My Top 10 Favorite Games of 2016

I played a lot of games for the first time in 2016, and I greatly enjoyed learning something from each and every one of them. I love looking for interesting mechanisms in games (even in games I’m not compelled to play again), and I talk about those mechanisms on my YouTube channel.

Unless otherwise noted, all of the games in the lists below were released in 2016 (some venture a bit into 2015), and I played them for the first time this year.

Random Mentions

  • Favorite Expansion: T.I.M.E. Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons
  • Favorite New Stonemaier Product (I don’t pick my own games for the top 10): Scythe
  • Favorite New-to-Me Game Released Before 2015: Hansa Teutonica or Legendary Encounters: Alien
  • Best Game That Just Isn’t for Me: Mansions of Madness Second Edition
  • Favorite Game That I Enjoyed a Lot More This Year Than Previous Years: The Castles of Burgundy
  • Favorite Reprint of a Previously Released Game: Ra
  • Most Highly Regarded New Game I Have Yet to Play: Inis
  • 2017 Release I’m the Most Excited About: Near and Far
  • Honorable Mentions That Didn’t Quite Make the Top 10: Captain Sonar, Star Wars Rebellion, Jorvik, Imhotep

My Top 10 Favorite Games of 2016

10. Millennium Blades (video): This game about collectible card games is absolutely brilliant, but it’s the one game on this list that I’ve only played once. That’s partially a symptom to the sprawling setup of the game–there are just so many cards. But I get excited just thinking about the frenetic trading phase in Millennium Blades. I really need to play this again.

9. Celestia (video): I love how this game captures the “we’re all in this together!” feeling of Craps through the dice-rolling, push-your-luck mechanism. It’s a lovely light group game.

8. A Feast for Odin (video): The puzzle of the Tetris-like tiles and the 60+ action spaces in this game both makes it wonderful and a bit too much of a brain-burner to put higher on this list. A true achievement from Rosenberg, though.

7. Potion Explosion (video): I simply have a blast every time I play this game, which is essentially Bejeweled in real life (with marbles instead of jewels). I love the opportunity to feel clever with the various elements of timing in Potion Explosion.

6. Mechs vs. Minions (video): This stunning production has hit the table a number of times as we make our way through the campaign. With each game I feel like we work together a little better (it’s a cooperative game) and highlight our strengths for that particular game.

5. Terraforming Mars (video): I love engine building, achievements, a vast selection of cards, and thematic connections to mechanisms. Terraforming Mars has all of those elements and more. The games I’ve played have run a bit long for my taste (3+ hours), but hopefully we can get that down to around 2 hours.

4. Great Western Trail (video): I’m a big fan of this designer, and he put so many interesting ideas and decisions into this game about steering cattle through the old west. I love the unique combination of deckbuilding and hand management.

3. Clank! (video): I was completely surprised and delighted by how much fun I have playing Clank. It’s a deckbuilding game about running through a dungeon to gather treasure. I love all the different paths you can take, particularly the choice about how deep into the dungeon you should go before trying to run out with the treasure.

2. Isle of Skye (video): This is a fantastic tile-laying auction game from the designer of Great Western Trail that scratches all of my gamer itches. It is millimeters away from being the number one game on this list, because I will play this at any time and have a blast doing so.

1. T.I.M.E. Stories (video): My favorite gaming experiences of 2016 have come from playing this mystery game, and I still look forward to every time a new module is released so we can play again. I truly love T.I.M.E. Stories.

What were your favorite games of 2016?

Here’s last year’s list, and here’s the latest version of my all-time top 10 list (last updated in August).

23 Responses to “My Top 10 Favorite Games of 2016”

  1. Joe Babbitt says:

    I’ve been wanting to try Clank. I’d love to bring Millennium Blades out again!

  2. I positively adore Star Wars: Rebellion. Cry Havoc is making a good showing. Terraforming Mars is great, though our games also tend to run a little long (mainly due to some AP prone players who don’t utilize the down time to think ahead in the later turns). Imperial Settlers was new to us, and satisfies the engine building itch when we can’t get around to Terraforming Mars.
    The Pantheon expansion for 7 Wonders: Duel has become essential to us, won’t play without it. For light, quick, fun we bought Edenia at Spiel, lovely Tsuro with a few more options. Our brainburner of the year is They Who Were 8, with its stark, cold beauty.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Thanks for sharing, Terence! I enjoyed my one play of Cry Havoc as well. Star Wars Rebellion is great, though it’s very rare that I can spend 3-5 hours playing a game, much less a 2-player game. It is a memorable experience very time I play, though.

  3. Patricio Garcia says:

    My top 10 for this year are
    10.fabled fruit
    7.Junk art
    6.Cottage garden
    5 . Marenostrum
    4 . Food Chain Magnante ( kind of a 2015)
    3.Feast of Odin
    2. Railroad revolution
    And this is not just because it’s you
    1. Scythe (Currently my number 1 period)

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      You have a nice varied list, Patricio! I’m honored that Scythe is at the top spot. I’m eager to try Junk Art and Santorini.

      • Patricio Garcia says:

        Junk art is fantastic it’s one of those games that if you want a games night that isn’t deep and thinky it fits the bill. Always a good laugh with it. My wife ( not a gamer) will request to play it, one of the few. The other two are a Agricola all creatures big and small and Between two cities. It’s actually funny I backed between two cities and have never played it at more then two players. The variant is very well done! I probably should get that one out in my games group and see what it’s like the actual way lol.
        Santorini is very good it reminds me a lot of Chess. The God power add lots of replayability and make you think a bit. Also love how no game I have played has lasted longer then 15 minutes very solid filler. The production quality is outstanding. Roxley out did them selves there. Reminds me the of the quality you put behind your games.

        Sorry if I was ling winded 🙂

        • That’s neat to hear about the Between Two Cities 2-player variant. I greatly considered backing Santorini, but it’s so rare that I play 2-player games that I didn’t think I’d get to play it much. I’m glad you’ve had fun with it, though!

  4. Mike Chipman says:

    I played Feast for Odin for the first time today – it’s a masterpiece. Scythe has hit our table 20+ times this year and we love it. Another great has been 7-wonders Duel.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Mike: I thought about making 7 Wonders Duel the top game I haven’t played, but it’s in that window where it was kind of released in 2015 (and kind of in 2016), so I just went with a sure-thing 2016 release. 🙂 I’m glad you liked Feast for Odin, and that’s awesome Scythe has hit the table so often!

  5. Lauwens Sven says:

    One of my favorites this year I think everyone should give a try is Castles Of Burgundy: The Cardgame. It is such a quick yet deep game that captures the feel of his bigger boardgame perfectly

  6. Tony Mastrangeli says:

    One idea I heard for Millennium Blades to make it easier to play is to leave the deck put together when you store the game. Unless you play the game a lot, you won’t really notice if you are using the same cards each time. And whenever you are ready for something fresh, tear down the deck and add new cards in.

    I need to try it this way becauseI agree the setup and tear down is pretty hefty.

  7. Phil Campeau says:

    My top New To Me games this year were, in no particular order:

    -Pandemic Legacy
    -A Feast For Odin
    -Food Chain Magnate
    -Terra Mystica

    Some games that I’ve really enjoyed but that need more plays before I can really call them top games:

    -Arkham Horror LCG
    -Bora Bora
    -Star Wars: Rebellion
    -Twilight Struggle

  8. HyBry says:

    I would love to see a Pfister game released by Stonemaier

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I’m trying, HyBry! I’ve reached out to Alexander a few times to see if he’ll submit a game to us for consideration. 🙂

  9. Miles says:

    I have 5 of your top 10 (potion explosion, great western trail, clank, mechs vs. minions, isle of skye). These would all make my top list. I haven’t played the rest yet but definitely think I’d like celestia. Other games I would add are Scythe, Kraftwagon, Massmora, Captain Sonar, The Gallerist (might be 2015).

  10. […] off the previous list and my Top 10 list for 2016 are several games I still adore, but they’re just not quite in the top 10 right now. Barely […]

  11. […] Here is last year’s list, and here is my latest overall top 10 list. […]

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