Top 10 Favorites for VariablePlay 2016

2016 was year that kept people aghast with every dumbfounding event that outdid the latter. While the rest of the world regrouped from every blow, board gaming was more than fine, in fact, it was having an awesome time!



10. Scythe – Designer Jamey Stegmaier, artist Jakub Rozalski, published by Stonemaier Games. The game Scythe is a euro-style alternate history steam-punk war-themed game. That’s a mouthful to describe Scythe, and in fact there’s more to it. This game had so much hype from its super succesful Kickstarter campaign, in its heart though, it’s a worker placement game, where players have a token they can place around their own board to activate certain actions. As you progress in the game, you get opportunities to enhance these action spaces to do cooler and bigger things. Definetly on the heavy-medium side of strategy gaming. If you wish to get your family or friends who are new into the hobby, you might want to get their skills started using Stone Age or Lords of Waterdeep.

9. Terraforming Mars – Designer Jacob Fryxelius, artist Isaac Fryxelius and published by FryxGames and Stronghold Games. Players play as corporations working with their resources to make Mars a habitable planet. The goals to finish the game are 3 things: bring up the temperature of Mars, increase the percentage of oxygen throughtout the planet and succesfully develop all the oceans. Players do this by drafting cards to play on their tableu to activate immediate powers or something that they can use in the long run. In the end, the corporation that performed the best wins. Don’t get fooled by this games theme, its fairly simple to teach and can be slowly eased into a family setting given some training-wheels from Eight Minute Empire or its Legends series.

8. Imhotep – Designer Phil Walker-Harding, artist Miguel Coimbra, Michaela Kienle, published by KOSMOS. A family weight game that has delightful decisions all the way through. Players work for the greatest Architect in Egypt history Imhotep. Move stones from the quarry to build pyramids, obelisks, burial chambers and trade in the market. Earn points along the way or compete for end game bonuses. Easy to teach and have worked with kids all the way to grandparents.

7. Karuba – Designer Rüdiger Dorn, artist Claus Stephan, published by HABA. Gamer family friendly version of Bingo with a strong spatial element. One player draws a tile and says its number out loud. Everyone included that player then takes that tile and places it on their board. Individually they are racing to get their adventurers to their exits. First one to complete wins!

6. Railroad Revolution – Designer Marco Canetta, Stefania Niccolini, artist Mariano Iannelli, published by my favorite publisher “What’s Your Game?”. Medium to heavy version of Ticket-to-Ride. Made by the designer duo that brought us the beautifully heavy game ZhanGuo. Story is set at the time when the America has opened the gatea to build train systems to the east. Play as companies building up train stations and tracks across America. There are opportunities with the Western Union Telegraph which needs help in connecting communication stations. In the end the player who has improved their company’s performance the best wins.

5. Potion Explosion – What looked like a gimmick turned out to be a well crafted game. Literally the physical version of Candy Crush Saga! Players are students taking an exam in a magic school. Players collect marbles from a contraption, certain combination of marbles clinking together causes an explosion which may cause further explosions which causes them to collect more marbles. These marbles are ingredients for their potions. As players complete potions they gain nifty powers for future turns. Players try to acquire sets of potions, in the end the player with the highest score wins!

4. Lotus – Designer Jordan Goddard, Mandy Goddard, Artist Anita Osburn, Chris Ostrowski, published by Renegade Game Studios. Light family game about building up flowers! Beautiful game with a simple system yet still evokes serentity and cool decision making. Made by a husband and wife team that showed cleanliness of execution and gameplay.

3. Clank! – Designer Paul Dennen, Artist Rayph Beisner, Raul Ramos, Nate Storm, published by Renegade Game Studios. Deck-building meets Dungeoneering. Deck-building is mechanic where players start with the same set of cards. On their turn they draw and play cards. If they run out of cards they shuffle all their cards back up including any new cards they have purchased along the way into a new draw deck, improving their deck in the process. In Clank! (Yes, the title has an exclamation mark) players has a dungeon board which they need to navigate through with their meeple. Along the way they encounter various treasures and monsters to loot and conquer. However, it’s not that simple. There’s a dragon on the loose, and whoever is the noisiest gets hurt or even eaten! I’m even more excited about this game because a new expansion is coming soon to add more adventuring goodness!

2. Alabang Board Game Club: Game Night Mondays – The newest open game meet in the the VariablePlay family! What supposedly started as a twice a month schedule just went straight as a weekly meetup. It would never have been possible without the veteran volunteer gamers who clock-in consistency and openness every week. So if you guys are in the south, it’s 8PM onwards at Cocohut Alabang. You can check us out at our FB Page

1. Makati Board Game Club: Playgroup Tuesdays – 3 years and stronger than ever. I believe we ran every week without missing a beat last 2016. Many new regular gamers makes the family grow happier and bigger. The atmosphere is open and engaging. Where the focus is more of making real connections and not just simply playing the games. Always open for new and veteran gamers, meet up at Ludo Makati every Tuesday 8PM till closing.

Pardon for the lack luster updates for VP this year. I frankly just am quite busy, however I will always try my best to be at the game nights. Hopefully we can re-invigorate the content making this 2017. I am excited for the year ahead, possibly a new game group will be launched, so do drop by from time to time. Until next time, always try your best to make your gaming count. Happy 2017!

Photo by Pheelyp

P.S. – I know Brew Crafters is not a 2016 release, but it only got into wide distribution here recently. For me, it’s the full-flavored Agricola. It is more structured compared to Caverna. It’s somewhere in between the two, and I really like it. I love craft beer too, so this gave the theme a plus for me. Warning though, the game is full to the brim with components. You have to plan out your storage solutions for this one. If you are interested in the portable version, the Brew Crafters Card Game is a portable light version. It’s of different depth, but it provides a good drafting and engine building system for brewing craft beer.