Dave's Top 10 New-to-Me Games for 2018
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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It's time to look back on 2018 and see how the stuff that was New to Me shook out. My personal gaming desires favor depth over breadth, but I still enjoy discovering new things. The recent glut of games in the past few years has made this difficult, both in trying to find wheat among the chaff and in spending more time with known favorites, but I've been managing pretty well.

Here are my play stats for 2018 (the numbers in brackets are 2017's values):

330 logged gameplays (180 new to me) [290/128]
160 unique games (75 new to me) [149/72]

Unique Games:
97: 1 play [97]
30: 2-play [27]
17: 3-play [10]
2: 4-play [5]
5: 5-play [4]
6: 6-10-play [4]
4: >10 plays [2]

I somehow played a considerable amount more this year, increasing both depth and breadth! So what rose to the top? It was a tough call this year. The top 10 were pretty apparent, but sorting within those was difficult! Here's how it all fell out. The items are more or less in ascending order of appreciation.

Previous notable games lists:

2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
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1. Board Game: Sidereal Confluence: Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:568]
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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I first played this as a courtesy to my pal more than out of genuine excitement, since I really don't like negotiation games. My initial reaction was not favorable. It's a weird, clunky game with rough edges and a lot of weirdness. The scoring is extremely weird. It's a table hog.

And yet, I thought about it a lot. I heard a lot about it on various podcasts and that got me wanting to play again. The second time I was eager to have another go, and it kind of clicked with me. It's still a weirdly produced game with a lot of oddball tics about it, but it stands out. Very much wanting to play this more.

Plays in 2018: 2
Current rating: 6
Own? I don't need my own copy.
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2. Board Game: Bloc by Bloc: The Insurrection Game [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:3948]
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
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I did a lot of Kickstarting (by my standards, anyhow) in 2018 and have been largely pleased with the results. One of the things I look for there are themes I'm not otherwise getting. A board game about an anti-capitalist insurrection, in which you fight the state for citizen control? With "ACAB" tokens? Couldn't pass this up! Fortunately the game is also a lot of fun and the theme is well implemented.

Plays in 2018: 2
Current rating: 8
Own? You bet!
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3. Board Game: DRCongo [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:3855]
Dave Lartigue
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Springfield
Massachusetts
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This is an older game I've had my eye on for some time and finally got a copy. One of my biggest gripes in board gaming is how few games are set in the present in locations other than America and Europe. When I heard about this one, examining the Democratic Republic of Congo and its current situation, I was intrigued. Sure enough, the game delivers, and we explored it by using its layered ruleset that opens up new depths each time. The final, full game, is great, and packed with theme. This is how it can be done, folks.

Plays in 2018: 3
Current rating: 8
Own? Yep, finally!
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4. Board Game: Yellow & Yangtze [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:1325]
Dave Lartigue
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Tigris & Euphrates is a definite classic and one of my all time top ten games. I was down for this "sequel" from the moment I heard about it. It's more of a companion game, taking a lot of the elements from T&E and modifying them to provide a familiar, yet different experience. T&E is more about the epic sweep of history, with rising and falling powers. Y&Y is focused on a smaller timeframe and more local conflicts. The best thing I can say for it is that I recommend it regardless of how you feel about T&E. I really like Y&Y for itself, but I'm also glad it got T&E to see some play this year.

Plays in 2018: 3
Current rating: 8
Own? Pre-ordered it as soon as I could
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5. Board Game: Nemo's War (second edition) [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:377]
Dave Lartigue
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I've never been too much for solo gaming. If I want to play games by myself, I just play video games. But lately I've been enjoying co-ops, many of which can be played solo, and I thought I'd give it a go. The results weren't spectacular until Nemo's War came along. This is a stellar, tense game in which the solo nature is absolutely essential. You are truly fighting a focused one-person war against imperialism and greed. It's amazing and challenging, and I've been playing only on wee baby mode so far! This truly is a tempting alternative to the PS4.

Plays in 2018: 2
Current rating: 8
Own? Yep.
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6. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: A New Dawn [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:671]
Dave Lartigue
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Springfield
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Long-time people who've had me yell at them may recall that while I really like the idea of a civ game, most of them in practice are just "history of warfare" games, in which the goal is to figure out how to feed your 3000 unique military units with the wheat your single library produces. Finding a game which recognizes the existence of warfare without centering on it has been a struggle. The focus bar means you can't just hammer on one thing and have to diversify your actions, which is something I want in a civ game. And while you can harass other players, there's no just pounding on the weak until they cough up the stone you need. A New Dawn isn't quite where I want to be yet, but it's very close.

Plays in 2018: 6
Current rating: 8
Own? I do!
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7. Board Game: Ethnos [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:230]
Dave Lartigue
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Honestly, the fantasy setting, terrible name, yawn-inducing artwork, and Cool Mini or Not provenance of this game could easily have made me pass it by. Fortunately, word of mouth helped it to catch my attention. Disguised as a featureless lump of gray putty, this game is actually a fun and clever take on area control (sort of) and set collection (sort of). It's also ripe for expansions. Naturally, it's out of print and as far as I can tell there are no plans to bring it back. Look for Dark Armies of Obsidian Midnight instead from CMON in 2019!

Plays in 2018: 5
Current rating: 8
Own? Yes! Managed to score one cheap before scalpers stepped in.
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8. Board Game: Bunny Kingdom [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:387]
Dave Lartigue
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Sometimes you want to trade and negotiate in the Elysian Quadrant. Sometimes you want to fight a grim war against mankind's corruption. And sometimes you want to deploy your bunnies into the bunny kingdom in order to secure the most carrots or fish. Bunny Kingdom has a lot that may turn off some gamers -- namely, a whole lot of hidden scoring that only reveals itself at the end -- but if you keep in mind that you're playing a game called Bunny Kingdom and let that go, it's an absolute delight. I played this once and immediately wanted my own copy.

Plays in 2018: 8
Current rating: 8
Own? Oh heck yes!
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9. Board Game: Q.E. [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:3312]
Dave Lartigue
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I first read about QE on a lot of "Best of 2017" lists. Auction games aren't something I feel particularly strongly about, but one in which the players can print money, and therefore have, at all times, an infinite amount of money? How can that possibly work?? When it went on Kickstarter I jumped at the chance to back it.

It works amazingly well! Having unlimited funds is fun, but the constant Sword of Damocles (if you spend the most at the end of the game, you lose, and you don't have full info on others' spending) makes this tense (and actually settles players down...only one game so far has had players jump out of the realm of double-digit bids, and it was great). It plays and teaches quickly, and it's full of great moments. This easily could have been (and nearly was) my number one game of the year.

And lucky you! While previous editions were self-published and hand-created, a publisher has picked up this gem so that more people will be able to experience it!

Plays in 2018: 8
Current rating: 8
Own? I jumped at the chance!
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10. Board Game: The Mind [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:533]
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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GAME OF THE YEAR

While the learned elders stroked their beards and clucked their tongues and said, "But is it even A GAME????" we had a great time playing this unique card game. The premise is simple: play the cards in your hands in ascending order, but you can't speak. The result is a tense and inexplicably hilarious experience that begs for "one more try".

I played it with my gamer pals, sure, but also with casual gamer friends, family, and several non-gamers. It was a ton of fun each time. It's amazing how such a simple idea, and simple package, works so well.

Plays in 2018: 12
Current rating: 8
Own? Strangely, no! (See below)
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11. Board Game: The Game [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:957]
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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HONORABLE MENTIONS

The Game: This was my most played (16 plays) game of 2018. I like it fine, but I bought a copy mostly to use it to play The Mind (which hadn't been released here at the time). The fact that it can play both games is a plus.

First Martians: Last year's GOTY were a collection of co-op games. This one wasn't on that list because by the end of 2017 I had only played it once, and very wrongly at that. But in 2018 I tackled it solo and had a great time with it. It's hampered by a terrible Portallian rulebook and a not-super-great-yet-necessary app, but the hatred for it is way out of proportion.

Welcome To: The roll-and-write bug didn't bite my gaming groups as it seems to have done so with others, but I snagged a copy of this and we all enjoyed it. Didn't set the world on fire, but a good time.

Western Legends: I enjoy adventure games, but Western Legends didn't do a whole lot at first. That's because, unlike most adventure games, you want more players for it. Got only three players? Better off with Merchants and Marauders or something like that. Got five or six? Time to saddle up, pardners!

Camp Grizzly: I'm not a fan of slasher movies and have never watched one all the way through. Nevertheless, I could see every frame of the movie that developed from our play of this game, complete with side plots, minor characters, and cheap jump scares. The game takes its theme and just murders it. In a good way.
 
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