2018 Top 25 Games-Chad

#30 Spirit Island/2017 (New)  While I think the game is very, very good it ends up being ranked here because I have not yet figured out how to effectively play this game even at the easiest level.  My winning percentage is horrible with me mostly playing solo either with one or two spirits.  The only time I have won was when my oldest son played and multiple times he wanted to quit thinking there was no chance to win, but win we finally did.

#29 Legendary Encounters/2014 (New)  Really enjoy the mechanic that was devolved with the Legendary games and how this version followed closley the actual Alien movies that had been released at the time of the game being published.  It really does put you in the mindset of being part of the story.  We have played through each of the movies and now await us being able to finish Legendary Predator so we can incorporate them together to do the Alien v Predator games.

#28 Summoner War/2009 (New)  Started picking up packs of the different factions this year and really enjoy how each one is different and how you must really spend time playing each one to really figure out how to play them in this one versus one card game as you battle it out on the battlefield.  The amount of variety really stands out for me here.  Yes, I am late to the game on this since no new Summoner groups are being made.  However, that means I can get them on the cheap.

#27 Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension/2013 (New)  This game sets its self apart by the simultaneous card play and based on the letter of the element card you play, will determine the order for that round.  Cards will either move you towards the nearest ship, away from the nearest ship, or pull everyone towards you.  A well planned turn can go horribly wrong when the order is not what you expected and you go from battling for the lead to being way behind.

#26 Galactic Strike/2014 (New)  From the same designer and same publisher of my #3 ranked game, Sentinels of the Multiverse.  It really does mimic that game except it is set in space and the same book keeping issues.  One difference is that this game is extremely hard to win at as there are three sectors that you have to pay attention to that can quickly get overrun by enemy ships.  One part of the game that I really enjoy is the double sided cards that are either for you or for the enemy that you are battling. 

#25 Spike/2014  (Last Year #17) A train game that is about connecting up cities and fulfilling contracts by hauling your assigned goods from one city to another.  This is a game that Cade has really taken to and seems to win almost every time.  There is a lot of strategy involved with figuring out the best way to maximize your points before the game end, which never occurs at the same time.  <Review>

#24 Evolution/2014 (New) Had played this at conventions and really enjoyed this one.  Finally broke down and bought both this and the climate change expansion.  Not sure if that expansion is really needed as the base game is so solid and trying to evolve one of the many, many combinations of animals that be available to you.  All the while, managing your population and making sure they are fed either by the shared plants or by creating a carnivore and eating off of other players (as well as your own) animals.  As in the real animal world,  its all about 

#23 Oregon/2007 (Last Year #12)  A slight drop in 2018 but still a great two player game for me and my wife.  Still plays great at four players, but gets played more often at two.  The game concept, seems very simple as you play cards that represent two pictures on the board.  Wherever those pictures intersect, you can place settlers or place buildings into a grid location.  However, there is some real strategy involved as other players can use your buildings to earn points for themselves. 

#22 7 Wonders Duel/2015 (New)  An unsuccessful Kickstarter deck builder game that we got a prototype to review.  I really hope that this game gets produced in the future as it is an excellent game all around.  The art is amazing and the different factions that are available to you, which may help you create amazing combos is well thought out.  Also, being able to play cards in front of other players to affect them each and every turn until they pay to remove them, was unique to us.  We always enjoy this game every time we pull it out. 

#21 Unholy Upheaval/2016 (Last Year #10)  An unsuccessful Kickstarter deck builder game that we got a prototype to review.  I really hope that this game gets produced in the future as it is an excellent game all around.  The art is amazing and the different factions that are available to you, which may help you create amazing combos is well thought out.  Also, being able to play cards in front of other players to affect them each and every turn until they pay to remove them, was unique to us.  We always enjoy this game every time we pull it out.  <Review>

#20 Nefarious/2011 (Last Year #15) We have played this a lot and I always enjoy the game.  What makes this game really stand out is how the normal game rules can and will change with every game when you use the twists.  You actually use two of them each game.  The game itself is a race to build inventions with each one costing a certain amount of money.  At the start of your turn, you are choosing what actions you will do that round (  Work/earn $$, Invent/play invention to table to earn victory points, research/get a new invention that they can build, or place a worker onto the board to earn additional money when players choose that action. In 2018, we added the most recent expansion which adds more twists and inventions to the game adding even more variety.   <Review>

#19 Santorini/2016 (Last Year #21) Yet another game that has so much variability.  The components are top notch in this somewhat abstract game where each player uses a single Greek God that gives them a very unique player power.  The rules are super simple, you either move or build.  When moving, you move one space to an adjacent spot on the board, up one level in the buildings or down as many as you wish.  To win, you have to simply get to the third level.  Easier said than done as the third level can be capped by the other player to prevent anyone from getting to that spot.

#18 Unearth/2017 (Last Year #14) Although the theme was kind of lost on me, the unique way that dice are used made this a highly ranked game for me.  Choosing one of your dice (3-six sided, 1-four sided, and 1-eight sided) that is rolled and then placed onto a ruin card as you try to obtain it for points based on set collection.  Lower rolls also allow you to obtain stones, which provide another means to score points by obtaining lost wonders.  Not a fan of the luck of the dice?  When you get kicked off a ruin, you get cards that will allow you to impact both your dice rolls and other players as well.   <Review>

#17 Roll Player/2016 (Last Year - Not Ranked)  Love the puzzle aspect to this game as your building your character in the mode of a Dungeons and Dragon character by collecting dice and adding them to your character board to meet a pre established stat range for your character along with an aspect of set collection in purchasing cards.  Most people love how the expansion took it to a new level where you can use the character you are building to go on missions to battle monsters.  I am not so sold on that expansion making it all that better, but it adds to it for sure.

#16 Boss Monster/2013 (Last Year #11)  A small drop for Boss Monster for the 2nd straight year.  Coby and I still really enjoy this game and have all of the expansions, which really provides a lot of replay ability to the game.   The art is fun to look at as there are so many references to old video games hidden in the cards.  I rarely win this game, but still very much enjoy building up the dungeon, to send the heroes through it.  Really enjoy the 2018 mini boss expansion that allows you to earn coins and add mini bosses to your dungeon that you can level up.

#15 Near and Far/2017 (New)  A worker placement game with a deep and changing story to tell.  My wife and I have been playing out the campaign across the different maps.  Hearing the stories as they become available to you and being able to choose which path to take is such a fun aspect of this game. 

#14 Fabled Fruit/2016 (New)  Here is a game that sat on my un-played shelf for quite a while and once we started playing it, couldn't believe I had let it sit there.  This was one of my most played games of 2018 where my wife and oldest son would play it almost daily.  We played all the way through the entire game, got the expansion, and then played through the entire thing again with that.  This is the first game in the Fabled series where certain cards and actions are in play at that time.  As those cards are taken from the game so that you can earn victory points, new cards are brought out that change up the available options in the game.  As you progress through all of the cards, the game mechanics change over time and from game to game.  It is not a permanent change and the game and cards can be reset back to what they were originally.

#13 Hot Rod Creeps/2012 (Last Year #8)  A slight drop from last year in a very unique racing game.  Here is a game that doesn’t get the love that I think it deserves.  You have the ability to create and design a different race track each and every time with the different track pieces that snap together like a puzzle piece.  There are multiple unique character decks that have their own abilities during the race.  As you burn off your gas, you have to get rid of cards from your draw pile.  Run out of gas and you have to go backwards on the track to the previous pit stop space.  It has a nice combination of strategy on playing your cards and pushing your luck on drawing the high level octane cards that could deal damage to you or burn off a lot of gas in exchange for a boost down the track.

#12 Thunder Alley/2014 (Last Year #9)  Still my favorite realistic racing game but drops for the third straight year.  It just hasn't found the table enough. I always think about playing it, but always choose something else.  Being a huge NASCAR fan, this game is perfect for me. It has both amazing components and a very solid game play.  Sure, some things are not necessarily accurate but being able to strategize and have your cars move based on card play and keeping your cars together in a pack that benefits you the most makes this game stand out compared to all other car racing games.  Using add on packs and also tracks from the F1 version of the game, Grand Prix gives you plenty of options on what track to race on. <Review>

#11 Hero and Star Realms/2016 (Last Year #6)  I am including both Hero and Star Realms together now as they mirror each other so much.  Just by themselves as a deck building game, they are very solid and one of my favorite games designed as a two player game.  Then you add in the character decks that first occurred with Hero Realms and now Star Realms added that along with campaigns that you can now go own, keeps these games ranked this high.   

#10 Camel Up/2014  (Last Year #7) A slight drop from the previous two years but the game is always fun for me to sit down and play this game with the family.  Is there a lot of strategy, involved?  Not really.  Sometimes it is all about making certain choices first before the other players and hoping it comes out in your favor.  However, everyone is engaged with each player’s turn.  Especially when you roll the die for a specific a camel as lots of cheers and jeers come out from all players.

#9 Downforce/2017 (Last Year #19) A racing game that everyone can get into!  Initially you draft race cars using the cards dealt to you.  The amount that you spend will impact you in the scoring as this is subtracted from your final score.  On a players turn, they play a card that will have from one to six colors.  These represent the cars on the track and you have to move them the spaces notated on the card in the order that they are listed.  You are moving both your cars and the other players cars as well.  Want to be evil?  Jam up the track so your opponents cars can't move when you play your card.  At certain parts of the track, you are placing bets on a single car.  If they get 1st, 2nd, or 3rd at the end of the race, you will earn bonus points.  Each player will also have a special ability that they can use throughout the game.  In 2018, two new tracks were added by Restoration games along with a few new powers that you can select from, adding to my enjoyment of the game. 

#8 Splendor/2014 (Last Year #5) This has been dropping a few spots each year, but still really enjoy playing this especially at the two player level.  Granted, the theme here is kind off odd and doesn't really come out.  However, the mechanics involved with the game and not taking much time, keep bringing me back to this one.  There is an expansion that changes up the game in different ways that I have not been interested in getting just yet since I enjoy it as it is.

#7 Castles of Mad King Ludwig/2014 (Last Year #4)  Coby and I played this at a convention and immediately fell in love with it.  Being able to build up a castle in your own way and then having an impact on the other players by setting the cost of rooms, is such a fun take on the game.  The strategy involved with the game can be a head scratcher at times.  You want certain rooms that you can purchase when setting the prices but you have to keep in mind what everyone else is doing.  I rarely win at this game, but I keep wanting to come back to it so I can figure this one out.

#6 Pandemic Legacy-Season 1/2015 (Last Year #3) The story that builds and not knowing what will happen next, is just an amazing journey that you take and easily puts this into the top 3.  This dropped because as much as we loved the story, we just never finished it in 2018 as we had planned to. Onto 2019!

#5 Aeon's End/2016 (New) Aeon's end took my favorite mechanic of deck building and made some twists to it that made it very enjoyable.  It has the normal create income to add cards to your deck.  What they changed was you add the cards to your deck but you never shuffle them.  The order that they are is how they will come out so you strategically add cards to your discard pile or when you purchase cards to set up combos in future turns.  Love how the monsters that you are battling are so very unique with completely different actions from the other monsters.  In addition, the number of mages that you play as has a large number to choose from which each has a unique card and abilities, adding even more variety to the game.  I have added three of the expansions so far (The Nameless, The Outer Dark, and The Void).

#4- 7 Wonders/2010 (Last Year #1) This takes a few steps back in 2018 mainly because it doesn't see the table very often.  If it did, it would have remained within the top spot.  I feel the game really shines at four players and I don't always have people to play this game at that player count.  The drafting of cads only to pass the remaining cards onto the next player is one of my favorite mechanics.  Love the strategies to decide if you go with your plans or try to impact the players around you to stop them from obtaining their goals.  This is ranked based on the base game.  I have looked at the different expansions and nothing jumps out at me as a must have to add to this game.

#3 Sentinels of the Multiverse/2011 (Last Year #13)  After taking a step back last year from #8 to #13, this climbs all the way to the #3 spot in 2018.  This is mostly played solo but I also get in games with my oldest son as well.  At this time, I have all available heroes, villains, and locations making the variety the reason it has climbed this high.  Overall, this is my most played game since I started tracking with 50+ games played.  I have had many moments this year where the light has finally clicked where I finally figured out how to play a certain hero.  Now, that doesn't always work out for you as the other heroes can have a big impact on what you are doing.  Some of those locations can help but most have such negative impacts for you and help the villains as well.  The biggest knock is the bookkeeping that has to go one and I will miss things from time to time.  I know there is an app to help with this but I tried it and I just didn't like it and prefer to do it on my own.  I have started to look at player created content now that this has come to the end with the Oblivion release to keep some things fresh.

#2 Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game/2012 (Last Year- Not Ranked)  I discovered Legendary Marvel in June from a fathers day present.  Since then, this has been my most played game with 30+ played games in 6 months.  I have added many of the expansions (Fantastic Four, Spider Man-Paint the Town Red, X-Men, Civil War, Captain America, Dark City, and World War Hulk).  The amount of variability is off the wall with the mixture of heroes, villains, and schemes that will never be the same making each game a unique experience.  This is also the go to game for my wife and I.  While it can be difficult at times, we still have a very good winning percentage of 60%.  This game should stay near the top for a very long time.

#1 Clank!: A Deck Building Adventure/2016 (Last Year #2)  This moves to the top spot in 2018 for me and covers all Clank! releases.  Renegade continues to pump out new maps and can be purchased at a relatively low price point.  In addition, they have added in Clank! in Space along with a new map there.  Each adds something a little different that does not exist with the base game but you can easily switch between any of the maps and have the same experience.  The combination of deck building and push your luck by going deeper into the dungeon knowing the amount of clank you have always makes this an enjoyable game.  Any time we play, it is always fun watching as clank is drawn out of the bag to see who is getting closer and closer to perishing before making their escape.  The added bonus is that this is also supported by the Renegade app giving you additional ways to play, including playing solo.

Honorable Mention: