Tiny Board Game Reviews, 2017
All the board games I've played this year, in order of appearance. * designates a meaningful replay.
Falling - A cute real-time game. Takes a talented dealer. Worth trying once.
Takaido - A game about going on vacation that feels like a vacation.
Utter Nonsense - Irreverent and hilarious. So much fun to play. Really good for polishing the acting chops.
Totally Renamed Spy Game - Very interesting. Worth playing for sure, but maybe it's not as deep as it seems.
Manifold - Game of the Year. A stunningly brilliant physical puzzle. Genuinely unique.
Mysterium - Clue with a ghost. A total winner. Very fun and intriguing. Lots of replay value. Top of the year, so far.
Phase 10 - Played the correct way for the first time. 15 points from victory! A good game that is very good at the friendly antagonism dynamic, if skips weren't so brutal. This game may even require revenge, right ANNA?!
AssassinCon - A mixed bag, depending on who you play with. A well-designed hidden-locationg game in a way too big box. Fantastic with six, patient players.
Innovation - A good game with a lot of different strategies. Even two plays revealed some of the overpowered cards. I imagine more than five plays will mean people use the most powerful cards too effectively to beat.
Oregon Trail: The Card Game - The rules are not explained very well. It feels like playing cooperative War: no real consequential choices to make, too much instant, unavoidable death.
Incan Gold - What a fantastic press-your-luck game! One of the purest, if not the first, I've played and I really loved it!
Grit - A card game by Zach Gage that is a simple and interesting two person duel. Recommended.
Skull - The more you play this game, the more strategic and intense it gets.
Mia - A simple game where you never admit defeat. You either win or lie. Very simple and fun. To me this will always be a German dice game, because Dan taught it to me.
Five Cucumbers - Simple trick-taking, maybe too simple.
Lasers and Feelings - Finally got a play a non-DND RPG and my first time as GM! Had an absolute blast with my super-light, short story expanding to 4 chapters easily. Learned a lot about improv and story-telling and had an incrediblely successful and hilarious time.
Hanabi - What an interesting game! Very strategic and cooperative. I can imagine getting really good with a group, but man this game is hard.
* Lords of Waterdeep - Now that we own this game, I have a whole new appreciation for it.
Dragon Run - Very silly and fun. Just strategic enough.
To Hunt A Killer - More of a mail-order mystery than a board game. $30/installment gets you a box of letters and props that allow you to piece together a story deeper than what's happening on the surface. The hooks doesn't come until you're over 60 dollars in and spoilers hover. I found the packages too self-contained to continue (don't reach back meaningfully) and it's over $200 a season! Luckily I borrowed the rest of season 1 from my friends, maybe my mind will change.
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective - This game is breathtakingly good. Been around way longer than I've known and it's a joy to have in my life. Such great mysteries that tell sprawling 4-hour long tales with the smallest amount of rules. A must-have.
Fabled Fruit - A simple and fun strategy game. I really love the ordered stack mechanic. I've been enjoying a few games with legacy-esque mechanics and it's nice to see non-destructive ones that can be replayed or shared with others (see Consulting Detective).
Flux - Chaotic and alright.
Love Letter - This game is a masterclass in game design. A compelling deduction game with only 16 cards! Loved every second of it. For only $7, why not own this game?!
Monikers - A self-described love letter to Fishbowl that does well to capture its lover in a box. The prompts are funny and bizzare with good descriptions. Also has a overly generous free print-and-play available.
* Ticket To Ride - I now own this game after my first and only play last year which was a breathless 10 minute sprint. It's a really solid game that's easy to approach but I'm scared of how cut-throat it can (and will get).
Deck Quest - Stumbled upon this with Dan played Tabletop Simulator. Seems like it could use a touch more structure and explanation. When do you use Skill and Item cards? Not even a recommendation? This rings lets me use three spells per attack, was there a rule that said I can only use one? No? We had fun and I liked the idea.
* Mafia - A recent replay with 12 people made me see how many flaws this game has for first plays / large groups. You really need something to generate legitimate accusations, something that Secret Hitler solves in spades. Also, the game's win-condition rules for Mafia members are not clear. I tried the ghost one letter clue thing, but it was controversial and not that helpful (maybe don't allow for names letters?). For large groups, I recommend playing with a Scapegoat who wins if they successfully convince the Villagers that they are Mafia and are lynched during the day, to everyone else's loss. PS: I was moderating and I did well.
Tiny Epic Galaxies - Been looking forward to this game for a long time and my first play through shows a lot of promise once I can whittle the rules down to an elegant spiel.