As a gamer, and aficionado of all things geekery-related, every year, I like to look back at what happened, what I played, and reflect on the biggest games of the year for me. Some of these might be surprises. Some might be obvious. Some will be RPGs. Some will be board games. All are awesome. My only rule was no direct expansions to existing game lines (new editions are ok, as are games that use existing rules but in a new setting or twist on the rules.). All of them are games I’d suggest you look at, consider demoing or just outright buy.
9.) Firefly Role-Playing Game (MWP) – The next edition of the Firefly universe hit tables this year, and it was awesome. MWP has really come a long way in refining their Cortex system, and their reacquiring of the same-yet-different Firefly license (as opposed to Serenity) allowed them to launch the game back up with their new and improved rules and really do it the justice it deserved. It’s fun. Fast. And for fans of the show and movie, a must have for their shelves.
10.) Atomic Robo Roleplaying Game (Evil Hat Productions) – The Atomic Robo webcomic is a love letter to classic pulp adventurers. The comic made its way into the world as a roleplaying game courtesy of Evil Hat Productions and uses their house FATE system. It’s a fun game, full of light rules, pulpy action, and moments that make sitting around a table great.
8.) Shadows of Brimstone (Flying Frog Productions) – After a fantastically successful Kickstarter, Flying Frog Productions released their game (really two games), Shadows of Brimstone. It’s a board game in the vein of Descent, but with the added bonus of being a western. Oh, and the mines are evil and Cthulhu filled. The highlight of the game is the campaign mode where your heroes go back to town, acquire new equipment, get new skills, and work their way deeper, and deeper into those mines.
7.) Ca$h ‘n Gun$ (Asmodee) – A second edition of the first game, this is the best party game you can ever buy. Hands down. Players take on the role of various criminals attempting to split the loot of a heist, and resolve their conflicts or issues by pointing foam guns at each other. It’s a bluffing game, a loot sharing game, and a really fun game. The only thing this game needs is to come with a few friends, for when you can’t get the right sized group together (the game is best played with eight players!).
4.) A World of Dew (Woerner’s WunderWerks) – A update and modification to the Blood and Honor system, A World of Dew puts you into a samurai-noir game where the City is a character as much as you are, and the story comes first. For everyone. It has innovative dice mechanics, easy character creation, and a lot of fun (The base game, Blood and Honor is fantastic, and sadly out of print, but the PDF is well worth it).
3.) Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (Wizards of the Coast) – Yes. Yes. After suffering through fourth edition, the patience of fans and dungeon crawlers has been rewarded! The exquisitely perfect 5th edition of the oldest roleplaying game hit this year, and every single page was a rousing success (except for the Halfling art. What the heck was that?). Every single fantasy RPG is being put back onto their lonely dusty shelves as 5th Edition returns to the throne as the king of fantasy RPGs. Fun. Simpler. Elegant. Classy. It’s really the culmination of 40 years of learned RPG experience, and some of the best designers in the industry.
2.) Corporia – What? There’s an RPG that edged out D&D 5e for the top RPG spot? Yes. Yes there is. Cyberpunk meets Arthurian Legend. It’s near-future Knights of the Round Table, having business meetings, and then slaying nether-realm monsters in the dark dystopian alleys of “The City”. An incredibly flexible system, combined with top-notch layout and formatting makes this game an absolute joy to play. It’s certainly more limited than a generic roleplaying game, but the sheer amount of flavor and fun you get from your technologically enhanced super-knight more than makes up for it.
1.) Doomtown: Reloaded – An old favorite back again in a “LCG” format. The old Doomtown CCG was a great game, and this year, AEG relaunched their Doomtown game as Doomtown: Reloaded. It’s hard to hype enough praise on this game, but the mechanics are a blast, the factions are cool, the rules are easier to understand, and the game is beautifully illustrated. There are already two small “Saddlebag” expansions out, and AEG has pledged “Pinebox” support (deluxe expansions). If you don’t get this game, you’ll regret it. It’s hands down the best card game/board game of the year.
Honorable Mentions (this breaks the rules above)