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  • Lists & Guides
  • Best of 2021 Guide - Still Inaccurate, Still Incomplete, But Now with a Significant Delay!

Best of 2021 Guide - Still Inaccurate, Still Incomplete, But Now with a Significant Delay!

W Updated
Still Inaccurate, Still Incomplete, But now with a Significant Delay! Best of 2021 Guide

Game Information

There Will Be Games

If you are searching for the definitive best of 2021 boardgame guide, look further. This isn’t it. This is my list of the best and most notable games that I personally played in 2021. It is most assuredly incomplete, date inaccurate, but I hope it can provide you with some insights on a few great experiences. One thing that I can say about 2021 is that I finally played EVERY game in my collection. Whether you call it the “Shelf of Shame” or “Shelf of Opportunity” or something else to help justify dust collecting on unopened games, I managed to play everything I actually own. It wasn't a conscious decision to play them all until I looked at my collection toward the end of the year and realized there were only one or two that I had not played yet. This not only lead me to have played a bunch of new (to me) games in 2021 but also lead me to send many of those to the great secondary market in the sky.

Best Two-Player Experience- Cthulhu Wars Duel

CW:Duel

Inexpensive and tweaked for a great two-player event. I never thought that I would use those words to associate with anything under the “Cthulhu Wars” umbrella. You can find my review here. (No, I don't know if Sandy Petersen has said any silly shit on social media recently and I don't want to run a background check on every publisher/designer when I write a review. If that impacts what games you play/buy, you'll have to do the due diligence yourself.)

Game of the Year- Dune: Imperium

Dune: Imperium

One day, perhaps one YEAR, my game of the year will actually be published during that actual year. Dune: Imperium was “released” in 2020. Whatever, I didn't see it in stores and did not pick it up until 2021. It is easily my most played game of the 2021 and was in competition for Cthulhu Wars Duel for best Two-Player experience with the App (or card deck) playing a decent “Blocker of stuff you want to do.” (I just dislike having to spend my brain space remembering to do all the AI stuff when I'd rather to just be focusing on what I'm planning/doing.) I love that it supports multiple play styles with “Getting tons of cards” standing up to “Trying to win the battle every round.” (Sure, I would like a few more options to shed cards to make the Hand Management a bit more influential). I'll play it at any player count but my smile just gets wider the more players you add.

 

Best Expansion- Dune Imperium: Rise of Ix

IX

Oh, if a game from 2020 being awarded my game of the year didn't set you off, my awarding the same game's expansion of the year when it wasn't released until 2022 is NOT going to sit well. The Rise of Ix expansion revealed to me that I was subconsciously following certain paths and strategies in Dune: Imperium that I wasn't even aware of. It isn't a “This changes everything” expansion but it is a “This enhances and expands everything” release. You are bound to hear plenty of “I don't want to play without this expansion” talk (which I agree with) and even “I would put this in when teaching the game!” (which I don't know that I agree with). The expansion is such a seismic shift in options and tactics that it takes some gear-grinding from veteran players to switch to the new, wonderful options. If you enjoyed Dune Imperium, I can not recommend this expansion enough. And, yes, it addresses the lack of card shedding in the original game with new options for those leaders that thrive on a lean, synergy deck.

 

Comeback of the Year: Root

Root

Yes, I know the Cole-train had moved on to Oath in 2021 but after bouncing off of Root my first couple of plays, it set it hooks (roots?) into me. It's one of those rare games that I find my mind drifting to at odd times.

“What do you want for lunch?”
 “I want to try a Charismatic leader for the Eyrie, put tons of not-bird cards into Recruit, get every bird on the board and go into turmoil early. Just to see what happens.”
“So, Pizza?”

 

I'm still not sure how I feel about 2021 as a strong/weak year for game releases. What I do know is that I have added a half-dozen games to my “Keep Forever” list. I hope this gives you an idea of what type of games that I dig and, maybe, direct you toward games that you might enjoy.

There Will Be Games

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Still Inaccurate, Still Incomplete, But now with a Significant Delay! Best of 2021 Guide

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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charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #332278 13 Apr 2022 14:24
I'm a huge Cthulhu Wars fan, but I have no desire to try duel. I'd rather just play other games I'm not getting to the table enough at that player count. Still, maybe I should try it sometime.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #332281 13 Apr 2022 14:37

charlest wrote: I'm a huge Cthulhu Wars fan, but I have no desire to try duel. I'd rather just play other games I'm not getting to the table enough at that player count. Still, maybe I should try it sometime.

I believe CW Duels: extinction just came out. Which should give a nice mix to available Clans to play in the duel set-up if it's mixed with the orginal release.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #332286 13 Apr 2022 18:31
Duels is actually pretty cool if you're in the mood for Cthulhu Wars or something similar and don't have any other two-player DoaM games. (I, uh, have several.) You're right in that it's not going to be a real shift from the original game because it's basically just a couple rules tweaks that otherwise plays exactly like the regular version, which is fine if you're a fan. I enjoy the lower tension/less sprawling nature of it, so I think it's worthwhile to at least try.

Wade, you're the second person that tried to pre-empty my complaints about Imperium (the other being Dan Thurot) by assuring me that Rise of Ix solves what I regard as the game's fundamental flaw: lack of card shedding. Part of what makes Tyrants of the Underdark so good is the ability to purge your deck of the starting crap that can otherwise hamstring you in the mid- and late-game if you end up with a hand full of it while everyone else has their cool, powerful cards. I enjoy the game. I think it's well-designed. But I've just had one too many instances of feeling like I'm trying to do something and the deck I've been constructing is preventing me from doing it, which is exactly the last thing you want out of a deckbuilder. I'm not sure that I'm interested in spending another $40 or whatever to get an expansion that's required to fix that problem.

Glad you're finally enjoying Root, though. Getting the Marauder expansion has me wanting to get it on the table as often as possible these days. It's really one of my all-time faves at this point.
Msample's Avatar
Msample replied the topic: #332287 13 Apr 2022 18:55
Given that DUNE IMPERIUM is only ten rounds, max, in the original game perhaps people thought the game was too short to warrant trashing cards. Reading TIME OF CRISIS threads on BGG many people thought the same of that game. It wasn't my experience - I trashed aggressively and in the endgame my deck was way leaner and more powerful. DI had very limited ways to trash cards and despite its short length I think this was a shortcoming, so I am eager to try the expansion.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #332289 13 Apr 2022 19:56

Jackwraith wrote: Duels is actually pretty cool if you're in the mood for Cthulhu Wars or something similar and don't have any other two-player DoaM games. (I, uh, have several.)

Sure, rub it in that I don't have Ankh .:laugh:

Jackwraith wrote: But I've just had one too many instances of feeling like I'm trying to do something and the deck I've been constructing is preventing me from doing it, which is exactly the last thing you want out of a deckbuilder.

True. Dune: Imperium can and will hamstring someone by not providing a symbol you need for a space you wanted to go or to a faction you wanted/needed to boost. Still, it's a thrill to overcome it. Of course, I wasn't there for your games so, it's hard to know if it was the fault of bad luck, the deck that was build, or lack of the ability to shed. May I suggest one house rule for the original game and you let me know what you think?
At the start of your Reveal Turn, you are allowed to Trash 1 card from your hand. (before activating it, of course.)
If all else fails, it was at least a cheaper alternative than purchasing an expansion (which you should get cause Dreadnauts!)
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #332290 13 Apr 2022 20:48
I have an absurd aversion to house rules most of the time, but that certainly might be something to try.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #332291 13 Apr 2022 20:59

Jackwraith wrote: I have an absurd aversion to house rules most of the time, but that certainly might be something to try.


Me too, brother. I can only think of two games that have house rules we use. One is for Bilder where we allow sound effects when building. The other is for 4 card Golf (where you are supposed to be penalized points for "knocking" and not having the lowest score. We throw that out when alcohol is being consumed).
Cranberries's Avatar
Cranberries replied the topic: #332328 15 Apr 2022 10:37

WadeMonnig wrote:

Jackwraith wrote: I have an absurd aversion to house rules most of the time, but that certainly might be something to try.

Me too, brother. I can only think of two games that have house rules we use. One is for Bilder where we allow sound effects when building. The other is for 4 card Golf (where you are supposed to be penalized points for "knocking" and not having the lowest score. We throw that out when alcohol is being consumed).




Me, reading about other people's raucous and hilarious game groups on this site for the last 14 years.