Updated: Jan 3
Top Ten (new to me) Games of 2022
Well here it is folks, the list that no one was waiting for, it’s my top ten games of 2022. This is my top ten “new to me” games of 2022. As much as I’d like to populate this list of purely releases from this year, the fact of the matter is that I don’t get to play many of them. Sure I could probably muddle together a top ten from them but there’s so few of them that a lot of the list would end up being games I didn’t really get on with and are just there to make up the list. I want this list to highlight my very favourite games that I played this year and got excited about. Luckily enough I’ve played some really great games over this year with two of them even making my top ten games of all time!
10. Village Rails
There was something about Village rails that appealed to me the minute I saw the cover and that tag line. When the game finally chugged its way to my doorstep it didn’t disappoint. A really fun game of building up a grid of tracks and each time you complete a line you get points based on the different scoring conditions on it. I love the drafting system that has hints of Smallworld and century spice road and deciding when to sacrifice points for money is a great brain burn. It fills that sweet spot of being quick enough to play before you get into a bigger game but it’s by no means a filler so you can keep your brain engaged.
My full review here.
In Downforce you ideally want to win the race, but it’s not necessary for you to win the game. I love the idea that it’s entirely possible for you to be right at the back of the pile but still be able to win the game through clever betting and manipulation through the cards you play on your turn. It’s simple to learn and makes even mechanics like betting accessible to everyone without the downsides. If you bet on a car to win and it’s falling back you can use your cards to give it a boost and help you win big money. So many race games can suffer from a runaway leader and while that can still happen here, Downforce goes some way to stop that from hindering your victory. Plus it’s tense and a ton of fun and you get to go brum brum on your turn.
My full review here
8. Libertalia : Winds of Galecrest
A game about anthropomorphic animal sky pirates, what’s not to love! I love how, even though players have the same hand of cards at the start of the game, watching each person's thought processes play out through when they chose to play which card is fascinating. It’s a lot of fun trying to get into your friends' heads as you try and figure out which cards they might choose so you can get the best loot or avoid getting your card wiped out by theirs. The later rounds are even more fun as you’ll get more cards in your hand, but some will be left over from other rounds so your hands of cards start to differ from everyone else’s. This is one I need to add to the collection and is a lot of fun even at the full six players.
Jim’s full review here
Cascadia is a wonderful tile laying, drafting game. On your turn you pick a combo of tile and animal token. Place down the tile and put the animal token on a tile with that animal on it. Animals score depending on the scoring cards. So for example salmon score points if they are in a continuous run, the more in it the more points. It’s really simple to teach but trying to puzzle out how to maximise scoring from each animal certainly gets the cogs whirring. It could well have been an easy puzzle but the random tile and animal combo gives you those fun and tricky decisions. Also included in the box are different scoring cards for each animal to give the game a lot of replayability.
6. Great Western Trail (2nd edition)
So this one is a bit of a cheat but I figure that “doing a cheat” on lists is becoming a trend and who am I to buck a trend! I’ve already played the first edition, once, a few years ago and I’ve been wanting to try again ever since. Now I know that, bar a few tweaks, that these are the same game but this year I got to do a proper dive into it both physically and on Board Game Arena and it solidified how much I enjoy this game. Each game you can employ a different strategy and each one will give you a good shot at winning. I love that this game is a huge cow rondel (is anyone else picturing small cows slowly spinning on a Lazy Susan? Nope, just me?) You want to be able to do all the actions on it but you know that doing that isn’t the most efficient way of doing things. It’s all about deciding the most efficient path for that round. Couple that with a bit of a race element and you’ve got a game with some fun, interesting decisions and multiple paths to victory.
5. Terraforming Mars
The annoying thing about TFM is that I had a couple of opportunities to play this game way before this year. Now, having played it a few times I really regret not having played this sooner. I love the card play system, the build up of your economy and the fact that you semi-cooperatively work to Terraform Mars. It's a lot of fun trying to puzzle out which cards you need to play in order to play others so you can then get the most out of the cards you kept at the start of the round. This is another one I need to get in the collection and rest assured that when I do I’ll be ordering Prelude alongside it.
4. Lost Ruins of Arnak
At the time of writing I’ve only played this once but that just goes to show just how much I enjoyed this one. I love the adventure theme and Indiana Jonesyness of the whole thing. The combination of deck building and worker placement works so well. It gives you so many options to think about. Speaking of combos, the combos you can trigger on your turn are so satisfying and give your turns some heft. Especially when you’ve read the rules and your initial thoughts are “huh, doesn’t seem you get much to do on your turn” This is another game where you can change your path to victory each game and still be in with a good chance with winning.
3. Cantaloop: Book 1
It’s number three on this list in terms of games I enjoyed but in terms of a pure nostalgia trip this is number one. Cantaloop threw me right back to my childhood and is just a fantastic adaptation of the old point and click adventure games. It encapsulates the humour, the tone and the clever interaction of those games. I can’t wait for the third in the series (the sequel was good but didn’t quite reach the highs of the first one) but what I’m most looking forward to is when enough time has passed and I can go through these games again.
My full review here.
2. Ark Nova
Much like a lot of this list, here I am having missed the initial hype train and end up running frantically after it. To be fair I’m much closer to this one as I am with most of these ex-hotness games on this list. I was convinced to take a harder look into this after playing terraforming mars. I knew the card system was similar so at least I knew it had something I liked in it. It didn’t disappoint. The action card river system gives this game its edge and brings with it so many great decisions and the need to put all of your planning abilities to good use. Yes the luck of the card draw is sometimes a frustration but if you go into it knowing you have to take an adaptive stance on your strategy then this game is such a fun experience. The fact that the solo mode is ridiculously easy to use and also punishing means this game gets to the table way more often than I expected.
My full review here
There was a bit of back and forth over these top two games and ultimately Marvel Champions does what its subject matter does best and fights for justice.
This game spent a lot of time in and out of various online baskets until I was lucky enough to receive it for review on the site. Since then a lot of my gaming budget this year has gone on more decks and my first campaign box for this game. I initially gave this game an 8.5 and as predicted it's gone up to at least a 9 now. I love how quick it is to pull out a couple of decks and get playing. The experimentation with different characters together is a lot of fun and each one feels thematic to the characters. Deckbuilding is a simple process but again is a lot of fun putting something together that works for each specific character. It’s brilliant fun being able to put your favourite characters against some iconic villains. This definitely deserves my top spot this year. Of all the games that are sitting on my shelf this is the one that I keep looking at and thinking “could I sneak in a quick game” but that may be my fault for having it in my eyeline while I’m trying to work!
My full review here.
So that’s my top 10 new games to me this year. Are there any here that you’ve discovered this year? Or any that you really want to try or are excited to play?