The 9 Best Board Games of 2016

January is almost over, so it's time for my list of my favourite games I was introduced to last year. In total I played 58 games for the first time over the period. (16 of them was children games (I'll write another post on that later), so 42 games qualify as nominees.) As last year I go from light to... meatier... categories. But, this year, I have tried to select only 9 games. For simplicity. And it allows me to do this:



Off we go.

Filler games


Kingdomino is one of Bruno Cathala's many new games of 2016. An excellent take on, well, domino. (Kind of.) This really clever 15 minutes filler is along with Deep Sea Adventure my choices of the year for this category. I had the latter on the radar before Essen Spiel this year because of it's amazing minimalist artwork and simple push your luck gameplay. This lived up to expectations and is one of my most played games from the loot of 2016. It has a fairly claustrophobic theme, so I guess it is not for everyone...

Party game

Codenames: Pictures, however, probably is for everyone. This visually oriented game manages to improve the hit formula from 2015's word based Codenames. Since it is image based it works better (but not perfect) in settings where players don't have the same mother tongue...

Gateway games


Fabled Fruit and Evolution: Climate share this victory in this category. The former for its simplicity and elegant ever evolving game play trough Friese's take on the legacy game concept, and the latter for its simple rules and tons of variability with the ever evolving species "naturally selected" by the players.

Solo game


Tiny Epic Galaxies is by far the game I have played the most solitaire last year. It's great fun to try to beat the, rather large, selection of "AIs". Especially with my 6 year old as a sidekick.

Enthusiast games

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Roll for the Galaxy is the game of the year in my favourite category.
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Ahead of the excellent Inis
The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game comes in as number 3. I haven't played the "original", but I love this card variant, and, as an added bonus, the solitaire rules are solid.

Honourable mentions

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Mombasa, ah, Mombasa. I just got to play about one third of it at the last day of the Essen Spiel, so I can't really put it properly on this list... Amazing Pfister game! (although I am, for once, a bit put off by the theme.) 
Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King is another Pfister game I got to play in Essen. Kind of. We improvised a six player variant with only new players, so it was far from ideal. Looking very much forward to play this again.
I have only played a kind of solitaire teach-myself-the-rules variant of Phil Eklund's Bios: Genesis, but I can't wait to play the whole thing.
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The game I look forward to the most in 2017

The Great Western Trail Voila. This game looks like it could be Pfister's best so far. I can't wait.

Also, for reference, here's my list from 2015.

(Almost) all games I played for the first time in 2016

42 games

Ascension: Storm of Souls * Bios: Genesis * Broom Service: The Card Game * Bubblee Pop * Burke’s Gambit * Cardline: Animals * Cardline: Dinosaurs * Codenames: Pictures * Colony * Conflict of Heroes: Guadalcanal – The Pacific 1942 * Dead Man’s Draw * Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game * Deep Sea Adventure * Dragon Keeper: The Dungeon * Evolution: CLIMATE * Fabled Fruit * Fuji Flush * Game of Trains * Gooseberry * Harbour * Inis * Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King * Kingdomino * Kobayakawa * La Glace et le Ciel * Master of Orion: The Board Game * Mombasa * Parade * Pocket Invaders * Power Grid: The Card Game * Railroad Revolution * Roll for the Galaxy * Small Star Empires * Struggle for Catan * The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game * The Lord of the P.I.G.S. * Tides of Madness * Timeline: Music & Cinema * Tiny Epic Galaxies * Tiny Epic Western * X nimmt! * Zombicide

And 8 expansions

* 7 Wonders: Cities * 7 Wonders: Leaders * 7 Wonders: Wonder Pack * Port Royal: Ein Auftrag geht noch… * Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition * Star Realms: Crisis – Fleets & Fortresses * Ticket to Ride: USA 1910 * Viticulture: Moor Visitors Expansion