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  • Still Inaccurate, Still Incomplete, But now with added COVID! Best of 2020 Guide

Still Inaccurate, Still Incomplete, But now with added COVID! Best of 2020 Guide

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Still Inaccurate, Still Incomplete, But now with added COVID! Best of 2020 Guide
There Will Be Games

You know the drill: If you are searching for the definitive best of 2020 boardgame guide, look further. This isn’t it. This is my list of the best and most notable games that I personally played in 2020. It is most assuredly incomplete, possibly inaccurate, but I hope it can provide you with some insights on a few great games.

Best Co-operative Game
(From the Guy who doesn't like Co-Ops):

The Crew: Search for Planet Nine

The Crew

I really enjoy some trick taking games but I generally loath co-ops. So, I was somewhat torn about picking up The Crew: Search for Planet Nine. I will be the first to admit, I was wrong about being hesitant about buying it. It is literally a co-operative game that avoids practically every single pitfall of Co-op games. It's nigh impossible to “Alpha Gamer” The Crew since all communication is done via an innovative token/card system that limits you to one single burst of information to the other players once per round. In fact, the whole game is a simple set of cards, a smaller set of objective cards, some tokens and a book of 50 missions. I currently have 4 separate games of The Crew running, ranging from a couple of 3-player games (by far the easiest) to the challenging 5-player version. Best of all, they have all been equally exciting, even though I have done various missions a number of times. It's small, it's low priced and it gives you a flashback to those mythical card games of old when your grandparents could communicate exactly what they wanted the other to bid or do with a simple look.

 

Best Card Game:
Tournament at Avalon

Tournament at Avalon

Let's assume you played The Crew and have decided that “You know what, I really dig trick taking games!” Oh, we have such sights to show you. Step into the Arthurian trick taking game that will pat you on the back for making a brilliant play and then, the next turn, stab you in the back for trying the exact same play. You can find my review Here.

 

Best COVID-induced 2-player Experience:
Cyclades

Cyclades

Of course it wouldn't be my best of... list without me including a game that is a few years old. This year, I dug deep to give Cyclades, a game released in 2009, the “Best COVID-induced 2-player Experience.” In a quarantine-induced funk, my daughter was going though my game collection looking for something to play when she inquired “Does Cyclades play two-players?” My eyes lit up “Yes, yes it does but I have never actually tried it.” This lead to some of the best two-player gaming experiences over the next few weeks. The adjustments for two-players are simple: Three metropolises instead of two, you get two bidding markers instead of one and the board adjusts in size so the number of islands is super tight. We had one game that was cut short by a required run to the grocery store where we debated for literally the next two hours on who would have won. Two hours...about a game that takes about a hour...and we were both insisting that we would have been the one that LOST. And, if giving a 11-year old game an award is 2020 doesn't sit well with you, rest easy knowing that it did make me go out and purchase the Cyclades: Monuments expansion and that only came out four years ago! You can find an extensive article on Cyclades (and Inis and Kemet) here...and you'll be happy to know that I was finally able to actually win a game of Cyclades.

 

Game of the Year:
Cosmic Frog

Cosmic Frog

Around October of this year, I was thinking to myself “Maybe I'm just been in a bad mood for the last (looks at watch) six months. I haven't played anything new that has really thrilled me.” And then Cosmic Frog arrived and, after a burst of plays, I looked at the over 3,000 words of notes that I had excitedly (digitally) scribbled of the things I wanted to talk about. I managed to bring it down to a reasonable level for my review which you can find here.

I generally know when a game is going to be in my wheelhouse but Cosmic Frog didn't really tick those obvious boxes. But, as soon as I saw it, I was interested and it just clicked for me when I got it to the table. Things like creating the landscape/shard before each game that could be a detriment ends up being one of it's strengths. The amazing art is self evident, the gameplay ebbs and flows along with the player strategy and it is just a joy to play. For all the things 2020 took away from us, I'm glad it did give us Cosmic Frog.

There Will Be Games

Wade Monnig  (He/Him)
Staff 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.”

Articles by Wade

Wade Monnig
Staff Board Game Reviewer

Articles by Wade

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WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #317472 23 Dec 2020 12:41
Yes, using Cyclades as the main photo for my best of 2020 list is as close to click bait as I get.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #317474 23 Dec 2020 13:26
Full agreement on The Crew.

It appears I need to get Cosmic Frog. Thank you for the photo on it -- first I've seen in spite of it being talked up heavily here.
drewcula's Avatar
drewcula replied the topic: #317478 23 Dec 2020 18:22
Cosmic Frog here I come!

Thanks for the year's wrap. Happy Holidays mate.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #317481 23 Dec 2020 20:06
Thanks for all your reviews this year, Wade. You don't always play stuff that jumps out at me but I feel like you help me stay current.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #317488 24 Dec 2020 03:39

Gary Sax wrote: Thanks for all your reviews this year, Wade. You don't always play stuff that jumps out at me but I feel like you help me stay current.

You are welcome! I try to give a variety of different reviews from across the spectrum. You never know what might click or what might be a surprise gem!
groth's Avatar
groth replied the topic: #317498 24 Dec 2020 18:16
Did you use any expansions (like Titans, Hades) for Cyclades when playing 2 player?

What are your top trick taking games, either traditional or themed (like Skull King, Wizard)?

Have you ever played the card game Lords of Scotland? It's not trick taking, it seems like a unique card game.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #317507 25 Dec 2020 13:48

groth wrote: Did you use any expansions (like Titans, Hades) for Cyclades when playing 2 player?


We played just the base game about five or six times. My daughter really wanted to "solve" the game and didn't want to add any new things to the equation. She had a couple of missteps (like doing this great Athena Drop of the final Metropolis only to realize she had no island to place it. According to the rules, you just lose the metropolis at that point which didn't sit well with either of us). We did add C3K our last game (adds Kemet monsters to Cyclades). I just picked up the Monuments expansion but haven't had a chance to add it yet since we started a few head to head games of Nations but we'll be back to it soon I think.

groth wrote: What are your top trick taking games, either traditional or themed (like Skull King, Wizard)?Have you ever played the card game Lords of Scotland? It's not trick taking, it seems like a unique card game.

We really like Tournament at Camelot, Fox in the Forest (if playing two player) and Skull King. Haven't played Lords of Scotland but I have been interested in it, I just have never seen it for sale.