Top 10: 2017 games in 2022

Looking back to the 2017 games five years later, it was a decent year. I’ve played about 50 games from 2017, and while the list includes some junk, there are several games I still own and play regularly. That’s something!

My top 10:

10. Bärenpark / Azul. A tie between two decent tile-laying games. I’ve owned Azul but not Bärenpark. Right now, I’d probably rather play Bärenpark. I wouldn’t say no to Azul either; I haven’t played it much since it peaked in 2018. I’ve only played the sequels.

9. Twin It! I own this reaction test game because Anni likes this a lot. It is fun: cards are flipped on the table one by one and once you see a pair, touch both cards, and they’re yours. Get six pairs, and you win. There are two tricks here: the cards are incredibly confusing, and some cards appear three times, and you can match the third one to a pair someone else already picked up.

8. The Quest for El Dorado. First, Reiner Knizia ignores deck-building games for almost a decade, then boom, he makes a really good one. This is an excellent family game, one of my top recommendations right now. I still own a copy, but it gets played less and less, so it’s on its way out from my collection.

7. Agra. This game sure looks impressive. Another impressive thing is its weight rating on BGG: almost 4.5 on a scale from 1 to 5. That’s ridiculous, really, but the game is still too heavy. Too many rules you can easily forget. I’d like to like this more; I might still have it if this was a better two-player game, but the game is much better with four, unfortunately.

6. Caverna: Cave vs Cave. This two-player version of Caverna: The Cave Farmers is quite a treat, a fun little action-selection and resource management game for two players. The expansion is nice, too. In the end, though, Uwe Rosenberg has done better games (there’s one on this list, too!), so I sold this after about ten plays.

5. Sidereal Confluence. Looking for a trading game? Here’s one for you. This one’s impressive and intense. Too intense, maybe, but I wouldn’t mind having a game group where this would get regular playtime. Sidereal Confluence does trading right; the player incentives are delightfully twisted. The game does need a lot of players (five or six), and did I say it’s intense? It’s intense.

4. Unlock! The first Unlock! box was a lovely promise, but it took them a while to really figure out what they could do with the app. Looking back at the whole series, it’s my favourite escape room game in a box, though. The series has its highs and lows, but these games are solid on average.

3. Altiplano. For me, this second implementation of Reiner Stockhausen’s bag-building was the better of the two. Altiplano is a purer deck-builder than Orléans, and I don’t really miss the board from Orléans. Altiplano doesn’t need any expansions; I have the Traveller expansion, but we don’t use it. This is a fun puzzle, and I like the way the access to the different resources is so constricted: there’s no way you can end up repeating the same strategy over and over again.

2. Spirit Island. My favourite co-op strategy game. I’ve mostly played this as a two-player game, which is where it shines: you get to focus on your own tasks but can keep an eye on what your partner does, and at the sticky spots, you can work closely together to figure out how to survive. The expansions are crucial in the long run to keep things interesting.

1. Nusfjord. The cream of the crop of 2017. I bought this already in 2017, and I still own this and like this a lot. I’ve already played this almost 40 times. The expansions are also necessary here; unfortunately, their availability has been weak. Nusfjord is resource management and worker placement, but it’s really tight – just seven rounds, three actions each round. The building combos make the game shine, and the fact that we can play a two-player game in about 20 minutes. What a beautiful game!

Notable omissions

Gloomhaven. Well, yeah. The first Kickstarter games arrived in early 2017; Gloomhaven then made a few million dollars in Kickstarter in 2017 and took over the BGG ranking list top spot by the end of the year. I’ve never played this; I haven’t really been interested. I’m not too keen to embark on a long campaign game, the setup seems incredibly laborious, and in the end, it’s just a dungeon crawl, right? I’d give this a go as a one-shot given a chance, just to see it, but I don’t think it’s my cup of tea at all.

Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition. I haven’t played the first, the second, or the third edition either. I prefer my games to take less than an hour; on a rare occasion, I may spend a few hours playing an 18xx game, but if I have 4–8 hours of board game time, I’d much rather spend it playing 4–8 different games (or A Feast for Odin four times in a row).

Gaia Project. I’ve never really liked Terra Mystica, so I wasn’t first in line to try Gaia Project. I just added a review of it to Lautapeliopas. Based on that, Gaia Project does sound better than Terra Mystica – it seems somewhat more forgiving and apparently is a much better two-player game does seem a better match for me than Terra Mystica. I wouldn’t mind trying this. The aliens in the game seem terribly bland; they should’ve looked at Sidereal Confluence for a better example.

Too Many Bones. Some weird Kickstarter game with plenty of dice. Not interested.

Anachrony. Weight 4.01 on the BGG scale. Pass.

The 7th Continent. Choose-your-own-adventure. I choose to play something else.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2. I didn’t like the first season, and from everything I’ve heard, this isn’t as good as the first one.

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