1. Architects of The West Kingdom
Shem Phillips keeps knocking it out of the park with his designs. Following up his North Sea Trilogy, Architects of The West Kingdom is absolutely brilliant. This is by far the best worker placement resource management game I have played this year.
I loved gathering stone, wood, bricks and gold to turn into victory points. This is also combined with a couple awesome twist mechanics such as leaving your meeple on the resource gathering spot to build more resources upon a return visit. Also others may be able to arrest your meeples if they become too strong and sell them to a jail for money. If you enjoy worker placement, this is a must play from this year as well as my top release of the year.
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If you haven’t figured it out by now by watching some of our video media or by reading some of my other reviews, I love dice. I love rolling dice. I love drafting dice. I love placing dice. I love dice mitigation. I love dice, did I say that? Coimbra has all of that and a bag of chips. This is by far the best dice placement game of 2018 from the same team that brought you Lorenzo il Magnifico in 2016. Combine all those dice mechanics with card drafting and set collection and you have a very heavy strategic game with many paths to victory.
I don’t know what’s on the radar for Flaminia Brasini and Virginio Gigli for the upcoming year or so, but I am definitely excited. I highly recommend playing Coimbra. P.S. no actual potato chips are included with the game.
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3. Chronicles of Crime
I try not to be elitist when it comes to board games and I don’t think that I am. I am usually up for trying absolutely anything once, most times twice, reserving judgement until afterwards. I can however be very critical of games that require downloadable apps in order to function. Then, I was introduced to Chronicles of Crime from Lucky Duck Games and I threw caution to the wind, and then threw caution right out the window afterwards. This may be the most innovative game I have played this year. The app for this game works absolutely wonderfully.
One of the greatest things about this game is that you do not need to learn anything at all! You can remove the game components set up the board, fire up the application on your phone or pad, and run the tutorial crime case and you’re off and running! Instant detectiveness! How do I tell spell check that I just invented that word?
This is truly a cooperative, immersive experience and I have enjoyed every second of figuring out these crimes. The QR scanning element in the game is brilliant. Solve crimes by scanning in clue cards with items, suspects, and locations. Everything has a QR code on it and works seamlessly with the application. You can also virtually explore locations for clues using the phone app with optional VR glasses. I couldn’t be happier with this game if I tried. If you are interested in seeing more of this game, my co-contributor Ryan has a play through description over on our YouTube channel.
Purchase Chronicles of Crime on Amazon | Full Review
4. Space Base
Yes, I know, another dice game. Have you not learned? Seriously though, Space Base is awesome! You will be rolling dice to collect money to buy upgraded cards or victory points. You have 12 card locations on your board, and based on what you roll, you can combine the dice for one number or split them to take two different things.
What I really like about this game is that not only is the active player rolling the dice for themselves, but the non-active players still get to use the active players dice roll outcome if possible to take resources, money, and victory points for themselves. This keeps all players actively involved. This has remnants of what Machi Koro is, but with a better theme in my opinion, better artwork and almost none of the “take that” element that most people who dismiss Machi Koro complain about. Bonus, it also supports 5 players. For me, Space Base is a must buy and what I believe should become a shelf staple in the die rolling mechanic.
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5. Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra
Last but not least we have Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, the follow up to the 2017 hit Azul. This is the next game in what is being called the Azul series and while it maintains the same drafting mechanic, it is much deeper than its predecessor. I would classify the original Azul as a definite gateway game. A game to show your family and friends who are being introduced to modern board gaming for the first time or maybe early on in their gaming excursions.
I would classify Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, however, as more of a gamer’s game. The strategy is much deeper, there are more moves to keep track of, and it is far more of a puzzle than the first game in this series. I really enjoyed this abstract challenge and all the ways to obtain victory points.
I should also note that there is some hobbyist sentiment that there is no need for this game because of the existence of another earlier released game called Sagrada. I am here to say that they play nothing alike, at all. They are two entirely different games which happen to have the same theme, building a stained glass window. The artwork holds true to the original, it is colorful and the tension is great. That is why Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra has made it to the number five spot on my 2018 Top 5 Best Games of the Year.
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These are 5 games that keep coming back to my game table. What are your favorites games of 2018? Post them in the comments below.