Our Favorite Games of 2019

Another year has passed, so it is time for our annual list of “best of” games from the previous year.  Each writer was given space to put in their personal list. If you missed it, a few days ago we published an article on 10 Great Games from the 2010s.

Several games made the lists of various writers, but Die Crew was the top game on 5 people’s list!

Chris Wray

Top 10 New Games of 2019

10.  Aftershock (3 Plays)

9.  Nova Luna (10 Plays)

8.  Caravan (2 Plays)

7.  Machi Koro Legacy (10 Plays)

6.  Hats (12 Plays)

5.  Letter Jam (12 Plays)

4.  Last Bastion (5 Plays)

3.  Glen More II: Chronicles (3 Plays)

2.  Silver / Silver Bullet (> 40 Plays)

1. Die Crew (> 40 Plays)

Best Reprint – Suburbia Collector’s Edition 

Best ExpansionTicket to Ride Japan/Italy

Patrick Brennan

Top 10 New Games of 2019

1. Die Crew

2. Maracaibo

3. Expedition To Newdale

4. Last Bastion

5. Wingspan

6. Azul: Summer Pavilion

7. The Menace Among Us

8. Res Arcana

9. Cooper Island

10. Marco Polo II

Tery Noseworthy

Top 10 New Games of 2019

  1. Die Crew
  2. Maracaibo
  3. Lift Off
  4. Hadara
  5. Orleans Stories
  6. Taverns of Tiefenthal
  7. Hats
  8. Marvel Champions
  9. Expedition to Newdale
  10. Men at Work

BEST REPRINT: Homesteaders 10th Anniversary Edition

Joe Huber

Top 1 New Game of 2019

  1. Parks

Craig Massey

Top 10 New Games of 2019

10. Cartographers

9. Barrage

8. T-Rex’s Holiday

7. City of the Big Shoulders

6. Hadara

5. Babylonia

4. Tajuto

3. Quest for El Dorado: The Golden Temples

2. Maracaibo

1. Promenade

Best Reprint: Surburbia Collectors’s Edition

Best Expansion: Quest for El Dorado: The Golden Temples

There are a handful of 2019 titles on the shelf that I’ve yet to play so I reserve the right to adjust the above list. In particular Masters of the Renaissance and Journey’s In Middle Earth could make an impact. On Mars also just arrived and has been played, but one play is no where near enough to rank it. I do suspect it will end up on the list after a few more plays, but we’ll see. 

Steph Hodge

Top 10 New Games of 2019

10. Expedition to Newdale

9. Maracaibo

8. Cartographers

7. Marco Polo II

6. Twice as Clever

5. Hadara

4. The Isle of Cats

3. Lord of the Rings Journeys in Middle Earth

2. Aeon’s End Legacy

1. The Magnificent

Best Reprint – CO2: Second Chance (does that count?)

Best ExpansionTeotihuacan: Late Preclassic Period

Greg Schloesser

  1. Die Crew
  2. Azul: Summer Pavilion
  3. Paladins of the West Kingdom
  4. Res Arcana
  5. Wingspan
  6. Pictures

Brandon Kempf

10. Res Arcana

9. The Magnificent

8. Tiny Towns

7. Twice as Clever

6. Letter Jam

5. Hadara

4. Ragusa

3. Azul Summer Pavilion

2. Hats

1. Die Crew

Best Reprint: Glen More II: Chronicles

Best Expansion: I don’t think I have played a 2019 expansion this year. A few promos, but no true expansions. 


Top New Games of 2019 (in no particular order)

Taverns of Tiefenthal

Across the United States


Beasty Borders

Moon Base

Pax Pamir 2nd edition

James Nathan

I’m going to borrow an idea from my friend Patrick, and rather than talk about my 10 favorite games of the year, I’ll try to talk about my favorite gaming experiences of the year, as he did here.  (These won’t be in any order.)

A. T5. In January, some friends from out of town and some friends from in town got together to play trick-taking games for a weekend.  In spite of the many things which went wrong, I think it went wonderfully. We’re doing it again in 12 days (from when I type this), but I won’t be writing daily recaps; I have one post about it scheduled for Jan. 27.

B. Patrick’s birthday.  The same Patrick I mentioned above, and the same birthday that was on his list.  This was the same event where Dale and I played the roll-and-write hept/oct/decathalon.

C. “The Trade”.  I found out about a 2012 Japanese release that I was interested in acquiring.  All of my usual methods failed, but I found one person in Japan who had a copy; he sent me on a quest first though.  He would trade it, but only for a copy of a 1988 German release that was well out of print. (The Japanese game has 2 owners listed on BGG, the German one 77.) After a few inquiries, I found someone willing to trade the German game…but they live in Germany.  Now another quest: what could I find to trade to the person in Germany. We discussed it and found two titles, and the trade was a success. It took several weeks, and three people on three different continents, but it still brings my happiness to see the German game being played in Japanese tweets I see.

D. Age of Steam Con. I blathered on about it in several posts, but this convention is brilliant.  The size, the location, the people, the food, the game, the theme-specific features…Highly recommended, and I am disappointed that I won’t be able to make it in 2020.

E. Madrino w/ family at Fake Christmas. For some family I would normally get together with around Christmas, we decided it would be easier for all involved if we just moved such a gathering to an arbitrary time when we would all be free. No one lives centrally, so perhaps we find a nice Air BnB type place to rent for a weekend and explore a new city together.  I had just received a box of treats from the Spring Tokyo Game Market before I left, but Madrino really stole the show that weekend. I now have a mini 5 and 6 player expansion, and I wish I had it then!

F. Natsumemo at Buckeye Game Fest. There was a time when I was very nervous about Natsumemo.  That it would not have a broad enough appeal that I could pull it out with strangers, or folks I just met.  Turns out I was wrong. In the few hours I was at Buckeye Game Fest, it was requested several times after an initial play, and it was a treat.  I love seeing folks enjoy playing games with such joy.

G. Thailand. I haven’t had a chance to play any of the Thai games I picked up while I was there, but sitting down to play a few games with Songsit was the relaxing and centering experience I needed during the trip and a real delight.

H See, this one is a trick.  If you’re actually reading through these, I’m going to tell you here that my favorite games of this year (that I’ve played so far), are (in no order): Die Crew, Wavelength, Psychic Pizza Deliverers Go To the Ghost Town, Gossip and the City, Madrino, Time Palatrix, Detective: City of Angels, and Natsumemo.  My favorite reprint is Nokosu Dice.

I. BGG.CON/RollingCon. I don’t know where to start or stop on these: games on the train; that game of Pictures once we arrived; back-to-back games of 2 AM Psychic Pizza Deliverers; roommates from 3 continents; horse racing with Rikki and Wey and his crew; brunch with Alex and his crew; beef ribs with Andrew; Cine Write and Trade with the PAX folks, and on and on.  

J. Not Hot Games Room. I’m still mostly speechless that so many folks came out.  It was very touching, and I hope everyone thought it was worth their time to stop by. 

K. There’s a baby at weekly game night now.  OK, no link for this one. In trying to be conscious that so many of the experiences I mention above involved travel, I also don’t want to let my weekly group, or the one I occasionally substitute in, go without mentioning. I love my weekly group and the wide range of things we’re able to play, and our mostly regular ability to get together.  One of them became a new father in May which we thought would disrupt things more than it has. In practice, we play at his house now, but it also means I get to hold a cute baby while his father takes too long of turns in Barrage. (It’s such a relief to his wife that I watch the little fellow, that now I get cookies sometimes too.)

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The best way to enjoy Pipeline. #He'sNotMine

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Mark Jackson

Top 10 New Games of 2019

10.  Call to Adventure

9. Die Crew: Reist gemeinsam zum 9. Planeten

8. Coloma

7. Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated

6. Kauchuck

5. Marvel Champions: The Card Game

4. Star Wars: Outer Rim

3. Res Arcana

2. New Frontiers

1. Unmatched: Battle of Legends

Best Reprint: Surburbia Collectors’s Edition

Best Expansion: Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry


Top 10 Games of 2019 (based only on games released in 2019)

1. Barrage

2. Paladins of the West Kingdoms

3. Maracaibo

4. Pipeline

5. Crystal Palace

6. Die Crew

7. Res Arcana

8. Hadara

9. Twice As Clever

10. Masters of Renaissance

It’s still early days, as I’ve only played Crystal Palace, Die Crew, Res Arcana, and Masters of Renaissance once each, so those ratings could obviously change.  I also have yet to play Cooper Island (which we’ve bought) and Marco Polo II (which is not available to the group, so who knows when I’ll get the chance to try that out).

Based on what I’ve played so far, Barrage is my game of the year (by a wide margin).  Paladins is also excellent and is easily my favorite of Shem Phillips’ games. I’ve only played Maracaibo twice, so I’m still in the process of formulating my feelings for it, but so far, I like it, but don’t love it.  It’s a little more open than I prefer my games to be (I tend to like things a bit more focused, so that I can at least feel like I’m optimising my turns).  Still, it’s a very good design and I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit away from the table, which is always a good sign.

I managed to avoid any reprints and expansions of games last year, which is usually a good thing for me.

Matt Carlson

I don’t feel I have yet plombed the field of 2019 games, it typically takes me a few years for the most of the interesting ones to trickle down.  But, reading the lists above I can put in my $0.02 that I have high expectations of Machi Koro: Legacy (still working on it, it was a Christmas gift for my eldest) and I love Roll for the Galaxy so the expansion was a welcome treat.  I liked the opportunity to invest in, and mess with my “research die” (whatever it is called) but the trading/negotiation themed part of the expansion seemed to add too much “stuff going on” without significantly adding to my enjoyment.  Finally, if Twice as Clever is still a 2019 title, I enjoyed playing it solo on my phone, although I don’t think I got it to the physical table more than once or twice.

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5 Responses to Our Favorite Games of 2019

  1. Pingback: Our Favorite Games of 2019 – Herman Watts

  2. Jacob Lee says:

    My initial response after just reading this:
    1) I should check out Die Crew. If it is a dice placement game it has an uphill battle to win me over but I’ll give it a fair shake.
    2) Only one list had Pax Pamir 2e? Wait, I wonder how many people played it? Maybe only that one person. It’s at the top of my wishlist so I would like more affirmation.
    3) I’m so torn on Hadara. The negative reviewers are really convincing but how did it end up on so many OGers’ lists?
    4) I really thought Tapestry would appear here somewhere. I’m not a fan but I thought someone here would love it.

    • qwertyuiop says:

      It is very much not a dice placement game. And PP2 is great!

    • huzonfirst says:

      Always good to hear from you, Jacob.

      1. Die Crew is a cooperative trick taking game, which is fairly unique. If that description intrigues you at all, I recommend you check it out.

      2. I doubt that many of us have played PP2. I played the original Pax way back when and found it way too chaotic for my tastes. I’ve been told PP2 is much better in that regard, so I’d be willing to try it. But I don’t recall it being mentioned much on our lists.

      3. I didn’t know there were a lot of negative reviews of Hadara. To me, it’s a standard Hans im Gluck game: fast playing, balanced, and well designed. What’s not to like?

      4. The majority view on Tapestry was “Really? Another Stonemeier with balance issues? How surprising!”. I’ve played it twice and it’s my *least* favorite game of the year. Just too many issues and not nearly enough upside. YMMV.

      • Jacob Lee says:

        i thought the “die” in Die Crew referred to dice, ha. I’ve only played trick taking games with a standard deck of cards. I am definitely considering Die Crew based on what I’ve read.
        The reviews of Hadara I’ve seen are not overall negative, but the first two (and three out of four) all concluded that the game works, is worth trying, but not worth owning due to repetitive feel after three or four sessions of it. To me, replayability is of paramount importance when looking for a new game. It sounds like Die Crew has it and Hadara doesn’t.
        I cannot believe how hot and cold I was on Tapestry. First game: this game is awesome! One of my favourites ever! But my enjoyment was dropping fast after each session. After five tries I couldn’t wait to sell it. But I felt the same about Wingspan and that was after three games. Stonemeier just isn’t for me, I guess.

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