On we go! Getting closer to the Top 10 with this one. If you haven't seen the rest of the list:
BGG Rank: 28
Last Year's Rank: --
Designed by: Cole Wehrle
Art by: Kyle Ferrin
Released: 2018 from Leder Games
This might be a controversial pick in terms of where I rank it, because for many, this is a lifestyle game that dominates the table for weeks at a time and would top many lists. It's the biggest deviation from what I normally play, which is why it isn't a little higher, as it is very conflict-forward and has a heavy amount of player interaction on a central board. It really is a war game disguised by cute art, and that's generally not my bag, but Root is incredible. The asymmetry is wild, and each game plays out slightly differently. Plus, there's an incredible app that has one of the best tutorials for what is, in my opinion, a very rules-heavy game and expansions galore that add variability and solo/cooperative play. It might climb higher if I can get it to the table with four players consistently.
14. Roll for the Galaxy
BGG Rank: 115
Last Year's Rank: --
Designed by: Wei-Hwa Huang, Thomas Lehmann
Art by: Martin Hoffmann, Claus Stephan, Mirko Suzuki
Released: 2014 from Rio Grande Games
This one made it to the Honorable Mentions list last year, and I'm still sort of kicking myself for not just pushing it into the Top 25. Thanks to a fan-made solo mode and an amazing app implementation, this has become one of my most played games ever. The value for this is also off the charts, as that many custom dice and thick cardboard tiles in one package would never be priced anywhere near $60 anymore. At its core, it's an engine building game with dice as the driving component to develop tech, settle the galaxy, and trade or consume goods. Each color die has a different distribution of faces, so your probabilities are built around this action selection. It's simply superb.
13. CO2: Second Chance
BGG Rank: 695
Last Year's Rank: 12
Designed by: Vital Lacerda
Art by: Ian O'Toole, Paula Simonetti, Giacomo Tappainer
Released: 2018 from Giochix.it and Stronghold Games
Down one spot from last year, CO2: Second Chance makes its way on the list for the second straight year (and I've written about it before) from my other favorite designer, Vital Lacerda. This is pretty much the heaviest cooperative game I own, but it's so good. Mechanically, there's a lot going on, so I won't try to explain it all here, but the production value is amazing, and the theme is very good: trying to curb carbon emissions by building sustainable energy plants around the world. Each action you take is integrated into the theme, and I couldn't disagree more with BGG users; this game deserves to be rated higher. I should also note that this game can be played solo, cooperatively, or competitively, which gives it some nice re-playability.
12. Spirit Island
BGG Rank: 11
Last Year's Rank: 17
Designed by: R. Eric Reuss
Art by: Various
Released: 2017 from Greater Than Games
One of the first risers that appeared on last year's list (up five spots), Spirit Island is perhaps the pinnacle of cooperative game experiences. The theme is so juicy, too, as it's explicitly anti-colonial in that you play as spirits aiding the native Dahan people repel colonial invaders. There's so much in this box, with different scenarios, adversaries, and spirits to explore. I think, to put my finger on it, the reason it's risen so much in my estimation is that I finally got to play multiple spirits at the same time instead of just true solo, and that experience was the best brain burn ever. Win or lose, this game is absolutely incredible, and the presentation helps quite a bit with stunning art and clearly defined components. Chef's kiss. Might eventually crack the Top 10.
BGG Rank: 24
Last Year's Rank: 6
Designed by: Elizabeth Hargrave
Art by: Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo, Natalia Rojas, Greg May, Beth Sobel
Released: 2019 by Stonemaier Games
I still can't believe Wingspan isn't in my Top 10 anymore...it's almost upsetting to me. This is my partner's all-time favorite game, and it hits our table a lot. I've also mentioned this several times on the blog. I also have the app, which is a fantastic implementation, so it's just constantly in the ether of my gaming life. It's a relatively light action selection, engine building game, but it's just gobsmackingly gorgeous, and it never really overstays its welcome, even at higher player counts. The solo mode is fine, thanks in part to the Automa Factory, but it's not my favorite solo game. I think I let it drop a bit because this is, ultimately, my list and not my partner's, so it just got edged out by a few more heavier euros.
Credit: All images come from Boardgamegeek.