2016 was an amazing year in gaming for us. We played more board games this year then ever before. Our collection keeps growing and we keep having more chances to get both old and new games to the table. That being said, here are our favorite board games played in 2016. These games were not necessarily released in 2016, but games we have rated based off of what we enjoyed the most over the course of the year and what games created the best memories for us.
#10 - Cat Tower
By farthe simplest game on our list, Cat Tower is a dexterity filler game where you are attempting to stack cat cards on to the tower in the middle and not make it fall. Cat Tower was a huge surprise when we got it and has become on of our go-to filler games. The simplicity of the rules along with the adorable art work makes this a game you can easily get to the table with anyone. What cements Cat Tower on our list is the fact that it is our most played game of the year if not of all time.
#9 - Dead of Winter
Dead of Winter is a semi cooperative game set during a zombie apocalypse. Like most great zombie movies, Dead of Winter is more about the survivors then the zombies themselves. Dead of Winter is just one of those games where every time you play it creates a story that you will be talking about long after the game finishes. This is one of two games that made it on last years list but part of that is from the standalone expansion (The Long Night) that came out this year which just adds so much content and replayability to the game.
#8 - Battlestar Galatica
Another semi cooperative game, Battlestar Galatica is essentially a stress simulator. You are the last of humanity attempting to escape the cylon fleet that vastly outnumbers you in a spaceship that is low on supplies and falling apart while trying to keep morale up. On top of that you have to deal with the fact that someone is really a traitor trying to ruin everything. The tension in the game is remarkable but the experience it leaves you with is not one you will soon forget. Battlestar Galatica's biggest downfall is the reason we do not get to play it very often, it is a long game that easily takes up two to four hours.
#7 - Above and Below
Above and Below is an amazing combination of storytelling and city building that just works so smoothly. You have started up a new village and found a incredible network of caves and tunnels nearby for you to explore. You can stay above ground and have your workers gather resources, build buildings, and train other villages or you can go exploring in the depths to try and find hidden treasures and see what adventures await. The key to the game is finding a good blend of building up above and taking your workers on exploration trips below, even though you face the temptation of just going deeper and deeper to see what you can find. A lot of storytelling games are really just about the story and don't have much game, but Above and Below is definitely an amazing exception.
#6 - Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
A mixture between social deduction and interpretation, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a fun quick murder mystery that is different every time you play. With limited information given through tiles on the board, players need to figure out which one of them is the murderer based off of what evidence link them to the crime. Deception is a great little puzzle where you need to try and figure out what the clues you are given mean while not letting whoever the murderer is lead you off their trail. With 15 minute games and playing up to 12 players, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong has become our go to game for larger groups of players.
#5 - Blood Rage
Ragnarok has arrived and all that is left to do is to go out in glory. In Blood Rage you take control over a viking clan trying to earn your place in Valhalla by taming fierce monsters, pillaging villages, waging fierce battle, and going on epic quests. After hearing all the hype Blood Rage was getting we knew we had to give it a try and it did not disappoint. There are so many different paths to victory based of what special abilities you are able to snag that keeps things interesting every time you get it to the table.
#4 - Pandemic Legacy
Pandemic Legacy holds a special place in our hearts. It is directly responsible for creating our current game group. A special version of the modern classic Pandemic, Pandemic Legacy tells a story while each game takes place as a month across the year. Not giving any spoilers but it is quite the experience. We will keep this one simple, if you have not played Pandemic Legacy you need to.
#3 - Cosmic Encounter
Cosmic Encounter is one of those games that we always heard about but just never got the chance to play. Finally giving in we picked it up and there has not been a single regret. Cosmic Encounter is all about being cool aliens negotiating with other aliens as you try to spread your civilization across the galaxy. The game is all about negotiation, you can choose to either work together with your friends or assert your dominance and forcibly take over. What really makes Cosmic Encounter shine is the sheer number of amazing special abilities you get that really make every game so very unique.
#2 - T.I.M.E Stories
If you are looking for a game that tells a story T.I.M.E Stories is for you. This is a very innovative board game that is all about solving a mystery by travelling through time and learning from your mistakes the attempt before. We played through the first story Asylum and were instantly hooked. We have bought every expansion since for the next story and have yet to be disappointed. T.I.M.E Stories may not be the most bang for your buck in terms of playtime, but the unique experience you will get from it makes it worth every penny.
#1 - Specter Ops
Specter Ops is a hidden movement game that is amazingly tense and action packed. We have always loved hidden movement in general but usually the games are very long and tend to build up as you play. Specter Ops is much quicker then other similar games we have played and gets the tension going immediately as the game begins. The character powers and special abilities also just add depth and give each characters a unique feeling. As the agent you constantly are switching between feeling super sneaky to feeling like you have been cornered, while as the hunters you will have no idea how the agent has been evading you while you are actually right on their tail. Specter Ops is one of those games that I just can't stop thinking about and always finding itself on the top of our want-to-play list.
Well there you have it everyone, our favorite games we played in 2016. If you have not tried any of the games on this list we can not recommend them enough. Every one of these games has created so many amazing stories and fond memories over the course of the year. Now we just look forward to all the great games we get to play in 2017.