48: 2019 Highlights Part 2

48: 2019 Highlights Part 2

What was your favourite game you played this year that you didn’t design? Why is it so good?



My real answer is Just One. Simple to teach. Super-accessible. The game changes wonderfully with different groups, and even if the same group plays again, there are so many emergent surprises!

Another game I’ve played almost as much is the brilliant Kawaii. It shares all the qualities I mentioned above. Players collect cards, each player seeking different qualities. As each pile goes in value, cost remains fixed and the tension of when to ‘buy’ increases.

It’s a closed (actually depleting) economy and so buying piles is a real opportunity cost. Very clever system, specially at 3 players.

Bez Shahriari

My favourite game of 2019 was Shobu from Smirk and Dagger. It’s an abstract that’s both easy to teach and has incredible depth and replay value. It’s one of those games that feels like it’s been around for thousands of years. The table presence is great too- I keep a copy out on my coffee table since it’s so nice to look at.

Alex Cutler

It’s a toss up between Marvel Champions and Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea, but I think I’ll have to go for our own Tony Boydell’s beautiful love letter to the world’s greatest drink. Alubari takes one of my favourite games of all time – Snowdonia – and remixes it perfectly into something that feels familiar but fresh. I think the plan was for it to be an expansion for the original, but it does so many things differently that I’m not surprised the decision was made to go all in on a brand new game. It looks wonderful, feels tight every time you play, has a high level of production, and while it doesn’t replace Snowdonia – both are firmly embedded in my collection – I think this is one I’d recommend for someone who’s looking for a gem of a game from 2019.

Michael Fox

Zombie Kidz Evolution was an under-the-radar hit. It’s a legacy co-op intended for kids. My 5-year old daughter took a shine to it, and we played about 30 times, completing the entire campaign. ZKE does a lot right by staying focused on its audience. The challenge level is lower than most co-ops, the zombies are more gross and cartoonish than scary, and the legacy system gently scales up the challenge level and rules load. For us, ZKE was a memory-making machine in a cardboard box.

Isaac Shalev

Just One. Simple to teach. Super-accessible. The game changes wonderfully with different groups, and even if the same group plays again, there are so many emergent surprises! — Bez Shahriari

The best new design was Silver and Gold designed by Phil Walker-Harding. Phil has really mastered the art of “clear incentivisation”. He makes it so easy to see what fruit each decision branch will bear, which makes his games great for newer (or sleepy) gamers. The best experience was playing Dread (the RPG that uses a Jenga tower instead of dice). The players saved the earth from an alien invasion at their high school prom, despite (and because of) dying. Dread excels at making memories of the epic fails and successes that occur in the story that the group co-constructs.

Sen-Foong Lim

Two games stood out for me this year: Keyforge for bringing a genuinely new model to its genre, as well as being a really approachable and playable CCG-like game. The other is Tiny Islands, a fantastic flip ‘n’ write. It is unpublished but has been made available to play online by designer, David King. I love the combination of filling in your grid with scoring icons while also periodically surrounding parts of the grid to form islands, which also influence scoring. Super addictive!

Phil Walker-Harding

Betrayal Legacy. I have the most fond and firm memories of our play of this game, and I’m not even a huge fan of the original Betrayal at House on the Hill. A big part of what makes it my game of the year is that we played it with another couple who was just getting into board games, and their genuine joy and excitement added so much to my overall experience. It was a rare gaming experience in which I was able to just enjoy the game and not get caught up analysing or evaluating it.

Jessey Wright

Definitely The 7th Continent. I was a backer of the second wave on Kickstarter, and so was a little late to the table with it, but it was well worth the wait. As a solo game it is almost unmatched, and the filing system is absolutely incredible.

Sam Illingworth

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