Variant: GeekInsight’s Game of the Year – Final Five

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I know I say this every year, but it was again true this year. Dropping the list to just five titles was excruciating. I had about nine that I really wanted to highlight. But that’s the point of the list, right? We need to get this thing down to five great titles. As the holidays approach, this list will also hopefully point you to some of the best games that you can buy for others or put on your own list for Santa.

The Top Five, in alphabetical order:

7 Wonders: Duel. An absolutely amazing two-player experience. This takes the core ideas of 7 Wonders and beautifully adapts them to the two-player environment. In fact, some of the innovations are so great that it actually makes the original seem clunkier by comparison.

Blood Rage. Lots of people have loved this game, and I am no exception. The mechanics are solid and give rise to several different play styles. The card draft and the divergent abilities make the game interesting every play.

Luna. Newly reprinted, after one play, I fell in love. After more, it’s become deep and gratifying. The game has area control, resource management, planning, and some really sneaky things you can do to your opponents. Not only is the game mechanically fantastic, but the presentation is gorgeous and serene. It’s a literal pleasure to play.

Orleans. I love the bag-building concept. It’s way easier to shuffle. But I also like that as you get workers, they give you different benefits. It makes it a lot harder to go all-in on a particular strategy since you’ll need to acquire many of the different advantages. It makes managing your “deck” all the more important, and the game that much more interesting and fun.

Star Wars: Rebellion. Fans of the Force have been spoiled for riches lately. There have been a ton of great Star Wars games, but none as great as Rebellion. In the same way War of the Ring faithfully recreates the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Rebellion does so with Star Wars. And, it’s not just a fun theme. It’s mechanically superior and provides fantastic decisions and choices.

In addition to these finalists, I’m going to cheat a little and call two other games out. While not finalists, they are special in their own ways. The first is Pandemic: Legacy. That game is fantastic. But I couldn’t squeeze it into the final five because, having completed it, I lost the desire to play it. Don’t get me wrong, the experience was awesome and I’ll do it again when Season 2 comes out. But I have no desire to play Season 2 again.

Similarly, Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy wins the award for best family game. My wife, despite Operation GamerWife successes, is not a gamer. Probably never will be. But she absolutely will play this game. The theme is one she can readily get behind and it always creates fun discussions. And this title is really a fun one. If you’re looking for something for couples, casual gamers, or with a lighter rules footprint, this might be it.

So, which of the Final Five deserves to be the Final One? Give me your thoughts in the comments.

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