Our Games of the Decade (2010 – 2019)

With well over 3,000 board games being released annually in recent years, it’s evident that our hobby has grown at a wild pace. In the past decade we’ve had access to some amazing games that are sure to entertain us for years to come. As the 2010’s come to a close, we wanted to share an influential game that impacted us over the past 10 years.

This isn’t our favorite game ever. This is simply a game that made such an impact on us that we had to share it with you.

Dead of Winter – Ryan

Since getting this game in 2015, I’ve played it over a dozen times. Dead of Winter isn’t my most played game, but it’s the narrative that unfolded during each game that has made such an impact.

Playing Dead of Winter was the first time that I experienced a cooperative game where you couldn’t fully trust the intentions of the other players. The mechanic of having a possible betrayer in the colony brings a tension to the game that I love. I have so many great memories tied to this game because of the way this game forces players to work together and talk.

Crossroads cards can present a problem that the whole team has to tackle or can give you insight into how one of the players faces a challenge. Unlike so many cooperative games, Dead of Winter doesn’t have room for a single person to run the colony. As the game plays out, everyone finds a role to play and even the person who is a betrayer can position themselves as an asset to the colony.

Building community is such a huge part of my life and Dead of Winter does this better than any game on our shelf.

Azul – Erin

Whether we’re hosting a game night, having another couple over, or attending a birthday party, it seems like we’re constantly teaching new games to people. This can sometimes be a lengthy and involved process, but when we discovered Azul, I immediately fell in love! This is a game that’s fairly simple to teach, but involves enough strategy and competition to keep me coming back for more.

Azul works really well as a two player game, which is also why I chose it as “the game of the decade.” The year we bought Azul, Ryan and I played it more than any other game on our shelf. Gameplay is smooth and relaxing, and it served as a destresser after a long day of work.

The colorful Portugese tiles are beautiful to look at, and I love how your strategy can easily change each time you play. The competitive nature of the game keeps it interesting and fun… I love taking the tiles that I know Ryan needs before he can get to them!

Apparently, I’m not the only one who loves this game. It won a ton of awards in 2018, including the Spiel des Jahres, the Origins Award for Best Family Game and Fan Favorite, and The Dice Tower Award for Best Family Game. Since its release in 2017, Next Move has created two new games in the series: Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, and Azul: Summer Pavilion.

Many of our friends and family members enjoyed Azul so much that they ended up purchasing it for themselves, including my mom! She bought Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, the second game in the series, for herself last December. We love playing it with her when we visit throughout the year.

I consider Azul a board game staple that will never go out of style! You can be sure that folks will be playing this game years from now.

Codenames – Ric

For me, board games are mostly about getting a bunch of people around a table to have a good time. While I love sitting down to a serious four-player experience, I usually have eight or ten people, and so party games are what I turn to.

Only a few years ago, I thought there were only two types of party games. One kind had a simple concept that allowed everyone to play, but the concept was often too shallow to sustain a full game, and everyone got tired of it before the game was over. This would be games like Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, and Catchphrase, and even games like Werewolf or Mafia. The other kind were a little deeper, but often the number of players was limited – games like Balderdash or Say Anything.

Codenames came along in 2015 and changed that. Combining the best of both worlds, we now had a game that anyone could easily learn to play and jump into and out, while also providing a more cerebral experience that keeps all players engaged. Add in the ability for roles I remember speaking at a college ministry retreat and playing 20 or so games in a row, and we never grew tired of it. I still make sure to bring this with me whenever we have a game night, and there’s often someone looking to have it hit the table. It’s such a beautiful design where simplicity and complexity co-exist, and I think it set the stage for many party games that came after, like Mysterium. And while some games in the future may pull off the “smart party game” thing even better, I’m sure there will always be room on my shelf for Codenames.

7 Wonders – Bob

I’m certain I’m pushing the outer limits of the boundaries here, reaching all the way back to 2010 to speak about the most influential game of the decade; wow, that was almost 10 years ago. Now that everyone is feeling sad about their age, lets talk about what I think may be the most influential game from the last decade, and that is 7 Wonders.

This game is such an awesome card drafting civilization building game. I believe 7 Wonders is one of the greatest gateway games to bring new players into the hobby. In fact, it was one of the games that brought me into the modern hobby. I remember when I was first taught this game, the idea of card drafting was novel to me. I had never been involved in any of the LCGs or CCGs such as Magic or Pokémon cards during the 90s, so drafting was new to me. 7 Wonders hooked me the second I started learning it.

There is no way for me to recall how many times I have played that game since learning it. I was also involved in some tournaments as well. I love that it supports up to 7 people, so it’s a great board game for bigger groups. It still makes it to the table frequently in our gaming group and I don’t see anyone phasing it out anytime soon. 7 Wonders is a modern classic and my pick for the most influential game of the decade.

What was one of your most influential games of the past decade? Share yours in the comments below!

Ryan Gutowski

I'm a huge fan of strategy games and pretty much anything that involves "city building". My love of board games goes back to my childhood and passion for building relationships with others.

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