Top 5 Board Games – 2019 Edition

Top 5 Board Games – 2019 Edition

Board games, I love them a lot, so much so that I did a top 100 board games (you can find that here). That was just over a month ago that I wrapped that up, so will things have changed that much? Have I played new games during that time?

I have played new games, and will things have changed much, you’ll have to see… but the answer is NO! So if you want to see my top 100 games of all time, check out that link above, and now onto this list, where I’m going to go with 5 games from 2019. This is a bit different than normal lists where anything goes, but I just did my top 100 games, so I thought, to make this more interesting, I should just go with 2019 games.

5 – Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
A fun roll and write game that I really enjoyed this year. The scoring is a lot of fun as you score for A & B first, then B & C, C & D and finally D & A. And, it does something else that’s unique for a roll and write (flip and write) game that when a monster shows up to be placed onto the sheets, you pass your sheet to another player and they can put it into the worst position for them, while someone else does that for you. It’s a bit more interactive than a lot of roll and write games. The game plays fast, and while I wish the map making theme was more of a part of the game, it is lightly there, and the rest of the game is fun.

4 – Zona: The Secret of Chernobyl
Now, this game I only got to play a chunk of at GenCon an while it is a 2019 release, I expect it to get more of a release in 2020. But it was a blast to try out, and the mechanics of the game were interesting. A game where you’re exploring the irradiated lands around Chernobyl, but not in some grim way, but there is a secret in the heart of Chernobyl and you’re exploring ruins, fighting against mutant monsters and scavenging food. And you might be magical. The experience of playing this was great and the game seems to have some nice theme while engaging mechanics. I also like that it’s a competitive game, but it’s possible that the game will just beat everyone.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

3 – Letter Jam – While Zona was a massive game, Letter Jam is a much smaller package as you are trying to figure out a word that is in front of you. However, you can’t see your letters, and the only way you can figure them out is if your letter is used in a clue where you can see the other letters of the word being formed. And, it’s a cooperative game, so you need to be helping people guess their letters and words while you are getting clues as well. This game scales up well and is a lot of fun, even with a rocky first experience playing it, I’ve had a lot of fun with it since then. The puzzle level of the game is good, and the fact that no one knows their letters means that if you have a larger vocabulary it doesn’t help you.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

2 – Hats – An Alice in Wonderland themed abstract game, I really like Hats. In it you’re trying to collect the best collection of hats at the Mad Hatter’s tea party that is determined by what you have in front of you, but also by what is on the table at the end of the game. So it’s a push and pull game of playing down cards onto the table, trying to make it so that your opponent doesn’t score well, at the same time protecting where you are scoring so that they can’t screw you over. The game has a cute cookie in it as well. Now, that seems pretty cutthroat, and it can be, but the game is fast, and it is less direct in terms of feel of the conflict. It’s a well done game that forces you to think about how you play your cards in a different way than you’d normally do for scoring.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

1 – Deranged – While the last two games have been small, this game is a big game that is coming to the US in 2020 from Ultra Pro, but it came out in 2019 technically in other places. I got a chance to play this at GenCon, and it was amazing. It’s a horror themed game where you go to a cursed town, end up cursed and you need to break your curse before time runs out. But along with that, you have other players who are trying to do that, and if they escape before you, you still lose. And, then, there is a chance that you’ll become deranged, which means you turn into a monster, and then you have to kill someone else to get your humanity back. The damage being done by cards that have multiple uses is great, and how everything works is done really well. I’m really waiting for this to come to the US so that I can pick up a copy, it scratches the same itch as Betrayal at House on the Hill, just in a tighter package, but with less story.

Now for some honorable mentions, I might have had one or two of them in my top 5 had I played it earlier because it’s a ton of fun. But the games above were all on the list from the top 100.

Honorable Mentions:
Point Salad
Cat Cafe
The Grimm Masquerade
Skulk Hollow
Draftosaurus

Are there any cool games that you’ve played from 2019 that you think I should check out. I’ve played more new games, and I have Tainted Grail sitting there ready to be played, I just haven’t found a time to play it yet. Let me know in the comments below.

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