has escaped the small screen and invaded your game night.
What to find out more about our bestselling game of 2020? You can read our review of Muffin Time over on the Zatu Blog!
And that wraps up our 2020 award show! Andy Bush to host the Oscars?
You can catch up on all previous episodes of Bush’s Board Game Thing on any streaming service. In the meantime, you can check out our podcast-approved collection right here on the Zatu website. There you can find all the games we’ve discussed on every episode of the podcast, all in one convenient place. If you'd like to shop our top 20 best-selling games of 2020, check out our episode 12 collection here.
The trio is reunited next week! Andy is once again joined by Brian and Jess and our journey into the wondrous world of gaming continues!
See you next week, gamers.