TR Member Perks!

2015 was an excellent year to be a board game fan. Numerous excellent games came out in all categories. Some of these games came out of nowhere, taking us completely by surprise, while others had been lingering in the background for years only to finally hit the ground running when they were finally released. So many excellent games were released this past year (or thereabouts) that it was difficult to narrow down the list to only 5 games.

This category was handled a bit differently than the others, but only because the number of staff who had been covering board games was so small. That is changing for 2016 though, so keep an eye out for expanding tabletop coverage on TechRaptor throughout the coming year. Without further ado, here are our five best board games of 2015.

Castle Assault

Castle Assault Header
 
From our review:
 
Quick, intuitive, stylish and fun, Castle Assault took me completely by surprise and has earned itself a permanent place in my board game collection. Each faction has a unique art style and play style. Using any card as a resource avoids the “mana-screw” issues that other card games can have and adds tactical depth, and the tower-defense style gameplay is unique and refreshing. In addition to the great two player game, the single player campaign is a ton of fun and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that MomentumVolsk releases not only new armies but also new solo content as well.”
 
We first encountered Castle Assault at GenCon 2015 and we were immediately intrigued by the game. Castle Assault takes the tried and true two player fantasy card game and tosses in lane combat and a touch of tower-defense. The combination of slick mechanics, style, and quick play make Castle Assault stand out in the crowded card-battle genre.
 
Add in six unique factions that all look and play differently and a fun and challenging solo campaign that allows you to customize the faction leaders with stickers, making them unique to your copy of the game, and you have a serious game of the year contender.

Castle Assault plays so quickly that it’s always tempting, and always rewarding, to play “just one more game”.

Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Imperial Assault Header
From our review:

Star Wars: Imperial Assault is fantastic. It is the best ‘1 vs Many’ game that I have played to date. Fantasy Flight have absolutely refined the game system that they have created for their “Descent” style games. The campaign structure is thematic, the missions are fun and the theme is awesome. In addition to the campaign game the inclusion of the skirmish game, which is very good in its own right, means that you get an incredible value for your money with Star Wars: Imperial Assault.

 
Star Wars: Imperial Assault isn’t content to simply refine the 1 vs Many system that Fantasy Flight have spent years developing in the Descent series of games and combine it with one of the most well known intellectual properties of all time. Instead, there are two full games in the box.

The box is chock full of miniatures that players can use to fight interesting skirmish battles with each other when they aren’t involved in the captivating story that the campaign tells. Fantasy Flight has continued to release new content for this system, so player who pick up Imperial Assault have an absolute plethora of content to look forward to, whether they prefer the skirmish game or the campaign system.
 
 

3rd Place – Three Kingdoms Redux

Three Kingdoms Redux Header

From our review:

Three Kingdoms Redux is a wonderful experience. The mechanics are deceptively simple and belie the absolutely incredible amount of strategic depth that the game offers. Balanced asymmetrical factions, exciting and tense game-play, excellent component quality and a wonderful theme set it apart from the crowd. Unless you are adverse to the three-player-only restriction or to games that last 2+ hours, you are sure to find something to like in the game. Fans of strategy board games and fans of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms video games shouldn’t hesitate to pick it up.

Three Kingdoms Redux could easily be renamed to “Three Player Excellence.” This grand strategy game requires exactly three players. That might seem like a limitation at first blush, but once you play the game and see just how delicate the balance between the three asymmetrical factions is, you realize that the game couldn’t work with any other player count.

Three Kingdoms Redux isn’t just the best strategy game of the year, but one of the best strategy games we have every played. The balance is superb, and smart—important choices abound. Three Kingdoms Redux offers incredible strategic depth, made all the more appealing by its use of straightforward mechanics.

Runner Up – Shadows Of Brimstone

Shadows of Brimstone Header

From our review:

Shadows of Brimstone is one of the best cooperative board games I have ever played. Every single aspect of the game fits together to form an evocative, entertaining whole. The narrative that emerges based on character choice, interactions, exploration and luck, both good and bad, create incredibly memorable experiences that leave players wanting more.

Cowboys vs Cthulhu indeed. Shadows of Brimstone put a fantastical spin on its Wild West setting. Players face off against a plethora of different horrors as they explore different mines and Otherworlds on their quest to gather Darkstone, money, and loot.

The narrative is loose, leaving players to create their own stories as they play, yet the gameplay and random events and happenings that players will face end up coming together to form some of the best experiences that I’ve ever had in board games.

There is only one downside to Shadows of Brimstone, and that is the fact that there is one game that hit the market in 2015 that does everything that Shadows of Brimstone does, only better …

Winner – Kingdom Death: Monster

Diary of Death Part 6 header

We have yet to publish a review for Kingdom Death: Monster, but that’s only because our rating system doesn’t go up to 11. If you are interested in reading about the game, check out Diary of Death.

Kingdom Death took Kickstarter by storm back in 2012, raising over two million dollars during the life of its campaign, almost entirely on the strength of the immaculate miniatures that the campaign promised to deliver.

Very few gameplay details emerged in the three years since the end of the Kickstarter, leaving many players wondering if there was ever going to be a game included, or even if the project was ever going to be delivered at all.

Near the end of 2015, the game finally shipped to backers. Not only were the miniatures exactly as promised, but the gameplay not only lived up to the quality of the minis but, in my opinion, surpassed them.

Kingdom Death: Monster is an absolutely captivating game. It places players in control of an entire settlement of survivors, and tasks them with fighting off the nightmare horrors of its world. Survivors face the constant threat of permanent injury, brain damage and death, and the story that emerges as the campaign unfolds is not only memorable, but it is impossible not to get personally invested in the life of the survivors as you try to guide them to safety and success.

Kingdom Death: Monster is expensive, but it has already seen more play than any other game in my collection, easily proving its value both in component quality and in hours played, and there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight. Numerous expansions are on the horizon for the game, but even if the base game was all there was to Kingdom Death: Monster, it would still be the best thematic board game I have ever played.

 

How did we do? What game would you say was the best board game of the year?


Travis Williams

Tabletop Editor

Tabletop editor.