2019 Staff Picks | Strategy Games
A Year in Games Part 1
Last week we asked you to tell us which games you played this year brought you the most joy! We wanted to play too, so the Twenty Sided Team has filled out the same poll to determined which games we all love!
All of us at Twenty Sided are very different people and it reflects in our game preferences. Some winners were unanimous, others had us split down the middle, and some categories had five different choices coming in from five different people! After follow up and careful analysis, we have finally pinned down our staff favorites!
Behold - a Year in Games courtesy of the Twenty Sided Team! Do you agree? Disagree? Come talk to us and take the poll for yourself for our New Year, New Games customer favorites to earn a 10% discount!
We have split this series into multiple parts for your ease and anticipation! Part 1 jumps into which strategy games won our hearts over!
Light strategy games have easy setup and easy-to-learn rules that provide simple but satisfying gameplay. These are great for playing with people who may not game as much, or as a relaxing afternoon activity.
Staff Favorite | Cat Lady
Cat Lady has been a reoccurring favorite at the Twenty Sided Store for quite some time, so there is no surprise it made the list this year. Cat Lady is a (dare I say it) purrfect game to pull out when you are looking for a fun, light-hearted game. It’s easy to learn, easy to play, and easy on the eyes with adorable artwork.
Johnni: "This was the first game I played when I first started working at Twenty Sided and I’m pretty sure it’s been a recurring staff favorite since then! It never gets old."
Lauren: "This is one of those rare, amazing games where the theme totally fits the mechanics and is incredibly satisfying to play. If you can, get the premium tin with the actual-shaped food tokens and extra create-your-own cards!"
These are games that might take a little longer to set up and learn but are still relatively straightforward. You may need to dedicate a little more time to learn how to play before you “get good” at them but the depth of strategy keeps them interesting and exciting.
Staff Favorite | Splendor
Splendor was a hit at our most recent staff game night and surged to the top of Medium Strategy as a new favorite! In Splendor, each player plays a gem merchant trading in gems for merchants and the favor of rich nobles. Focus on your own actions and the act of trading up, or get in the heads of your opponents and try to interrupt their trade deals!
Johnni: "I love that you can just worry about yourself and your actions during Splendor. Each turn is simple but the game stays interesting."
Honorable Mention | Bunny Kingdom
Don’t be fooled by the cute rabbits on the box of Bunny Kingdom - this game is no walk in the park. Through a combination of card drafting (quickly picking a card, trading cards out from your hand, and passing them) and area control (managing a section of the map or board and working with the elements and resources included) you will try to bring prosperity to your Fief and please the Bunny King!
Max: “This is such a clever and streamlined fusion of card drafting and area control, with just enough strategic wrinkles to keep seasoned gamers weighing their every choice. And top-shelf artwork and character design don’t hurt!”
Heavy strategy games scratch the itch for a multi-hour deep dive into a game. These games may have a bit more complicated setup and more rules and will likely take a few playthroughs before you start to beat the game - if you ever do. But that’s part of the fun.
Staff Favorite - Arkham Horror
Arkham Horror is another returning favorite - it’s always one of our first recommendations for those looking to do a deeper dive with their games. Arkham Horror gives a sense of consumption as ancient monsters rise from the bowels of the earth to destroy humanity… and as your time ticks away. A multi-hour Lovecraftian tour of the falling city of Arkham, this game absolutely requires player cooperation as each person tries to use their character’s abilities as efficiently as possible.
Looking for a shorter gameplay? We recently tried Arkham Horror Final Hour and had a blast! While it retains the complexity of play of Arkham Horror, it simplifies character choices and jumps right into the action.
Johnni: "Heavy strategy games stress me out - but luckily you get to share the stress with Arkham Horror. And the stress is somehow really satisfying as well."
Lauren: "This new edition really adds a lot of what is great about Fantasy Flight Games and updates the game to add randomization of the map, better game set up and organization, new art, and streamlined gameplay. This new reprint makes it easier to jump on and gives a unique new gameplay."
These household names are so popular, so familiar, they transcend all other categories!
Staff Favorite - Clue
One of the biggest board game franchises, Clue has spawned films, a musical, a miniseries, books, and more! Figure out the Who, What, and Why in this classic murder mystery!
Some games ditch the board and dice and stick with cards alone. From deckbuilders, to LCGs, these games inspire creativity in your ability to build decks and manage your hand.
Staff Favorite - Keyforge
From the mind of the creator of Magic the Gathering (widely considered the world’s most popular and most complex card game) comes Keyforge, the world’s first unique deck game! Each truly one-of-a-kind deck is played immediately out of the box! Try it out at our Keyforge Casual Event, perfect for those looking to learn the game or meet other players!
Mattie: "If I had to sum up Keyforge in one word, it would be “unique.” Every single deck is procedurally generated and has its own name and combination of cards – no two decks are the same! It’s fun, fast, easy to get in to, and difficult to master! It’s both a light snack and something to really sink your teeth into."
Runner Up | Arkham Horror LCG
Arkham Horror is a Living Card Game which means new sets and scenarios are periodically released to expand your gameplay! Arkham Horror LCG tells a story of horror and insanity through the character you play in each portion of the campaign. You’ll need to construct the best deck possible to keep your wits about you… and your life.
Luis: "For people who like tinkering with decks (games like Magic), challenging gameplay and also a great story - Arkham Horror LCG is a perfect fit since it hits all of these in spades."
2 PLAYER GAMES
Some games are best played one on one. When the crew can’t get together and there’s only two down to play, these games come in and save the day!
Staff Favorite | Jaipur
Vie to become the best merchant in the city of Jaipur! Both players pull from the same market of resources and try to resell at a better price. Resources are worth more points earlier in the game and if you can play your cards right and sell in bulk. Jaipur is quick-paced, easy to learn, but stays engaging and dynamic no matter how many times you play! The 2019 reprint updates beautiful art on the box and new, soft cards, as well as a beautiful metal winner coin.
Johnni: "Basically the best 2 player game I’ve ever played. No exaggeration. And the new 2019 art is stellar!"
Honorable Mention | Patchwork
Patchwork is a classic 2 player game that has consistently been a favorite at our store. Players compete to balance the costs of fabric, as well as time and effort spent while crafting the most beautiful quilt! This fun, puzzle-y game takes no more than thirty minutes and lets you interact with (and sabotage) the other player!
Luis: "Patchwork is such a fun tetris-y, puzzle-y game. It's very simple yet has plenty of depth and back forth between you and your opposing quilter!"
Tune in tomorrow for part 2, the best of story and party games!
Written by Johnni Medina