Published by: Bezier Games
Castles of Mad King Ludwig was a game that I had picked up when it was released and just never found the time to hit the table. When it finally did, I enjoyed all the different mechanics that were involved. You have set collection with the type of rooms you want. Tile placing/map building with placing the different rooms in your castle and how they interact with each other. Player interaction happens with the auctioning of rooms each round and can have a huge risk/reward element to it. All of this and more made Castles of Mad King Ludwig in my top 10. This year also released the Castles of Mad King Ludwig digital version which is also great and I highly recommend.
Published by: Lautapelit.fi
Nations the Dice Game takes the epic play of regular Nations and provides a similar experience with a shorter play time. I am a sucker for dice games, maybe it is rolling lots of dice or the feel of luck and randomness, but Nations the Dice Game takes that fun to a civilization building game. For people who dislike the randomness of dice, Nations provides many ways to manipulate your dice. Player interaction is similar to the regular version. I look forward to the expansion coming out this year to add more options and fun.
Published by: Mayfair Games
I got to play Isle of Skye at Geekway to the West and it instantly became a hit for me. The fresh mix of set collection, auction, and tile laying made for a great time. Add in different scoring set ups each game and I feel this could stay fresh for a long time. Isle of Skye replaced Carcassonne for me and I am never looking back.
Published by: Ravensburger Games
San Juan has been on my list to try out for a very long time, but was had to get a hold of a copy when it was out of print. 2014/2015 brought out San Juan 2nd edition and this year I finally got to play it. I love how the game maintains the feel of Puerto Rico, but adds different complexity with cards being used as buildings and goods. I am a big fan of games that use cards in multiple ways and San Juan does it smoothly. There is also a digital app that you can play against friends or AI. Very happy to add this to my collection and got many plays in.
Published by: Splotter
Food Chain Magnate is the heaviest and most unforgiving game on this list. I was very intimidated when I first received the game and read through the rules. After playing a game, it really is not that heavy or hard to understand. The game combines elements of area control in trying to control the market in the neighborhood, and also an engine building tech tree with adding different employees to your food chain. Food Chain Magnate can be very unforgiving if playing with experts because one wrong move may set you back and cost you the game. Still I find Food Chain Magnate to be highly enjoyable and love some of the humor of owning a food chain with no cook and a bunch of higher up executives.
Published by: What's Your Game?
Signorie transports you to a time with Italian families were fighting to gain power in Italy. Players represent heads of their respective households and will send their sons to learn skills such as politics, war strategy, or biblical knowledge. The daughters.... well they get married off to powerful households to gain favor and power. This is all done with a unique dice system that makes rolling big, earn high rewards but you may also have to pay a high price to use that die. Signorie has lots of interesting actions and clever player interaction that make it a fun, high stakes game.
Published by: TMG
Orleans is a fun bag building game of trying to get different workers and stretching the amount of actions you can take in a round. While all of this is going on, you are also moving on a map with an area control element. Orleans provides lots of options and many paths to victory. The expansions add a co-op mode and other boards for extra variety. Euro style fans will not be disappointed by Orleans. I am looking forward to playing it more this coming year.
Published by: R & R Games
Mombasa was probably the most unique game I played this year. I loved the action programming and having to plan ahead to what cards you will want back in your hand. The unique stock exchange along with trying to push each companies influence further into Africa was a fun game on it's own. You had book keeping and diamond mining as other secondary games. Mombasa even throws in some deck building with buying new action cards to add to the fun and strategy. Mombasa is a game that you will learn new ways of thinking every time you play. The designer Alexander Pfister has become one of my favorite new designers and I look forward to playing Great Western Trail.
Published by: Fantasy Flight Games
Tigris & Euphrates was a game that I always saw in the top 10 of Board Game Geek's rankings. When I first got in the hobby I would look at it and think it would not be that interesting. I finally played it at this year's Geekway to the West and I admit it was pretty awesome. I should never judge a game based on the box ever again. This abstract strategy, area control game is brilliant in design and makes for a mind taxing experience. The combat can have interesting outcomes when players add pieces from behind their screen. I love how you only count the score of your lowest scoring color. This forces a nice balanced approach to the game and can prevent a runaway leader. I have found that people either love or hate this game, I am in the love category and I am so happy to finally played and now own Tigris & Euphrates.
Published by: Portal Games
Neuroshima Hex was a game that I didn't play the physical copy first but rather the digital version. The digital version taught me how to play and how each army works. After about game 250, I decided I needed to own the physical version. I have since played that and it works as great as the digital version if not better. By the end of this year, I have picked up all the army expansions except Dancer.... I hate Dancer. Neuroshima Hex is a 2 to 4 player game on a grid that has armies fighting to be the last surviving army. Each player will be given a base with a special power that will be placed on the grid. Each turn players will be playing different tiles that add units to the board, a special effect, or trigger a battle. Battles can cause chaos all over the board and player's must be thinking ahead and about the whole map. This game is so addicting and fun, that I can not recommend it enough. Buy the digital to try it out, you will probably end up like me owning the whole physical set.