Hello and welcome to Big Boss Battle’s ‘2018 Best 50 Board Games We’ve Ever Reviewed’ list. It may not be as definitive an opinion as suggesting that these games are the best we’ve ever played, but it is a list of the best games that we’ve played through in detail, more than four or five times and in most cases, still return to when the fancy takes us.
Here’s are our final ten in our countdown. You can find buttons to navigate to other pages at the bottom of the article.
Game: Brass: Lancashire
In brief: Whilst The Industrial Revolution might not seem like the most exciting theme for one of 2018’s biggest remakes, it turns out that the haters were simply wrong. Brass: Lancashire is a sublime remake from Roxley Games that subtly refines Martin Wallace’s original design, adds beautiful, beautiful components and delivers a package that is both historically and mechanically interesting. If you’re still in doubt, here’s our review.
Game: Near and Far
In brief: Near and Far is another game that we covered originally in 2017 (and it even ranked second in our favourite light-midweight games last year.) Well, it just so happens that some games just stick with you, and Near and Far is one of them. The addition of an excellent expansion (The Amber Mines) hasn’t hurt Near and Far, but even in base form, I thought it was an exceptional game.
Game: Spirit Island
In brief: Few board games are as tough and involving as Spirit Island, which is a fully cooperative (or solo) experience in which players control the spirits of an island invaded by conspicuously white invaders. Brave both because of its theme and due to the fact that is extremely challenging and very complex, Spirit Island is simply one in a million. I love it and I think that fans of solo, cooperative and challenging games will also enjoy it, as I discussed in my very lengthy review.
Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season One
In brief: I would have thought that anyone interested in board gaming will be at least somewhat aware of the Pandemic series of games, which represents the pivot point where most people decide whether they do or don’t wish to pursue a hobby in board gaming. Legacy takes things to the next level by introducing a campaign mode that allows players to make permanent, meaningful choices. Without doubt the highest ranking legacy game in this list, Pandemic Legacy is also arguably the best legacy game ever made and who am I to argue?
Game: Fog of Love
In brief: Earlier in the year, Fog of Love was flying high even closer to the top of my list, but over time my love for it has cooled much as the relationships it depicts within its structure can blow hot and cold. This two player relationship simulator is really an area control game with hidden objectives, but you should play it for the experience, not the outcome. I still enjoy it immensely and players who have access to a lot of opportunities to play two player games with different people should find a perfect match here. Here’s my review, as well as a Podcast that we made about the game.
Game: Cry Havoc
In brief: Believe it or not, Cry Havoc spent almost all of last year as my favourite area control/Ameritrash game ever, until one of the higher ranked games came into my possession. What I love most about Cry Havoc is how it depicts four highly asymmetric forces battling for control of a planet in a way that is almost perfectly balanced. It plays fast, it looks awesome, it’s super aggressive and even though I am playing it less and less, Cry Havoc is still worth your time. Here’s my review.
Game: Hexplore It: The Valley of the Dead King
In brief: If you can imagine that all videogame RPG’s are an extension of pen and paper fantasy games, then Hexplore It: The Valley of the Dead King feels to me like the natural way to give videogamers what they want, but in board game form. There’s only one scenario, but there are a million different ways in which it can play out, many of which relate to the hugely customisable character creation mechanic, not to mention the randomised, board, card decks and enemy behaviour. I found Hexplore It amazing when I reviewed it, but it remains one of my favourite games of 2018 even now.
In brief: Lowlands is a rather low key affair and it surprised even me when I realised not only how much I had played it, but also how much I continue to enjoy it. Excellent at all player counts, Lowlands is a worker placement game that forces players to cooperate in order to maintain a series of dikes, lest they will otherwise lose their valuable sheep to seasonal rises in flood water. This good looking, understated game is worthy of a closer look, if you like a midweight game that interlinks mechanics and themes very nicely. Here’s my review.
In brief: Everdell occupies the lofty position of the second best game that I played in 2018 purely based on merit. It is the most beautiful game that I’ve played, as well as the most charming, but it is also a strong worker placement game that will puzzle players with a deep, combo driven scoring mechanism based on drafting animalfolk and their matching buildings into a personal tableau. Everdell is a sublime game to play with a family that spans several age ranges in particular. I’m doing my best not to mention the fact that the board features an eighteen inch high model of a tree, but it’s hard not to — why not go and look at the pictures in this review, instead.
Game: Lords of Hellas
In brief: Anyone that read my review of Lords of Hellas will probably have realised that without it appearing anywhere else in the top ten, it simply had to be number one. I love, love, love Lords of Hellas and almost everything about it. The player boards that steadily lock out more and more possible moves until a refresh action is taken are fantastic, but that feature pales into comparison when you look at the four different ways in which the game can be won. Killing monsters, claiming land, building temples or constructing huge modular statues and defending them, all of which feel thematic, balanced and exciting. It’s just awesome. That said, Lords of Hellas doesn’t so much bring ideas of its own — it simply aggregates every good idea that we’ve seen elsewhere (including a full solo campaign) and then brings them together. You know what? I’m OK with that — Lords of Hellas is my game of 2018.