SPIEL ’19 was full of games and Tabletop Together was there first-hand to check out what games would be our favorites. Peter and Jacob will give their top 3 games from this year’s SPIEL, but this is by no means exhaustive. There were over 1.000 new games present at the fair and we obviously haven’t played them all. These 6 games have risen to the top for us.
Jacob’s Top Games of SPIEL ’19
Before SPEIL ‘19, I wasn’t sold on this game. It seemed disjointed with a bunch of different options for your turn and to be blunt, it seemed confusing. Then I played one round of a demo and I was sold. After playing a full game, I only want to play it more. The Magnificent is a dice drafting game where you only have 3 options for actions each turn, but the choices with each action makes the game amazing. Once you draft a die you assign it to a master card, get a bonus and then either travel with your circus (using a rondel), build your camp (using a Tetris-style mechanic) or complete a performance. My favorite aspect of The Magnificent is that you can take your time building your camp and recruiting performers to put together an amazing performance with multiple performers or you can do smaller shows more often and they both seem like viable ways to win.
Lux Aeterna was immediately on my list of games to grab. Tony Boydell designs some great games and it plays solo, so it was a first-day purchase for me. What I didn’t expect, however, was that it would make it in my top 3 games. Lux Aeterna is a 10-minute, real-time game where you are trying to repair your ship, while it is hurtling towards a black-hole. If you can manage to repair 3 of the 6 systems of your ship then you win. The game is simple enough as you take 4 cards each turn and assign one for its action, one for the speed toward the black hole, another for the damage and the last to go in your cache. Since it is a timed game the tension is there from the get-go, but when you draw the cards you need to make fast decisions and some of them are along the lines of “Which one sucks the least.” You might not be able to use the best action because if you do a system with fail and you’ll be closer to losing. In my first play I thought I was doing really well and then the cards seemed to turn against me. I still won, but it was close…a little too close.
What can I say about Clank! Legacy? No, really, what can I say? It’s a Legacy game, so I can’t say much, but let’s just say it’s Clank!…only better. I didn’t know what to expect coming into the first play of the game, and I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. I didn’t expect it to be a narrative experience and while it can slow the game down a bit, if you get into the story, it is well worth it. I can’t say much more without spoiling it, but I can say Clank! Legacy is on its way to being one of my favorite Legacy experiences and I’ve played quite a few of them.
Peter’s Top Games of SPIEL ’19
It’s a Wonderful World
Being a lover of drafting, engine building and nice art, It’s A Wonderful World ticks a lot of boxes for me. The drafting is your standard 7 Wonders drafting, but the cards you get have a dual use, you can either discard them to get the resource defined on the card or you can choose to add it to your “construction queue.” Most cards will take you more than one turn to build, but once built the card can give you more resources each turn and or give you end game scoring conditions. It’s a super smooth game and it offers the option to chain certain cards into each other. It’s a light game, yes, but one I would pick over 7 Wonders any day.
Marco Polo II: In the Service of the Khan
Now I was already a big fan of the original Marco Polo game, so I already suspected I would like this one too. But I more than liked it, I really loved it. It’s around 75% the same game but there are a lot of minor changes that I think is all for the better. There is more incentive to move around the board now (and it’s a little easier), a new resource (jade) and a market that changes from turn to turn.
All in all, the game has a few more things going on, but this is done without adding complexity to the game. Really a fantastic game and one of the best of 2019 if you ask me. I think it might even replace the original for me, but only time (and more plays) will tell.
Paris: New Eden
When I was preparing for SPIEL ‘19 this was one of the games that stood out to me. A beautiful game with dice drafting meant it eventually made to my “need” category on my wish list. I’m happy to tell you that it did not disappoint me. It was everything I hoped for and a little more too. Production quality was great too and I’m a sucker for those amazing custom dice.
The game play is actually pretty simple, but you have to wrap your head around the idea that all of the dice and tokens you pick up from the board are mainly used to win a “bidding” war for buildings in each category. It’s the buildings and the people that live in them that will score points in the game (if you can feed them and have the right people for the missions). It was a lovely and different game experience, but one I can’t wait to revisit. Also it’s nice to see a colourful post-apocalyptic game for once.