Everyone wants to laugh. Everyone. Even ancient cat ladies. Even the guy bagging your groceries. Even you, when you’re bagging groceries while contemplating adding another cat to your menagerie.
Which is why today we’re celebrating the year’s funniest, silliest, most whimsical, and most delightful games.
Fun fact: Nine out of ten oceangoing pirates read Space-Biff! Best Week! It’s true.
Perhaps it’s because pirates appreciate simple games that yield hidden depth. If so, today is the day for them, because we’re looking at the eight best elegant games of the year. These are the ones that are simple to learn yet hard to master, or simply ingenious, or just downright simple.
If there were a list of all the best Best Of 2017 lists, the Space-Biff! Best Week! would easily be number one. Just saying.
Today we’re celebrating the most refined games of the year. No, not the most hoity-toity games, but the most improved. Whether accomplished by an expansion, a new edition, or a new game entirely, these are the games that stood atop a predecessor’s shoulders and looked good doing it.
Day Two is when the fatigue sets in. Rules become more drawn out, the show floor starts to resemble a hive in the midst of total collapse, and existence becomes more questionable than usual. For instance, if we’re merely complex chemical computers with simulated free will, why did our holographic universe determine that we would spend so much time ambling through this earthly temple to all things cardboard? I wish I had an answer.
Anyway, we learned lots of great games today!
Only the finest individuals who have excess time on their hands, a means of transportation, sufficient acquaintances to attend in tandem to drive down the price of the hotel, and a peculiar love of board games go to Gen Con.
This is their story.
Accountability. It’s a word. It means many things, though perhaps some things more than others. For instance, perhaps most people don’t consider the adjective that means you’re a really good financial worker to be one of the word’s primary definitions. To me, it means being honest. Frank. Open. Which is why I want to revisit my Best Week 2015 picks and talk about how they held up. Which games do I still play a lot, which have disappeared to the Basement of Forgetting, and which ones truly deserve to be called the best?
Since this is going to be a long-winded bit of self-reflection, feel free to skip to whichever retrospective you like. We’ve got the best rebaked games, consternating games, overlooked games, surprising games, and everything else of 2015.
Once again, we had a fantastic Best Week, perhaps because 2016 was a pretty terrific year for board games. Down below are the links to each day of lists — just click the picture to be whisked away to that day’s compilation, courtesy of Internet Magic!
Best Week 2016 has come a long way. A very long way. We’ve looked at all sorts of bests. And all of it has led us here, to the final bests, the best unique games of the year.
These are the games that caught me by surprise. Critical darlings, some of them, the sorts of games that appeal to us weathered old sea-hags who write about the things. We’ve seen too much, and regular pleasures no longer delight us, so we seek ever-more peculiar novelties. Or so the conventional wisdom might claim. On the contrary, the games listed here are ones I’d stack up alongside all the others I’ve highlighted thus far. Welcome to day five.
One of the things I’ve always loved most about board games is their ability, with proper consideration and rules, to transpose difficult concepts into the simplified languages of play. To distill, to crystallize, to render out the most crucial pieces of information, conflicts, and interactions for our consideration, and to do so while we’re goofing around. We’re spoiled, basically, to be alive and playing in an era when games are so readily handling tricky issues and ideas and not sucking at the same time.
What follows are my favorite “lesson” games of the year. This doesn’t always mean that the lessons were particularly deep or insightful, but rather that these are the titles that pay their subject matter that extra level of consideration and are all the better for it.
Innovation is tough. Not just in the sense that being innovative is sort of like being told to sit on your couch and produce the finest cheeses from thin air. But also in the sense that it doesn’t always pay off. Most people don’t chow down on fine cheeses, for one thing. Why not craft the perfect cheddar? Everybody loves cheddar.
Today is a celebration of the year’s best iterative games. That is to say, the games that do the same old stuff all over again, but do it so well that I’m glad they showed up for the party, like friends from elementary school who never changed all that much, just grew up and became better versions of who they’ve always been. These are the games that refine the formula, that snobby critics call “workmanlike” and “uninspired,” while the rest of us slather ourselves in their goodness like a piece of toast before the fondue vat. Apparently I’m hungry tonight. On to the games.