Our Favourite Games of 2017 - Specialty Awards December 05 2017
Let's be honest for a moment, 2016 was not a stellar year for table top games. There were a few standouts, but overall it felt like a down year for the hobby. I'm happy to say that 2017 has been a very exciting year for gamers. Each month was full of fun releases, and in most cases the hype was matched by stellar games.
As we've done the past three years, we're going to be celebrating our 10 favourite games of the year alongside a few special mentions. This week we'll be handing out our Specialty Awards. Be sure to come back next week when we reveal our 10 favourite games of 2017.
Trend of the Year - Games Gone Wild!
It's been 8 years since Cards Against Humanity first arrived, and even now its effects are still being felt in the hobby. For many, it has gotten stale but there's always a new group of gamers who are discovering it for the first time. And with its incredible rise to popularity, over the course of several years, it's clear that this is less a fad and more of a trend.
This is not necessarily a new trend. There have been plenty of clones and attempted cashgrabs in the last few years, such as Crabs Adjust Humidity and Personally Incorrect. But a true test of popularity comes when the mainstream begins to latch on. And in 2017 alone we have witnessed the birth of Anomia X, Telestrations After Dark, Midnight Taboo, Cranium Dark, Codenames Deep Undercover, 5 Second Rule Uncensored and Catch Phrase: Uncensored. The oversaturated market is unlikely to last very long, but it's impressive to see the impact of a game that is nearly a decade old. And if you've ever browsed Amazon's Best Sellers in the Board Game and Card Game sections, you'll notice that these types of games take up a large percentage of the top slots.
Some will say its juvenile, and maybe it is. But ultimately we play games to have fun, and laughter is generally a strong indicator of people having fun. Once upon a time board games were reserved for the geeks, but today it's viewed as a cool social outing. Games gone wild has played a big part in getting it to that point.
2017's 2016 Game of the Year - Imhotep
I had no real interest in playing Imhotep when it was announced, and even when it was released. And even when it was nominated for the 2016 Spiel des Jahres, it was on low priority of games to check out. We eventually felt it was worth picking up for our Library, as it's a nice entry-level option for players. When I finally got to sit down and play it, I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed it. It's a very unassuming game that doesn't demand much from you, but it's very easy to get caught up in.
Imhotep is the perfect game for friends who love to test the limits of their friendships. It's an awfully cutthroat game when played with the right (or wrong, depending on your preference) people. And I love it for that reason. But even beyond that, it's a game that offers meaningful choices for the players. You'll rarely find yourself making a disinterested move in Imhotep. And for a game where you're only performing one action every turn, that's a fairly big accomplishment.
Imhotep gives gamers a new gateway option that really finds itself among the modern classics such as Ticket to Ride, Splendor and Carccassone. Of these "one-and-done" style games, where players can slowly learn the game by performing a single action at a time I would place Imhotep as my game of choice.
Honourable Mentions - Codenames Duet, Oh! Sushi Game, Shop 'N Time
As mentioned before, 2017 was really good year and while we wanted to maintain our tradition of selecting only 10 games for our final list, we couldn't help but cheat a little and give props to a few more. Codenames Duet, Shop 'N Time and Oh! Sushi Game were all on the cusp, but ultimately fell a little short.
Codenames Duet is one of the few party games that made the transition successfully to a great two-player game with just a few tweaks. And as an added benefit, the cards between the original Codename and Duet can be shared for more diversity. And speaking on games that made minor tweaks to familiar formulas, we really loved Oh! Sushi Game. On its aesthetic alone, it earned its place in our hearts - but the variety of modes they came up with in the rulebook was genuinely impressive. It's a great example of implementing theme to an originally stiff and plain game.
And finally we come to Shop 'N Time, a very small, overlooked release that feels like a sign of things to come. Mobile companion apps are nothing new as we saw it in a big way with Mansion of Madness: Second Edition last year. But the implementation in a casual game felt very natural. Cashing out your items just feels really cool. Give it a few years, and we'll likely see this become the Trend of the Year, as more and more games begin to embrace technology as it advances.