Top 50 Games of 2018 (40-31)


Welcome to our top 50 games list for 2018, in which I list my personal top 50 games at this point in time.  My choices are not limited to games from this calendar year, but instead, represent my current thoughts on the top 50 games to me.  Next year, some of the games featured may move up and down as my opinions change and I get the chance to play more games or revisit old favourites.

This series will comprise 5 posts, each covering 10 games as we work down from number 50 to number 1.  We’ve already had part 1, so let’s carry on with games 40 to 31, shall we?

40: Infinity

infinity starter

Previous Position: New to the list!

Year: 2005

Designers: Gutier Lusquiños Rodríguez

Publisher: Corvus Belli

Plays: 2 players in ~60 minutes

Like Kill Team, Infinity is a low model-count sci-fi skirmish game with a lot of focus on movement, positioning and dice roll modifiers.  Unlike Kill Team, Infinty is a standalone game without a bigger franchise attached to it.  On the one hand, this means you can’t use your existing 40K miniatures with it, but on the other, it does have an amazing line of its own miniatures.

I’ve only played Infinity a couple of times, but I really enjoyed the games I’ve played.  I love the visual style of the game and I really appreciate the depth of strategy that the game encourages.  I like that movement is difficult as you try to avoid crossing into the eyeline of enemy soldiers whilst moving towards your objectives.

This is one I want to play more this year.  It’s also going to be a bit of a focus in terms of painting, as I have mostly finished my USAriadna starter and want to crack on with my Aleph, too.

39: Onitama


Previous Position: New to the list!

Year: 2014

Designers: Shimpei Sato

Publisher: Arcane Wonders

Plays: 2 players in ~15 to 20 minutes

The presentation of Onitama is sublime.  The box is really unique and contains 10 simple, chunky pieces, a small stack of cards and a neoprene (mousepad-style) playmat.  The space in the box is used perfectly and that makes me happy in my heart.  The watercolour-style art of the mat, the simple design of the cards and miniatures and the simplicity of the instructions all add massively to this impression.

The actual game is a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed myself hugely on every occasion that this has made it to the table.  I love the chess-like moves that the cards let you do and the circular passing of cards adds another strategic consideration.  Sure, you might think, this move is good for me, but if I use it and pass the card on, can my opponent use it against me to good effect?  Oh, this is goooooooood!

38: DC Comics Deck-building Game


Previous Position: 36 (-2)

Year: 2012

Designer: Matt Hyra, Ben Stoll

Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment

Plays: 2-5 players in ~45 minutes

Falling only a couple of places is the DC Deck-Building Game.  My biggest criticism of this game remains unchanged, in that you could play much of the game on autopilot.  There’s generally no reason not to just play all of your cards every turn.  There’s no real decisions to be made in the playing of cards like there is in, say, Dominion.  It’s too free, too open, too loose.

That said, it’s also a lot of fun.  The game looks really pretty and is full of references for comic fans to feast upon.  You do get to make decisions on the content of your deck as you buy cards from the middle of the table.  It’s a good, accessible, fun deck-builder that doesn’t take too much thought and has a ton of expansions if you want to add more cards to your mix.  Despite the flaws, this still sees a lot of play, and probably more play than a lot of my “better” deck-builders.

37: Malifaux


Previous Position: 11 (-26)

Year: 2013

Designer: Matt Anderson, Nathan Caroland, Justin Gibbs, Eric Johns, Mack Martin

Publisher: Wyrd

Plays: 2 players in ~90 minutes

Malifaux has plunged down the list this year for the same reason that many other games have.  It’s simply not getting enough play.  It also makes me feel bad, as I have a lot of unpainted Malifaux Miniatures kicking around.  I worry a little about the future of my Malifaux collection as I don’t see anyone up here picking it up, which is fine, but it does rather minimise the potential usefulness of these miniatures.

And this is a pity.  The game is good.  I like that I can wipe the enemy crew off the table and still lose the game.  That’s how these games should be.  Objectives should matter.  Objectives should be the focus.  I adore the card mechanisms at play in Malifaux and I continue to really love the miniatures.  I’m curious as to what third edition will bring, but again, I’m doubtful I’ll get it to the table all that much.

36: Blood Bowl

blood bowl

Previous Position: 22 (-14)

Year: 1986

Designer: Jervis Johnson

Publisher: Games Workshop

Plays: 2 players in ~180 minutes

Blood Bowl!  Great game!  One of my earliest board games, this still holds a special place in my heart.  It also holds quite a large place in my collection, as there are just so many boxes of it!  I’ve got the first, second and third edition boxes, plus the most recent re-release from Games Workshop.  I’ve got a couple of the new GW teams and, currently, three painted third-party teams.  These are a Shadowforge Pro Elf team, a Black Scorpion Skaven team and a Warlord Games Dwarf team.

As with most miniatures game this year, this has not made it to the table too often this year but it did get a play or two.  It’s still great, but I feel that it takes a little long for what it is.  Some people criticise it for the amount of randomness involved, but I think this is ok.  It’s not usually what I like in games but, with Blood Bowl, you know that this chaos is part of it.  You know what you’re getting into.  Also, minimising this randomness is why I quite like playing Dwarfs.  That said, I’d like to get some Goblins painted up…

35: Arcane Academy

arcane academy

Previous Position: New to the list!

Year: 2016

Designers: Eric M. Lang, Kevin Wilson

Publisher: IDW Games

Plays: 2-4 players in ~30 to 45 minutes

Looking at just the box, I probably wouldn’t have picked up this game, myself.  A friend brought it along to a game night and we gave it a go, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  Chaos Cards had it on sale that evening, so I picked it up immediately.

This game is all about building an engine and managing resources, though it quite a simple level.  There are only two resources to be managed, after all.  The engine comes in the form of the board, where you want to both get the best tiles down and ensure that you have effective links to maximise multi-tile activations.  Resources are important and the choice of project cards are important but, to me, the game is won or lost on the board construction.

I love when I can get a good engine going and just steamroller everyone.  This is not always possible but is so satisfying when it does pay off.

34: Forbidden Stars


Previous Position: 23 (-11)

Year: 2015

Designers: Samuel Bailey, James Kniffen, Corey Konieczka

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Plays: 2-4 players in ~120 to 180 minutes

Now out of print, Forbidden Stars continues to scratch a specific itch and does so using a familiar, fun theme.  If Warhammer 40,000 is the game of massed battles in the 41st millennium, then Forbidden Stars takes a step back and gives you control of the wider campaign, deploying ships and troops, moving your forces around the galaxy, engaging in coordinated battles in pursuit of objectives and artifacts.

The first few times I played this game, I did not really appreciate the combat aspect.  I’ve since gotten a better handle on this and I like it a lot more than I did.  I still enjoy the logistics of the game, building bases, amassing units and deploying them as required.  This is a heavy game, but it does a lot and a particularly great when played with all four players.  It’s just a pity there won’t be any expansions…

33: Descent: Journeys in the Dark


Previous Position: 27 (-6)

Year: 2012

Designers: Daniel Clark, Corey Konieczka, Adam Sadler, Kevin Wilson

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Plays: 2-5 players in ~120 minutes

Like Super Dungeon Explore, this is a solid dungeon crawl and is the best dungeon crawl from my collection that I have played.  Rules-wise, it’s also very similar to SDE.  Even the custom dice that the game uses are very similar.  Unlike Super Dungeon Explore, there’s just that little more choice when it comes to setting up maps, scenarios, objectives and the like.  There’s just that little bit more to it.

This is another game with a lot of miniatures.  They’re not as pretty as SDE’s, but I love the character models.  I also like the fact that you can mix and match character cards and class decks.  There are definitely decks that are meant for specific characters, but you can change things up if you like.  There’s now the option of app-based play to control the enemies, meaning that the game can be played cooperatively, as well as in the more traditional, all-vs-1, way.

32: Pandemic


Previous Position: 28 (-4)

Year: 2008

Designer: Matt Leacock

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Plays: 2-4 players in ~45 minutes

Despite falling a few places, Pandemic is one of my most-played games this year.  This is mainly due to my group working their way through Season 1 of Pandemic Legacy.  Let me tell you, the idea of writing on the game board, putting stickers on it, tearing up cards and making permanent changes to character cards was a very difficult one for me.  The first couple of these that I had to do were… stressful to say the least.  A couple of games in I noticed that I had stopped thinking about it and all was well.  Our campaign continues, with us meeting up every few months to do a handful of games.

Pandemic itself continues to be a good game, and one of the few cooperative games I play regularly.  It’s also the only Matt Leacock game to make my list this year as Forbidden Island and Desert have slipped off the rankings.

31: Carcassonne


Previous Position: 37 (+6)

Year: 2010

Designer: Klaus-Jürgen Wrede

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Plays: 2-5 players in ~30 to 45 minutes

Earlier in the year, when musing about this list, I reckoned that Carcassonne would drop further down the list this year but, now that we’re here it seems that it’s actually gone up several places.  That’s nice, as Carcassonne continues to be a really cool, really simple game.  It’s one that I love playing with kids and adults, with gamers and non-gamers.

There’s just something nice about taking a tile and playing a tile.  There’s something rewarding about seeing the map grow with each turn, taking strange twists and turns.  There’s something really special about this game.  I actually have a few expansions in the German big box edition that I have, but these rarely see play as I just love the purity and simplicity of the original, core game.

See you next time for Part 3, featuring games 30-21


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