It is May 2nd, the first week of a new month (one which features my birthday!). Before moving ahead, though, I want to take a look back — back to April and list my top 10 games played for April 2019.
April stats: I played 42 different games in April, of which 12 were first-time plays for me. From this group of games, my top 10 will not necessarily be a ranking of my “favorite games”, but focused more on the game play that occurred during the month. For instance, I played Gloomhaven this month, but we only managed to get in a half-session, thus making it a non-memorable game for the month (while still being a top tier game on my overall rankings).
Most played game of April: Looney Labs’ Aquarius earned this spot with 5 total plays. I played it twice with my older daugther and three times with my wife. She finally beat me on the third game and has claimed she wants to “retire” from Aquarius — going out on top.
#10 – Atlantis Rising
This game squeaks in as a brand-new play on the last day of April. As a worker placement, cooperative game we were definitely feeling the pinch every round of only being able to do about 30% of what we felt like we needed to be doing. With the game almost out-of-hand, we were surviving and actually within just a blind-guess decision and/or single dice roll away from saving the island. Alas, history fights hard against being changed. The night ended tense and with frustration, but it provided a very memorable experience.
#9 – Welcome to…
Another new game — I managed to get my hands on Welcome to… (one that I’ve been eyeing for a few months) at Barnes & Noble –> with a coupon, thank you very much.
I ended up playing poorly my first time through, but I can see where I made some short-sighted decisions. I can’t wait to try this one again, both competitively and on solo mode. (and John, stop getting so focused on pools!)
#8 – Ticket to Ride
It had been 8 months since we last got the trains out for some route-building fun. April’s playthrough increased my enjoyment of this game. It is such a simple game – relaxing, easy and quick actions every turn and yet exciting at the same time. This time, I felt like I was playing well — my routes were coming together, including that long LA-to-Miami trip and I made one attempt to add some more tickets to my collection. I landed an LA-to-NY card (extremely difficult and worth mucho points) — but for me, it was only going to cost a single extra connection beyond my initial three routes. Don’t you love it when the cards are in your favor and you get the win!?
#7 – Evolution
Another first-time game. My sister-in-law has been raving about this game, so I got the chance to sit down and give it a try. The decision-making in this game is outstanding! Unlike Atlantis Rising (where you constantly feel like you aren’t able to do enough) this game gives you the feeling of being able to enact about 75%, each round, of what you’d like to accomplish — which feels like a perfect balance. Because of that, there were multiple turns in which I ended up chastising myself, having forgotten to save a card for a specific action. That said, I happened to land on a strong collection of animals and took the win on my first time out!
#6 – Notre Dame
Notre Dame pulls in as the highest position on the list for a first-time game. After the tragic fire that occurred in April, I saw the game was on sale at Amazon and I picked it up quickly. My only other Stefan Feld game to have played is Castles of Burgundy – which I love – so I was excited to give another one of his creations a try.
My first experience with Notre Dame was actually a bit of a love/hate scenario. I underestimated the need to carefully manage cubes and found myself incapable of performing actions for almost half the game. That stinks! (or is that just the smell of me constantly dealing with the plague?) Even with the rough beat-down loss, I came away appreciating the game and really wanting another chance to play again and perform better.
#5 – Sprawlopolis
I played this small, wallet-sized card game from Button Shy a few times in April — and finding that this game really shines! I was only successful in one of my plays last month, but there is something about the city building in Sprawlopolis that is so enjoyable. And it’s pretty simple — focus on colors, focus on roads — but the three random objectives for each game help make the gameplay fresh each time. Great replayability and crunchy decision-making to juggle all three goals. I’m expecting to continue racking up plays on this game throughout 2019.
#4 – Clank!
I like deck-building and the way it is integrated with a dungeon-crawl in Clank! — so very enjoyable to me. (and I happen to be pretty good at it) In April, I got to introduce the game to my wife – she was frustrated at feeling like I was constantly getting more out of my moves than she was, but I think she enjoyed the gameplay and will hopefully travel back down into the dragon’s lair more with me.
#3 – Carcassonne
Probably not a surprise to see this on my top 10, considering I recently chose Carcassonne as my #1 relaxing game. In April, we had the opportunity to try a couple new expansions. The first was the Abbot (included in the current version of the base game) — and I love this guy. To me, the abbot is an automatic add to any sit-down with this title. My youngest son and I also tried out the Tower expansion. This one definitely adds a new interactive element to the game. With my 7-year old, I kept the ‘take-that’ to a minimum, but am interested to ramp that up in the future with some more veteran players.
#2 – Charterstone
In April, my game group completed session #9 of this legacy game. And until we are done with the campaign, I expect that this game will continue to be the jewel of my eye. I constantly have anticipation for the next time we can get together and play again. In 9 sessions, I have only won twice, but I have a long-term strategy that I am hoping will pay dividends at the end. That said, this is a beautiful game with enjoyable worker placement and crunchy decisions. For the next 3 months, plan on seeing this game toward the top of the list.
#1 – Space Base
For April, Space Base managed to leap ahead of Charterstone due to three very enjoyable game play sessions (alarming, but enjoyable). Back on April 5th, my wife and I played a game together. I managed to stay a bit ahead of her throughout the game and pulled off a 40-31 victory. She was a little frustrated, but learned from seeing what combos worked well for me. Two days later, we played at her brother’s house in a 5-player game. (The scalability of Space Base is wonderful) Several different strategies were in play and the game was coming down to a tight race between my wife, my nephew, and myself. In the final round, my wife (the last player) managed to zoom to 43 points with rewards from her deployed ships. Not so fast, my beautiful spouse. On my turn (2nd-to-last), I finally rolled a 7 to trigger my ‘take-that’ ability, forcing all players to lose 4 Victory points. So now my wife was back down to 39, not a winning total. I also had enough credits to purchase a colony card and push my score up to 44 — feeling ruthless, but pretty good about myself at the same time. Alas, my wife still had the final turn of the round. She rolled a 2 and a 4 and it looked like it wasn’t going to be enough — until she realized that her 6 would do the job. She earned 6 victory points and took the win with a 45 point total.
Then, we played again on April 27th (another 2-player game with my wife) and this time I got skunked. Walloped. Trounced. Humiliated?! by a runaway score of 41-18. Good news: my wife is really enjoying this game. Bad news: I taught her too well.