My Top 10 Favorite Games of 2017

I played a lot of games (hundreds?) for the first time in 2017, 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 2017 (some venture a bit into 2016), and I played them for the first time this year.

Random Mentions

  • Favorite Expansion: TIME Stories: Lumen Fidei (I’ll also say Orleans: Invasion, even though it wasn’t released this year)
  • New Stonemaier-Related Products Released This Year (I don’t pick my own games for the top 10): Charterstone, Scythe: The Wind Gambit, Scythe Legendary Box, Leaders of Euphoria
  • Favorite New-to-Me Games Released Before 2017: 7 Wonders Duel, Hanamikoji, and Arctic Scavengers, Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, The Last Friday, Adrenaline
  • Best Game That Just Isn’t for Me: I absolutely admire the ambition and scope of Gloomhaven. It’s just that tactical combat games–even the best tactical combat games–don’t hold my interest.
  • Favorite Game That I Enjoyed a Lot More This Year Than Previous Years: Celestia. This actually made my top to list last year, but I didn’t fully realize just how great this game is until this year.
  • Favorite Game That I Completely Rediscovered This Year: Scotland Yard
  • Favorite Reprint/New Edition: New York Slice
  • Favorite Game That I Can Only Play Once: Escape Room in a Box
  • 2017 Releases I Haven’t Had the Chance to Try Yet (that I’m eager to try): Vengeance, When I Dream, Indian Summer, The Quest for El Dorado, Brides & Bribes
  • 2018 Releases I’m the Most Excited About: Rising Sun, Who Goes There?, The Grimm Forest, Brass – Birmingham, Barker’s Row, Oaxaca, TradeWorlds, Epoch, Visitor in Blackwood Grove, Legends of Sleepy Hollow
  • Honorable Mentions That Didn’t Quite Make the Top 10: Coldwater Crown, Chimera Station, Spirit Island

My Top 10 Favorite Games of 2017

In no particular order, because I really don’t have a clear favorite this year. I love all of these games for different times, moods, groups, and reasons.

Gaia Project (video): This is my favorite heavy Euro game of the year. I think it may be the heaviest game I’ve ever played. I’m really loving the tech trees in it. This game is all about the tech trees.

Near and Far (video): This is my favorite campaign experience of the year. I really loved the journey through the various maps, the colorful encounters, and the interesting Euro-style decisions.

Roll Player (video): This is my favorite “twist” of the year. Instead of designing a character and using that character for most of the game, the entire game is character building. I particularly love the decisions during setup.

Sagrada (video): This is my favorite light game of the year. The mechanisms, theme, and art direction are all just so welcoming.

Flip Ships (video): In a year of great cooperative games, I think this is my favorite specifically as it relates to the cooperative element. I love cheering for my friends as they flip their ships, and it feels good when I land a direct hit for the team.

The 7th Continent (video): The scope of this game is incredible, and I love the stories it enables you to tell. My favorite play of it was a few days ago when a friend suggested that we just explore the world for a while. By not holding ourselves to the overall goal, which can be a bit frustrating in its nuance, we had a wonderful time just walking around, discovering, and surviving.

Summit (video): This is my favorite free-form game of the year. There are plenty of restrictive mechanisms, just like any game, but there’s true freedom to choose how much stuff you’re going to carry up the mountain and how it impacts your speed. Also, I love that it plays up to 6 players.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 (video): Other than Charterstone, which isn’t eligible for this list, PLS2 was the only legacy game I played this year. Fortunately, it’s been a lot of fun, and I look forward to completing our story the next time we play.

Meeple Circus (video): This is my favorite silly game of the year, though it’s full of interesting decisions and moments of tension. It features a “performance” mechanism unlike anything I’ve seen in a tabletop game.

Clans of Caledonia (video): This is my favorite economic game of the year. It’s a delight to play, it looks great on the table, and for its weight, it isn’t hard to teach.

What were your favorite games of 2017?

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


20 Responses to “My Top 10 Favorite Games of 2017”

  1. Darryl Jones says:

    What a fun post. I’m definitely going to check out some of these games.

    For our family it’s a toss-up between Seafall and Bunny Kingdom.

    Seafall has everything an epic adventure should have. The Legacy mechanics are fun and the game is beautifully made.

    Bunny Kingdom is a rare treat, as it can keep everyone in my family engaged, ranging in ages from 6 to 40. I think that’s pretty awesome.

    Keep up the good work! Darryl Jones, @Splatteredink

  2. T-Mac says:

    Man, I haven’t played Scotland Yard since we were kids! Any chance you brought that one back to STL with you? That’d be a fun one to rediscover!

  3. Charles Dionne says:

    Good list, Jamey! I’ve really enjoyed all 4 games from your top 10 that I’ve played (Roll Player, Sagrada, Gaia Project, and Clans of Caledonia). Here are two of my favorites this year:

    – Rajas of the Ganges: I’m a sucker for Euros that use dice and this one is no exception. It’s a worker placement game that uses dice as a resource and it has a really neat double track mechanisms where fame and money run in opposite directions and you must be the first to have the two tracks cross. It also plays very quickly for a medium-weight euro game.

    – Lisboa: My first encounter with Vital Lacerda. I love how simple it is since you only one card in one of two ways on your turn. Yet there is so much to think about because that one card often leads to a cascade of bonus actions that lead to very satisfying turns. The game is also gorgeous to look at if a bit busy. Ended up playing The Gallerist and Kanban later in the year and loved them too for very similar reasons.

    – Agra: The other big Indian-themed game this year. I hesitated to put it on there because I would never want to play with AP-prone players due to the huge amount of actions available each turn. Luckily, my group tends to play quick and I really enjoyed the game. It looks absolutely gorgeous and there is a very interesting meditation mechanism that lets you “lay down” workers to gain bonus actions but if one of your workers is laid down, you don’t get a favor if someone visits an action spot where you have a worker.

    And no doubt Charterstone will rank very high once I’m finish with my campaign! With the holidays, and friends being in and out of town, I’m nowhere near where I’d want to be 🙂

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Thanks for sharing some of the games on your list, Charles! You really gravitate towards heavy Euros, don’t you? 🙂 I just got to play Agra on Wednesday, and I’m looking forward to trying Rajas of Ganges.

      • Charles Dionne says:

        I definitely enjoy other games, but my gaming group does tend to go for the 90-120 minute medium/heavy Euro a lot. 🙂 It’s interesting you mentioned this because I was surprised at how many “lighter” games you listed in your Top 10 and Random Mentions given that I wouldn’t consider any of your designs light.

  4. Joe Pilkus says:

    Jamey,,

    Thanks for the shout-out…we’re looking to get Tradewars on quite a number of Gaming Tables around the world in 2018!

    Cheers,
    Joe

  5. Kristopher Kycia says:

    Hi Jamey,

    I just recently listening to the BGDL Podcast about Legacy Game design… And what impressed me the most was your “crates” idea: having a “card” that states which cards are “unlocked” for the next round of play… Really true that had you put everything in envelopes it would have been terrible for manufacturing errors… Very innovative!

    I just wanted to add as the Designer of “TradeWorlds”, Outer Limit Games (Mike & Stan) decided to “change the name” from “Tradewars” to “TradeWorlds”… So if people search for “TradeWorlds” you’ll find our game (since the name change).

    The other thing is that we feel honored that you even chose our “little game” (which now packs more than 500 cards – with the Planetary Expansion…) Thanks for including us in your “repertoire” of games for 2018.

    I know “Charterstone” is going to be huge… And I wish you success! Cheers!

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Thanks Kristopher! I have to credit Panda (my manufacturer) for thinking of that crate innovation. 🙂

      I appreciate the heads up about the name change. I’ll update my post. I look forward to playing it in 2018. 500 is a lot of cards!

      • Kristopher Kycia says:

        Hi again Jamey,

        Yes 500+ cards is a lot. But because each player has his own “Market” and the Big Box supports up to four (4) players… You could say each player has 125+ cards. So it’s not unreasonable. Some are scenario cards too or Premium Role Cards… So you could probably say each player has 100+ cards per game. Which is perhaps even more reasonable.

        I also thought your idea of “Archiving” cards that are no longer part of the game to be original too! Like you said in the podcast — at some point in time, you might want to “refer” to a card that was removed from the game… Had you ripped it up, you would have no way of reviewing it (in the event that it may be necessary to go back…)

        Also I noticed that “Charterstone” was not in the BGG “Top 20 Games of 2018″… I was expecting to see it at the very top of the list. Was there any particular reason that this new game was not on the list???

        Cheers!

        • Kristopher Kycia says:

          Ahh… I see that Charterstone’s “release year” was 2017… For sure many people are going to only pick up the game in 2018 … as the year moves forwards. But I understand why it would not be on the “Top 20 Games of 2018″… Since it was “officially” released in 2017… Probably has something to do with BGG enforcing the “official release year” too… Anyway hoping many gamers get a chance to own their own copy of Charterstone well into 2018!!!

          • Kristopher Kycia says:

            BGG can sometimes be too strict… I personally think since most gamers will only get to play Charterstone in 2018 … That you should be allowed to be a part of the “Top 20 Most Anticipated Games of 2018”. I mean everyone is waiting to play … and they will only play after the New Year (in 2018). So I think your game should have been included. Cheers!

            • Jamey Stegmaier says:

              Kristopher: Right, that’s what I get for releasing the game at the very end of the year. 🙂

              • Kristopher Kycia says:

                What frustrates me with BGG is how someone can give a “2” as a rating and have never even played the game. We all know those people are “trolls”, they get a kick out of insulting other people. And BGG does nothing about this. Too strict on the WRONG stuff and no policies on the RIGHT stuff (trolls). And believe me there are a lot of BGG trolls.

                And besides it’s not as if your game is not on the BGG “Hotness” list. Which means everyone knows Charterstone is the BIG game for 2018! I guess you were like “F-ck it … I’m launching in December 2017 … and screw the trolls. It’s my game and to those who want to own it, Great. To the trolls … whatever.”

                Mike from OLG told me you were having health issues because of some of those inconsiderate people (I call them Trolls) … And that is wrong. If you’re not happy go take your “Hate” elsewhere…

                So maybe this is your way for telling the Trolls to “F-off”! Cheers!…

              • Jamey Stegmaier says:

                No worries! It may have been me from the summer of ’16 when I realized how certain things were getting under my skin and impacting my emotional state. But I left Kickstarter behind, and I’ve been much happier ever since. 🙂

            • Jamey Stegmaier says:

              Kristopher: I appreciate your enthusiasm, though I haven’t perceived many trolls in the realm of Charterstone (or in general lately, really). And my health is great! I’m not sure where Mike got that impression.

              • Kristopher Kycia says:

                Great to hear all is well, then! Perhaps I got confused with another designer… Maybe I misunderstood the conversation. We were talking about a bunch of different topics — so I might have gotten a false impression. Cheers!

              • Kristopher Kycia says:

                Sorry for the confusion Jamey. It might have been another Designer/Game which got more backers than anticipated — and that person was left to deal with some “nastie” people because of the amount of backers… We were talking about KS and some of the “downside” of things. Some backers can be very inconsiderate and sometimes to “matter of a factly”. Anyway was probable someone else… I can’t remember who. Not important, I maybe made the wrong association since your game was very successful KS-ing ($1M+) … But it might have well been another designer who was experiencing difficulties with some of his backers.

                No worries. My apologies for the mistake. Must have been another Designer/Game.

                Cheers.

  6. […] Here is last year’s list, and here is my latest overall top 10 list. My video for this topic is below. […]

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