Best Games of 2017, part one

As the last moments of 2017 have faded, and the chill of a frigid northern wind swept over the bayou this weekend, the Krewe de Gumbo set out to record their best experiences of the last year.

But instead of debating the best game of the year, the Krewe decided to tackle the discussion from a different angle. This time, we came up with categories of games and experiences, which might be a little more meaningful than just a dry top ten list of games we have played. (For part two of this article, click here.)

So, without further ado, here is the first part of our Gumbo Look Back at the Best Games of 2017.  These are our favorites based on the games we’ve played so far — with plenty left to go on our shelves! If you don’t see your favorite games, it’s probably because we haven’t had a chance to try it out yet.

Which games did we get right? Which games did we get wrong? What games would you have included on your own list?

BEST NEW TO ME GAME FOR 2017

BJ Carlos Kyle Dustin
Concordia Twilight Imperium 3rd Ed Scythe Battle of Five Armies

BJ:  Concordia is my favorite new-to-me game for 2017. It has been on my grail list for a while, but was so expensive on the second hand market. They finally reprinted it, and I scooped a copy after an awesome first play at Dice Tower con with my son, Jack. So far, I have not gotten tired of it, and now that I have a few expansions, I’m hoping it hits the table a lot in 2018.

Kyle: The best games that I had not played before 2017 are easy: Scythe, Near and Far, Ethnos, and Flip Ships.

Dave:  I’d probably put Gloomhaven as my number one new to me game.

Kyle:  Scythe is quickly turning into my obsession.

Dustin: Games of Thrones is better than Scythe, for sure, but I’ve never played BSG

BJ:  A Fake Artist Goes To New York is another contender, with Joraku and Hanamikoji right behind those games.

Kyle: I played Adrenaline once this year…but, I feel like I’d play it over and over. I think I’ve decided — I’m buying it.

Carlos: Twilight Imperium 3 — best new-to-me game.

BEST ABSTRACT:

BJ Bradly Carlos Kyle Dustin
Sagrada Sagrada Century Spice Road: Golem Sagrada Azul

Carlos:  Abstract is tough. I played Photosynthesis and Sagrada, but neither one impressed me enough for a vote.

Bradly: The only options are Sagrada and Azul. A lot of these categories have a clear winner, and those are it.

BJ: Really? No consideration for Photosynthesis?

Bradly : Compared to Sagrada? Not even close.

Carlos: Nah. Photosynthesis and Sagrada were just alright, certainly not Onitama / Santorini level.

Dustin: Azul is good, though. I played Element. It’s ok. Not as good as Azul, Santorini or Raptor.

BJ:  There were surprisingly a lot of good abstracts that came out in 2017, but I have not played them all. Out of what I’ve played, Azul and Sagrada stand out. It is close between them — need a few more plays of both to really decide.

BEST ARTWORK

BJ Bradly Carlos Kyle Dustin
Alien Artifacts Near & Far Gloom of Kilforth Near & Far Lazer Ryderz

Carlos: Best artwork is tough this year.

Dustin: Laukat’s art in Near & Far is good, but it isn’t the best of the year. Dinosaur island had cool art, and so does Lazer Ryderz.

Dave: I enjoyed Laukat’s art, but the art on Century: Golem can’t be beat, I don’t think. And it pops on the table with the mat.

Kyle: The mat is cheating.

Dave: No, it’s not — It’s part of the game (sold separately).

Kyle: That’s like saying Destiny World Champion mat really makes Star Wars: Destiny pop on the table!

Dustin: Yeah, like saying “I love parts of games that don’t come with the game.”

Dave: Even without the mat, the cards can literally be hung up on a wall.  Golem clearly has better art than Dinosaur Island or Dice Forge.

Dustin: Clearly is very subjective. Have you actually looked at Seasons or Dice Forge art? Like actually looked at it? Every bit as good. Artwork is easily as good as Laukat’s as well. Seasons was known for its art as well — same artist.   Century: Golem art looks cool. But it is just cards and some gems.

Kyle: I won’t deny that Golem’s art is quite nice. Near & Below is just such a Whole World of art…see there, BJ, I’m just trolling you now.

Dave: And I’d put Dice Throne’s art above Dice Forge’s as well. Dice Forge looks terribly boring.

Dustin: How so?  We are talking art not gameplay. You are letting your opinion of the game itself cloud your judgment.  The guy who was balancing books in a hotel lobby in Grand Austria Hotel said dice forge looks boring? Come on, man. I’m sure Grand Austria is a great game, but doesn’t look appealing at all in the art department.

Dave: Dice Throne looks way more interesting as far as art goes. My vote goes for either Dice Throne or Century: Golem.

Dustin:  Dice Throne looks like any anime cartoon to me. Looks good but not amazing. Golem does have nice art, though. Probably the best art for any game this year that will never have an expansion. That could be a category and I would vote for it.

BJ: I find Dice Throne WAY too busy to consider it for Best Art of the year. Spirit Island is a consideration — it had some amazing art.  But, I’m thinking that Lisboa clearly has some of the best art. Ian OToole knocked the design aesthetic out of the park.

Carlos:  Lisboa??????

Kyle:  Lisboa is boring-looking to me. It looks like money, literally.

Dustin:  Lisboa does not look as good as Century: Golem or any of the others we mentioned.

Carlos: Preview of the upcoming Lisboa expansion:

BJ: I’m just saying — you gotta see Lisboa in person before deciding. Best Art for 2017 is out of Lisboa, Near & Far, and Alien Artifacts for me so far.

BEST PRODUCTION:

BJ Bradly Carlos Kyle Dustin
Azul Wasteland Express Delivery Service Wasteland Delivery Express Service Dice Forge Dice Forge

BJ: Azul has an amazing set up. I really like the production value in this game. It has awesome components and the box already comes with a perfect insert.   Downforce is another one I am considering, because the board, the cars, the cards, the really sturdy box all tell me Restoration Games is interested in heirloom type games.   One last one: Tortuga 1667 has one of the coolest boxes around.

Bradly: The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire is one to consider. The metal tin suitcases, the horse head first player marker, lots of great touches and a great insert. Although I suppose Wasteland Express Delivery Service does all that and has better art….Hmmm.

Carlos: Wasteland Express Delivery Service is a good one. They went all out on a useful insert.

BJ: What about Coaster Park?  It has that cool first player marker.

Bradly: The insert doesn’t support sleeved cards, though.

Kyle: Dice Forge had really nice production, I thought.

Dustin: Dice Forge is probably the best insert I have ever seen as well. Every single piece goes perfectly in the insert, and you even use it in game.  Dice Forge’s insert is legit. It’s a better insert than Godfather for sure. If you don’t store the cards in the tins, nothing fits.Near & Far is a typical “throw the insert out” game.

Kyle: I’m between Dinosaur Island and Dice Forget for best production. Probably Dice Forge, though.

Dustin: I’m going Dice Forge. Amazing artwork, perfect insert. Dinosaur Island is good though.

Kyle:  The more I think about it…Production goes to Dice Forge and it’s not close.

BJ: The more I think about it, Azul was a perfect production. The clickety clackety tiles. The included insert. I love the beautifully decorated bag that the tiles go in. The color scheme fits the theme of the game, plus the representative artwork. And bonus: you get historical info in the rule book.

For Part Two of this article, click here.

Until next time, laissez les bond temps rouler!

— BJ

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