In order to ring in the New Year, we thought we’d take some time to count down the top 10 board games from 2013. The list is based exclusively on sales numbers in 2013 so you may notice games not released in 2013 or a lack of your personal favourite titles.
#10 – Star Wars X-Wing
X-wing is a tactical miniatures game in which players control Imperial or Rebel ships to either complete objectives or destroy the opposing team. It is very accessible compared to other miniatures games, and it can be played on any surface large enough to accommodate a game (3 feet by 3 feet suggested). There are currently 12 different ships to choose from, with the base set containing an X-Wing and 2 TIE Fighters. New waves of ships are released every few months, usually containing 4 new ships.
This game has a wide range of customizable options in terms of ships, ship upgrades and pilots each costing a certain point value. Players are free to construct their side in any way they see fit, provided they stay under or meet the agreed upon point limit. The point system provides a great balance and allows players to use any configuration they choose, whether it’s a single heavily upgraded ship or a swarm of smaller ships. Even playing a mirror match against the same faction is very well balanced.
While the base game came in ranked #10, if the expansions were included as individual sales Star Wars X-Wing would be easily ranked at 1.
#9 – Munchkin
Munchkin is a card game humorously masquerading as a role playing game. Players start at level 1 and work their way through a dungeon, with the winner being the first person to hit level 10. While the game does allow for some instances where players can assist each other, it is ultimately a competitive game and provides many opportunities to make other players turns much more difficult.
The game is a very nice mix of RPG elements, slightly cut throat competitive play, and a variety of silliness and subtle jokes at the expense of traditional RPG settings and devices. While the base game provides a good amount of replay ability, there are over two dozen various expansions ranging from zombies and Cthulhu to Santa Clause.
#8 – Android: Netrunner LCG
Netrunner is a 2 player competitive card game set in a cyberpunk theme. One player runs a corporation trying to score points by installing specific point cards in servers. The other player plays a hacker, trying to steal those exact same cards before the corporation can score them.
The game is asynchronous, meaning both sides play styles and card pools are completely different. There are a variety of different factions representing different deck types and specialities, with both sides having several unique options.
Netrunner is also one of Fantasy Flight’s living card games, meaning they regularly release new content and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The base game has great replay value and there have been 9 smaller expansions and one larger expansion to date. Expansions come with the maximum allowable amount of each card type (currently 3) and there is no card rarity system in the game.
#7 – The Resistance
The Resistance is a 5-10 player team based party game. The game is played over a series of missions with players voting for those missions to succeed or fail. The great aspect of the game is that some of these players are spies, and while the spies know each other’s identity, the rest of the players do not.
This setup generally makes for both a tense and hilarious mix of accusations, bluffing and trying to coerce other players. The game plays relatively quickly, with most games coming in around 20-25 minutes once the rules are understood.
The game is loosely set in a science fiction setting, but is also available in an Arthurian setting in the Resistance: Avalon version. Both versions come with additional action cards which can be added to provide further levels of strategy and deduction.
#6 – King of Tokyo
Designed by Richard Garfield, King of Tokyo is a dice game for 2-6 players. Players control giant monsters and roll dice to determine the resources used on their turn. The first player to reach 21 points, or be the last monster standing, becomes King of Tokyo.
Each turn, players have the options of attacking, healing, scoring points or stock piling energy to use as currency. They can use the currency to purchase cards which do everything from providing additional points to special attacks.
While it is generally consider a light game, there are good levels of strategy in determining which cards to buy and when to stay in Tokyo to score additional points.
#5 – Ticket to Ride
Arguably one of the best gateway games to get people interested in the hobby, Ticket to Ride is a train route game for 2-5 players. To score points the players must collect sets of coloured cards in order to make routes. Players can also get additional points for completing specific routes and having the longest single route.
While having a very simple design, the game provides a lot of tension in deciding when to push your own progress and when to try and block other people’s routes. The game plays fairly quickly at around 45 minutes, and the pace escalates very well as the game winds down.
They have produced roughly a dozen expansions over the last 9 years, most of them including additional boards with maps of various countries and continents from around the world.
Takenoko is a two to four player game in which players control a gardener, a panda and plots of land. The players can choose various actions such as grow bamboo, eat bamboo or place land tiles in order to meet their specific card requirements and score points.
The rules are simple to understand and explain, but do not let the art style or the colour palette fool you on this one. While it appears to be a cute and childish game, it has excellent strategic decision making and various ways to win. It never plays quite the same from game to game, and has just enough luck involved to further extend the replay value.
While it is still very enjoyable at two players, the game really feels complete at 3 or 4 players. No expansions have been announced as of yet although there is a gigantic collector’s edition available.
#3 – Zombie Dice
A push your luck dice rolling game, Zombie Dice is played by rolling 3 dice and trying to roll brain symbols, rerolling foot symbols and avoiding gunshot symbols. You can continue to roll 3 at a time until you are satisfied with your brain points for the turn, or you can push your luck and continue to roll while hoping to avoid 3 gunshot symbols.
The dice vary in terms of odds for rolling each symbol, and you draw your 3 die randomly without looking at the difficulty colours. The rules are very simple, but the game is a great example of managing dice rolling odds and a very enjoyable game for almost anyone.
The web site lists it as playable from 2 to 99 players, but pushing passed 5 or 6 could get a bit stale for the players waiting in between turns.
#2 – Pandemic
Pandemic is another excellent gateway game, and a great showcase for cooperative play. 2 to 4 players take various roles and work together to stop viruses from spreading all over the world.
Each player can choose basic actions such as removing viruses or moving to new locations, as well as utilizing their roles special abilities. Cooperative team play is absolutely necessary to win, as viruses continue to spread aggressively every turn. There are several ways to lose and the difficulty can be scaled from very manageable to brutally difficult.
A new edition of the game was printed last year, including updated art and some new role cards to choose from. They also reprinted the first expansion and have added an additional expansion titled In the Lab which provides some new mechanics including team play.
#1 – Settlers of Catan
For almost 20 years Settlers has been a primary staple of the hobby and has been enjoyed by wide range of gamers both casual and experienced. 3 to 4 players compete on an island by managing and trading resources, then using those resources to build structures and score points.
The game has a reasonable amount of rules which are generally very easy to teach and learn. With several random elements in the game, both trading with other players and strategic placement of structures become crucial to winning. Players also have a few less transparent options for scoring including development cards and working towards longest route or largest army.
The game has been printed in several editions over the years, and has roughly 20 expansions still easily available. Expansions range from new locations and island tiles to complete re-themed versions. The 5-6 player expansion alone would be top 5 on this list by itself.
Article contributed by Andrew Olsansky