Here we go! What a year 2022 was. I would say that it has been one of the finest in recent history for board games. A brilliant UKGE. A fantastic Essen. And what a list of games! Vintage. Picking just ten from all the new games released in 2022 that I have played this year was tough, but this is it. As always, I am sure things could change had I played more games. But I make a choice with the games I play, so if I haven't played it yet, that also says something to me. So, with that said, let's get to it. My top 10 of 2022.
WBG Number one Card game of 2022 and coming in at TEN overall:
10. Walkie Talkie WBG Score 8/10
I demo'd this game at Essen this year and immediately had to buy it. It offers something I always love in card games. A simple ruleset, but huge fun. I have played it so many times with so many people since, and it hasn't failed to deliver each time. And for me, I do not see this getting old. It has the same addictive drive to go back to it that I found with The Mind. When you play for the first time, you set your current groups guide score, then for the rest of the games that session, you try and beat that score by as much as you can. I generally play until we all manage to use all of our cards, which happens most of the time. It will take five to ten games on occasions, but that just means more fun! Well worth checking out if you like simple fun cooperative card games.
WBG Number one Family Game of 2022 and coming in at NINE overall:
9. Skate Summer WBG Score 8/10
I was drawn to this game from the theme and art, it felt so original. But I go back to it because it is solid game that still feels fresh after multiple games. The split round really helps with this. The first few phases feel so different to the next two. Moving from a push-your-luck hand management card play on your skate board, to point-to-point area control with set collection on the main board. The components are all so juicy for your fingers too, and everything just pops visually. But there is depth in the game you don't expect, and the development of your player board as you progress in the game, which starts to generate bigger and bigger score is wildly satisfying.
WBG Number one Blank & Write Game of 2022 and coming in at EIGHT overall:
8. Vengeance: Roll & Fight WBG Score 8.5/10
There is something so nostalgic to this game, it keeps bringing me back to it to experience that child like feeling again. It feels like I am paying an arcade game in the 90's and that was a happy time for me. So, this is very much a personal choice to add this game to this list, but I would wager a few others would get the same warm fuzzy feelings from this game that I do. And any game where you get to throw this many dice, in a real-time race gets my vote. Some of the moves you can do are very cool too. This is just a very cool game.
WBG Number one Campaign Game of 2022 and coming in at SEVEN overall:
7. Viticulture World WBG Score 8.5/10
I already loved Viticulture and do enjoy the cooperative nature of this version, but the part that makes me enjoy Viticulture World so much is the campaign. I love games that evolve over different plays, with new little treats to explore and enjoy each time you get it to the table. In Viticulture World you are treated to this multiple times, as each Country brings a new little twist to the ruleset. It's a wonderful experience to go through the first time, and as I have found out, a second time too. When I played this all through for a second time, a few months after the first time, after I had forgotten a lot of what I had learnt the first time round. It was a great experience both times. And what you are left with when you are done when you pick one country to play as a one off game feels very much like picking a bottle of wine. I know I will enjoy anything in the box, but I get to pick which style I want to play that day to suit my current mood.
WBG Number one Newcomer of 2022 and coming in at SIX overall:
6. Starship Captains WBG Score 8.5/10
This game looks great and plays just as good. I found I did not really enjoy game one, or two for that matter. But I love it now. This is a great example of a game getting more fun to play as you get better at it and why first impressions for me are not always valid for review purposes. I don't mind winning or doing well in games, but when I cannot figure out a way to get my engine going, it can be frustrating and just not as much fun. That was the case here with this game. But after a few tries you will figure out the ways to maximise your efficiencies and get your combinations working, and it feels great! It does mean this game gives an advantage to more experienced players, so you need to try and play with people who have played as much as you in order to all enjoy it equally.
WBG Number one Surprise Game of 2022 and coming in at FIVE overall:
5. Galileo Project WBG Score 8.5/10
Talking of combinations, Galileo just pips Starship Captains as the combos in this game are just a little better, just that little bit easier to execute, and generally speaking, can be accessed by most people from game one onwards. The game looks complex, but it really is very simple, and ends up being a race as to who can get their engine working the most efficiently the quickest. It looks great, and offers an incredibly rich gaming experience in under an hour. One that I cannot stop going back to.
WBG Number one Solo Game of 2022 and coming in at FOUR overall:
4. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns WBG Score 8.5/10
This game was lent to me by Rod from extraordinaryinvestigations after his Kickstarter was sent to him and he knew he didn't have time to play it at first. And goodness me, did it blow me away. It was so absorbing. As it is based on such a brilliant story, it made the solo experience just fantastic. I was reading the comic the game is based on at the same time as playing it, which really helped. I would heavily encourage other people to try the same thing. It drew me into the universe even more, which for a solo game, is important for me. The character development, the absorbing story, and freedom of gameplay made me feel like I was the Dark Knight. I was in the game for every moment I was at the table. I can still feel those sensations now as I think back to playing the game. I am unsure if I would go through the whole experience of the four chapters again anytime soon, perhaps in a few years. But once was enough to make this rank at four for 2022. It was that good. This game has less replayability, but it certainly has huge wow factor, great production, a wonderful story, and exciting game play.
WBG Number one Gateway Game of 2022 and coming in at THREE overall:
3. The Guild of Merchant Explorers WBG Score 9/10
This game is ugly. Let's get that out the way from the off. But despite that, (and generally speaking, art, theme, and the overall feeling a game gives me from the aesthetics is hugely important to me), I rank this game very highly. If I was going to pick one game to play with a non-gamer, this would be it. It is incredibly simple to teach and learn. You will be set up and playing within minutes, and finished in under half an hour. Even when you are playing with people new to the game. The teach is a breeze. But everyone around the table, experienced players and those new to the hobby alike, will all feel like they have played a game of substance. The scoring is incredibly satisfying, and you will want to play this game over and over again. Just as I have done ever since I got this game this summer. A modern classic.
WBG Number one Party Game of 2022 and coming in at TWO overall:
2. Long Shot: The Dice Game WBG Score 9/10
This is the second game in this top ten that I don't own. Batman was leant to me, and Long Shot was a game I first played with some friends at UKGE this year. It seems strange to me that I have not bought it for myself since. I would put that down to poor availability, and a deeply concerning and growing pile of unplayed games in my house that limits my purchases! But if I were to treat myself with something at some point, it would be this game. However, the memories of playing this at a few conventions, and at friends houses this year are enough to make this small box party game jump ahead of some real big hitters and take the second spot for 2022. Each time this has hit the table for me this year, it has created huge moments of joy. Something a party game simply has to deliver every time for me to rate it. It's hard to do this for some games, based on the group and situation. But this game has done this for me every time it has hit the table. Perhaps as I have always played it in high numbers, I don't think this would work as well under four. But for a large group, if you are looking for a quick, fun, but still semi-strategic experience, this will take some beating.
WBG Number one Euro Game of 2022 and coming in at ONE overall:
1. Tiletum WBG Score 9/10
Tiletum is not a looker by any stretch of the imagination. But of my, does it play well. I love dry euros, but this stands out to me with its smooth gameplay, satisfying scoring, and the epic build to some brilliantly complex, but simple to execute combos. This is the game I would play right now if I could play any game. I would like to play this game with anyone, in any situation. It may not immediately appeal to everyone off the shelf due to its looks, but I think that if people are willing to give this a try, they will fall in love, just as I did by the end of turn one. Simply brilliant.
So that's my list. A common theme here is that I have chosen games that have drawn me back to them over and over. For someone that plays so many new games, I find that to be the best and most honest barometer when it comes to ranking games. There are plenty of great games that came out this year that I have not played yet, so this list could change over time, but for now, I look at these ten beauties and smile for the memories that gave me, and the great times that are still to come from playing them.
I hope you had a great year of gaming in 2022. Here's to an even better one in 2023.