My favorite new board game of the year

December 15, 2014

King's Forge I've been thinking long and hard about this one, and I've decided that King's Forge is my favorite new game of the year. There. I've said it. I can't take it back now. And, no, it's not just because it has "Forge" in the title. You see, to be honest, I'm rather embarrassed by this decision, since King's Forge is a lighter game full of dice and randomness. I wrote a review of the game back when it was on Kickstarter if you want to know more of my specific opinions on it. I would have loved to pick some fabulous, heavy and brutal Euro for my favorite, but the truth is I haven't really played any fantastic new Euros this year, and King's Forge really is the most fun I've been having from a new game. It is light, yes, and random, but there are a lot of interesting decisions to be made, and, really, the game just doesn't over-stay it's welcome. It provides players with a fun little economic system to fool around with for an hour and then it's over, ending exactly when it should. After playing plenty of games that do not end when they should, I must emphasize this a major positive. I'll say it again: King's Forge is fun for the entire time you play it, and I'm trying to get in the habit of playing fun games. So what didn't get picked? Let's talk about some honorable mentions: Terra Mystica Fire and Ice: It's an expansion, but I considered it in the running, anyway. The problem with expansions, though, is that they tend to complicate games, often times needlessly. The base Terra Mystica is just on the brink for a lot of people for being "too complicated." There are a lot of rules, and on your first play-through, it's hard to soak them all in and even understand why they're there. Fire and Ice adds new scoring methods and races that, at times, feel needlessly complex. It sort of begs the question, "Did we really even need an expansion?" I love Terra Mystica more than almost any other game, and I like adding extra stuff to the mix. It revitalizes the game for me a bit, but it doesn't help with attracting new players to the game to play with me. Also the Shapeshifters are stupidly overpowered. Impulse: If you read my review, you are aware that I was very impressed with this game. I could play Impulse a lot more than I have, and at some point, once I master its many complex, well-designed systems, I could see myself having as much fun with it as I do with King's Forge. That's a huge barrier to entry, though, and also I don't think I'd have anybody to play with, both because of that barrier and the horrible graphic design. My review was of a pre-release copy, but sadly, the quality of the game didn't really change much for the final version. I think a bigger publishing company could have made Impulse one of the hottest games of the year, but it was not. Epic Resort: I really, really wanted to love this game. Legacy: Gears of Time, by the same designer/publisher is one of my all-time favorite games. After playing Epic Resort a good number of times, though, I realized I just wasn't having as much fun with it as I expected. Getting through a game is a bit of slog. There either needed to be less randomness in the monster attacks or less complexity and decision points in the building and defending of your resort for this to be a big winner in my book. As it is, it ends up sadly overstaying its welcome. Just a bit. Abyss: As you may know, this was my favorite game of GenCon this year. At the risk of turning this whole post into a Debbie Downer, though, that was mainly due to no other game really standing out at all. Abyss is really good. I should play it some more. And while it introduced some new mechanics to me in a pleasant, easily digestible way, I can't really say that I'm super-excited about those mechanics in general, so it just didn't rise to the top of the list. Istanbul: Winner of the Kennerspiel des Jahres. I enjoy this game. I respect this game. But I've only played it once, and when I did, I was a bit underwhelmed. It just didn't knock my socks off or anything. I don't know. I should play it some more. There are lots of other games I didn't get a chance to play. I definitely get to play a lot more new board games than new video games due to conventions and friends who like to buy all the hot new games, but my experience is still far from comprehensive. And because I'm any overly critical jerk, I would just like to make one more point that even though King's Forge was my favorite new game of the year, I didn't go in on the recent Kickstarter for the expansion. There are three reasons for this. One: I'm having plenty of fun with the base game. In fact, I haven't even cracked open the in-box expansion, The Queen's Jubilee, yet. Two: As I said before, expansions sometimes add needless complexity to already beautiful game. If you bake the perfect cake, and then put a pizza on top of it, does that make the cake any better? Three: After having to wait over a year to get my Kickstarter copy of King's Forge, I don't think I'll be contributing to any more Game Salute campaigns. But anyway, what was your favorite game of 2014? What game do I totally need to play?

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