Hello, and welcome to our countdown of the most popular board games as of January, 2018. We’re listing ten board games among those getting the most attention the previous month, based on the daily averages of BoardGameGeek.com’s “Hottest Games” list over the past 30 days. Basically, these are the games that people have been looking at and talking about the most, on the internet’s largest board game database website. Hopefully, this countdown may help you find some new games that you may not have known about yet, so be sure to subscribe and click the bell icon so you don’t miss anything, and let’s get started with this month’s list!
So, this month’s list is kind of interesting. There were a hundred and twenty-three different games that appeared on the Board Game Geek Hotness list throughout the month. And of the top ten games on the list, eight of them appeared on last month’s list. And six of those eight appear in the exact same position that they did last month. So, in order to prevent me from going absolutely insane by repeating a countdown that’s nearly identical to last month’s, we going to mix it this time. Each time we encounter a game that appeared on last month’s countdown in the exact same spot, we’re going to randomly select one of the other 123 games that ranked to discuss as well.
For example, holding strong in spot number ten again this month is Arkham Horror: The Card Game. A tabletop card playing experience in which players take on the role of investigators researching the eerie unknown, to uncover secrets while putting their sanity at risk of unraveling like a ball of yarn. A ball of yarn that your favorite feline friend may enjoy playing with as much as the game that comes in at number 118 in this month’s rankings: Cat Lady by AEG. In Cat Lady, players are cat ladies, part of an elite group of people including Marie Antoinette and Ernest Hemingway. During the game, players draft cards and collect toys, food, catnip, costumes, and of course lovable cats. But watch out! Neglecting to keep enough food on hand for all of the hungry cats popularing the play area will cause penalties. And while players may encounter ancient ethereal horrors while playing the Arkham Horror card game, in Cat Lady they’ll encounter cats dressed in costumes. Which seems to be the other end of the spectrum.
Next up is a game that’s been undergoing a tug-of-war of sorts, rising up to number one on the list in October, but now having been pulled back down to spot number nine for the past two months: The 7th Continent by Serious Poulp. And, the tug-of-war the 7th Continent is experiencing with its location on the countdown reminds me of another tug-of-war game that I think is underrated, Dogs Of War, which appears at number 118 in this month’s rankings. In Dogs Of War, by CMON, noble houses engage each other in fierce battles, and players must increase their odds of victory by deploying their private armies in support of various houses. If you haven’t tried Dogs Of War, I highly recommend tracking down a copy and giving it a try. And if you do, let me know what you think of it in the comments below.
The critically acclaimed Economic Territory Civ Fighting game Scythe is another game that retains its previous position on the countdown this month, which means it’s time to pick another random game to discuss from the 123 other games that ranked on the Board Game Geek hotness list this month. And this time, it’s… LCR? LCR reached spot number 92 on BGG’s hotness list? No, I’m not disparaging LCR, it’s just… unexpected. In LCR, each player starts with three poker chips and, on their turn, rolls three dice, which have an L, a C, an R, and three sides with a single dot on them. For each "L" rolled, the player gives a chip to the player on their left. For each "R" rolled, they give a chip to the player on their right. For each "C" rolled they put a chip in the middle of the table. And, each dot rolled is ignored. The dice then pass to the next player, who does the same thing, and so on, until one player has all of the chips and wins. I gotta be honest, my first reaction to seeing LCR on this list was to ask, “why is this in The Hotness”? So, I visited the LCR forum on Board Game Geek, only to discover a forum post asking, “Why is this in The Hotness?” Turns out, nobody knows for sure. I guess it’s going to be one of life’s unsolvable mysteries, like where we go when we die, or how popcorn is made. So, there you go. LCR: hotter this month than Massive Darkness. (Don’t anybody tell Mark Streed that.)
Dropping a notch from number six to seven this month is Gaia Project by Z-MAN Games. Gaia Project is a successor of sort to Terra Mystica. As in the original Terra Mystica, fourteen different factions develop and grow, this time by terraforming various planets into environments compatible with their species. If you would like more information about Gaia Project, I highly recommend checking out episode 135 of the Rolling Dice And Taking Names podcast, which featured an informative, in-depth review of the game by several players with varying perspectives. And they didn’t pay me to say that or anything. The Rolling Dice And Taking Names podcast is not a sponsor of the show. Heck, I refuse to even ride in an elevator with the show’s co-host, Marty Connell. Okay, that’s not true. Marty’s pretty cool. In fact, he’s definitely one of the top three people I’d pick to ride in an elevator with. (Don’t anybody tell Mark Streed that.)
Slipping three spots from number three to six this month is Kingdom Death: Monster, the cooperative tabletop RPG set in a unique nightmarish world where characters often start out with literally less than the shirt off their back, and must fight monsters, craft weapons and gear, and develop their settlements in order to ensure their survival. It’s been nearly a year since the Kickstarter for version 1.5 of the game raised over twelve million dollars. That Kickstarter’s backer rewards were scheduled to ship out in phases all the way through the end of 2020. So, a year in to that three-year stretch, I’m wondering what additional content has made its way to backers, and what new content is coming up next. If you backed Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 on Kickstarter, let me know what’s arrived, and what’s on the way next, in the comments below!
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Holding steady at spot number five for a second month in a row is Terraforming Mars. And while terraforming the Martian landscape is certainly an adventure, you don’t have to travel all the way to distant worlds to find environments that are just as alien to mankind. Just look to our own planet’s oceans to explore a realm that can be equally inhospitable to human life. Which brings me to the game that ranked at #31 on this month’s list, UBOOT: The Board Game, by PHALANX. UBOOT: The Board Game is a fully cooperative, real-time tabletop game of WW2 submarine warfare, in which 1 to 4 players assume the roles of the Captain, the First Officer, the Navigator, and the Chief Engineer on board of a U-boat. The game is driven by a companion app, allowing for a heightened level of realism, as well as an enemy controlled by A.I. The game claims to require demanding teamwork, efficient crew management, and quick situation assessment in order for the players to emerge victorious. UBOOT: The Board Game reaches spot #31 overall this month. Will it continue to rise, or sink back down into the countdown’s depths? I’m sure we’ll find out as the game gets closer to its expected October release.
Another game that retains its same position on the countdown from last month is the game in spot number four: Azul, by Plan B Games. So, not only following our trend of looking at another game from elsewhere on the list, but also looking to another game with a four-letter title, we have Otys. Otys takes place in the mid-22nd century, where all available land has been engulfed in by the rising seas. The survivors must now fight for their lives while struggling to remain above sea level. Players are members of a colony called Otys, and they must retrieve the the debris of past civilizations from the depths of the sea in order to build a foundation solid enough to support the future of humanity. Otys was released in November, 2017.
This month’s biggest climber is the game catapulted its way up from spot #44 last month, Fallout, which ends this month in spot number three. In Fallout, based on the popular video game series of the same name, one to four players embark on a post-nuclear apocalyptic adventure. Each Fallout scenario is inspired by a familiar story from the video game mythos. Survivors begin the game on the edge of an unexplored landscape, with just one objective to guide. From there, they explore the hidden map, fight ferocious enemies, and hone their survival skills as they attempt to complete challenging quests and find balance among feuding factions within the game. Have you played both the Fallout board game and video games? If so, in the comments, let me know which version you prefer, and why.
Spot number two this month is claimed by the first legacy game developed by publisher Stonemaier games: Charterstone. Charterstone is a competitive legacy game, in which players construct buildings and populate their sector of a shared village. As with most legacy-style games, stickers are used to make permanent additions to the game board and rule book, allowing the game to evolve and grow over the course of a dozen or so game sessions. Since Charterstone is a legacy game, I don’t want to say too much about it and risk giving away spoilers. However, I will say that, as a fan of legacy-style games to begin with, I was looking forward to Charterstone’s arrival for a long time. And, having now played through about a third of its campaign, it has not disappointed. If you’re curious about what legacy games can have to offer, I recommend giving Charterstone a try.
And retaining its spot in slot number one for a third month in a row is Gloomhaven, by Cephalofair games. I’ve talked about Gloomhaven quite a bit in our countdowns, so in the spirit of the little system we have going on here this time, I’m going to switch out gloomy Gloomhaven for a game with a more cheery title: the game that came in at number 77 this month: Smile, by Z-MAN Games. In the card-driven game Smile, players scour the forest to lure the various critters that have escaped from their menagerie back home with juicy fireflies. But that’s easier said than done, because there’s also wild creature roaming about that will also be lured by your fireflies, but will result in negative points. Therefore, players must wisely allocate their fireflies to attract the best critters while saving also saving enough to use for bidding in future rounds.
And there you have it, your list of the ten most popular board games as of January, 2017. And for more countdowns, be sure to check out this playlist full of them. And for more board game videos full of board game news, reviews and commentary, be sure to subscribe. Thanks, and until next time, I’ve been Chaz Marler. Take care.