Our Favourite Games of 2015 - #6 to #4 April 02 2016

Hey guys! We're back again to bring you our annual list of favourite games that were released in 2015. We're doing it a little earlier this time to squeeze a chance for you to get your last-minute holiday gifts.

Here are the best 3 games that didn't quite make our Top 3. 

6. Elysium

This game almost earns its place strictly based on its insert. Very few games come with competent inserts, let alone a thematic one! Designed to look like the Pantheon, it holds all components of the game snug. And sitting within the insert, is one of the most gorgeous games ever crafted. Each deck of cards, representing eight greek gods, is beautifully designed by different artists. Such care and thoughtfulness are put into every physical part of the game. But this type of love is not limited to the components, the gameplay is just as elegant.

Every turn in Elysium provides a ton of options. There is a significance in every decision the player makes. With only five rounds and limitations on what can be done every turn, finding the optimal road to victory is key to success. At the same time, players must consider what resources their opponents have remaining every turn, in order to potentially prevent them from accomplishing their goals. Cards can provide round-to-round benefits, but should eventually be transferred into Legends in order for them to score. You never have enough time to do everything you want in Elysium, but that's part of the challenge. 

There's a good amount of variance with Elysium. Each deck plays differently, and putting them up next to one another provides for some cool combinations. I'm excited to see what they have in store for potential future expansions. 

 

5. Chaosmos

It's a well-known fact that I am easily enticed by space games. But Chaosmos is one of the few space games that could be painted with a handful of other themes and still remain the great game it is. A Kickstarter success from last year, Chaosmos, finally arrived in the hands of its backers this year. I was skeptical of the competency of the game. Kickstarter efforts are very hit-or-miss, especially from first-time game designers. A few friends backed the game, and I'm very happy to say that Chaosmos lands solidly in the 'hit' category of Kickstarter games.

Chaosmos is a cat-and-mouse style game where players fight and deceive one another, in order to be the one holding the OVOID when the clock strikes zero. The game mixes combat with deduction & bluffing quite smoothly. With limitations on what players can hold at any given time, players will often have to choose a playstyle that helps them to do one thing well. Should I hold onto the OVOID knowing I can protect it? Should I pretend I'm holding it, but drop it off on a defense-less planet to pickup when the time is right? Should I hold it, but build a trap or base on a planet in order to deflect suspicion? These are the types of questions that players will juggle with from turn-to-turn. There are a handful of ways to approach each turn of the game, all while keeping an eye on the clock. The game manages to deliver those "moment-of-truth" revelations regularly - often accompanied by gasps of despair or gasps of relief.

I've not played a game quite like Chaosmos. It's one of the better experiences of 2015 and I would highly suggest everyone give it a try - as it's also one of the more overlooked games of the year. 

 

4. Roll for the Galaxy

Last year we made the exception for Concept, and this year we're doing the same for Roll for the Galaxy (and according to Dice Tower's list, Tom Vasel agrees). While technically a 2014 release, the game wasn't widely available until January of 2015. Roll for the Galaxy is different take on the popular card game, Race for the Galaxy, adding in everyone's favourite board game activity - dice rolling. 

I accidentally ended up liking Race by stumbling upon it on Board Game Arena. Too lazy to read the rules, I played about 5 games just trying to figure out how the game worked, each time learning something new. It was confusing but intriguing. Even after playing the game over 20 times, there are symbols I forget about and how they work. Learning Race for the Galaxy is not really an intuitive process. It doesn't feel like the theme really connects to the actual gameplay.

Roll for the Galaxy takes all the problems I had with Race and irons it out to a more complete and fulfilling experience. Every aspect of the game makes sense. There's a flow to it all. It's much easier to explain Roll to a new player than Race. Newbies can build meaningful strategies in their first playthrough, whereas the first game of Race always turns into a lot of head-scratching and analysis paralysis. After playing Roll for the Galaxy, I have no desire to play Race for the Galaxy anymore. It's a colourful and fun experience. Even without comparing the game to it's older sibling, Roll stands on its own as a fantastic board game.

 

 Images courtesy of BoardGameGeek and its users