A Look Back at Most Played and Best New Games of 2018

First up, happy holidays to everyone reading this. I hope this season has been filled with games and gaming.

With 2018 coming to and end I thought this would be a good time to do a look back at the past year. The way the timing works out we will be recording our last podcast of the year on Boxing Day and that episode will release on New Years Day. So I thought this would make for a great discussion topic for that show.

I’m going to be looking at my most played games of 2018. I will follow that up with a list of some of the best new games of 2018 as well as my biggest surprise of 2018.

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. As an associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. There is no cost to you, I just get a small kickback if you buy something through one of these links.

My most played games of 2018

The first thing I thought I would take a look at are my most played games of 2018.

According to boardgamegeek.com I played a total of 116 different games a total of 295 times. This does not include expansions but does include RPGs as well as board games. Now I’m not perfect when it comes to logging plays on BGG but I’m pretty good, so this should be pretty close to accurate.

Lets take a closer look at the top five:

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 was the number one board game in the world when we started playing

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 – At one time our Friday Night Gloomhaven Group was our Friday Night Pandemic Legacy Group. Tori, Kat, D and I managed to complete the first season this past year. It took us a total of 18 plays. This goes to show you that we didn’t do so great.

Hype led me to try Pandemic Legacy despite not being a fan of the original game, and I’m glad we played through it. While I didn’t love it, it is way better than the base game. I also greatly enjoyed the ongoing story and legacy elements. I think it’s a worthwhile endeavour and I do encourage most groups to give it a go. I will admit I am having more fun with Gloomhaven though.

7 Wonders – The only reason this is this far up on the list is due to playing it regularly on Board Game Arena. 7 Wonders is part of our regular rotation on BGA and when one game ends another one starts. We started with only three players and are now up to six players each game.

Seeing 7 Wonders this high on the list is making me re-think logging my BGA plays. While I enjoy 7 Wonders well enough and I think the BGA implementation is excellent, it’s not one of my favourite games. It’s the ease of paying on BGA that put’s it so high up.

One of my most played games of 2018, Azul from Plan B Games.

Azul – Now seeing Azul this high up on my played games list doesn’t surprise me one bit. If anything I’m a bit shocked it’s not higher. I’ve played a lot of Azul this past year and enjoyed every single play. When I first started hearing the hype about Azul I didn’t believe it. Now, I do.

Azul is one of the best games in my collection. One of the most played games in my collection and a game I expect we will continue to play well into 2019 if not longer.

Race for the Galaxy – This is another one that is on this list due to playing on Board Game Arena. The difference between Race and 7 Wonders is that I actually really dig Race. It’s one of my top games of all time and one I never get stick of playing. Had I not been playing online this game wouldn’t have hit my top five but still would have been in my top ten games that I played the most in 2018.

I really do dig Race for the Galaxy and I’m looking forward to finally teaching Sean how to play over the holidays.

Playing the board game Tokaido during game night.Tokaido – BGA strikes again. I currently have three games of Tokaido going on Board Game Arena right now. This is another one I actually dig quite a bit and do enjoy playing my physical copy as well.

The big news for 2018 though was finally playing with the Crossroads expansion which I think adds a lot to the game. I can’t ever seen playing Tokaido without it, I like it that much. I dig Tokaido at all player counts and love how cutthroat it is for such a zen theme.

Some short notes about the next five games on my most played list.

Terraforming Mars is one of the best board games in my collection. Up next is Terraforming Mars. This one deserves to be in the top five. If it wasn’t for BGA it would be there, firmly.

Fallout The Board Game is next. I’ve mentioned it before, this game has a lot of warts but I still keep coming back.

Then we have Gloomhaven, the game that will probably top the list next year, assuming we actually get the group together to play.

Terra Mystica follows Gloomhaven and that’s due to Board Game Arena again. I’ve been playing regularly online with two other players.

Up last is Flick Fleet, which just funded on Kickstarter back in November. I got to check out a Prototype copy of this fleet based flicking starship combat game.

The best new to me games of 2018

Next I would like to take a look at some of the best new games I played in 2018. Now these aren’t necessarily games that came out in 2018 but rather games I played for the first time in 2018. Here are my top five in no particular order.

Three player Anachrony the time travel board game.

Anachrony – I really dig this time travel based game. While it’s a table hog and there are a ton of bits in the box the actual gameplay is much simpler than you would expect. The way the decision tree starts off small with only a few options but grows as you add more worker buildings to your player board really helps with the learning curve.

The concept of sending yourself resources from the future and then having to pay them back later in the game or choosing to risk paradox is brilliant. I just wish set up were a bit quicker and the sheet amount of components wasn’t quite as intimidating to new players.

Fallout the board game does a pretty good job of recreating the feel of the video game.Fallout – Despite all of it’s problems this game has to be on this list. I don’t know what it is about Fallout but I love this game. I hate the scoring system. I hate that about 1/4 of the time one or more of the players is going to get screwed over and will have no chance of winning. I get annoyed when someone else finishes off a quest that I did all the work starting. But I keep coming back.

I seriously don’t get it. I’m sitting here right now thinking about all the problems with the game while at the same time trying to figure out when I can play again. I’m thinking New Years eve. We should be able to fit in a three player game or two during the Gaming in the New Year party.

If you want a board game suggestion, that's probably good for almost anyone, go with Azul.Azul – Obviously. I don’t think there is much more I can say about Azul.

Azul is fantastic. Easy to teach, difficult to master. Top notch components. Good at all player counts. Small enough footprint that you can play it almost everywhere.

Everyone I teach this game loves it. I’ve probably convinced more people to buy this game than any other game ever. Plan B should be sending me money for now much I advocate for Azul.

Stefan Feld's Bruges. A quick point salad game. Yes quick.Bruges – I’ve been a Stefan Feld fanboy for a long time. Somehow I had missed Bruges when it first came out and it went out of print rather quickly. I managed to pick up a copy when Geektropolis closed and finally got to play it in July and instantly fell in love.

What surprised me most is how quickly Bruges plays. With players who know what they are doing you can manage to get in a game in under an hour. That’s basically unheard of for a Feld point salad. I dig everything there is about Bruges. How you draft cards. The ridiculous number of uses for each card. The crazy amount of options each turn. Having to mitigate disaster while trying to build your engine. I like it all.

Saint Petersburg Second Edition is a big improvement over the original board game.Saint Petersburg 2nd Edition – I knew I liked Saint Petersburg a lot. I enjoyed the original game so much I didn’t see a reason to swap to the shiny new edition that Z-Man Games put out. I probably would have went on being happy with my copy forever if I hadn’t found a used copy of the new edition for $15 at one of the FLGS. At that price I just had to check it out.

What I wasn’t expecting was a better version of the game I loved. A significantly better version. The new market phase adds an entirely new focus and strategy to the game. The fact that you can now play with five players is just a nice added bonus. Then there’s all of the modular expansions that add variability and replay-ability. I wasn’t sad at all to donate my old copy of Saint Petersburg to this year’s Extra Life auction.

Biggest Surprise game of 2018

I was going to list Lazer Ryderz in my top five games of 2018 but then I realized that it deserves a special call out.

Three player Lazer Ryderz the Tron light cycle board game.When I first saw Lazer Ryderz I thought the concept looked neat. It basically took the flight path system of X-Wing and left the turning templates on the board to make a trail and through that created a Tron Light Cycle board game. Neat. But not neat enough to back the Kickstarter, at least not for me. Thankfully enough other people were interested and the game came to market.

I picked up a copy during one of many Amazon sales earlier in the year and figured I would give it a shot. I fully expected a somewhat neat gimmick and hopefully a bit of silly fun. What I wasn’t expecting was a very solid game. Something that’s way more than a gimmick. Playing Lazer Ryderz requires planning and strategy. The ability to judge angles and distances. Actual skill out planning and out maneuvering your opponents. It’s a very solid game, based on a very cool theme.

This one is up there with Azul for showing people the game and having them enjoy it and then go looking for a copy themselves. I’ve yet to find anyone disappointed after trying it. It ended up being our most played game at Extra Life 2018 and I was not surprised at all.

What games did you play the most in 2018? What were your favourites? Did you find any hidden gems?

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