My Top 10 Games of 2014 – plus some bonus lists
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My gaming year started on January 4th, so let's do a Top 10 exactly 365 days later. During this time I played 103 different games at least once, 47 at least twice, 38 three times.

These are the Top 10 Games I played first in 2014.

But first a few lists of titles that did not make the Top 10 for various reasons, but still made a remarkable impression in 2014.


Hot Releases of 2014 That I Haven't Played Yet
This list is far too long…

Thunder Alley — fast-paced easy (compared to Race! Formula 90, at least) racing game for my collection. Or wait for Grand Prix?
Panamax — Heavy economy Euro with interesting theme? Yes!!
VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game — Perfect family-compatible coffee dice game. Yahtzee with theme, meat and legs, and custom dice!
Dead of Winter — Still need a good traitor game. Like the theme/story aspect. Does it live up to the hype? German release upcoming.
Medieval Academy — Looks like a fine family game.
Fields of Arle — Meaty two player Rosenberg. Wanna try at least once.
Deus — mid-weight civ-euro, perfect for my group. Update: played it in January 2015: it *is* pretty good
Wir sind das Volk! – Twilight Struggle light(?) Histo(ry)game set in my childhoods country/countries. Interesting.
Red7 — I'm always up for a cool little card game.
Imperial Settlers — I'd probably like it. The artwork is putting me off a little bit and the fact that you'd have to play each faction at least twice, which will never happen, at least in my usual groups.
Castles of Mad King Ludwig — For some reason this game doesn't attract me at all. That said, I probably would like it.
Abyss — I think it's overhyped, I still want to try it once.
Five Tribes — Probably too heavy/AP-prone for me. Still intrigued to try it.


Disappointments

Mage Wars — I can see the appeal, but this is not for me: Life-consuming, 2p-only, overwhelming, fiddly spell book. Meh.
Sushi Draft — random victory point tokens?!


Need More Plays

Carson City — I love it, but I still have to play it with my group.
Forbidden Island — Got this early in the year, played it a couple of times and then forgot about it. It's tense and very well designed, but a little too light for my taste. Still want to try this with my soon 7yr old daughter.
New Dawn — as a fan of the Among the Stars Universe I want to like it. The first demo game at Essen 2014 left me with positive but not overwhelming feelings.
Istanbul — Very solid game, judging from my first and only play of it. Great step-up (gateway+) game.
Province — 2-player mini game (component wise) with a good amount of game in it. The best of the Kickstarter Micro Fad?!
CypherLove Letter++ with a cooler theme and interesting drafting method. I still have to play this little deduction gem in my group.


Honorable Mentions — Games That Almost Made It

Alhambra — Only one play. A modern classic, a perfect family game.
Neuroshima Hex — I love it, but only playing the digital version doesn't qualify it for a Top 10 place, imho.
Buccaneer — A quick little pirate-themed family filler of stealing each others crews and sharing the loot, to one's profit, hopefully.
Star Realms Nice, addictive(!), cool game. A little random. Only played the app version, thus no Top 10 for me.
Splendor — I like it, very elegant design, very accessible, has seen a lot of plays in my group. But for me it's a little too mechanical. The game is more or less only its mechanics.
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1. Board Game: Race! Formula 90 [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:1023]
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#1

Disclosure: I decided to put this on my list, even after only one play in November which I lost horribly – I barely prevented being overlapped in the last round…

This game is fantastic. It's highly strategic while being also highly thematic. There are quite some rules to learn and a casual gamer may be overwhelmed. But in the end almost all rules make thematic sense and the game goes pretty smoothly, even with higher number counts. Our 5-player game took 3,5h including introduction to 3 people new to the game.
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2. Board Game: Port Royal [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:407] [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked]
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#2

This is my winner for the "most played game" in 2014 – definitely most bang-for-the-buck

I played this in all contexts and configurations: gamer friends, colleagues, family; 2, 3, 5 players, even solo; with a 6 year old and 60 year olds. And I have yet to meet someone who does not like it.

It's explained in a few minutes, it is push-your-luck but still requires some thought and strategic planning, but most of all it's just quick fun!
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3. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:18]
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#3

Solo-played the heck out of it during during a two week personal "downtime" in spring. It's fantastic: exploration, adventure, puzzle, character development, almost RPG-like, deck-building. The only downside is its steep learning curve, its length as a multiplayer game – and that I did not manage to actually play it multiplayer.
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4. Board Game: Among the Stars [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:427] [Average Rating:7.18 Unranked]
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#4

I love the artwork of the Among the Stars universe. This is the first game to trigger my collector's itch – I want to own all the different promos and expansions.

I like the possibility to adapt the weight by including (or not) the different expansions/aspects of the game (dispute cards, ambassadors, more special vs. standard locations). From friendly/solitaire-ish to competitive. Playing with only the basic rules and no expansions makes it is a very good gateway game.
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5. Board Game: Greed [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1386]
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#5

The second pure drafting game in this list.

This was a late starter. I liked the theme and ease of gameplay as soon as I first heard of it. In Essen it was featured quite prominently on the Queen booth but seemed to not getting a huge amount of buzz.

It took me some time to get it on to the table. But then I found that most people I played with actually liked it.

Greed has got some quirks: it requires some reading, which makes the first game a learning experience; it can be random; sometimes you won't see cool combos in a game. But then again, the theme is cool and fresh, it's quick and easy (besides the initial reading); and if you pay attention to the other playes, a fair amount of spite spices up the game.
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6. Board Game: The Resistance: Avalon [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:85]
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#6

Had a fantastic first experience with it. Still need to try it in a second group; but it's definitely better than the other social bluffing party game that includes player elimination…
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7. Board Game: Cuba Libre [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:485]
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#7

My first foray into war gaming – or "mid-weight war-themed euros", as war gamers would categorize those type of games

The COIN system is pretty neat, the historic background was new and interesting to me.

The game is tough and tense. I'm looking forward to try out Fire in the Lake, although I guess that Cuba Libre's scale and weight is closer to my comfort zone than the overwhelming experience FitL is supposed to provide.
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8. Board Game: Thurn and Taxis [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:349]
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#8

I've heard remarks along the lines of "People still play this?!", both online and offline, about this former Spiel des Jahres, so I guess its popularity among gamers vanished a little bit over time.

I found it, shrink-wrapped, on a flea market for a few Euros and brought it to my semi-geek gaming group at work. There it was very well received. It's an elegant easy-to-get light-to-medium weight route building game with nice artwork and a theme people (at least in Germany) are attracted to. My colleagues are still requesting it and one even bought a copy in his mother language, plus expansions. Verdict: don't write off a solid and only slightly dusted SdJ winner!
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9. Board Game: Bohn To Be Wild! [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:3684]
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#9

This was one of the first games I got this year. I bought it in a local toy store, because I was looking for a family compatible game and I've had heard good things of Bohnanza even before entering the hobby.

This basically *is* Bohnanza with a different set of beans, new artwork (which I'm not too fond of, btw), a new optional special action mechanism on some of the cards, a solo variant (which I like) and minor rule changes for the usual game.

And just as Bohnanza, the modern classic, this is a very solid game, that deserves a spot in my year's top list.
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10. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:320]
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#10

Another modern classic I just discovered only this year. An elegant design, and a very complete, interactive and mean little game with a contained in a minimal amount of (beautiful) components. The only complaint: with more than 5 players it's a takes a bit too long.
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