2017: A great year for tabletop gaming

This year was stock full of great games and events, so I better get on it right away.

Abstracts for the Win

Euro style games are often touted to have pasted-on theme. Abstract games traditionally don’t even try to hide that fact. Here’s some of the hit titles this year.

  • Sagrada: A dice drafting game about making stained-glass masterpieces.
  • Azul: A mesmerizing tile drafting game about furnishing beautiful ceramic tile walls.
  • Santorini: Technically a 2016 release, but it reached the Philippines in wider numbers only in 2017. Players build up the lovely white buildings of the coastal city in effort to have their pantheon be first up top.

Publishing Powerhouses

Renegade Games

The spinoff company from Cryptozoic Entertainment, Renegade produced great titles this year. Full of creative design and curated selection of games. A publisher in my watchlist.

  • Clank: A deck building dungeon crawling game. I love deck-building, add adventuring through dungeons, sunken cities or space stations. A definite keeper.
  • The blood of an englishman: Is a small two player asymmetrical card game where one plays a giant and the other jack in the beanstalk. Delicious decisions branching out like magical vines.

Fantasy Flight Games

Titles far in number to list down, here’s a few that stood out: Fallout the board game, Civilization a New Dawn, Battle for Rokugan and Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition. Also a special game to my heart I’ll discuss later on.


Just came out of nowhere, from D&D figs to brilliantly designed games that quickly rose to the high ranks of many 10 ten lists of various online reviewers.

  • Tournament at Camelot
    • A take on trick taking games much like MS Hearts, but with a few well-placed tweaks here and there for gamers. Be warned, this is quite hilarious, uncontrollable fits of laughter may occur during play that may cause a group to be sent out if playing in a public place!
  • Deadline
    • If T.I.M.E. stories and The Grizzled had a baby in the 1930s, this may well be it. Tension filled puzzler with the right amount of story painted in every alley, you and your family would be playing all 12 cases like binge-playing a series in Netflix.
  • The Expanse Board Game
    • Speaking of binge-watching, people said Expanse tv series was a good one. Then they announced they made a board game out of it, designed by Geof Engelstein with James S. A. Corey as the consultant. Just had to see. I tasted the audio book and proceeded to devour the rest. Story good, world good, series good, now the board game even better.
    • The system much like the operation cards of Twlight Struggle except, up to four players! Every step you make is a potential advantage to one of your opponents, by how much is up to you. I’ve upgraded mine with some plastic ships, the cardboard tokens were functional and gave the game a more approachable price point, but I wanted to make it look cooler.

Legend of the Five Rings LCG (L5R)

From Fantasy Flight Games, L5R hit the world like a tidal wave. The numbers were expectantly high, but still there was not enough stock to answer the demand globally. People feared the complexity is a bit on the upper scale, but there was more than enough gamers that were eager just for that.

L5R is a living card game set in a fantasy japan where seven clans are waging war. The original game was released the same time as Magic the gathering back in the 90s

A match takes around an hour! Unlike most card games where there’s no resource curve, in L5R you have full access of your resources at the very first turn. What it simulates is the ebb and flow of the tides of battle. Of which it does elegantly, as your champions age, they wither away, worry not for you may send in new blood in hopes of defending your honor and empire.

This was a great year too for locally designed board games!

  • Darna from Balangay Entertainment, is supported by ABS-CBN one of the controlling media companies in the Philippines.
  • Hugot from The Epic Gaming Regiment and Ludus Distributors is a big hit with the masses. Pinoy humor in every post, a smile in every toast.
  • Check out also, Tadhana, Refridge Raiders, Alcaldia, Halo Halo, A Single Moment and Son of Badass.


VariablePlay’s volunteer network over the years have built our respective gamegroups. We had an idea to collaborate and make a mini convention. On a tight personal budget, we had no choice but to make it invite-only. Fortunately one of the volunteers to helped us find a viable location. Packed like a board game travel bag bursting at the seams, gamers played till closing. We were so packed, we had the talks and meetings huddled over stairwells and cocktail tables.

From then we saw from the attendees that they too were able to build a regular game group of their own in their area. So definitely stay-tuned for 2018 as we plan to repeat this again with hopefully the chance to accommodate more people.

Excited for next year!

Lots of great games and articles to tackle in one article. Just shows how good a year 2017 was for board gaming. Really excited for what 2018 has to offer. See you guys at the table, build more game groups and spread the opportunity to play to everyone you meet. Happy new year from us here at VariablePlay!

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