Conclusion to the Meeple Like Us Top Ten Best Board Games 2018 Edition!
So, let’s talk about what didn’t make it. There are a number of games that didn’t survive the year as far as our lists go, and some of them are maybe a little surprising.
Mrs Meeple’s Fatalities – the no longer best board games
I still love Splendor (#2 last year), but it’s quite algorithmic and I think I’ve pretty much cracked it. I’ve played it so much on the app that really I think I’ve broken it for myself. It’s so quick to start up a game and crush the AI that the cost of setting up and tearing down in real life seems hard to pay. Six minutes for a game versus the time it takes to get a real person to play a real game. It’s just a victim of its own app’s success really.
Pandemic Legacy (#5 last year) has slipped off mainly because it’s gone horribly, horribly wrong for us. Also it’s the time needed to play when we also need to fit in a schedule of new games. The problem with a legacy game is that it requires a commitment that we’re just not always in a position to make. It’s a really interesting design but we’ve got other things to be doing. Our combined incompetence has led to a state of affairs that isn’t so much a board-game as it is a humanitarian crisis in a box. There’s enough bad stuff happening in the world already without our ineptitude making it worse.
Michael is adamant that Scoundrels of Skullport is needed to make Lords of Waterdeep (#8 last year) the game it should be, and to be honest I’m not convinced. The corruption mechanism combined with the overt nastiness of the increased skullduggery means it’s a lot meaner of a game that it was in its base box. Plus the D&D theme makes it a bit of a hard sell – usually the only person that will play it with me is Michael and as a result of his time-served on the app he just completely dominates me every single time.
I still really like New York Slice (#10 last year) but really it hasn’t aged particularly well over the 2018. I think it works better as a novelty game for new groups than it does as a reliable favourite – it’s a cool theme and a neat presentation but for whatever reason we don’t seem to find reasons to play. Perhaps its strong showing last year was a kind of Stockholm Syndrome – it threw us a rope during a hectic and unpleasant UKGE 2017 and it gained some extra points as a result of being a saviour at a rough time.
Mr Meeple’s Fatalities – the no longer best board games
One of the things making a list of best board games like this does is focus the mind. What does it even mean to be one of the best games ever? It’s not as simple as picking our highest rated games – we’ve got more of those than we have spaces in the list. So – what merits a place here?
For me, I used basically two criteria:
- Have I played it since last year?
- Would I rather play it over all the other games I own in this niche?
Five Tribes (#5 last year) and Imperial Settlers (#6 last year) both ran afoul of the first criterion. The simple fact is I haven’t played them this year, and that doesn’t really seem like a thing that would be true of one of the best games ever. Sure, I have a site to run and that requires a constant stream of novelty… but why didn’t I really make the effort to find opportunities to play? I did for all the others. I still stand by the statement that these are top tier games well worthy of attention… but somehow I managed to make peace with a year where I didn’t play them even once.
Jaipur (#8 last year) was a victim of the second criterion for me. It’s a small box, two-player game that can fill an idle half hour with a lot of fun. In all circumstances where I could play Jaipur though, I’d probably rather be playing Hanamikoji. Since Mrs Meeple likes Jaipur more, we end up playing both but it’s obvious to me where my heart truly lies.
Blood Bowl (#9 last year) on the other hand was just a victim of its own comparative inconvenience. I have played it several times this year, and I still hold that it’s a spectacularly fun game. However, I don’t really enjoy playing it on the tabletop as much as I do in its digital incarnation. When I think of the setup and teardown time I somehow find myself just clicking on its entry in my Steam library. It’s great as a tabletop game once you iron out all the little peculiarities but it’ll never achieve the ‘pick up and play’ flexibility of a video game no matter how much I internalise all its byzantine rulings. If it ever comes to Switch I think I might disappear and never be seen again.
That Table of the Top ten Best Board Games in Full
Here’s the full rundown, with Amazon affiliate links to take you to each game should you be interested in picking it up.
|10||Once Upon a Time||Terraforming Mars|
|9||Race for the Galaxy||Century Spice Road (With Eastern Wonders)|
|6||Azul||One Night Ultimate Werewolf|
|5||Suburbia||Sheriff of Nottingham|
|3||Lords of Waterdeep *||Telestrations|
* But only if you are also using the Scoundrels of Skullport expansion. Otherwise it probably wouldn’t be on here.
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