Hidden Gems of 2016 - Choose one underrated game of 2016 and add it to the list!!!
Trey Chambers
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Houston
Texas
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As the title says, look at the list of 2016 games and choose one you think is most underrated, one that hasn't already been added to this list.

If this list is popular, I'll make it an annual thing.

Enjoy!
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1. Board Game: Mare Nostrum: Empires [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:408]
Trey Chambers
United States
Houston
Texas
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With Inis and Cry Havoc making such big splashes (both excellent games, I might add), I feel like this one sort of flew under the radar a bit.

While I probably like those two games more than this one, this was an excellent game with strong replay value and exciting expansions. Check it out if you enjoy Euro-conflict hybrid games!
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2. Board Game: Wizard's Academy [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:4233]
Moose Detective
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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This is a puzzly co-op game that probably didn't light up Kickstarter because of its price due to the undersized miniatures that probably would have been better off as standees.

And it probably hasn't become a secret hit due to the many room-state interactions that can make it a bit fiddly.

BUT If the idea of searching for a spell and the correct components to make fire to melt the ice into water so you can make more water and drown the monsters (or to ice the water to block the doorways, or the water the fire to put it out) while you're also moving the rooms around the academy and working towards a specific wacky goal... this is pretty nifty co-op for you to try.

Super fun. And has a she-bear-wizard.
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3. Board Game: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:1201]
Anthony Ferrise
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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A game made about a known IP that isn't crap. In fact - it presents the "dungeon crawl" genre in a new light with a cool 'dice sharing' mechanic between the turtles and allows the foot-clan to play a different game in the form of hand management.

Has a decent solo mode too - which is nice.
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4. Board Game: Fuji Flush [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1840]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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I was underwhelmed by my first play, but my group has really got into it and it's now our default opener/closer. Great fun.
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5. Board Game: Comanchería: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:1947]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Rapidly rising to one of my best solo games.
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6. Board Game: A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:1325]
Morten K
Denmark
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Despite it being set in the Game of Thrones universe, this title hasn't been talked about much. It's actually a really nice filler for 2 or 4 players.
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7. Board Game: Knit Wit [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:3237]
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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While not being wholly original, this Scattegories through Venn diagrams is a lot of fun. The whole package is super well produced as well.
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8. Board Game: Odin's Ravens (second edition) [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1108]
Garth van Doorn
Australia
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A simple and beautiful 2-player game.
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9. Board Game: Yangtze [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:6238]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Knizia, auctions, in more or less the classic way, slightly updated, far from as simple (or simplistic) as his recent output - even if not a classic, it's fine.
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10. Board Game: Builders of Blankenburg [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:7782]
Tom Flatt
Canada
Whitecourt
Alberta
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With only 78 ratings this game is certainly "hidden"!

We really enjoyed the "citizen track" in this game; your construction decisions are partly based on who lives in the town and what revenue they provide. The demolition of older buildings is well handled; you are able to recycle some of your building materials to help construct new ones. The game has a nice flow to it and doesn't outstay its welcome!

Certainly a keeper for us!

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11. Board Game: Neolithic [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:3078]
M Jarvin
United States
Clearwater
Florida
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A light civ-builder for 2 that can be played in 30 minutes. The cards aren't much to look at, but there is a surprising amount of gameplay here.
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12. Board Game: Quartermaster General: 1914 [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:1761]
Rob Doupe
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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The latest in the Quartermaster General series, this excellent new iteration of the system has only 180 ratings, while the original Quartermaster General has 1.3K. I'm confident people who enjoyed the original will like 1914. And between the original, this, and Quartermaster General: Victory or Death – The Peloponnesian War, the system now supports 4-6 players.

My comment:

Deepens and elaborates the excellent Quartermaster General system. The use of prepare cards to reinforce battles adds a welcome new dimension to the game. Economic warfare and attrition are now major weapons. Even with new elements, this is still a game you can learn and play in minutes. Really a remarkable achievement.

Once again, the powers play dramatically differently and have suitably historic roles. As with the other games in the system, I immediately want to play again to try new powers. Difficult to image another system bringing WW1 to the table in 90 minutes with this much texture and fun.

However, as with the other entries in the system, this is a game where you will be remorselessly violated by your opponents. Card actions are powerful and often devastating. Knowing the decks is vital. This is a game (and system) best played with a regular group who learn the decks and powers together.
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13. Board Game: The Red Dragon Inn: Battle for Greyport [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:3037]
Jacob Black
United States
Colonie
New York
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A fun cooperative deckbuilder set in the same universe as The Red Dragon Inn games. It plays a lot like Shadowrun: Crossfire but has a lot of unique qualities as well. This game caught some flak upon release for being difficult. The designers released some optional rules to make the game easier but I can tell you from experience they're not necessary with good planning and strategy the group can win most scenarios.
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14. Board Game: Guards of Atlantis: Tabletop MOBA [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:3179]
Jason Peacock
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This is my hidden gem of the year. Team vs Team, all skill- no dice tactical combat game.
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15. Board Game: Habitats [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:1644]
Mat Thomsen
United States
Medway
Massachusetts
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I have a few contenders so I'm going to mention them here:

Capital Lux
Kanagawa
Kingdomino
Oceanos

Habitats biggest problem apparently, was its small print run. Copies got expensive quickly. I paid close to $70 for mine, but I've seen copies selling for upwards of $150.

This game is really good. All of the fun of a zoo theme, with all of the puzzly, tile-placing goodness of Carcassonne. A gorgeous production with a gratifying "I built it!" satisfaction.

I hope this sees wider audiences eventually.
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16. Board Game: Tyrants of the Underdark [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:272]
Dirk Meijlof
Netherlands
Amersfoort
Utrecht
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This game was a present from BGG Secret Santa. Being a euro-gamer, I don't know if I would had given it much attention when seeing it at my FLGS. But boy, one should really give this game a try, whether you're a euro-gamer or an amertrasher. This game is awesome.

What makes it awesome, is that this game is both a deck builder and a board game. It was the first smooth playing cross overs I know of.

I think everyone is familiar with Dominion, the mother of all deckbuilding: take a hand of five, play them, use the effects to buy more cards, discard the played cards and take five new ones from your deck. when your deck is empty reshuffle your discard pile to form a new deck. This part is the same in Tyrants of the Underdark. But what makes this game worth of getting some more buzz, is what you do with the effects of your played cards. Not only can you buy some new cards, but you also have an intense fight on a board with a neutral party and with the other players to control the most, the best or connected areas. The area control (who has the most armies/wooden cubes/plastic minis/monsters/rouges/give it a name) reminded me of El Grande.

We instantly loved this game. Please have a look at it.

There are a few. Things the publisher could have done better: first, making some noise. I hadn't seen any publications about this game or video run throughs or so. Secondly, the production of the game: the art and graphic design isn't the best ever seen in the business and the market of cards to buy is placed behind a stack of cards and therefore hard to see (solution: put the market board upside down). The second smooth playing cross over I came across and really liked is Clank! The gameplay of Clank! is very good but not as good as Tyrants'. Tyrants has lesser 'small rules'. The art and theme of Clank! however make this game so much more appealing.

Please look through the outside and give this game a chance!
(And someone should retheme or reproduce this game.)
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17. Board Game: Ulm [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:881]
Dirk Meijlof
Netherlands
Amersfoort
Utrecht
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It looks like just another old euro, named after just another medieval European city (Carcassonne,Bruges, Bruxelles, Florenza, Hamburgum, Istanbul, Saint Petersburg, Orleans, Strasbourg, Siena, Le Havre etc). And it feels like you're playing one of these an old classic euro (which mostly is a good thing). But still, nobody could come up with related games.

The innovative feature of Ulm, is its action selection mechanism: there's a 3x3 grid of tiles. Each tile represents an action. You may move a tile into the grid, pushing a row or column one place further and then perform the three (current) actions of the row/column you just moved.
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18. Board Game: Cavern Tavern [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:1915]
Challie Coppel
United States
Huntsville
Ohio
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Great dice placement game. Really filled the hidden goals at the end that I felt was needed in Kingsburg. Like it much better than the popular Kingsburg which always falls flat at the end for me. The art in this game is gorgeous and it is a lot of fun to play.
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19. Board Game: Kingdomino [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:186] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Bill Carrigan
United States
New Jersey
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One really hidden gem that I like is Princess Bride: I Hate to Kill You, a nice quick two player game with a version of the rock-paper-scissors mechanism, but the 2016 game that my family has played the most is Kingdomino. It is also very quick and has worked not just with all members of my family but with every other group to whome we have introduced it. No one will confuse it with Terraforming Mars, but I can see this game long having a place in our rotation due to its simple elegance, visual appeal, and the ratio of strategic thought versus playtime.
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20. Board Game: Unknown [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:4587]
aaron belmer
United States
Webster Groves
St Louis
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My vote for hidden gem.

Post apocalyptic Co op, tile exploration, running from and killing bad guys.

The thing is, this game is so so so so so awesome in so many ways.

My gaming buddies dig this, never the same game twice puzzly, tons of decisions and tensions. And at home I play with my 7 year old


Great game!
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21. Board Game: The King Is Dead [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:1168]
Michael Bacon
United States
Farmington
New Mexico
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Possibly the best area control game if you prioritize strategy, tough decisions, beauty, and short playtime. It's an excellent puzzle if played solo as well.
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22. Board Game: First Class [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:349]
Michele Nicastro
Netherlands
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this game came out at the end of 2016 and it's one of my favorite games ever.
it's extremely satisfying and the box says it plays in about 20 minutes per player (i find it quite accurate), but it feels like you did 2h worth of game.
it's unfortunate it's not so popular yet.
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23. Board Game: Nautilion [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:1578]
David M
United Kingdom
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My favourite solo game at the moment, and also an excellent co-op game. I love the submarine theme, and the rethinking of roll-n-move. Not to mention the gorgeous design and high production values.
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24. Board Game: Burano [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1987]
Chad Jacobson

Omaha
Nebraska - NE
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Love the cube pyramid in this. Some say you cannot do the lace strategy alone, but that depends on player count. At higher counts you have to do a bit of each using timelines as your guide. So good. Reminds me of Trajan's mancala system.
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25. Board Game: Morocco [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:4720]
Kevin Shillinglaw
Canada
Kitchener
Ontario
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The production quality is excellent to start off with.

Game play is easy to pick up, yet lots to think about. Very unique resource system (I'll call them resources for now) - you get two but your opponents get one. What do you want? What do you want to give your opponents?
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