The year is over and so many great games were played. In fact, according to my BGG Stats app, I played close to 500 games this year (but I forgot to track most of November and December so that number is likely higher). As we move on to 2023, I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on my top 12 games that came out in 2022.
12. Creature Comforts - Kids Table Board Games - Build the coziest burrow before winter in this worker placement, card drafting, set collection game. It reminds of of a simpler version of Everdell and the art is so homey! Plus the promo cards have board games on them. It's meta and cute!
11. Flamecraft - Carboard Alchemy - Aid dragons and shopkeepers by gathering items and placing dragons to help build up the shops in town. This worker placement game features some of my favorite art in a board game this year.
10. Delicious - Pencil First Games - A joyfully relaxing roll and write about growing fruits and vegetables in your garden. If you like Herbaceous or Floriferous, this game is an absolute must try!
9. Super-Skill Pinball: Holiday Special - WizKids - My first introduction into the Super-Skill Pinball world. This game is literally pinball turned into a board game. It's awesome and I love the Elf, A Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation themed boards. Great choice for holiday gaming.
8. Long Shot: The Dice Game - Perplext - Push your luck as you bet on horses racing around a track, in attempt to score the most money by the end of the race. Uses the concept of roll and write in a very unique way with dry erasable cards. Comes with hysterically named horses for your amusement.
7. Ragnarocks - Grey Fox Games - From the designer of Santorini, this area control game features the Norse pantheon where players control Vikings and work to summon runes in order to take over the most lands for your clan. It has tons of different god cards, each with their own ability, so you get a lot of replayability in the box.
6. Grove - Side Room Games - Okay, so BGG says this one came out in 2021, but it 100% fulfilled this year, so I am counting it for 2022. This is my favorite little solo game of the game. Place cards to increase the amount of fruit on your trees. This is the sequel to Orchard (which I also love). Grove adds new mechanics and recipe challenges that allow you to have win/loss conditions rather than just beat your own score.
5. Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest - Stonemaier Games - Be a sky pirate and collect the most treasure. This game has some of the best components of the games I played this year. I also love how easy it is to each others. The hand management and action queue mechanics are done in a really cool way in this game that I found super enjoyable.
4. Wild Serengeti - Bad Comet - This is my absolute favorite abstract strategy game of the year. Don't let the superb animal meeples fool you, Wild Serengeti is thinky and challenging in all the right ways! You are a nature photographer and your goal is to set up the bet shots for your next film. Draft cards, place workers, use your brain a lot. Ooooo, it's so good! And did I mention the animal meeple
3. Ready Set Bet - Alderac Entertainment Group - Hands down my favorite party game of the year. Place bets on horse races as they race in real time. Have one player run the race, or use the fancy smanshy app to do it for you. Yup, there are two horse betting games in my top 12 of 2022 list. The only two horse racing games I have ever played. Ready Set Bet is so easy to teach others and will have your whole game group roaring with laughter. I play this with my staff all of the time for team bonding at work and it has quickly become a requested favorite of my team as well.
2. Three Sisters - 25th Century Games and Motor City Games - The most combo-heavy roll and write that I have ever played. This roll and write game is about farming, using a technique where pumpkins, beans, and corn are grown together and help each other flourish. As the game goes on, everything chains into more combos and it is fabulous. The solo mode is also tricky and a good time.
1. boop. - Smirk and Laughter Games - It is fitting that my top game of 2022 is a cat game. From the moment, boop. was demoed to me at Gen Con, I fell in love with it. boop. is the purrrfect example of taking classic game mechanics and refreshing them. It is as though Tic Tac Toe, met chess and they had a cat themed baby. You can learn the rules in about a minute, and spend the rest of the year learning how to be good at the game. The goal is simple, get three of your cats in a row, but cats and kittens repel each other and you wind up with lots of felines getting booped off the bed (which is your playing surface). 12/10 recommend you play this game.
So some things that were interesting about this list. 10/12 game can be played solo. This is pretty much a requirement for me these days since I love being able to play a game when I want to, even if I have no one around to play with. The exceptions are Ready Set Bet, which is a party game, and boop. which is a 2 player only game. I think that speaks to how much I really love both of those games. The next thing, is that art and creative components matter to me. Your game could be great, but if it doesn't have eye catching art, you are probably not going to catch my eye. Don't get me wrong, I do love some beige Euros, but even those, I would love more if they had better designs. I cannot wait for the one Castles of Burgundy to come out so that justice can be done for one of my all time favorites. Lastly, most of these games could be played in under an hour many in under 30 minutes (especially if I play it solo). I do love long games, but being a full time employee, part time grad student, having a part time TA job, and running Pudgy Cat Games, while designing my own game, leaves me very little free time. I like games that I can easily get to the table and enjoy in-between the other thing. This list is great for those with busy schedules, or those without game groups, but I believe that all of these games are spectacular in their own right and could be enjoyed by most gamers.
This list does not contain expansions, but if it did I would have included Canvas Reflections, Dice Throne: Santa Versus Krampus (alright technically this is a standalone game, but since I already own everything Dice Throne and love the system, I am counting it in the expansion category as it just gives me more characters to play), Kabuto Sumo Total Mayhem and Everdell Newleaf and Mistwood.
There are also several games on my shelf of opportunity that came out last year that I did not get a chance to play yet but am looking forward to trying out. These games did not make it into my 2022 list as they are still unplayed, but I am immensely looking forward to playing: Verdant, Cryptid Cafe, Wingspan Asia, My Lil' Everdell, KAPOW!, Twilight Inscription, the latest Root expansions, Birdwatcher, and On Tour: Paris and New York.
In an effort to get my shelf of unplayed games under control, I definitely limited the amount of games I backed on Kickstarter this year, but there are still quite a few coming out in 2023 that I am looking forward to, some of my most anticipated games are Steam Up, Bark Avenue, Fit to Print, Zoo Tycoon: the Board Game, Life of Amazonia, Abducktion, Casting Shadows, and Castles by the Sea.
What about you? What were your favorites of 2022 and what are you looking forward to in 2023?