On to another list for my top 5 drafting games. Now, Board Game Geek only has card drafting for me to sort through, but I will be including a dice drafting game in my list as well (or two). So without any more clarification: 5. Roll […]
Yes, it is going to be an annual tradition doing the top five lists of my favorites in the categories of board games, video games, movies, TV shows, books, and anime. Possibly other things as well, but I can’t remember right now if there were other things that we did lists on.
We have a change up from what I remember as being my #1 last year, but Gloomhaven has gotten to the table so much, and I’m really loving it. The story is a lot of fun in the game, and I really like the combat in the game. Playing two cards and then using the top half of one card and the bottom half of the other card makes for some interesting strategy and changing characters keeps the game feeling nice and fresh. It is a beast of a game to get set-up, move around, and use, but we have it down now so we can get scenarios set-up fast and it doesn’t seem to suffer because of that.
2. Pandemic Legacy
Was a pretty easy choice for the top two. Pandemic Legacy Seasons 1 and 2 just hold up so well. These are big experience games that are a ton of fun. Because they are legacy games they can’t be replayed, but it is fine, after playing through the stress and ups and downs of the games you feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth from the game. How the story unfolds and the game mechanics progress just makes the games and systems tie together and work really well.
3. Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game
This game just tells stories of the Dresden Files well, and there is so much tension in the game play and when you win it feels good. The limited resources and card management works really well. The game also works really well as a solo game and they keep the tension with every number of players. They also keep on releasing expansions for further books in the series that keeps the game even more playable.
4. Betrayal At House on the Hill
I still love this game for how unbalanced it can be. The stories and moments that you have in the game are great as you try and escape this house. I’m a big horror film buff, though I haven’t seen as many as I’d like. The exploration part of the game is a lot of fun, and I cannot wait to play Betrayal Legacy as I think a more directed story in that system will be amazing. There’s also some good campiness to the game that allows it to channel the movie Cabin in the Woods.
There are so many game options I want to put down here. For right now Smallworld holds the spot as it’s a game that is always one I’ll play. The expansions for it are a lot of fun and keep the game feeling fresh, but even without an expansion, it still feels unique with the different combinations of races and powers. The high conflict and area control of the game could be mean, but because of the artwork and style of game that it is, you can’t be annoyed and someone when they try and take you off the map, because you can do that again in a turn or two.
Xenoshyft: Onslaught – A great deck building game that actually has a point for the deck building.
Sushi Go! Party – Fast card drafting game with really cute artwork.
Sagrada – A fun dice drafting game that looks great on the table.
T.I.M.E. Stories – Only played on scenario in it, but it’s a lot of fun and gives you a fun feeling of role playing and puzzle solving as you go along.
Arkham Horror LCG – A good story based Lovecraft game with very puzzle like mechanics.
It’s been a good year for gaming and trying new games. What are your current top 5 favorite games? Have you gotten a chance to try any new games this past year that would have broken into your top 5?
I have to tell the story of how we got the game, because it’s a ton of fun. Kristen and I were in Los Angeles over International Table Top Day this year to visit some of my family. They were going to be busy the evening of International Table Top Day, but they knew of a board game cafe, Game Haus, near their place, so they were dropped us off their on the way to their thing.We show up and get the last two tickets, since they were ticketing the event as they were doing a raffle for a number of games. We sit down, get our free drinks and cake and play Takenoko, possibly a future TableTopTakes right there. I comment, since I had looked at the games in the raffle, how Sagrada was the one that I was interested in winning. Then I spot it on their board game shelf and suggest that we try it. So we pull it off the shelf after playing Takenoko and play a game of it, they’ve done a couple of raffles during that time of things we weren’t too interested in. Kristen and I both enjoyed the first game of Sagrada and decided to play another one, as we’re playing that one, the guy doing the raffle comes around and reads off the last four numbers. Kristen is the winner, and it just happens to be the copy of Sagrada that they were raffling off. So we won Sagrada while we were playing Sagrada. The stars just aligned nicely on that one.
Back to the review.
Sagrada is a fun family weight strategy/puzzle game where you are rolling dice and placing them to create your stained glass window. It’s a very pretty game that requires some planning as you try and build your window, and not that much interaction between players. We brought it up to play with my parents over Mother’s Day weekend, and both of them were able to pick up the rules quickly and enjoyed it a lot. They’ve played a number of games before, but we’ve been introducing them to new games so that we’ve moved away from games like Uno ans Skip-Bo that we grew up playing. It’s a bit more complex game that is still easy enough for people who don’t play a ton of modern games to able to understand.
In Sagrada you are trying to build the best stained glass window that you can point wise. During a round, a player rolls two dice for each person plus one, and then you go around drafting dice and placing them on your stained glass window. That seems pretty simple, and that’s the big thing you need to grasp for this game, however, then there complexities that are added in. You have to place the first die in the corner, and then anything after that must be connected diagonally or orthogonally (above or below or off to either side). So that’s a bit trickier when you know that some of the spots on your stained glass window need to be a certain number or a certain color. You have to plan out what you draft, but then there’s even more. The same color or same number can’t be adjacent in rows or columns (aka orthogonally). So if you need a blue die in one spot and a three in a spot next to it, you can’t (or don’t want to) use a blue three for the blue die or a blue three for the three. Once you’ve gone ten rounds you will have a completed or nearly completed stained glass window. Then you score points. Finally there is one last thing that helps you in this game, there are stained glass window building tools cards, these can help you complete your window by moving dice, allowing you to ignore a color, or ignore a number. However, these things cost a token, and the harder your stained glass is the more tokens you have, but if you don’t use the tokens, they count for points at the end of the game.
The points in this game are fun, because each person has their own private objective, which is always scoring points based on the pips showing up for a certain die color in your stained glass window. So if I have blue, I might want to try and get more blue dice into my window to score more points, but maybe I won’t be able to because someone needs those blue dice, or because the blue dice don’t help me complete my window. Than there are public objectives, everyone knows what these are in the game, and so you might be trying to get the most sets of 3’s and 4’s on the board, or maybe you are trying to get dice of a color that are connected diagonally. There are a number of these public objectives that are shuffled up at the start of each game, so you don’t know what you are going to get until you flip them. Then you gain more points for tokens you haven’t used, and you lose points for spots open in your stained glass window, and at the end, whomever has the most points wins.
That’s actually how I would teach the game to people. Sagrada is a game that is very variable because things like the public scoring, the artist tools, and the windows you are working on can change game to game. This means that you can’t hone in on a particular strategy and it will work every time. Completing your window is always good. There’s also more variability if you’re playing with less than four people. If you’re playing with four people, every single die will be used, but if you have left, there will be some dice still left in the bag, so you might see more yellow than you do blue. I do know that to reduce that variability some people will count out dice so that there are an even number of each color that end up in the bag and in play. I don’t think that’s really needed, but I’ve only played it with two people twice, and I didn’t notice it swinging the points/game in someone’s favor, but it might. However, that fix is simple if you’re willing to quickly sort the dice.
Overall, this is a really good game. The components are really nice, and the translucent dice give it the feel of a stained glass window. It might not be the most challenging game to learn, but there are definitely intricacies to the game as you try and balance the different types of scoring, or maybe you really go for one type of scoring over another. The game is even cooler for me because some of the people who worked on graphic design is someone who I know. But even without that information, the game is going to be a lot of fun. The game that you most often here is compared to is the game Azul, which I believe is a bit more complex, and also nice looking. Personally I just liked the look of Sagrada better, which is why I have added it to my collection and likely won’t ever add Azul to my collection.
Overall Grade: A
Gamer Grade: B+
Casual Grade: A