Theology Of Games’ Top 10 Games of 2013!

10 01 2014

TOGLogoWell, it’s 2014, and it’s early enough in the year that you’re still writing 2013 on things… That sounds like the perfect time to trot out our Top 10 Games of 2013! So what made the cut? Let’s see…

Okay a few things first…

1) These are in no particular order—in fact, they aren’t even numbered. These are our 10 favorite games of the last year, and trying to slot them into specific numbers seems like more trouble than it’s worth. We did, however, each pick one game as our personal Game of the Year.

2) Some of these aren’t strictly from 2013. But for each of them, they were widely available to play here in the States in 2013. That’s where we live, and it’s our list, so those are the rules we’re playing by.

Let’s start with a few honorable mentions…

Honorable Mentions

Two RoomsTwo Rooms and a Boom—There are two reasons this didn’t make our main list. First, it’s only available as a print-and-play right now, so it’s hard to count that as coming out this year. Second, it really needs a larger group to work well. But if you have a large group, THEN YOU SHOULD PLAY THIS. I fully expect to see this game on next year’s main list…

Space Cadets: Dice Duel—This one is conditional, too. If you’re playing with the full complement of eight players—three players and a captain on each team—then this is an incredible gaming experience. Anything less than that full complement is just…less.

Lords Of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport—Neither of the two included expansions are “necessary,” but they’re both fun and interesting, and add some legs to this good worker-placement game.

plankcoverKemet—It’s a highly confrontational game that encourages fighting over turtling. And everything on the map is the same distance from every other thing, so you’re not fighting someone because they happen to be closer, but because they happen to be the person who most needs to be attacked. Plus it’s got cool minis. Plus it’s got tons of tiles with cool special powers. Wait, why isn’t this on the main list…?

Walk The Plank—Two of my (Firestone) pals designed this take-that piratey madness. It’s really fun, and just missed making the Big List.

And without further ado…


 coupcoverCoup—Coup is a small little card game that’s just full of bluffing. There are roles, and you can bluff that you’ve got a role in your hand. If someone calls your bluff, though, you better hope you’re telling the truth… Don’t believe us? Well Wil Wheaton loves it, and HE RECOMMENDED OUR REVIEW OF IT ON HIS BLOG!

 HanabiHanabi—This little card game took me completely by surprise. You can’t see your own hand of cards, but you can see every other player’s. Your challenge, as a team, is to place down the numbers 1 through 5 in each of five suits, in order. It’s challenging and thrilling and nerve-wracking. Those are all good things. You can read our review of the game right here.
la bocaLa Boca—I (Firestone) wasn’t sure anything could replace Ticket To Ride as my go-to game to bring out with nongamers. But then along comes La Boca and does just that. Part of the reason is that it works with gamers, nongamers, kids, youth groups, parties—EVERYONE! And there’s a tricksy red piece you can add to up the challenge. Watch for a review of this one soon.
suburbiacoverSuburbia—It’s like SimCity, but not mind-numbingly boring. Okay, it’s more than that. You’re building a borough, and buying new areas based on what you have, and what your opponents have, and what you can afford. Some people don’t think there’s much interaction here, but I respectfully disagree.
forbidden_desert_promo_webForbidden Desert—If you’ve played Pandemic or Forbidden Island, you’ll have no problem picking up Forbidden Desert. But this game adds completely new and clever mechanisms and ideas that make it more than just a retheme. This is a great cooperative family game that we’ll be playing for years to come.
BoraBora Bora—That mad genius Stefan Feld came out with four games in 2013, and I (Firestone) was able to play three of those four. While the others were “merely” good, Bora Bora was clearly the best of the bunch. It has a ridiculous number of ways to score VPs, but despite that, it all just…fit.
ViticultureBoxViticulture— This is the first release from Stonemaier Games, and what we believe should be the measuring stick for all Kickstarter projects. A very in-depth worker-placement game, Viticulture exceeded all of our expectations—in gameplay, components, and everything. This game is great from top to bottom. If you’re into worker-placement games at any level, snatch up a copy of Viticulture—well, as soon as the reprint is available! You can check out our Double-Take review here.
DukeCoverThe Duke—If you’ve read Theology Of Games for any amount of time, you know that we don’t often see eye-to-eye on games. We have two distinct gaming personalities, and though we do sometimes agree on games, it’s rare for us to both love or hate one. We both love The Duke. It’s a 2-player abstract where you’re trying to move different pieces around the board in an effort to capture your opponent’s Duke. It’s like chess, except fun. Here’s the review.
tzolkinTribesTzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar—Tribes and Prophecies—This is the lone expansion on the list, but with good reason. It is EXACTLY what I want in an expansion. First, there are the Tribes, which basically give you a unique special power. When you first read one, you think, “That’s crazy and overpowered!” Then you read the others and realize they’re ALL crazy and overpowered! And it’s awesome!! The Prophecies are events that make the game a little harder by causing some things to cost a little more to achieve—but then you get some VPs for achieving those things. Great, great expansion.
HeartlandGreat Heartland Hauling Co.—Our pal Jason Kotarski designed this neat little pick-up-and-deliver game with a trucking theme. It doesn’t break new ground, or change the landscape, but it’s a fun and clever little game. Our families have had some great times playing this one. And here’s the review.

Firestone’s Game of the Year—Hanabi!

 hanabihandI played this more than any other game that came out in 2013. It’s portable. It’s cheap (when it’s in print). And it’s soooooo fun. And if you use one of the print-and-play decks (after you’ve bought a legitimate copy first, of course), you can add in some variants, such as multicolored suits, that up the replay value.

Jeremiah’s Game of

the Year – The Duke!

Duketiles2The last half of this year my time to game has been more and more at a premium. While I LOVE lengthy and in-depth games, there’s something great about a game that is incredibly engaging, strategic, super-streamlined, and that plays pretty quickly. I’ve played a few of the expansions, and they add a lot to the game—we’ll talk about these expansions very soon. I first played The Duke at Origins and fell in love with it, and after dozens of plays The Duke still excites me every time we bring it to the table!

Well, there’s our list. What would your list look like? What did we forget? What should we have left off? Sound off in the comments. And thanks for reading!




16 responses

10 01 2014
Mark "Fluff Daddy" Jackson

Wow. Our lists are somewhat different.

More to come… follow the blog.

10 01 2014

Yet more incentive try The Duke.

10 01 2014

You won’t regret trying the Duke! It’s super easy and fast to learn, and really fun!

10 01 2014
Jamey Stegmaier

I’m really honored that Viticulture made the list! Thank you. I’m also a fan of Coup, and Tzolk’in is one of my favorite games ever (I have yet to try the expansion you put on the list, though).

11 01 2014

Jamey! Your every welcome, we both thoroughly enjoy Viticulture!!!! And to be honest it was only edged out as my game of the year by a razor thin margin!! Congrats on a great game, we’ll be reviewing Euphoria really soon too!!

11 01 2014
Jamey Stegmaier

Really? Wow. That’s awesome!

11 01 2014

Yeah, it was nearly a count toss for me, there were some great games that released in ’13 and Viticulture for sure belongs near the top of the lists!!

13 01 2014
Today in Board Games – Issue #120

[…] Theology Of Games’ Top 10 Games of 2013! – Theology of Games […]

17 01 2014

Love Forbidden Desert, but we are 0-8 against that blasted sandstorm! I can’t wait to get my hands on Suburbia and Great Heartland Hauling Co.

17 01 2014

We won our first game, but haven’t since then…

1 02 2014
David Brashaw

I suppose I am a bit biased, but we released Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice at Spiel 13 and sold nearly 400 copies and were never out of the BGG top 30 best new games.
I’d like to congratulate designer Mark Rivera.

3 02 2014

We didn’t get a chance to play that one, David! We’d be happy to consider it for next year’s list if we can get our hands on a copy.

4 02 2014

Yep! Like Scott said we’d love to play it, we just didn’t have the chance to. We certainly didn’t exclude games to slight anyone, but we can only consider games that we have played. Glad to hear the game has been a success for you! Best of luck moving forward to you!!

11 02 2014
We Interview Crash Games’ Patrick Nickell, and Designer Jason Kotarski, About their New Games | Theology of Games

[…] Games. And Jason Kotarski, designer of last year’s Great Heartland Hauling Co., which made our top 10 games of 2013 […]

4 03 2014
What Are Your Thoughts on the Golden Geek Awards? | Theology of Games

[…] the list are no shock,  there are also a few games that didn’t make the list that made our Top Ten list this year, including the Spiel des Jahres winner Hanabi. So we’d like to hear from you: What games got […]

25 03 2014
Fear Is the Mind-Killer: A Review of Forbidden Desert | Theology of Games

[…] and adds enough flair and flavor and new mechanics that I absolutely recommend it. It even made out Top 10 list from last […]

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