Chris Wray: My 10 Favorite Games of 2020

While 2020 was (as expected) a down year in gaming, I still played about 60 games released last year, plus about 30 new expansions. The OG will have a big list of the group’s top games later this month, but I wanted to do mine in the form of a short list, with room for honorable mentions and my favorite expansions.

Without further ado, here are my top 10 games from 2020! Links are to my reviews.

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Dale Yu: Review of Magic Money

Magic Money

  • Designer: Zack Hiwiller
  • Publisher: Indie Boards & Cards
  • Players: 3-6
  • Age: 14+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Played on review copy provided by the publisher

In Magic Money, Merlin the Magnificent has passed away and left behind a marvelous menagerie of magical monsters for adoption.  You bid against your fellow wizards to take home adorable critters of all shapes and sizes.   The game itself is a series of auctions, each having the same three phases.  There is a deck of 21 creature cards which is shuffled, and then 9-12 cards are dealt into a face down pile; the unchosen cards are not used in this game.  Each player also gets a marker and a Ledger with a public side that shows any winning bids.  All players can view this public side at any time.  The other (darker) side is where you write down your losing bids.  This information is always kept secret from your opponents.

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Dale Yu: Review of Ravensburger Escape Puzzles (spoiler free*)

Dale Yu: Review of Ravensburger Escape Puzzles (spoiler free*)

I was first introduced to the Ravenburger Escape Puzzle line (then called the Exit Puzzle series) back on October 27, 2018 –  The press package at the Ravensburger Play and Lunch included a copy for each of us.  We had a pretty decent time with this first puzzle, but frankly, I kind of forgot about them as they weren’t being released in the US.

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Calico (Game Review by Brandon Kempf)

  • Designer: Kevin Russ
  • Artists: Beth Sobel
  • Publisher: AEG and Flatout Games
  • Players: 1-4
  • Time: 30 – 45 minutes
  • Times Played: 4
  • Affiliate Link:

We’re dog people, or rather, we used to be dog people. But back in September, something shifted in the Kempf family household, a cat joined the family, then in December another one. So I guess we’re cat people now(even though our youngest keeps asking for a St. Bernard). Being new cat people, we’re supposed to like things that have to do with cats right? Even tangentially with cats. We played Isle of Cats a couple times, we’ve been buying cat things, and now we’re playing a game sort of about quilts. Or rather a game where you are making a quilt and trying to attract cats. If there is one thing I have learned in our short time as cat people, it’s that cats love to sleep in comfy places, so this makes complete sense that if you make a quilt, they will sleep on it. 

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Brandon Kempf – Three Games of December

I have a lot of games. A lot of games that are on my shelves, or on my table being played, that I have told myself that I want to review at some point. For one reason or another, this doesn’t always happen. My goal here on The Opinionated Gamers is that I want to get about one review out per week, but I’d like to write about more games. So I’m taking a page out of Patrick Brennan’s playbook, and we’re going to start writing about games in threes, in snapshot form. This should be a good way for readers to get to know me and my gaming tastes a bit better, and also another way for me to talk about games that I maybe don’t really want to dedicate two thousand words to. Welcome to Three Games.

I think I missed a month or two in here, I’ll have to go back and look. That’s pretty fitting for 2020 though as I feel as if we all missed a lot of things thanks to the Pandemic. But with November over, changes hopefully happening here in the States in the coming month and a vaccine being rolled out, ever so slowly, things have to start to feel like they are going back to normal, right? November was skipped by me due to the fact that we just didn’t play anything new that I felt like talking about. Only fifteen total plays in November of eleven different games. Variety, yes, but just not much quantity. One of those games though, Calico, turned out to be one of my favorites of the year, and that review should be out next week. December was a bit better, my youngest daughter and I played a lot of Sugar Blast and online gaming kept me afloat otherwise. We started our My City campaign with the first three episodes and didn’t get to the next three until just a couple days ago. Thirty four plays of seventeen different games and for the first time in ages, I had more plays online than I did at a table. Holidays seem to suck the life out of gaming around here. But enough of that, let’s talk about Three Games!

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Adventure Games: The Volcanic Island (a Spoiler-Free Opinionated Gamer Review by RJ Garrison)

Designer: Phil Walker Harding, Matthew Dunstan, Chihiro Mori

Publisher:  Thame & Kosmos

Players:  1-4

Playing Time:  4 plays of 75 minutes each.

Ages:  12+

MSRP: $19.95

*Spoiler-Free, all examples are made up while writing the review.

In Adventure Games: The Volcanic Island, players are students that are exploring a…you guessed it… Volcanic Island!  There have been some strange going-ons on this island and, like Mystery Inc. without the talking dog, you’re here to figure out what’s going on.

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