Top 12 Boardgames Played in 2019 - #12 to #9
Updated: Dec 28, 2019
Merry Christmas and welcome to the Top 12 boardgames that we played in 2019!
The list will be running from Christmas Day and through the 12 days of Christmas, with a new game revealed each day on Instagram and right here. Let's get started!
#12 - Spirit Island
Published: Greater than Games
Designed: R.Eric Reuss
Most area control games have conflict, and most of those games involve players battling each other for control of a landmass, with almost no thought at all to the original owners of said land. In Risk you slowly move about the map smashing each other, but how do the people of Madagascar feel about this? Who knows! In Smallworld the native population are represented by tokens that get swallowed up by your powerful fantasy races almost as a secondary concern.
But in Spirit Island you play as the natural gods and natives of a remote island in the sea that have finally had enough. Picking individual Spirits and using their unique powers players must work together to repel the invading settlers and tell them, "Not today!".
The theme is incredible, and while there are plenty of rules and the gameplay takes some getting used to, once everyone round the table (or a lonesome soul playing solo) gets used to it the game becomes a carefully crafted strategic joy. A highly recommended co-operatice experience - though I would advise to look out for it in Sales, as one of the only negatives is the RRP is pretty pricey if your used to smaller scale co-operative games like Forbidden Island.
#11 - Sushi Roll
Designed: Phil Walker Harding
Leveraging well liked properties to try and make more well liked things that will sell well is a mainstay in most industries. This tends to have varying success however (all videogame movies are bad, all videogames based on movies are bad except Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on PS2). This market practice is starting to make it's way into the world of board games now, and still, to varying success. Some publishers can be guilty of attempting to take a well known license and then pasting it on to some other game idea to get it to sell better than it would have. Luckily this year there were a couple of examples of this working well however, with another surprise hit - Ravensburger's Jaws - narrowly missing out on the list, that means it fell to Sushi Roll to take this spot.
Sushi Roll takes the best elements of the card drafting classic, Sushi Go, and tries to improve on the formula by adding every gamer's favourite tiny plastic cuboid, dice. It has everything a game needs - reaching into a big bag and pulling out lots of dice, rolling said dice, a cool fake conveyor belt that you get to make sounds of when you zzhhhusuusuu it around the table, and of course, the cute looking Sushi pictures that are everywhere.
A quick fun game that stays true to the original but makes it just a bit better in my opinion. Though truth be told, if I was going to be taking one to play down the pub I'd still probably take the much more portable original (Sushi Roll, why is you're box so unnecessarily large?!)
#10 - Disney Villainous
Designed: Prospero Hall
Ever watched a light and fun Disney movie and wanted to slap one of the perfect little heroes or heroines upside the head with a big stick? Disney Villainous has got your back!
Each player takes on the big bad of a well known Disney movie to try and complete their own unique objectives. This game really surprised me with the amount of care that has gone into the theming of each villain. Everyone is essentially playing the same ruleset but with their own unique villainous power cards to use, enemies - well, heroes like Aladdin - to defeat, and specific objectives and ways they win.
If you are a fan of any of the movies, and I think everyone must like at least one, then you can really tell what you're doing based solely on that. If you are playing as Jafar for example, you need to find a way to open the Cave of Wonder, bring the Genie over to your evil side, and then get to the Palace and have him wish you to be Sultan to win. It all just works so well, and can be played with Disney fans, board game fans and just about anyone in between. It's another surprisingly good licensed game!
#9 - The Champion of the Wild
Published: Big Imagination Games
Designed: Tom Clare
Ever had an argument with a friend over who would win in a fight between a bear and a lion? Or who would win in a race between a lemur and a pelican? The Champion of the Wild is essentially that, but with rules. And that makes it amazing.
Each player gets a hand of animal cards to choose from, each wonderfully illustrated, and then a triathlon of events get laid out that your team of misfit animals need to compete in. The events can be anything from 110m hurdles to hide and seek in an old mansion. The cards also get specific with the rules as well, such as if water lanes will be available, the size of any other elements like poles and hurdles, and if flying is allowed and at what heights. It's all very serious stuff, which just adds to the absolute absurdity when you start trying to convince your friend that a horse is a better sumo wrestler than a rhino (he was not).
A great game that has multiple ways to play and plenty of house rules and variations as well. We like playing with a whole team of animals instead of choosing one to compete in every event, and I have seen some games played where people opt to throw themselves into the ring instead of an animal, so confident that they could outrun a badger.
One of those social lubricant games that works well in groups that already like to discuss this kind of nonsense, but with the art work and rules to bring it all together. Had a great time with this one and looking forward to playing it some more in 2020.