Everyone can agree that 2020 was a steaming pile of poo. However, I did enjoy some time playing board games throughout the year due to being stuck inside a majority of the time. Here are my favorite board game experiences of 2020! These are in no particular order:
Star Wars: Outer Rim
I’m always hesitant to play games with well-known IPs for whatever reason. I guess it’s related to my aversion to video games that are based on movies or TV shows. However, Star Wars: Outer Rim lets you take control of a bounty hunter, smuggler, or other ne’er-do-well as you travel the galaxy. Adding to your crew, buying new ships, hunting down bounties, and trading illegal goods all make up a fantastic experience. I’ve always liked the bounty hunters and such of Star Wars rather than Jedi/Sith, so I was happy to play this game after my disappointment in the new trilogy (and my excitement to eventually watch The Mandalorian)
This game was tough to add, as I’ve only played it one player, two player, or two player with AI. I really feel this game would excel most at higher player counts. I’d love to try a four player of this eventually, but the game is difficult to learn for new players due to each faction playing so differently. The asymmetric factions really appeal to me, but you can only really play certain factions together. The cute design belies the strategic depth of the game, as it definitely ranks amongst my favorite “dudes on a map” style game.
Gloomhaven has been the go-to dungeon crawler in my household since we bought it and it got a lot play earlier in the year. We unlocked some new characters, completed lots of scenarios, and fell in love with the game all over again. The only thing stopping it from getting to the table more often is the long set-up time and fiddliness, but the app Gloomhaven Helper is a godsend to help mangage that.
Sushi Go Party
For something lighter, Sushi Go Party is probably our favorite pick up and go game. It has lots of variety, scales nicely for 2 or more players, and is always fun. 2020 was focused more on lighter games than before, just from the general pandemic fatigue making us less patient for longer games.
Despite the pandemic fatigue, Clank Legacy made it to the table more than I expected. We both love the original Clank! so this was a no-brainer to pick up. Combing dungeon-crawl, deck-builder, and legacy elements really makes this one shine. It’s fun to see how decisions shape the board and the player decks. This probably edged out Gloomhaven in terms of favorite dungeon-crawler this year, but Gloomhaven still reigns supreme for all-time enjoyment.
Quacks of Quedlinburg
This was an impulse buy that I actually don’t regret! There are times when I buy games based on hype or awards. Since Quacks won the Kennerspiel des Jahres for 2018, I figured it was a safe bet (even though we’d gotten burned by that distinction in the past). It surprised us with how good it was! Bag-building and push-your-luck are both mechanisms we enjoy, so it’s nice to have a game that does it so well. It even has some bad luck mitigation which helps with any randomness. Highly recommended!
This seems like a “WTF” pick for hardcore gamers, but since we enjoyed playing Zilch (the non-branded version of Farkle), I got this as a gift. Fast, easy, and fun it scratches the same itch as Sushi Go Party does, but with absolutely zero set-up, it’s always great to play before picking up something meatier.
Usually it’s hard to like games that you lose so often, but Nemesis does an excellent job of watching your group getting mutilated by aliens still an engaging affair. Wandering around a malfunctioning ship, trying to stay quiet, and blasting aliens in the face is all good fun. Even when the ship blows up or an alien eats you from the inside out.
Roll for the Galaxy
I’d probably rank this game in our all-time Top 10 just because how often it gets to the table and how we always have a great time with it. Rolling dice, building settlements, and developing technology is done smoothly and with plenty of strategy. We played it a few times later in the year and it was always memorable.
Aeon’s End: The New Age
Aeon’s End has been one of the few series that I try to get as much stuff as possible and this game is no different. It introduces some minor legacy elements that we enjoyed and some new Breach Mages with unique power. However, what always stands out about Aeon’s End games are how each Nemesis (boss) you face it completely unique, requiring different strategies each time. Sure, we lose a lot, but when we do win we’re always ecstatic!
Another Tom Lehman game on the list (Roll for the Galaxy being the first), this was an impulse buy that turned out good as well. Tom Lehman hasn’t disappointed us yet, so I figured a foray into a fantasy setting from him could be cool. It definitely was! Pitting different wizards against each other to gather resources, summon creatures and the like made this game a must-have for anyone who loves resource-management with an interesting theme.
Shards of Infinity
It’s always tough to determine a favorite deck-builder. Star Realms and Dominion are also played a lot, but Shards of Infinity was brought to the table more often in 2020. The sci-fi setting is weird enough to appeal to me and different factions offer a variety of strategies. What is coolest about this game though is the ability to grow more and more powerful to the point where you just insta-kill your opponent. Love that!
So that’s all for my board game experiences in 2020. Any board games you loved this year? Share below!