Welcome to my Top 10 board games of 2010. It was my first proper year back in the hobby. I started my collection in 2009, but really got into my stride the year after. In the second half of 2010 I recorded around 200 plays on Board Game Geek – a level I’m still happy if I hit today. But in hindsight, how was it for releases?
I wasn’t up on the hotness or going to Essen back then, so only played a few of the hot releases as they came out. I bought Rattus (but have since sold it on), you’ll see Fresco below, while big hit 7 Wonders just wasn’t for me. It is still a BGG top 50 title, but I tired of it after a few plays. Since then though, I’ve played and enjoyed a a lot more.
But today I only own four 2010 games, all of which feature below (I could make a 10 if I included ‘previously owned’ titles). That suggests it wasn’t a classic year, but there were some big genre hits. Clever co-op card game and SdJ winner Hanabi, popular deck-builder Ascension, top-selling family co-op Forbidden Island (which almost made my list) and Eklund’s sci-fi nerd-a-thon High Frontier.
My Top 10 board games of 2010
2-5 players, 90+ mins
I was introduced to the wonderful world of Mac Gerdts rondel games when Hamburgum randomly hit The Works bargain bins in 2012. But it’s Navegador, that I picked up in 2014, that stands above the rest for me (although I own both). I’m not usually fussy about player count, but this really does work best with four players (so the two obvious routes to victory are usually equally contested). Which has kept my lay count down. But its blend of exploring, building and trading is always compelling.
1-2 player, 15-30 mins
I’m not big on solo games, but Onirim is fantastic. A simple small box card game that’s low on rules, but high on tension. And the weird, abstract artwork is gorgeous. It’s not a game I play often and the two-player version can be ignored. But I’d highly recommend it for anyone looking for a 30-minute solo card game experience that is perfect for popping in your bag for a work trip etc. Also a big shout out to Utopia Engine, another solo 2010 release. It’s a free print-and-play solo dice game that works incredibly well.
2-4 players, 60-90 mins
If I did a top 10 ‘I can’t believe I don’t own this’ list, Fresco would be in top spot. It’s a fun and cleverly thematic (for a euro) game with a lot of things I love: action selection, set collection and lots of ways to score. I’ve really enjoyed my plays. And the kicker – I released a game with its publisher, which gave me brief access to its catalogue. I took a couple of things, but not Fresco. What was I thinking…?
4. Lords of Vegas
2-4 players, 90 mins
I’m never sure if the luck/judgement ratio is just right or miles off with this one, but it’s always fun to play regardless. It walks a strange tightrope between euro game and family game mechanics, cleverly integrating its Vegas theme all the while. Get handed random area tiles, start to try and join them up, make risky takeover dice roles and hope for the best. Excellent fun. And it has a super clever scoring system I’m surprised I haven’t seen emulated more in other titles.
5. De Vulgari Eloquentia
2-5 players, 2 hours
This was on my radar for years and I finally traded for a copy in 2018. I’ve not played it much as I’ve got the original, which does its best to make playing as hard as possible. The recent reprint, which I look on jealously, has solved those problems. But either way it’s a clever, thoughtful but largely heads-down euro game which employs common ideas in clever ways. And the theme is unique: creating a common language across Europe in the Middle Ages.
6. Dominant Species
2-6 players, 2-4 hours
I try not to put ‘played once’ games on these lists, but I couldn’t help it with this one. It’s long, complex and interactive. I played it, loved it, and put it on my wish list in 2011. But somehow, I’ve never picked it up or ended up in another play. It has a nice mix of euro and war game mechanisms, mixing fighting/area control with action selection and a great theme. Each player takes mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians etc in a ‘survival of the fittest’ battle. A bona fide classic and for good reason.
2-4 players, 60 mins
Next up, a game I’ve never played ‘in real life’, only on Yucata (link below). It has that classic ‘one-hour German euro’ feel. Beige, abstracted and gentle looking – but with super tricky decisions, a bit of push your luck, and loads of room to be a total dick. This all works thanks to a great push-your-luck element reminiscent of Thurn and Taxis. You decide at the end of your turn whether to complete or continue a structure. But if you try and continue, but can’t on your next turn, you lose them. Delicious.
2-4 players, 90-120 mins
This proved to be quite the Marmite game, which surprised me. I picked it up in 2011 and really enjoyed it as a clever worker/dice placement game, but most of my euro loving buddies didn’t take to it – so I moved it on to a happier home in 2013. It’s quite dry and beige, I guess, but I loved the medieval art style and tricky decisions. I often wonder, now we’re more used to heavier games, if this would prove more popular today with my then largely fledgling gamer friends.
9. Earth Reborn
2-4 players, 2+ hours
This was a gift from a very generous BGG Secret Santa back in 2011. It was at a time when I was building my collection and thought I needed a minis game. Turned out I didn’t! But that’s not to take away from what is a great game in its genre; a scenario-based post-apocalyptic battle. I just don’t have the patience for the setup and the right friends to play it often enough to do it justice. So it becomes the second game in a row on this list to be on the ‘really good but formerly owned’ list. Maybe when I retire, I’ll buy it back for myself and my nursing home buddies…
10. The Boss
2-4 players, 30-60 mins
I owned this one until a few week ago, when I sold it to some friends for a couple of quid. It’s a great little game but appeals only to a certain type of masochistic player. I don’t know many, so its great to know it found a good home – where I can still play it! You need to like a game where you’re forced to act each turn, but usually don’t want to (because anything you do gives away information). It’s all about bluff and reading your opponents – and comes in a little box, with simple rules and just a few components.
Other notable titles that didn’t make it
So, what else didn’t make my Top 10 board games of 2010 cut? I haven’t played C&C: Napoleonics, Labyrinth, Runewars and Vinhos, all of which are in the BGG top 500 games. I enjoyed both Sid Meier’s Civilization and Expedition: North West passage – but have only played each game once. I’d certainly like to play them more in the future, but I never see them hit the table anymore.
It was a great year for games making it to free online gaming portal Yucata. Alongside Navegador and Firenze I’ve had fun playing Dragonheart, Founding Fathers, Glen More, Luna, Rattus, Sobek and The Speicherstadt there – all 2010 releases. And The Speicherstadt would probably have been my number 12.
Other notables I didn’t enjoy from 2010 include Alien Frontiers (hated the end game condition and it’s a bit slow), Merchants and Marauders (halfway to a great game) and Innovation (Chudyk at his most swingy). And finally, a shout out to Adventure of D – ranked 7,685 on BGG and still owned by me, it was probably my number 11. And I was delighted to see it recently had a successful Kickstarter for a second edition. It’ll be great to see more people playing this clever indie fantasy adventure card game.
Like this post? Check out my Top 10 board games of 2009.