My Woefully Incomplete and Wholly Inaccurate Best of 2018 Guide

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Best Board Games 2018

If you are searching for the definitive best of 2018 boardgame guide, look further. This isn’t it. This is a woefully incomplete and wholly inaccurate guide of the best and most notable games that I personally played in 2018. You won’t find your traditional categories here and, I would venture to say, you won’t find the traditional winners. This isn’t your father’s “best of” list…unless you happen to be one of my kids’ reading this, then, actually, this is your father’s “best of" list.

 

Best Technology Assisted Party Game - Werewords Deluxe

werewordsdeluxe copy

I’ll be the first to admit I do not like games that require an app. I’ll also be the first to admit that when playing games like Sentinels of the Multiverse or the dreaded Munchkin, the first thing I reach for is a stat tracking app. So, while I like the assistance of an app, I don’t like them being required. Werewords has finally swayed me to the dark side. Initially, I was disappointed with the lack of true components that comes with the game but the app is fantastic.

Werewords takes the classic Werewolf/Mafia trope and puts an actual game to it. You may also be screaming at the screen saying “But it’s freaking twenty questions!” and, yes, at its core Werewords is twenty questions. But the way it uses that core mechanism to such an entertaining degree is fantastic. Both Seers and Werewolves know what the “Secret Word” is but they have to try to hide or disguise that information. It’s a social deduction game based on deduction of actual clues given by what players say or don’t say. Being amazingly good or amazingly bad at 20 questions only makes it more entertaining. I don’t think anything is ever going to top the game where, as time was counting down and the questions were stalling, one player suddenly burst out “Is it a fabric?” The entire table fell silent, looked at offending player and yelled “Seer!”

 

Expansion of the Year - Kemet: Seth

Kemet Seth

The ink is barely dry on my review of Kemet: Seth, so it should be no surprise that I’m still in love with the razor’s edge of possibly broken and balanced that Seth walks. Can an alliance of two stop Seth from rampaging using furious assault? Can Seth meet an Alliance of five using the black alliance power tile and still come out the victor? My only answer is I cannot wait to find out and I will revel in every moment of attempting to derail the plans of the Alliance or to Banish Seth from whence he came.

 

Best “That’s Not a Game” Award – The Mind

The Mind

If you have debated whether or not The Mind is a game, you are missing the point. Watching it succeed, watching it fail, doing faux yoga breathing exercises before each round: it’s all part of the experience. If you NEED it to be a game, place some wagers on how long before it clicks or is dismissed as ridiculous by various personality types.

 

Best Word Play – Movable Type

Movable Type
Did you know that Movable Type has a solo mode? I personally cannot tell you about it because every time I pull the game out to play solo, someone inevitably walks by and says “Oh, I’ll play!” It’s sharp, streamlined and simple. It is also a recent graduate from “prominent place on the gaming shelf” to “In the Buffet beside the gaming table for quick access.” This puts it alongside titles such as Coup and The Fox in the Forest, which is high praise indeed in my household.

A few players have mentioned they would like to play an app version of this but I personally don’t want one., I love the “thwip” of the cards, the groans when someone takes a letter you want, the tapping of the cards on the table to signal you are ready to proceed. And there are no thoughts of whether or not someone has “Anagramfinder.com” open in another tab while you play. Finally, if you ever can’t find someone to play with, I hear it has a solo mode.

 

Best “Probably a conflict of interest but screw it” Award – Seal Team Flix

Seal Team Flix

This category could be the “Best Dexterity Game” or it could be “Best use of side boards” or even “Criminally overlooked Game of the Year.” But, since Pete Ruth and Mark Thomas are both longtime Therewillbe.games forum members and site contributors, it gets stuck with this unique award. The only thing harder than the hotel lobby scenario has been finding a copy of the game at my local stores. It also gets the “Close but no cigar” acronym award along with the “Camel Cup fantastic font” award. They had better get that expansion out soon; they are running out of room for awards on the game box.

 

Game of the Year- Inis

inis copy

Yes, I am quite aware that this is 2018 and Inis was released in 2016. But earlier this year was my first chance to experience Inis and, after purchasing the game, it has consistently hit the table over and over, always providing a thoroughly entertaining night. And you know what? My wife loves this game. Sure, she will grimace and endure playing Kemet and will quietly trounce me in Cyclades but she actually adores playing Inis. From casual to ultra-competitive, everyone I have introduced it to has enjoyed the experience. In a few short months, an expansion will be released and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

 

So, there you have it, my best of 2018 awards. There are plenty of games that I wasn’t able to experience that might have made the list (Lords of Hellas, Western Legends), others that innovated but failed to set the hook in me (Root) and some where the dust hasn’t settled enough to render a proper judgment (Keyforge). As promised, it is woefully incomplete and wholly inaccurate.

There Will Be Games Best Board Games 2018

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Best Board Games 2018 Wade MonnigSubscrive to Wade Monnig Follow Wade Monnig Message Wade Monnig

Board Game Reviewer

In west Saint Louis born and raised
Playing video games is where I spent most of my days
Strafing, Dashing, Adventuring and Looting
Writing reviews between all the Shooting
When a couple of guys reminded me what was so good
About playing games with cardboard and Wood,
Collecting Victory Points and those Miniatures with Flair
It’s not as easy as you think to rhyme with Bel Air.

Wade is the former editor in chief for Silicon Magazine and former senior editor for Gamearefun.com. He currently enjoys his games in the non-video variety, where the odds of a 14 year old questioning the legitimacy of your bloodline is drastically reduced.

“I’ll stop playing as Black when they invent a darker color.”

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hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #289029 02 Jan 2019 06:45
Much appreciated! I myself have never had the pleasure of finding it in a store. In fact, I’ve never found a store that had even heard of it.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #289034 02 Jan 2019 08:20
Inis is special, glad to see it here. Also, Werewords is ridiculously fun and the game I've played the most over the past 18 months.

I'm curious how SEAL Team Flix will be viewed long-term. I think it may be forgotten due to its setting and subject matter, which doesn't appeal to the majority of tabletop gamers. I do think it's one of the best dexterity games ever made and I'd choose it over Catacombs and Flick 'Em Up at this point.
BillyBobThwarton's Avatar
BillyBobThwarton replied the topic: #289086 02 Jan 2019 14:20
The way you describe Inis and your wife...are y’all playing Inis 2 players?
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #289091 02 Jan 2019 15:06

BillyBobThwarton wrote: The way you describe Inis and your wife...are y’all playing Inis 2 players?

No, it's always at least 3 player and usually 4 player. It's just that she loves playing it and will suggest it for game night, as opposed to Kemet or Cyclades, which she will play but never suggests.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #289096 02 Jan 2019 16:00
I'm curious how SEAL Team Flix will be viewed long-term. I think it may be forgotten due to its setting and subject matter, which doesn't appeal to the majority of tabletop gamers. I do think it's one of the best dexterity games ever made and I'd choose it over Catacombs and Flick 'Em Up at this point.

I’m going to be completely honest here. The only reason I didn’t put the game on the top 10 list is the setting and subject matter. I stated this in the review too. I absolutely do not like playing US special forces on a search and destroy mission against ecoterrorists. It would be worse if it were full Call of Duty and they were Russians or Middle Eastern. And to be quite honest 10 years ago I might not have balked at it. But here in 2019, I don’t really want to play a game with a mostly realistic setting where government agents bust in with SMGs and assault rifles and kill “tangos”.

I do think this has handicapped the game to some degree- the implication of realistic violence is a big turn off for a lot of game players, and since it is not a consim (despite what Tom Vasel apparently believes) there is a pretty sharp disconnect.

I totally get and respect that Mark and Pete may not see it this way. But I can tell you from experience that the game raises some eyebrows in a not good way.

And yeah, it is true that if it were the exact same game with space dudes shooting up space aliens, it would be no problem. If it were cowboys busting into raid outlaw hideouts, no problem. I think those settings wouldn’t alienate players like Seal Team stuff does.

Yes, Seal Team Flix is a great title...but Seal Team is not a great concept for a board game. The moment you put realistic guns in a game and suggest political motives...things get a little yucky.

I think the game is awesome. It is far better than Catacombs and Flick ‘em Up. It’s innovative, cool, and unique. But I can’t play it with my kids and my main group is totally turned off by the setting.

I honesty think that if it had a sci fi setting, it would have a higher profile. Not that it’s failing or doing badly Mind you- but I think it would be more widely played and discussed.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #289099 02 Jan 2019 16:22
I don't like dexterity games or the subject matter of Seal Team Flix, but I hope that Mark and Pete work together on other games.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #289101 02 Jan 2019 16:26
I agree with you Barnes, good post, I'd be more into a sci-fi implementation of the system. But I would also raise the possibility it's *selling* better because of its theme even if it's discussed online amongst people who talk about "those games of ours" less. Call of Duty is amongst the biggest sellers every year. PUBG is huge. Seeing that sort of game on the shelf may have pretty big sales knock-on effects among a different crowd.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #289104 02 Jan 2019 16:35
You know that actually points to another issue. Even though yes, Call of Duty and Battlefield continue to sell...culturally, the “now” games are the Battle royale designs (Fortnite/PUBG) and the lighter hero-based shooters (Overwatch/Destiny). The “let the bodies hit the flo’“ era of shooters is really over.

So that kind of puts STF behind the times in a sense. Imagine if this game were presented with Fortnite-style imagery...

I really don’t think the military shooter crowd is lining up to buy STF, regardless.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #289105 02 Jan 2019 16:52
I'm sure a different theme would have gotten a warmer reception. And that's okay, we set out to make a military game, and we nailed it. I never expected to get rich off of this thing.

There's an audience for everything. I personally thought we drenched enough "goofy" on top to make it not feel overly realistic.

That said, it will be the last "realistic" game I ever make. It's my understanding that people really love zombies and Cthulhu, anyway.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #289126 02 Jan 2019 19:46
I agree with you on fortnite, Barnes. But PUBG is very much a (quite slow) tactical bodies hit the floor military shooter.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #289127 02 Jan 2019 19:49
Kinda like Shellhead, I'm not into dexterity games and I was/am put off by the setting. It simply sounded way too alt-right to me (Military Guys gun down Tree Huggers!) But my political activity makes me pretty conscious of stuff like that, so I'm clearly not the target audience. That's fine. I'm not the target audience for Agricola, either. I'm glad it's worked out so well for you guys.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #289129 02 Jan 2019 20:11
FYI, I am very much ANTI alt-right. The expansion has narcos for enemies. Hopefully people feel better about putting virtual bullets into them.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #289131 02 Jan 2019 20:29
Illuminati and paid mercenaries are my enemies of choice
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #289135 02 Jan 2019 20:56
I meant to say that the drug cartel hired (AND PAID) some mercenaries. But WHO KNOWS who is REALLY pulling the strings??!!!?
jay718's Avatar
jay718 replied the topic: #289136 02 Jan 2019 21:16

hotseatgames wrote: But WHO KNOWS who is REALLY pulling the strings??!!!?


QAnon knows...
Vysetron's Avatar
Vysetron replied the topic: #289140 02 Jan 2019 22:14

Jackwraith wrote: Kinda like Shellhead, I'm not into dexterity games and I was/am put off by the setting. It simply sounded way too alt-right to me (Military Guys gun down Tree Huggers!) But my political activity makes me pretty conscious of stuff like that, so I'm clearly not the target audience. That's fine. I'm not the target audience for Agricola, either. I'm glad it's worked out so well for you guys.


Bit of a reach, yeah? Ecoterrorists aren't historically tree huggers. They're more the "blow up a dam" type. Makes a decent villain in my opinion.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #289160 03 Jan 2019 08:30
Not in the States. The Republicans routinely label organizations like ASPCA and Greenpeace as "eco-terrorists" for engaging in activities like trying to prevent whaling ships from operating (getting in between harpoons and their targets, etc.) I've been part of or cooperated with groups like that for most of my political life, so that's the image that came to mind when I saw the label. When I play a cult leader in Fate of the Elder Gods, I know it's fantasy, so I'm not worried about destroying the world with Cthulhu. I'm less sanguine about playing a SEAL team, since those guys actually exist. I mean, it's all contextual, right? I'm an atheist, but I love playing Here I Stand and Crusader Rex.

But mostly it's about dexterity games. I suck at them.
Vysetron's Avatar
Vysetron replied the topic: #289164 03 Jan 2019 08:43
Last line got an audible snicker from me. Well done, you.

I guess I don't have a problem with Seal Team Flix's theme because in-world the villains are, in fact, villains. There's not a single sympathetic character among them, they're cartoons. We're talking full on GI Joe shit. Looking forward to more variety.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #289208 03 Jan 2019 16:24
My squeamishness isn't about the villains, it's the heroes. After being at war for what is it now, 16 years, I have too many friends (and now children of friends) who are in or were in the military. Seal Team Flix makes me think about them, and makes it super yucky when one of the heroes gets hit.

It's still a great game though.
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
SuperflyTNT replied the topic: #289226 04 Jan 2019 00:02
The thing is that they’re not eco terrorists in the sense of releasing caged shampoo test monkeys, they’re VHEMT types who want to kill all life on Earth.

I get what Shellie is saying, though. Neither of my kids have been alive while my nation wasn’t in a war. Hell, for that matter, neither have I, barely. And my own BFF and kids are characters...so, yeah, if you want to internalize the game, that could be uncomfortable.

But that’s not what the game is about. This game is naked gun (and naked fun). You can’t bounce a bullet off of three walls and kill a person hiding behind a box. The puns and bad guy names were put in to lighten it up and remind players that this is a beer and pretzels game.

I’m still in the negative, financially, on the game...and it’s worth it. The goal was to have a pro copy of the game, and I have that.

It’s for sale at two local stores here.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #289232 04 Jan 2019 09:30

SuperflyTNT wrote: I’m still in the negative, financially, on the game...and it’s worth it. The goal was to have a pro copy of the game, and I have that.

It’s for sale at two local stores here.


I know the feeling. My one and only published game design involved long hours of development, prototyping, and playtesting, and my co-designer and I only got paid 3 copies of the game plus $300, each. But the goal wasn't to make money, it was to get our game published. Our only regret is that the publisher made so many changes to the game design that we only feel like the game is half of what we intended it to be.

By the way, the Fantasy Flight Event Center includes a retail shop, and they were selling STF. Last time I looked, they were down to just one copy on the shelf and that has probably been sold as well.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #289234 04 Jan 2019 09:44
Yeah, let’s not let the peanut gallery grousing detract from the fact that you guys made a great game- I think it has definite “cult” potential.

My FLGS has sold two copies, I know.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #289245 04 Jan 2019 11:18
It appears to me that there are a bunch of options for retheme on this if there's an issue with enough buyers. Setting the game in World War 2 would be the no-brainer, and yeah, you could do zombies (God help us all). But frankly, you could retheme it to Splatoon The Board Game with a licensing agreement and take the brand recognition with you to increase sales. Have yet to play it, but everyone I've heard speak on it indicates that it's the physicality of the game that makes it hum, 'cept Vasel of course.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #289440 08 Jan 2019 18:12

BillyBobThwarton wrote: The way you describe Inis and your wife...are y’all playing Inis 2 players?


Was thinking about this comment last night and decided to head to head with my wife. Much tighter since you only have one person to contend with. My wife went the expansion route with adding new tiles at least once per turn. She took the pretender token (aka the I've fulfilled a win requirement token) for being in 5 separate areas plus her Deed token which she received for smashing my troops in an contested area. I burned a few seasons cards before admitting defeat and letting her take my army (and, this, playing her bard card to claim the Deed Token) but managed to achieve the "be present in areas with 6 sanctuaries" so that I could also claim a pretender token thus pushing us to another round. I played a sanctuary card right off the bat which she "geis-ed" away (basically undoing my action) but that was my bluff, my real play was to be present in 5 or more areas (plus newly acquired deed card) which I managed with a Epic Tale card that allowed me to place 2 troops in the capital (and not initiate a clash). Super fun, as usual, so it gets a thumbs up even at two players....but better with more IMHO.