10 games I enjoyed in 2017

I played more games in 2017 than any other year thus far. When you throw in online plays I reached well over 1000 plays. That seems like a lot, and it is, but it's inflated due to my Star Realms obsession last year. I had played a couple hundred games in 2017 before I wrote about having played it 500 times, and then I played 500 more games from then until December and stopped at an even 1000 total plays. I likely won't do that again this year but the game is that good so I won't rule anything out. But I'm not here to gush over Star Realms, I'm here to highlight 10 games that I enjoyed in 2017.
When I decided to write this article, I quickly realized that I wish I was one of those people who tracks their plays because that would have made things a lot easier. Lucky for me I tend to take pictures of the games I play to post on social media so it just took some digging to remember everything I tried. There were so many games to pick from that I decided to break it into two categories of five. The first is games that were released in 2017 and the second is games that were released prior to 2017. All of these games were new to me so you won't find Star Realms or any of my current top 10 games here. These aren't necessarily all of my favorites, I just wanted to shed some light and reflect a bit on each one.

Games released in 2017

Circle The Wagons
Buttonshy has done a great job coming up with games that fit in these little wallets. Almost all of them are just card based and are under 18 cards total. I've supported a handful of their Kickstarters over the past couple of years but this game is far and away the best game they have ever produced. It's so good that I think it has snuck into my top 10. It's definitely become my go to travel game due to it's size and packaging. It reminds me a lot of Patchwork but the fact that the scoring bonuses change each game makes me prefer taking this one out instead. For just $12 you need to add this to your collection.

Dice Forge
I played this at PAX Unplugged with friends and my brother in law. My friend Shawn wanted to play it at a higher player count to see if he wanted to keep it. I'm glad he brought it along because I enjoyed it (not only because I won). The idea of changing the faces on your dice throughout the game was something I've never seen before. The thing I liked the most about the game is that even when it isn't your turn, you're rolling your dice and adjusting your tracks. This kept the game interesting because there was really no down time in between turns. I'd love to explore this game further this year.

Favelas
I played this at UNPUB 7 this year and wrote a pretty long reaction in my recap article. I'm not going to go over how it plays again but I'm happy to announce that it was picked up and published by WizKids this year. You can find it in stores and online right now so do yourself a favor and pick this up. As I said before, "I would buy the shit out of @ChrisBryanGames's Favelas right now if I could," and I did but I'm still waiting for my preordered copy from Miniature Market because they haven't received their copies yet.

NMBR9
This game was popping up all over Twitter this year and for good reason. It's a light abstract game that really pushes your brain buttons as you try to fit the various shapes adjacent to and on top of one other. The rules are simple and anyone who is good at puzzle type games will excel at it. The great equalizer is the deck of cards that tells the players what number is next to be added to their board. There's no way of knowing what will come next and it's likely it'll be the number you really don't want yet. I got this for Christmas and busted it open to play with my mom and Christine.


The Fox in the Forest
I love card games and one of my favorite types is trick taking. If you've played hearts or spades, you know what trick taking is but this isn't like those traditional types. In fact, The Fox in the Forest is very different, starting with it being two player only. Most trick takers need three or more players and almost no games of this type work well at just two. But Joshua Buergel designed this beauty and I really really enjoy it. Balancing the card's abilities while also trying to not win too many tricks is the key to success. The art is really nice and if you look toward the back of the rule book, you might recognize a name or two.

Games released before 2017

Arboretum
This was another Twitter find. I'd read so many great things about this game from people I respect in the industry and they hadn't steered me wrong so I hunted a copy of this game down. ZMan is notorious for taking forever to reprint titles so good ones like this are hard to come by for a decent price. I patiently watched the marketplace on BGG and was able to snag a copy. So far I've played it two times and both times my opponent misunderstood how the scoring worked at the end. But both of them did so in different ways. Maybe the third time will be a charm. I'll take part of the blame for not being a better teacher but regardless, the game is still outstanding and really works your spatial aptitude.


Hocus 
If you like poker, you need to get a copy of this game. If you don't like poker, you still need to get a copy of this game. Even though I got a copy of this in 2016, it took until my birthday weekend of 2017 to bust it out. It didn't go over that well with the whole group but my wife and I both enjoyed it and I have since taught it to others that really like it too. I like it so much that I got a bunch of copies last year so now I can gift them to people after I teach it. The game is criminally under appreciated and should rank much higher on BGG. It's a smart design that's easy to teach and understand. If you're into poker but want a bit of a twist, this game is for you. If you're not into poker but love card games with beautiful art and smart mechanics, this game is for you.

Onitama
Abstracts are one of my favorite types of games and Onitama has quickly moved up the ranks of my favorite abstracts. The game is light, plays really quickly, and has a lot of replayability. Arcane Wonders did an amazing job packaging this game, from the oblong square box to the mousepad material board to the minimalist pieces. Like any good abstract that forces you to move pieces in an attempt to remove others, there is a cat and mouse aspect that I really enjoy. Knowing what moves are available and being able to prevent your opponent from getting them is very satisfying. Having multiple victory conditions makes you stay dialed in at all times. I would really like to get more plays of this in soon.

The Downfall of Pompeii
I got this in a trade just before my birthday last year. I'd been watching the auctions and trade lists on BGG for a couple years before acquiring it. It looked very Survive: Escape from Atlantis to me so I figured I would enjoy it. No surprise, I did. This is one of those games, like Survive, that you can play totally cutthroat throughout. That type of play does tend to get the table turned against me but a win tastes that much sweeter if I can pull it off. I remember not winning when we played because the exits near me all got closed off and my people became trapped. Despite their deaths, I had a lot of fun. This needs to hit the table more often.


The Speicherstadt 
This was re-released with some changes as Jorvik but when a trade offer came through with it included as this version, I was happy to accept. We played a bunch of Stefan Feld's games this year and yes there are "better" ones I could be talking about right now. But this game doesn't get a lot of love, especially from Feld fans. It's not his typical point salad style game where it seems like you get a point for merely breathing each turn (not that there's anything wrong with that). You can even end with a negative score, how awesome is that?! What can I say? I like mean games. As I said in my 17 in 2017 recap, this one won't see the table much because it can be punishing and others in the group don't like bidding games. But that won't stop me from liking it and trying to find others to play it with.

There are many other games that could have made this list but these are the ones that stood out the most. I hope to play each of them at least once in 2018 but know that might be a tall order with a couple of them. What games did you really enjoy in 2017? Share in the comments below!

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