On the one hand, I managed to finish 2017 not having played either 7th Continent (sitting in a spare room of mine), or Gloomhaven, and so by Facebook standards I might have missed out. But I did play a slew of great games that are available for an affordable price, and I’m very pleased with this personal top five games of 2017 list.
No Spoilers! A legacy game of constantly shifting worker placement, lovely atmosphere, good sense of humour, high tactile factor and about a hundred things I can’t say for fear of spoiling, Charterstone was one of the most anticipated games of 2017 and it didn’t let us down.
We played in a group of six, but I’ve seen plenty of reports it works well with fewer. Also, nope, can’t say that. Or that.
4. Century Spice Road
I love Splendor and Century: Spice Road came nowhere close to ‘killing’ it. In fact I don’t consider them all that close, and Century is a very enjoyable game in its own right as you build up an engine of cards to manipulate the spice market by trading cubes / spices up and down a wealth ranking while fulfilling orders and hopefully beating your fellow merchants.
The full legacy of Spice Road is tied closely to the next Century game, which is promised to both stand alone and integrate with this, but if they hadn’t bothered with that I’d have ended 2017 already loving this.
3. Ex Libris
How do you know if you have too large a collection of books? Your friend sends you details of Ex Libris because it’s about collecting books and that’s practically your hobby. Hypothetically of course. Ex Libris is a hybrid of worker placement and set collection, as you, well, collect books and place them in a library, scoring points for (amongst other things), how well arranged in A to Z they are.
It starts easy, gets complex fast, has great replay-ability because of the subtle rule governing the placements, and you can annoy said friend by getting distracted mid-game reading the names of the five hundred plus unique books. BEEEEEES.
The real ‘killer’ of this year was the way Barenpark took Patchwork to a retirement home marked visit once a month. Admittedly I love Pandas so any game that involves using shaped tiles to build a park full of them (and polar bears, brown bears etc) was going to attract my attention, but no gaming in 2017 is complete until four grown adults have all covetously eyed up a portaloo card (only one square you see, fills gaps.)
Barenpark is now my gateway game, and what more can you want than that.
1. Sub Terra
In a game about working with your team to escape a cave, it’s very important to be able to see where the cave walls are, something the tiles which lay at the heart of Sub Terra don’t easily do. A silver marker pen has been used by many on Facebook to clear things up. That’s a bad thing, of course, and yet Sub Terra is so good it’s still my number one gaming experience of the year.
Nothing else takes you from ‘this is going to be easy’ to ‘oh my god we’re going to die’ so fast and so effectively thanks to a monster, poison gas and a rising floodwater. There are now expansions, but we haven’t grown bored of the base game since getting it at UK Games Expo.