A Feast for Odin. This game has so many options it’s a lot to take in. I’ve played the game multiple times and there are a few rows of options that I’ve never even touched yet. With a far more forgiving feeding mechanic than most other Uwe Rosenberg games, but with a massive victory point hole, I still feel far more in control of my choices than in some of his games. It’s something to play again and again because even though all of the options are open from the start, unlike, say, Agricola or Le Havre, it still has a ton of replayability just on sheer choice.
Sol: Last Days of a Star. I only got to play this game once last year, but this game is a standout. With programming turns, anticipating board changes, a variable deck of effects that can (and should) change from game to game, this one gives you an interesting challenge. There’s a bit of a gamble, you can push forward, or try to build in a place where your opponent will use (and get you resources in the process), with the danger that they can overfill your hand only for you to get burned when a solar flare is drawn.
Manilla. This is not a new game; in fact it has been out for almost as long as I’ve been going to board game meetups. Somehow we missed this game, and that is a huge shame because Manilla is a gem that I don’t think most people have found. It is a worker placement game with gambling elements. Bet on the boats coming in, determined by dice (with some abilities to modify the results), or not coming in, or even gamble on a ship landing on a space so you can kick off the crew and steal it for yourself! And the resource values are determined during the game, so the value of goods can change a great deal between games.
Murano. The best rondel game I played all year. Moving gondolas to different actions on the rondel, taking advantage of what your opponents leave open or strategically pushing gondolas onto spots your opponents don’t want them to be, with a mechanic that lets you choose how you want to score victory points, and the ability to gain cards that allow you to break rules of the game. A very tight money management game, it’s important to move strategically to both gain advantage and put your opponent in a spot they don’t want to be. The game is more forgiving than I’m making it seem, but it’s still a challenge every time. This game is always a treat to play.
Suspend. A late arrival, only played a few times before the year ended, but Suspend is perhaps the most unique filler game I played all year. It’s a three dimensional ‘stacking’ game, building out (and down) as you hang different notched rods. This one is very direct in confrontation: it’s a race to run out of rods, and you can give your opponent rods if they cause any to fall. So making risky plays that leave them in really sour positions is a very valid strategy. Short, it almost always winds up looking like a piece of modern art. I try to take a picture of the final result at the end of each game. My only gripe is that the die hates me.
Now for what I’ve been playing:
Oshi, 2 players X2
Epigo, 2 players
Starfall, 2 players X2
Carcassonne, 2 players