Our Favourite Games of 2015 - #3 to #1 April 01 2016

3. Broom Service

I was a big fan of Elysium this year, and felt it was a solid pick for this years' Kennerspiel des Jahres. When I saw it was beaten by Broom Service, I felt compelled to try it out. Not the prettiest looking box, it's a game that can be easily overlooked as it sits on a shelf. We've had it for a few months now and it's seen maybe only one play in total. I would highly recommend this one to anyone looking for a new light strategy game for 3-6 players. 

Broom Service is a different take on a programming game. The order in which your program plays its cards is at the mercy of your opponents. You can't plan linearly. You need to be prepared to make audibles along the way. There is also a surprising level of cutthroat to such a whimsical game. The game isn't all a crapshoot however, there are plenty of ways to manipulate each turn to your advantage. Reading the map and anticipating your opponent's moves is a huge part of the game. 

It's not quite A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, but Broom Service brings a lot of the same feelings. And I love AGoT: TBG, so I would consider that high praise. The bluffing and turn-to-turn decision-making are what make this game a worthy winner of this years' Kennerspiel des Jahres. And Broom Service certainly earned its spot on our list.

 

2. Pandemic Legacy

Risk Legacy was an interesting concept that breathed life into a familiar, but unexciting game. Creating permanence in board games is still a fresh idea - even if it scares some potential gamers away. Not everyone feels comfortable tearing up components and defacing the game board. But all of this is part of the experience. At its core Risk is not that great, or even fun. Most people play it out of nostalgia. The area-control genre has evolved a lot since then. So while Risk Legacy was a success, it still came down to the fact you were still playing Risk

Pandemic Legacy takes the campaign-style board game and applies it to a more fundamentally sound system in Pandemic. And as the game evolves over time, introducing new mechanics along the way - it eventually evolves into something much larger in scope. It's not just playing Pandemic 12+ times. The fear of what lurks around every move made, and what consequences it may have in future plays, really adds a level of tension not found in board gaming. 

The campaign can twist and turn, and even though the general narrative will be the same for most playthroughs, each board will create its own personality. As you begin to see cities crumble and mess with your game, you lose faith in them and eventually make decisions with your heart. It becomes more of an experience than a game. You will talk about your months with other players and how you dealt with certain obstacles, curious to compare. It's a social event. 

With Season 2 sure to follow, Pandemic Legacy made its impact on the gaming industry in a large way this year. When it was announced years ago, it brought excitement, but was in no way a surefire hit. There were many ways they could have dropped the ball, especially given the hype. But it's no secret now that the game has earned its place among the board game elite. 

 

1. Codenames

The next evolution of one of the best-selling party games ever (Taboo) has arrived. Party games that require teammates to guess a word are plentiful. Some are done with great execution and some not-so-great (to put kindly). Codenames adds the element of wagering and risk/reward to the genre. Being able to successfully guess multiple Agents using just a single word clue is one of the most accomplishing feelings I've had in any game. 

With Codenames there is an element of personality to the game. Each teammate will interpret your clues in different ways, so being the spymaster comes with the task of how to best steer your team to victory. The game is essentially infinite in its variability. Even if you somehow get through every Agent card, with every possible layout you can expand your game using your own Agent cards. Many have even opted to use Dixit or Cards Against Humanity cards in place of the standard Agents, for a different kind of experience. 

Codenames is one of those games that just oozes brilliance. A game so simple, but doused with the same level of creativity and intelligence as last year's Concept. It's no surprise the game has shot up to the Top 100 of BoardGameGeek and solidified itself as #1 in the Party category, in very short time. Codenames rests comfortably in the cream of the crop of 2015, and I think it will hold up very strongly in the years to come. 

 

 

We hope you found our end-of-year awards insightful, entertaining or at least interested in the games that came out this year. Wishing you and yours a happy holidays, from us here at For the Win! Hope to see you in the new year.

TL;DR

  1. Codenames
  2. Pandemic Legacy
  3. Broom Service
  4. Roll For The Galaxy
  5. Chaosmos
  6. Elysium
  7. 7 Wonders Duel
  8. Flick 'Em Up
  9. Spyfall
  10. T.I.M.E. Stories