Published on January 24th, 2014 | by Across the Board Games Staff
Top 5 Favorite Games of 2013
We had such an awesome 2013 at Across the Board Games! Our collective group of gamers played a ton of new games and added a handful of new titles to our collection. These aren’t all games that released in 2013, but they were the ones we liked the most over the last year, you should try to play them if you haven’t already.
Gregg- Battlestar Galactica
I think that my favorite game of 2013 is Battlestar Galactica. I’ve played through it many times, and I find that the full 6-player version is the best for high stakes play because you start to question your friends from game-to-game. The running joke is that I’m always the Cylon, but it’s so easy to sow doubt. In two back-to-back games everyone was so sure I was a Cylon, until it was revealed that another player was really it from the beginning, but had played the long game. I really look forward to eventually playing with the expansions, which follow the plot of the TV show. Remember, if someone is waving their hands frantically, they’re probably a Cylon. It’s the tell! Sometimes if you’re crafty, you can play All Along The Watchtower softly on your speakers, and see who at the table can hear it as this will tell you which side they’re on. It also never hurts to accuse President Toaster, or Admiral Toaster, or even Admiral President Toaster of being a Cylon.
This last year was a really great year in board games. Not only were a bunch of great games released from established publishers, but many new designers began their careers by self-publishing via Kickstarter. While there are many games that I enjoyed playing last year, one really stands out from the rest: Lord of the Rings Deck Builder by Cryptozoic. This game is not what I’d consider the Best Game of 2013, as it is simple, it’s theme is totally neutered from the original source (“Aragorn’s Sword” is a horribly lazy name for that card) and the mechanics tend to be fairly low-hanging fruit as far as deck-builders are concerned. Why is it my favorite game then? Because I’m sure I’ve played this game more than any single other game in 2013.
Lord of the Rings Deck Builder is a great pick-up game. It has a variable game length from “palette whetter” to “I don’t even know what’s in my deck anymore” and the amount of complexity is perfect for nights when you’re drinking and talking and just sort of messing around. If you’re looking for a simple, accessible game to play casually then the LotR Deck Builder is a great choice.
Nicole- Battle Line
There are many contenders for my favorite game of 2013. I had a difficult time picking a winner as all my favorite games of this year were so different from each other. So instead of choosing a game that had gorgeous art like Tokaido or a lasting impression like Spyrium, I instead chose a game that I purchase and played more times than any other game on that list. Battle Line is a two player Rummikub-type strategy game from GMT Games that I bought based on a suggestion of a Card Kingdom clerk. It has sense rarely stayed put on my game shelf. I am constantly lending it out to friends, couples and bringing it to parties. I have played multiple opponents, have chosen many different strategies and have always enjoyed every moment of a game. Battle Line is a great example of set collection games and it features art and a light theme based on Alexander the great. It may not win any awards based on looks or complexity but it always holds my attention and has brought many friends into the gaming light.
Andrew- Flash Point: Fire Rescue
Kickstarter still remains the biggest way to get board games out the door and 2013 was no exception. One Kickstarter game that got me really excited this year was not a new game at all, but two expansions for an existing game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue: Extreme Danger and Dangerous Waters.
I have always told people that Flash Point is like Pandemic, but with all the bad parts ironed out, and I still stand by that description. With the introduction of these two expansions, I feel like Indie Boards and Cards has demonstrated that not only is Flash Point a good variant of the Pandemic model, but it has excellent opportunities for new, exciting content that is thematic and engaging. Both expansions add new challenges to the fire-fighting game. In Extreme Danger, you fight fires in dangerous environments, including a laboratory and a mechanic’s shop. Dangerous Waters introduces fires aboard ships (including a submarine!). This fundamentally changes the difficulty and flavor of the game while retaining the same basic mechanics and concepts. Although there has been a lot of great stuff released in 2013, this set of expansions for Flash Point: Fire Rescue have been my favorite.
Yes, Android: Netrunner was actually released in 2012, but I only played it twice in 2012 and both were demonstration games. Once the Portland community formed a Facebook group then I started playing more often. It’s now an obsession. What is Netrunner, and why do I love it so much? Netrunner is a reboot of an asymmetric card game from the mid 1990s by Richard Garfield. One side plays an evil corporation and the other plays a hacker (or “runner” in the game’s universe). The decks play very differently– the corporation plays their cards face-down and therefore emphasizes bluffing, while the runner plays all cards open and is making calculated risks. The anxiety can be immense, which I love. The fact that new cards come out almost every month makes the game change considerably. Add to it the fact that, being one of Fantasy Flight’s “Living Card Games”, there are no random booster packs and you have an affordable way to increase your available options. Even if you just buy the Core set, it is still a great game.
A conservative estimate of Netrunner games I played in 2013 is probably in the 100 range, and I have loved every last one. Easily my favorite game in 2013, and this was a great year for games (see my review of Copycat, which is likely my runner-up along with Caverna)