Published on February 10th, 2014 | by Across the Board Games Staff2
Favorite Game Designers of 2013
by Raj Giri
Uwe Rosenberg games generally involve some combination of three things: worker placement, collecting a bunch of different resources, and churning out points with an engine. If you like theme-heavy games and blowing stuff up, you had better look elsewhere.
Rosenberg’s most famous game is undoubtedly Agricola, a lightly-themed game about farming. It is probably one of the most well-regarded Euro games out there. After a quiet 2012, in 2013 Rosenberg released two big games, Caverna and Glass Road. Both are excellent.
Caverna is a gigantic, heavy Euro game that is essentially a dwarf-themed sequel to Agricola. Instead of strictly farming, now your family of dwarves can go on expeditions to acquire the goods they need. Caverna is far more forgiving than Agricola, and I would say more entertaining. Unlike Agricola, you are never entirely in panic mode in Caverna.
Glass Road is a slightly lighter game that uses a clever rondel mechanic for tracking resources reminiscent of my favorite game ever: Ora et Labora (also by Rosenberg). It also uses hidden role selection to add some psychology to the mix. Both are fit for any Euro-lover’s library, and I hope Rosenberg keeps doing his thing in 2014. Don’t ever change, Uwe.
by Nicole Jekich
Towards the end of 2013 my life was a blur between holiday events and an exhausting work schedule. I still wanted to cram as many games into my life as possible and since I now had to share much of my free time with other non-game-related events I stuck to more casual and quick tabletop games.
Bruno Faidutti is a well-recognized game designer and his games were the rules-light, theme-heavy games I was looking for. I was most excited for his 2013 release of Mascarade which is a hidden roles game where players are constantly swapping identities in order out their opponents as impostors and to claim the most money. You can read a detailed review of Mascarade here.
Faidutti also has many other fan favorites like Mystery of the Abbey: an intelligent “Guess Who?” type game where players are clergy characters trying to solve a murder discreetly at a secluded abbey. Citadels is probably his most famous game where players are competing to build the most castles while secretly contracting specialized workers.
Mascarade contains many of the same characters that appeared in Citadels though all the repeats have different abilities. Faidutti shows that strategic and player-confrontation games don’t have to be long and complex and that is what makes him the standout designer for me in 2013.
by Gregg Miller
I think that I don’t have a single favorite, but I have two companies that I definitely think are in a dead heat. I’ll start with the newer of the two, Cryptozoic. This company has taken deck building games and ran for the longest field goal they can achieve. Instead of doing one definitive method, they seem to be experimenting with multiple draft styles of play.
With their Penny Arcade game, it resembles something like Dominion: you’re exhausting a number of stacks, then a tally is ran. While their Lord of the Rings and DC Universe, on the other hand, use an ever-changing Lineup paired with a lone Boss stack. The Boss stack gives the most points as a stand-alone card, but each acquisition comes at a price that can equalize the game, depending on what you’ve put in your deck.
The second company is on that I’ve enjoyed majorly: Fantasy Flight. My friend Matt “The Favorite” has many of their games, and the quality of their products is amazing. Seeing that logo can fill you with an expectation that the pieces will be durable, and the game will be easy to pick up, but complex enough to want you to replay and try different tactics.
by Luke Turpeinen
I first learned about Stonemaier Games right after their first venture, Viticulture, funded on Kickstarter. I wasn’t able to back the game then, but I took notice of the company as one to watch in the future. I started to follow Jamey Stegmaier’s blog, and started to follow his advice on building our site.
When Stonemaier Games launched a Kickstarter project for their newest venture, Euphoria, I jumped on the chance to follow a project of theirs. Watching someone so professional and committed to his game and his backers was really an inspiration, and was a large part of the push I’ve had recently to continue development on my current game ideas in an attempt to have a published game in the near future.
From the straight-forward advice on his blog to his wonderful example of what it means to be a small business owner and game designer, Jamey Stegmaier is my favorite designer of 2013.