177 – Best of 2019 – The Family Gamers Podcast
Best Games of 2019
We have a fact about 177 – about pellet guns? But we’ve also got a guest – Nick Martinelli!
The Family Gamers Podcast is sponsored by First Move Financial. Go to FirstMoveFinancial.com/familygamers to find out more.
We’re going to talk about our favorite games from 2019 – but first, let’s talk about what we’ve been playing recently.
What We’ve Been Playing
Just One – easy to explain and get into, but coming up with good clues uses some serious brain power.
Magic Maze – Nick tried this for the first time, and lost the first level four times in a row!
Cockroach Poker – an older game all about passing away your cards.
Fine Sand – a deck-destruction (reverse deck-builder) game from Stronghold Games with a sand castle theme.
Spaceteam – we’ve mentioned this before; a fast-paced cooperative game with a lot of yelling.
Monza – “Everything that I wanted Candy Land to be” – it’s SHORTER and with a little bit of decision making. Did we mention that it’s SHORTER? Very simple but with some player agency. It managed to pull in our middle-schooler while also being accessible for a preschooler!
A few quick favorites: HUE, Kintsugi, Silly Street.
ClipCut Parks – instead of a roll-and-write, it’s a roll-and-cut. Roll the die, which tells you how many cuts to make from your sheet and how big each cut should be. You’re trying to cut out specific shapes & combinations to cover polyomino shapes on the cards you draw. The solo mode is very hard. Andrew wonders about it including scissors – Anitra points out that not everyone is a parent with school-aged kids with a million pairs of child-size scissors wandering around in their house.
A quick aside about games with destructible components. Nick really wants legacy games but can’t bring himself to do it because you’re permanently changing it.
Recommendations that aren’t games:
Nick highly recommends Lost in Space (on Netflix).
Anitra just read Skyward by Brandon Sanderson.
Best of 2019
We each have picked our personal favorite in these categories, inspired by our holiday gift guide.
Best for Very Young Children
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! from Ultra PRO (Nick’s choice). Nick’s son fell in love with this game at GenCon, and even taught his great-grandmother.
My First Castle Panic from Fireside Games (Andrew’s and Anitra’s choice). Our five-year-old taught his grandmother how to play.
Best for Early Elementary
Slide Quest from Blue Orange Games (Andrew’s choice). “Sir Rolley-butt” makes kids laugh and they get it right away. It also trains fine motor skills with immediate feedback.
Panic Island from Blue Orange Games (Anitra’s choice). Plays well on memory skills that are still strong at this age, while giving goals to work towards. Also, very short.
Dragonrealm from Gamewright (Nick’s choice). Maybe a little difficult for some kids at this age, but if they’ve played Dragonwood, they can easily get into it.
Best for Older Kids
Draftosaurus from Ankama and Luma Imports (Andrew’s and Anitra’s choice). We like it better than Sushi Go! Younger kids can certainly play, but it works really well with a mixed group.
Fantasy Ranch from Fantasy Board Games (Nick’s choice). “I never thought I would actually give a shot.” Again, there are easier modes for younger kids, but gamer kids will love the depth available in the more difficult modes.
Apaparently, cool meeples are a big selling point for us! ;)
Best for Teens and Adults
Unmatched from Restoration Games (Andrew’s pick). A re-imagining of Star Wars: Epic Duels. Pick your favorite character and duel your opponent. Every character is very different, but every character’s powers fit very well.
Wingspan from Stonemaier Games (Nick’s choice). Nick’s top game of 2019! Great for players who like to “sandbox” and try different strategies. Collecting birds is a very unusual theme, and it’s very well done.
Cartographers from Thunderworks (Anitra’s choice). A really neat take on roll-and-write/flip-and-write, and she appreciates that it’s easy to get people to play with her.
Best Games for Two Players
Shobu from Smirk & Dagger Games – unsurprisingly, both Andrew’s and Anitra’s top choice. Immediately feels classic, understandable, and yet difficult. “The game of rocks and ropes”. A true abstract game with no reading, no counting: just push your opponent’s pieces off the boards.
Funkoverse from Funko is Nick’s choice. “Introduction to tactical miniatures play” with super cute Funko Pops. All versions of this game have the same core ruleset, and the only difference is in the character’s abilities.
Best Games for Groups or Party Games
Just One from Repos (Anitra’s choice). Anitra already gushed over this in the beginning of the show. A cooperative game in which one person is the guesser and everyone else tries to come up with one-word clues. But if multiple people give the same clue, that clue gets completely erased.
The Grimm Masquerade from Skybound Games (Nick’s choice). We just published our review of this wonderful deduction game. We love the push-your-luck element of the strategy, and that being unmasked does not knock you out of the game. The catch-up mechanisms of wagering and special powers are awesome (and not as advanced as they seemed at first).
Tiny Towns from AEG (Andrew’s choice). Another game that spans generations well. Very easy to understand and hard to master.
Best Small Box Games
Similo from Horrible Guild/Luma Imports (Andrew’s choice) – feels like Codenames, but simpler (and cooperative). Cheap, easy to play, and wonderful art.
Tussie Mussie from Button Shy (Anitra’s choice) – it won’t hold appeal for most kids, but it plays equally well at 2, 3, or 4 players. We love the tension and psych-out inherent in the I-split-you-choose mechanic.
Fairy Season from Good Games (Nick’s choice) – a trick-taking game where you try to get “fairy dust” to make your ogre’s brew. Cards with special powers let you steal other players’ fairies. “One night we played it ten times in a row.” Review coming soon!
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