Ryan’s Top 5 of 2018

2018 was an incredible year for gaming. No matter where you looked, there was a new game that was begging to be added to your collection. This year I played so many great games, but I’ve decided to narrow it down to 5 that really stood out from the pack.

5. Chronicles of Crime

I’m a fan of detective games that send you chasing down leads and solving puzzles. In my opinion, Chronicles of Crime from Lucky Duck Games did this better than any other game around. This game uses a mobile app to guide players through solving a crime and tracking down a criminal. Cards are scanned and cataloged using QR codes which works really well.

The game immerses you in the scenario by presenting virtual locations that players can gather clues from. While one person looks around the crime scene, other players are gathering the clues from the deck of item cards. You’ll run into shady characters and bystanders that can help you track down the criminal by asking them if they have information about different items or people.

Chronicles of Crime blurs the lines between analog and digital gaming in the best way possible. This was such a surprise for me and a game that easily earned a place on my “Top 5” list.

Purchase Chronicles of Crime on Amazon | Chronicles of Crime Review

4. Reef

During Origins 2018, there was a lot of buzz around Reef from designer Emmerson Matsuuchi. Players are building up their reef by drafting and playing cards from their hand. Placement of every one of these chunky colored pieces of coral matter as you plan the cards you want to play.

Reef was a big hit for our family for a number of reasons. The game is easy to teach, the components are fun and inviting, and the game has a depth that keeps you coming back for more. The bright colors and style of the game deceives players into believing this could be a kids game. Players can hold cards as they work toward a huge score by setting up their board or choose to slowly earn points with smaller combinations.

Reef may not be the huge hit that Azul was in 2017 but that doesn’t stop it from being a go-to game for our family game nights.

Purchase Reef on Amazon | Reef Review

3. Hail Hydra

When Hail Hydra showed up in stores, it took many people by surprise. This social deduction game from Spin Master has incredible production value and has become my favorite deduction game.

Hail Hydra

Up to 8 players choose a Marvel Superhero from some pretty iconic characters like Superman, Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow and almost a dozen others. Each player is given a token that stays hidden letting them know if they are a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent or Hydra agent.

During the hour that it takes to play Hail Hydra, players are trying to find the secret Hydra agents as the team tries to defeat various villains from the Marvel universe. This game brings tension to the table as players question the motives of everyone around them. We have so many great stories from our time with this game! It’s a must play when we have 6-8 players.

Purchase Hail Hydra on Amazon

2. Pioneer Days

Living off the land is hard. Thankfully, TMG has condensed the experience into a very fun game. Pioneer Days is a dice drafting game where players are building up their resources and hiring townspeople as they prepare for impending disasters. Each round of the game will bring storms, famine, raids and disease closer as you travel the Oregon Trail.

Pioneer Days

Pioneer Days gives players lots of options as they strategize a way to collect the most favor or victory points. Making deliveries to a town at the end of a week will give players Favor tokens, while collecting cattle will earn points at the end of each week. Townspeople award points at the end of the game for specific items that are collected throughout the 4 weeks.

The four different disasters presented in the game keep players on their toes and force them to make tough decisions throughout the game. The last un-drafted die during a round will advance one of the four disaster tracks.  Pioneer Days has a great theme, fun artwork and solid gameplay that has impressed us since the first time we sat down to play.

Purchase Pioneer Days on Amazon

1. Welcome To…

Welcome To… from Deep Water Games was one of my most anticipated games of 2018. I love the retro style of this “flip and write” game, and I have a soft spot in my heart for anything with city building.

Welcome To... player board

Each player is given a community of houses to assign numbers to. Each row must have ascending house numbers going from left to right. The game is a great mix of strategy, luck, and keeping track of numbers. Players are all working toward completing three city plans that sit in the middle of the table. With lots of ways to get points, I’ve come back to this game over and over with a different strategy in mind each time.

The number of players is only limited by the number of player sheets and pens you have. I’ve played Welcome To… so often that I laminated some of the player pads and picked up fine tipped dry erase markers. Deep Water Games has published a real gem with Welcome To… and you need to get your hands on this game as it gets a second printing in 2019.

Preorder Welcome To… on Deep Water Games

What was your favorite game of 2018? Post your favorite game or your Top 5 list in the comments below.