For the first time I figured it would be a good opportunity, with the website being created, that I create a list of awards for the best games of 2014 for Box of Delights, reflecting the games we love to see and play on the channel. So, here we are, with 10 categories including “Box of Delights Game of the Year”. Read on to find out who wins the Box of Delights Awards for:
- Best Children’s Game
- Artwork & Presentation
- Design & Originality
- Best Expansion
- Best Gateway Game
- Best Thematic Game
- Best 2-Player Game
- Best Solo Game
- Publisher of the Year
- Game of the Year
Best Children’s Game
To kick things off, and because we’re a family here at Box of Delights, who love to game with kids, we’re delighted to award best children’s game to the fabulous Dino Race from Ares Games. The baby dinosaurs are cute, the rules are simple, it’s a step up into the hobby-games genre for our children, and it’s fun and fast to play. What more could you want when you want to get the kids away from the TV and have fun yourself ?
Artwork & Presentation
This award goes to the game with the most luxurious artwork, quality components, playability and a feeling that you have got a great deal of game in the box. This award goes to artists Lucas Graciano, Jon Hodgson, Fabio Maiorana, Francesco Mattioli and Ben Wootten, designers Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi, and Francesco Nepitello, and Ares Games for The Battle of Five Armies.
Design & Originality
This award goes to the game which has mechanics, depth of play, wrapped with theme and playability, as well as originality and genius in the design. This is one of the areas we love at Box of Delights – reading the rulebook, appreciation of the elegance and interplay of the rules, and seeing new ideas mixed with old in new and fascinating ways. We love showing complex games on Box of Delights and so picking the winner for this category was a special joy. This award goes to a game which fits more design in such a small box as ever I have seen. With a richness of theme, and originality in its treatment of climate across the biomes that make up north and south of Greenland, and its use of dice-play and the so many ways you can influence the rolls, go together to create a great little card game. Of course, it’s Greenland from Sierra Madre Games by Phil Eklund and Philipp Klarmann.
There has been an explosion of expansions for all sorts of games, escalated by the emergence of Kickstarter games in recent years, and the idea of buying an expansion alongside, or shortly after, the base game. But there are good arguments for expansions: in particular, ignoring CCGs, TCGs and LCGS, expansions are good for a person on a smaller budget, has few games, and is looking for a cheaper alternative to get more game-play out of their existing collection. Not only that, for those of us who have the privilege to play lots of games, expansions give us a new way to enjoy a game we already love playing. In particular thematic games get a new freshness with a well developed expansion. And this year, with new locations, more variety and some great “more of the same” additions, the most well-rounded and fulfilling expansion for Box of Delights was Mountains of Madness for Eldritch Horror from Fantasy Flight Games. This expansion took the game to Antarctica, and gave us new adventures to complete. Great stuff !
Best Gateway Game
This next award goes to a great Euro-game, and a great Family game. The mechanisms feel fresh and familiar, so picking up the rules and developing strategies gives a great sense of accomplishment with such immediacy – a great asset for strong gateway game. The game is so well balanced, so playable, and has that magic je n’sais quoi that has you asking, “shall we play again?!” Not only that, it has some terrific tactile, and great looking, poker chips that new players will love getting their hands on. I’m talking about Splendor from Space Cowboys and designed by Marc André.
Best Thematic Game
This award goes to the game that not only falls into the category “thematic” but also the game that best evokes the theme of the game, transporting players to the world in which the game is played. With a great story, great tension, and a set of innovative game mechanics that reflect the theme of the game, the award goes to Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game from Plaid Hat Games. This is the closest thing you’ll get to actually being bitten by a zombie.
Best 2-Player Game
There’s nothing like a duel of wits and minds across a table to get the board-gamer’s adrenalin flowing, and their competitive spirit raging. 2-player games deserve a category of their own for Box of Delights, not only because we enjoy the head-to-head battle, but because 2-player games feature so much on our channel, and you want to know which are the best of the best. This award goes to a thematic wargame, that gives you everything you need from a 2-player face-off: conflict, sculduggery, intrigue and mastery. With its asymmetrical play, strongly linked to its theme, it’s like two games in one. You will find depths playing either side, and it will keep you awake at night as you figure out a new strategy or counter-strategy with which to outwit your opponent. The award for best 2-player game goes to a game that was made for two players, and had a tough act to follow (the modern classic that is War of the Ring). It is, of course, The Battle of Five Armies by ARES Games, designed by Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi, and Francesco Nepitello. Great job guys !
Best Solitaire Game
This was a very tough decision for 2014. So many great solo games. A special highlight, ever so close to being the final winner, and therefore our runner-up, is DVG’s The Cards of Cthulhu. A great theme, and great fun solo. It doesn’t have a wide distribution, but with an expansion in the works, this should be a big hit in 2015. It cites 1-4, but for me this will always be best solo. I liken it to Ghost Stories, but simpler to manage, and for me, more fun. It does not have the depth of some of the other solo games from 2014, but it sure has playability.
In the end, though, the award for Best Solitaire Game goes to Upper Deck’s Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game. The theme is a hit, the story is gripping, the tension is dramatic, and it delivers what you need that from a solo game – something that is challenging, fast-paced, and gives you an opportunity to make some clever decisions and satisfying card plays. The game is a little hard to get hold of, but with plenty of room for expansions, remember 2014 as the year it started. Thanks to designers Ben Cichoski and Danny Mandel for a great game, and I’m looking forward to the first expansion !
Publisher of the Year
This ended up being an easy choice. In 2014, as well as two games already on this list (The Battle of FIve Armies and Dino Race) they gave us the co-operative game and soliaire favourite Galaxy Defenders. We saw the original game and two expansions fund through Kickstarter, and a new game system that is sure to continue. Next year we expect more as they pick up the license for FFG’s Conan game. This publisher, founded relatively recently in 2011, is building up a great library of quality games, with quality components and top quality rulebooks. If you haven’t already got an eye on what this Italian publisher is doing, you should do. The Box of Delights publisher of the year award goes to Ares Games. Thank you for the great games !
Game of the Year
And this brings us to the Box of Delights Game of the Year award. It was highly anticipated, we’ve seen it on the list twice already, and is from our publisher of the year. The Battle of Five Armies is our Game of the Year. It’s one that will stay in the collection and exceeded all expectations. This game is a heavy-weight, but wonderfully stream-lined, making it more accessible than War of the Ring. Ares have done a wonderful job on every aspect of the game. There is something in this game for every kind of gamer: war-gamer, strategist, card-player or dice-roller. Pick a game to have in your collection for 2014 and this would be my choice. I hope you love it too!