This is the next entry in a series where members of the Gumbo Krewe look back at their favorite new-and-new-to-us games for 2019. Check out BJ’s Top Ten of 2019 here and Bradly’s Top Ten of 2019 here. Here’s Deebow’s Top Ten of 2019.
Well, before I start I have to give one caveat. I have been working a lot, and my work requires that I am away from home, so I haven’t gotten in quite as much gaming as some of the other guys in our group. And when I do get the chance to game, it is usually at home where I host game nights for family and friends. I love having a game room in my new home, but I don’t really get the opportunity to play a good amount of the newest games, which is fine for me, but it might be why certain games won’t be on my list: I simply have never played them. I also have slightly different tastes than a lot of guys in the group, but hey, diversity is a good thing, right? That being said, I will also give at the end of this post a list of games that if I would have played, they may have made my list.
Oh, and one more thing, I will not put Warhammer Underworlds: Beastgrave on this list, because Underworlds is already known to be one of my favorite game systems, and although Beastgrave came out in 2019, it really doesn’t add anything new to the system. But you will see a good bit of second edition, or re-releases on here. Enough rambling.
10. Call To Adventure
Although I am a big miniatures and thematic game guy, I also have a soft spot for dice games.
I don’t own this game, but I believe either Bradly or Carlos brought this game to one of the few Gumbo Game Nights I was able to attend last year and I really dug it.
I loved the runes used in place of dice, and it really added a unique, thematic feel. The components were nice and I really liked the card play and the whole “crafting your hero” part. See, every now and again someone totally surprises me with a game that you would think isn’t in my wheelhouse, and this is definitely one of them.
I have loved horror movies my whole life, and Jaws was a big part of my childhood. It was also one of the only horror movie franchises that actually scared me. As a little kid in the 80s, this movie caused so much fear and dread of beaches, and even baths, that to this day I don’t get in the water when my family goes to the beach. Luckily for my wife, and everyone around me, I don’t have the fear of sharks in the bathtub anymore though, so I guess I have faced my fear after all. This game captures the feel of the movies completely. Hidden movement is the perfect mechanic to purvey the feeling of being hunted by, or hunting, the killer shark.
I am already a huge fan of The Fury of Dracula, and this game scratches the same horror/hidden movement itch, but in a shorter, more compact game. Although I don’t think this game replaces Fury by any means, it gives you another great option to play if you either don’t have the time to play Fury, or want a slightly different theme, or you prefer dice combat to card combat. It is also easier to teach to new gamers and won’t make their head explode as you explain the rules like Fury can. This also has a neat, two part game system that feels like you are playing through a movie, where at one point you turn the board over for the “finale” with the shark. The Target exclusive games have really been a big hit, and I can see why, because they are solid games in their own right, and not just a gimmick.
8. Funkoverse Harry Potter Strategy Game
Miniature skirmish games, both board and tabletop miniatures games, are some of my absolute favorite games. Heroscape had a big part in getting me back into hobby gaming in the early 2000s, and the love for 1 vs. 1, army building, and tactical warfare has always stuck with me. Unfortunately, most of those games can be rules heavy, take a lot of time to either set up (Heroscape) or build (Warhammer style tabletop), so they don’t work very well in a family environment where game time is usually 45 minutes before bedtime. A lot of pre game prep is also required for most of those games, which gamers like me love, but most younger gamers will not.
That is where Funkoverse comes in. I was skeptical, because I am not a fan of Funko in any way, or of some of the ridiculous characters released so far (the Golden Girls, really? That’s too absurd to even be funny). But, my 7 year old loves Harry Potter, and it is a skirmish game, so we got him a copy for Christmas. I am glad we did. He really enjoys the gameplay, and there is enough to it that even a miniatures gamer like myself can enjoy it without feeling like I am playing a half designed game, or something “dumbed down” for little kids. The rules are simple, but it has some key concepts that will make learning more complicated games easier for him to learn when he is a bit older.
7. Run, Fight, or Die: Reloaded
This is one of the ones I mentioned before that is an older game that was re-released. I believe it was streamlined enough, and it is actually a better game than before, so it makes my list. This is another one of my son’s favorites, and it is easy to see why. You get to roll big chunky dice and kill tons of zombies, and getting to send zombies your Dad’s way is just icing on the cake.
I was a fan of the original, but after playing this version I can see how much smoother the game runs with the changes made. We usually can play in under an hour with three of us, and that makes it so much easier to get to the table.
6. War of the Worlds: The New Wave
This is another game I do not own, but was fortunate to play with Bradly when he brought it over for one of my two player game days I do with him when I am home. I already said I love tactical games, but as far as card driven games go, deck building is one of my favorite mechanics, and this one does both. It is also asymmetrical as in both sides not only have their own win conditions, but also their own cards to build their decks from.
I love the back and forth of the aliens trying to destroy enough of the human’s units and buildings while the humans try to desperately withstand the onslaught just long enough to win. I may not own this one, but I am sure one day I will come across a good deal on the blinged out version with the plastic miniatures and I won’t be able to resist. Plastic makes things more fun….right?
5. Star Wars: Outer Rim
Han Solo has always been my favorite character in the Star Wars universe. So, when I heard Fantasy Flight was releasing a game that you can play Han Solo, and fly around the outer rim competing to be the most famous scoundrel in the galaxy, I knew it was a must buy. I am not going to sit here and say it is a better game than Star Wars Rebellion, because that is one of my favorite board games of all time, but I will say Outer Rim is the most thematic game in the universe. Sure, there is a good deal of luck, but it can be mitigated by choosing the right missions to go on compared to what stats your character has. And for whatever randomness it has is made up for with the theme and fun of this game.
Remember when board games were just about fun and hanging out with your friends? Well this is definitely one of those games. I currently have this game at my apartment to play when I am away at work with a few work friends, who aren’t even big board gamers, and they love it. That says a lot about a modern hobby game these days. It is definitely a “beer and pretzels” game, and that is a good thing. That is not to say there isn’t strategy involved though, because there are definitely choices to make that will affect the outcome of the game. Bottom line, if you are looking for a good story driven Star Wars game, this one is for you.
4. Court of the Dead: Mourner’s Call
Ahh, Court of the Dead, my very first Kickstarter I ever backed. When I came across this game on Kickstarter it had some of the things that really makes me interested in a game, amazing components and miniatures, horror theme, area control, and conflict. Of course, lots of Kickstarters have those things these days, so it really is a crapshoot of what the final product will be when you finally get it. Will it be a good game? Or just a money sink? Well, luckily I can say that my money was well spent, and Court of the Dead is actually a very solid game, both mechanically and thematically. You can tell the designers really cared about the product they were putting out. There is a huge back story and theme to really immerse you into the game, although it may be a bit dark for some. Managing the multiple tracks on the game seemed like it could have been fiddly, but the game actually runs really smoothly. It is surprisingly easy to learn, and everyone was playing without too many questions after just one round. If I would have to recommend a game to someone who is really into games like Blood Rage, this would definitely be it. It does a lot of the same things that Blood Rage does as far as area control, card drafting, and placing awesome miniatures down on a board, but does a good bit differently so that it doesn’t feel too similar.
3. Hellboy: The Board Game
Heroscape may have gotten me back into tabletop gaming, but Heroquest started it all for me. Ever since my first trip into the dungeons as a kid I have always had a soft spot for dungeon crawl style games. Because of this, I am always interested in checking out new ones in the genre. That, and the fact that I am a Mantic Games fan, got me interested in Hellboy: The Board Game. Now, I don’t dislike the theme at all, and if anything, this game has gotten me more interested in it, but I didn’t have any attachment at all to the Hellboy universe before buying. To me that is a testament to how good this game actually is. Sure, I got the big fancy version with all of the plastic minis and fancy bits(of course I did), but it is the quality of the game that keeps me coming back. It has a very interesting “dice upgrade” mechanic that is easy in function, but also really cool to play with. Every character is different, and unlike some IP themed games, the main character isn’t so much better than everyone else that other players feel like they are just there to support you(looking at you Conan). Every character is interesting and brings interesting abilities to the table. The dice mechanic isn’t even the only cool and different thing this game does, it has an almost legacy feel to it in the way you break open card packs before your next adventure, not quite sure what you are going to face, and the way certain events will happen that cause you to pause the game and read story text, or make decisions that will change the adventure. It plays out similar to Jaws where you spend the first half of the game finding clues that can help you defeat the final boss of each adventure. After a certain point, either because you, or the game itself, did well or triggered some sort of end game condition. That is when the board you keep track of various things on flips to the “confrontation” side and you have to face some sort of main bad guy picked from the tons of bad guys in the box. Most of the time you won’t even know who you are facing until that moment, and that has a cool suspenseful element a lot of dungeon crawlers don’t have. It is a dungeon crawl meets horror investigation game that has amazing art from the actual comic book artist, and tons of content right out of the box. The deluxe edition has so much in it, I don’t know if I will ever play it all, and there are already a few expansions out. If you are looking for a new dungeon crawler that doesn’t feel like every other one that you have ever played, I highly recommend this one.
2. Claustrophobia 1643
While we are on the subject of dungeon crawler board games, here is the other one on my list. Now, Claustrophobia is not a new game at all, but in 2019 Monolith re-released this classic on Kickstarter with all new art, some new scenarios, new miniatures, and a few tweaks to the actual rules. Now, I may be pushing it, including this one on the list for 2019, but it is such a good game, and an amazing edition of a good game that I had to add it. I was already a fan of the game and immediately backed this and replaced my old copy when it came in. Why am I such a fan? Well, because I love two player head to head games, dungeon crawlers, and asymmetrical gameplay, and this is all three. The reason I have room for this and Hellboy is because Hellboy is the cooperative style of dungeon crawl, while this one is competitive. One player plays the redeemer and his band of ex-cons looking for redemption in the catacombs underneath the city of Hell Dorado, trying to fend off the hordes of demons trying to take over the world. It is a very sunshine and smiles storyline, as you can see. Both sides use their own version of dice placement, a mechanic you wouldn’t think of when you think about thematic, dungeon crawl games, to choose their actions or abilities they get each round. It isn’t a campaign system so you can pick any one of the scenarios out of the book, and there are tons of them, and just go at it. It is a very tactical game for the genre, and only Space Hulk can compare in that regard. Both sides play differently, but equally easy to play, which is not a typical thing in the 1 vs. all(in this case 1 vs.1) genre of dungeon crawl games. Usually the player playing the evil character, or dungeon master, is the guy who knows the most about the rules of the game and has to run everything, which means they rarely get to step back and try out the other side. Claustrophobia can be taught in minutes for both sides, so you can swap out at will to try out the other side.
- Gaslands: Reloaded
*The scenario “Death race”.*
*The scenario, “Zombie Bash”. Zombies courtesy of Run, Fight, or Die: Reloaded.*
And my number one for 2019, Gaslands Refuelled, a game I got into at the beginning of last year and haven’t looked back. The original rules are a few years old, but this new, updated version came out last year. Gaslands is a tabletop miniatures game ruleset made to use Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars in post apocalyptic death races and arena death matches (among many other scenarios), a la Mad Max or Death Race. One of the best parts is that it is either as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it. You literally can play with just the rulebook, some hot wheels, dice, and whatever you have laying around the house for terrain. All the movement templates and everything you need is in the back of the rules for you to print out.
Of course, if you are like me, part of the fun is painting your hot wheels to look like post apocalyptic killing machines and buying custom terrain and bits, but it isn’t necessary. It is simple enough to play for both my 7 and 12 year old to enjoy it, and ask to play often. If you are interested in getting into the hobby side of tabletop gaming, this is a great place to start, because painting and army building is really simple and fun.
My 2019 new to me game:
Mythic Battles Pantheon
The one that got away. I wish I would have backed this game all in on Kickstarter, but at the time I wasn’t doing KS at all. Since then, I managed to get a hold of a base game pledge and absolutely love it. Miniature skirmishes in the world of ancient Greece, well ancient Greek mythology anyway. The dice combat is unique and awesome, the card play is cool, and the components are amazing. What else can I say?
Games I didn’t get to play in 2019, but may have made my list if I did:
- Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth
- Cthulhu Death May Die
- Games Workshop Warcry
- Time of Legends: Joan of Arc