Every time. Every dang time.
Whenever I write about a board game, a certain sort clamors to my inbox like ants chasing a line of sugar cubes. “Yeah yeah, but what’s its score? Would you say it’s a 7.18 or a 7.19 out of 10?”
Know what? I surrender. As of today, Space-Biff! will be assigning a score to every game we review. But seeing as how you’ll be skipping past every word I write from now on, you can bet your butt you’re going to have to wade through seven hundred words to understand the scoring criteria.
As has become a February tradition around these parts, it’s time to rewind a whole year and a month to Best Week 2019. But this is no warmhearted jaunt down memory lane. Oh no. This is an interrogation. This is when we take a look at the titles I proclaimed the best of the year and discuss whether I was right, wrong, or somewhere in between.
The wheel has turned. Below you’ll find links to every day of Best Week 2020, which despite the year’s expectations has hosted some of the finest games ever featured here on Space-Biff! Simply click the image to be transported to the relevant page.
See you on the other side, friend.
Common sense is overrated. I’ve known that since I was a boy and my mother kept insisting I find some. I’m more interested in uncommon sense. Piercing observations. Repudiations of the norm. Self-awareness. Now those are qualities to celebrate!
Which is why today, for the final entry of Best Week, we’re taking a look at the games that thumbed their noses at common sense. They took a long look at their genre, gave a gentle shake of the head, and decided that if anyone was going to do it better, it had to be them. Even if it meant turning the genre upside down in the process.
Firestorm take incoming: more than any other medium, board games are about discovery. Yes, more even than their digital counterparts. Truly, board games are so completely about discovery that they cannot even be played until the process of discovery has begun. Beginning with the earliest formative moments when the rules take shape in our minds, they cannot help it. The flip of a card, the provocations of a rival, the epiphany of a perfect move — these are all acts of creation and discovery alike.
Today, Best Week is about discovery in a more literal sense. What follows are the best games of 2020 that left me breathless as I charted past the map’s edge, redefined my species, or recorded new knowledge.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. As far as years go, 2020 was a real downer. It isn’t necessary to say why. Such an utterance would only grant it additional power.
Fortunately, certain games were a relief. A vacation in miniature, you could say. These are the titles I was able to get lost in, if only for an hour or a few minutes, and forget the low-grade anxieties that attended every waking moment.
There’s nothing quite like counting out your moves. Or obsessing over the perfect placement of a polyomino. Or examining the unfurling board state until your eyes cross.
Today is about those games. The ones that saw me picking over every detail, every possible move, every counter-move. These are the ones that hurt so good.
There’s a reason Best Week arrives when it does. Popular belief would say it lands at the end of the year, but that isn’t it. Best Week happens when it’s needed most. When the world is cold and dark, Best Week is here to draw our attention to the games that mattered.
And there’s no better way to flip the bird to a dismal year like 2020 than by celebrating the games that stood up to the giant, pounded their shield-arms, and said, “You know what, jackass? Even though everyone has fallen into the habit of taking afternoon naps, even though it’s almost next year and I still find myself thinking it’s October, I’m going to be my best self.” Call them redesigns, call them spins on familiar formulas. Either way, these are the games their designers decided to revisit in order to craft something new.
February traditions are important. Much like the lesser-known Presidents’ Day (the third Monday) and the Hallmark Greeting Card Company Annual Earnings Holiday (the 14th), the Space-Biff! Retrospective is our chance to revisit nominations of years past and see how they held up. It’s also a chance to see me cop to the mistakes I made along the way! Surely you’re here for the first reason.
Another year, another Best Week. Below you’ll find the whole thing, indexed for ease of access. Simply click any of the images to be whisked away to the relevant article. And if you’re desperate for more Best Week but don’t want to wait until 2020, there’s nothing stopping you from reading and rereading these same articles. With some minor memory erasure, each encounter can be like new!